Finding affordable senior care and services is a daunting task. Health insurance does not cover all types of senior care, and many families have trouble paying for it out-of-pocket. Many nonprofits and state programs aim to address this by providing free resources, services, and care for seniors. Learn more about the free senior care resources available to seniors in Connecticut, including legal advice, financial assistance, dementia support, services for caregivers, nutrition and fitness programs, and more.
Connecticut senior care options
Home care services
With rising nursing home populations, it is more and more common for seniors to choose home care services over facility-based care. However, many services are expensive, and insurance may not cover certain types of in-home care. Fortunately, there are several organizations helping seniors find affordable home care.
Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE)
The Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE) is open to Connecticut residents over the age of 65 who are at risk of nursing home placement. The program provides seniors with home care services to make it easier for them to age in place. Their services include adult day services, home-delivered meals, companion services, homemaker services, and care management. Some applicants also qualify for personal attendant services, chore assistance, and assistive technology. Call (800) 445-5394 with any questions.
Administration for Community Living (ACL)
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) is accessible to seniors nationwide. To alleviate growing nursing home populations, the ACL offers dozens of free resources that promote home-based care. By educating the public about home and community-based care, the ACL hopes to encourage more families to opt for alternatives to institutional care.
National Age In Place Council (NAPC)
The National Age in Place Council (NAPC) is another helpful resource for seniors who want to learn more about home-based care. The organization offers dozens of free resources to teach seniors about their options for in-home care. Additionally, their website offers a free template for seniors to create a long-term care plan.
Companion services are a popular type of care for seniors who need minimal in-home care. Somewhat like personal assistants, companions help seniors with their basic activities of daily living (ADLs), like preparing meals, dressing, cleaning, or eating. Companions don’t provide any health or medical services, however — their main purpose is to provide in-home socialization along with practical help.
The CHCPE offers companion services to qualifying program participants. You can see participating providers and the towns they serve on the CHCPE Allied Provider Directory. Additionally, many nonprofit community organizations offer free companion services to local seniors through churches, schools, or senior centers.
Senior centers are hubs where elders throughout the community can gather to socialize. All senior centers are free to attend. However, they may sponsor events that require a fee. Popular events at senior centers are fitness classes, crafting events, quilting, congregate meals, group movie screenings, and similar community activities.
Most communities throughout Connecticut have senior centers. To learn more, seniors should contact their local Area Agency on Aging and ask about locations in their community. They may also refer to the Connecticut senior center directory, available for free online.
Most community resources are targeted at helping seniors, but caregiver resources are just as important. These resources are free and are accessible to caregivers nationwide.
National Family and Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)
The National Family and Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) is accessible to qualifying seniors and caregivers throughout Connecticut. To qualify as a care receiver, the NFCSP requires a person to be at least 60 years of age or diagnosed with some form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Caregivers must be at least 18 years of age, and they must provide uncompensated care for someone who meets the care receiver requirements.
Qualifying participants of the NFCSP can get numerous free benefits to make caregiving easier. Their services include free respite care, referrals to local support groups, training courses for caregivers, and in-depth assistance to guide caregivers through their duties. To participate, family caregivers should contact their local Area Agency on Aging for more information or view the NFCSP’s online brochure.
Caregiver Action Network
The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is a popular resource for caregivers nationwide. The organization’s website is dedicated to educating caregivers, and their resources are available for free. Caregivers can visit the CAN’s public forum to discuss related topics with their peers or to get personalized answers to their questions. Additionally, the CAN offers a free caregiver toolbox that contains dozens of informational articles. The articles cover a range of caregiving topics to help readers better understand their roles and duties.
National Alliance of Caregiving
The National Alliance of Caregiving also offers valuable information for caregivers. Their comprehensive collection of free resources covers a range of topics about caregiving and is accessible to anyone nationwide.
The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is a popular resource for millions of people, but its free training courses can be particularly helpful for caregivers. By participating in one of the Red Cross’s free courses, caregivers can learn important skills like CPR or first-aid. Courses are administered both online and in traditional classrooms, so caregivers can attend regardless of their schedule. Local chapters of the Red Cross can offer more information about their free caregiver and first-aid courses and can provide dates for upcoming events.
ARCH Resource Center
The ARCH Resource Center also helps caregivers connect with respite services. Caregivers can use ARCH to find respite care providers in their community and access their online educational resources.
Hospice and palliative care
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is a free resource for those with a terminal illnesses. Free and low-cost hospice care is their most popular resource, but they also offer information about palliative care and counselling. Families may also take one of the organization’s free classes to learn more about caring for someone who is nearing the end of their life.
