Caring for aging parents can be stressful, demanding and exhausting, especially as you become more responsible for their well-being. This is particularly true when a caregiver takes on most of these duties with little or no support from siblings or other family members.
Fortunately, there are many government programs for the elderly to help ease the challenges of caring for your parent.
Determining what benefits and programs your family member qualifies for – and which of those will be most helpful for their situation – can seem like a daunting task. With so many resources spread out across so many government agencies and websites, it can be hard to know where to begin.
To make it easier to find and navigate these resources, we’ve made a list of some of the most helpful government programs and benefits for older adults and their caregivers.
The following websites are all great resources for caregivers of elderly parents. They cover a range of general benefits as well as links to programs that offer assistance on topics like transportation, health care, financial support, legal services and more.
- Benefits.gov has a helpful, user-friendly BenefitsCheckUp tool that connects you to a comprehensive range of federal, state and local senior assistance programs across different government agencies. This lets you use one website to search for the specific resources you’re looking for across all levels of government.
- Eldercare Locator is another great resource that connects you to everything from local senior transportation programs and caregiver support to legal services and health programs.
Eldercare Locator connects seniors to local transportation options based on their ZIP code. They also have information on senior transportation services like Rides in Sight and the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC).
Most states, counties, cities and towns provide a number of government-run or volunteer transportation services for older adults. Visit your state’s official website to see what programs are available nearby.
Medical and health programs
Health care needs increase as people get older, with seniors requiring more preventive screenings, more visits to medical specialists, and treatments for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. These programs can help you make informed decisions about your parent’s medical care while also alleviating the costs of their treatments and medications.
- Healthfinder.gov provides information on many preventive health services for older adults, such as screenings and vaccines.
- Medicare helps adults 65 and older cover medical expenses like doctors’ visits, hospital stays and prescription drugs. Find out if your parent is eligible at Medicare.gov.
For older adults, Social Security is often a primary or secondary source of income. But seniors may be eligible for more or better benefits than they’re currently receiving. The Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) can help you determine which benefits your parent is eligible for.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) provides information on legal assistance programs for older adults, helping them understand and exercise their rights. Legal assistance providers can deploy a wide range of civil legal remedies against elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
Programs for veterans
Veterans and their family members have access to special programs.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides numerous resources regarding health care, disability benefits and pension information for eligible senior veterans.
- The VA Caregiver Support Program (CSP) offers caregivers of eligible veterans clinical services like skills training and peer support mentorships as well as legal and financial planning services.
- The VA Caregiver Support Line (CSL) connects caregivers to professional therapists and social workers who can provide counseling.
Support groups for caregivers
Taking care of an aging parent can take a heavy emotional toll. Resentment, frustration and fatigue are all common feelings you may experience. Caregiver support groups provide a place for you to discuss what you’ve been going through with people who can relate to your challenges.
Check your state’s official website to see what options are available. There are many different options that are specific to caregivers’ experiences and life situations, such as groups for caregivers of parents with dementia and groups for people balancing caregiving duties with a full-time job.
You’re not in this alone
Government resources can make caring for aging parents more manageable and less stressful. By understanding the kinds of assistance your parent needs – and researching and applying for relevant programs and benefits – you can make sure your parent receives the best care available to them while also relieving you of some of the burden.