Indiana Community Resources for Seniors
Senior care can be expensive and many health insurance providers do not cover certain senior services, like assisted living and adult day care. Caregivers in search of community resources for elderly individuals often don't know what programs exist or where to start their search. Seniors of Indiana can access numerous programs and organizations offering services like legal assistance, tax preparation help, caregiver classes, respite care, counseling, home care, and more.
Indiana senior care options
Seniors nationwide can access free home care resources through the Administration for Community Living (ACL). The ACL is a nonprofit organization serving seniors and disabled individuals by connecting families with home health care providers. The ACL’s mission is to help seniors age-in-place and receive care in a home or community-based setting as opposed to a nursing facility. Seniors may access numerous free and low-cost supports through the ACL, making it easier for them to receive the care they need without relocating to a nursing home.
Additionally, the National Age in Place Council (NAPC) offers their own library of free and low-cost resources designed to help seniors access quality home-based care. Families may access free templates on the NAPC’s website, as well as links to additional information regarding home-based care. By using the NAPC’s resources, families can learn how to find the right care provider, and can get answers to any questions they may have as they navigate the process.
Indiana does not offer a state-specific companion program for seniors, however, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) operates in Indiana and serves as a viable option for low-income seniors requiring assistance.
Companions can play an important role in a senior’s life as they age, providing friendship and company without imposing on their independence. Individuals who can complete most of their daily tasks without assistance may consider hiring a companion to help them when they need it. Some companions do not assist with tasks at all but serve entirely as a social outlet for seniors who need company throughout the day.
The CNCS aims to connect seniors with volunteer companions in order to help them get the company and assistance they need. Companion services are generally the least expensive of all home-based senior care, however, many people are willing to work as companions on a volunteer basis. The CNCS brings volunteer companions together through their Senior Corps program and connects them with seniors living within their service area. To learn more about the CNCS and Senior Corps, visit the program’s website or call the national service hotline at 1 (800) 942-2677.
Many seniors receive personal assistance from a friend or family member instead of receiving care from a paid assistant. When the family caregiver needs a break to tend to personal responsibilities, they made need to find someone else they can trust to care for their family member. Respite care services offer this type of temporary break for caregivers.
Seniors and their caregivers may use the ARCH (Access to Respite Care and Help) Resource Center to learn more about quality, low-cost respite care services in their community. The ARCH Resource Center is free and available to seniors and caregivers in all fifty states.
To find respite programs and providers in your community, visit the ARCH National Respite Locator available on the organization’s website.
Respite coalitions are growing in popularity throughout the United States, both on a national level and a state level. Unfortunately, as of 2018, Indiana does not have a state respite coalition. The local offers numerous free resources to caregivers and seniors throughout the state for those who meet their eligibility requirements.
Caregivers throughout the state have access to free resources through the Indiana Area Agencies on Aging offices. To access resources for senior care, a person must meet either the caregiver or care recipient requirements. Indiana residents may qualify as care recipients if they are over the age of 60 years old, or if they have been diagnosed with dementia. A person may qualify as a caregiver if they are older than 18 years of age and caring for someone who meets the care recipient requirements.
Caregivers who meet the eligibility requirements can access:
- Caregiver counseling
- Caregiver training
- Educational materials
- Respite care services
Care recipients may receive free transportation to and from their medical appointments, in addition to minimal home modifications (provided the home modifications are to accommodate a disability). The FCSP is entirely nonprofit and does not charge beneficiaries to access their resources. To learn more, contact your local Indiana Area Agency on Aging (AAA), or call (800) 986-3505 to locate your community AAA office.
The Caregiver Action Network (previously known as the National Family Caregivers Association) is a popular free resource for caregivers anywhere in the U.S. Caregivers to a friend or family member can receive training, meet other caregivers on the forums, see videos of other caregivers sharing their stories, and more. All of the CAN’s resources are available at no cost, and caregivers in all fifty states are eligible to use them.
