Eldercare

Assessing Your Elder’s Needs

Assessing your elder's needs is the next step in finding care. Several tools are available to help you perform a needs assessment, including the National Caregivers Library's Needs Assessment Worksheet and checklist of care needs published by the Family Caregiver Alliance in their Handbook for Long-Distance Caregivers.

Once you do an initial assessment, you can contact a care provider who will help you determine whether their services are right for your elder. Representatives from a facility may come to your elder's home to help make the assessment.

It may also be helpful to consult a geriatric care manager and/or your elder's doctor for an assessment, although a doctor will not be able to discuss your elder's medical record with you without explicit permission from your elder.

Smith Policies and Resources

Family Leave

Family leave is available to Smith employees in accordance with the federal Family Medical Leave Act. To explore your options, faculty should contact the Provost's Office at 413-585-3000, and staff should contact Human Resources at 413-585-2270.

Dependent Reimbursement Accounts

Smith's dependent reimbursement accounts allow you to set aside up to $5,000 of your pre-tax earnings to pay for dependent care. If your elder can be claimed as a dependent on your IRS tax return, this may help you with the costs of care.

Employee Assistance Program

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers counseling referrals that may help you manage the stress and anxiety that often accompany elder care. If you have questions about Harvard Pilgrim's mental health benefit, please call (888) 333-4742.

Contact Human Resources

If you have any questions about your employee benefits, please go to the Human Resources website or call 413-585-2270.

Finding Eldercare Resources

In Massachusetts, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs is the hub for elder care resources and information. Their website links to 800AgeInfo, which provides comprehensive assessment, planning and caregiving resources for Massachusetts families and connects you to local agencies.

MIT's Family Caregiver Handbook is another excellent resource that provides comprehensive information including: Caregiver Support: Resources and Services; Financial, Legal and Consumer Protection; Home, Health Care and End of Life Care; Glossary: Elder Care Terms: A to Z.

For information, support and services close to Smith, contact the Northampton Council on Aging and Senior Center. This agency provides a range of services and support to the city's elders and is a good resource for caregivers who would like to see a senior center in action.

Highland Valley Elder Care Services, also located in Northampton, is a federally designated Area Agency on Aging offering a wide range of programs, services and referrals for elders.

Legal Concerns

Legal matters that arise as you seek and procure services for your elder can best be addressed by an elder law attorney. The website of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys has a searchable database through which you can find an attorney in your area. National Senior Citizens Law Center advocates nationally for low-income elderly and disabled Americans. Their Web site offers free and for-purchase publications about legal issues affecting elders.

Caregiver Support

You can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself.  To keep yourself well, you need to reach out to others for advice, support, community and respite from your caregiving duties.

The Family Caregiver Alliance and the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) provide comprehensive resources for people caring for the elderly, chronically ill or disabled. These resources include:

  • Online forums and discussion groups for caregivers
  • Connections to state and local caregiver support
  • Literature on topics relevant to caregivers
  • Caregivers' stories

The National Alliance for Caregiving, helps you manage your caregiving process and find support.

Caring From a Distance provides excellent caregiver resources, emphasizing topics relevant to long-distance caregivers, such as how to prepare for a visit with your elder and how to identify a support system in your elder's home community.

Lotsa Helping Hands provides an online tool for creating a community of support for your elder and helping you find respite care.

People caring for chronically ill spouses or partners of any age can also find information and support at the Well Spouse Association, including links to Well Spouse support groups across the country.

Support Groups

To find caregiver support groups and resources in other areas, search the Family Care Navigator or the Elder Care Locator by state and contact the relevant agencies on aging.