Life for seniors in Arkansas is more bearable than in most other states. Arkansas has several programs designed to help seniors pay bills, renovate their homes, transport themselves, etc. Coupled with the relatively mild weather and one of the lowest costs of living, Arkansas is one of the best places for seniors to live.
State Resources for Seniors
The Arkansas Department of Human Services through its Division of Aging, Adult, & Behavioral Health Services provides several resources for seniors in the state. Information on programs like Medicaid, assisted living, free meals provision, cost saving measures on health insurance, free ombudsman services, etc. are provided by the Department. All of these are geared towards helping seniors have a comfortable life. While some programs may seem to offer low financial assistance, it is important to note that Arkansas has one of the lowest costs of living in the United States and seemingly small amounts can go a long way. The Division of Aging, Adult, & Behavioral Health Services page can be found at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/learn-about-programs/programs-for-adults-seniors/. On this page, seniors can find links to several useful resources for assistance. Apart from the services listed above, the Division of Aging, Adult, & Behavioral Health Services provides adult protective services for abuse prevention. This is particularly important as some seniors may be suffering physical abuse from their caregivers and require urgent attention and rescue.
Seniors who live in Arkansas can get low-cost or free dental care through the Donated Dental Services (DDS) program. This is a network of volunteer dentists who provide comprehensive dental care to eligible patients. Seniors must be over the age of 65 and have low-income to qualify for this assistance. More information on DDS in Arkansas can be found at https://dentallifeline.org/arkansas/.
Delta Dental Smiles is an insurance scheme that can help seniors get low-cost dental care. It is provided under the Medicaid program and allows registered seniors get significant subsidies when they visit dentists within the Delta Dental Smiles network. The plan covers several dental services including office visits, fillings, crowns, etc. More details on the Delta Dental Smiles program are available at https://www.deltadentalsmiles.com/pages/coverage/.
Additional resources for free and subsidized dental care can be gotten from https://www.freedentalcare.us/st/arkansas and https://healthprofessions.uams.edu/clinics/dental-hygiene-clinic/charitable-dental-and-medical-clinics-resource-directory/.
Residents of Arkansas who are 65 years or older can apply for medical assistance from the Health Care (Medicaid) program. This program helps seniors pay their medical bills so long as they meet income requirements and are state residents. Full medical coverage is available for all qualified seniors. Long Term Care coverage helps individuals pay for the cost of living in a nursing home so that their medical needs can be met. Additional program details can be gotten from https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/divisions-shared-services/county-operations/health-care-programs/.
Seniors can also get free health care from the Westside Free Medical Clinic. This clinic provides various health care services for seniors who cannot afford to pay for proper care. These services include pharmacy services, dermatology clinic, diabetic eye exams, physical therapy, etc. Seniors can follow the link https://www.dolr.org/catholic-charities/contact#appointment-westside-clinic to book an appointment at the clinic.
Harmony Health Clinic in Little Rock is a clinic staffed by volunteers that offers free health care to seniors in Arkansas. The clinic also caters to uninsured residents, helping cut the costs of seeking health insurance. Apart from medical care, Harmony Health Clinic also provides free dental services where possible. For more details, visit https://www.harmonyclinicar.org/.
WelcomeHealth is another free clinic in Arkansas that provides similar assistance as offered by Harmony Health Clinic. WelcomeHealth has several volunteer medical personnel who attend to the health care needs of seniors, including providing dental care when required. Additional information can be gotten from https://www.welcomehealthnwa.org/about-welcomehealth.
Charities and Organizations
Seniors in Arkansas can get assistance from various charities in the state. Some charities provide specialized services, while others provide a variety of services to seniors.
CareLink is a nonprofit agency that provides seniors with various forms of help to support their lives. In-Home Assistance is offered to homebound seniors who may need help with various activities around their homes like pet care, house chores, cooking, etc. Background checks are conducted for volunteers to ensure the safety of the seniors. Meals and transportation assistance are also provided by CareLink. The organization can be reached by contacting them on their website https://www.carelink.org/.
The Salvation Army is another charity that renders assistance to seniors in need. Seniors who are homeless can get housing assistance and even a room to sleep. Meals are also provided, along with recreational activities to ensure that a healthy lifestyle is maintained. Adult day care services are available for elderly citizens who are unable to care for themselves and therefore require special attention. Several other services are provided to make living easier for seniors in the state. Seniors can reach out to the Salvation Army at https://southernusa.salvationarmy.org/arkansas-and-oklahoma/contact-us.
Seniors over the age of 65 may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These are monthly payments paid to help ease the costs of living. SSI benefits can be claimed even if the seniors are receiving retirement benefits. More information on SSI can be found at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/#:~:text=The%20Supplemental%20Security%20Income%20(SSI,who%20meet%20the%20financial%20qualifications.
