New Jersey Community Resources for Seniors
Seniors and caregivers in New Jersey have a wide array of organizations nearby to turn to for support. In fact, with so many care options and local resources, families often miss opportunities for care and assistance. This guide covers free, low-cost, and nonprofit national and state organizations and programs that help individuals find care options, transportation, health and wellness resources, and other types of relief.
New Jersey senior care options
As seniors age, some choose to move into assisted living or nursing homes while others decide to stay in their own homes. There are a number of resources available nationally and within New Jersey to help seniors and caregivers get the support they need.
Home care services
Many elderly individuals wish to remain in their own homes or in the homes of family members. When this happens, caregivers usually need support in the form of professional caregivers trained to provide home care services such as help with bathing, dressing, and preparing meals.
There are five types of home care services in New Jersey:
- Homemaker services: Light housekeeping, grocery shopping, laundry, and other activities of daily living
- Personal care services: Assistance with bathing, eating, using the bathroom, and transferring between bed and wheelchair
- Meal services: Including meals delivered to the home
- Home health services: Changing bandages, administering medication, and checking vital signs
- Medical health services: providing occupational, physical, or speech therapy after an illness, injury, or surgery
In New Jersey, there is a department within the Division of Aging Services called the Office of Home & Community-Based Services Quality Assurance. This department runs state-funded home-based programs for those who qualify for these services. Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) is one such program, and Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving (JACC) is another.
To apply for MLTSS or to find out if an individual is eligible, call 1 (888) 285-3036. Press 2 at the first prompt and 1 at the second prompt.
To find out more about JACC, call the Aging and Disability Resource Connection 1 (877) 222-3737 and ask to be referred to the proper department.
Caregiver burnout is a real issue that too many families try to ignore for too long. One way to prevent and treat burnout is to use respite care services. These can come in a number of different forms. There are respite care programs that operate in assisted living facilities, others that operate more like an adult day care center, and still some that provide home care services.
The New Jersey Statewide Respite Care Program provides support to caregivers to help them avoid putting an elderly family member into a nursing home wherever possible. To find out more about this program, call the Aging and Disability Resource Connection at 1 (877) 222-3737.
In addition, the National Family Caregiver Support Program provides state and local funding for caregivers who need respite care for their family members.
Adult day care
Another type of respite care is adult day care. These programs allow caregivers support during the day only. Many families find adult day care a good middle ground between assisted living and home care. Seniors get social activity while caregivers get a chance to run errands, work, or recharge.
There are three types of adult day care in New Jersey. Those who don’t have any special medical needs can go to social adult day care. People with health conditions that need to be attended to during the day can go to adult day health services. Finally, those with Alzheimer’s disease can go to an Alzheimer’s adult day care service, which is subsidized and available for a sliding scale fee.
For information about any of these adult day services, please call 1 (877) 222-3737.
A senior center provides access a variety of resources, including meal and nutrition programs, counseling about public benefits, volunteer opportunities, transportation services, educational programs, recreational activities, and more. Most senior centers are funded by grants and donations, but some activities may still come with a fee.
The New Jersey Care Planning Council has a list of the senior centers available statewide.
Some seniors are unable to or do not wish to remain in their homes and would be better served in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. In New Jersey, assisted living care costs an average of $5,811 per month and nursing home care costs over $10,000 per month, according to Genworth Financial.
The state offers resources for individuals who need this type of care. These resources are handled by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the Division of Aging Services, and the Division of Disability Services.
Federal employees or retirees can find information on the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) at the Office of Personnel Management website.
Hospice services and palliative care
Hospice services are for the terminally ill. These services, which can include physical care, counseling, and spiritual services, help people who have terminal illnesses to remain comfortable at the end of their lives.
Palliative care is for people in all stages of treatment and is a part of hospice care. Palliative services focus on maintaining quality of life by relieving pain and discomfort.
Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies cover hospice services and palliative care. There are some stipulations — For example, if an individual has Medicare, they usually need to stop treatment for their terminal condition in order to qualify for hospice coverage.
Information about hospice or palliative care providers in New Jersey can be found at the Home Care and Hospice Association of New Jersey website. Their telephone number is (732) 877-1100.
You may also find a hospice or palliative care provider by visiting the website of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association.
As health needs increase, keeping up with the changing needs can overwhelm caregivers fast. Finding providers and managing insurance issues can be time-consuming and confusing. Thankfully, New Jersey offers some great health resources for residents that relieve caregivers from some of their responsibilities.
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and the vast majority of them are over the age of 65. Many more have one of the other types of dementia. Individuals with dementia have unique needs when it comes to supervision and daily care, and there are several resources in New Jersey that can help families find the right care.
