When an older person needs care to get through their day, it's their family – not a social service agency, nursing home or government program – that usually provides that care. More than seven million people in the U.S. are informal caregivers, providing help and support to older people who have at least one limitation on their activities of daily life. These caregivers can be spouses, older children, and other relatives and friends.
The Administration on Aging (AoA), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has developed a new program to provide aid and resources to caregivers. The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) calls for all states, working in partnership with area agencies on aging and local community-service providers, to make five basic services available to family caregivers. These services are:
- Information to caregivers about available services;
- Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to support services;
- Individual counseling, organization of support groups, and training to assist the caregivers in making decisions and solving problems relating to their roles as caregivers;
- Respite care to enable caregivers to be temporarily relieved from their caregiving responsibilities;
- Supplemental services, on a limited basis, to complement the care provided by caregivers.
To be eligible for the NFCSP, you must be a family caregiver of an older adult, or the grandparent or relative caregiver, age 60 or older, of a child not more than 18 years old (and those individuals who are affected by mental retardation or who have developmental disabilities).
The program requires that states give priority consideration for services to the people in greatest social and economic need (with attention to low income and minority individuals), and older individuals who are providing care for persons with mental retardation and related developmental disabilities.
Eldercare Locator: The Eldercare Locator is an AoA supported nationwide toll-free information and assistance hotline that helps older adults and their caregivers to find local support services. You can call the Eldercare Locator to speak with an information specialist who will help link you to the information and referral services in your state and community.
The phone number for the Eldercare Locator is 1-800-677-1116. You can call Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern time. When calling, have the address, zip code and county of residence for the person needed assistance.
You can also find information on available resources in AARP's My Generation magazine special section, Caregiving Resource Center.