How to begin taking care of an elderly relative?

Question by Jille K: How to begin taking care of an elderly relative?
My husband and I are just starting to map out a plan for caring for his elderly uncle. He wants to stay in his home, has no other relatives but lives an hour a way. His memory is failing and his friends are becoming concerned. However, he is adamant that he is still able to take care of himself and remain in his home. Any tips on where to begin would be helpful.

Best answer:

Answer by J C
You could start by cleaning his house and while your there you can be checking on him . Ask him if he’s taking any medicines he needs to, does he need a ride somewhere like the grocery store or to the doctor. I’m sure it’s hard to let go of your own independence so if you start slowly he might not even notice at first and then before he realizes it he’ll fell dependant on you and it won’t be such a shock to him. Good luck!

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7 thoughts on “How to begin taking care of an elderly relative?”

  1. Call the senior center in his neighborhood. Perhaps they can give you some suggestions and direct you.
    If you can, try to make sure some one checks in on him at least daily. If that’s not possible, call him as often as you think you should to touch base with him.
    Let him know your concerns are for him. Don’t treat him like a child, let him make his own decisions and treat him with dignity and respect.
    I wish I had more to offer you but I don’t. Good luck to you and your uncle.

  2. I care for my grandma , but her mind is sharp still. She lives across the street,so it easy for she and i.
    You would need to be in the house w/him. He could forget to shut off the stove or things like that. My other grandma cares for her husband who has Alzheimer’s.he forget alot more . It’s a big job.

  3. Your husband’s uncle is fortunate to have your concern and you are wise to be making a plan and asking questions before an emergency arises.

    Being a family caregiver is a big job! This is true whether you are a “live with your your elderly relative” caregiver or whether you are caring from across town or from a longer distance.” Your desire to care for your elderly uncle is admirable and there is alot to consider. The first step is to find resources that might help you and your uncle get answers now and to “keep caring” if his living situation becomes more challenging.

    The first stop for information about resources that can help you with your plan is your local Area Agency on Aging serving the county where you and/or your uncle live. These organizations know how to listen to seniors and their family members and can provide guidance and advice that will be of great help to you. You can call 1-800-677-1116 toll free to find out the phone number of the local Area Agency on Aging office. When you call the Area Agency office, ask for the person who provides “Information and Assistance” or “Help for Family Caregivers.” If you make this call, I am confident that you will find friendly and helpful people.

    It’s important to know that Area Agencies on Aging aren’t selling a particular service, “insurance plan” or other product. The information you’ll receive will come from people who talk to seniors and families every day and who will provide you objective information about options.

    When you talk with the folks at the Area Agency on Aging, you should ask about services that might be available to you and your husband as family caregivers. Of course, what you want to know about is available in-home services that may be needed for your uncle now or in the future. Area Agences on Aging also have information about residential and housing-with-assistanceoptions that are available where your uncle lives. Many of these places have waiting lists. Your Area Agency on Aging would also be able to guide your family if you or your uncle are considering re-location or if you may consider caring for your uncle in your home.

    It might be helpful to know that in many places, in-home services are available on a “cost share” basis and the costs of needed services are based on the seniors’ income or assets. If your uncle is very low income and has significant needs that puts him at risk of going to a nursing facility, you should ask the Area Agency on Aging folks if the state where our your uncle lives has something called a “Medicaid waiver.” If the state has a Medicaid program that covers individuals with disabilities and or frail elders, there may be Medicaid funding to pay toward in-home care. State governments are coming to realize the importance of having in-home services–with the involvement and support of family caregivers–as an option in the funding of services needed by frail older Americans. These services are cost-effective alternatives to more expensive nursing facilities–but family support is essential.

    Finding a attorney who specializes in public benefit or family law might also be advisable. Your uncle, you and other family members will want to figure out arrangements for “powers of attorney” and have a “living will” in place –and throughly discussed — before an emergency arises. Your Area Agency on Aging would have information about these matters and would know how to connect you with professionals who specialize in this. Usually the Area Agency has “boiler plate” versions of these types of documents to get conversations in this sensitive area started. If your uncle is low-income, the Area Agency may know of legal services that can help deal with legal matters..

    If you call the Area Agency on Aging and like the help that you receive, let your county elected officials know and tell your members of Congress. Area Agencies don’t have big budgets–in fact appropriations for most services funded under the Older Americans Act have not increased significantly in 25 years! You will not be charged for the information you receive, however, any financial contribution you, your uncle or your family might make for the time and assistance devoted to your situation would be very welcomed–and would go toward helping more of your older friends and neighbors and their caregivers.

    I hope this helps. Thanks for a great question and for caring! Best wishes and good luck to you, your uncle and your family!

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