Best Resources Available For Caregivers
Caregivers are in need of as much help as they can possibly get. And after my mother’s heart attack, I was able to understand and appreciate what caregivers go through…because I was the one looking for help.
When I went searching for this help, I was really surprised how much actually is out there…if you know where to look. So what I wanted to do is list the services that I feel will be of most benefit to caregivers, help the seniors they care for the most and save them the most money.
Respite Care Services
If you are a caregiver the time will come when you will need a break. Now, maybe you have a strong support system or group of relatives that can assist you.
But I am writing this right now to those who do not have that level of support. There are still ways you can go about getting respite care…
Adult Day Care
Run by a government entity (contact your local Office of the Aging) or through a charity or house of worship, these centers provide a place for seniors to socialize and be in a protected environment. It is ideal for those who don’t necessarily need 24/7 support yet but also cannot be trusted to be left on their own. And the best part is that the majority of these centers are either free or only charge a very nominal fee.
Temporary Stay Nursing Home
In my county there is a program where a caregiver can bring a loved one to nursing home for a 7-day stay every 6 months to allow the caregiver to take a vacation from the rigors of caregiving.
The family has to pay out-of-pocket for this…or if the person you are caring for qualifies for Medicaid they may pay for it depending upon the situation, but regardless this temporary vacation could be a godsend for caregivers if it is available in your area.
Home Health Care Agency
These agencies provide caregivers with a means to have someone come into their home to assist in the caregiving duties.
The services provided and the amount of time needed, varying from a few hours a day up to 24/7 care, will be dependent upon the needs of your loved one and your needs as well.
To find an agency near you, the best place to evaluate home health care agencies is the Medicare Home Health Care finder. You will find a listing of agencies in your area, ratings of their services, complaints against them and also financing options.
Not sure where to turn? Unable to find the help that you need? Unaware of all the help that is out there?
If this is you then as a caregiver you should know that there is free counseling available through your local Office of the Aging. A volunteer who is well versed in the services that are available to you will sit down and let you know where you can get the help that you need.
You will need to set an appointment at your local Office of the Aging. When you do, make sure to bring all the information you can and a list of questions that you need help with.
Free Legal Help
There are legal aides that can provide pro-bono services for seniors. I found one through a local law college who helped me get my mother’s credit card debts forgiven after her heart attack forced her to go on Medicaid.
At that point, Medicaid (and the nursing home as a result) was taking all of her income so there was no way to pay it. The legal aides wrote letters on my mother’s behalf and got her debts forgiven.
And while it wasn’t needed in my case, these types of legal aides and pro-bono attorneys can also write simple wills for seniors that are low-income.
One of the big problems seniors face in retirement is loss of their dental coverage. And do to the problems that result from dealing with the government bureaucracy and waiting for the government to actually pay them, very few dentists accept Medicaid.
But there are a few that do. The way to find them is to contact your state Department of Health. They will probably maintain a list of dentists that are willing to accept Medicaid as payment.
One warning, however…be prepared to travel. In my home state of New York there are only about 40 dentists that accept Medicaid in a state with a population of almost 20,000,000.
That’s one dentist per 500,000 people, so like I said you may need to travel to see them, but if you have no other dental coverage for your loved one this may be the only answer for you.
Prescription Drug Discount Card
This is an amazing relief for anyone who does not have insurance. A prescription drug discount card can save you anywhere from 45-80% off of the costs of your medications. They are free and require no activation. Plus, anyone can use them and most cards are taken nationwide by the major pharmacies, such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, CVS, etc…
So if you need help with the cost of your medications this is an ideal way to help.
Elderly Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (EPIC)
EPIC is the name of the State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program in New York.
New York, in addition to Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, Vermont, Washington State or Wisconsin, offers additional assistance to seniors who cannot afford their prescription drugs.
The remaining states gave up their programs when the Federal government started Medicare Part D in 2006. But for those states that do have extra assistance by all means reach out if you live there for help.
Free Cell Phones
Even though it is erroneously referred by critics as the “Obama phone” (the program started under Bush in 2007) this free cell phone will allow you up to 250 minutes and/or texts a month at no charge.
To qualify, seniors will likely have to be on some form of government assistance, such as…
- Food Stamps
- Supplemental Social Security
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
I was able to get my mother a free cell phone within five days of her being approved for Medicaid, after providing a picture of my mother’s Medicaid award letter (yes, I know it is shocking for the government to move that quickly but it actually happened).
The only drawback to the program is the type of phone that you are sent. My mother can use it but it has smaller buttons that can make it confusing. I would prefer for her to have a larger handset with larger buttons, but this is working for the moment.
Free Hearing Aids
I include this in my list because for those with hearing issues a hearing aid can cost thousands of dollars.
But I have found that there are a few ways to obtain free hearing aids. Some will be new, and others may be used, but they will all be free.
First, try your local Lion’s Club. Most chapters either operate or know of a local hearing aid bank that can match needy seniors with recycled hearing aids.
The idea that I have heard has gotten the most success is to participate in the clinical trial for a new hearing aid. Manufacturers of hearing aids are looking for people to volunteer to give a “test run” for new models going on the market.
I even saw a hearing aid manufacturer recently advertise on TV looking for people, so this idea is definitely possible…if you contact enough manufacturers.
You will have to medically qualify for the trial and you may have to contact several manufacturers until you find one that works for you. You may also get put on a waiting list. Regardless, this can be a powerful way for very low income seniors to receive a free hearing aid.
About the author:
Tony Rovere became an advocate for seniors after his mother’s heart attack forced him to have to navigate the red tape of government assistance that often comes with taking care of seniors.
His website, StuffSeniorsNeed.com, was put together by him as a resource for those who need access to the same information that Tony benefited from.