New York Community Resources for Seniors

Navigating senior care options in New York is no small undertaking. There are so many facilities covering such a wide a range of care and amenity options, many elderly individuals and their caregivers don’t know where to start their search for long-term care. This guide will take readers through the free and low-cost resources for seniors in the state of New York as well as the services and expertise available from nonprofit organizations in the area. Local organizations offer health care support for seniors, wellness resources, social opportunities, transportation help, assistance with taxes, and more.

New York senior care options

As seniors and their families begin exploring long-term care options, they usually begin by considering whether they want to receive care at home or in a facility. For the families who decide a facility is right for them will generally have to choose between receiving care at a nursing home or an assisted living facility. Both New York and the federal government offer resources for elderly residents who choose from the many different living arrangements possible.

As seniors age and develop physical and mental health conditions, many decide to go into an assisted living facility or a nursing home. In New York, the median cost of assisted living is approximately $4,000 per month, while the median cost for nursing home care is over $11,000 per month. This is understandably cost-prohibitive for many families and individuals, so there are programs in place to make it possible to fund this care.

In New York City, residents can call 311 to be connected to someone who can help with non-emergency local services. Outside of New York City, the correct number is 211 or (212) NEW-YORK.

The local New York Office for the Aging is another good resource for individuals and families looking for financial assistance for long-term care.

The Local Offices for the Aging has also compiled a local senior resource guide. It is broken down by topic with a comprehensive table of contents.

Home care

For elderly individuals who wish to remain at home, there are a variety of home care services available. This means that a professional comes into the home to provide homemaking, personal care, or medical services. There are several types of home care services available to New York residents.

Home attendant services

These services have two levels. Level 1, or housekeeping, includes housekeeping, cleaning, meal preparation, grocery shopping, and laundry. Level 2, or personal care, includes all of the housekeeping services in addition to personal care assistance with tasks like bathing, dressing, grooming, dressing, transferring, toileting, walking, eating, medication administration, preparing meals for those on special diets, and skin care. Medicaid covers home attendant services when needed. For individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid, New York offers a program: Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly.

Home health agency services

Also called, certified home health agencies (CHHA), these services are handled by a home health agency and they are sometimes also called “visiting nurse services.” The main difference between a CHHA and a home attendant service is that the aides employed by a CHHA can perform some skilled tasks, so they are more appropriate caregivers for those with more extensive needs. Medicaid covers these services when indicated.

Licensed home care services agencies

These are very similar to CHHAs, with the main difference being that CHHAs provide services to those on Medicaid and other types of state assistance, while licensed home care agencies limit their services to those who are paying out of pocket.

New York residents can find at-home caregivers on the NYS Home Care Agency Profiles page. Additional information about home health care is available on the New York Department of Health website, or by phone at 1 (800) 628-5972.

Respite care

When a family member is providing care to an elderly relative, it’s important that the caregiver takes a break every once and awhile. New York recognizes this need and has programs available for respite care services.

The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens is a nonprofit organization that helps arrange respite care. They have a basic service, which is available at a reduced rate as well as emergency/after hours service, which is free and available to those who make low or moderate incomes. Their phone number is (212) 962-7559.

Also, the National Family Caregiver Support Program is a source of funding for caregivers who need respite care for their family members.

Adult day care

Adult day care is a place for seniors who either aren’t safe alone for long periods of time. Caregivers can receive a break. Adult day care is somewhat like respite care, but only operates during day hours and always take place at a care center. 

Social adult day care

Social adult day care services include meals, socialization activities, supervision, and monitoring. The staff can also provide assistance with personal care (toileting, transferring, eating) as indicated by an individual assessment. The costs for this type of program vary and might be covered by Medicaid or subsidized through the local office for the aging.

Specialized adult day care

Adult day health care services are for those with physical or mental impairments that require more specialized care. In addition to the services offered by social adult day services, adult day health care facilities also offer physical therapy, speech therapy, nursing care, rehabilitation services, and more.

New York Connects can provide statewide information about finding a service and funding it. The telephone number is 1 (800) 342-9871.

