Senior Resources in Delaware
As people age, they may face new challenges regarding health, finances, transportation, legal issues, and more. Fortunately, many state and federal organizations offer free resources to help seniors understand their options and meet their basic needs. Additionally, caregivers may access a wide range of community resources to get training, counseling, or temporary respite care. Some programs have eligibility requirements to participate, while others are open to anyone.
Delaware senior care options
Home care services
For seniors who are only beginning to need help with day-to-day tasks, a home care service might be the right option. Home care services (like personal assistants and housekeepers) can help seniors get the assistance they need with minimal disruption to their daily routines and quality of life.
Because home care services are so versatile, many seniors are opting for them as an alternative to assisted living or even nursing home care. However, they can be expensive and families often struggle to find affordable providers. Fortunately, a handful of Delaware and federal organizations are dedicated to making home care more accessible and offer free services to connect families with providers in their community.
The Eldercare Locator is a nationwide database of care resources in the United States. Seniors nationwide may use the tool to locate a facility or care service in their community, regardless of where they live. The tool is free and is accessible online 24 hours a day.
Administration for Community Living (ACL)
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) is available to all seniors. The ACL offers dozens of free resources promoting home-based care with the goal of alleviating growing nursing home populations. The ACL hopes to encourage more families to opt for alternatives to institutional care by educating the public about home and community-based care.
National Age In Place Council (NAPC)
The National Age in Place Council (NAPC) is another helpful resource for seniors wanting to learn more about home-based care. The organization offers dozens of free resources to teach seniors about their options for in-home care. Additionally, their website offers a free template for seniors to create a long-term care plan.
Many seniors opt for companion services to help them with their ADLs. Delaware sponsors a Senior Companion Program to make companions more accessible for state residents. By participating in the program, seniors can receive free companionship provided by compassionate volunteers. Additionally, Medicaid-eligible seniors may qualify for a Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver to receive coverage for companionship fees.
Socializing is vital for maintaining
Each community has a senior center, and each senior center is free to attend. Occasionally a location will sponsor a paid event, like a class or trip, but most activities are free for qualifying seniors. Additionally, many offer free transportation to help non-driving seniors get to and from their community’s center each day. Some even offer home-delivered meals to homebound seniors who cannot attend congregate meals. Find your local Delaware senior center and contact them directly.
Family caregivers play an important role in millions of seniors’ lives. Many caregivers are so dedicated to their duties that they neglect their personal needs, leading to reports of debilitating ‘caregiver stress’. Fortunately, many organizations offer free and low-cost resources to make caregiving less stressful, including affordable respite care or online training course.
National Family and Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)
Seniors and their caregivers throughout Delaware may qualify for the National Family and Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). The NFCSP requires participants to meet their requirements before they may receive benefits, however, they do not decline anyone due to their income.
The NFCSP requires care receivers to be at least 60 years old. Adults and elders who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (and other dementias) may also qualify as care receivers. Caregivers must be at least 18 years of age, and they must provide uncompensated care for someone who meets the care receiver requirements.
Qualifying participants of the NFCSP can access several free benefits to reduce the stress of caregiving. Their services include free training courses for caregivers, respite care, referrals to local support groups, and compassionate assistance to help caregivers understand their duties. Family caregivers should contact their local Area Agency on Aging to participate or view the NFCSP’s online brochure for more information.
Caregiver Action Network
The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is a valuable resource for caregivers in Delaware. The organization’s website exists solely to educate caregivers, and they do not charge anyone to access their resources. The CAN’s public forum is one of their most popular resources, where caregivers can discuss their duties and concerns with peers. Additionally, the CAN offers a free caregiver toolbox that has a collection of educational articles for caregivers to review. The articles cover many caregiving topics and are designed to help readers develop better caregiving skills.
National Alliance of Caregiving
The National Alliance of Caregiving also offers helpful information for family caregivers. Their collection of resources discuss dozens of caregiving topics which are accessible to readers nationwide.
The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is a valuable resource for millions of U.S. citizens, but caregivers may be interested in their free training courses. Caregivers can learn important skills like CPR or first-aid by participating in one of the Red Cross’s free courses, which are administered both online and in traditional classrooms. Versatile class sessions make them easy to attend for caregivers with busy schedules. Local chapters of the Red Cross can offer more information about their free caregiver and first-aid courses and can provide dates for upcoming events.
