Resources for Seniors in Washington
About 2.6 million Washington residents are 50+, representing 35% of the population. Older Americans aged 60+ represent 21.7% of the entire population, and 10.2% of seniors aged 65+ are living on their own. Retiring in Washington is one of the most expensive, with a housing index of 120.50. a one-bedroom apartment goes for $937 a month, higher than the U.S. average, which stands at $825. The average cost of healthcare at home is about $5,053. After paying this amount, older adults can live comfortably in their homes. While senior living costs may be higher in Washington than in many states, there are a lot of programs and organizations offering assistance services to help seniors thrive. Here are the resources for seniors in the state.
Senior Living Options in Washington
Washington’s older adults have plenty of options for senior living, including independent living, assisted living, memory care facilities, and nursing home care facilities.
The Independent Living option is suitable for seniors who are healthy, active, and can survive on their own without the need for help with Activities of Daily Living, such as bathing, grooming, feeding and taking medication or constant care like in nursing homes. There are 400 independent living facilities in Washington, and they cost anywhere between $550 and $4,950. Seniors can choose to be in 55+ or 65+ communities. The facilities are constantly supervised to ensure they are safe.
An assisted living facility is for older adults who need help with ADLs. Seniors will always find these communities staffed with attentive caregivers and healthcare professionals who work to ensure that older adults are well cared for. Some of the services provided in these communities include laundry, transportation, housekeeping, and meal services. Washington boasts over 1,300 assisted living facilities which cost from $1,000 to $9,000. King County Area has the most expensive assisted living. More affordable communities can be found in the Spokane Valley area.
Memory Care facilities are suitable for older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia-related illnesses. The facilities are staffed with professionals who help seniors deal with the daily memory-related challenges that come with dementia. Memory care facilities are 800 in number in Washington, and cost between $1,450 and $13, 050 a month. These prices can be high, but the facilities are the perfect choice for seniors with dementia-related illnesses. The costs of these facilities are largely influenced by location. Tacoma and Seattle’s areas are the most expensive when it comes to seniors’ memory care living options. More affordable facilities are found in Spokane.
Nursing homes are for older adults with chronic diseases who can’t live on their own without constant care. There are nursing professionals and caretakers employed in these facilities to look after the seniors 24/7. There are over 455 nursing homes in the state, and they cost an average of $9,900 for a private room and $9,100 for a semi-private room per month.
Agencies Helping Seniors in Washington
Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs)
AAAs were created in 1973 under the Federal Older Americans Act to help older adults remain independent in their homes. These agencies are spread throughout Washington State in every county. AAAs assist seniors in accessing additional care, services, and programs. Some of the assistance includes helping frail adults to give them access to activities and make use of socialization opportunities in places like senior centers. If looking for services and resources for older adults aged 60+, AAA offices are a good starting point. The agencies are also a good resource for family, friends, and caregivers who need information, support, and respite care services as they take care of older adults. Find your local AAA at https://www.dshs.wa.gov/ALTSA/resources.
Senior Information & Assistance (I&A)
Senior Information & Assistance is a referral service for seniors aged at least 60 and for friends and families caring the older adults. The program helps with any queries and concerns about getting assistance for older adults and anyone providing care and support to older adults without getting paid. Through this program, older adults can have access to transportation, housekeeping, meal, and personal care services. One can also find a way to sort out their legal issues and figure out their health care insurance, long-term care, and prescription drug options. Visit https://www.dshs.wa.gov/ALTSA/resources to find the nearest I&A.
Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs)
ADRCs provide information, referral, and support services to older adults, their families, and caregivers to help them get all the resources they need to thrive.
Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP)
The Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) is designed to support unpaid caregivers of older adults in Washington. FCSP has offices spread throughout the state and helps seniors’ caregivers find local resources and services, connect to support groups and counseling services, get training on certain topics about caregiving, and respite care, and have a chance to provide information and some suggestions to help others too. Find the nearest FCSP at https://www.dshs.wa.gov/ALTSA/resources.
Home and Community Services (HCS)
These are services provided to older adults through the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, an agency operating under the Washington Department of Health and Social Services (DSHS). The program’s staff offers assistance to elderly persons in need of care services, but they can’t pay for them due to their low income. If for instance, a low-income older adult is eligible for Medicaid, an HCS case manager will work with them to identify additional support services and help come up with an appropriate care plan to cater to their needs. Find an HCS office at https://www.dshs.wa.gov/ALTSA/resources.