The National Institute on Aging has a good resource at Alzheimers.gov for those looking to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease or join a clinical trial. Their phone number is 1 (877) 696-6775.
In New Jersey, alz.org has a state-specific page featuring education about Alzheimer’s disease, support programs, and ways to volunteer.
In addition, Alzheimer’s New Jersey is filled with resources and information for individuals and families dealing with the disease.
Medications for Alzheimer’s disease are often expensive, which is why the BrightFocus Foundation has compiled a list of resources for anyone looking for financial assistance with dementia care.
Health care information
New Jersey boasts more than 2,200 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, rehabilitation centers, assisted living facilities, and other types of health care settings. The New Jersey Department of Health maintains an interactive site that allows residents to find a health care provider within their county.
Providers can also be searched for by name on the New Jersey Doctor List. This list includes information on a physician’s license and board affiliations.
The AMA Doctor Finder is another site that provides information on AMA doctors including licensing, office hours, educational history, and the types of insurance accepted.
Residents with Medicare might find the Physician Compare tool handy to locate and compare Medicare-friendly doctors.
More organizations that provide free or low-cost health and dental care in New Jersey:
- Federally Qualified Health Centers provide health care services to people who have no insurance or who cannot afford care
- Sliding scale dental clinics for New Jersey residents are listed on the state health site for anyone who cannot afford dental care
- Those who need hospital care but cannot afford the fees may find relief through the New Jersey Hospital Care Payment Assistance Program
- The Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services is a good resource for those struggling to pay for their mental health or addiction treatment
- The Division of Aging Services offers two prescription drug assistance programs – Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled and the Senior Gold Prescription Discount Program
- There is also a Hearing Aid Assistance to the Aged and Disabled program — Their phone number is 1 (800) 792-9745
While Americans over the age of 65 are eligible for Medicare Part A, many choose to look for either private insurance or sign up for Medicare Part B. Also, individuals under the age of 65, unless they are disabled or blind, do not qualify for Medicare and need to seek other options.
Healthcare.gov is a federal program that helps people sign up for insurance plans that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Federal subsidies are available for those under a certain income limit.
The New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance has a page dedicated to helping people find health insurance. It also answers some questions that residents may have about health insurance.
Individuals might also wish to read the NJ Individual Health Coverage Program Buyer’s Guide for more information on eligibility, enrollment, and alternatives to traditional health insurance.
Senior nutrition and wellness
Staying healthy is about more than visiting a doctor. New Jersey offers some wellness resources that can help senior citizens maintain an active lifestyle for optimal physical, mental, and emotional 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.
All of the counties in New Jersey offer nutrition programs to residents over the age of 60. They vary in their approaches and depend on the specific needs of their clients. All of these programs can be reached through the local Aging & Disability Resource Connection/Area Agency on Aging (ADRC/AAA). (Click on the link and scroll down to find the appropriate county.) The telephone number is (877) 222-3737.
Congregate meals are served to a group of people within a community. They serve a minimum of one meal per day, five days per week. This is a good choice for those who are still able to leave their homes and who would like to socialize and enjoy a meal with others.
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. In some cases, a non-homebound spouse will also be served. Learn more about the Meals on Wheels program in each New Jersey county by contacting the ADRC/AAA as listed above.
There may also be privately funded nutrition programs in some New Jersey counties. These programs often deliver to isolated or rural areas. Again, the ADRC/AAA will have more detailed information based on the county where the resident lives.
Fitness and recreation
Staying active is critical throughout the senior years. New Jersey offers several programs designed to meet the specific physical activity needs of older adults.
HealthEASE offers education and programming for seniors in good health and for those who have health problems. The Aging & Disability Resource Connection/Area Agency on Aging (ADRC/AAA), which can also be reached at (877) 222-3737, will have county-specific information.
A Matter of Balance is a class geared toward seniors with an emphasis on fall prevention by changing the environment and increasing muscle strength through physical activity. Each county has a different contact; You can find more information about it on the program list. Those who live in counties that are not listed can call the Department of Health at (609) 588-6654.
The Wellness Initiative for Senior Education is another program that focuses on helping seniors achieve and maintain better health. Find more information by calling the New Jersey Prevention Network at (732) 367-0611 or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, Project Healthy Bones is a program for people at risk of osteoporosis — They provide both educational resources and exercises. The program is not available in all counties. Find out whether it’s available in your county by calling the Office of Community Resources, Education, and Wellness at (609) 588-6654.
