June 12th, 2019 | BY: Allegra Chaney

Caregiver Volunteers Assisting the Elderly

Dear Allegra:

My great uncle is 94 years old. He lives alone in his own home, but on a very tight budget. My aunt passed away years ago and I am his only remaining family. While my wife and I try to help him however we can, we live almost 2 hours away.

Because my uncle’s income is so limited, I’m struggling to find support for him. Is there such a thing as a volunteer caregiver? Or caregiver volunteers who assist the elderly? I’d like to make sure that he has someone to look in on him every day or so.

Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated!

Best,
Stephen

Caregiver Volunteers for Assisting the Elderly

Dear Stephen:

I’m sure your great uncle is glad to have you looking out for his well-being! It makes a big difference in the life of an older adult to know there is someone out there who cares.

It sounds like you’ve discovered that long-distance caregiving can be challenging. Fortunately, I have a few ideas you might find useful.

First, there are volunteer caregivers in most communities, though they don’t always use that title. There are a few avenues to explore when trying to connect with one:

  • Religious organization: If your uncle is a member of a church or synagogue, this may be a good place to start. Sometimes these organizations have what are referred to as friendly-visitor programs. Volunteers stop by homebound seniors’ houses to visit, read to them, make crafts, or even to pray with them if the older adult is interested.
  • Agency on aging: Another phone call to make is to the agency on aging office that covers your uncle’s area. They have great resources to assist seniors. Most maintain a database of contacts from transportation services to job referrals for retirees. Many also have a volunteer group that visits with local seniors who need support.
  • Meals on Wheels: While this isn’t exactly what you asked about, meals on wheels is an organization of volunteers who deliver meals to homebound seniors. They assess fees on a sliding scale based on income. Signing your uncle up can give you peace of mind that he has nutritious meals every day, and in doing so comes in contact with others on a regular basis.

Don’t overlook opportunities that might help you finance home care or assisted living for your uncle, too. There are a number of options to choose from:

  • A reverse mortgage would allow him to utilize the equity in his home to pay for home care. He can remain in the home and have services come to him.
  • Veterans are often entitled to financial support through a program referred to as the Aid and Attendance benefit. It can help subsidize the cost of care for veterans who qualify.
  • Medicaid might be another program to explore. Since it sounds as if your uncle’s resources are limited, he might qualify for paid community services.

You can download our 5 Ways to Pay Guide to explore more options for financing care.

Best of luck creating a plan of care for your uncle, Stephen!

Kind Regards,
Allegra