As people age, taking care of day-to-day necessities can become more difficult. Simple tasks such as preparing meals, shopping for groceries, banking, paying bills, travelling to appointments, paying for prescriptions and maintaining a home and yard are not as easy as they once were. While some of the elderly manage to remain self-sufficient, others require assistance to meet their daily needs and maintain a standard of living, especially when they live alone. Fortunately there are programs and help is available to the elderly who need help.
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Determine if the person you want to help will accept it. While some people may not want to accept assistance, most appreciate help to alleviate their burdens. Make sure the senior you are trying to assist welcomes your intervention.
Sit down with her and determine exactly what type of assistance she requires. Inability to drive may prevent her from doing her shopping, yet she may be capable of preparing her own meals. Once you know the daily challenges she faces, you have a starting point to find help.
Contact your county human services department, and ask about any programs that are available to the elderly. Don't be afraid to get into specifics. The more questions you ask, the more assistance you are likely to receive. Some programs that are offered are financial assistance, food stamps, meal delivery, transportation, food pantries, thrift stores and medical care.
Contact local churches, and inquire about service projects and assistance programs for the elderly. Most Catholic churches have a St. Vincent de Paul Society that assists with bills and other needs of people in need. You don't have to be Catholic to receive this service.
Check out the government website of the Administration on Aging at aoa.org. The main page contains links to check for benefits and to locate local programs that will benefit the elderly. Clicking "Find Local Programs" will take you to the Eldercare Locator, which lists numerous assistance programs. For contact information, see Resource 4.
Locate prescription assistance programs for expensive medications the person takes. Many prescription companies offer assistance to patients on a limited income. Explore the website of the manufacturer of the medication to look for patient assistance programs, or call its toll-free telephone number. Medications can often be obtain for free or for a reduced fee.
Contact your local Community Action Partnership. The Community Action Partnership often assists people in obtaining reduced rates on heating and cooling costs during the seasons when those costs are highest. It also operates a program called Rooting Out Poverty, whose goal is to eliminate poverty and promote self-sufficiency.
Contact Meals on Wheels to arrange for delivery of hot, nutritional meals, if needed. A "Find a Meal" locator search is available on the Meals on Wheels site (see Resource 3).
Contact your local senior centre. The people there are usually friendly and helpful and have their finger on the pulse of the senior community. They can be a wealth of information about local, state and national assistance programs.
Tips and warnings
- Continue to seek additional assistance for the elderly. The newspaper and local news programs are often a good source of information about assistance programs.
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