Arizona Community Resources for Seniors
Senior citizens and their families often find that they need more resources as they age. All states, including Arizona, have special resources available for the elderly and their family members or other caregivers. This guide will introduce you to the community resources available in the state of Arizona. The resources include senior care services, meals, recreation, government benefit resources, assistance with taxes and legal matters, transportation, and more.
Arizona senior care options
Senior commonly require some assistance with the activities of daily living. Some elderly individuals prefer to stay in their homes. Others move in with relatives, and still, others go into an assisted living facility or nursing home. Consider these resources in securing care for yourself or your elderly family member.
The Division of Aging and Adult Services offers a range of services for senior citizens who are at risk of not having their basic needs met. They can help with needs including health services, prevention of eviction or utility turn-off, meals, disability resources, and more. Here are instructions on how to find your local office.
The local Area Agencies on Aging are set up as public or non-profit agencies in each county of Arizona. They have a wide range of resources that can help seniors in each area.
The Arizona Attorney General is someone who can help with life care planning. If any individual does not have a living will, this is something to do promptly. If you are in Phoenix or Tucson, call (602) 542-2123; otherwise, call (800) 352-8431
For residents of nursing homes or assisted living communities, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman can help resolve problems and issues.
Home care services
For individuals who wish to remain at home or in the home of a relative, an in-home caregiver is a popular option. A caregiver might provide nursing services such as dressing changes or insulin injection; personal care assistance such as help with showering, toileting and getting dressed; or household task assistance, including shopping, meal preparation, and light housework.
Home-and-Community-Based Services (HCBS) are services managed by the local Area Agencies on Aging. Those who are over 60 years of age (or under 60, if disabled) and who need help with activities of daily living are eligible for these services. Contact the local Area Agency on Aging to find out more.
The Arizona Respite Locator is a service that can help individuals or families find caregivers who will provide in-home care. Call (888) 737-7494 to find out how to access and use the locator.
Eldercare Locator is a site you can use to find in-home care for your family member.
Family caregivers often find respite care invaluable. Respite care is when someone else cares for an elderly or disabled family member so the person or people who are usually responsible for the individual can work, travel, or attend to personal matters. Respite care can take place in the home or at an adult day care facility.
The Arizona Lifespan Respite Care Program is run by the Department of Economic Security and can coordinate respite care for those in need.
The Arizona Caregiver Resource Line can help with resources and assistance geared toward those who care for an elderly or disabled individual in their home. The telephone number is 888-737-7494
Residents of Arizona can also call 211 to find out about programs available to them. The alternate number is (602) 263-8856 if you are anywhere in Arizona or (800) 352-3792 if you are within area codes 520 or 928.
The National Respite Network and Resource Center
Adult day care
Adult day care is a service that provides care to elderly or disabled adults who cannot be left home alone. There are two types of adult care: Social care is for those who need assistance with the activities of daily living, supervision, and minimal health-related services, while day health care (or specialized care) is for those who need nursing care in addition to supervision and assistance with daily activities.
The Eldercare Locator can help you access adult day care providers. Use the website or call (800) 677-1116
The local Area Agency on Aging is also a resource for adult day care providers. The local agency can help you apply for Home and Community Based Services on behalf of your relative who needs care. They might be eligible for free care.
Senior centers are places where the elderly can socialize and learn about resources and opportunities in the community. There are over 150 senior centers in Arizona. They provide meals, recreational programs, information about ways to volunteer and remain active in the community, socialization opportunities, educational classes, and much more. Search for your local senior center through the Arizona Senior Center Association or call them at (602) 534-7436.
Hospice and palliative care
Hospice services provide comfort and end-of-life care for those who are nearing the end of life. Often, these services are reserved for those who have six months or less to live. When someone enters hospice care, it means that they are no longer pursuing treatment to elongate their life; instead, they are treating symptoms and the goal is to stay comfortable. Hospice services provided can include palliative care (treatments to alleviate symptoms and promote comfort), social services, emotional support and counseling, and support for family members and caregivers.
Hospice is paid for by Medicaid, Medicare, and most private insurance companies. There are grants and funds available for those who do not have health coverage to minimize or eliminate the amount that the family would have to pay.
The Arizona Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has a searchable directory of hospice providers in the state. Every company on their site is licensed and certified.
National Hospice Locator is a national resource that can help family members find a hospice program for their relative.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has a lot of information for those who are making the decision to utilize hospice or palliative care.
Alzheimer's disease and dementia resources
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease that results in dementia. The Arizona Department of Health Services maintains an informational page about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
The Alzheimer’s Association has more resources and information. Call them at (800) 272-3900.
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, the National Institute on Aging has a page at Alzheimers.gov. There is also information for those who would like to join a clinical trial. Their phone number is (877) 696-6775.
BrightFocus is a non-profit organization that promotes education and research on Alzheimer’s disease.
Health care information
Arizona is home to 81 hospitals and many more assisted living facilities, nursing homes, medical centers, and other healthcare facilities.
You can search for any doctor on the Arizona Medical Board page to learn about where and when the doctor was licensed and whether there have been disciplinary actions taken against them.
Search for residential facilities on the Arizona Department of Health Services page.
Nationwide, the AMA Doctor Finder includes information on office hours, educational history, licensing, and types of insurance accepted. For patients who have Medicare, Physician Compare can be used to find doctors participating in their plans.
There are Patient Assistant Programs that can help those who are elderly or disabled to pay for their prescription medications. Go to Disability Benefits 101 to learn about these types of programs in Arizona.
If an individual does not have health insurance, the Arizona Department of Health Services provides sliding-fee health clinics. Use the web search tool or call (602) 542-1025 to find the clinic closest to you.
