Your Local Department on Aging and Senior Assistance


By Bob Kohut

Some people faced with the prospect of seniors within their families who need assistance simply don’t know where to begin looking for help.  The Internet seems like an obvious choice but many websites there for aging and senior assistance help ask for your email address and soon the searcher is bombarded with emails and even phone calls from senior assistance providers.  An alternative is to begin the process by contacting your local department on aging and senior assistance.

Not-for-profit senior centers are popping up everywhere and they offer many services of which local residents may be completely unaware.

Did you know more and more of these centers are offering free transportation for your senior to do their grocery shopping and other errands?

Did you know some offer free health screening clinics?

Did you know most offer lunch programs, both within their facility and delivered directly to your senior’s place of residence?

Did you know most offer a daily call in program to ensure your senior is okay?

Did you know most offer legal assistance with wills, taxes, and other financial matters?

Did you know many of these services are offered free of charge or on a sliding scale based on income?

Did you know most offer resource assistance to help your senior take advantage of reduced prescription costs, reductions in utility bills, and other assistance programs available only to seniors?

Some people think of local departments on aging and senior assistance as little more than social clubs where seniors get together for bingo and field trips.  But the range of services they offer extends far beyond the social.

To find a local department you can use Internet search or a locator site -- which lists several alternatives in your location in a single list.  But if you want a starting point that includes a variety of educational materials and other resources as well as a simple listing of agencies in your area you would be hard pressed to find anything better than --

This site is maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services and as such has no financial interest in promoting anything you will find on the site.  And you will find a lot of help there, including brief fact sheets on aging and senior assistance issues as well as more comprehensive brochures and pamphlets.

In larger urban areas there may be several departments available so take the time to contact and visit each.  At some point you will need to get your senior involved but it is a good strategy to first search what’s available on your own.  Some seniors resist the idea of accepting any kind of assistance so laying the groundwork for them to get accustomed to the idea is a necessary step.  Once you find a center you’re comfortable with and a contact person there you think your senior would respond to, a brief introductory visit and a tour is the next step.  Visiting during meal time or while scheduled activities of interest are in progress will go a long way toward getting your senior to the point of willingness to make use of what the center has to offer.