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
Alzheimer’s disease impacts millions of families every year. Fortunately, there are many nonprofit organizations dedicated to Alzheimer’s research, and many offer free resources to families impacted by dementia.
Alzheimer’s Association (AA)
The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) is the nation’s leading authority on Alzheimer’s and dementia research. Each year, the AA uses millions of dollars worth of donations to fund Alzheimer’s research and care for families.
Family members of someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can call the AA’s 24-hour helpline for free counselling or assistance. The helpline is free and is accessible at 1(800) 272-3900. Anyone who needs the AA’s resources may use them — they are not limited to patients or caregivers.
Alzheimer’s Resource Center of Connecticut (ARCC)
The Alzheimer’s Resource Center of Connecticut (ARCC) offers a handful of free resources to caregivers of someone with dementia. The organization’s website offers dozens of educational materials, including videos, articles, and a discussion forum where families discuss their experiences.
In addition to educational materials, the ARCC offers community resources to aid residents with dementia and their caregivers. Their services include dementia assessments, coaching for dementia caregivers, early memory loss programs, and adult day programs. To learn more, residents should visit the program’s website or call them at (860) 628-9000.
Connecticut Statewide Respite Care Program (CSRCP)
The Connecticut Statewide Respite Care Program (CSRCP) was created to temporarily relieve caregivers of their duties by offering free respite care services. Only caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease (or other dementias) may qualify for the program.
Each year, participants may receive up to $7,500 worth of respite care services courtesy of the CSRCP. They may receive their services through an agency (the traditional choice), or they may choose their own caregiver (known as self-directed care). Seniors who receive out-of-home respite care may attend a maximum of 30 days per year at a qualifying senior care facility.
National senior resources
Some valuable senior resources are not distributed on a state or community level, they’re nationwide. The following resources are not restricted to Connecticut resources but are available to seniors in all 50 states.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is the country’s largest senior membership organization. Operating since 1958, AARP aims to improve senior access to affordable day-to-day services and care, as well as educational materials. The program is membership-based, and most of its resources are not open to the public. However, membership is open to anyone age 55 or older (regardless of their working status; members do not need to be retired to join).
Members of AARP can access a wide range of helpful resources, including discounts at popular stores and restaurants. Additionally, AARP members can access low-cost health care through the organization. Non-members do not have access to these benefits. However, they can access any of AARP’s online resources for free. AARP’s website offers a host of free resources that discuss important retirement topics.
The Eldercare Locator is a national database of senior care resources throughout the United States. Anyone in the country may use the tool to locate an institution or care service in their community, regardless of where they live. The tool is free and is accessible 24/7 online.
Nutrition and wellness
As a person ages, their nutritional needs change. Seniors often have to more carefully manage the intake of certain vitamins, like calcium, potassium, or iron. At the same time, aging can make preparing meals more challenging. Seniors are often malnourished because they do not have the capability to prepare healthy meals on their own. Fortunately, the state of Connecticut offers a nutrition program for seniors to make nutritious meals more accessible, and seniors can access financial assistance to make groceries more affordable.
Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP)
The Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP) is Connecticut’s statewide meal service for seniors 60 years of age or older. Seniors can eat meals in a congregate setting while they enjoy the company of their peers. Additionally, congregate meals offer educational materials about nutrition to help seniors better understand their changing needs.
Seniors who cannot attend congregate meals due to a disability may receive home-delivered meals through the ENP. To be eligible for home-delivered meals, applicants must be at least 60 years of age and they must qualify as housebound or isolated (as determined by an assessment).
There are no income eligibility requirements for the ENP, and anyone over the age of 60 may participate. Additionally, disabled adults under the age of 60 may attend congregate meals if they live with an older person or if they live in an elderly housing facility.
Although the ENP is open to all seniors, the program targets low-income seniors, isolated seniors, senior minorities, and seniors who are at risk of institutionalization. All meals are provided at congregate meal sites, known as “Elderly Nutrition Providers.” Senior centers, schools, elderly housing facilities, and churches are common locations for meals. To learn more, seniors should contact their local Area Agency on Aging and ask about congregate meal locations in their community.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Seniors who need assistance paying for groceries may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is a public benefits program for low-income families and seniors. To qualify for SNAP, applicants must participate in a financial interview. Only financially needy seniors are approved to receive benefits.
SNAP recipients receive a lump sum of funds loaded onto a card each month. Large households with low collective income typically qualify for the most benefits.
