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Community Based Resources

We often think that there is nowhere to turn when we need help with the ordinary activities of living. However, there are resources for the elderly in most communities to assist you or your family-----finding them is the key.

Who needs elderly resources?

Many Americans are now cared for in their own homes or live with family. Few people realize that only 5% of individuals requiring care from another live in nursing homes. It is estimated that between 22.5 and 25 million families care for a frail elder, chronically ill or person with disabilities.  As health declines or is changed forever by an accident, it is the family that is most likely to provide assistance. The family, in turn, gets to the point where help is needed... so that the caregiver or caregivers may remain healthy and continue with their responsibilities.

What is Needed?

You finally realize you need some senior citizen services, but then what?  What is it that you are looking for?  What type of help for the elderly is available?
  • A companion, perhaps, for your disabled husband...someone to read to him or play cards with when you need a break from caregiving.
  • A day program where your frail mother can visit with others her age and participate in crafts, discussions or just be social over lunch.
  • Someone trained and caring to help bathe and dress your Dad in the morning and help him into bed at night because your back is "out" and you can;t do that anymore.
  • A temporary place or person available to care for Mom so that the family can go to your in-laws 50th anniversary.
  • A support group that allows you to be with others who are in a similar situation.
  • Financial or legal help to see you through a crisis or help in planning for the future.

Where can I find them?

Look in the Yellow Pages or in the Community Directory section of the telephone book for local resources that provide services to elders, those with certain disease conditions or disabilities and people who need transportation. Support groups for caregivers, those in grief, or with abuse issues may be announced in the local newspaper or found at the local hospital. Many communities have an extensive network of aging services, volunteer companions, agencies that provide nursing or homemaking service, and transportation for the elderly or disabled.  The U.S. Administration on Aging is charged overseeing the services authorized and funded by Congress in The Older Americans Act (OAA). Your local Area Agency on Aging may be listed under a different name.  If you cannot find your local agency telephone number, call the State Agency on Aging or the State Office of Elder Affairs.  Each agency will provide information and referral about local programs and provide direct or contract services as mandated by the OAA. They include:
  • Adult Day Care Centers provide social activities, supervision and assistance during weekdays for elders who are able to leave their home. Mealsand transportation are usually included.
  • Case Management is a method used by professionals who work with elders in need of services. Case managers work with the elder and their families to evaluate needs, develop a plan of care and coordinate services to maintain the elder's well-being.
  • Housekeeping, home maintenance, and yard services are known as Chore Services and are generally contracted.
  • Companions or Friendly Visitors offer friendship to homebound individuals who live alone. The companion may also help with meals, assist with shopping, and run other errands. This may also be known as homemaker service.
  • Hot, nutritious meals are provided in senior living facilities or adult/senior centers. Meals are also provided to homebound elders. These programs are known as congregate meals or meals-on-wheels.
  • Financial and Insurance Counseling provide assistance to help balance checkbooks, prepare income and property taxes, pay bills, and complete Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance forms. Insurance counselors provide recent information on Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance.
  • Home Health Care Services include nursing, physical and occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, dieticians and medical social workers for those who are homebound.
  • Legal Referral Services to elder law attorneys are often available.
  • Home Health Aides are specially trained to provide personal care such as bathing, dressing, or personal hygiene.
  • Respite allows an individual or family to have a break from caregiving. It may be for several hours, days or weeks. Individuals, organizations such as adult day care, or facilities such as nursing homes may provide respite services. It is highly recommended that caregivers obtain regular respite services to maintain their own well-being.
  • Senior Centers offer many services and opportunities for fun. Some of the activities offered include adult education classes, special events, trips, health screenings, legal and financial counseling, and congregate meals.
  • Senior Transportation Programs are an important and often essential service for elders. Rides usually need to be scheduled ahead of time and are minimally priced. Transportation is available for appointments, social activities, and often for shopping.
  • Regular telephone calls to elders to check on their safety are known as telephonereassurance.

The United Way and other major community service funding organizations provide or support information and referral lines. These may be known as Elder Helpline, First Call for Help, or Crisis Line. These helplines provide information aboutservices and can provide referrals to public, private, and voluntary services and facilities that are appropriate for the caller. There are also many small, helpful groups that are not well known. Try contacting your local religious congregation.  Many have volunteer programs that provide caregiving services to those in need. The National Federation of Interfaith Caregivers and Shepherd’s Centers of America are national grassroots movements that provide volunteer caregiving assistance to members of the community.

Taking Action

Remember that calling agencies can be frustrating. Busy telephone lines and organizations short on staff or volunteers is the norm. Sometimes there aren't any services available due to lack of funding or there is a long wait. Workers in community service organizations want to be helpful...give them some time and tell them what you need.  And, while you are on the phone finding services, ask about a support group for yourself. Talking with others and sharing your feelings will helpyou keep on helping your loved one.


U.S.Administration on Aging:   You will find the sites of the state agencies on aging and many other resources of interest on aging and elder care.

Medicare Information:

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys:  National organization provides lists of attorneys specializing in elder law; written materials are also available.

American Bar Association's Elderly Legal Issues: This site specializes in information regarding elder law.

United Way of America:

www.unitedway.orgThe United Way sponsors and helps to fund telephone Helplines for information and referral regarding community services across the country.

Shepherd's Centers of America:

www.shepherdcenters.orgA volunteer organization that provides senior centers and community volunteers.

National Federation of Interfaith Caregivers:

www.nfivc.orgA volunteer organization that is locally focused. The local organization may provide services only to the homebound, specialize in care of those with AIDS or serve only children.

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