Frequently Asked Questions

Who are caregivers?

A caregiver is anyone who helps an older person with household chores, errands, personal care, or finances. You are a family caregiver if you help someone who cannot or is limited from doing any of these things for themselves:

· Drive an older family member to and from medical appointments.
· Communicate with health care professionals.
· Contact community service organizations such as the Area Agency on Aging, Meals on Wheels, or the Alzheimer’s Association.
· Help arrange for home health care or hospice services.
· Assist someone to pay bills.
· Help someone clean their home or arrange for housecleaning.
· Do home repairs or arrange for someone else to do so.
· Do yard work or hire someone else to do so.

You can find information on this site, which includes online caregiver education modules. You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging for more information and educational resources.

What is the Area Agency on Aging (AAA)?

A network of Area Agencies nationwide dedicated to addressing the needs of older people and their caregivers.

How do I find my local Area Agency on Aging?

Call 2-1-1 from anywhere in the US or use the Eldercare Locator to find the AAA nearest you. Search by zip code, city, or county: 

What programs does the Area Agency on Aging offer for caregivers and for older adults?

You can find information on this site, which includes fifteen caregiver education modules, and multiple pages of information and resource links.

You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging for more information and educational resources. 

Do I have to have low income to get help through the Area Agency on Aging?

No. Services from the Area Agencies on aging are almost always free of charge and are not based on the income of the older adult or the family member.

Assistance Living, Skilled Nursing, Long Term Care

What is Assisted Living? 

An assisted living facility or residence combines housing, supportive services, personalized assistance and healthcare designed to meet the individual’s needs on a daily basis.

These needs may include:
· Bathing
· Dressing
· Balancing a checkbook
· Medication reminders
· Housework, etc. 

In many assisted living facilities, 24-hour supportive services are available to meet the planned and unplanned needs of the residents.

Residents in assisted living facilities may have their own rooms, suites or apartments, or they may share their quarters with their spouses or roommates. Unlike independent living facilities, congregate living facilities, shared living arrangements or home health care programs, assisted living facilities provide some level of ongoing supervision of residents and assume responsibility for their well-being. Click here for our assisted living information and resources links page: http://www.familycaregiversonline.net/assisted-living-long-term-care-information-resources/

What is adult day care?

Adult day care centers are classified as either “social” or “medical.” Both offer a secure setting for seniors who have physical or mental impairments, meal service, and activities. In addition, “medical” adult day care centers offer: 

· Meal service.
· Medication administration.
· Activities.
· Nursing supervision.
· Since adult day care centers are expensive to run, they are rarely found outside of urban areas.

Go to the following link for more Information: www.nadsa.org

What does long term care mean? 

Long-term care includes a range of services to help people with the tasks of everyday life, such as taking a shower or dressing. Long term care includes what is traditionally called nursing homes. 

The more current language is “skilled care” or “rehabilitation and health care centers” although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services still uses the “nursing home” language in some of their information.

Care is provided in a number of different ways and settings, from home health care to assisted living centers and nursing homes. It also includes adult day care. Providers range from homemakers to registered nurses and physical therapists.

What is skilled nursing care? 

Although they have traditionally been called “long-term” care centers, skilled nursing facilities today just as frequently provide transitional care. Transitional care is just what it says—interim medical and nursing treatment designed to help people transition back to everyday life following an illness or injury. Most often, that means post-acute care following a hospital visit. 

Benefits for Veterans

Does the Veterans Administration (VA) offer grants for the repair of homes?

Yes. They offer purchase, construction, home improvement, manufactured homes, interest rate reduction, and second homes.

How do I find help as a veteran?

Start here with our informative page on veterans benefit resources.

What is Operation Healthy Reunions?

Mental Health America is proud to champion Operation Healthy Reunions, a first-of-its-kind program that provides education and helps to bust the stigma of mental health issues among soldiers, their families, and medical staff to ensure that a greater number of military families receive the prompt and high-quality care they deserve.

