Georgia Community Resources for Seniors
It can be difficult to find all the local and community resources available for elderly individuals. Many families don't know where to begin to look when considering their senior care options. Federal and state programs, alongside national and local nonprofit organizations, can be excellent resources when it comes to senior care, but researching all the options takes time — And caregivers don't often have a lot of time to spare. This page covers senior care options in Georgia, transportation services, financial assistance, veterans’ benefits, legal and tax assistance, and much more.
Care options and resources
While many senior citizens choose to remain in their homes when they need long-term care, others transition to assisted living facilities or nursing homes. In Georgia, there are many options available for care. Learn more about the care services available to Georgians and their caregivers.
Hospice services and palliative care
Hospice services are for individuals with a terminal illness. These services can include medical and nursing care, social services, counseling, physical and occupational therapy, and palliative care. Palliative care is focused on easing pain and discomfort. While it’s often associated with hospice services, it can also accompany treatment for non-terminal conditions such as neurological disorders, treatable cancer, and genetic diseases.
Medicare, which is available to most people over the age of 65, as well as Medicaid and private insurance companies, all cover hospice care. If an individual does not have coverage, the individual hospice will work with the family to find funds raised from memorials, special events, gifts, and other contributions. For more information, go to the website for Georgia Hospice & Palliative Care Organization or call them at (877) 924-6073.
The Georgia Department of Community Health also has information on their website or you can call them at 1 (800) 436-7442.
Home care services
If an elderly person needs special assistance that the family cannot provide, home care services are often a helpful alternative or addition to family care. Georgia offers a wide variety of home care services coordinated by the Division of Aging Service through the Area Agencies on Aging. These services include:
- Home health services provide a professional caregiver assists with medication administration, routine skin care, and other minor health services
- Personal care services provide an aide to help with bathing, grooming, getting dressed, feeding, transferring, and other activities of daily living
- Skilled nursing services provide a nurse who can administer injectable medication, changes dressings, and handles other medical needs
- Chores services an assistant to perform more home-oriented tasks like cooking, shopping, and light cleaning
- Companion services are a social service that bring a companion into the home to simply spend time with seniors
Some of these services may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private health insurance. For information on any of these services, contact the Area Agencies on Aging office in the appropriate area of the state.
When an agency or organization steps in to provide a caregiver with time off, it’s called respite care. Many caregiving families find respite care is a vital part of their caregiving process. Taking time to manage personal, work, or other family matters can greatly relieve some of the stress of caregiving and give family members a chance to recharge.
In Georgia, the local Area Agencies on Aging have resources to provide help to caregivers.
In addition, Georgia's Aging & Disability Resource Connection can provide information on caregiver programs. Their telephone number is 1 (866) 552-4464.
Nationally, the National Family Caregiver Support Program provides funding for caregivers who need respite care for their family members.
Adult day care
For senior citizens who require supervision and assistance while their caregiver is at work or other unable to be physically present, adult day care can be a great solution.
Most adult day care services provide meals and snacks, social activities, transportation, help with personal care (grooming, toileting, and eating), and enriching activities that are designed to stimulate individuals physically and mentally. Most adult day services in Georgia are open during regular businesses hours on weekdays. Medicaid and Medicare might pay for some or all of these services.
The Georgia Adult Day Services Association maintains a list of adult day care providers who are members of the association. Also, the National Adult Day Services Association has a variety of tips on choosing an adult day care center.
Senior citizens can access a variety of resources at a senior center. Some of these resources include information about public and local benefits, meals, nutritional programs, volunteer opportunities, education, recreation, transportation, and much more. In addition, they provide a place for seniors to socialize with others. Senior centers are generally funded by grants and donations, though some activities might require a fee.
The local Area Agencies on Aging have information on the senior centers in each part of the state.
Senior care facilities
As adults age and progress through their senior years, some can no longer live at home and instead go to live in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. In Georgia, the median monthly cost for an assisted living community is $2,800. To live in a nursing home costs an average of about $6,500 per month.
The local Area Agencies on Aging are responsible for maintaining information on resources that can help Georgia residents pay for and find assisted living or nursing home care.
In addition, the state has GaMap2Care, a searchable database of the care facilities in Georgia. You can also call the Georgia Department of Community Health at 1 (800) 436-7442.
As seniors age, reflexes slow, often making it too dangerous for elderly individuals to drive. Errands that use to be quick and easy are suddenly impossible or become a whole endeavor. Seniors who can no longer safely drive still need to make it to doctor appointments, they still need groceries and transportation to social events. Both the State of Georgia and the federal government have programs in place that can help elderly residents in the state get where they need to go.
