As the second cheapest state to live in, Kansas is a good option for many seniors. The overall prices of items in the state are well below national average, making it easier to be able to afford things. Coupled with the various assistance options available for those in need, Kansas makes a wonderful state of residence for seniors.
State Resources for Seniors
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is in charge of senior affairs in the state. The Department sponsors some programs to help seniors get a better life and take some burdens off. Links are also provided to useful resource sites where more help can be sought. In some cases, seniors can get a referral to programs run by other agencies. Apart from sponsoring programs, the Department administers several federal programs in the state, providing services through the local Area Agencies on Aging. Seniors can visit https://kdads.ks.gov/ for valuable resources for their welfare.
The Dental Lifeline Network provides free and discounted dental care for seniors in Kansas. This is done through their flagship program, Donated Dental Services (DDS). This is program where a network of dentists volunteers their time and services to attend to the needs of the uninsured and underinsured. Seniors in Kansas can use this program to get free comprehensive dental care services. Due to the nature of the services and the possibility of having wait times, emergency services are not provided. However, seniors can get cleanings, crowns, extractions, etc. done by DDS. Services are open to those over the age of 65. For more information, visit https://dentallifeline.org/kansas/.
Apart from the Dental Lifeline Network, seniors can get dental care from several dental clinics in the state. Some of these clinics offer free care, while others charge a fee on a sliding scale. This means that the amount to be paid is determined by the income level of the person who receives the care. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment maintains a directory of these dental clinics at https://www.kdhe.ks.gov/BusinessDirectoryII.aspx?lngBusinessCategoryID=34.
Seniors aged 65 and above may be eligible for Medicare program. This is a federal health insurance program for the elderly which covers certain essential services. Seniors who cannot afford the Medicare premiums can get assistance through the Medicare Savings Program. Seniors can find comprehensive information on Medicare in Kansas by visiting https://kdads.ks.gov/kdads-commissions/long-term-services-supports/aging-services/medicare-programs/shick/medicare-frequently-asked-questions.
Seniors can also apply for KanCare, which is the state’s version of the Medicaid program. This program allows seniors get access to affordable health care by providing them with low-cost insurance. KanCAre covers a wide range of medical procedures and may even cover the cost of medication for eligible seniors. Information on KanCare can be gotten from https://www.kancare.ks.gov/about-kancare/what-is-kancare.
The JayDoc Free Clinic is staffed by physicians and medical students of the University of Kansas. The clinic provides free medical services to uninsured and underinsured seniors in the area. Elderly residents who come in can receive dental care, diabetes care, eye exams, etc. Laboratory tests are also carried out as required to facilitate treatment. More details on the services of JayDoc Free Clinic can be obtained from https://www.kumc.edu/school-of-medicine/patient-care/student-run-clinics/jaydoc-free-clinic/services.html.
Charities and Organizations
Catholic Charities in Kansas helps seniors by giving them different forms of support. Financial assistance if available for seniors who need to buy food and medicine, or pay rent and utility bills. Free housing is also provided for homeless seniors to help them get settled in a comfortable home environment. The organization has several food pantries that cater to the feeding needs of residents, while also administering different food programs. Seniors in an urgent situation can get emergency financial assistance to help settle necessary bills. Seniors can visit https://catholiccharitiesks.org/ for more information on the activities of Catholic Charities in the state.
The DearNeighbor Ministries is a faith-based charity organization that tries to help challenged seniors in Kansas. Assistance can be provided in form of financial aid to help those who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness. Seniors can get food delivered to their homes through a special arrangement known as The Lord’s Diner food truck. For those who are able to leave their homes, food pantries are available for food pickup. Welfare checks are also carried to ensure that proper health is maintained. Further details on DearNeighbor Ministries can be found at https://dearneighbor.org/services-dn/hilltop-neighborhood-emergency-outreach-assistance.
