In order to meet the increasing support needs seniors face, many government programs and nonprofit organizations provide local services to the community. Unfortunately, too many families aren’t aware these resources even exist. Senior Texans and their caregivers have access to many different kinds of support, including transportation services, health care, nutrition assistance, legal advice, financial assistance, and more.
Texas senior care options
Elderly individuals may need help performing routine activities of daily living as they get older. Seniors and their family members have a variety of different levels of care to choose from, whether they choose to stay in their homes, move in with family, or move to a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Seniors and their relatives who need help with meals, access to long-term care facilities, or caregiver resources can find help through the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. Call (855) 937-2372 for local information, or contact your local Area Agency on Aging for resources near you.
Seniors should consider how they and their families can benefit from life care planning services. Information about wills, estate planning, and medical advance planning can be found on the website of the Texas Attorney General. The telephone number is (512) 463-2100.
To report complaints about a senior care provider, contact The Office of the Independent Ombudsman. An ombudsman can also help seniors living in state-supported living centers understand and exercise their rights. The telephone number is (877) 323-6466.
Home care services
An in-home caregiver can take some of the pressure off of friends or relatives while ensuring that the senior receives the assistance and care that they need. In-home caregivers provide services that range from skilled nursing tasks to personal care to performing household chores.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services provides Home and Community-Based Services (HCS) for citizens living on their own, with family, or in group homes. Area Agencies on Aging can provide local information. (Seniors can also find their local Agency on Aging by calling (800) 252-9240.)
Take Time Texas is a program that can help Texan families find in-home care for medical, personal, or homemaking tasks. Eldercare Locator is another resource that can direct seniors to local home care services.
Family members who provide care to senior relatives need to take time off too. Respite care is a resource for family members that provides temporary caregiving services for dependent adults so that family members can take a break. Seniors can receive respite care in a facility (such as an adult day care program or nursing home) or in the home.
Take Time Texas, operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, is part of the Texas Lifespan Respite Care Program. You can use their respite care locator to find respite care providers in Texas.
Texan family caregivers can also find support and resources by contacting their Area Agency on Aging at (800) 252-9240.
To get in contact with community resource specialists that can connect you with local programs and resources, seniors or their family members can call 211, a free social services hotline that connects citizens with social service programs in their local area.
The National Respite Network and Resource Center provides information about state services and respite programs in its online consumer guide.
Adult day care
Family caregivers who work or take care of children may need help caring for elderly family members during the day. Adult day care provides supervision and socialization opportunities for seniors while their family caregivers are occupied. Adult day care that provides only supervision and assistance with daily living activities is called social care. In addition to social care, some adult day care centers also provide specialized or medical care.
The Department of Health and Human Services maintains a list of day care and health service facilities in Texas. You can find more information about adult day care centers by visiting the Adult Day Center Association of Texas. You can also find a provider through the Eldercare Locator or call them at (800) 677-1116 to locate providers in your area.
Some seniors may qualify for free or reduced-cost adult day care services in Texas. To find out if you qualify for free or low-cost adult day care services and how you can apply, contact your Area Agency on Aging.
Senior centers are an important community resource for many. Senior centers provide opportunities to socialize, volunteer, take classes, and stay active. The Care Planning Council of Texas keeps a list of locations and contact information for senior centers in Texas.
Hospice and palliative care
It’s important for seniors and their family members to discuss end-of-life care options. For seniors who are terminally ill and decide to stop trying to treat the disease, hospice care is usually the next step.
Hospice care focuses not on prolonging life but instead provides services to maintain the highest quality of life possible. This usually includes palliative care. Social services, caregiver support, and counselling may also be integrated with hospice services.
Medicaid and Medicare both cover hospice care, and patients who have private health insurance plans are usually covered as well. For patients without health coverage, there are grants and other funding sources available to reduce or cover hospice expenses.
Seniors or family caregivers who are seeking hospice care services in Texas can find providers by searching the Texas and New Mexico Hospice Care Organization or by using the National Hospice Locator search tool.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization provides information, advocacy, and hospice educational resources.
Alzheimer’s disease (and other dementias)
Seniors and their family members should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia and primarily (although not exclusively) affects seniors. More information about Alzheimer’s disease and community resources is available from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Alzheimer’s Association is another valuable resource. They offer a 24-hour-a-day helpline at (800) 272-3900.
For information on Alzheimer’s disease treatments, clinical trials, and caregiving resources, visit Alzheimers.gov. This site is maintained by the federal government’s National Institute on Aging. You can receive information by phone by calling (877) 696-6775.
BrightFocus is a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes Alzheimer’s disease research. BrightFocus is a good source of data, information, and advice for patients or caregivers.
Texas has 407 hospitals – more than any other state. Patients who need health care also have a large number of medical centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other types of healthcare facilities across the state to choose from.
To find information on any Texas doctor, visit the Texas Medical Board. They have licensing information, public complaints, and practitioner profiles on providers, including physician assistants, acupuncturists, respiratory care practitioners, and other medical professionals.
The Texas Health and Human Services website provides an online locator tool to help seniors find long-term care facilities.
To research physician licensing, educational background, and office hours, use the AMA Doctor Finder. You can also use this tool to find out what types of insurance different physicians accept. Physician Compare can locate doctors in the local area that accept Medicare.
For seniors struggling to afford insurance, the local Area Agencies on Aging can connect seniors with prescription assistance programs in their area.
