What to Look for in an Agency on Aging in Pennsylvania
September 28 2018
Alternatives to Living in a Nursing Home
Today, most aging Americans wish to avoid being institutionalized in a nursing home for long-term care. Luckily, there are a number of alternatives to nursing homes out there that will help you or your loved one remain at home.
These alternative services are offered by Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). This nationwide network serves elderly populations in their local areas. Some agencies serve a geographical area while others offer services statewide. (In Pennsylvania, each county has an Area Agency on Aging.)
Generally each Area Agency on Aging offers different services, though basic services are provided by nearly all AAAs. These services include:
- Nutrition: counseling on nutrition and meal services
- Caregiver Support: respite care and congregate meals
- Information and Referral: regarding assistance programs and referrals to administrators
- Long Term Care Ombudsmen: information regarding long term care facilities and investigation of complaints
- Insurance Counseling: to help seniors understand and maximize their benefits
- Transportation: assistance and understanding shared, non-medical transportation services
A smaller percentage of Area Agencies on Aging also provide help completing applications for assistance programs such as Medicaid, respite care and certain veterans’ programs.
It is also important to know what Area Agencies on Aging do not provide.
- Hands-On Care: Most AAAs do not provide this themselves, though a few do. Many sub-contract this service to local providers.
- Medicaid Planning and Veterans’ Benefits Planning: While Area Agencies on Aging do help explain the eligibility requirements of each, they cannot offer assistance in helping families to comply with or meet those requirements.
In Pennsylvania more specifically, there are a variety of aging services and assistance offered in the state through a local Area Agency on Aging and/or their sub-contracted providers. These include but are not limited to:
- Adult Day Care
- Home-Delivered Meals, Meals at Senior Centers, the Pennsylvania Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program
- Home Modifications
- Personal Assistance and Care Services
- Care Management
- Home Health Care
- Respite for Family Caregivers
- Health and Wellness Programs (such as nutrition and exercise classes)
- Free Health Insurance Counseling
- Ombudsman Program and Protective Services
- Domiciliary Care
- Prescription Assistance (for those who qualify)
- Property Tax/Rent Rebate (for those who qualify)
There are many different services that will help you live out your later years at home. Since not all providers under the flag of your local Area Agency on Aging offer the same services, you will want to look for ones that offer the services that you or your loved one is in need of. For instance, if your loved one is able to move about the home and remembers to take medications on time but can’t cook a nutritious meal, you will need meal services and perhaps transportation services. However, if you loved one is healing from a broken bone, or has Dementia, additional services like home health care will be needed.
You may also want to take into account how your needs may change over time. Healing from a broken bone and getting back on your feet has a very different future from those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
No matter what services you are in need of, you will want to look into your local resources. Your local Area Agency on Aging is staffed with skilled workers who can help provide more information about the services available to you. It can also assist in accessing those services that are either provided by the AAA itself, or by a contracted provider.
To get started, you can find your local Area Agency on Aging by county, online on the Pennsylvania Department of Aging website.