What Community Services Are Available for the Elderly?

Community services offer a helping hand to hard-working and busy caregivers across the United States. Community services can ease the job of those juggling work and caregiving. They enable both the caregiver and the older person to live comfortably. You will be surprised that most of these services are free of cost. 

Is there a governing body for community services of elderly? 

Congress passed a federal law called the Older Americans Act (OAA) in 1965. The policymakers at that time were concerned with the state of healthcare services offered to the older adult population. Hence, this law was born, which also governs the community services in the nation. 

What is a community service?

Community service can mean a lot of things, but from the context of caregiving, it is unpaid work performed by a person or a group of people for the benefit of the local community. Local residents with generous hearts come forward to address the needs of the elderly staying nearby. 

As I mentioned before, community service is unpaid work. The participants are not compensated in any way. Although some organizations do provide a certificate or other non-monetary benefits. 

Note that community service is not always done voluntarily, hence I won’t call them volunteers. Some folks would partake in local community service to gain citizenship, as a substitute for a prison sentence, or as a part of the school curriculum. 

Often community service is seen in a negative light due to its association with the criminal justice system. People might think the person performing unpaid work has wronged someone in the past or done something unethical. And that may be the case with some helpers but you must learn to trust them. 

What community services are available for the elderly?

#1 Information and referral

Information and referral services help you find the things that you and a loved one might need. The thing you are looking for could be a service, product, or simply information. 

Community service centers offering this service are also responsible for educating caregivers and the elderly on a variety of subjects. Are you planning to purchase or rent a senior home for your loved one? Information and referral services will help you find the most reliable real estate agent. 

Furthermore, this department also provides information regarding assistive technology for activities of daily living. They offer device or gadget demonstrations at the center itself. 

These gadgets can help an elderly person live independently. The goal is to improve the physical and mental well-being of a senior person.  

#2 Transportation

community services for the elderly

Not every caregiver can find the time to drive the older family member to a senior-care center, a shopping mall, or a nearby park. Caregiving is stressful and the caregiver can benefit by taking a breather. The community services folks ease the workload of a hard-working family caregiver.

The transportation assistance program under the Older Americans Act (OAA) comes to aid seniors who cannot drive. The priority is always to cut short or eliminate the need for transportation, which is why they offer home delivery services. They make sure that the senior citizens stay home and safe. 

A transportation assistance center can also help your loved one get in touch with other senior folks in the vicinity. Your loved one can share rides with other seniors— a cost-effective and safer alternative to a bus or a subway ride. 

#3 Meals on wheels

meals on wheels

Meals on wheels America intends to supply food packages to seniors with partial or diminished mobility. They deliver cooked food packages straight to the door. You don’t have to worry about the pricing. Contribute whatever you can to the cause. 

They operate in collaboration with 5000 locally run programs. No matter where you are located, you can place an order for an elder person without having to pay a penny. 

Note that this program is meant for seniors who cannot afford to or cannot cook their meals on their own. In addition to bringing a nutritious food package, the friendly staff members also try to spend a few minutes with folks who need companionship.  

#4 Homemaking 

An elderly person can apply for free of cost home-making service offered by any of the AAA (Area Agency of Aging). Home-making services are also funded by non-profit organizations like DADS (Rating. DADS. Department of Aging and Disability Services).

A person is eligible for homemaking service if he/she is a) 60 years of age or older, and b) functionally impaired; incapable of performing the activities of daily living.

#5 Friendly visitors program  

The Friendly Visitors program was added to the OAA in 1967, two years after the act was brought into existence. The primary goal of this program is to provide mental nourishment to isolated older adults. 

The volunteers try to fill the void in the lives of seniors by spending quality time with them. 

In addition to weekly visits, the volunteers invite the older adults to picnics, meetups, and nearby tours. Which is also supplemented with phone calls on a daily or weekly basis; as per the needs of the elderly. 

Usually, the volunteers spend 16-20 hours a week on visits, they report back to their respective community service centers at the end of the week. The volunteers check upon the physical and mental health of the seniors they visit.

No matter where you are located, you will find many such programs in your region. In addition to the OAA, the friendly visitor’s program is funded by the federal and state government.

This program is perfectly suited for seniors above 60 years of age who wish to live an independent life. The visitors can also offer some assistance with domestic chores such as floor cleaning, cooking, laundry, feeding pets, etc. 

How do I find nearby community services for elderly?

Most community services in the United States are governed and funded by the Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Although the AAA is funded by the federal and state, there could be multiple AAAs in a state. For instance, Texas has a total of 28 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). California has 33. 

An AAA is a fulcrum where all community services within a particular region request funds. Some also seek funds from kind and generous civilians who wish to help those in need. There are a total of 622 AAAs nationwide.

Instead of looking for a particular community service online, you can contact the local AAA office. You can inform them that you are a caregiver to an older adult who needs a particular service (free lunches, homemaker, companion, shared ride, etc).

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