Respite care services
All caregivers need breaks, especially unpaid caregivers. Respite care services offer short-term, temporary care to help caregivers step away without putting their family member at risk.
Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC)
Caregivers can access respite care services through the Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). Services can be scheduled for one-time occasions or for regular sessions. Care is always provided in the care recipient’s home.
To be eligible for respite care through the ADRC, a care recipient must be 60 years of age or living with dementia. Additionally, adults age 18–59 may receive care if they have a disability. To learn more, contact the local ADRC and ask about available respite care services in the community.
Delaware Lifespan Respite Network (DLRN)
The Delaware Lifespan Respite Network (DLRN) provides resources to family caregivers statewide. Although the DLRC does not provide respite care themselves, they offer respite vouchers to caregivers. Recipients may use their benefit to pay a respite service of their choice, provided the service accepts DLRN vouchers.
To qualify for a DLRN voucher, a person must be caring for someone at least 60 years of age or someone with a disability. Additionally, the care recipient may not receive benefits from other organizations and qualify. For example, a person receiving respite care through the Department of Veterans Affairs may not qualify for a DLRN voucher. Seniors and caregivers can reach the DLRN office at (302) 221-2087.
ARCH Resource Center
The ARCH Resource Center is a national program in the Administration for Community Living, a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The program is focused on developing higher quality respite care in the United States. They’re also dedicated to helping families find respite care in their communities. ARCH resources include caregiving educational materials as well as an interactive online tool to locate nearby respite care providers.
Hospice and palliative care
Americans nearing the end of their life may reach out to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) for free information and counseling. Free and low-cost hospice care is the organization’s most popular resources, but many caregivers contact them for information about palliative care. Others contact them for free counseling to help them cope with terminal illness. Family members of people with terminal illness are welcome to take free classes through the NHPCO to learn more about caring for someone who is nearing the end of their life.
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer's disease impacts roughly 5.7 million Americans each year. Navigating Alzheimer’s can be challenging and many Americans do not know where to begin when their family member is diagnosed with dementia.
Alzheimer’s Association (AA)
The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) is the nation’s leading dementia research organization, sponsoring studies in Alzheimer’s cures and treatment. The AA also offers free resources for families living with Alzheimer’s. The AA’s resources include caregiver training, online articles about memory care, and free counseling. The AA is funded entirely by donations, and their resources are open to anyone who needs them. Call the AA’s 24-hour helpline at 1(800) 272-3900 for one-on-one counseling.
Nutrition and wellness
Between health and mobility issues, maintaining a good diet can become more difficult with age. Fortunately, many state and federal organizations offer affordable dining options and home-delivered meals.
Congregate meals are served in group dining settings at easily accessible community locations, like senior centers and churches. Each meal meets ⅓ of a person’s nutritional needs and mealtimes happen once per day (typically around noon but each location determines its own times). Additionally, attendees can access nutritional education and counseling during their meal to learn more about their needs.
Seniors 60 years of age and older are welcome to congregate meals, free of charge. Spouses who are under 60 and personal assistants are also allowed to attend. Contact one of the Delaware senior centers in your county to find out where meals are served.
Seniors who cannot attend congregate meals may qualify to receive home-delivered meals. The Home Delivered Meals Program in Delaware is open to homebound seniors statewide who cannot prepare meals themselves.
Qualifying seniors can receive one nutritionally-balanced, hot meal per day to supplement their diet. Some recipients can qualify for an additional cold, bagged meal so they can easily prepare food in the evening. Adults between the ages of 18–59 may qualify if they are homebound and disabled.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a federal program offering nutritious meals and groceries to seniors in need. Seniors at least 60 years of age can sign up with their local food pantry to receive food provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.
Seniors must register with their local food pantry before they may receive food through the CSFP. To register, seniors must present proof of their age and Delaware residency. Once registered, seniors can sign up for the CSFP. Seniors can contact the Foodbank of Delaware at (302) 292-1305 to learn more about eligibility requirements and the registration process.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly known as Food Stamps — is a popular option for seniors who need help paying for groceries. By enrolling in SNAP, seniors can receive a monthly stipend to pay for nutritious food products. The amount each applicant receives depends on their monthly income and household size. SNAP benefits only pay for certain pre-approved groceries, and do not pay for non-food products. Future applicants can apply to SNAP online by visiting the program’s website.
