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Getting Started

Using Eldercare Services

Using the Eldercare Locator, you can access the following "gateway organizations" that coordinate eldercare in all 50 states and the District of Columbia—Area Agencies on Aging, Councils on Aging, and State Units on Aging. These organizations are literally a gateway to a world of elder care information, services, and resources that exist in your community—they are the link between you and a broad array of nonprofit and for-profit agencies.

Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs)

There are 655 AAAs in the United States, and one nearby that serves you. They are known in the network of eldercare service providers as "Triple As." Each AAA serves a group of cities and towns in a particular region of a state. AAAs coordinate services in three major areas:

  1. Information and Referral (I&R): AAAs provide free information about a wide range of eldercare services and resources through trained I&R specialists who will connect you to services. AAAs may also have trained volunteer counselors to provide Medicare and Medicaid information and can help with medical billing problems, reducing insurance costs, and completing public benefits applications.
  2. Services for the Elderly: AAAs coordinate services for elders who want to remain in their own home, but need assistance with their daily routines. Core services include in-home assessments by case managers, development of a care plan, and assistance arranging home care services delivered by the AAAs' network of subcontracted provider agencies. AAAs also provide meals, transportation, and referrals to employment services, senior centers, and adult day care programs. (Note: Programs vary by area; not all services are offered by all AAAs.)
  3. Support for Caregivers: AAAs develop local programs as part of the National Family Caregiver Support Program, including information and referral, counseling, training, support groups, and access to respite care. Caregivers are eligible for this program if they are caring for an individual 60 years or older, regardless of the elder's income.

Councils on Aging (COAs)

Most cities, towns or municipalities have a Council on Aging or senior center. These agencies are part of local government and range in size from small, volunteer-run programs to large, multi-site eldercare service providers. They are the front line for many elder services in your community. Volunteers are critical to the operation of the COAs, regardless of their size or scope of services.

Most COAs offer information and referral, transportation, outreach, meals, health screening, and fitness and recreation programs. Some COAs also provide health insurance benefits counseling, food shopping assistance, telephone reassurance, friendly visiting and other in-home activities, peer support groups, supportive day care, pre-retirement programs, minor home repair, computer training, case management, intergenerational programs, and more.

State Units on Aging (SUA)

Each state has an agency for elder affairs that coordinates services and funding, known as a State Unit on Aging (SUA). The agency may be located in your Department of Health and Human Services, or it may be in Social Services or Public Health departments. The names of the state agencies vary, as well as the titles of the senior officials, but generally the senior official reports to the governor or lieutenant governor's office. To locate this agency, search your phonebook's government listings or the Web. However, the best source for finding the agency nearest you is to use the Eldercare Locator.

Additional Information for Specific States

Below, you'll find additional state-specific information on getting started with eldercare. The states included have high percentages of elders and/or high elder populations.

Alabama

The Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS) manages programs for senior citizens in all 67 counties through the Regional Planning Commissions and the local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). Find your local AAA by calling 1-800-AGELINE or visiting the Alabama AAA website. Another helpful website belongs to the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

California

The California Department of Aging offers a variety of resources and general information by calling the Senior Information Line at 1-800-510-2020 or by visiting their website.

Florida

The State Department of Elder Affairs of Florida offers a variety of resources and general information through the Elder Helpline at 1-800-96-ELDER and their website.

Illinois

The Illinois Department on Aging offers a variety of resources and general information through their website. A list of the Illinois Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) can be found on the Illinois state website.

Michigan

The Michigan Office of Services to the Aging offers a variety of resources and general information through their website.

There are 16 local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) that operate within Michigan. Information regarding local AAAs can be found on the Michigan AAA web site.

Nevada

The Nevada Division of Aging Services offers a variety of resources and general information through their website.

For a list of the Regional offices of the Nevada Division of Aging Services visit the division's website.

New York

The New York State Office for the Aging offers a variety of resources and general information through the Senior Citizen's Help Line at 1-800-342-9871 and their website.

A list of the New York Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) can be found on that site.

Ohio

The Ohio Department of Aging and other agencies routinely monitor the 12 local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) that operate within Ohio. Information regarding local AAAs can be found on the Ohio Department on Aging website.

Pennsylvania

The PA Department of Aging oversees the 52 Area Agencies of Aging (AAAs). Caregivers and seniors can find local programs and services by visiting their website and clicking on the "Your Local Resources" link.

Texas

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) provides information about services for seniors in Texas. Local Area Agencies on Aging have the most pertinent information for particular areas and can be found by calling 1-800-252-9240 or visiting the state website.

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