Adult Protective Services (APS)
The purpose of this program is to offer protection services to vulnerable seniors by carrying out investigations about cases of abandonment, neglect, abuse, and financial exploitation among older adults living in their own homes. These investigations are conducted at no fees, and income doesn’t identify if one qualifies for assistance or not. Reach out to APS at https://www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/home-and-community-services/what-happens-after-you-contact-adult-protective-services-aps.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
The goal of the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is to protect and enhance the quality of life among senior residents of long-term care facilities, including Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, Memory Care Facilities, and Adult Family Homes. The Ombudsmen work with residents of these communities to identify and meet their needs and concerns, including coming up with solutions to daily challenges and complaints they face in those facilities. In other words, they advocate for the rights and interests of the residents of adult care facilities. Why contact a local ombudsman? Well, these people are a trusted resource for resolving concerns and complaints older adults may have in long-term care facilities. Find the local Ombudsman office at https://www.dshs.wa.gov/ALTSA/resources.
Healthcare Assistance for Older Adults in Washington
Medicaid is administered at the federal level by Washington State and is referred to as the Washington Apple Health or simply Apple Health. The program covers the costs associated with long-term care for seniors, including nursing home care for older adults and those living with disabilities. The state’s Medicaid programs include:
- The Medicaid Personal Care Program (MPC): The purpose of this program is to offer older adults and disabled seniors support with ADLs, including bathing, dressing, mobility, toileting, and help with taking their medication. Eligible Medicaid participants can receive this type of assistance either from their homes, an adult family home, assisted living community, or a residential facility. Participating seniors are allowed to choose their own caregivers, which can even be a member of their families or friends.
- The Community First Choice Option (CFCO): CFCO is dedicated to offering personal care support, respite care, and assistance with medication to seniors in need of an institutional level of care. The goal of the program is to prevent older adults from entering nursing homes. The participants may receive care from their own homes, an adult family home, a residential facility, or an assisted living community.
- Washington State’s Nurse Delegation Program: The purpose of this program is to provide support to older adults who need help with daily injections or tube feedings. How does the program work? It involves registered nursing professionals teaching caregivers how to provide the level of care the seniors need to avoid being institutionalized.
- Medicaid Alternative Care (MAC): MAC offers assistance to unpaid caregivers through respite, caregiver training, adult day care, durable medical equipment, and more. The goal of these services is to prevent burnout among caregivers and give them time and resources to be able to thrive in caring for older adults and disabled seniors.
For more information, please visit https://www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/home-and-community-services/medicaid.
Medicare is a health insurance designed to help seniors aged at least 65, pay their medical bills. Seniors under 65 must be on Social Security Income or be disabled to qualify for Washington Medicare support. The program is divided into different parts:
- Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance): Part A covers inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing home care, hospice care, and home health care.
- Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance): Medicare Part B covers healthcare services from doctors and other healthcare professionals, outpatient hospital care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and certain preventative services.
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage): This type of Medicare Plan has all the coverages in Part A and Part B, and Part D (Medicare prescription drug. It is offered by Medicare-approved health insurance companies, some providing extra benefits, including dental care and visionary services.
- Medicare Part D (Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage): This covers the expenses that come with prescription medication, and is also available at Medicare-approved health insurance companies. The cost of prescription medication varies from one pharmacy to another. The lists of formularity for the medications also differ.
For more information about Washington Medicare, please visit https://www.insurance.wa.gov/learn-how-medicare-works.
Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) Referral Program
HEN was created to offer rental support to seniors who are unable to work for at least 90 days due to a physical disability or mental problem. The Washington Department of Health Services determines the eligibility for referral to the program. The Department of Commerce, with help from homeless and homeless prevention service providers, determines who qualifies for assistance. HEN services may include:
- Rent and utility support.
- Move-in-related expenses.
- Items to help seniors maintain personal health and hygiene.
- Cleaning supplies.
- Assistance with transportation.
To qualify for the program support, older adults must demonstrate a physical or mental disability that prevents them from working for at least 90 days and meet the low-income and citizenship requirements. For more details about how this program works, reach out to your nearest HEN provider at https://deptofcommerce.app.box.com/v/CEAccessPoints.