Fitness and recreation
The Center for Healthy Aging (CHA) offers several programs for seniors to socialize and get active. Each of the CHA’s recreational programs targets a specific area of fitness, like walking or weight-lifting. These programs include:
- Active Choices
- Active Living Every Day
- Fit and Strong
- Healthy Moves for Aging Well
- Walk With Ease
Seniors should contact the program manager of the programs they’re most interested in or call the CHA at (571) 527-3900 for more information.
To help seniors manage the health care application process, Connecticut offers CHOICES, Connecticut’s program for health insurance assistance. CHOICES provides outreach, information, referrals, counselling, and eligibility screening. CHOICES works like a State Health Insurance Program (SHIP), providing seniors with resources to help them enroll in health care.
CHOICES is open to all Connecticut residents, free of charge. Seniors can call 1 (800) 994-9422 to speak with a CHOICES counsellor, or they can view the program’s information sheet on health insurance counselling. They can also contact the local Area Agency on Aging to speak with a CHOICES counsellor or schedule an in-person meeting.
With over 55 million enrolled members, Medicare is the largest health care service provider for seniors in the United States. Seniors choose from Medicare’s four plans to cover the majority of their medical needs. Although Medicare is a public health care program, it is not free. What a person pays for Medicare depends on the plan they choose. Each plan covers different medical needs.
Medicare Part A
Part A offers hospital insurance to beneficiaries and covers inpatient care at skilled nursing facilities and home care. Most Part A policyholders are subject to copayments and deductibles, but many do not pay premiums for their coverage.
Medicare Part B
The second policy type offers medical insurance and pays for durable medical equipment, visits to the physician, outpatient hospital services, and other medical services not covered by Medicare Part A. A Part B policyholder 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
Also known as Medicare Advantage, Part C operates differently than Parts A and B. Medicare Advantage allows Medicare policyholders to receive coverage from private health care insurance providers, which may allow seniors to receive services for a lower copayment than an Original Medicare Plan. 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
The last policy type 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.
When seniors need additional help paying for their health care, Medicaid is a popular choice. Medicaid covers a wide range of medical fees, including many surgeries, prescriptions, and doctor’s appointments. Additionally, Medicare recipients may use their Medicaid coverage to pay for their policy. Medicaid will typically cover a person’s Medicare bills, like their copayments, deductibles, and monthly premiums — however, Medicaid is not available to everyone.
Medicaid is a public health care program funded by state and federal governments. Only low-income residents who cannot afford private health insurance may receive Medicaid benefits. All Medicaid applicants must undergo a financial evaluation to determine their income and assets, which will decide whether or not they receive benefits.
Connecticut residents who want to learn more about Medicaid should contact HUSKY Health Care (Connecticut’s Medicaid program) at 1 (800) 859-9889 for more information. Additionally, the program’s website offers helpful information about the HUSKY Health application process and eligibility requirements.
Senior veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces may qualify for special benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA offers numerous programs for senior veterans, including low-cost health care and pensions to pay for care. Some programs require applicants to have a service-connected disability, while others are open for all veterans to apply.
Aid and Attendance
As home health care becomes a more popular choice for senior care, organizations that serve seniors are working to make it more affordable. The VA offers an Aid and Attendance (A&A) program for veterans receiving home health care and personal assistance to make it more financially viable. Similarly to the VA’s monthly pension benefit, A&A is dispersed each month as a lump sum, which recipients may use as they please. The intent is to offset the costs of home health care.
Veterans who already receive a monthly pension through the VA may automatically qualify for A&A once they need it. Veterans living in nursing homes may also automatically qualify to receive A&A. Other veterans should contact their VA caseworker directly to learn more about the application process to receive A&A benefits.
VA health care programs
The standard VA Medical Benefits Package (MBP) is the agency’s primary health care policy. Millions of veterans are enrolled in the program, which covers a wide range of medical costs. The program is not limited to disabled veterans, and any veteran with a discharge other than “dishonorable” may enroll.
All enrollees are evaluated for their income and disability status. Low-income applicants may qualify for lower monthly premiums, deductibles, and copayments, or they may qualify for a fee waiver and receive coverage at no cost. Veterans with service-connected disabilities may also qualify for free health care coverage through the VA.
Seniors may use their MBP policy to pay for community-based care and long-term care services. Nursing homes, adult day care, home health care, and respite care may all qualify for coverage. Veterans with service-connected disabilities may qualify for prioritized benefits through their policy or specialized benefits to accommodate their needs.
