Becoming a caretaker of a parent or other older family member can be a logistical nightmare if you don't have the proper resources. Fortunately, there are state and federal programs that can assist you with many aspects of caring for a parent.
The Federal Older Americans Act (OAA) has created many programs not only for seniors themselves but for family caretakers as well. The act has been amended several times to include new programs since its creation. The OAA requires states to maintain Area Agencies on Aging, appropriates funds to these agencies and oversees the programs that they are required to maintain. The staff at the local Agency on Aging is a vital resource for new caretakers. The programs administered by Agencies on Aging include everything from assistance with simple transportation issues to in-home care and legal services. Most programs are aimed toward low-income seniors, but you will have to speak with staff to see the expansive list of programs and get an idea of what you and your parent are eligible for.
In addition to federal programs, many states have developed additional assistance programs. These program offerings are different from state to state, but many states administer a program to pay wages or partial wages for caretakers of disabled seniors. Like the federal programs, your local Agency on Aging is the place to start. The agency staff can tell you exactly what is available in your state, what you may qualify for and help you begin the application process.
Beyond the Government
If you do not qualify for government programs in your state, try contacting a not-for-profit like Easter Seals Disability Services. Easter Seals is one national organization that can help lift the financial burdens that come with caring for a parent. They offer assistance with in-home caregivers, transportation, respite and may even be able to assist with adult day care so that you do not have to give up your employment.