It is tempting to think of Social Security and Medicare when one wonders what government resources are available for seniors citizens. The truth, though, is that these two huge programs are just the tip of the iceberg. In the United States, government exists at both the state and local levels as well as the federal level, and there are government resources for seniors at all these levels. Every state has at least one agency with a mission that includes helping the elderly.
Administration on Aging
This is the federal government’s specific department that serves as a clearinghouse to funnel money to state and local agencies. It is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Administration on Aging also coordinates efforts to prevent elder abuse and neglect and to advise senior citizens and their younger relatives on residential or home based care options for medical or living assistance.
Meals on Wheels Programs
This program or one similar to it exists in most jurisdictions, even in small, rural areas. It is an example of a local solution to meeting senior needs that depends on government grants and funding. In many areas, the Meals on Wheels program, which may go by another name in your local area, will provide two meals a day to large numbers of seniors at some kind of community center. The able bodied are welcome to eat there daily or on a drop in basis. Those seniors who are not able to get to the community center can sign up for meals to be delivered to their home. Generally home delivery will happen only once each day, but two meals will be dropped off.
Meals on Wheels programs, whether the food is delivered or not, are usually free of any sort of cost to the senior as long as he or she is old enough to qualify. Those who do not meet age requirements may still be able to use the program, though they will have to pay for their meals.
Medicaid Transportation Assistance
Seniors who receive Medicaid are entitled to state-paid and state-provided transportation to their medical appointments.
Community Transportation Assistance
For other transit needs, seniors who no longer drive can use community based transportation systems, just as can any other resident. Seniors, however, can usually travel at a steeply discounted rate. Seniors who also meet low-income requirements can often travel on such systems for free or for a small annual fee which entitles them to an all-access pass. “Dial a Ride,” is a common name for such services, and functions like a taxi in that it will pick people up at their homes. However, “dial a ride” services may go by another name in your local community.
Senior centers across the nation receive funding from the state, county, city, or other local government; some also receive monies from charitable organizations. Senior centers provide a range of services for senior citizens, including classes to learn new skills such as computers, exercise opportunities, and field trips to areas of local interest.