Most counties and localities have a transit system of some type. The frequency and location of public transportation vehicles vary widely depending on how close residents are to a city. Find information about the public transportation available on the American Public Transportation Association website.
Another nationwide resource is Eldercare. Choose “transportation” in the drop-down menu on the right-hand side and fill in the appropriate city or zip code on the left to find transportation options in your area.
For those with disabilities, the ADA has a list of transit contacts listed by county. Visit the Georgia ADA Coordinator’s website for more information.
For elderly Georgia residents who would like to continue driving, the Georgia Department of Driver Services offers a six-week defensive driving class. Go to the website or call them at (678) 413-8400 or (678) 413-8500 for more information.
There is also a course by the AARP that focuses on driving safety during the senior years. Call the AARP at 1 (888) 227-7669 or visit the web page to learn more.
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
A significant portion of the elderly population has been diagnosed with dementia, and though there are a handful of different types of dementia, 60–80 percent of dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s disease. And in Georgia, about 140,000 are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2014, the state of Georgia officially released a statewide Dementia Care Plan and formed a Dementia Task Force to improve the state’s ability to care and support residents with dementia and their caregivers. The local Area Agencies on Aging also has resources in place to help individuals and their families manage dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association features local pages with frequently updated lists of dementia support groups in Georgia.
The National Institute on Aging has a page at Alzheimers.gov for those looking for information on Alzheimer’s disease. There is also information available for people with dementia who would like to join a clinical trial. Their phone number is 1 (877) 696-6775.
The BrightFocus Foundation has a list of resources that might help those looking for financial assistance for dementia or medications for Alzheimer’s disease.
Health care resources for seniors
Georgia has 114 hospitals and many more assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and other types of medical or senior living facilities.
The AMA Doctor Finder is another site that provides information on AMA doctors. The information available includes office hours, educational history, and the types of insurance accepted.
Georgia residents with Medicare can use the Physician Compare website to find care providers.
Seniors and caregivers struggling with mental health can check the mental health resources compiled by the Division of Aging Services. The Georgia Crisis & Access Line offers help to residents in crisis as well as those who need information on available mental health care services. Their number is 1 (800) 715-4225.
For those without dental insurance, Emory University maintains a list of free and reduced-fee dental clinics.
Those who need help paying for their prescription medications should inquire with their local Area Agency on Aging, as they maintain a list of resources and should be able to help.
Almost all Americans over the age of 65 are eligible for Medicare Part A, which covers some basic care. For more extensive care, many people either purchase private insurance or sign up for Medicare Part B. Also, individuals under the age of 65 who are not disabled or blind need to look for other options for health insurance.
Healthcare.gov is a federal program that helps people sign up for insurance plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Federal subsidies are available depending on income and family size. Open enrollment varies slightly each year, though it usually begins in November runs through December. Some individuals are eligible for enrollment at other times. Call 1 (800) 318-2596 for more information.
MyGeorgiaCares is a free resource that offers individual counseling to people who need health insurance or who have questions or concerns about their Medicare. They have financial assistance programs for those who cannot afford their healthcare. Call them at 1 (866) 552-4464 and choose option 4.
Wellness and recreation
Staying healthy as a senior requires constantly scrutinizing and occasionally adjusting lifestyle choices — particularly those related to nutrition, fitness, and recreation. Georgia offers wellness resources aimed at helping senior citizens stay active and eat well.
Seniors who would like to have congregate meals a local senior center should contact their local Area Agency on Aging. These agencies also offer guidance and counseling on nutrition topics.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides vouchers for low-income seniors to spend at their local farmers’ markets on fresh produce. The local Area Agency on Aging will have information on how to apply for this benefit.
Live Healthy Georgia has resources that are educational and helpful for those who want to age well by improving their nutrition.
Meals on Wheels is a national program that serves at least one meal per day, five days per week to homebound seniors over the age of 60. The local Area Agency on Aging can sign up individuals for this service.
Fitness and recreation
Silver Sneakers is a free program for seniors who have Medicare. Individuals get free admission to all gyms that participate in the program. Go to the website to find gyms and classes in the appropriate county.
Government benefit programs
There are several nationwide benefit programs designed to help seniors receive the care they need. Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans benefits programs all offer critical long-term care assistance for seniors.