For those without dental coverage, there is a list of sliding-fee dental providers maintained by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Health insurance can be difficult to understand, so there is help available for senior citizens who need assistance in understanding all of their options.
The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) helps those with Medicare as well as their families understand the options available. The counselors can explain Medicare and Medicaid eligibility, what is covered, options for long-term care insurance, and more. The hotline is (800) 432-4040. If you get the voicemail, leave a message and they will return the call.
For seniors needing medical assistance (as well as nutritional assistance or cash assistance), the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) can help. Go to their website or call them at (855) 432-7587 for help.
Another option for health insurance is to apply through the federal Healthcare Marketplace. There are specific enrollment periods at the end of the calendar year, but people in some circumstances can enroll anytime. Subsidies are available. Go to Healthcare.gov to learn more.
Senior nutrition and fitness
Eating well and staying active can be the keys to a long life. While it’s important to have health concerns addressed, general wellness is just as vital to a senior citizen’s well-being. Arizona has options for seniors who need help getting the right kinds of food and staying fit.
There are a variety of programs available for nutrition assistance.
Nutrition Assistance (which used to be called the Food Stamp Program) can provide
Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit organization that delivers meals to elderly adults in need. Find the closest program on the Meals on Wheels website.
Eligible seniors can get vouchers to use at farmers’ markets through a program called the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Call the SFMNP at (602) 542-0379.
Fitness and recreation
The local Area Agencies on Aging are good resources for fitness and recreation opportunities for seniors. One program that they manage is called A Matter of Balance. It includes exercises and tips on avoiding falls. Contact the local Area Agency on Aging for more information.
Oasis can help seniors stay active by matching them with volunteer opportunities, lifelong learning opportunities, and other engaging activities.
AARP, an interest group that helps seniors live well after retirement, has a membership of nearly 38 million people. The nonprofit organization is non-partisan and it has programs for people of all ages with an emphasis on retirees. Membership benefits include discounts on entertainment, restaurants, health services, shopping, and more. In addition, there are community events and travel opportunities.
There is also a reduced fee pass for national parks available to senior citizens for $10. Call the National Park Service at (518) 474-0456 for more information.
Government benefit programs
There are some programs that are available to all seniors in each state. Here are some of them.
Medicare is health insurance that is given to all seniors over the age of 65 who have worked (or whose spouses have worked) for more than 10 years. Medicare A is available for free and covers things like home health care, nursing home care, inpatient hospital care, and hospice. Medicare B is available for a sliding premium, depending on your income, and covers preventative care, medically necessary care, mental health services, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment. Medicare C is a private insurance option. There is also Medicare D, which covers prescriptions.
Individuals can start enrollment in Medicare three months before turning 65. Find out more at Medicare.gov. The telephone number is (800) 772-1213.
Also, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program can help individuals over 65 weigh the different options available. Call (800) 432-4040.
Medicaid is a federal program handled by each state to provide medical and, in some cases, dental coverage to adults in need. In Arizona, you can apply through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. The telephone number is (855) 432-7587
The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is another resource to learn about Medicaid eligibility. The hotline is (800) 432-4040.
There are two veterans’ homes in Arizona, one in Phoenix and one in Tucson. These homes are for elderly or chronically ill veterans and their surviving spouses to receive rehabilitation and/or nursing home care. You can read more about them on the Department of Veterans Services website.
The Department of Veterans Services can counsel veterans and their families about programs and resources available to them. They can also help veterans apply for Aid and Attendance, a federal program. Contact the nearest DVS for more information.
Tax preparation assistance
In Arizona, there are ways for seniors to have their taxes done for free. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and AARP Tax-Aide are two programs that work with low- and moderate-income senior citizens to file routine taxes. Those who have had a foreclosure or who own rental properties might not qualify for these services. Call 211 for more information. You can also find tax assistance on the IRS website or by contacting the AARP at (888) AARP-NOW.
Arizona’s Legal Assistance Program is for adults over the age of 60 who need information, advice, assistance, or advocacy in legal matters. The Local Area Agencies on Aging have the resources needed to access the program. Contact the one closest to you.
The Arizona Attorney General can also answer questions and make referrals. The office has compiled a list of legal advice resources for seniors. Call the Attorney General’s office at (602) 542-2123.
For elderly individuals who are living in residential homes, such as assisted living facilities or nursing homes, the long-term care ombudsman can help with some legal issues and disputes. Contact them through your Local Area Agency on Aging.
During the senior years, many individuals stop driving and find it difficult to get out to run errands, go to medical appointments, and visit friends. Others continue to drive but are at an increased risk of being involved in a car accident. Arizona offers some resources for senior citizens who are struggling with transportation issues.
The local Area Agencies on Aging can provide resources for finding rides in the community. Different cities and towns may have rideshares, door to door services, shuttle services, and dial-a-ride services. Contact your Local Area Agency on Aging to find out what is available in your area.
The Centers for Independent Living also have transportation options available. Find the one closest to you on their map or call (713) 520-0232.
For seniors who will continue driving, there are some courses available that can reduce their risk of being in an accident and increase their defensive driving skills. AAA offers a senior driving class. There is also a nationally available AARP course for seniors who want to polish their behind-the-wheel skills.
Proximity of care is very important when considering options
Research care options that are nearby when thinking about the next step for your loved ones.
Leona J. Werezak RN, BSN, MN is a registered nurse and adjunct nursing professor. She has 24 years experience working in a variety of healthcare settings including such remote locations as the Arctic Circle. Her research in early stage dementia was published in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research and re-published in their 40th anniversary issue which showcased exceptional research published since the journal began. Her work in dementia care has also been published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing. She currently teaches surgical nursing care on a thoracic/vascular unit to baccalaureate nursing students. Her clinical work with nursing students involves extensive work with older adults who have multiple chronic health conditions.