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A Primer on Eldercare

All Personal Growth Articles

"Elder Care: A Growing Concern"

by Joy Loverdale

In a recent survey, The Families and Work Institute found "The total cost of professional care givers [for elders] will top $17 billion-an amount roughly equal to the combined profit last year of the four biggest companies in America."


For employees who are currently caring for an aging family member, or believe that they may soon have this responsibility, safe and comfortable care is a primary concern. Relocating families need to realistically evaluate the care that their elder will require, as well as this person's financial resources.  If elders are able to live independently, a few safeguards can ease anxiety and avert a crisis. Family members should arrange for a personal emergency response system that will send a distress signal to a reliable friend or family member, and/or have someone routinely check on their relative.

A few other issues to consider are whether relatives can drive safely, the amount of friends from whom they can obtain help and significant physical challenges that they experience.

Ask for references from people such as doctors, patients or family members who are familiar with the provider's quality of service and visit several facilities before selecting one. Consider joining a support group with families in similar situations.

Legal, financial and long term planning for elders is necessary. If you will be living a long distance from your relative, you will need to plan for possible emergency travel to care for this person, as well as make plans for your own family during your absence, i.e., car pool, shopping and day care.

See also Joy Loverde's elder care checklist (sidebar) for additional considerations.

Help for aging family members is available from sources within your community. Look in the special sections of your telephone book for "Human Service Agencies."

"Moving Elders with You: An Elder Care Checklist"
By Joy Loverde, elder care author and speaker.
Internet site:

Important Lifestyle Considerations:
Will my elders' health insurance transfer to the area? Will my elders be able to afford the new cost of living (housing, entertainment, services)? Does this location offer my elders plenty of social activity opportunities? Is the climate suitable? Do my elders have access to medical care, church, friends, barber/beauty shop, shopping?
Is this area too noisy? Too quiet?

Housing Considerations:
Is the prospective home high maintenance? Are affordable and trusting home maintenance services available? Is it safe for them to take a walk and sit outside? Are pets allowed? Is there wheelchair access in every room?

Undesirable Housing Traits:
Stairs that your elder will have to negotiate. Building codes that will not allow outdoor ramps. Community in-home health care services are not available. Transportation services are not available. The bathroom tub cannot be removed to install a shower.

These suggestions are from Joy Loverde's book, The Complete ElderCare Planner. Written with the time-taxed reader in mind, the planner includes checklists, action plans, The Documents Locator, record-keeping forms, questions to ask and more. Joy Loverde is a professional speaker on eldercare-related topics. She can be reached at or (312) 642-3611.

Whether a relative will require a home care provider, or be moved to an assisted living facility or nursing home, this checklist has questions to ask to evaluate appropriate care:

  • Is the staff or facility licensed and accredited?
  • Are nurses or therapists the individuals who will evaluate the patient's needs?
  • Will the relative and family be included in developing the plan of care?
  • Do you assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care patients are receiving? If so, how often?
  • Who can the family call with questions or complaints?
  • How does the agency follow up on and resolve problems?
  • How does the agency screen their care givers?
  • What are the financial terms and procedures?
  • What procedures are in place for emergencies?


The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (NAAAA) runs Eldercare Locator, a toll-free resource line that helps families find community services. Contact NAAAA at 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 100, Washington, DC  20036. For general information, call (202) 296-8130. The Eldercare Locator provides access to an extensive network of organizations serving older people at state and local levels. Call (800) 677-1116.


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