What Is It?
Many programs and resources are available from your community to help you live independently at home. Some of these programs are funded either by your state government or by the federal government. Others are privately funded or are provided by charitable organizations. Since many programs and resources are available, you may need to spend a lot of time sorting through the various programs that are out there in order to find one suitable for you.
What Types of Community Programs and Resources are Available?
The following is a list of some of the programs and resources that are available either in your community or at the state or national level.
Associations and Referral Organizations
Numerous associations and referral organizations exist to help you find the services or advice you need. You can call your local area agency on aging to find an information and referral service. Many national organizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the American Red Cross, or the Eldercare Locator can also provide good referral information. Contact the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, at (800) 677-1116 or by visiting www.eldercare.gov .
Some agencies specialize in coordinating help for senior citizens. Instead of trying to figure out the services you need and then finding them, you can use a case manager or a geriatric care manager to do this for you. Geriatric care managers are often found through private companies and licensed agencies. Case managers can also be found through licensed agencies, as well as through government and nonprofit agencies. You will find a case manager or a geriatric care manager helpful if you need a lot of services, or if your needs are complicated.
Companionship Programs and Support Groups
From time to time, you may appreciate a visit from a friendly volunteer to help you with certain tasks (such as letter writing) or just to chat. You may also find getting involved with a support group helpful if you are a widow, a spouse, or a child of someone who has a chronic disease or mental impairment. Certain organizations provide telephone support or reassurance. Some government agencies such as the postal service or your local police station may have a program set up to check on you daily. If your community doesn't have a program like this, and you are worried about being alone in a medical or physical emergency, you can buy devices or security systems that you can use to summon help instantly if you need it.
Financial Advice and/or Assistance
For financial advice, talk to your banker, lawyer, financial planner, investment counselor, social worker, or accountant. If he or she can't answer your question, he or she should know someone who can. Volunteer organizations such as the AARP can also help. If you receive Social Security but are afraid that you can no longer manage your own finances, you should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) for information on the Representative Payee Project. You should also contact the SSA for information on retirement, disability, survivor's, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Health Information Services
National associations (such as the Alzheimer's Association) are excellent sources of information on various health problems. Home health care agencies and associations such as the Visiting Nurse Association can help you locate in-home medical care or household help. Social Service agencies can provide you with mental health services or referrals and information on Medicaid. Hospitals can provide physician referrals, and doctors can provide referrals for geriatric assessment. Each state is required to have a health insurance counseling program, and you can receive advice about health insurance from an insurance agent or financial planner.
Your local bar association may operate a referral service that you can use to find a lawyer if you need one. They may not recommend one particular attorney, but may provide you with a list of attorneys that specialize in elder law and help you set up a consultation with one or more of them. You can also receive information from your AARP chapter or from certain federal agencies. National organizations such as Legal Counsel for the Elderly can also answer your questions and provide referrals.
Meal Delivery Services
Meals-on-wheels is a well-known program that provides one hot meal and a light supper once a day, at least five days a week. Volunteers deliver the meals. If subsidized, the meals may be free, but sometimes you must pay a small charge for each meal that is delivered to you. Your community may also have a delivery service available that will pick up meals from a restaurant and deliver them to your home for a few dollars more than the actual cost of the meal. In addition, some national companies and local grocery store chains can ship or deliver groceries or meals to you.
An ombudsman is a trained volunteer who monitors nursing home care or other long-term care facilities. Each state also has at least one ombudsman, and many cities and counties have local ombudsmen as well. If you or someone you love has a complaint about the quality of long-term care, you can contact the ombudsman through the nursing home or care facility, through the area agency on aging, or through your state department of aging.
Community centers, senior centers, churches, temples, and YMCAs (or YWCAs) offer recreation (including activities and exercise) programs geared towards older individuals.
You may need an advocate in certain situations, particularly when you have a legal problem or a problem involving a government agency. You can find out about advocates from the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, the AARP, and through your local social service agency or bar association.
Local senior centers offer activities, trips, meals, education programs, health screening, and counseling. Fees for services and activities are usually low, and the fee might be waived if you can't afford it. Some provide free transportation. To find a senior center in your area call your local area agency on aging.
Social Service Agencies
Social Service agencies sponsor in-home care, volunteer programs, family services, health or mental health programs, referral programs, adult day care, transportation, and other services. They can be nonprofit organizations or government agencies. You can call the Eldercare Locator or check with your local Social Service representative for information.
City buses and taxis are popular methods of transportation, but what if you don't live on a bus route or you can't afford a taxi? First, check with your local bus company. Some cities offer low-cost door-to-door bus transportation to seniors who live on city bus routes. Some hospitals or social service organizations also sponsor volunteer transportation services at little or no cost. You may be able to find transportation by contacting your local senior center or by looking under Transportation or Handicapped Transportation in your phone directory or by searching the Internet using those terms. In addition, your health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid may cover some necessary medical transportation (for example, ambulance service).
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