Individuals may also work with the National Alliance of Caregiving (NAC) to learn more about their role as a caregiver. The NAC seeks to educate the public about caregiving and serves as a major advocate for caregivers nationwide. Caregivers may use the NAC’s comprehensive collection of information to learn about a wide range of caregiving topics, allowing them to become better caregivers.
Additionally, the American Red Cross offers free caregiving resources to U.S. citizens. For example, caregivers may access free caregiving classes through their local Red Cross chapter, depending on their location. Caregiving classes are not available through all chapters of the Red Cross, so caregivers should contact their local chapter for more information. Caregivers may locate their community Red Cross chapter by using the Red Cross’s office locator.
Hospice and palliative care
The Indiana Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (IHPCO) offers free resources to Indiana residents who are nearing the end of their life. Indiana residents may access free educational resources on the IPCC's website, or they may contact the organization directly to learn more about their options.
The IHPCO is entirely nonprofit, and donations are the main source of the organization’s income. To receive benefits from the IHPCO, a person must be a member of the organization. These benefits include free information regarding end-of-life care and discounted rates on qualifying hospice and palliative care services. Individuals may apply using the organization’s online membership application, or they may call the Consumer HelpLine at 1 (866) 254-1910 for assistance.
Members of the NHPCO can use any of the program’s educational resources. These resources allow families to plan ahead and make the right decisions regarding end-of-life services. Additionally, members may access low-cost hospice services and palliative care through the organization, making end-of-life care more accessible nationwide.
Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, roughly 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2018. Of those, roughly 5.5 million are 65 or older. The number of people suffering from dementia increases each year and the families affected are often unprepared for their loved one’s needs.
As of 2018, there are no state-sponsored Alzheimer’s programs serving residents of Indiana. However, there is a chapter of the Alzheimer's Association headquartered in Indiana, which serves as the state’s primary resource for Alzheimer’s counseling and education.
Indiana residents may contact the Greater Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association 24 hours a day through the website or by calling (800) 272-3900. Family caregivers providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s may access free training resources through the Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, in addition to free counseling, support groups, and their online caregiver center. The Alzheimer’s Association is funded entirely by donations, and all of their resources are free to those who need them.
The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) can be a valuable resource for caregivers and family members. The organization offers free informational resources, like updates on the latest research, as well as free counseling services, forums, and a care planning tool.
Thousands of families benefit from the AA’s educational resources, and the association’s medical programs are responsible for many advances in Alzheimer’s research. Donations are the primary source of funding for the Alzheimer’s Association, and their resources are free to all families throughout the United States.
Senior transportation services
Senior transportation services are managed by the local AAA’s throughout the state of Indiana and are implemented individually by each county. Most counties offer senior transportation services, although their availability may vary throughout the state. Each community AAA branch offers information regarding senior transportation services to Indiana residents who inquire. If you are an Indiana resident, contact your local AAA branch to learn more about senior transportation services in your community.
Health insurance in Indiana
Medicare policyholders in Indiana may access the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) if they require help understanding their health insurance policy, or if they need assistance paying for the coverage they need. Although SHIP is part of a federally-operated program, it is directly controlled by the Indiana Department of Insurance and the Administration on Community Living. All of the program’s services are free to Indiana residents.
Seniors who participate in SHIP may receive financial assistance for their Medicare copayments, as well as additional Medicare coverage for prescription drugs and durable medical equipment. To learn more about SHIP, visit the program’s website or by calling the central office at 1 (800) 452-4800.
Nutrition and wellness
Senior nutrition resources
The National Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging (NRCNA) is a free resource for seniors who want to know more about their changing nutritional needs. Families have access to free resources through the NRCNA, like caregiving classes and educational programs about nutrition.
Indiana residents may access information regarding senior nutrition through the Nutrition Resource Center, provided by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). The Nutrition Resource Center is free to all Indiana residents and offers a wide range of information regarding the nutritional, diet, and exercise needs of seniors. To learn more, visit the Nutrition Resource Center online, or call the ISDH at (317) 233-1325.
