Missouri Community Resources for Seniors
Aging presents new challenges at every turn. Fortunately, Missouri federal and state agencies, in tandem with nonprofit organizations offer many programs designed to help seniors stay active, get legal advice, learn about their changing health needs, and connect with professional caregivers. Many of these resources are free and are available to all families who need them, although some may require individuals to meet certain criteria before receiving services.
Missouri senior care options
The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services (MDHSS) sponsors a statewide program known as Missouri Care Options (MCO), which is available to Medicaid-eligible seniors and adults who require personal assistance. Low-income seniors participating in MCO may use their benefits to pay for numerous types of long-term care, including companionship. Seniors in Missouri may receive free or low-cost companionship through MCO if they meet Medicaid’s financial and medical requirements.
To learn more about Missouri’s Medicaid requirements, or to learn more about MCO and the types of services it covers, visit the MDHSS’s website or call the Division of Senior and Disability Services (DSDS) at (866) 835-3505.
Home care services
The Administration of Community Living (ACL) offers dozens of resources pertaining to home care services, all of which are free to access for United States citizens. The ACL is a nonprofit organization that aims to connect seniors and their families with free and low-cost home care services providers in their communities. By offering a range of free educational resources to the public, the ACL hopes to give seniors the freedom to age-in-place by educating families about home care and by connecting them with quality home care service providers.
In addition, the National Age in Place Council (NAPC) has their own collection of free resources created to help seniors access quality home-based care. Families may access free templates on the NAPC’s website, as well as links to further 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 questions.
Respite care services
The Missouri Lifespan Respite Coalition (MLRC) is the primary resource for caregivers and seniors in Missouri seeking respite care. The MLRC is funded by the Administration for Community Living and US Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to help Missouri residents find quality respite care providers in their communities.
To learn more about the MLRC and how caregivers can work with the coalition to receive free or low-cost respite care services, email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org or call their office at (660) 973-6408.
Additionally, caregivers and seniors in Missouri may receive free or low-cost respite care services through the state’s Family and Caregiver Support Program (FCSP). The FCSP is another statewide program that serves low-income families in need of financial assistance for care services of many different kinds, including respite care. Family caregivers who are providing care to individuals older than 60 years of age may qualify to receive respite care supports through the FCSP (caregivers caring for adults with Alzheimer's or dementia are eligible to receive benefits regardless of the care receiver’s age).
To receive support through the FCSP, visit your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA), or call (573) 526-4542.
When a temporary substitute caregiver is necessary for any reason, families can seek out a respite care service. Respite care services may be offered for free or at a low cost, depending on a person’s needs and location. Families seeking more information about free and low-cost respite care services in their community may use the ARCH (Access to Respite Care and Help) Resource Center to learn more about their options. The ARCH Resource Center is free to all United States citizens, and can greatly assist families with finding low-cost, quality respite care providers.
To find respite programs and providers in your community, visit the ARCH National Respite Locator.
Services for caregivers
In addition to respite care services, the FCSP offers free resources for caregivers in Missouri designed to help them better understand their roles as caretakers. The FCSP offers free resources for Missouri caregivers, ranging from informative online articles and pamphlets to free and low-cost training courses, available in many communities throughout Missouri.
The FCSP’s resources are only accessible to Missouri residents who meet the program’s eligibility guidelines. Any adult in Missouri who provides care to a person over the age of 60 years old (or a person with Alzheimer’s, regardless of the person’s age) may use the FCSP’s free caregiving resources as long as they maintain eligibility. Additionally, a person must be older than 18 years of age to qualify as a caregiver.
Caregivers who meet the FCSP’s eligibility requirements may 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).
Because the FCSP is distributed by a nonprofit organization, all of the FCSP’s benefits are free-of-charge for those who are eligible to receive them. To learn more about caregiver resources available through the FCSP, visit your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA), or call (573) 526-4542.
Family caregivers in the United States may access free educational resources through the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), regardless of the state in which they reside. CAN is dedicated to providing support for family caregivers across the nation, through training, counseling, and online community resources like a caregiver forum.
Additionally, family caregivers may access free training on the CAN’s website. Each training article discusses a facet of caretaking and aims to create better caretakers through education.
Family caregivers may also work with the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) to learn more about their roles as caretakers. 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.
In addition, the American Red Cross offers several free resources for caregivers nationwide. Free caregiving classes are accessible to caregivers located near a chapter of the Red Cross, which occur every so often and are available for free. Caregivers may locate their community Red Cross chapter by using the Red Cross’s office locator.
