Resources for Seniors in North Carolina
North Carolina offers a decent living environment for the elderly. The state has a very rich history, and a friendly climate. Temperatures do not fall or rise to extreme levels, making life easier for residents. The healthcare is ranked better than the national average, and with a low cost of living, this makes the state friendly for seniors. On the other hand, North Carolina is prone to hurricanes and other devastating tropical storms. These pose a serious risk to safety and can drive up living costs due to the repairs required after a major storm. Crime rates are also high in the state, making security a major concern for seniors, especially those who may not be able to defend themselves.
State Resources for Seniors
The Department of Health and Human Services provides help to the elderly through the Division of Aging and Adult Services. This Division is charged with operating several programs in the state that offers various forms of assistance to seniors. Some of these programs are directly funded while others a funded at the federal level. The Division of Aging and Adult Services also partners with local nonprofits to administer programs across the state. Such partnerships help ensure that the programs being offered get to cover impact as many seniors are possible. Links to other useful resources for the elderly are also provided at the Division’s website, https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/aging-and-adult-services.
Dental Grants/Benefits – Free Dental Care
Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic provides dental care services for financially challenged seniors in North Carolina. The clinic is run by volunteer dental professionals who offer several dental services to restore oral health of older citizens. Blue Ridge cares for many seniors in the state and focuses on low-income residents, particularly those without dental insurance. Services are available to uninsured elderly persons whose income does not exceed 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. Visits are on an appointment basis and priority is usually given to seniors who have dental emergencies. To get start with receiving free dental care, visit https://www.brfdc.org/.
Agape Dental Ministry is a nonprofit organization that provides free dental care services to low-income persons, including seniors. The clinic offers services such as oral exams, fillings, dental x-rays, tooth extractions, etc. The main goal is to serve low-income residents, especially those without dental insurance coverage. The income limit for patients is 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. However, Agape Dental Ministry also attends to veterans regardless of their income status. More information can be found at http://www.agapedentalministry.org/patients.html.
The Dental Lifeline Network offers comprehensive dental care to seniors through its Donated Dental Services (DDS) program. The network is made up of dental professionals who volunteer their services to take care of the oral health of challenged seniors. Services are provided to seniors over the age of 65 who are experiencing financial hardship and are unable to pay for dental care. DDS offers a comprehensive level of care, with services like laboratory testing, tooth extractions, root canals, cleanings, etc. However, due to the potential for long wait times, emergency services are not provided. The services of DDS are generally free, but in some cases, seniors may be encouraged to make a donation if they can afford it. For more information, visit https://dentallifeline.org/north-carolina/.
Other free dental clinics in the state can be found using the directory at https://www.freedentalcare.us/st/north_carolina.
Health Care Related Resources -Free Health Care Clinics
Shifa Free Clinic is a free healthcare provider that serves low-income seniors in North Carolina. The clinic attends to elderly residents who are financially challenged and do not have health insurance. Basic services are available at the clinic, like physical examinations, laboratory testing, x-rays, etc. Seniors can also get free medication from the clinic. For more details, visit https://shifafreeclinic.com/.
The Community Free Clinic offers free healthcare services to residents of North Carolina. Seniors can receive primary health services, as well as specialty care when needed. Laboratory testing is also provided to aid diagnosis and choose the best treatment. A pharmacy is available for seniors to pick up their prescribed medication at no cost. Seniors can find details on the operational hours at https://communityfreeclinic.org/hours-location/.
The Asheville Buncombe Community Chrisitan Ministry (ABCCM) offers uninsured seniors access to standard healthcare. Residents can receive comprehensive healthcare services from the Medical Ministry of ABCCM, along with free medication. Urgent care services are also provided to seniors who have emergency situations. For more information, visit https://www.abccm.org/medical-ministry/.
The North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics maintains a directory of free clinics in the state. This directory can be view at https://ncafcc.org/our-clinic-list/.
Charities and Organizations that help seniors
The Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte is a charity organization that provides supportive services to seniors in North Carolina. Shepherd’s Center offers resources to make life easier for the elderly. Transporation services are also provided to help older residents get around safely. These services are provided by volunteers who offer rides at no cost. More information can be found at https://www.shepherdscharlotte.org/services.
The Durham Center for Senior Life operates senior centers across the state that provide care services for the elderly. These senior centers meet needs by providing seniors with access to essential items. The centers serve as sites for congregate meal programs, where food is distributed to seniors for free. Transportation services are provided, as well as a food pantry that gives durable food items to seniors for home preparation. Details can be gotten from https://dcslnc.org/services/.
The Catholic Charities is another charity organization in the state that cares for the elderly. Catholic Charities provides assistance in various forms, offering financial assistance for rent and utilities, pantries for food items, free clothes, transitional assistance, etc. Seniors can visit https://ccdoc.org/ for details.
Other organizations that provide assistance for the elderly residents of North Carolina can be found at https://greatnonprofits.org/state/North%20Carolina/category:Seniors/.
Financial Assistance Options
The State/County Special Assistance In-Home Program for Adults (SA/IH) is a program that provides financial assistance for low-income seniors. SA/IH offers financial aid to help seniors continue to live independently at home. The money provided is used to cover the costs of care and other living expenses. For details of the program, visit https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/adult-services/state-county-special-assistance-in-home.
The Social Security Administration provides financial aid to seniors through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI gives funds to eligible seniors over the age of 65 years to help them pay for their basic needs. Eligibility for SSI is determined by the income and assets of the seniors. Funding amounts vary and are calculated based on a combination of factors, including the income and needs of the applicant. More information on SSI can be obtained from https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/.