Seniors in Kansas can get financial benefits from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This is a program of the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides monthly payments to seniors over the age of 65 to help them meet their financial needs. Eligibility for assistance is determined by income and asset values. To be eligible, the asset value of the person applying should not be more than $2,000. However, this does not include essential assets like the home, a car, etc. The money gotten through the SSI program can be used to pay for food, shelter, clothing, etc. More information on the program is available at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/?tl=0%2C1%2C2.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides food benefits to help low-income seniors in the state get access to good food. Beneficiaries of the program receive a special Kansas Benefit card. This is used like a regular debit card to purchase food items from grocery stores. The card may only be used to pay for approved food items. Seniors may also be able to use their Benefit card to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from some farmers’ markets in Kansas. For more details on the program, visit http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/ees/Pages/Food/FoodAssistanceFAQs.aspx.
Seniors over the age of 60 with income below 130% of the federal poverty level can receive nutritional assistance from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). This program provides monthly food packages to supplement the diets seniors in the state and help them get proper nutrition. The food packages contain various food items including cereal, meat, vegetables, rice, cheese, milk, etc. These items are not meant to be the main food source but rather a supporting source of nutrients for healthy living. Seniors can find more information on this program at http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/ees/Pages/USDA-Commodity-Programs/CSFP/CSFP.aspx. If you want to ascertain whether your household is below the poverty line, you can use the 2023 updated Kansas Federal Poverty Level calculator.
The Congregate Meals program provides nutritious food items to seniors in Kansas. These meals are provided in a group setting at locations such as senior centers. The congregate setting allows seniors to get healthy meals and socialize as well. The meals are planned by dieticians who ensure that all required nutrients are present in the food, helping seniors to live a healthy life.
For seniors who are homebound can get Home-Delivered Meals. Similar to the Congregate Meals program, nutritious food is prepared for the seniors. However, in this case the meals are delivered to the homes of the seniors. This ensures that those who are unable to get out of their homes still have access to hot and healthy meals. The volunteers who deliver these meals also perform wellness checks and report if any assistance is needed. For more details on the Congregate Meals and Home-Delivered Meals programs, visit https://friendshipmeals.org/about-us/.
Housing Assistance and Home Repair Grants
Seniors who reside in Johnson County can apply for help provided through the HOME Program. Financial assistance is provided as a deferred payments loan with 0% interest rate. Every year, for 10 years, 10% of the loan is forgiven. This means that the loan does not have to be repaid. However, if the property is sold before the time elapses, the remaining part of the loan must be repaid. The aim is to help residents make modifications to their homes for health, safety and accessibility reasons. Seniors can download an application form from https://www.jocogov.org/sites/default/files/files/2022-04/HOME%20Waiting%20List%20Request.pdf and find more information on the HOME program at https://www.jocogov.org/department/housing-services/home-program.
The Home Repair Program of Wichita also offers zero-interest, forgivable loans. These loans are provided to seniors whose income falls below 60% of the Area Median Income and whose home repair needs are within the program’s scope. A maximum loan amount of $5,000 is provided to eligible seniors and is forgiven completely after a period of 5 years, so long as the home is not sold within that period. For more information on this program and similar programs in Wichita, visit https://www.wichita.gov/Housing/Pages/HomeRepair.aspx.
Across the entire state, seniors can apply for the Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants program, which is also known as the Section 504 Home Repair program. This is a program funded by the federal government to assist low-income residents. Loans of up to $40,000 are provided to low-income residents of the state to help them make essential repairs and accessibility modifications. Seniors aged 62 and older can get grants (which they do not have to repay) of up to $10,000 to rehabilitate their home. The loans and grants may be combined for a total of $50,000 to carry out very extensive repairs on the home. The loans have a 20-year term and are charged at a 1% fixed interest rate. More details on this program can be found at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-programs/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants/ks.
The Catch-a-Ride (CaR) initiative is a social service program that helps seniors get transportations to medical appointments, social service agencies and food pantries. Transportation is provided by volunteers and is available within Johnson County. Seniors who are aged 60 and above can complete an application form and then place ride requests once accepted into the program. The application can be completed at https://www.jocogov.org/sites/default/files/files/2021-10/AHS-CaR-Application.pdf. While riders are encouraged to make a donation, service would not be refused to those who are unable to pay. More information on that program can be gotten from https://www.jocogov.org/department/aging-and-human-services/outreach-services/catch-ride.
