Ask Kim


Resources to Help You Help Your Aging Parents

Kimberly Lankford

These Web sites and organizations can direct you to benefits for seniors and guide you through the maze of insurance options.



My parents are starting to need more help with their finances and everyday care. What are some resources that can help me help them?

SEE ALSO: Managing Your Parents' Money

As parents get older and have a tougher time caring for themselves and managing their own finances, adult children and other relatives often need to step in. A number of valuable resources can help you navigate insurance options and find benefits -- whether you live nearby or are helping from a distance.

The Eldercare Locator, run by the U.S. Administration on Aging, can point you to a variety of local resources -- including your area office on aging, legal services for seniors, your state’s health insurance assistance program, a long-term-care ombudsman and disability resources. The local office on aging can usually help you find a nearby memory clinic or geriatric assessment center, programs and activities for seniors, adult day care, energy-bill assistance, and other resources.

Benefitscheckup.org, run by the National Council on Aging, can help you find out whether your parents qualify for any special programs to help pay for medications, health care, food, utilities and more.

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A geriatric care manager can provide information about local care options for your parents, help you navigate their benefits, and help find financial and legal specialists.

The government’s Medicare.gov is filled with information about how the program works, how to qualify for benefits, how to lower your drug costs, and how to find a provider who accepts Medicare. The Plan Finder helps you choose a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan during open-enrollment season every fall -- and it’s a good idea to review Medicare plans each year because programs change their coverage and costs.

State Health Insurance Assistance Programs provide free counseling and assistance by telephone and face-to-face sessions. SHIP counselors can help you with your Medicare and Part D choices; they also offer educational workshops on Medicare.

The Medicare Rights Center can help answer questions about benefits and coverage. The Web site is filled with information about the Medicare program, and the helpline (800-333-4114) is a great source for personalized assistance.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ geriatrics and extended care Web site can help you learn about special long-term-care programs and benefits available to veterans. The Guide to Long Term Care includes a lot of helpful information about care options.

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys’ “find an attorney” database can help you locate an elder-law attorney in your area who specializes in helping seniors and their families with their special legal issues, such as setting up powers of attorney and health care proxies, understanding eligibility laws for Medicaid and other benefits, and estate planning.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides information about the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, care options, financial planning for Alzheimer’s patients, and support groups and other local resources. For more information about resources to help with Alzheimer’s, see Top Web Sites on Alzheimer’s Disease. Also see Planning for Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s: Get Your Finances in Order.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.



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