Food Assistance – free food
The state provides nutrition assistance to seniors through two initiatives. The Congregate Nutrition program provides food for the elderly in a group setting and preapproved locations. These meals are healthy foods specifically prepared to meet the dietary needs of older people. Nutrition education is also provided at the congregate centers. Apart from food, congregation meal services allow seniors have a place to socialize and interact with each other. A list of Congregate Nutrition providers and venues can be found at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/documents/files/aging/congregatemealsagencies/download. Home Delivered Meals on the other hand are provided at home to seniors. This program is similar to Congregate Nutrition in terms of the meal preparation and planning. However, it is specifically for homebound seniors, giving them access to healthy food options. The providers of Home Delivered Meals in the state can be found at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/documents/files/aging/homedeliveredmealsagencies/download.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides assistance for seniors to get healthy foods. This program improves the nutrition of low-income seniors by giving coupons which can be used to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables. The coupons are accepted at farmers’ markets in the state and give seniors a chance to buy fresh nutritious fruits. More details on the SFMNP are available at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/aging-and-adult-services/nutrition-congregate-and-home-delivered-meals/north-carolina-seniors-farmers-market-nutrition-program-sfmnp.
Food and Nutrition Services is a federal program that helps low-income residents to buy food. This program provides financial assistance to improve the purchasing power of the elderly, making food items more affordable. Eligible seniors receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card with which they can access their monthly benefits. This card is used like a regular debit card to pay for food purchases from local grocery stores. The card can only be used to purchase approved food items or seeds for planting. For more information, visit https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/child-and-family-well-being/food-and-nutrition-services-food-stamps.
Housing – Home Repair Grants
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services offers assistance to help seniors repair and modify their homes. This is done through the Housing and Home Improvement program. The program helps older citizens over the age of 60 with repairing their homes. Seniors can get assistance with minor home repairs, security enhancements, accessibility modifications and basic appliance repair or replacement. The Housing and Home Improvement Program provides assistance worth up to $1,500 to carry home repair services. The funds provided are meant strictly for repairs and do not cover payment of rent or utility bills. Administration of the program is done at the local level through various local service providers. These providers are listed at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/home-improvement-provider-directory/download?attachment. To get more details on the program, visit https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/aging-and-adult-services/housing-and-home-improvement-assistance.
Seniors can also get assistance with home repairs through the Urgent Repair Program. This program is an initiative of the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) and provides assistance to older residents to carry out emergency home repairs. The program serves seniors with income below 50% of the area median income and can help with things like septic system repairs, floor repairs, heating system replacement or repairs, etc. Services are also available for elderly residents who need to carry out home modifications after a serious illness. The assistance is provided in the form of an interest-free, deferred loan which is forgiven at $2,000 per year. More details on the program are available at https://www.nchfa.com/current-homeowners/repairing-your-home/urgent-repair-program.
NCHFA also operates the Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation (ESFR) program. This program helps seniors with income below 80% of the area median income to carry out major repairs essential to safe living. Assistance is also provided in form of loans, but these are forgiven at a rate of $5,000 per year. Further information can be found at https://www.nchfa.com/current-homeowners/repair-your-home/single-family-rehabilitation-program.
Seniors aged 60 and above can get assistance with transportation. This is made possible by special services which provide transport arrangements to get the elderly to and from resource centers. Transport assistance may be available to help seniors get to grocery stores, shopping centers, senior centers, hospitals, etc. These services are not directly provided by the state, but are funded through grants for administration by private companies. A list of the transport providers in each county can be found at https://fsp.unc.edu/node/102.
Help with Utility Bills
The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) helps financially challenged seniors with their utility bills. The program assists eligible seniors over the age of 60 who are unable to pay for their home heating costs. LIEAP covers the cost of the utilities, making a payment to the vendor on behalf of the applicant. Eligibility for LIEAP assistance is based on the income and value of assets the senior has. Applications for LIEAP opens one month earlier for seniors, allowing them get priority in receiving assistance. Information on the program can be gotten from https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/social-services/energy-assistance/low-income-energy-assistance-lieap.
The Lifeline program provides discounts on phone bills for eligible low-income elderly residents of North Carolina. Seniors may receive a monthly discount of up to $9.25 on their phone and internet bills through this program. Elderly residents who live on federally-recognized tribal lands may receive discounts of up to $34.25 every month. Lifeline helps the elderly stay connected to the outside world, which is very important when help is needed. Eligibility for other financial assistance programs is usually enough for a senior to be accepted under the Lifeline program. For more details on the Lifeline program in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/social-services/county-staff-information/other-programs/lifeline-and-link-programs.
Grants for Senior Veterans
North Carolina Heroes Fund (NCHF) is a special fund set up to provide support to veterans in need. NCHF provides financial assistance to help veterans meet urgent needs and maintain living stability. Assistance is available to help with payment of rent, utility bills, home and vehicle repairs, and other pressing needs. North Carolina veterans who wish to seek help from NCHF can do so at https://www.ncheroes.org/apply-for-assistance/.
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in the state also renders aid to challenged veterans. This is usually in form of help given to establish housing stability. Several resources are provided to help veterans get access to affordable housing. In some cases, funding may be provided to help secure a decent living arrangement. Apartments are also available for homeless veterans who need to get off the streets as soon as possible. For further information, visit https://www.milvets.nc.gov/services/housing-assistance.
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) is another way that veterans can get assistance. SSVF helps veterans find financial stability by providing them with a variety of resources. Usually, the first step is to provide a decent housing arrangement for veterans who do not already have such. Other forms of assistance come in form of money for payment of rent, utility bills, vehicle repairs, etc. Details of the program in the state can be found at https://www.voachesapeake.org/ssvf-north-carolina.