Approximately 27% of U.S. adults aged 60 and older were living alone in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center – and that number is growing every day as Baby Boomers reach retirement age. There are so many resources available to seniors. But those living alone – or their adult children – might not know where to find them.
So in this column, I’d like to highlight an all-in-one guide to those helpful resources, just published by the National Council on Aging on their website, www.NCOA.org. if filled with connections for seniors, their adult children and caregivers. This latest report can be found at www.NCOA.org/aginginplaceguide.
There are so many programs for seniors that you may never have heard about, but which could reduce living costs, add to safety, and keep seniors from the growing threat of loneliness and isolation.
Here are some examples you can search for on the NCOA website.
BenefitsCheckUp: This is a simple online search service, which can be done anonymously. You’ll easily find out if you may be eligible for key benefits programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicare Savings Programs, Medicaid, Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS) – Extra Help, among others.
Pride should not stand in the way of accessing these programs, many designed for the 22 million seniors who report they are dealing with financial insecurity. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau Data, poverty increased among adults age 65 and older from 8.9% in 2020 to 10.3% in 2021. And the NCOA estimates that $30 billion in available assistance goes unclaimed each year.
Help is available through these Federal programs for everything from buying groceries and medicines to advice on cutting Medicare costs. This section of the NCOA website can connect you to a nearby Benefits Enrollment Center, helpful if you’re worried about working on a computer.
Area Councils on Aging: An Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is a public or private non-profit agency, designated by the state to address the needs and concerns of all older persons at the regional and local levels. There may be local or city agencies, as well as statewide agencies. It’s easy to do an online search for your nearest agency, as well as your state agency. The NCOA website also has a link to a search for agencies that are designed to connect seniors to benefits they deserve.
Whether you’re looking for subsidized senior housing, or resources to stay in your home, your local area agency can help. They provide access to homemaker services and Meals-On-Wheels food preparation services. They can provide transportation assistance to medical appointments, and even serve as a resource in case of suspected elder abuse.
Eldercare Locator: This is an online search tool at www.eldercare.acl.gov. It’s offered as a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. By simply entering your zip code, it will connect you to services for older adults and their families. You can also call them at 800-677-1116. You can speak with an information specialist M-F, 8am-9pm, ET.
This services include assistance with housing, transportation, health insurance and medical needs It is also a vital link to information and reporting regarding elder abuse, whether physical or financial.
A warning note: If you use online searches, you are likely to be connected to commercial services, offering everything from help finding assisted living to selling you burial insurance! Be sure you are dealing with one of the non-profits mentioned above.
If anything, there is too much help available to seniors. The real issue is connecting seniors to the help that exists. If you’re a senior without computer skills, turn to your local public library. The professional librarians there have all these websites literally at their fingertips, and are a wonderful resource for in-person support. And that’s The Savage Truth.