Community-Based Services for the Elderly
As the elderly population grows, so, too, do community services for older people. Services may be provided by government, non-profit or for-profit organizations. Urban and suburban residents usually have a broader range of services than people who live in rural areas; the quality of services also can vary among communities. However, anywhere an elder lives, services of some sort are likely to be available.
You generally can count on community senior centers or local community centers to offer companionship. That’s in addition to other services, including classes, recreational opportunities, travel, volunteer opportunities, flu shots and meals. Often, senior centers are the heart of activities for older people and a good resource for additional information.
Many communities offer transportation services for visits to the doctor, grocery store or senior center. Trips may be limited, though, and sometimes, transportation services are available only to those within certain income levels.
Community groups may sponsor friendly visitors or companions programs, where volunteers make scheduled visits to isolated seniors in their homes. There also are telephone reassurance programs: volunteers call people to chat or check on their well-being.
A number of home maintenance and repair services specialize in installing devices that help older people better manage in their homes.
Older people who are homebound may get meal delivery through Meals-on-Wheels programs or private food service businesses. Chore/personal care services can be arranged to provide help with routine homemaking tasks, such as cooking and cleaning, or for activities like bathing and dressing.
Some public utilities and the U.S. Postal Service offer gatekeeper/home observation programs, in which service people who visit the home regularly are trained to notice anything unusual or any indication of need and report it for investigation and action.
Other services that may be available include home health care, adult day programs and respite care, which is designed to give caregivers a break from their responsibilities.
The Eldercare Locator Service — a nationwide, toll-free assistance directory sponsored by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging — is a good place to start looking for services. Call (800) 677-1116. They’ll give you the names of local organizations that offer legal, financial, health-care and other services for the older adults. The Locator is particularly useful if you’re trying to provide care from a distance and don’t know what services are available in another community. The service operates from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., EST, Monday through Friday. Or visit them on the Internet at www.ageinfo.org/elderloc.
The U.S. Administration on Aging also has useful information for families. Call (202) 619-0724, or visit www.aoa.dhhs.gov. The government section (blue pages) of the telephone directory lists the local area agency on aging — sometimes called the City or County Office on Aging, Council on Aging or Office of Elder Affairs. Also check with the local health department, library, hospital and Department of Veterans Affairs.
For More Information
National Institute on Aging
P.O. Box 8057
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
919 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-1676
American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
901 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004-2937
National Association for Home Care
228 Seventh Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 547-7424 National Council on Aging
409 Third Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 479-1200 National Meals on Wheels Foundation
2675 44th Street SW, No. 305
Grand Rapids, MI 49509
Prepared by the Federal Trade Commission
and the American Association of Retired Persons
Filed under Elder Law by