Florida Community Resources for Seniors
As seniors navigate the challenges of aging, they often need additional help and resources. Florida offers resources specifically designed to meet the needs of elderly individuals and their caregivers. This page covers the resources available for seniors living in Florida including health care, nutrition and fitness programs, financial assistance, legal and tax help, transportation services, and more.
Florida senior care options
It’s expected that all seniors will need some assistance with activities of daily living as they age. There are a variety of ways to meet these needs. Some seniors age in place at home, while others move into a nursing home or assisted living facility where they can get more assistance.
Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs offers a wide variety of services for senior citizens and their families, including caregiver support, nutritional assistance, utility assistance, and more. You can find information on services offered in your local area by checking out their county-specific resources. Florida’s Area Agencies on Aging offer a coordinated way for Florida seniors to access information and services.
Home care services
Seniors may remain in their own residences or move to the home of a loved one and still need access to medical care or other assistance on a daily basis. In those cases, an in-home caregiver can supply the needed help. In-home caregivers provide a variety of different types of assistance depending on need. Caregivers may provide assistance with household tasks like cooking and shopping, activities of daily living like showering, dressing, and grooming, or nursing tasks like administering medications and monitoring vital signs.
The Department of Elder Affairs oversees Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) including home care and senior companion programs. You can find out if you or your senior family member is eligible for one of these programs by contacting the Elder Helpline at (800) 963-5337.
The Florida Respite Coalition offers a locator tool that can be used to find in-home caregivers in your county. You can also visit Eldercare Locator to find in-home care and other services in your area.
It’s important for family members who act as caregivers to also take care of themselves and their own affairs. Respite care is a service that helps caregivers by temporarily caring for disabled or elderly individuals while caregivers attend to necessary business, travel, or personal matters. Respite care can be provided by in-home caregivers or by a facility such as a nursing home or adult day care facility.
The Department of Elder Affairs operates the RELIEF (Respite for Elders Living in Everyday Families) Program that offers expanded respite care to seniors so that their caregivers can have needed time off. You can find out more about the RELIEF Program in your area by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging.
Caregivers can also find help and resources related to caregiving by contacting the Elder Helpline at (800) 963-5337.
Seniors or caregivers can contact 211 to be put in touch with a community resource specialist who provides local information about resources and programs.
For more information about respite care, you can check out the online consumer guide provided by the National Respite Network and Resource Center. This guide provides a variety of information about various respite programs in your state.
Adult day care
Seniors or people with disabilities who are living at home but cannot be left alone may benefit from adult day care. This service allows caregivers to work or attend to other matters without worrying about the senior in their life. Some adult day care services provide specialized care that includes nursing and health-related tasks. Others provide social care, which involves supervision and assistance with activities of daily living, but limited or no health-related care.
The Florida Adult Day Services Association provides listings for adult day care services in your local area. You can also use the Eldercare Locator tool or call the service at (800) 677-1116 for information.
Adult day care services may be eligible for free or reduced cost to your senior family member. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to find out if you’re eligible for services and how to apply.
Seniors need opportunities to socialize, and many want to remain connected to and active in their communities. Senior centers help prevent loneliness by providing opportunities for seniors to socialize, take part in recreational programs, volunteer, take classes, and more. You can find a senior center in your area by visiting the website for the Florida Association of Senior Centers or by calling them at (727) 893-7190.
Hospice and palliative care
End-of-life care is an important subject for seniors and their caregivers to consider. Hospice care is one option for seniors who are nearing the end of their life. These services are typically available to those who are determined to have no more than six months left to live.
In hospice care, patients will not receive life-prolonging treatments. The goal of hospice care is not to extend life but to provide patients with the best possible quality of life during the time they have remaining. The focus is on keeping patients comfortable and allowing them to die with dignity. Among the services provided by hospice care, patients may receive palliative care, which are treatments that relieve symptoms and promote comfort. Hospice services can also include counseling, caregiver and family support, and social services.
Hospice care is included in most private health insurance plans, and it’s covered by both Medicare and Medicaid. Seniors who do not have health coverage may be able to take advantage of grants and funds that offset or eliminate hospice costs.