AARP has a membership of nearly 38 million people and is an interest group that focuses on helping seniors live well after retirement. It’s nonprofit and non-partisan and it has programs for people of all ages with an emphasis on retirees. Membership benefits include discounts on entertainment, restaurants, health services, shopping, and more. In addition, there are community events and travel opportunities.
Government benefit programs
In addition to local resources for various needs, the federal government offers help to seniors through health insurance, veterans’ benefits, or other types of assistance. Take a look at a few of the federal programs available to support seniors.
Medicare is a type of health insurance for senior citizens over the age of 65 who have worked (or whose spouses have worked) for more than 10 years. There are two types of Medicare. Medicare A is available at no cost and covers things like home health care, nursing home care, inpatient hospital care, and hospice. Medicare B is available for a premium (which depends on 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.
Individuals can enroll in Medicare beginning three months before they turn 65. Find out more about how to enroll at Medicare.gov. The telephone number is 1 (800) 772-1213.
The New Jersey Medicaid program is called FamilyCare. Anyone can use FamilyCare, regardless of age, but income requirements are more lenient for those over the age of 65. Medicaid covers preventative care and medical treatments, as well as some prescriptions. There are also programs for those who are disabled or blind.
Apply online by clicking the blue button on the Department of Human Services website or call 1 (800) 356-1561.
New Jersey offers several benefits to veterans and, in some cases, their spouses. The federal government also offers benefits to those who have served the country.
Veterans’ memorial homes are located in different areas of the state. They are for honorably discharged veterans, their spouses, and Gold Star Parents. Residents pay based on their ability to do so, and preference is given to people who have lived in New Jersey for two years prior to admission. These veterans’ homes provide nursing home and medical care to veterans who need it.
For veterans who are struggling with homelessness and addiction, New Jersey offers Veterans Haven, which is a transitional home for those getting back on their feet.
New Jersey also offers tax relief to veterans. Retired veterans do not pay income tax on their military benefits. Also, when veterans are discharged, they qualify for a one-time $3,000 tax deduction. In addition, veterans are eligible for an annual $250 tax deduction for real property owned in New Jersey.
Contact the local Veterans Service Office to find out about these and other benefits available to veterans in New Jersey.
Financial and tax assistance
New Jersey offers two options for elderly individuals who need help filling out tax returns.
The first, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is for anyone with low or moderate income levels. Call 211 to find out where to go to get free help with taxes.
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 your New Jersey county.
In addition to tax assistance, the NJ Office of the Attorney General has put out a list of financial scams used to prey on the elderly. Look through the list to learn how to protect seniors in your family from this type of scam.
Getting an attorney can be cost-prohibitive, but there are some resources in place to help senior citizens in New Jersey get legal assistance.
Legal Services of New Jersey helps find pro bono legal representation to New Jersey residents who have low incomes and cannot afford legal help. Call 1 (888) LSNJ-LAW (1 (888) 576-5529).
The New Jersey State Attorney General can answer legal questions and refer individuals to the correct agencies. Go to the website or call (609) 292-4925.
Finally, the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman is a good resource for those living in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. The ombudsman helps settle disputes between residents of these long-term facilities and the facilities themselves. To file a complaint, call 1 (877) 582-6995.
Seniors are often reluctant to stop driving out of fear they won’t be able to get to appointments, go grocery shopping, or social events. Local transportation programs can alleviate that worry by providing transportation for seniors. New Jersey has a few different programs in place to help.
People over the age of 62 (or 65 in some cases) qualify for a reduced rate when taking NJ Transit. Get an application for a reduced fare card at the NJ Transit website. Those who need an aide or attendant to accompany them can also have their attendant ride for free. Call NJ Transit for more information at 1 (800) 772-2287.
For seniors who continue to drive, there is an AARP driver safety course that focuses on driving safety for elderly individuals. Completing this course can often qualify seniors for an insurance discount. For information on this, call the AARP at 1 (888) 227-7669 or visit the web page.
Local support services
Aside from national support services and nonprofit organizations, there are many ways to get support within the state of New Jersey.
Local Offices for the Aging
Each county has an Area Agency on Aging (AAA). You can find a list on the main page of the Division of Aging Services. In addition, you can call the nationwide toll-free number at 1 (877) 222-3737.
Other community programs, services, and resources
The State of New Jersey offers a variety of senior services that can be found on their website. These include options for long-term care, advice on staying healthy, information on Medicare, assistance with taxes, and tips for protecting seniors against elder fraud.
The Division of Aging Services runs the Lifeline Utility Assistance program for those who aren’t able to afford their utility bills. The telephone number is 1 (800) 792-9745.
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.