What resources are available to those caring for aging parents?

This blog post is the second in a three-part series on caring for aging parents. See Part 1, “How to determine if your aging parents might benefit from a little extra support.”

If you’ve determined that a loved one could benefit from a little extra support at home, it helps to know what kind of support services are available. It may be that your loved one could use just a little help them in their daily routine – a nutritious daily meal, someone that can help with lawn maintenance or snow shoveling or even just regular social interaction.

There are a lot of services out there, depending on the needs of your loved one. Here are a few examples of what might be available to help your parents or grandparents thrive while maintaining their independence.

Nutrition services
If you find your loved one is having trouble cooking or accessing healthy food, a number of services can help. Meals on Wheels provides freshly prepared nutritious meals on a daily basis, with the added benefit of a visit from a friendly volunteer. Store to Door provides grocery services to people who have trouble getting to the store. If affording healthy food is an issue, your loved one may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This tool can help people determine if they qualify. Additional information on nutrition resources can also be found through Hunger Solutions Minnesota.

Chore services
If your loved one could simply benefit from someone mowing the lawn, clearing the driveway or even some house cleaning or housekeeping services, consider researching chore services. Here’s a list of chore services throughout the Twin Cities.

Social activity
Meals on Wheels provides daily visits to meal recipients which can be a valuable social opportunity, but there are additional services focused on providing a social outlet for seniors. Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly pairs volunteers and seniors with shared interests for social activities. Your loved one’s area senior center can also be a great resource for social activities in the neighborhood.

Physical activity
Exercise is good for everyone, including seniors. If getting out of the house isn’t a problem, senior centers or local health clubs often have senior-focused exercise programs. Silver Sneakers is a great resource for older adults looking for fitness programs. For those who aren’t able to easily leave their home, considering consulting with a health care professional who may be able to recommend exercises that can be done at home.

In-home care
If your loved one is experiencing health problems, they might be fearful that getting help means having to move into an assisted living facility. What they may not know is there are programs available that offer in-home health care support. The Living at Home Network is a good place to start if you think in-home care might be appropriate for your loved one. Even something as simple as an emergency medical alert system can help the person you are concerned about get support if an emergency arises. If you decide pursue any of these services, check with your loved one’s insurer to see what might be covered.

Financial/legal services
A number of services are available for financial and legal issues commonly faced by seniors. Does your loved one need help with managing their heating expenses or paying for their prescriptions? Senior Link offers a list of services for common financial issues faced by seniors, as well as legal services such as estate planning.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources, but it’s a good place to start if you are concerned about aging parents or loved ones. Here are some additional care resources that can also help:

* Wilder Caregiving Services
* AARP Caregiving Resource Center
* Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging

If you’ve made the determination that your aging parents or loved ones could benefit from the extra support provided by one of these services, the next step is having a conversation with them. We’ll cover some tips for having this conversation in the last of our three-part series on caring for aging parents.