Savvy Senior provides tips and tools for caregivers

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Can you recommend any resources that offer help to caregivers? I am taking care of my 86 year old mother and I would need some help.

Brenda exhausted

Dear Brenda,

Caring for an aging parent or other loved one over a period of time can be very difficult both physically and mentally. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and services you can turn to to take the load off your feet. Here are several to consider.

Build a care team: A good first step is to build a network of people, including family, friends, and even neighbors, who you can call to help you out when you can’t be there or need a break.


Tap on local services: Many communities offer a range of free or subsidized services that help seniors and caregivers by providing things like home delivered meals, transportation, elder companionship services and more. Call 211 to find out what’s available in your community, or call the AARP Care Resource Center (877-333-5885), which provides referrals to local resources.

Using respite: Respite care can provide short-term care for your mother so that you can take time off. To locate services in your area, try the National Respite Network and ARCH Resource Center at ARCHrespite.org.

Call in a home help: You may want to consider hiring a part-time home helper who can help with meal preparation, housework, or taking care of yourself. Costs can range from $ 12 to $ 30 per hour depending on where you live and the helper qualification. To find help through an agency, use the Medicare Finder Medicare.gov/care-compare. Or to find someone on your own, which is a more affordable way, try websites like Care.com Where CareLinx.com.

Use financial tools: If you’re managing your mom’s finances, you can make things easier by setting up direct deposit for her income sources and setting up automatic payments for her utilities and other day-to-day bills. Also, consider setting up your mom’s online banking service at her bank so that she can pay her other bills and monitor her account at all times. If you want or need help, there are professional daily fund managers (see AADMM.com to locate someone) who can do it for you. They charge between $ 60 and $ 150 an hour.

Also, if your mom is on a low income, use BenefitsCheckup.org, a free and confidential website that will help you find financial assistance programs that can help pay for medications, utilities, health care, and other needs.

Get help with insurance: If you have questions about what Medicare or Medicaid covers, or about long-term care, your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides free advice on all of these matters. Call 877-839-2675 or visit ShiptaCenter.org to find an advisor nearby.

You can also get help at Medicare.gov or by calling 800-633-4227, and through the Medicare Rights Center, which has a helpline at 800-333-4114.

Tap other resources: There are a number of other organizations you can rely on for additional information, such as the Family Care Alliance (Caregiver.org/family-care-navigator), which provides a state-by-state list of health care programs and services; Caring.com, which offers care advice, senior housing information and online support groups; the Alzheimer’s Association (ALZ.org/care), which provides unique insight into the challenges of caregivers with dementia; and the US Department of Veterans Affairs (www.caregiver.va.gov), which provides support services to caregivers of veterans and even spouses of veterans.

And, if you happen to share family responsibilities with others, sites like LotsaHelpingHands.com and CaringBridge.org can help you coordinate.

Take care: Make your own health a priority. Being a caregiver is a big job that can cause emotional and physical stress and lead to illness and depression. The only way to provide the care your mother needs is to make sure you stay healthy.

Send your questions to seniors to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is an NBC contributor Today show and author of “The wise elder” delivered.


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