Sedgwick County Transportation provides accessible and affordable transportation options for seniors. Non-emergency transportation is available to seniors to help them get around to places like hospitals, grocery stores, senior centers, etc. Rides can be scheduled from Monday to Friday between 8:00am and 4:30pm. The application form to join the program can be obtained from https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/media/60768/sct-rider-information-form-english-version.pdf. For more information on the program, visit https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/aging/transportation/.
The Kansas Department of Transportation has several programs that it sponsors to ensure that affordable transportation arrangements are available for seniors in the state. Several of these arrangements also make provision for seniors with reduced mobility and those who would require wheelchairs. Useful links can be found at https://www.ksdot.org/bureaus/burtransplan/pubtrans/index.asp.
Kansas Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) is run by the University of Kansas to provide affordable and accessible transportation for seniors who live in rural areas. The overall goal of the program is to improve the mobility of rural Kansans and this is done by making convenient transportations available, while training operators on how to deliver the best service and assistance to seniors. More details on RTAP and associated publications are available at https://kutc.ku.edu/kansas-rtap.
Help with Bills
Seniors in Kansas can apply for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). This federal program is administered in the state by the Department for Children and Families. Eligible seniors get assistance with paying a part of their energy utility bill. Eligibility for assistance is determined by a set of income guidelines and other requirements like residency, etc. Household income must not be above 150% of the federal poverty level in order to qualify for assistance. Help is provided as a one-time payment to the utility vendor to settle the energy bills. For more information, visit http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/ees/Pages/EnergyAssistance.aspx.
The Salvation Army has several utility assistance programs open to seniors who are customers of different energy vendors. The Share the Warmth program caters to customers of Kansas Gas Service who have income below 200% of the poverty guidelines. Sharing the Warmth serves Atmos Energy customers, while HeatShare serves the customers of Black Hills Energy and Butler Rural Electric. These programs help seniors get financial assistance for their bills and give referral to other funding sources when necessary. Further details on the programs can be obtained from https://kcc.ks.gov/public-affairs-and-consumer-protection/utility-weatherization-related-assistance-programs-in-south-central-kansas.
Apart from the Salvation Army, other charities that help with paying for utilities, along with contact information, can be found listed in a directory at https://www.kansasgasservice.com/media/KGS/community-assist-agencies/KansasCommunityAssistanceAgencies.pdf
Assistance for Senior Veterans
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) helps low-income and/or senior veterans get access to affordable accommodation to prevent homelessness. Stable housing options are provided and support is given to help make payments for rent, utilities and other costs associated with getting settled into the home. Support services are provided for veterans whose income is below 50% of the Area Median Income. Mediation is also offered, helping veterans come up with more favorable terms for payment with their landlords. The SSVF program in Kansas is provided by the Salvation Army. To contact any of the SSVF offices in Kansas, visit https://centralusa.salvationarmy.org/mokan/ssvf/.
Veterans who are still able to engage in fishing and hunting activities can get free licenses as one of their benefits. These licenses give the freedom to hunt game or catch allowed fish species in local waterbodies. The idea behind the program is to give some form of food security, reducing the need to purchase meats and related proteins for consumption. For more details on this, visit https://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-state-benefits/kansas-state-veterans-benefits.html.
Veterans Homes are available for veterans who require supportive care in their day-to-day lives. These homes provide veterans with a room over their heads, food, laundry services, medical care, etc. Libraries, recreation centers and special care units are also available in these homes. Admission may be provided to the spouses of veterans as well. Senior veterans who wish to seek admission into a Veterans Home can visit https://kcva.ks.gov/veteran-homes.
Apart from the Veterans Homes, there are Healthcare Centers in the state that provide special services for veterans. The centers are often used by veterans who still reside in their own home. Veterans can refill their prescriptions, schedule medical appointments, etc. at these health centers. A directory of Healthcare Centers in the state can be found at https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/state.asp?STATE=KS&dnum=ALL.