Aging: There's No Place Like Home - Growing Old (cont.)

How can I help my older relatives stay in their home?

Some people start having trouble doing everyday activities like shopping, cooking, and taking care of their home or themselves as they grow older. Is that happening to any of your relatives-your parents or an aunt or uncle, for example? If so, talk to them about getting help. Offer to get information for them. Think about what you and others in the family can do to help. Talk to your friends whose relatives may be facing the same kinds of problems. Ask about the solutions they found. Then sit down and tell your relatives what you have learned. Together you can decide what to do.

What kinds of help can I get?

You can get almost any type of help you want in your home-often for a cost. The following list includes some common things people need. You can get more information on many of these services from your local Area Agency on Aging, local and State offices on aging or social services, tribal organization, or nearby senior centers.

Personal care. Is bathing, washing your hair, or dressing getting harder to do? Maybe a relative or friend could help you. Or, you could hire someone trained to help you for a short time each day.

Homemaking. Do you need help with chores like housecleaning, yard work, grocery shopping, or laundry? Some grocery stores and drug stores will take your order over the phone and bring the items to your home. There are cleaning services you can hire, or maybe someone you know has a housekeeper to suggest. Some housekeepers will help with laundry. Some drycleaners will pick up and deliver your clothes.

Meals. Tired of cooking every day or of eating alone? Maybe you could share cooking with a friend a few times a week or have a potluck dinner with a group of friends. Sometimes meals are served at a nearby senior center, church, or synagogue. Eating out may give you a chance to visit with others. Is it hard for you to get out? Ask someone you know to bring you a healthy meal a few times a week. Also, programs like Meals on Wheels bring hot meals into your home.

Money management. Are you paying bills late or not at all because it's tiring or hard to keep track of them? Are doctors' bills and health insurance claim forms confusing? Ask a trusted relative to lend a hand. If that's not possible, volunteers, financial counselors, or geriatric care managers can help. Just make sure you get the name from a trustworthy source, like your local Area Agency on Aging. Would you like to lighten the load of paying bills yourself? Talk with someone at your bank. You might also be able to have regular bills, like utilities and rent or mortgage, paid directly from your checking account.

Health care. Do you forget to take your medicine? There are devices available to remind you when it is time to take it. Have you just gotten out of the hospital and still need nursing care at home for a short time? Medicare might pay for a home health aide to come to your home.