Tips and Tools for Family Caregivers

Can you recommend any resources that offer help to family caregivers? I have been taking care of my parent and could use some help.

Caring for a parent or another loved one over time can be both physically and mentally challenging. Fortunately, there are many tips and services that may help lighten the load. Here are several tips to consider.

Assemble a care team: A good first step is to put together a network of people including family, friends and neighbors that you can call on when you cannot be there or when you need a break.

Tap local services: Many communities offer a range of free or subsidized services that help seniors and caregivers by providing home delivered meals, transportation, senior companions and more. Call 211 to find out what is available in your community.

Use short-term respite services: Some organizations provide short-term caregivers allowing you to rest, travel or attend to other matters. To locate services in your area, try the Eldercare Locator at

Hire in-home help: You may want to consider hiring a part-time home-care aide to assist with preparing meals, housekeeping or personal care. Costs range from approximately $12 to $30 an hour depending on where you live, the qualifications of the aide and the services provided. To find help through an agency, use Medicare’s search tool It may be more affordable to find someone on your own. Friends, neighbors or health care providers may be able to provide recommendations. You may also search online to find reputable aides who have undergone background checks.

Use financial tools: If you are handling your parent’s finances, you can simplify things by arranging direct deposit for their income sources and setting up automatic payments for their utilities and other routine bills. Also, consider signing your parent up for online banking so you can pay their other bills and monitor their account. If you want or need help, there are professional daily money managers who can do it for you. These professionals often charge between $75 and $150 per hour.

Get financial help: If your parent meets low-income requirements, you may be able to locate financial assistance programs in their area that can help pay for their medications, utilities, health care and other needs. If your parent receives Medicare or Medicaid covers, your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides free counseling and information on long-term care coverage. Call 877-839-2675 or visit to locate a nearby counselor. You can also get help at or by calling 800-633-4227. The Medicare Rights Center also staffs a helpline and can be reached by calling 800-333-4114.

Tap other resources: There are several other organizations you can draw on for additional information, such as local nonprofits and government agencies. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ( also offers caregiver support services to veterans and spouses of veterans.

Take care of yourself: Make your own health a priority. Being a caregiver is a big responsibility that can cause emotional and physical stress and potentially lead to illness and depression. The only way you can provide the care your parent needs is to make sure you stay healthy.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

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