Fitness and recreation
The Center for Healthy Aging (CHA) offers numerous programs for seniors to stay fit and socialize. Each of the CHA’s recreational programs targets a specific area of fitness, like walking or weight-lifting. These programs include:
- Active Choices
- Active Living Every Day
- Fit and Strong
- Healthy Moves for Aging Well
- Walk With Ease
Seniors can directly contact the programs for more information or call the CHA at (571) 527-3900 for more information.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is the country’s most prominent senior membership organization. AARP has been helping seniors access affordable day-to-day services, home care, and retirement information since 1958. The program offers a yearly membership, and most of their resources are not open to the public. However, membership is open to anyone age 55 or older, regardless of whether or not they’re retired.
Members of AARP have access to promotions like discounts at popular stores and chain restaurants or even reduced-cost health care through the organization. Non-members do not have access to these benefits, however, they can access any of AARP’s online resources for free. AARP’s website offers a host of free resources that discuss important retirement topics.
Enrolling in Medicare is standard practice for most Americans as they approach retirement, but many do not know where to begin. Fortunately, health insurance counseling can help by providing in-depth information about health insurance enrollment. Delaware residents can receive free health insurance counseling through the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP), which is accessible statewide.
Delaware residents do not have to pay for SHIP. The program’s services are free and are funded by the state. Health insurance counseling is available over the phone at 1(800) 336-9500.
Medicare is the most common health insurer for Americans age 65 and older. Most Americans pay into Medicare during their working years to receive affordable benefits during their retirement. Seniors are the target audience for Medicare, however, adults with disabilities may qualify for coverage.
Although Medicare is a public benefits program, it is not free. Enrollees pay monthly premiums to maintain coverage in addition to copayments and deductibles. The amount a person pays depends on the Medicare plan they choose. Low-income seniors who cannot afford Medicare may apply for Medicaid to fill in the gaps.
When seniors enroll in Medicare, they choose from four plans. Each plan offers a different level of coverage with comprehensive plans costing more each month. There is no one-size-fits-all policy, and the right plan for each person depends on their budget and their medical needs.
Medicare Part A
Part A offers hospital insurance to beneficiaries and covers inpatient care at a skilled nursing facility or health care in the home. Most Part A policyholders are subject to copayments and deductibles, but many do not pay premiums for their coverage.
Medicare Part B
The second policy type offers medical insurance and pays for durable medical equipment, visits to the physician, outpatient hospital services, and other medical services not covered by Medicare Part A. Typically, a Part B policyholder will be charged a monthly premium for their plan as well as copayments and deductibles for the medical services they receive.
Medicare Part C
Also known as, Medicare Advantage, Part C operates differently than Parts A and B. Medicare Advantage allows Medicare policyholders to receive coverage from private healthcare insurance providers, which may allow seniors to receive services for a lower copayment than the other plans. Those enrolled in Part C may receive all of the benefits offered in Parts A and B, in addition to extra benefits unavailable through the other two plans, including prescription coverage.
Medicare Part D
The last policy type offers prescription coverage to anyone with Medicare. Policyholders who enroll in Medicare Part D to pay for their medications must pay an additional premium to receive the benefits. As a result, they may obtain their prescription medications at a low cost.
Medicaid can help low-income seniors pay for their medical needs. The program is not open to everyone and only medically and financially needy applicants are approved. However, Medicaid can be a major help to recipients, paying for a host of medical services on its own — when used alongside Medicare, it can cover much more. Seniors who dually enroll in both programs can use Medicaid to pay for their Medicare bills, like copayments, deductibles, and monthly premiums.
To receive Medicaid, applicants must participate in a financial screening. Additionally, they must submit medical assessment results to determine their health needs. Using information gathered during the pre-application screenings, Medicaid can determine which applicants are eligible for benefits.
Seniors who want to apply for Medicaid should contact the Department of Insurance (DOI) to learn more. Applicants can call (800) 843-7271 to reach the DOI’s general information line where they may ask questions about coverage and eligibility.
Aging veterans are entitled to certain benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans who were discharged for any reason other than “dishonorable” can receive monthly pensions from the VA to offset their costs of care, or they may enroll in a health care policy to receive low-cost medical coverage. Disabled veterans may qualify for additional benefits if their injury is service-connected.
