Meeting multiple needs

Florence can no longer drive, she does not eat well and is lonely. She also needs help with a bath. Her children can arrange mobile meals but the drivers cannot spend much more than a few minutes a day chatting with her. The local bus system will drive her to her appointments but not out to dinner with her girlfriends who will help her mental health. A home health agency will bath her but will not take her to appointments.

There is no doubt this situation is difficult. Our society (and the insurance industry) has made it difficult for families to meet multiple needs of their aging family members. One organization or non-profit cannot do everything, often several agencies must be involved. Even those in an independent living facility must do this coordination. Only when someone is in a nursing care facility are most of their needs, which are very focused and mainly medically based, coordinated to help them.

Unfortunately, there is no one agency that can do everything. Sure there are independent contractors that will do all of these things, but they are uninsured and have not undergone background checks like most companies or agencies will do. Where can the family turn to arrange for everything?

Changing needs

Often people start out having to give up their car, so they find a solution for that problem. Then they are not eating right. Then they are falling and need more supervision. Getting older can be a slippery slope. Aging is not for sissies. As we age, our needs are everchanging and it makes it hard on family members to keep up with appropriate services.

The solution

Many of the companies and organizations that do one specific thing know other organizations that do a different aspect of elder care. We in the industry know each other and often refer to others. What we don’t do is coordinate your care.

Social service agencies that assist older adults like Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Service have social workers who will coordinate, or at least suggest, services for you. If you family member is hospitalized or in a rehab facility, a social worker will coordinate their immediate needs for returning to home.


As I mentioned, independent contractors are out there that will do all, or most of these services. If you go that route, make sure you are not hiring someone who neglected or abused another client. Just because you checked references does not mean you are not calling their aunt. Ask around for people others have trusted and do your own background check. Remember the golden rule of hiring independent contractors: you get what you pay for. If you want to get someone of quality it will easily cost upwards of $30 or more an hour, often with a minimum of four to eight hours a day. If they are independent, you may need to pay taxes on their earning or file a 1099. Check with your tax advisor.

Ask for help

If you are feeling overwhelmed with how to care for your aging parent, reach out to someone who can help. These people can be clergy, social service agencies, health care providers or people you know who deal with older adults can put you on the right track. Some of these people may not have the answers, but they will know who to contact to give you some information.

Whatever you do, please do not ignore the situation. Assuming that mom is probably done falling or her loneliness will pass eventually are false assumptions. Ignoring a situation often makes it worse. I get calls from time to time of people who contacted me a year ago but never followed up. When they call me twelve months later, their family member’s needs are too complex for us to handle and it is now an emergency situation for the family.

It is not easy to raise parents! Resources are out there but you need to seek them out. There are people there to help you.