Hospice services and palliative care
The Missouri Hospice and Palliative Care Association (MHPCA) is Missouri’s statewide resource for residents nearing the end of their life. Terminally ill Missourians may receive free support from the MHPCA to connect them with affordable hospice providers who offer quality end-of-life care. The MHPCA is an entirely nonprofit organization, and their services are accessible to all Missourians free-of-charge. To learn more about the MHPCA and their services, visit the organization’s website or call their office directly at (573) 634-5514.
Seniors and families seeking information about hospice services and palliative care in Missouri can also contact the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) to learn more about their free resources for end-of-life care. The NHPCO is a nonprofit organization available to individuals nationwide. By offering free educational resources and services to seniors nearing the end of their life, the NHPCO hopes to bring quality end-of-life care to those who need it most.
Since the NHPCO was founded in 1978, it has served as the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to hospice services and palliative care in the United States. People of all ages are welcome to use the organization’s free resources, including roadmaps to guide families in the right direction as they seek hospice and palliative care as well as free counseling for those with a terminal illness and their loved ones. Additionally, families may work with the NHPCO to connect with hospice and palliative care service providers in their community.
For more information regarding the NHPCO requirements for membership and the free resources and services they provide, visit the website or call their main office at (703) 837-1500.
Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
As of 2018, there are no state-sponsored Alzheimer’s programs serving residents of Missouri. However, there is a chapter of the Alzheimer's Association headquartered in Missouri, which serves as the state’s primary resource for Alzheimer’s education and counseling.
The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) is the largest nonprofit advocate for Alzheimer’s research, in the United States. Thousands of caregivers use the AA’s resources to learn more about caring for someone with dementia.
While the AA operates nationally, each state has its own branch of the organization which serves local communities. Caregivers may contact the AA directly for information, visit one of the AA’s local branches, or use the guides and information available on the organization’s website to learn more about dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Donations are the primary source of funding for the Alzheimer’s Association, and their resources are free to all families throughout the United States.
Family caregivers providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s may access free training resources in addition to support groups, free counseling, and their online caregiver center. The Alzheimer’s Association is funded entirely by donations, and their resources are available at no cost.
Additionally, local Alzheimer's Association offices are located in Columbia, Springfield, and St. Louis. Missourians may contact the Greater Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline by calling (800) 272-3900. The Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Additionally, the Eldercare Locator is another resource popular among seniors and caregivers in the United States. The Eldercare Locator is a database of senior care providers spanning across the nation. Using the tool, seniors may locate nursing homes, in-home care providers, or assisted living facilities near them using the tool. Additionally, they may call their toll-free phone line to inquire about eldercare services in their community.
Health services and insurance
Missouri offers a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to seniors and disabled adults who need assistance choosing a Medicare insurance policy and completing enrollment. The CLAIM (Community Leaders Assisting the Insured of Missouri) State Health Insurance Program has been operating as the official SHIP of Missouri since 1993. By participating in CLAIM, seniors and their families can receive free counseling on the Medicare options and how to choose the right policy or policies for their needs.
CLAIM is an entirely nonprofit organization, and the program’s services are available at no cost.
Missouri residents are welcome to attend any of the CLAIM events taking place in communities throughout Missouri, year round. Missouri residents can locate a CLAIM event by visiting the program’s event calendar.
To contact CLAIM, visit the site or call the CLAIM Helpline at 1 (800) 390-3330 — 9AM–4PM, Monday–Friday — excluding federal holidays.
Senior nutrition and wellness
The MDHSS offers numerous free nutrition resources on their website, covering many different areas of health and wellness. The website does not feature many resources intended specifically for seniors, however, there are numerous articles about nutrition which may pertain to adults of all ages.
Additionally, seniors and their families may find nutrition information on the Missouri Families website. Missouri Families is part of an extension service operated by the University of Missouri, and it serves as an all-inclusive database for information regarding health and nutrition with a section dedicated entirely to information about aging.
The National Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging (NRCNA), a program sponsored by Meals on Wheels, is a nationwide resource dedicated to educating families about senior health. A person's nutritional needs may change as they get older, and adjusting for the changes properly can lead to better health and a longer lifespan.
The NRCNA offers nutritional programs created to improve senior wellness, caregiver education, and dozens of other free resources dedicated to helping caregivers and seniors learn more about nutrition and wellness.
Fitness and recreation
The NCOA Center for Healthy Aging (CHA) offers several resources to help seniors stay healthy, active, and independent. It can be challenging for seniors to stay active as they age, but active seniors maintain better mental and physical health than aging adults who lead sedentary lives.
