Free and Low Cost Community-Based Help for Seniors

Published In Health & Safety

There is a rich variety of programs and services for seniors all over the country. The “aging network” as it is called provides many resources for the elderly and their families at little or no cost. The challenge is understanding what those services are, what they are called and how to access them.

Services for Seniors

There are two broad categories of services available to seniors. One subset of those services is available through agencies and organizations called “community-based services”. The other category of resources is known as “in-home” or “home based” services is discussed here.

Community Based Services

  • Senior centers – These centers are designed to offer socialization and educational services to seniors. Many senior centers are also nutrition sites where hot lunches are served. Many centers provide transportation to and from the site. Often there is a small donation requested for the meal, but most other services and programs are free.
  • Adult day care – The programs are similar to senior centers in that their focus is on socialization; however some of these programs offer services for folks who are more frail.
  • Adult day health care – These programs are often housed adjacent to hospitals or medical centers. They often offer support for dispensing medications, personal care and meals. Transportation is usually provided and there is a per day cost to attend.
  • Transportation – A variety of transportation services are available to seniors at a reduced cost. These include discounted taxi vouchers, free transportation to some service (see above) and rides for folks who are in wheelchairs as a result of mobility limitations. These “Handi-Vans” are equipped with wheelchair lifts and usually have drivers who are trained in moving and transferring seniors.
  • Congregate meals – Meal sites (like senior centers) that offer midday meals at a reduced cost to seniors. Some congregate meal sites are located in churches, schools or local businesses with cafeteria facilities.
  • Caregiver support groups – Many churches and non-profit organizations host support groups for families who are struggling to manage the challenges of caring for a loved one.
  • Legal Assistance for the Elderly – Pro bono consultation is available to seniors and their families. This assistance is usually provided by an attorney or other legal professional at no cost.

Where to Find Help

Area Agencies on Aging – There are more than 500 Area Agencies on Aging across the country. These organizations are tasked with educating the public about all programs and services available to serve the elderly and their families. You can find the Area Agency near you by going to the National Association for Area Agencies.

Other useful resources include:

This article has been updated December, 2023 since it originally published in March, 2016.

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