There are also 73 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in Texas that provide medical care to underserved communities, including uninsured patients. Some FQHCs provide dental and mental health services as well as basic health services.
Having health insurance can significantly increase a senior’s ability to access necessary health care and prescriptions. Seniors in Texas may have several different options for health insurance.
The Texas Department of Insurance offers publications and resources to help seniors understand their Medicare and insurance options. Seniors can also speak to a benefits counsellor at their local Area Agency on Aging.
Low-income seniors may qualify for medical assistance and other benefits. Find out more about these benefits and how to apply at Your Texas Benefits.
Texas seniors may also be eligible for subsidies if they apply for health insurance through the federal Healthcare Marketplace at Healthcare.gov. Subsidies can offset the cost of insurance. The open enrollment period for the marketplace occurs toward the end of the calendar year, but some people qualify to enroll even outside the open enrollment period.
Senior nutrition and fitness
Proper nutrition and physical activity are important components of a long and healthy life. To meet the changing nutritional and fitness needs of seniors, there are a number of Texas programs.
Congregate meals are served in senior centers and other senior-specific sites around Texas. These meals provide seniors with not only a healthy meal, they also provide a chance to socialize with others in their communities. Seniors often feel more inclined to eat if they’re in a social setting. Contact a local Area Agency on Aging to find out about congregate meal sites.
Seniors who have difficulty affording food can apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — sometimes referred to as food stamps. Seniors and caregivers can apply for SNAP online or visit a Community Partner site for help with their application. Seniors can also call 211 for help applying for SNAP and other benefits.
Mobility issues, illness, and lack of transportation can all impact a senior’s ability to shop or go out for a meal. Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit organization that delivers healthy hot meals to seniors who are homebound.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides coupons that can be used at local farmers’ markets and roadside stands. Contact the Texas SFMNP coordinator by calling (512) 475-0069 or toll-free at (877) 839-6325.
Fitness and recreation
Staying active can become more difficult as you age. To help seniors maintain mobility and strength, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services offers Texercise. You can order a free Texercise handbook or contact your local Area Agency on Aging to find a fitness program in your community.
Seniors who qualify for Medicare may also qualify for a free local gym membership from a program called SilverSneakers. Seniors may also be interested in Oasis, a program that promotes overall well-being by matching seniors with educational, volunteer, and recreational opportunities in their area.
The AARP is an interest group that provides seniors with membership benefits on a variety of things like travel, health services, and entertainment. Seniors can also get involved in volunteering and community events through the AARP.
The National Park Service provides senior passes at a reduced fee of only $10. Contact the National Park Service at (518) 474-0456 for details.
Government benefit programs
Government programs are available to eligible seniors in each state. Some of the most popular government benefit programs are Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Benefits
Medicare is a health insurance program for adults who have worked for more than 10 years and who are over the age of 65. Medicare is a complex program that includes several different plans:
- Medicare A is free and covers hospital care and other types of inpatient and home health care
- Medicare B is available on a sliding scale based on income, it covers things like preventative care, durable medical equipment, and ambulance costs
- Medicare C covers vision, dental, and other things that are not covered by other Medicare options — You must be enrolled in both Medicare A and Medicare B to enroll in C
- Medicare D covers prescription medications
Seniors can begin the application process for Medicare by visiting Medicare.gov or calling (800) 633-4227. The Texas Department of Insurance provides Medicare information and resources. You can also contact a Benefits Counselor at your Area Agency on Aging for assistance.
Low-income seniors might also qualify for Medicaid, a program that provides health coverage to adults who cannot otherwise afford it. Applications for Medicaid in Texas are available through the Your Texas Benefits website. You can get help with your Medicaid application by calling 211 or visiting a Community Partner site.
Seniors who have served in the military may be eligible for a variety of veterans benefits, including rehabilitation or skilled nursing services in one of the eight veterans’ homes in Texas. You can find cost information and application instructions for Texas veterans’ homes at the Veterans Land Board. The telephone number is (800) 252-8387.
The Texas Veterans Commission is another valuable resource for senior veterans. There you can find more information on veterans benefits, such as the Aid and Attendance program, and locate your nearest Veterans Services Office.
Tax preparation assistance
Texas seniors who are in need of tax preparation assistance have several options. Visit the IRS website to learn about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program.
You can find sites offering free or low-cost tax preparation in your area by calling 211. AARP also offers AARP Tax-Aide, a free program for seniors who can’t afford tax preparation services. Find Tax-Aide sites in your area by calling (888) 687-2277.
The Texas Legal Services Center offers legal representation, advice, and information for qualifying Texans who meet income or other criteria. They offer a Legal Hotline for Texans at (800) 622-2520.
Area Agencies on Aging can also connect seniors with legal assistance, information, and awareness. Visit a local office or call (800) 252-9240.
Seniors can access a list of other legal resources from the Texas Attorney General. This list includes information about grandparents’ rights, estate planning, and fraud prevention.
The Long-term Care Ombudsman is an advocate for elderly individuals in long-term care facilities. Contact your local long-term care ombudsman by calling (800) 252-2412.
Access to reliable transportation can help seniors maintain independence and keep up with errands, shopping, and social activities. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services offers a list of transportation resources. Seniors over 60 should contact the local Area Agency on Aging for programs in their communities.
The Centers for Independent Living provides a list and map of local transportation options in their local area. Call (713) 520-0232 for more information.