In partnership with the leading military organizations, Mental Health America distributes educational materials on such topics as reuniting with your spouse and children, adjusting after war, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Caregiving From A Distance

How can I find help when my relative lives in another community? 

Click the link for long distance caregiving tips published by MetLife.

To find local resources, go to http://www.familycareamerica.com information and tools that can make long distance caregiving easier.  Enter this site by entering the ZIP code of the area that most interests you and clicking GO. This will help localize resource listings to that community.

For a resource for locating numerous services, and information go to Elder Care Locator.

What resources are available to me on the internet?

This online education and resource tool includes a site search (in the upper right hand corner) where you may enter key words or phrases to find information and contact information. 

Home Health, Hospice and Safety

What is Home Health care? 

Home health care services cover a broad range of services including: basic care (such as bathing, dressing, etc), and nursing care in the home. In order to be covered by health insurance, most services must be ordered by a physician and must be medically necessary to maintain or improve the health condition. Home health care services are usually provided on a visit basis rather than an hourly basis.

Generally, home health services are initiated when a loved one is no longer able to care for him or herself due to failing health or recent changes to their health. Often a physician, nurse, hospital discharge planner or case manager suggests obtaining professional help at home to assist with health care needs.

Go to the following links for more Information: 

How do I pay for home health? 
There are many different types of home health services available across the United States. 

These services can be paid for using a variety of sources. Medicare is the primary payer for home health care in America.

Other payers for home health care include:
· Medicaid
· HMOs or managed care plans
· Private insurance
· Long-term care insurance
· Private payment by individuals 

What is hospice?

Hospice provides compassionate care to people at the end of their lives. Care is devoted to respecting the wishes of the patient and their family. Hospice is based on a holistic approach that provides a wide range of services, including support. The focus of hospice is caring, not curing. Care is provided in hospitals, nursing homes, the patient’s home or hospice facilities. Usually, a physician refers a patient to hospice care within the last six months of life.

Legal Issues

Please Note: No documents or information provided anywhere on this site should be considered legal advice, or intended to replace a formal discussion with a licensed attorney. If you have questions relating to the law, we advise you to seek the services of an attorney. Some communities have lawyers willing to provide limited free advice for persons with low incomes. Talk to the local bar association or call your local area agency on aging. 

What is an advance directive? 

An advance directive is a legal document, such as a living will or a power of attorney for health care. As long as one is well enough, he/she makes medical decisions for his/her self. If one is unable to make or communicate medical decisions, the advance directive legally transfers medical decision-making authority from you to the person designated to make decisions and states end-of-life health care wishes.

Note: Laws about advance directives are different in each state. For your state, put the words “advance directives” or “wills” followed by the name of the state in the address bar of your browser.

Where can I find a “Power of Attorney for Health Care” form?

Please see our fact sheet covering legal issues.

What is a living will and how can I do one?  What is a DNR & how can I get the form in Texas? 

DNR is an Do Not Resuscitate type of advance directive that comes into effect when someone is terminally ill (generally means less than six months to live). It describes the kind of treatment the person authorizes in certain situations.

For forms and handbooks on these and other related topics applicable to Texas, consult the Texas Department of Disability and Aging website, forms and handbooks page.

What is a trust? 

A trust is a legal relationship whereby one individual (the settlor) transfers his assets (the trust fund) to another individual or company (the trustee) who holds and manages these assets for the benefit of others (the beneficiaries) named by the settlor.

· A trust can be established in a person’s lifetime or on their death under the terms of a will.

· The trustee is bound by the terms of the trust deed and governed by the trust laws of the jurisdiction ruling the trust. His responsibilities include providing professional administration and prudent management of the trust assets.

· Trusts are confidential, tax efficient and highly flexible financial planning instruments.

Medical Information (Assistive Devices, Geriactrics, Illness, Depression & Stress)

How do I find help paying for medicines?

Click here to go to our page of prescription drug assistance links.