There are several ways to find local hospice care services. The Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Organization maintains a directory of licensed and certified hospice care providers. Seniors and their family members can also check out the National Hospice Locator to find providers.
For more information for families considering hospice care, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers a variety of helpful resources.
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias)
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of progressive dementia that typically affects seniors. It’s one of the most common types of dementia. You can find a list of Alzheimer’s disease resources and readings at Florida’sDepartment of Elder Affairs.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers a 24-hour-a-day helpline at (800) 272-3900.
The federal government’s National Institute on Aging maintains a site with information about Alzheimer’s disease, resources for patients and caregivers, news, and information on clinical trials at Alzheimers.gov. You can also contact them by phone at (877) 696-6775.
The nonprofit organization BrightFocus offers information, data, and advice while promoting Alzheimer’s disease research.
Health care information
Patients seeking health care in Florida have many options across the state. There are 186 hospitals in Florida, in addition to numerous medical centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other types of health care facilities.
You can visit the Florida Board of Medicine to find licensing information on any Florida doctor. You can also use this site to research a doctor’s practitioner profile and history of disciplinary actions or public complaints.
Another good resource for physician information is the AMA Doctor Finder, which provides information on licensing, educational background, types of insurance accepted, and even office hours. For seniors who have Medicare, Physician Compare can help locate participating doctors in the local area.
Prescription medication can be expensive, especially for those without insurance. The Department of Children and Families maintains a list of several different prescription assistance programs.
Seniors without health insurance can also access health care by visiting their local health department office. The Florida Department of Health offers low-cost and sliding scale health services. You can call (850) 245-4444 to find your local office.
Dental care is an important part of overall health care. The Department of Health Department of Health search tool can help you find dental providers offering services for a reduced fee or other referral services.
Health insurance can make prescriptions and health care services more accessible and affordable. Health insurance options for seniors can be confusing, but Florida seniors and caregivers can access several different resources for assistance.
The Florida Department of Elder Affairs and local Area Agencies on Aging administer the SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) Program. This program offers one-on-one counseling to help seniors understand their options in regard to Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance. You can call SHINE at (800) 963-5337.
Seniors can apply for medical assistance, along with food and cash assistance, by visiting the Automated Community Connection to Economic Self Sufficiency (ACCESS) program, run by the Florida Department of Children and Families. You can also contact them by phone at (866) 762-2237. Agents are available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Seniors also have the option of applying for health insurance through the federal Healthcare Marketplace. Qualifying individuals can receive subsidies to offset the cost of insurance. Open enrollment takes place near the end of each year, but year-round enrollment is available to many individuals, depending on circumstance. Find out about your eligibility by visiting Healthcare.gov.
Senior nutrition and fitness
To maintain good health, it’s not enough just to be able to access health care. Good nutrition and physical activity can help seniors live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. Florida offers nutrition assistance and fitness programs for seniors to help them eat well and remain physically fit.
Low-income seniors or their caregivers can begin with the Food Assistance Program (often called “food stamps”), which provides money that can be used on qualifying food items. You can apply online for food assistance, or visit a customer service center to apply in-person.
Another option is the Congregate Meal Site Program run by your local Area Agency on Aging. This program promotes both nutrition and socialization by serving seniors health meals that can be enjoyed in the company of others. Your local Area Agency on Aging can provide you with more information about meal sites.
Seniors who are homebound for medical reasons or who lack transportation may have difficulty getting out to get a meal. The nonprofit organization, Meals on Wheels, delivers meals to seniors at their homes. Use their website to find a local Meals on Wheels program.
Seniors can also success fresh produce at farmers’ markets by using the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). The program provides states with funds that are used to give seniors coupons that can be redeemed at local farmers’ markets. You can call the Florida SFMNP coordinator at (850) 414-2000.
Fitness and recreation
The Florida Department of Elder Affairs offers several evidence-based fitness programs for seniors, including programs to help seniors achieve better balance and manage chronic diseases. Local Area Agencies on Aging have specific information about local programs.
