SOCIAL SERVICES FOR THE ELDERLY: HOW CAN I HELP?
Let’s face it, long-term caregiving for elderly people can be seriously expensive. For the most part, health care even with just a social worker is expensive and time-consuming.
As an elderly person, unless you can find the kind of support you need, there is a good chance that your family will be so stretched that a few important things like health care may slip through the cracks; things like your medication and domiciliary care.
That is why, sometimes, it is up to you to take the initiative and find out what kinds of social services are available to older people within your community and from the government. Haven’t you ever asked yourself how you can get help should you need it?
Although this list is not comprehensive and all-encompassing in any way, the items mentioned here represent some of the most valuable resources that any senior can have as they get older. Here is a list of the different social services available to you as a senior.
P.S Some may not be available in your state. It is often best to confirm with your local government about what kind of social services are available for you.
Online Resources for the Elderly
As you will soon find out, some services are only available to seniors based on their specific conditions:
- Your health.
- Military service.
- Education level and so on.
That being said, here are two websites that can help you find a quick list of all the available social services for the elderly within your state and from the Federal Government.
- Benefits.Gov: This website has a full list of social services offered by the government. As a senior, all you have to do is go online and answer the questions asked there as accurately as possible. Once you submit your answer, the website will give you a list of programs, services, and government supplements depending on your eligibility.
- Benefitscheckup.Org: Run by the National Council on Aging, this non-profit website will ask you almost the same questions as the Benefits.gov. The only difference is that here you might find many more programs and services that suit your particular needs.
Based on the information you get from the above two websites, you should have a list of available services and programs within and without your state. That, at least, is a starting point for you as you try to pinpoint exactly which social care services will be best suited for your specific needs.
That being said, here is a list of some of the most common and publically available social services for the elderly. These programs are available to everyone and should help make your life and that of your family members much easier.
Social Security services are a right for every tax paying American. That, however, doesn’t mean that everyone gets the same share. If you earned your Social Security benefits based on a low-paying job, then you might want to find different ways of supplementing that income (especially if it is your only source of income).
The best option for those seniors who depend on their social security as a single and only source of income is that they should apply to a different social security service called ‘Supplement Security Income’ or SSI program.
This program is operated by the Federal Government in conjunction with your state government. It is a welfare-based Medicaid program that is administered by the Social Security Administration and it can provide you with a larger monthly benefit than your typical Social Security benefits.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
If you are a military veteran who suffers from a service-related disability, then you may be eligible for additional disability benefits from the VA. This is especially true if the disability has worsened with time. The VA offers excellent social services to military veterans who need continuous medical care due to their service-related disability.
If this is the case for you, then you can put in an application for:
- Medical benefits
- Prescription drugs
As is the case with almost every social welfare program, there are several different levels of compensation by the VA and pension program. Although there have been increasing complaints about how slow the VA is in processing claims, mounting pressure from the new Administration as well as Congress is ensuring that these services are sped up some.
Although still in contention thanks to the new administration, the basis on which Medicare was enacted is still fundamental to the social welfare of the elderly and all those who need medical assistance.
The idea was that:
- Part A of Medicare-covered your hospital needs
- Part B covered your medical insurance
There is also a Part D that covers prescription drugs. Medicare is by far one of the most beneficial social services a senior could get. If you are paying premiums, then you could end up having your medical bills subsidized to a great extent.
In fact, if you are considered to be within the low-income bracket and using Social Security benefits as your only source of income, then in many cases Medicare may subsidize all but about $10 of your premium. This is a wonderful cost savings options for aging adults.
Area Agency on Aging
The Federal Government has mandated Area Agency on Aging facilities in every county/city. These agencies have professionals who hold vast knowledge on all things ‘social services for the elderly’ related.
By visiting one of these offices, you can get a full workup of:
- All the social service programs that are available to you as a senior in that county
- The financial sources for seniors in that area
Apart from providing you with a wealth of information, the staff in your local area agency on aging is often supported by volunteer workers who do a lot more for seniors within the region, such as provide respite services like:
- Driving seniors around
- Providing ‘meals-on-wheels’ services
The best way to go about getting all the information you may need as a senior in your location is to gather up all the information you may have used in the websites mentioned at the beginning of this discussion.
Once you have all that handy, you can walk down to your nearest Area Agency on Aging and meet a counselor who will give you further assistance. There is a good chance that with the help of the counselor, you will find the right social service suited to your particular needs.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Enacted in 1966, the HIPAA Act provides you with complete privacy as far as your medical records are concerned. The reason why you need to pay attention to this act is that unless you sign a form saying that you designate your family members (primary next of kin) as approved to discuss your medical records, they cannot do so even with your doctor.
This becomes a problem when you need help and consult. As a senior, there is a good chance that you will need some assistance from your close family members. You know, for things like running errands, doctor appointments and picking up prescriptions. Unless you have those family members approved under HIPPA, they cannot legally help you.
Administration On Aging (AoA)
The AoA is a wonderful resource for elders who want to know their legal rights or are concerned that they are not being treated fairly. If you go to their website, the AoA has a full list of services and resources on their ‘Help and Resources’ that will give you a wealth of information on the different kinds of social services to which you are entitled.
In a nutshell, The AoA offers services such as:
- Health insurance counseling
- Protection from elder abuse
- Legal assistance
- Assistance with long-term care needs
The best way to know how this administration can help you is to either log on to their website or speak to a representative.
United States Department of Justice
If you have a disability of any kind, then you should learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act. Administered by the United States Department of Justice, you can find a full briefing on the website including the different types of regulations ensuring that you have universal access as a disabled person.
There are several other social services available to seniors and the elderly. Many are locally based within different states while some are run by the Federal Government. There are also several NGOs that work specifically with seniors in different regions. Other options that you could take a look at include:
- Food and Drug Administration
- Your Congressional Representative
- Your U.S. Senator
As a senior, you have the right to live a dignified life. The government, in conjunction with several entities, have put certain social service options up for you. As long as you have the necessary information on what it is you need, you can get the right kind of social services that will greatly improve your quality of life.
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If you are considered to be within the low-income bracket and using Social Security benefits as your only source of income, then in many cases Medicare may subsidize all but about $10 of your premium.
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