Home Repair Support
USDA’s Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants in Washington
Also known as the Section 504 Home Repair Program, the Single-Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants in Washington offers support to senior homeowners to enable them to perform the necessary home modifications to remove any health and safety hazards from their residences. Through the program, older adults can qualify for grants of up to $10,000, which must be repaid if the receiver resells or changes the ownership of the property within three years of receiving assistance. To be eligible for the home repair assistance, seniors applying must be 62+, be homeowners and occupy the houses, demonstrate an inability to repay the grant, be unable to acquire affordable credit anywhere else, and meet the low-income limits in your area. Assistance depends on the availability of funds. For assistance with the application process, seniors can reach out to any of the nearest USDA home loan specialists. Visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-programs/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants/wa#:~:text=What%20does%20this%20program%20do,remove%20health%20and%20safety%20hazards. For more details.
Food Assistance for Seniors in Washington
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Also known as Basic Food in Washington, this program assists low-income seniors to enable them to have access to nutritious foods their bodies need to age healthy and strong. Once approved for support, the program benefits are put in Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, which can then be used to acquire food items from USDA-approved farmers’ markets, vendors, and grocery stores. These benefits cannot be used to buy tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and unnecessary food items. To qualify, older adults must meet the low-income requirements. the level of assistance depends on the level of need as determined by family size, income, and assets. For more information about the program, please visit https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/community-services-offices/basic-food#:~:text=You%20can%20apply%20for%20Basic,your%20local%20Community%20Services%20Office.
Helping Older Adults in Washington Pay Bills
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce, LIHEAP’s purpose is to help low-income Washington seniors pay their heating bills and avoid disconnection from their energy sources. The assistance is offered with the help of a network of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) and local partners who determine seniors eligible for support and how much they are qualified to receive, based on their incomes and family sizes. LIHEAP pays the energy assistance grant directly to the service providers so that families are safe from disconnection. Older adults may also qualify for help with the repair or replacement of dysfunctional and unsafe heating or cooling equipment. Read more at https://www.commerce.wa.gov/growing-the-economy/energy/low-income-home-energy-assistance/.
The elderly Washingtonians with less efficient home energy can get help from Weatherization Assistance. Through the program, one can qualify for insulation of new energy systems, make important upgrades to the existing systems, and repair and replace less efficient tools. This helps reduce the cost of heating or cooling at home. For more information, please visit https://www.commerce.wa.gov/growing-the-economy/energy/weatherization-and-energy-efficiency/.
The purpose of Lifeline is to help low-income older adults have access to communication services at a low cost. Subscribers are given monthly discounts on their telephone services and broadband internet access services. The goal is to enable them to stay connected with their loved ones and have access to local health, financial, and food assistance services. Applicants must meet the low-income limit (at least 135% of the federal poverty guideline). Find out more at https://www.lifelinesupport.org/do-i-qualify/.
The Health Care Authority (HCA) offers nonemergency transportation support to low-income seniors to and from healthcare facilities. HCA uses local transit providers to provide support to eligible older adults. Only participants of Medicaid and CHIP are eligible at the moment. Seniors receiving other state-funded benefits may also qualify for this transportation support program. The forms of transportation available through the program include ferry tickets, airplanes, wheelchair vans, taxis, public buses, and gas vouchers. Read more at https://www.hca.wa.gov/free-or-low-cost-health-care/i-need-medical-dental-or-vision-care/transportation-services-nonemergency.
Help for Senior Veterans and Older Adults with Disabilities
The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA)
WDVA offers support to senior veterans and their families by advocating on behalf of their benefits and entitlements. The department assists veterans obtain VA Disability Compensation, VA Pension or Windows Pension, Aid & Attendance, Health Care Benefits, and any other benefits entitled to them from the state or federal government. The WDVA staff uses a case management approach to ensure all the needs of senior veterans are met. More information is available at https://www.dva.wa.gov/veterans-service-members-and-their-families/veterans-benefits/claims-assistance.
Charities and Nonprofits’ Assistance for Seniors in Washington
Catholic Charities Eastern Washington – Senior Services Program
Catholic Charities Eastern Washington provides the Senior Services program whose purpose is to help aging adults and seniors with disabilities who’d like to remain in their homes. Catholic Charities work with volunteers who stay closer to the clients, creating friendships with them, and thereby helping to transform their lives for the better. More information is available at https://www.cceasternwa.org/senior-services.
Sound Generations works to create a favorable environment for seniors where they can thrive, as well as those who take care of them. The organization work with a Caregiver Support team who have previously been caregivers themselves. They have a deep understanding of the everyday struggle these people go through. Visit https://soundgenerations.org/ for more details.