Anna Maria Chávez
Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer, National Council on Aging
Navigating the world of elder care, Medicare, and caregiving can be daunting, but using these resources will point you in the right direction.
Whether you’re new to caregiving or have been caring for your older loved one for years, you may be suffering from information overload. If you’re new, it’s hard to know where to even start. If you’re a pro, it’s an equal challenge to know which resources you can trust. The National Council on Aging has been serving older adults since 1950, and we recommend five resources worth investigating.
Each year, older adults leave $20 billion in public benefits unclaimed. Depending on their income, people aged 60 and over may be eligible for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to help pay for food, and the Medicare Savings Programs, which make Medicare co-payments and deductibles more affordable. But most seniors and their caregivers don’t know these programs exist or how to apply for them.
BenefitsCheckUp® is the solution. It’s a free, confidential online tool where you enter basic information and get a personal report showing which programs are available for you. It screens for more than 2,500 local, state, and federal benefits programs that offer help with a variety of daily costs, including food, medicine, heating bills, health care, and more. Visit BenefitsCheckUp.org and get a report for your loved one.
2. Senior Centers
Have you checked out your local senior center? These nonprofit organizations serve as a gateway to the aging services available in your community. In addition to finding classes, meals, social events, and exercise programs that your older loved one might enjoy, you can discover local transportation options, ways to prevent falls, tips to manage chronic conditions, and more. Find your local senior center at ncoa.org/map.
3. My Medicare Matters®
Understanding the ins and outs of Medicare can feel like a maze, especially if you’re new to the system. My Medicare Matters® is a free educational resource that gives you a primer on everything Medicare-related, from eligibility requirements and coverage comparisons to enrollment and getting the most from free and preventative benefits. Visit MyMedicareMatters.org to find the answers.
4. Help for Hearing
Hearing loss affects 9 million seniors in the United States today, yet Medicare does not pay for hearing aids or routine hearing tests. Hearing loss can significantly impact an older adult’s quality of life and relationships and often leads to social isolation. Bring your older loved one for a hearing checkup to find devices that can help them stay connected. There are several programs that offer low-cost access to hearing services. Find out more at ncoa.org/hearing.
5. Eldercare Locator
Few of us want to think about needing long-term care for ourselves or our loved ones, but 2 in 3 older adults will eventually need some kind of assistance with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and eating. The Eldercare Locator can help you find in-home care services, nursing homes, hospices, and more near you. Visit eldercare.acl.gov or call 1-800-677-1116 to find help in your community.