Elder Care Information

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There are many older people who are able to live active and productive lives. But as the population ages, caring for elderly parents or other relatives is an increasingly common challenge, whether they live with you, in the area, or in another state.

Harvard Benefits and Hospital Benefits-Eligible Employees:

To obtain resources and information that you may need in the following categories: home care services, housing information, legal information, transportation services, activities and classes please contact your Employee Assistance Program provided by your primary employer (the institution that provides your benefits and compensation).

Harvard Benefits-Eligible Employees:

Click here for assistance with back-up adult care.

Students, Externally Paid Post Docs, and Future Potential Longwood Medical Area Employees:

General Information:

Every state has a central office which acts as a clearinghouse to locate the local area agency on aging (AAA) serving a particular community. In Massachusetts, the local AAA is part of the Home Care Corporation, supported by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs. They assist families/ individuals who want to continue to live independently, and can help explore other housing options, as needed. To find your local agency, call 1 800 AGE-INFO OR VISIT WWW.ELDERINFO.ORG. To find the State Unit on Aging for a different state, call the Eldercare Locator Info Line at 1 800 677-1116 OR VISIT WWW.ELDERCARE.GOV. They will refer you to the local agency providing information about resources and services in that community.

Many towns also have a local Council on Aging, sometimes providing both information as well as social programs. To find out if one exists in your community, call your equivalent to Town Hall.

The scope of services provided by these public, and other private, agencies includes information and referral, a range of support services for in-home care, personal care, adult day care, or case management.

There are four main considerations when looking at the needs of an elder. First, a personal assessment will evaluate the overall ability of the individual(s) to function independently, and recommend support services, if any, which might be necessary to help the elder(s) remain in their home. There are both informal supports (family, friends, neighbors), as well as the more formal support services.

Second, and related, are the medical needs of the elder. Having an idea of what normal aging is can be helpful in determining whether to be concerned about new behaviors and seek a medical evaluation. If a specific illness is suspected or has been diagnosed, there are national organizations which can provide information and support, such as the Alzheimer's Association, or the American Foundation for the Blind. They can also suggest aids and adaptive techniques a disabled person can use to continue to function as independently as possible. Insurance might cover some equipment.

The third general area to consider in planning for the care of elders is their housing. Once it is determined that an elder cannot remain any longer in his/her own home, there are various kinds of living arrangements a family might consider. Essentially there is a continuum -- from independent to semi-dependent to dependent living arrangements. These include adult family care, congregate housing, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, rest homes, and nursing homes.

Fourth, legal and financial planning focuses on preparing specific legal documents such as a will, power of attorney, or health care proxy and, if appropriate, developing a long range financial plan.

Remember your EAP can provide you with consultations and referrals to legal and financial professionals.