Medicare is a type of health insurance available to all anyone over the age of 65 who has worked for more than 10 years or has had a spouse who worked for more than 10 years.
There are two types of Medicare. Medicare A is available for free and covers home health care, nursing home care, inpatient hospital care, and hospice. Medicare B is available for a sliding premium (a percentage of your income) and covers preventative care, medically necessary care, mental health services, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment. There is also Medicare D, which covers prescriptions.
Seniors can sign up for Medicare as soon as three months before they turn 65. Find out more about how to enroll at Medicare.gov. The telephone number is 1 (800) 772-1213.
Medicaid is a federal program that provides health insurance coverage for people who cannot afford to pay for it themselves. The elderly and the disabled are two populations who can be served by Medicaid. In Georgia, individuals can apply via the Georgia Gateway. The help desk phone number is 1 (877) 423-4746.
For those who need long-term care, there are several Medicaid waivers available:
SOURCE is a primary care case management program that helps people who are elderly or disabled avoid hospitalization and admittance into a nursing home due to medical complications.
The Independent Care Waiver Program helps people with disabilities continue to live in their own homes rather than in a nursing home.
The Community Care Services Program provides various services to help people remain in their homes or in the community. These include emergency response, home-delivered meals, respite care, adult day health care, and personal care homes.
For information on any of these programs, please call 1 (800) 436-7442.
Georgia offers care and help to veterans as they enter their senior years. The Department of Veterans Services maintains a list of resources that might be able to help with various needs.
There is also a federal program called Aid and Attendance which might be able to help with some medical expenses, such as assisted care living. Visit or call your local Veterans Field Office to find out more.
Financial and tax assistance
Filing tax returns can be confusing with the various laws and situations that senior citizens need to account for, such as pension income, social security, and retirement funds. In Georgia, there are some options available for seniors who need help with their taxes.
The first, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is for anyone with low or moderate income levels who needs free tax assistance. Call (800) 906-9887 to find a VITA location.
AARP also offers free tax assistance to those with low to moderate incomes who are over the age of 50. Call 1 (888) AARP-NOW to find a location in the appropriate Georgia county.
Georgia residents who are 60 or older can access legal professionals for non-criminal cases through the Elderly Legal Assistance Program, or ELAP. Some issues that ELAP can help with include consumer protection, abuse or neglect, housing, long-term care, healthcare, and more. The program is run by the local Area Agency on Aging.
Another service that can help with legal advice is the Georgia Senior Legal Hotline. This hotline is staffed by attorneys who can give legal advice and referrals to other attorneys as needed. More than 80 percent of cases can be resolved by taking advantage of the free advice and brief services that the hotline attorneys will provide. The Georgia Senior Legal hotline number is (888) 257-9519.
The Georgia Attorney General can also answer legal questions and make referrals. Call (404) 656-3300 for general information or (800) 869-1123 for consumer complaints.
Finally, the Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman can help if there is a dispute between a resident and a nursing home or assisted living facility. Call (866) 552-4464 and select option 5.
National resources for seniors
With over 41 million senior citizens, the United States takes the comfort and wellbeing of its seniors seriously. There are several nationwide and nonprofit organizations that focus on helping retirees maintain a high standard of living.
AARP has a membership of nearly 38 million people. They are a nonprofit and non-partisan group that primarily focuses on helping seniors live well after retirement. Membership benefits include discounts on restaurants, shopping, health services, entertainment, and more. There are also community events and travel opportunities.
The Alliance for Aging Research is a nonprofit organization that improves the aging process through the use of science. Go to the website to learn about various topics relevant to aging and health.
The National Council on Aging provides resources for seniors who need help with health insurance, economic issues, or basic needs such as rent, food, and medicine.
Oasis helps seniors by matching them with volunteer opportunities, learning opportunities, and other engaging activities. Oasis is dedicated to helping seniors live active, social, fulfilling lives.
Local support services
In addition to the national organizations, Georgia itself has services that are state-funded and administered.
Local Offices for the Aging
The local offices for the aging are assigned by county. Find the list of agencies on the website and call the one that services your county.
Other community programs, services, and resources
Anyone who suspects that a senior citizen might be being abused should contact The Division of Aging Services right away at 1 (866) 552-4464 — Choose option 3.
The Senior Community Service Employment Program can help adults over the age of 55 re-enter the workforce, should the need arise. Call them at (866) 552-4464.
The Aging and Disability Resource Connection can help those seniors who are disabled to make long-term decisions and to access the support they need. Call (800) 436-7442 for more information.
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.