How do I find a physician specializing in geriatrics or working with older adults?

Go to the American Board of Family Medicine and select “Geriatric Medicine” from the dropdown menu for “certification Type”: 

Where can I find quick information about caregiving and a specific illness such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, diabetes, etc.?

Click the link to go to “Chronic Illness, Medication Management and Communicating with Health Care Providers” (Online Education Module 3).

How do I know if a family member is depressed and what can I do about it?

This information about “Depression in Older Adults” is from Mental Health Amercia.

Click the link to go to “Behavior and Emotions of Aging” (Online Education Module 2) to read about the signs of, and treatment for depression.

What about caregiver stress – how can I cope?

See the following pages for help to cope with caregiving stress:

 Caregiver Resources and Information Links

Information on other sites: www.caregiverstress.com 

Medicare / Medicaid

What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid? 

Medicare is a federal insurance program. Medical bills are paid from trust funds which those covered have paid into. It serves people over 65 primarily, whatever their income; and serves younger disabled people and dialysis patients. Patients pay part of costs through deductibles for hospital and other costs. Small monthly premiums are required for non-hospital coverage. It is basically the same everywhere in the United States and is run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency of the federal government.

Medicaid is a federal-state assistance program. Medical bills are paid from federal, state and local tax funds. It serves low-income people of every age. Patients usually pay no part of costs for covered medical expenses. A small co-payment is sometimes required. It varies from state to state and is run by state and local governments within federal guidelines.

Ombudsman, what is it? 

Residents in nursing facilities are among the most frail and vulnerable Texans. At times, they need help to improve their quality of life and care. An ombudsman can provide assistance so all facility residents receive respectful and competent care.

The nursing home industry expanded rapidly after Medicare and Medicaid began in 1965. When federal and state regulations could not keep up, problems began to surface. Consumer advocacy and protection emerged as a major need. Congress amended the Older Americans Act in 1978 to establish the long-term care ombudsman program to serve vulnerable residents in long-term care facilities.

Ombudsman services are available in every state and territory of the U.S. In Texas, the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman operates in the Texas Department on Aging.

Texas Ombudsman Program Philosophy. Persons who are unable to care for themselves are entitled to dependable and consistent care that includes:
· A safe and healthy environment;
· Satisfaction of nutritional needs;
· Medical services, including physical, mental and psychosocial rehabilitation; and
· An environment that promotes and maintains the individual’s dignity, self-determination, communication and protection of individual rights. 

The Texas Ombudsman Program advocates for quality of life and care for residents in nursing facilities and assisted living facilities. Federal and state authority mandates ombudsmen to identify, investigate and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents and to provide services to help in protecting health, safety, welfare and rights. Information and assistance in choosing the most appropriate living residence is also a valuable service. They often help establish and operate resident and family councils. Individuals receive ombudsman services Texas’ aging network. 

Certified ombudsmen – staff and specially trained volunteers – serve residents, their families and friends. To promote quality care, the program works with professionals, advocacy and membership organizations that are interested in long-term care and elder rights issues and coordinates with regulatory agencies.

Go to www.nursing-home-abuse.com/Regional Ombudsmen.htm to find the ombudsman in your area of Texas.

Respite Care (Rest for the Caregiver)

What is respite care?

Respite is a program designed to provide respite relief for family caregivers to give them well deserved time off for other family or personal interests. Caregivers may be of any age or income, do not have to be immediate family members, and are not required to live in the same household with the older person.

How can I get relief from my caregiver responsibilities?

Through a caregiver respite program. Respite is when someone stays with the care receiver and relieves the caregiver to run errands, conduct business, shop, or to take care of the caregiver themselves. 

Do I have to be poor to get help with respite?

No, persons of any income level are eligible for respite care programs.

How can I get respite?

National Respite Locator 
A service to help parents, caregivers, and professionals find respite services in their state and local area. The service is also useful when a family travels or must move to another state. 1-800-773-5433