Unfortunately, seniors may not use the MBP to pay for their room and board at an assisted living facility or other out-of-home institution — regardless of a person’s clinical need for facility-based care. However, facility residents may use their policy to pay for additional services not included in their room and board fees. For example, a nursing home resident who needs physical therapy may use the MBP to pay for it because professional therapy is not included in a facility’s room and board fees.
To learn more, veterans should contact their VA caseworker and enquire about the MBP. The VA’s website also offers information about the plan, including eligibility guidelines and enrollment deadlines.
Legal assistance for seniors
Legal services can be expensive and are often outside of a senior’s budget. However, in order to protect their rights, seniors should consider drawing up several different legal documents. Fortunately, many organizations offer volunteer lawyer programs, online learning materials, and hotlines for seniors to get affordable legal help.
Connecticut Legal Services (CLS)
Connecticut Legal Services (CLS) is the largest free legal resource in the state. The CLS helps seniors over 60 with civil cases — anyone facing criminal charges is prohibited from receiving services through CLS. Seniors can use the CLS online database of self-help materials to learn more about their rights. Alternatively, they may call the CLS hotline to ask about a wide range of civil legal topics.
The CLS hotline is accessible at 1(800) 453-3320. To receive direct assistance, seniors can apply for legal help on the CLS website. The legal help application will ask a number of interview questions to determine if the applicant qualifies for volunteer legal services. Seniors who are facing criminal charges may contact the CLS to get help finding a public defender.
Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut (SLS)
Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut (SLS) offers a free hotline for legal questions. The hotline operators can help with common civil law issues, like public benefits repeals, bankruptcy, landlord-tenant disputes, foreclosures, and similar legal matters. Callers who need legal representation can get a referral to the right legal services office. SLS also offers educational articles and pamphlets for readers to learn about common legal issues. Seniors can reach the hotline at (860) 344-0380.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) serves long-term care facility residents who are facing neglect, abuse, or exploitation. Seniors can file complaints with the LTCOP, who will work with local authorities and APS to resolve the issue and seek restitution. Anyone may file a complaint with the LTCOP, whether they are a facility resident or a witnessing family member.
Connecticut has regional offices in addition to a Central office for the LTCOP. Callers can file a complaint with the central office — accessible at (860) 424-5200 — or use the program’s state map to locate a regional office.
Consumer Law Project for Elders (CLPE)
Adults 60 years of age or older may participate in the Consumer Law Project for Elders (CLPE) to receive free legal assistance. The CLPE offers a no-cost hotline for seniors to call if they have questions about medical debt, credit card debt, identity theft, collection agency harassment, and any other aspect of consumer law.
Seniors may call the CLPE hotline at (800) 296-1467 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Non-English speakers may request a bilingual representative for assistance.
National Consumer Law Center
The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) is open to anyone in the U.S. with legal questions about debt, credit, and other types of consumer law. Seniors are frequently targeted in scams, so it’s important they understand consumer rights. The organization sponsors training sessions and conferences throughout the country to teach families about different topics in law, and its website boasts an impressive collection of educational materials. Seniors and their families should visit the NCLC’s website to take advantage of their free digital library or learn about upcoming conferences in their community.
Driving can be dangerous for some seniors. Many turn in their license to protect themselves and others on the road. Fortunately, seniors who do not drive have access to numerous ride programs, depending on where they live. Nearly every community in Connecticut offers a senior ride program and most are free of charge.
Senior Ride Programs
Community transportation services can be a lifesaver for seniors who do not drive. Connecticut does not have a statewide senior transportation program, but many communities do. There are over 100 transportation services for seniors in Connecticut, offering a range of services from door-to-door pickup to disability accommodations.
Many senior ride programs are free though some request a low fare. Riders are required to register with most programs before requesting a ride, which they may do by presenting proof of their age, their residency, and their disability (if applicable).
General ride programs provide transportation to any location within a certain distance, whereas medical transportation programs are reserved for non-emergency trips to doctor’s appointments (and similar medical needs). Medical transportation programs are less likely to charge fares than other ride programs and will sometimes approve out-of-town trips for riders with long-distance appointments.
Seniors can visit the United Way’s Connecticut 211 portal to locate a senior ride program or a medical transportation assistance program that serves their neighborhood. The portal catalogues each ride program in Connecticut, including their eligibility requirements, their hours, their contact information, and a brief description of their services.
To make public transportation more affordable for seniors, many of Connecticut’s bus systems offer discounted fares for riders over a certain age (typically 60 or 65 years). Disabled rides may also qualify for discounted tickets.
To learn more about reduced fares for seniors and disabled public transportation riders in Connecticut, locate the nearest bus service using the Connecticut 211 portal and contact them using the provided information.