Seniors who have Medicare may be eligible for a free membership at a gym in their local area through SilverSneakers, a free fitness program aimed at helping seniors stay active and healthy.
Seniors may also want to consider joining AARP, an interest group that focuses on empowering seniors and retired people. There are many membership benefits included in an AARP membership, including discounts on things like health services, entertainment, and travel. There are also community events and volunteer opportunities.
Seniors who want to spend more time outdoors should look into the reduced fee pass for national parks offered by the National Park Service. The reduced fee pass allows seniors to visit national parts for only $10. Find out more by contacting the National Park Service at (518) 474-0456.
Government benefit programs
Seniors in every state, including Florida, can take advantage of certain government benefit programs if they’re eligible. These are some of the most commonly-used programs.
Seniors over the age of 65 who have worked for more than 10 years, or whose spouses have worked for more than 10 years, are eligible for Medicare. There are several different Medicare plans available:
- Medicare A covers inpatient care at hospitals and other facilities, as well as some types of home health care
- Medicare B is available for a sliding fee that’s dependent on income. Medicare B covers preventative care, ambulance services, durable medical equipment, and mental health care, among other things
- Medicare C provides private insurance that may cover things not included in other Medicare plans, like vision and dental
- Medicare D is the prescription drug coverage plan
Seniors can find out more about enrolling in Medicare at Medicare.gov, or by calling (800) 633-4227. The SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) program can help seniors understand their plan options and eligibility. To talk to someone on the phone, call SHINE at (800) 963-5337.
Medicaid is a program funded by the federal government and administered by the state. The program is designed to provide medical care to low-income adults. The Medicaid program in Florida is available through the Department of Children and Families. You can apply online through the Automated Community Connection to Economic Self Sufficiency (ACCESS) website, or at a customer service center.
The SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) program can also help seniors understand Medicaid eligibility. Call them at (800) 963-5337.
Elderly veterans and their spouses who are in need of rehabilitation or nursing home care may be able to take advantage of one of the veterans homes in Florida. There are six skilled nursing facilities and one assisted living facility for veterans in Florida. You can find information about these veterans’ homes on the Department of Veterans Services website.
The Department of Veterans Services is also a good resource for helping senior veterans find and apply for other programs and resources that they might be eligible for, such as the Aid and Attendance program. More information is available through local DVS offices.
Tax preparation assistance
Seniors may find that their tax situation changes or becomes more complicated as they age. To fill this need, there are programs in Florida that can provide free tax preparation for seniors.
AARP Tax-Aide helps adults over 50 who can’t afford to pay for tax preparation. You can call them at (888) 687-2277. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is another program that works with low-income or moderate-income seniors. For more information, call 211. Finally, the IRS website offers tax assistance and information.
Seniors in need of legal advice, information, or assistance can find a number of resources at the Department of Elder Affairs, including a Senior Legal Helpline that provides free legal advice over the phone to adults over the age of 60. Call the Helpline at (888) 895-7873.
The Florida Office of the Attorney General offers a list of legal resources for seniors, including a brochure on protecting themselves from fraud.
Seniors or family members dealing with legal disputes that involve residential care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities can turn to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program for advocacy and assistance. Get in touch with your ombudsman’s district office for more information.
Vision impairment, decreased mobility, and other health problems can prevent seniors from driving safely. But seniors don’t have to choose between staying safe and getting around town for errands or socializing. Florida seniors have access to several resources that can help meet their transportation needs.
The Department of Elder Affairs provides a list of transportation resources available throughout the state. This includes databases of transportation options and educational programs. You can also access local transportation programs through your local Area Agency on Aging.
Seniors may also find local transportation programs through the Centers for Independent Living. Check their map for options in your local area or call (713) 520-0232 for assistance.
Seniors who continue to drive their own vehicles are at higher risk for car accidents. However, this risk can be reduced through driving courses that focus on increasing defensive driving skills. Both AAA and the AARP offer senior-specific driving courses that help seniors improve their driving skills and decrease their risk of being involved in a car accident.
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.