If you want some regular help with taking care of your loved one -- or just need some occasional relief -- there are lots of options. You just need to know how -- and where -- to ask for it.
Look for Backup
Family and friends. Start with the obvious. Don't hesitate to ask other family members to help out with caregiving and ease your load a bit. Figure out what you need, and be direct. See if your brother can start handling your mom's doctor's visits. Or ask your teenage daughter to take them out for a movie so you can get some time off. You might find they're more willing to help than you thought.
Senior centers. They typically offer meals and programs for recreation and exercise. Some of them may provide transportation for your loved one. They're also a great place for you to network with other caregivers.
Adult day care. You can find programs here that are similar to those at senior centers, but it may also have more extensive services if your loved one needs more care. Costs vary quite a bit from region to region.
Help at home. Personal and in-home care services can help with daily activities, such as getting your loved one dressed or preparing their meals.
If your loved one could just use some companionship during the day, a volunteer organization might help.
If they need medical care, consider home health care. Depending on what you need, the costs for these caregiving services vary from free to hundreds of dollars a day.
Keep in mind that Medicare might cover some costs if your loved one is recovering from an injury or surgery. Medicaid may pay some of the costs, too, if your income is low.
Meal programs. Many areas have local groups -- such as Meals On Wheels -- that provide free or low-cost nutritious meals. Some grocery stores offer prepared meals that can be delivered.
Where to Get Advice
Talk about your loved one's needs with a geriatric care manager. You may need to pay for their services, but they can help you find caregiving resources in your area, guide you on financial and legal issues, and coordinate different types of care. Together, you can come up with a caregiving plan.
There are also many government and nonprofit organizations that can tell you where to get more caregiving help. They include:
Eldercare Locator. It helps find local organizations that provide care to older people.
BenefitsCheckUp. It can find programs that help you pay for medicine and other health care needs.
Area Agency on Aging. It can point you to local sources of caregiving help and information.
Even though you may not realize it, you may already know some great caregiving resources. Start talking to your doctors, nurses, relatives, friends, and neighbors. They could know details about local services and facilities that you can't learn anywhere else.