Where to Find Help for Aging Parents

I could use some advice as I don't know where to start. My parents are aging and live in a different state. My mother has cancer and my father is showing signs of dementia (and is extremely difficult). I'm in contact with my mother frequently, but she refuses to admit she needs help. When I go to visit them I wind up in tears on the flight home because I feel so helpless. Can anyone recommend a website or reference book to help with aging parents?


I know this is becoming an issue for many other baby boomers. I've approached the conversation about finances and their wishes, but I get yes and no answers for a variety of reasons. Their not eating well, the house is dirty, I'm not sure my mother is bathing herself.. my father forgets what he did 5 minutes ago.. and the list goes on. Anyone who has suggestions or ideas. My family would really appreciate some guidance. Thank you.

Maggie from VA

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April 9, 20080 found this helpful

You could try to find a community based home health agency in their area, maybe start with the local Health Department, or a local hospital, they should be able to quide you, there are often various programs for seniors that need help staying in their own homes.

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April 9, 20080 found this helpful

It appears that your parents need 24 hour care/supervision.
I would advise you to check the cost for nursing home care against inhome care. Either way it is going to be expensive. Don't ever turn their house or valuables over to a nursing home. Appoint someone in the family to be the executor of their estate and pay monthly for their care if you choose this method.


If you decide to try the inhome care, the Senior Citizens Center has Meals on Wheels in our town which provides one healthy meal a day and nursing homes usually have an inhome assistant to help with bathing, light household chores and there are some restrictions as to what they can do to help your parents stay in their home. They also work a few hours in the day, so many times a week.

You would need to hire several people to do inhome care if you have them stay 24-7 to give time off and decide if you pay them part time, then step up the amount of people you hire.

You could also hire a responsible person (check their credentials well) to live in their home and provide the help your parents need. Working through an agency if someone cannot make it that day to your parents home, there's usually a replacement for them, so they still get the care they need and you want for them.

Since your mother has cancer, have you spoke with anyone from the hospice program or the hospital? They could direct you toward right places to get further suggestions.


If you are not able to care for your parents yourself which helps to save some larger expenses, perhaps you and your family members could divide time in the year equally to keep your parents together and have them move in with you or you go there for when your time comes around.
Your parents would feel safer having family members do the care more than strangers in their home. This is a lot of adjusting.

This is a very hard time for you and I really feel for all your concerns. I've had elderly friends and worked in a nursing home setting a lot of years and I know what you are up against. It's hard to let go of home and having things the way they always were. My best to you.

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April 9, 20080 found this helpful

Another idea is to find someone to live with them rent free in exchange for some care. Is there a nursing program near you?


a student nurse would be a good choice. She would be there at night, when dementia often peaks. Check with meals on wheels and also te local division of aging, or a social worker from the nearest hospital.

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April 9, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Maggie,
I work in Home health and believe it could benefit your parents greatly. Many times the reason that people are reluctant to accept help is because they think that someone will come into their home and find out that they can't take care of themselves and they will be placed in the nursing home. It is a valid concern. But if your parents are homebound or even just one of them, Home health services would be paid for under their medicare benefit.

HH can provide an aid for bathing, nurses for med mgt and teaching, therapy if they need it. Also if they qualify for the medicare waiver program it pays for respite care, sitters, housecleaning and even some shopping.


If either of your parents are Vets they will qualify for even more benefits.

What you need to do is research HH's in their area and then call them they can tell you about all their services. After that call their MD and discuss it with him or her. If your mother has terminal cancer she may be eligible for hospice services.

The goal of all these programs is to keep people in their homes as long as possible. I think that if you explain it to your mother in that way she will come around. Make sure that you and your HH are all on the same page so that communication stays open.

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

A warning about getting help for your parents around the home. Do your absolute best to find someone you can TRUST to come into their home. I had a friend who's mother made a living as a live-in caregiver to the elderly & I heard through her daughter (I didn't know her mom) that her mother, this live-in "helper" was sometimes stealing money from the very people she was watching, especially the ones who were forgetful & would leave money laying around & forgot where it was.


