Maryland Community Resources for Seniors

Finding affordable senior care resources can be challenging for families. Seniors have access to hundreds of public programs and organizations, which can be overwhelming for those who don’t know where to begin. This guide covers the different types of senior care options in Maryland along with financial assistance, health insurance programs, legal help, and more.

Maryland senior care options

Seniors in Maryland may access health care programs sponsored both locally and nationally. Below, this guide will discuss common types of senior care families need to access, and the state and federal resources that may help.

Home care services

The Maryland Department of Aging (MDoA) sponsors a statewide network of 19 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to provide seniors with free services and information. Among these services is the Senior Care System, a program offering various services — including in-home care — to Maryland residents.

To participate in the Senior Care System, a person must be:

  • At least 65 years old
  • A Maryland resident
  • At risk of nursing home placement

Applicants must be assessed by the MDoA to see if they meet the program’s requirements. Eligible seniors can receive funding from the state to pay for personal assistants, housekeepers, and home-delivered meals, among other services. To learn more about the Senior Care System, visit the MDoA’s informational page for the program, or contact the program manager at (410) 767-1100

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) is an additional resource for seniors at risk of nursing home placement. Each year, the number of seniors requiring institutional care grows, and facilities are running out of vacancies. The federal government created the ACL to lessen nursing home admissions by promoting “age-in-place” care methods. Seniors and caregivers may access the ACL’s free advocacy resources to learn more about aging-in-place, and may receive free assistance locating and accessing home-based services.

The National Age in Place Council (NAPC) is another useful source for information about in-home care. The organization’s website offers free information about in-home care, and seniors can create a personalized long-term care plan using the planning template tool. By providing these resources, the NAPC hopes to educate seniors about their options for home-based care and the benefits of aging in place.

Companionship

The Elder Helpers program is a nonprofit companionship service offering free companionship services to Maryland residents. Companions help seniors complete their activities of daily living (ADLs), and provide valuable friendship and conversation. Elder Helpers believes true compassion comes free-of-charge, and their volunteers pride themselves on their passion for elder care. Seniors pick their own companion so they may choose someone they personally connect with.

Seniors may search for volunteers in their area with the locator tool, or read testimonials from others who received care from a volunteer. Caregivers may also email help@elderhelpers.org for more information about the program.

Senior centers

According to the MDoA, there are 112 senior centers in Maryland. Most communities have their own senior centers, and many locations offer shuttle transportation for non-drivers. Each center offers free health screenings, flu and pneumonia vaccines, daily meals, health seminars, and fitness classes designed specifically for elders. Many services and classes are offered for free, while others have a nominal fee.

Each location is run independently, but the Maryland Association of Senior Centers oversees all operations statewide. Maryland residents can locate senior centers in their community by viewing the MDoA’s complete list of Maryland senior centers, or by contacting their local AAA. Senior may also visit Maryland Access Point (MAP) to connect with senior centers in their area.

Respite care services

Maryland’s Respite Care program is available to family caregivers statewide who require temporary assistance caring for their family member. Caring for another person can be challenging, especially for family caregivers who have other priorities to attend to. The Respite Care program aims to alleviate caregiver stress by offering short-term care services for Maryland seniors.

Family caregivers should contact their local Department of Social Services (DSS) to access the Respite Care program. Additionally, the Respite Care program lists the participating care services for each county on their informational web page.

The Maryland Respite Coalition (MRC) provides free resources to family caregivers who need assistance connecting with temporary care services. By offering educational materials, the MRC aims to teach caregivers about finding quality respite care services and the importance of taking breaks from caregiving. The MRC is funded entirely by donations, and their resources are free to all Maryland residents.

Because the MRC is an all volunteer organization, they do not provide direct funding to caregivers for respite services. Instead, they focus their advocacy efforts toward improving respite care throughout the state. Additionally, they offer free sources of information to educate caregivers about the value of caring for one’s own needs. To learn more about the MRC, visit the organization’s website or contact the Maryland Respite Coalition staff using the submission form.

Caregiving support

Maryland’s Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) is managed by the Maryland Department of Aging (DoA), and provides free supports to caregivers. A person may qualify as a caregiver if they provide care to someone over the age of 60, or if they care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, regardless of the care receiver’s age.

Qualifying caregivers can participate in support groups, access caregiver training, receive counseling, and access respite care through the FCSP at no cost. Families can learn more about the FCSP by visiting the DoA’s informational web page, or by calling (410) 767-1100.

Family caregivers nationwide can learn more about caregiving for free, thanks to the Caregiver Action Network (CAN) and their online resources. The organization’s website has a forum for caregivers, where they can discuss their questions and concerns with others. The CAN also offers a comprehensive family caregiver toolbox, full of helpful information for caregivers.

The National Alliance of Caregiving’s (NAC) is another helpful resource for caregivers, and is accessible to families nationwide. Families can access various sources of information about caregiving courtesy of the organization, free of charge.

Finally, caregivers may want to look at the American Red Cross’s website to learn about their caregiver support programs. Caregivers can take different classes through the Red Cross to learn life-saving skills like CPR and First-Aid. The Red Cross’s classes are available in traditional and virtual classrooms, making them easily accessible. Caregivers who want to attend one of the Red Cross’s classes should contact their local chapter to learn about upcoming dates.

Hospice and palliative care

The Hospice and Palliative Care Network of Maryland (HPCNM) is a membership association for Maryland residents living with terminal illness. The organization offers informational resources for families, caregiver training, and legislative representation for those receiving end-of-life-care. Additionally, members can use their website to locate hospice and palliative care in their community.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) also offers resources to the terminally ill, including free and low-cost end-of-life care. The NHPCO is operated federally, and is accessible to families in all fifty states. Their resources include webinars, online courses, and an assortment of in-depth articles about hospice and palliative care.

