In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law. The OAA created specific objectives designed to maintain the welfare and dignity of the aging population. The OAA also created a grants system that allowed both federal and state agencies to organize, coordinate and deliver community-based resources for senior citizens. Under the OAA, the Department of Health and Human Services created the federal Administration on Aging. The Administration on Aging in the United States provides free links to states’ Department of Aging facilities that are focused on providing assistance to the elderly.
Your state’s Department of Aging likely provides aging resource centers. These centers offer referrals for elder care providers and information about getting access to both state and local benefits for the elderly. These state resource centers will help both seniors and their families to determine if seniors are eligible for long-term care services. For instance, some state programs provide subsidies to assist family members who are taking care of elderly patients in their homes. Some state and local agencies also provide respite services for exhausted family members both in the home and at outside facilities.
One specialized area of information that your state’s Department of Aging may provide is related to disaster preparedness. Both seniors who live alone and those who live with a caregiver need to have plans in case of fire or other natural disasters. Power outages and extreme weather conditions can also affect elderly citizens who do not have the resources to cope with disasters. State information will help families to develop disaster plans and will provide them with recommendations for creating a disaster supply kit.
Some states’ Department of Aging provides assistance with background screening for families looking to hire someone to assist in the care of an elderly relative. Background checks help to prevent abuse of the elderly, who are extremely vulnerable to caregivers and may be unable to defend themselves. When elder abuse situations happen, family members can contact their state’s elder care agency to report abuse and to seek punitive action.
Many people who are caring for the elderly want to know more about health insurance benefits. Many caregivers depend on Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drug coverage and long-term care insurance to meet the needs of their elderly patients. Your state’s Department of Aging can provide unbiased information about eligibility for health insurance and the extent of the coverage that state benefits will provide.
In addition to medical concerns, many seniors are still active and may be able to work outside of the home. For these people, the Department of Aging can offer job search boards designed especially for seniors to assist eligible workers with job placement. Working outside of the home can help to alleviate loneliness, provide a social outlet and promote continuing cognitive function for seniors who have the physical ability to work.
Some caregivers want to know about services for the elderly in their area. Senior citizens’ centers provide many recreational opportunities for the elderly including dancing, field trips, game nights and educational services. Even specialty services, like library and legal services, may be obtained through local senior centers or by requesting information from the state government.
Caring for elders, when combined with all of the other responsibilities of life, can be overwhelming. Families and caregivers want to make the best possible decisions to promote both dignity and quality of life for their loved ones. Fortunately, the state and federal government has free resources that will give elders and their caregivers the support that they need. Be sure to check with your state’s Department of Aging to make the best use of the free resources available to you.