She was no teenager, but in her 50's or 60's & also called herself a Christian, but when they turned their backs she was stealing money (& who knows what else!). A sad, sad thing. I'm not trying to scare you, I just felt the need to at least warn you. This may be more prevalent than we like to think. Maybe a secret video camera hooked to the Internet so you could do some checking up on the person caring for them? I hate to go a "Big Brother" on you, but if it were my mom, I may just do something like that. At least make sure the caregiver is licensed & bonded.

* To find a good caregiver I'd first call the wonderful volunteers at HOSPICE as they are hooked in to a group of wonderful organizations that may be of help in finding someone to help bath & feed your parents & make sure they get to doctors visits.

* An idea, that may or may not work for you, if you need extra money to care for your parents & their home is paid for you can probably get a reverse mortgage on the home (if you still want to keep it for them while they are living). Some "reverse mortgage" places are on the up & up & some are rip-offs & charge fees & interests that are way to high, so DO YOUR HOMEWORK if you choose this option.

* Sadly, you may need to get a legal "Power of Attorney" so you can take care of your parents bills. Make sure to talk it over with other family members first. If not an actual financial Power of attorney, you might need a MEDICAL power of Attorney.

If you mother is in her right mind & WANTS to sign a a Medical Power of Attorney, stating who will make medical decisions for her when she can't, here's a FREE MEDICAL POWER of ATTORNEY link. Just print it out, & have her sign it then take her to a bank so you can have it notarized. I don't know if your dad's signature would be legal since he seems to not be able to make proper choices these days.


You may need an attorney to handle these things for you, but another warning: I had a client (I was painting a mural at her house) & she was looking for a lawyer to write her will for her. When she called her regular lawyer they wanted $750 to write up a simple will, so I told her about a good lawyer I knew that ran a small office with his wife as his assistant & guess what she DID have my lawyer write her will & it only cost her $75. a BIG savings! So do some calling around & there's a BIG difference in what each lawyer charges, & don't go for the one with the biggest add in the yellow pages! Hope I've helped, more than frightened you.

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By DEBRADJ. (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

Believe it or not there is a dummies book on elder care. You can also try googling your parents state department of aging and talking with them. These people should be able to give you good advice. Also remember, if whether using a nursing home or home care always, always check out the facility or the agencies you are working with. The state dept of aging can help with that also. Elder abuse is rampant in the u.S. So err to the side of caution when choosing. I know it sounds tough.

I worked for a nursing home for 20 years but when your parents come to the point where they need help its up to you. Just make sure caution is your watch word. The department of aging can help when you either find a facility or a caregiver. That's part of their job. When you do finds something always make sure you keep in contact with the agency or the nursing facility. Let them know you want to be involved closely with the care your parents are getting.

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By Jean (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

Contact the local area agecny on Aging where your parents live. They should be able to help you, or at least provide direction. I work for a PA AAA & do this all the time.

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

I work for our local Area Agency on Aging, so of course this question popped out at me. Every state must have Area Agency on Aging according to the Older American's Act. Search the net for contact information in your parent's home state. Contact the most local office for assistance & guidance. Nursing home placement is not always the best option - more & more alternatives for home care are being introduced. Your parent's situation is a risky one & I know it's hard to live so far away. Any other family members near them to keep an eye on them while you make arrangements? Or were they involved in a church that can provide temporary help? One thing you don't want to do is allow the risk to get so bad that adult protective services become involved. Good luck. I am located in south central PA if I can be of any help.

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By m j (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

I read an article recently from hospice publication about how they helped a lady with her aged mother. The lady was not admitted to hospice and now lives alone but hospice helped her daughter find the right help.

Perhaps they can help you or point you in the right direction...Blessings

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

One place to ask about services for your parents is their local senior center. I work for a company as a homemaker for the elderly, and I asked a client of mine where he heard about our company and he said his kids (also from another state) were here visiting and they asked the senior center if they knew of anyone in the area that did this kind of thing, and Thank the Lord, they knew about the company I work for.