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias

The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) is the country’s foremost nonprofit organization advocating for Alzheimer’s research and education. They research new methods of treating Alzheimer’s and play a leading role in finding a cure for the disease. All of the AA’s services are sponsored by donations, and the organization does not charge for any of their resources.

The AA uses donated funds to accomplish three main goals:

  • To educate the public about Alzheimer’s Disease (and other dementias)
  • To research new treatments for Alzheimer’s
  • To provide direct assistance to families living with Alzheimer's

Caregivers may receive free counseling from the AA any time by calling the organization’s 24-hour helpline. The AA’s volunteers help callers cope with the reality of Alzheimer’s, and offer information to help them understand the disease more clearly. Anyone may access the AA’s helpline by calling 1 (800) 272-3900.

Health insurance

The State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) is accessible to all Medicare recipients in Maryland. Anyone who has questions about their health care coverage can contact the program to get answers. Participants can get information about their health insurance benefits, their bill, and their rights as a patient when they consult SHIP. Maryland residents can contact SHIP by visiting a local volunteer counselor, or by calling (410) 767-1100

Medicare

More than 55 million people own a Medicare policy that pays for some of their medical bills. Seniors do not receive Medicare for free, and many policyholders pay a monthly premium to receive their benefits. Low-income seniors may be exempt from paying a premium, depending on their Medicaid eligibility and the Medicare plan they select.

Medicare Part A

This policy 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

The second policy offers more traditional medical insurance and pays for common medical expenses like durable medical equipment, visits to the physician, outpatient hospital services, and other medical services 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

Medicare Advantage, the third Medicare policy 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 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 Medicare policy offers prescription coverage to anyone with other Medicare coverage. 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.

Medicaid

Medicare is a big help to many seniors with ongoing health care costs, but it can still be challenging for some to pay for the copayments, premiums, and deductibles that come with their policy. When Medicare is not enough, Medicaid can bridge the gap for seniors in need.

Medicaid benefits are reserved for financially and medically needy seniors who need help making ends meet. Those who qualify for Medicaid can receive extra benefits on top of their Medicare coverage and have their Medicare premium waived. Only qualifying seniors may receive Medicaid benefits, and eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Veterans benefits

Another government resource for health care coverage is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Seniors who served on active duty in the Armed Forces may qualify to receive health care benefits through the VA if they meet the organization’s requirements.

To qualify for health care coverage through the VA, a person must live with a service-related disability from a qualifying period of time. For example, a person who lost their sight during their service in the Vietnam War may be eligible for health care coverage through the VA. Veterans should contact their VA caseworker to learn more about the VA’s health coverage options and eligibility criteria.

National senior resources

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a popular resource for seniors and older adults, with over 38 million current members nationwide. Anyone one over the age of 55 may sign up for AARP, regardless of if they are retired or working. Some of AARP’s resources are free to the public, however many of the organization’s benefits are exclusive to members.

Members of AARP receive the organization’s monthly magazine and discounts at various store and restaurant chains as part of their membership. They may also access discounted health care services, depending on the availability in their area. To learn more about AARP’s membership benefits, visit the program’s website or contact your local chapter.

The Eldercare Locator is also a valuable tool for families seeking care services in their community. Anyone can use the Eldercare Locator, regardless of their age or location. Using the online tool, families may locate nursing homes, in-home care providers, and assisted living facilities near them - alternatively, families can call the operation’s toll-free line to learn more about care options near them.

Nutrition and wellness

Each of Maryland’s senior centers offers health screenings, nutritional counseling, exercise programs, and wellness seminars for elders in the community. Health education seminars occur multiple times a year, and take place in at most community senior centers. To find a local senior center and learn more about upcoming events in your community, contact the Senior Centers Services program manager at (410) 767-1071.

Fitness and recreation

The Center for Healthy Aging (CHA) sponsors various recreational programs throughout the U.S., designed to help seniors socialize and stay fit. The National Council of Aging (NCOA) created the CHA to help seniors find and participate in fitness and wellness programs, and today the organization’s activities help seniors in all fifty states. Some of the programs sponsored by the Center for Healthy Aging include:

Each program focuses on a particular area of physical wellness. For example, Walk With Ease focuses on exercises to promote mobility, while Fit and Strong helps seniors participate in strength-building exercises. Every program at the Center for Health Aging is designed to protect improve their physical fitness and promote social activity too.

Legal assistance for seniors

Maryland’s Long-term Care Ombudsman program does not offer legal service to anyone directly, but can offer helpful assistance to seniors with legal concerns. In some cases, the program is able to mitigate the situation without involving actual legal representation. When lawyers do need to be involved, the program can refer seniors to quality legal counsel in their community. To learn more about how the Long-Term Care Ombudsman can help seniors in need, locate a community Ombudsman’s office and contact them directly for more information.

Transportation

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDT) coordinates multiple transportation programs for seniors and disabled adults throughout the state. Each community offers its own transportation program, but each focuses on getting seniors and disabled adults to and from their important obligations. They can receive transportation to various locations and events, including doctor’s offices, senior centers, grocery stores, and social gatherings.

Additionally, Maryland offers a reduced public transit fare to senior citizens over the age of 65. Senior may ride the bus, metro subway, or light rail anywhere in Maryland for roughly one-third the price of a regular ticket. To participate in the program, riders must present photo ID that shows they are over the age of 65 when they board, or they must present a disability ID. To learn more about Maryland’s reduced transit program, call (410) 767-3441.