Growing Old Comfortably: Resources to Keep in Mind
Aging is a normal part of life that everyone must face in time. As we get older, we all need a bit more help. Whether it comes from loved ones, neighbors or senior care communities, people make all the difference with our journeys through life. What many people forget, however, is the variety of institutional resources available to seniors.
In addition to informal services offered by those nearby, a variety of national agencies also offer a variety of assistance to seniors. For those looking to age in place, these organizations can often help them continue living independently. In other cases, they help facilitate access to financial, legal and care-related assistance.
In this guide, we’ve listed some of our favorite resources that can help seniors at any age.
Your Local Senior Center
Many people assume that senior centers only offer card games and book clubs, but the majority of them offer a variety of programming that runs the gamut, from dance courses to museum trips and exercise groups. Most senior centers are also highly adaptable. If participants want to host a particular activity or club, then the staff will work to accommodate this.
With over 10,000 senior centers operating throughout the country, there’s likely one in your area, and many charge nothing to participate in their activities. To find one, you can use this free senior center directory.
You’ve likely heard of AARP for its wide array of senior discounts offered to members; however, on top of helping you save money, this nonprofit, nonpartisan organization provides a host of free resources on topics related to health, technology, and senior-specific news.
The goal of AARP is to “empower people to choose how they live as they age,” and the organization furthers this mission through the AARP Foundation. This charity helps low-income seniors find affordable food, housing and social services. If you or a loved one needs financial assistance, then this organization can provide help, either through their staff or through one of their partners.
National Council on Aging
For older adults and caregivers, the National Council on Aging offers a wide range of resources and guides that help seniors get the assistance they need, whether this is through their extensive guides to Medicare coverage or preventing falls in the home.
In particular, we appreciate their Age Well Planner. This free assessment allows you to enter information related to your lifestyle––age and financial concerns, for example––and it will provide you with a customized list of written resources to help you prepare for retirement and beyond.
Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
The Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) provides social and medical services to older adults still living at home. Designed to enable seniors to keep living in their communities (as opposed to care facilities), PACE provides participants with a coordinated plan of care that is covered by both Medicare and Medicaid.
Currently offered in thirty states, PACE also requires participants to meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You must be age 55 or older.
- You must live in a PACE service area.
- You must be eligible for nursing home care.
- Most often, this means requiring extensive assistance with ADLs.
- You must be able to live safely in your current community.
PACE benefits include personal care assistance, homemaker services, adult day centers and other non-medical care, as well as ophthalmology, dentistry and services covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, then one of your first steps should be to learn all you can about these conditions. The Alzheimer’s Association provides an extensive array of educational resources related to Alzheimer’s, dementia and caring for people with these conditions.
In addition to their instructive guides related to dementia care, the Alzheimer’s Association also offers a tool to help connect you with local resources. These include local Alzheimer’s Association chapters as well as support groups for families and caregivers.
American Bar Association Free Legal Answers
For better or worse, getting older (or caring for a loved one) often comes with many issues of legal pertinence. Managing inheritances, planning advance directives and appointing guardianships can all get pretty complicated in terms of legal practice.
Ideally, you’ll have a trusted specialist in elder law to help you navigate this terrain; however, to get started, you might consider using the American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers tool.
For those who qualify, Free Legal Answers gives you a direct line of communication with one of the Bar Association’s pro bono attorneys. By asking a question, you can receive a prompt response with legal veracity.
Family Caregiver Alliance
No matter your age, if you’re currently caring for an aging loved one, then the Family Caregiver Alliance can help you navigate just about any issue you’re presented with. As well as detailed, hands-on caregiving guides, the Family Caregiver Alliance also provides access to free courses and webinars that touch on topics related to caregiving practice as well as caring for yourself to prevent caregiver burnout.
VA Aid and Attendance Benefits
Those who have served our country in the armed forces are undoubtedly familiar with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Operating 170 VA medical centers and outpatient clinics throughout the nation, this organization is one of the largest providers of healthcare in the world.
Lesser known, however, are the VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefits. This program provides monthly payments for veterans and survivors to offset the costs of in-home care.
To be eligible for these benefits, a person must meet one of the following requirements:
- You need assistance with any of the activities of daily living.
- Due to illness, you have to stay in or spend a large portion of your time in bed.
- You are a patient in a nursing home due to disabilities.
- Your eyesight is severely limited.
Offered by the U.S. Administration on Aging, the Eldercare Locator is a free tool that connects you with various senior care resources, as well as legal and disability resources. By entering your zip code, you’ll receive a free list of these services that cater to low-income individuals.
National Adult Day Services Association
Serving over a quarter-million older adults each day , adult day centers are an essential tool for caregivers who still work. To help further the mission of these care facilities, the National Adult Day Services Association offers a variety of educational resources, including articles and webinars that help equip caregivers with the latest practices.
National Directory of Home Modification and Repair Resources
For those looking to age in place at home, home modifications can often be an affordable way to make your current living space safer. The National Directory of Home Modification and Repair Resources provides an exhaustive list of guides to preparing your home to prevent falls and adapt to seniors’ needs. Their resources also include local outlets that provide low-cost home modification services or loans to hire a contractor.
National Institute on Aging
Housed under the National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Institute on Aging (NIA) is a research-based organization that aims to understand the nature of aging and extend the quality of life for older individuals.
For older adults and caregivers, the NIA provides an exhaustive list of publications, including studies and articles related to Alzheimer’s, dementia, exercise, and end-of-life planning. While these articles are a bit denser than some of the other resources on this list, they provide an essential glimpse at the science behind aging as we know it.
Meals on Wheels
Available throughout the United States, Meals on Wheels delivers prepared foods to those who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals. While the organization asks for a donation of about $3 per meal, this service is usually available for free to all who need it. To be eligible for Meals on Wheels deliveries, you generally must be age 60 or older and be able to prove that you are unable to prepare meals for yourself.
Your Local Senior Care Communities
Whether you’re hoping to age in place or transition to a new community, your local senior care communities also offer a valuable source of knowledge and services. By touring your local communities, you’ll not only gain a better understanding of which style of living might work for you, but you’ll also begin the process of transition should an emergency arise.
Moving to a senior care community is a big decision, one that should not be made hastily. As such, it’s always good to begin exploring communities sooner rather than later.
At Encore Communities, when you meet with a member of our care planning team, you’ll learn all about the care, amenities and activities offered by each of our communities. Moreover, you’ll have access to our coordinator’s extensive knowledge of financial and logistical planning that goes into choosing a new community.