For those living in New York City, there are also caregiver resources available by dialing 311 or going to the New York City Department for the Aging website.

Senior centers

A senior center provides resources for senior citizens including information about public benefits, transportation services, recreational and educational programs, volunteer opportunities, nutritious meals, and more. Joining a senior center is free, but there are sometimes donations suggested for meals and fees for some activities.

Those living in New York City can check the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens website for more information. Others should get the number for their local Office for the Aging.

Hospice and palliative care

If an individual has a terminal illness, hospice services can offer support for both the senior and loved ones. In New York, hospice services include physician services, nursing, social services, counseling, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

Hospice care can also include a home health aide or homemaker, as well as medical supplies, speech therapy, and inpatient care that might be short- or long-term.

Medicaid and Medicare pay for hospice services. So do many health insurance companies. If a person does not have coverage and needs hospice services, the hospice will usually work with the individual and, if applicable, the family to find a way to pay for the care.

Palliative care is a part of both hospice and traditional care that focuses on easing pain and discomfort.

Questions or concerns about hospice or palliative care can be directed toward the New York State Department of health at (800) 628-5972 or the American Hospice Foundation at (202) 223-0204. In addition, you can locate a hospice or palliative care provider by visiting the website of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association.

Alzheimer's disease and other dementias

New York offers help for residents with Alzheimer’s disease as well as their caregivers. The state boasts ten Centers of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease for the diagnosis and management of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Find one in your county via the NYSDOH-funded Alzheimer's Disease Program.

On the same page, you can also find other state-funded programs, including six NYS Alzheimer's Association Chapters, 10 Alzheimer's Disease Regional Caregiver Support Initiative organizations, and 15 Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver Support Initiative for Underserved Communities organization.

For those interested in more information about Alzheimer’s disease, the National Institute on Aging offers a good resource page at Alzheimers.gov. There is also information for those who would like to join a clinical trial. Their phone number is 1 (877) 696-6775.

Alz.org, the Alzheimer's Association's website, is another good free resource for information on dementia. There are several chapters within the state of New York, so enter your zip code on the main page to find your nearest chapter.

BrightFocus is an organization that promotes education and research on Alzheimer’s disease and two common causes of vision loss (macular degeneration and glaucoma). Their goal is to end brain and eye diseases.

Health care resources

New York has 172 hospitals in the state and numerous assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and other types of medical facilities. Residents can look up hospitals, doctors, and other types of caregivers on the New York Health Department list of providers.

Two nationally available listing services are also valuable. The AMA Doctor Finder is a site that provides information including licensing, educational history, office hours, and types of insurance accepted.

Physician Compare is a tool that finds and compares doctors who accept Medicare.

Many communities also have free clinics or clinics that charge on a sliding scale. Find a list of clinics available in NYC at Institute.org. There are more facilities that might be able to help on this list of extension clinics.

The Office for the Aging has more resources that can help with chronic disease management, disease prevention, long-term care, and more. Find the phone number in the appropriate county on the NYSOFA page.

Those who have Medicaid or Medicare can visit this list of dental providers who accept payment from these programs.

New York, as well as the United States government and various nonprofit organizations, offers help to people who are dealing with health conditions specific to seniors, as well as programs designed to help protect the health of all senior citizens.

To learn more about the resources available, contact NY Connects at 1 (800) 342-9871.

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.

Health insurance in New York

Choosing a health insurance plan and navigating the Medicare system can be confusing, so the state offers a program called Health Insurance Information, Counseling, and Assistance. This is a free program that helps senior citizens understand their options when it comes to health coverage plans, private health insurance, and Medicare. The telephone number is 1 (800) 701-0501.

The Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program helps senior citizens with prescription medication costs. There are two plans based on income. The program verifies income information through the Social Security Administration, so seniors and caregivers don’t have to bother with gathering income verification paperwork. These programs work hand-in-hand with Medicare D.

Healthcare.gov is a federal program available to anyone looking for find insurance plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Federal subsidies are available depending on income and family size. 