Each of the CHA’s programs targets a fitness goal or focuses on a specific area of physical wellness. By participating in any of the NCOA’s programs, seniors can live an active life and interact with other individuals in their community, making the programs a popular resource for seniors wanting to socialize while protecting their health.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a popular resource for seniors and older adults. The AARP offers a variety of free resources, while others are only accessible by purchasing a membership to the organization. Anyone over the age of 55 may sign up as a member of AARP, whether they are retired or working. As of 2018, AARP has 38 million members, making it one of the largest senior-advocate organizations in the United States.
Members of AARP are entitled to receive numerous benefits, including discounted or free health care services and discounts at some restaurants and other establishments. AARP members are also welcome at any of the organization’s community events and may participate in any of AARP’s volunteer programs.
Government benefit programs
As people age, they may require additional health care services but it can be a challenge for some seniors to pay for their medical bills without assistance, particularly if they do not own private health insurance or long-term care insurance.
To assist seniors with the rising costs of medical care, seniors anywhere in the U.S. are eligible for government benefit programs. These programs, which include Medicare and Medicaid, make health care affordable for millions of seniors throughout the country and are available to individuals in all fifty states. Each state governs its own Medicaid program, but each state Medicaid program is partially funded and operated by the federal government.
While Medicare is operated federally, the state of Missouri works in cooperation with the federal government to manage the Missouri Medicaid program. Those who qualify for Medicaid may receive prescription medications, long-term care, and other health care services and supplies at little to no cost.
Medicare is a government benefit program available to all U.S. residents over the age of 65 who qualify for Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits. Those who are eligible to enroll in a Medicare policy may choose one of four policies. Each policy has its own unique benefits, and each comes with a varying premium, copayment, and deductible. Medicare’s four insurance policies include:
- Medicare Part A 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 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. A Part B policy-holder 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 is known as Medicare Advantage. This program 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 what’s called the Original Medicare Plans (Parts A and B). 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 offers prescription coverage to anyone enrolled in any Medicare program. Policyholders who enroll in Medicare Part D to pay for their medications must pay an additional premium to receive the benefits, but as a result, they may obtain their prescription medications at a low cost.
Over 55 million people own Medicare policies, making it the most common payer of senior health care in the United States. Although Medicare offsets health care costs enough for many seniors to afford their payments, many low-income seniors cannot afford to pay their medical bills even with Medicare’s assistance.
Individuals who require assistance paying their medical bills can apply for Medicaid, which offers free and low-cost health care benefits to those who meet the program’s criteria.
A person is not automatically disqualified from receiving Medicaid because they are enrolled in Medicare. In fact, many individuals receive benefits simultaneously from both programs. These individuals, known as “dual eligibles,” may receive many of their health care services for free or at a very low cost by combing their benefits. Additionally, Medicaid recipients may enroll in Medicare with a reduced or eliminated monthly premium, making health care significantly more affordable for some families.
Medicaid eligibility varies by state, and Missouri has its own guidelines regarding enrollment. To learn more about Missouri’s Medicaid requirements, visit the Department of Social Services (DSS) or call their helpline at (855) 373-4636.
Seniors (or spouses of seniors) who served on active duty in the United States Armed Forces may be eligible to receive health care benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), depending on their membership status. The VA is operated on a national, state, and local level, and is available to veterans in all fifty states.
A person may be entitled to receive medical benefits through the VA if they maintain a service-related injury which causes them disability, their military service period falls within the VA’s guidelines, and they show financial need. Seniors and disabled adults can learn more about the healthcare benefits available to them through the VA by contacting their local VA office locator and speaking with a caseworker.
Legal assistance for seniors in Missouri
Seniors in Missouri who believe they may have been the victim of elder abuse may use Missouri’s free Elder Abuse/Neglect Hotline to report their case and hasten their investigation. The Hotline is made available by the MDHSS and is accessible 24-hours a day at 1(800) 392-0210. Anyone in Missouri may contact the MDHSS, regardless of whether or not they live in a nursing facility or a personal home.
Additionally, seniors may contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) if they feel they have been preyed upon as a consumer because of their age. It’s not uncommon for seniors to feel they were discriminated or taken advantage of by a company because of their age, and those who want further assistance with their case may do so by contacting the Consumer Protection Division at 1(800) 286-3932.
Senior transportation services are managed by the local AAA’s throughout the state of Missouri and are put into practice individually by each county. Most counties in Missouri offer senior transportation services, although their availability differs between communities. Some counties offer community-specific senior transportation, however, some communities do not have their own senior transit program.
Each AAA branch offers information regarding senior transportation services to Missouri residents who inquire. If you are a Missouri resident, contact your local AAA branch to learn more about senior transportation services in your community.
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.