By Kaye Swain
One of the vital things many of us do for and with our elderly parents is help them with the various benefits that come with the aging process. Most of us tend to think of social security and Medicare and stop there. For many elderly, though, there may be other benefits to help them – especially if there is a strong financial need. An excellent resource to help us all is Benefits CheckUp.
Benefits CheckUp is a free service from the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Did you know that there are over 2,000 federal, state, and private programs in existence today that might be able to help you with buying prescriptions, providing health care, giving assistance in paying utilities, etc. Many people don't know about these programs or where to find them. That's where this website comes in.
First, go to Benefits Checkup. Then click on the FIND HELP button at the top. Follow the directions for each of the four choices offered. There are two under the medical side and two under the food side. The site explains what qualifications are required for each topic as well as helping you understand how to apply. The directions are detailed but seem to be quite easy to follow. And it appears that in most cases you can apply directly through the site.
If you have difficulties doing this online, ask a family member to help you. Older grandkids are often great with the computer! If there are none living close by, you might try contacting your local senior center and asking if they would be able to help you through the process. I know my city's senior center has a computer lab once a week where they might be able to help someone during that time period.
Of course, if you live in a senior housing complex - whether independent or assisted living - check with the staff to see if they can help you or refer you to someone. To assist you in finding yours or your elderly parent's city's senior resource center, you can call your city hall and ask for the senior center. Also, USA.gov has a page on Federal and State Agencies for Seniors that can be a good resource to help you find locations. Even easier, you can go to NCOA's page, "You Gave - Now Save." It has a link for you to download their free booklet on all the various benefits that are available to senior citizens. It gives online links and telephone contact numbers to help you apply online or offline.
There are many great benefits out there to help seniors who qualify and could really use them. Finding out about them isn't always easy. But it's definitely worthwhile to find them and apply for them.