Mom needs help with activiies of daily living. What kind of help is available?

Recently, I worked with a family who is caring for their 89 year old mother Marge.  This is a common scenario of an older person who needs help on a daily basis.   She lives alone in a senior apartment and due to severe arthritis has been having increasing concerns regarding her ability to care for herself physically.  She is having trouble dressing herself, walking more than a short distance and trouble preparing meals, even opening up boxes to heat up in the microwave.  This type of care is referred to as long term care.  It is different than medical care and is not paid for by insurance.  Her family lives out of town.  Because she has limited financial resources, she is working with the County Resource Center to process an application for publicly funded long term care.  It is a program available in some states that provides case management and in home services to assist with daily living tasks such as personal care and help with meals.  It is difficult for Marge and the family because she needs the help right away, but the application takes at least 30 days to process.  It is best to plan ahead and know what resources are available.  Marge also is not open to changing her living situation and is not interested in any quick or drastic changes. 

Being familiar with some common terms is helpful.  Here are some key terms to know if you are caring for someone and seeking assistance:

Long term care:  the need for assistance with things like bathing, dressing, meal preparation
Personal care:  hands on assistance with  walking, bathing and dressing, and getting to the bathroom
Supportive home care:  grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning and meal preparation

Being familiar with these terms will help you find the right level of care when it is needed.

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