Local Resources for Seniors
- Patient Advocate vs. Geriatric Care Manager
By Carol Marak
Chief Public Relations Officer, Aging Alone Spokesperson & Advocate
The most frequent question asked by older adults and family caregivers, "Where can I find help for my parents/myself about elder care concerns?" Sometimes they have money to pay for services and sometimes they have limited income. Either way, several websites and even brick and mortar services do exist.
Since elder care is a complex responsibility, and the long-term care system is hard to navigate. Many caregivers and seniors don't know the first thing about giving care or the best place to receive advice about it. A reader asked, "Where can I go to receive free legal advice on setting up our health care proxy and advance directives?" It's the reason for this column since it's hard to know what a relative needs, where to go to receive help, how to pay for it, and how to deliver better care at home.
Where to begin looking for assistance? Each time, they're directed to, "The local Area Agency on Aging. Sometimes they're called the Department on Aging."
Here's an overview of what they do for seniors and family caregivers:
- They are experts on all aspects of aging, and their vision captures the spirit: To help older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible.
- The local, regional offices, named the Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), and they serve as single points of entry into the long-term services and supports (LTSS) system for older adults, people with disabilities, caregivers, veterans, and families. They exist in numerous locations throughout each State.
Each resource office:
- Takes on a crucial information and referral role, connects families with local providers who can help create a caregiving plan, solve challenges, and identify support services.
- Provides direct support to caregivers such as respite care, individual counseling and support groups, education classes/training; and emergency assistance.
- Develops transition strategies with the family to improve planning, transportation, in-home care services, and case management.
- Plays a significant role in detecting and preventing elder abuse.
- Offer programs to help older adults and their caregivers better manage their health.
- Coordinates home-based-community services.
The agency is the trusted source of information where people of all incomes and ages can access long-term support options and benefits. They rely on the work of volunteers. If you can donate your time to help people in need, please reach out to your local, regional Area Agency on Aging office, call 1-800-677-1116 or visit Eldercare.gov.
- State/county legal aid offices,
- Local Meals on Wheels,
- Community nonprofits that serve seniors,
- The State Ombudsman office.
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Carol Marak, aging advocate and editor at Seniorcare.com. She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.
Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column
Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.