Low income seniors across America can get free and low-cost assistance from their local Area Agency on Aging. If you haven’t accessed this vital resource yet, you need to know about this!
What is the Area Agency on Aging?
The term “Area Agency on Aging” is a generic term that is used by the federal government to refer to this network of nonprofits and public organizations that help seniors. Each organization governs a certain geographic area, which may be just one city, or a county, or even multiple counties.
Your local Area Agency on Aging may have a unique name like the “Commission for Senior Citizens” in Santa Maria, California, the “Senior Resource Alliance” in Orlando, Florida, or the “Office for the Aging” in New York.
Whatever it is called, your local Area Agency on Aging is designed to help older adults remain healthy and independent. The easiest way to find your local Area Agency on Aging is to call 211 or ask your local Community Action Council for a referral.
Your local AAA offers many helpful programs.
Each Area Agency on Aging is dedicated to helping low income seniors stay healthy and independent in their homes. Each one chooses what programs to provide, so your local agency may not offer everything in this list… but these are seven programs we’ve found at many agencies across the United States!
Safe and reliable transportation is a major challenge for many low income seniors. However, Area Agencies on Aging have been working to expand transportation options for those that need them. If you need assistance with transportation, you can contact your local Agency or call the national toll-free Eldercare Locator hotline at 800-677-1116 for help in your area.
Hot and Nutritious Meals
Your local Area Agency on Aging can help you find hot meal sites in your area, especially at senior centers. In 2020, many agencies worked with local restaurants to get meals to older adults. This was especially prevalent in Florida, where the state’s 11 Area Agencies on Aging created a program called Meals of Love, which delivered restaurant meals to thousands of homebound seniors and disabled adults every day.
No matter where you live, your local agency should be able to help you find meals in your community. Whenever possible, seniors are encouraged to participate in congregate meals because 80% of participants say that the social experience helps them see their friends more often.
However, your agency man also help you arrange for Meals on Wheels, a meal delivery program for homebound seniors and disabled people. Meals on Wheels usually have a small cost but can often be paid for with food stamps.
Home Repair Grants.
Many Area Agencies on Aging help coordinate home repair and disability modification grants for low income seniors. Others can refer you to the local government agency or nonprofit that offers these services. If you are living in housing that needs to be modified or repaired for your safety or comfort, it’s definitely worth contacting your local agency to see what they can do.
Medical and Insurance Assistance
Health care needs tend to increase as you age and many insurance programs are difficult to navigate. This is especially true of Medicare, which can sometimes be a complete bureaucratic nightmare. Your local Area Agency on Aging can usually help you navigate your benefits. Most agencies offer a variety of resources that can help you improve your health and save money.
Affordable Housing for Seniors
Your local Area Agency on Aging exists to help low income seniors in your area live independently as long and as comfortably as possible. This often includes helping seniors find safe and affordable housing opportunities. If you are a senior and need help maintaining your housing or finding low-cost housing, reach out to your local agency because they may be able to help.
Protection from Elder Abuse
Many Area Agencies on Aging assist seniors with their unique legal challenges as well – and there are many legal challenges that are unique to senior years.
For example, the Elder Justice Coalition estimates that six million seniors are abused every year. That’s one in TEN adults that are age 60 and older! That’s a lot. In fact, the problem of elder abuse is so common that the CDC now considers it a major public health problem.
According to the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, or N4A, more than 98% of Area Agencies on Aging have at least one service or program designed to address elder abuse. These include community education, training, public awareness campaigns, case management services and more.
According to N4A, approximately 65.7 million Americans are providing care for an older or disabled adult. That’s about 30% of the general population! The average age of a family caregiver is 48, which means that many of these wonderful people are holding employment, raising their own families and caring for their parents or other loved ones as well. That’s a lot to balance, but studies have shown that these family caregivers don’t actually consider themselves to be caregivers.
However, your local Area Agency on Aging provides many supportive services for family caregivers. These services include individual counseling, support groups, caregiver education classes, training, emergency assistance and even respite care. Respite care is when someone else temporarily provides care to the elder so that the caregiver can rest. These agencies also provide valuable referrals to other community resources.
These services can be tremendously beneficial to seniors and their caregivers. After all, helping the caregiver does help the senior as well. Please contact your local Area Agency on Aging for more information.