Dear readers: Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7, so if you haven’t reviewed Medicare options, now is the time.

Once you’re done, take a break. Then, consider that this is also a good time for another annual review because there could be other benefits that you, your spouse or your parents may be missing.

BenefitsCheckUp

BenefitsCheckUp is a free service from the National Council on Aging (https://www.benefitscheckup.org/).

Unfortunately, all services for older adults mentioned are not available everywhere, but do check this resource at least once a year just in case. (More for veterans below).

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To use the site, enter the ZIP code of the person you are seeking help for and answer questions from there so that you can receive tailored results. Some are national programs only available to those who qualify financially.

Getting paid as a caregiver

This is the second important site you will want to visit for caregiver and care receiver assistance: The Eldercare Locator (https://eldercare.acl.gov/). The Eldercare Locator phone number is 800-677-1116. As above, you can find your local Area Agency on Aging simply by typing in the ZIP code of the person needing help.

The Area Agencies on Aging can help you find services for your older adult, but they can also help you find services for caregiving help like respite care, caregiver training classes, counseling and support groups. They can be useful in helping you understand what is and what is not covered by Medicare and/or Medicaid, as well.

If the person you are caring for is on Medicaid, you might qualify for a certain number of paid hours depending on their needs. There are also Medicare waivers that can help as well as other government programs, so check out the National Council on Aging (https://www.ncoa.org/) site to start digging.

If the person you are caring for is a veteran, see the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers below.

Most older adults want to stay in their homes, yet many struggle to afford it. There are programs to help. You can find links through this agency.

Veteran benefits

Most veteran services are based on income, though some may be tied to a disability rating. Check your Veterans Affairs office for more.

  • Veterans Pension: This is needs-based with a number of rules regarding service.
  • Aid and Attendance: This program is designed for older veterans who need assistance with daily activities or are housebound.
  • Housebound program: The Housebound program is similar to Aid and Attendance, but with a little different focus.
  • Your VA medical center: You need to meet military requirements to qualify, so like many of these, you’d need to contact the closest VA.
  • The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC): This caregiver benefit is designated for family caregivers of veterans who live with them full time.

Readers, I don’t have the space to develop these topics, but if you use these sites (get help with navigation if you need it), you will become much better informed. Good luck.

Carol Bradley Bursack is a veteran caregiver and an established columnist. She is also a blogger, and the author of “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories.” Bradley Bursack hosts a website supporting caregivers and elders at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached through the contact form on her website.