Seniors who are still able to work can register for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). This is a part-time program for residents over the age of 55. Participants are given training and assigned tasks to complete. They are then paid at the highest of either the local, state or federal minimum wage. The skills gotten may also help the seniors obtain more permanent employment. Seniors can visit https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/divisions-shared-services/aging-adult-behavioral-health-services/find-home-community-based-services-for-adults-seniors/senior-community-service-employment-program/ for more information.
In some cases, seniors can turn to charities like the Salvation Army for financial assistance. Details are available at https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/love-the-elderly/.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps is a federal initiative developed to provide food for low-income persons. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) administers the program in the state and issues benefits to eligible seniors. The benefits come in the form of funds on a special debit card known as the Electronic Benefits Card (EBT). The funds on this card can be used to purchase certain approved food items from stores across the state. More details on the SNAP in Arkansas can be gotten from https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/divisions-shared-services/county-operations/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-snap/.
Meals on Wheels is another program designed to help seniors get nutritious food for healthy living. Under this program, meals are prepared and delivered to the homes of seniors who are unable to leave their homes. Meals on Wheels is for seniors aged 60 and above and meals are approved by a dietician to ensure the best nutritional value is given. More details on the Meals on Wheels program are available at https://agingarkansas.org/services/meals-on-wheels/.
Other nutritional and food assistance resources for seniors in Arkansas can be found at https://agingarkansas.org/top-4-nutrition-resources-for-seniors-in-arkansas/.
Housing Assistance and Home Repair Grants
The Section 504 Home Repair program gives loans to help with repair, modification and renovation of homes. Seniors over the age of 62 can apply for a grant under this program, the funds can be used to make accessibility modifications to the home, remove health hazards, etc. Grants of up to $10,000 can be gotten for home repairs. Additional details on this program are available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-programs/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants/ar.
The Emergency Solutions Grant Program helps provide Seniors who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with shelter. This help is provided indirectly by funding organizations that provide emergency shelter or rapid rehousing services. Rapid rehousing helps seniors find and pay for affordable housing. For more information, visit https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/covid-19/dhs-response-to-covid-19/updates-for-clients/rental-assistance/#esgrant.
Other programs can be found listed at https://lowincomerelief.com/need-help-home-repair-found-free-home-repair-arkansas/.
Non-emergency medical transportation is available for seniors who live in Arkansas. This is provided by the CareLink charity and should be booked at least 48 hours in advance. CareLink also provides transportation to get seniors to and from socialization events and senior centers on dedicated days. Apart from this, seniors may get a ride to go shopping, get groceries, visit the pharmacy, etc. Transportation arrangements allow for group or personal rides for the seniors. It is important to note that emergency medical transportation is not part of the services rendered. In case of emergencies, an ambulance should be called. Details are available at https://www.carelink.org/services/transportation/.
Seniors in Arkansas can take advantage of Entergy’s Power to Care utility fund. This is an emergency program designed to provide urgent assistance to help pay for energy bills.
The Money Follows the Person (MFP) assistance is for seniors who desire to transition from care facilities to personal housing. Through this program, aid is provided to cover initial housing costs like rent and utility bills.
Arkansas seniors can also get help with their energy bills through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This is a federal program that relieves the energy burden by providing assistance with paying for heating bills during the summer and cooling bills in winter. While this is a federal program, administration is done on a state basis, with certain community-based organizations operating the program. A directory of these organizations across the state can be found at https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/energy/assistance/caad.aspx. Interested seniors can get at application form from https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/energy/initiatives/pdfs/aeo_9495_revised_winter_fy21v6_lpg.pdf. Along with the application, other items required are a photo ID, Social Security card, Copies of your most recent utility bills, Proof of income, Proof of residency (the utility bills can serve as proof).
Seniors in Arkansas can get help with paying for their water and wastewater bills through the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). The program is set up to help pay outstanding water bills to prevent utility shutoff. Assistance is also provided for reconnection after shutoff. More information can be found at https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/energy/assistance/lihwap.aspx#:~:text=The%20Low%2DIncome%20Household%20Water,support%20reconnections%20related%20to%20nonpayment.
Grants for Senior Veterans
Veterans in Arkansas can visit the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) to get various state benefits. Arkansas veterans who are disabled are exempt from state property and homestead taxes. This tax exemption frees up resources which can be used to attend various financial needs are required. Hunting and fishing licenses are also offered at discounted prices to help support veterans. Veterans who are still able to work can also get employment assistance and On-the-Job Training (OJT) to build skills. Additional information can be gotten from https://veterans.arkansas.gov/benefits/state-benefits.
The state also offers affordable housing to accommodate veterans. The housing facilities features nursing care, beautician services, medical director services, cable TV, transportation, etc. Seniors can visit https://veterans.arkansas.gov/homes/ASVH-F for details on the housing program.
The Arkansas Freedom Fund (AFF) provides referrals to resource centers which veterans can visit for assistance. The resource centers are not directly affiliated to the AFF but referrals are provided and veterans who come through the AFF program can get assistance with reasonable timing. Veterans can visit AFF website at https://www.arkansasfreedomfund.org/veterans-resources.html for these resources.