10 Organizations That Help Seniors
America's aging population is becoming comprised heavily of tech-savvy baby boomers. By 2030 all boomers will have hit 65 years of age, accounting for 18 percent of the US population. This demographic is driving significant and lasting challenges as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. Aging in place is a significant trend of the boomer population as regulatory and policy changes create new incentives supporting the independent living movement. The coronavirus pandemic is also accelerating the desire for aging in place because of retirement communities and senior living facility restrictions and risks, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are older and already living independently or are planning to do so, Aging In Place provides a list of ten resources that can help you do so safely and successfully.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA), founded in 1950, is an association whose stated mission is to "improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling" via their vision to help create "a just and carrying society in which each of us, as we age, lives with dignity, purpose, and security." As a trusted organization and respected national leader, NCOA works directly with governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to provide community services and programs. When trying to identify senior programs that address healthy aging and financial services, NCOA is a great place to start.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), founded in 1958, has over 38 million members and a stated mission "to empower people to choose how they live as they age. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focuses on helping people ages 50 or more. The website is full of topical information such as specific news and products geared to seniors, senior discounts, and healthy living. For lower-income seniors and near seniors, the AARP Foundation acts as an affiliated charity to help provide affordable housing, steady income, nutritious food, and social integration. A team of legal advocates, volunteers, and organizations works together to create effective solutions for struggling older adults.
For the provision and coordination of all the types of care a senior (55 or more) living at home might require, contact the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (National PACE® Association). Note that in Pennsylvania, the program is called LIFE, or Living Independence for the Elderly. If an older adult needs rehabilitation, medical or personal care, medications, transportation, or social interaction, they can contact PACE via their website or call 800-MEDICARE; TTY 877-486-2048. Qualifying for PACE requires state certification that nursing home care is a requirement and live in a PACE service area. There are more than 230 PACE centers in 31 states.
The US Administration on Aging (AoA) provides a free national service known as Eldercare Locator. Together with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) initiative, you can receive help finding local resources for home repair and modification, transportation, caregiving services, even legal and financial support. You can contact Eldercare Locator via their website or by calling 800-677-1116. If you are a senior 60 years old or more, the network of more than 620 organizations providing services to n4a offers valuable information on a wide range of topics. The organizations can provide home-delivered or group meals and nutrition counseling, respite care and caregiver training, referrals to administrators in assistance programs, insurance counseling, coordination for shared, non-medical transportation, and family assistance to complete complex applications for programs like respite care, some veteran's programs, and Medicaid.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is under the National Institute on Health (NIH). It conducts research on aging and the well being and health of older individuals. The NIA provides important information about the nature of aging and the aging process. It also provides data about diseases and conditions associated with getting older. The NIA also has a program known as Go4Life, a tool supplying seniors with at home beginning exercise and physical activity routines. Go4Life helps adults who are 50 or more to incorporate physical activity and exercise into their daily lives via videos, information, and tips. Another government program through the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is Health Finder. This service provides links to self-help groups, health-related websites, support, and more.
Meals on Wheels, the well-known meal program, operates in nearly every American community through the more than 5,000 independently-run local programs. Community programs are needs and resource-based, but all provide seniors with healthy, nourishing meals delivered to their homes.
Senior veterans who opt to age in place and are enrolled in the VA health care system can use the Guide to Long Term Service and Supports program, which provides resources, information, and guidance about long-term care options. The website reviews the many home and community-based as well as residential care options available to aging veterans. Helpful tools to navigate the available programs can help veterans to age more healthily.
Finally, the National Directory of Home Modification and Repair Resources (homemods) is a useful website when looking for qualified local professionals and services that can modify or renovate your home. Adjustments can be minor such as grab bars, or more intensive, like providing better mobility access for wheelchairs, ensuring a safer and more suitable home environment. The list of providers is routinely updated; however, seniors must be wary of using good judgment and caution when employing these resource options.
Independent living for aging Americans should be an enjoyable, rewarding time of life. Aging in place is becoming particularly attractive to baby boomers who prefer the dignity and quality of life living at home while employing online resources (many of which are available in Spanish) to help them meet the needs of living safely, healthily, and happily.
If you have questions or would like to discuss your particular situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out. And if you are outside of Florida, please contact an experienced Elder Law Attorney (preferably one that is Board Certified in Elder Law) to assist you.
Jason A. Penrod is only the 20th attorney to be Board Certified as an Elder Law Expert by the Florida Bar and the National Elder Law Foundation. He is the founder of Family Elder Law (www.familyelderlaw.com) which has offices in Lakeland, Lake Wales, and Sebring, Florida.