Learn how to find others who can help

When family members start helping older relatives, it's often with one or a few small tasks. Over time, that list can get longer and more demanding.

Finding other helpers can keep family members from taking on too much and burning out. Neighbors, friends and community members may be willing to help or already helping.

Family members can find community programs and paid helpers by:

  • Contacting local agencies that work with older adults, like Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Aging Units, Area Agencies on Aging, Senior Centers and departments of health or human services

  • Asking health professionals, social workers or caregiver support groups for recommendations

  • Exploring local options for respite care, adult day care, paid personal care, housekeeping or home care services

  • Looking up local home health agencies on Medicare.Gov/HHCompare

  • Visiting BenefitsCheckup.Org and Benefits.Gov for national and state programs that help older adults

Family members can find others to help by:

  • Making a list of the tasks that the older adult needs help with

  • Making a list of family, friends and neighbors who might be willing to help, including people who live at a distance

  • Asking the older adult who else might be willing to help

  • Thinking about each helper's skills, time and personality

  • Trying to match two helpers with each task-a "top" and a "back-up" helper

  • For each task, asking the top helper to take on the task

  • If they say no, asking if they can help in another way

  • If they say no, asking the back-up helper to take on the task

Having back-up helpers, taking turns and splitting up tasks involves more people and avoids burning anyone out. Family members can also encourage each other to be honest about what they can do, and to take care of themselves.