I am the only one he wants to come to help him with his house and take him to get groceries, etc. Most companies, legitimate ones anyway, will do background checks on their employees and have them go thru training before placing them with clients. We also help with bathing, if needed, housework, preparing meals if needed, taking them on errands (shopping, dr appts, hairdresser, etc). We are not allowed to touch meds, but u could see if there is a friend or neighbor to help set them up. I do remind my clients to take their meds if they take after I leave, or remind them to take them while there. (did that make any sense?!).

Sorry this is long, but you are getting a lot of good advice. I know it is hard when you don't live near your parents, but with a little bit of checking, you can find someone that you can trust to take care of and look after your parents. Good Luck!

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

I just went through this with my Dad. It got to the point where my Mom just couldn't take care of him anymore. By the time she really needed help, it was almost impossible to find as almost every place we contacted had waiting lists. Finally, he had what he thought was a heart attack (it wasn't) one night and we took him to ER. He spent a few days in the hospital and the medical personnel realized that due to their ages, it was more than my Mom could handle. The hospital placed Dad in a nursing home for "rehabilitation."

Again, it is very wise to check these out ahead of time before you actually need them. The best nursing homes are expensive, but most will take Medicare or Medicaid - and will help the loved one apply for either.

The same with Assisted Living. Go check out the places before you move your parents into one of these places as they are all different.

I also learned that there are differences in homes. There are retirement homes, assisted living homes (where nursing staff are on call 24 hours a day to help with giving medication, etc.), nursing homes, and then skilled-care nursing homes. Check with your parents' doctor or doctors and see which he or she recommends.

If you do hire an agency to come in, check their references also. My grandparents had girls come in from an agency and they "stole them blind." If you stay with "name" agencies like Oxford or Integrity, you should be okay.

Check with their doctors, they are generally very willing to work with you. Good luck and God bless.

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

First let me say I am sorry this is happening, but know that there are resources that can help you. Every state has a adult protective service agency, there you can start to get the help you will need. You will have to call and start a case, they will evaluate your parents and start the services that they will need to keep them independent in the home. If you don't want them in the home, they can help you with the placing for a nursing home, or assisted living home. It will be very trying on you, but you need to cut yourself a break and realize that this is a hard thing to do. It is twice as hard when you have to do it from another state. Your state and theirs also should have a dept. on aging that can give you some insight. Best of luck to you.

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By valleau (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

You are certainly not alone in your problem. Everybody on here has great suggestions. I went thru the same thing with my mom & her husband. They BOTH had dementia and were in Idaho while I was in Nevada. Use their community and state resources. Just go thru the phone book for their area or start asking questions. You did the right thing by posting on here - you'll reach a lot of people. God bless you - I know it's difficult. Just take one thing at a time.

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By LMcCay420 (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

There are lots of good sites with info you might be interested in too....

Caring for the Elderly - Understanding the Need

How to Help Your Aging Parents: Deciding when to Step In

Aging parents: 5 warning signs of health problems www.mayoclinic.com/.../HA00082

Children of Aging Parents www.caps4caregivers.org/

AGING and AGING PARENTS www.selfhelpmagazine.com/.../index.shtml

Tips to Help You Care for Aging Parents www.nsc.org/.../faltips.htm

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) www.aarp.org/

American Association of Homes for the Aging www.aahsa.org/

Family Caregiver Alliance www.caregiver.org/

National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers

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April 12, 20080 found this helpful

If they are in a church, then tell the pastor. Call their doctor and tell him/her.

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By Paula Jo Carr Mebane, NC (Guest Post)
July 9, 20080 found this helpful

Find a "HOME INSTEAD" service/program/business (the company is nation wide) in the area that your parents live in.

They can do what ever you need done (bathing , cooking, shopping, cleaning etc) - whether it be hourly, daily or weekly ALSO they are bonded so there is no need to worry about stealing from their workers.

The reason I know this IS THAT THEY HAVE COME AND HELPED ME WHEN I BROKE MY FOOT a few years ago...I was very pleased with them.

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