Wellness and recreation

Nutrition and health

Many elderly individuals in New York and across the country find it difficult to obtain and prepare nutritious foods every day. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately one-quarter of senior citizens living in New York are nutritionally at risk.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal program that with eligibility guidelines on income and family size. SNAP benefits (which are sometimes colloquially called food stamps) can be used at participating grocery stores and farmers markets.

The New York Offices for the Aging offer different types of meal services for the elderly. Congregate meals are offered in senior centers, town halls, and other public areas. In-home meals can be delivered to individuals who don’t have family or friends to provide food for them; This is done through the nonprofit Meals on Wheels program. The Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program allows senior citizens to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers.

The Alliance for Aging Research is a nonprofit organization dedicated to using science to improve the experience of aging. The organization has free information available about a variety of topics regarding senior health.

Fitness and recreation

Many fitness centers and gyms offer a senior citizen discount to residents over the age of 50 or 60. Ask about discounts at your local fitness center.

Many Local Offices for the Aging host a Senior Games program sponsored by the State of New York. These games include fellowship, recreation, socialization, and fitness and are open to individuals over the age of 50. The local Office for the Aging will have information for seniors residing in each county.

For seniors wishing to go to national parks and other sites of interest, there is a reduced fee pass available for $10. Call the National Park Service at 1 (518) 474-0456 for more information.

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.

Oasis helps seniors by matching them with volunteer opportunities, lifelong learning opportunities, and other engaging activities to help them stay physically and mentally active.

Government benefit programs

In addition to local resources for various needs, the federal government offers help to seniors, including health insurance and veterans’ benefits.

Medicare

Medicare is a type of health insurance given to all senior citizens over the age of 65 who have worked (or have spouses who 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.

There is also information available about the different types of Medicare at NY Connects. The telephone number is 1 (800) 342-9871.

Medicaid

Many low-income residents of New York are eligible for Medicaid or Medicaid waivers. The core plan does not have a waiting list and is an entitlement available to all eligible residents. Waivers, on the other hand, often have waiting lists. They include waivers for long-term care, traumatic brain injuries, nursing home care, care at home, and behavioral health.

Adults over the age of 65 who would like to apply for Medicaid can do so through the local departments of social services.

Veterans benefits

New York State has veterans homes that are available to eligible veterans and their spouses who need nursing home care. There are five such homes in the state and they can be found at the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs website. Their telephone number is 1 (888) 838-7697.

There is a crisis hotline for any veterans who are having a mental health emergency. Call (800) 273- 8255.

Aid and Attendance is a federal program that can help veterans. Apply or find out more information at the local New York veterans service office.

Tax preparation assistance

Filing income taxes can be overwhelming, thankfully there is help available. Those over the age of 60 (or anyone making less than $54,000 in 2017) can have their taxes prepared for free through VITA or TCE. Find more information, including a site in the correct New York County, by going to the IRS website and scrolling down to the blue buttons.

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 the appropriate New York county.

Legal assistance

The New York Legal Services Initiative is an effort to provide affordable legal assistance to vulnerable populations, including the elderly, in New York. The Local Office for the Aging will be able to make a referral as needed.

The New York Attorney General office can also answer questions and make referrals to agencies that will be able to help with specific situations. Contact the Attorney General through the website or by calling 1 (800) 771-7755.

Finally, for an individual in long-term care who is having a dispute with his or her caregiver or facility, the New York State Long-Term Care Ombudsman can help and act as an advocate. The telephone number is 1 (855) 582-6769.

Transportation services

Many seniors stop driving and find it difficult to secure rides to the grocery store, the senior center, doctors’ appointments and other places. Others can continue driving well into their golden years. New York offers a few different programs to help residents get where they need to be.

New York residents should contact their local Office for the Aging to find out what transportation services are available. All of these offices allocate some funds toward transportation, but some counties offer more help than others.

In New York City, individuals over the age of 65 can get a reduced fare MetroCard. There is also the Community Arranged Resident Transportation Project for elderly living in Manhattan. These individuals are served by volunteer drivers of private cars during regular weekday working hours.

For those who continue to drive, New York offers information on seniors and driving safety for caregivers. There are also AARP online courses that focus on driving safety during the senior years. Call 1 (888) 227-7669 or visit the AARP page.