Aid and Attendance
Like all seniors, veterans may need help getting around as they age. They may need help cleaning, bathing, cooking, or eating on a daily basis. Veterans who need help with their activities of daily living (ADLs) may qualify for a monthly Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit through the VA.
Similarly to the VA’s standard monthly pension, A&A is distributed as a lump sum every month. Recipients may use their funds without restriction, but they are intended to compensate for a person’s home care costs. Personal care assistants can be expensive, and A&A can make it more affordable for veterans in need.
Veterans residing in nursing homes may automatically qualify for A&A. Veterans who already receive monthly pension may also automatically qualify for A&A once they need home care. To learn more, veterans should contact their VA caseworker.
VA health care programs
The Medical Benefits Package (MBP) is the VA’s most popular health care package. Anyone who served in the U.S. Armed Forces may enroll, provided they were not dishonorably discharged. The policy is not reserved for disabled veterans although veterans with service-connected disabilities may qualify for additional benefits.
The VA assesses all enrollees for their financial and medical status before awarding benefits. A policyholder’s fees (monthly premiums, deductibles, and copayments) are determined by their pre-enrollment assessments. Low-income seniors and disabled veterans typically pay the least for their plans.
Community-based care and long-term care services are both covered by the MBP. Nursing homes, adult day care, home health care, and respite care may all qualify for coverage. Seniors may also use it to pay for basic medical costs, and specialized coverage is available for policyholders who need accommodations.
Like many other senior health care plans, the MBP will not pay for a long-term care resident’s room and board. Room and board fees are the resident’s responsibility. If a resident needs additional services which are not included in the institution’s room and board (like physical therapy), the MBP will step in.
Legal assistance for seniors
When seniors face abuse or neglect, they may not know who to turn to. Fortunately, several organizations and agencies in Delaware offer free and low-cost legal services to help seniors get help when they need it most. Volunteer lawyers, legal information hubs, and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman are a few of the free legal resources available to Delaware seniors.
Delaware Volunteer Legal Services
Established by the Delaware Bar Association in 1981, Delaware Volunteer Legal Services (DVLS) helps low-income residents statewide. Residents of all ages may qualify for assistance, but DVLS can be particularly helpful for seniors.
The DVLS is a nonprofit organization and does not charge fees for services. Their attorneys can help with many areas of law, including consumer law, bankruptcy, disability, elder law, family law, life planning, housing, and personal injury. Seniors facing criminal charges may not use DVLS to represent their case.
Seniors wanting to learn more about DVLS should visit the program’s website or contact their office directly at (302) 478-8850.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) serves long-term care residents statewide to stop elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Seniors residing in nursing homes assisted living facilities, and memory care institutions can file complaints with the LTCOP. The LTCOP takes each complaint seriously and works with local authorities to resolve the issue.
Anyone who witnesses abuse or neglect in a senior facility is also encouraged to report it to the LTCOP. Reporters should contact the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) to get in touch with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s office, where they can file a complaint or ask questions about resident rights.
National Consumer Law Center
Seniors with questions about debt, credit, and financial exploitation may work with the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) for answers. The NCLC sponsors free training events to educate people about their rights as consumers and offers a wide range of online educational materials for those who cannot attend in-person events. Seniors and their families should visit the NCLC’s website to take advantage of their free digital library or learn about upcoming conferences in their community.
Aging can make getting around a challenge. Vision loss, arthritis, and other health conditions can make driving dangerous or challenging for seniors. To address this, many communities offer ride programs for seniors to make running errands and making appointments easier and affordable. Delaware’s public transit system, DART First State, is also a viable option for non-driving seniors, offering discounted fares for riders over a certain age.
Senior Citizens Affordable Taxi (SCAT)
Riders over the age of 65 and riders with physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from driving may use the Senior Citizens Affordable Taxi (SCAT) to get around. SCAT’s taxis are privately owned, and drivers require all riders to present proof of their age or disability before boarding.
Seniors may use SCAT for any reason; they are not limited to errands or medical appointments. Tickets are available online and at DART Transportation stores throughout Delaware.
Seniors over 65 (and disabled adults) can ride fixed-route buses and trains in Delaware for a reduced fare. Applications for DART First State Reduced Fare ID cards are available on the organization’s website, where they may be printed off and filled out for free. Call (800) 652-3278 to learn more about eligibility, fares, or buying tickets.
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.