Aging: There's No Place Like Home - Growing Old (cont.)
Products to make life easier. Is it getting harder to turn a door knob, get out of a chair, or put on your socks? There are things available to make these activities and many of the other things you do during the day easier. The Department of Education provides a Web site, www.abledata.com. If you can't get to or use a computer, they will answer your questions at 1-800-227-0216. This Web site has information on more than 30,000 assistive technology products designed to make it easier for people with physical limitations to do things for themselves.
Getting around-at home and in town. Are you having trouble walking? Think about getting an electric chair or scooter. These are sometimes covered by Medicare. Do you need someone to go with you to the doctor or shopping? Volunteer escort services may be available. Don't drive a car any longer? Free or lower-priced public transportation and taxis may be offered in your area. Maybe a relative, friend, or neighbor would take you along when they go on errands or do yours for you.
Activities and friends. Are you bored staying at home? Try visiting your local senior center. They offer a variety of activities. You might see some old friends there and meet new people too. Is it hard for you to leave your home? Maybe you would enjoy visits from someone on a regular basis. Volunteers are sometimes available to stop by or call once a week. They can just keep you company, or you can talk about any problems you are having.
Safety. Are you worried about crime in your neighborhood, physical abuse, or losing money as a result of a scam? Talk to your local area agency on aging. Do you live alone and are afraid of becoming sick with no one around to help? You might want to get an emergency alert system. You just push a special button that you wear, and emergency medical personnel are called. A monthly fee is charged.
Care away from home. Do you need care but live with someone who can't stay with you during the day? For example, maybe they work. Adult day care outside the home is sometimes available for older people who need help getting around or caring for themselves. The day care center can even pick you up and bring you home. If your caretaker needs to get away overnight, there are places that will provide more extended temporary respite care.
Housing. Does your home need a few changes to make it easier and safer to live in? Think about things like a ramp at the front door, grab bars in the tub or shower, nonskid floors, more comfortable handles on doors or faucets, and better insulation. Sound expensive? You might be able to get help paying for these changes. Check with your local or State Area Agencies on Aging, State housing finance agency, welfare department, community development groups, or the Federal Government (see For More Information ).
Where do I start?
Here are some resources where you can look for this help:
People you know. For many older people, family, friends, and neighbors are the biggest source of help. Talk with those close to you about the best way to get what you need. If you are physically able, think about trading services with a friend or neighbor. One could do the grocery shopping, and the other could cook dinner, for example.
Community and local government resources. Learn about the types of services and care found in your community. Health care providers and social workers may have suggestions. The local area agency on aging, local and State offices on aging or social services, and your tribal organization have lists of services. Look in the phone book under "Government." If you belong to a religious group, check with its local offices. The group might have a senior services program.
Geriatric care managers. Specially-trained people known as geriatric care managers can help make your daily life easier. They will work with you to form a long-term care plan and find the right services. They charge for this help, and it probably won't be covered by any insurance plan. Geriatric care managers can be very helpful when family members live far apart. They will check in with you from time to time to make sure your needs haven't changed.
Federal Government sources. There are many resources from the Federal Government where you can start looking for information on help. Some are on the Internet and only available with a computer. Federal Government websites are reliable. If you don't have a computer, you might be able to find one at your local library or senior center. Or ask your local Area Agency on Aging. Perhaps a grandchild, niece, or nephew could search for you. Wherever possible, we have also given a phone number.
The Eldercare Locator has information on many different services for older people. They can give you the number of your local Area Agency on Aging. To use this service call 1-800-677-1116, or go to www.eldercare.gov on the Internet.
You can get suggestions to fit your own needs from the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov. Just click on "Long-Term Care" and then "Long-Term Care Planning Tool." Type in information about yourself (age, sex, and whether or not you are married), as well as your health problems and other needs. Very quickly it will give the type of help you should look for and general advice on how to find it and how to pay for it. You do not have to put in any personal information-not even your name or social security number.
The National Library of Medicine's web site, www.medlineplus.gov, has a section "Home care services." This contains links to information that might be of help.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has its Resource Directory for Older People. It has the names, addresses, phone numbers, and web site addresses for more than 260 government agencies, professional associations, and public and private groups that have information or help for older people. You can use it online or call 1-800-222-2225 for help finding the resource you need.
Once you have chosen some service providers, you might be able to get more information about them from www.medicare.gov. The Home Health Compare section there can tell you more about some of the providers in your State. You can also check on how well these services help people. No computer? Just call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for the same information.