Fitness and recreation
One of the most difficult challenges of aging for many adults is staying active and healthy as they grow older. However, seniors who stay active stay healthier longer than aging adults who lead more sedentary lives. To help seniors access fitness programs more easily, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) created the Center for Health Aging. Seniors over 65 interested in community-based recreational programs are welcome at any of the Center for Healthy Aging’s free fitness programs around the country:
Each of the CHA’s programs focuses on an area of physical wellness and targets a specific fitness goal. For example, the Walk With Ease program is ideal for older adults who experience trouble with mobility, or who wish to protect their ability to walk as they age. However, the Fit and the Strong program operates with a focus on strength-training and overall fitness. To learn more, review the Roadmap to Community-Integrated Health Care, the CHA’s guide to senior fitness and wellness.
Government benefit programs
Although many seniors require more medical and personal assistance as they age, many do not have insurance or the funds to pay for their care out-of-pocket.
To reduce the number of uninsured seniors in the U.S., the federal government offers several benefit programs which allow seniors to access affordable health care. The most popular government benefit program is Medicare, available to all seniors in the United States. More than 55 million Americans own a Medicare policy, making it the most common payer of senior health care in the country.
Most seniors can expect to pay a monthly premium for their Medicare plan. The amount of a person’s monthly premium depends on the Medicare policy they choose, and their financial resources. Low-income seniors may receive Medicare coverage for a reduced cost (or no cost) if they qualify, and many states offer Medicare savings plans for Medicaid recipients.
When a person enrolls in Medicare, they are required to choose a policy.
Medicare Part A
This is the hospital care policy. It offers hospital insurance to beneficiaries, and steps in when someone needs inpatient care at a skilled nursing facility or health care in their own home. Most Part A policy-holders are subject to copayments and deductibles, but many do not pay premiums for their coverage.
Medicare Part B
Part B offers medical insurance and pays for durable medical equipment, visits to the physician, outpatient hospital services, and other medical services which are not covered by Medicare Part A. Part B policy-holders will typically be charged a monthly premium for their plan, as well as copayments and deductibles for the medical services they receive.
Medicare Part C
The program (also known as Medicare Advantage) works a bit differently than the other two programs. Part C policyholders receive coverage from private healthcare insurance providers, which may allow seniors to receive services for a lower copayment than on the other two 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
This policy 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.
Medicare reduces the cost of health care for millions of seniors, however, low-income seniors may have difficulty paying their monthly Medicare premiums or they may not have the financial resources to afford their copayments and deductibles. To offset these costs, low-income seniors may participate in Medicaid, which offers additional health care benefits and Medicare savings.
Low-income seniors in Indiana may access free or low-cost health care through Indiana’s Medicaid program. Medicaid is available to anyone over the age of 65 who meets the program’s financial requirements. Seniors requesting advanced coverage (including coverage for long-term care services) may need to prove they require the services before they receive benefits.
Seniors who qualify for Medicaid receive free health care coverage for services and prescriptions. Medicaid applicants must meet the program’s eligibility requirements before they receive benefits from the program. Each state creates its own Medicaid eligibility requirements, provided they meet the federal government’s guidelines. Typically, a person must prove that they require certain health care services in order to maintain wellbeing and they must prove they do not have the financial resources to pay for their care.
Finally, seniors who served on active duty for the United States Armed Forces may qualify to receive health care coverage through the VA. Seniors who were injured on active duty and who suffer from a disability due to their injury may receive health care coverage if their injury qualifies and they served during an applicable service period. To learn more about qualifying for VA health coverage, contact a local VA office to speak with a caseworker or visit the VA’s website.
Legal assistance for seniors
Indiana residents may access free legal assistance through Indiana Legal Services (ILS). Each of ILS’s programs has different eligibility requirements, however, those who qualify receive free legal services through the organization.
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.