Video: Getting a little help with aging parents

By Dawn Fratangelo Correspondent
NBC News
updated 12/20/2006 7:18:48 PM ET 2006-12-21T00:18:48

NEW YORK — Kathy Meyer is a lifeline.

It's 10 a.m. and Harold is her first stop — to take him to the ear doctor.

Meyer: "Hello, how are you today?"

Harold: "I'm better today than I was yesterday."

Later, she'll check on Gloria, whose medication is off." I'm going to put two pills of Herceptin in your holder," she tells Gloria. And then she'll visit Collie, who has dementia. A thousand miles away, Collie's daughter, Marie Wilson, has a busy career in New York and can't be with her mother, so she's hired Kathy. "Because Kathy is down there, I can get up in the morning, let's start with that," Marie says. "Because I'm not worried everyday, which I have been."

As one of 6,000 geriatric care managers in the country, Meyer is a vital link between adult children and their aging parents. "There either are no families close by, they live far away, or they're busy," she says.

Meyer also pays bills, handles emergencies and helps maneuver the Medicare maze.

Baby boomers are finding it takes a village to care for aging family members. A recent survey of women found more than half are concerned about the health of a parent. So a cottage industry is emerging to offer help.

"Oh, I feel like a bad daughter, yeah," says one of Meyer's customers, Marie Wilson.

You can find someone like Kathy Meyer at caremanager.org. Just type in your zip code. Their $85 to 150-an-hour fee is not usually covered by insurance. Eldercare.gov offers services that may be covered.

But do your homework.

"I think the person needs to be a nurse or a social worker," says Lisa Gwyther, a gerentologist at Duke University. "I think they need to have some experience and have clients that they are willing to tell you about whether they had a good experience with them."

Kathy Meyer has this advice forboomers: Don't be afraid to let someone help with the care giving.

"I really think of myself as an advocate more than anything," she says, "and a problem solver."

A perfect fit for a busy generation.

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