Louisiana offers a comparatively low cost of living and a rich culture that makes it very hospitable for the elderly. A wide range of festivals present residents with opportunities for socialization and give a chance for more exposure to interesting aspects of the state. Split into Parishes, the state has agencies spread across to meet the needs of seniors who run into challenges.
State Resources for Seniors
The state offers a wealth of resources to help connect seniors to relevant help that they may need. The Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs hosts materials that keep seniors up to date of efforts and programs available to alleviate the challenges of senior living. These can be accessed at http://goea.louisiana.gov/.
Furthermore, the Department of Health’s Aging and Adult Services provide more materials that are useful for seniors. From here, seniors can connect to community-based service centers for their needs, providers of supportive housing, healthcare providers, charity organizations, etc. All of these resources, alongside others are available at https://ldh.la.gov/subhome/12.
The Louisiana State University’s School of Dentistry offers dental care to residents of the state. This care is provided by predoctoral dental students under supervision of faculty of the school. Several services are offered, including cleaning, crowns, dentures, braces, root canal treatment, extractions, etc. While the services are not free, they come at a considerably lower cost than other dental clinics. Seniors can visit https://www.lsusd.lsuhsc.edu/patients.html for more information.
The Dental Lifeline Network runs a program called Donated Dental Services. Through this program, seniors over the age of 65 can get comprehensive dental care for free. A wide range of dental procedures are covered; however, emergency services are not available. Free treatment is made possible by a network of dentists who volunteer their time and services to help attend to the vulnerable members of the populace. Often, waiting lists may be encountered for services, but this does not compromise the quality of care received through the program. For more information on DDS in Louisiana, visit https://dentallifeline.org/louisiana/.
The Louisiana Dental Association maintains a directory of clinics and programs in the state that provide dental services to the uninsured and underinsured. This directory is sorted by parish for easy location of the nearest clinic, and can be found at http://www.ladental.org/public-resources/community-clinics.
The Medicaid program is designed to provide healthcare coverage for low-income residents, including seniors. Medicaid in Louisiana is administered by the Department of Health and covers a wide range of medical procedures and services, leaving little or no cost for the senior to pay. Some services covered by Medicaid include dental care, medical transportation, inpatient care, emergency room services, etc. Seniors can apply for Medicaid online by visiting the portal at https://sspweb.lameds.ldh.la.gov/selfservice/ or an application form can be downloaded from http://www.ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/1384 and printed for manual filling.
The Louisiana SenioRx Program links eligible seniors over the age of 60 with resources to help pay for their medication. Seniors who require prescription medication but cannot afford it can get referrals from the Louisiana SenioRx to relevant agencies that can help them get access. Direct connections may also be established with the drug manufacture to obtain discounts. The program serves low-income and uninsured citizens in the state, giving them a chance for proper healthcare. For more information, visit https://www.capitalaaa.org/programs/seniorx/.
There are several clinics in the state that offer free treatment, or charge fees on a sliding scale basis. Sliding scale charges use the income of the patient to determine how much should be charged. These clinics can be searched using a simple term like “Free clinics near me“.
Charities and Organizations
The Catholic Charities is a faith-based nonprofit that offers several programs to care for challenged seniors. Through the Food for Seniors Program, Catholic Charities provides food items for seniors over the age of 60 to help them meet their nutritional needs. The food is distributed across 400 volunteer sites throughout the state. Nutrition information and education is also provided. Catholic Charities also runs the Program of ALL Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). PACE provides seniors with healthcare, transportation, personal care, medication, etc. to help them live in their homes and age in place for as long as possible. Other programs are available, such as a housing program for homeless residents, among others. For more information on the services offered by the Catholic Charities, visit https://www.ccano.org/.
The Salvation Army is another charitable organization that offers a wide range of traditional social services along with emergency assistance for seniors. Salvation Army helps with food, clothing, payment for medical care and medication, rent and utility bills, etc. Shelters are provided to serve as a room over the head of displaced seniors, helping them live in a safe environment. Various other services are available, based on location of residence. For a full overview of services, visit https://salvationarmyalm.org/locations/.
The Social Security Administration runs a special program to provide financial support for seniors. This program is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and helps elderly residents from the age of 65 and older. Financial assistance is provided in the form of monthly payments. These payments can be used to settle bills and purchase items as required. To be eligible for SSI benefits, seniors must meet certain income and asset value requirements. The benefit amount varies and is decided on a case-by-case basis, taking into account things like pensions and other benefits. Seniors can find more information on Supplemental Security Income at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/?.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides seniors with monthly benefits to purchase essential food items for good health. The amount of money to be allocated is determined by income level and they are received on a special debit card referred to as the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. This card can be used to purchase food items from various participating grocery stores in the state. Seniors who wish to apply for SNAP can find application resources at http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/snap-how-to-apply.
Seniors can also receive assistance with feeding through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). This is a special program that helps improve the diets of seniors by providing them with food packages to augment their nutrient intake. The CSFP is not intended to cover the entire responsibility of feeding seniors throughout the month, but rather supports their food with healthy materials. Every month, seniors receive food boxes which contain items like fruits, vegetables, cheese, cereal, pasta or rice, shelf-stable milk, fruit juice, etc. Nutrition education is also provided to help seniors make the most of whatever food items they have available. Seniors can visit https://ldh.la.gov/page/998 for more information on the program.
Apart from government programs, there are food initiatives sponsored by nonprofits like Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army. Seniors can visit these organizations to get assistance with food materials.
Housing Assistance and Home Repair Grants
The Louisiana Housing Corporation administers the Housing Preservation Grant (HPG) to help low-income seniors repair or rehabilitate their homes. Assistance is provided to residents of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, and West Baton Rouge parishes. The exact scope of work for each home is defined by the Construction and Compliance Monitoring team of the housing corporation and contains details on repairs to be carried out. The HPG covers things like plumbing, roof repairs, electrical wiring, accessibility modifications, etc. Seniors who receive the grant are bonded not to sell the home within 2 year period. Seniors can find more information on the Housing Preservation Grant at https://www.lhc.la.gov/housing-preservation-grant.
The Section 504 Home Repair program, otherwise known as the Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants program is a federal program that provides financial assistance to eligible low-income residents for home repairs. Loans of up to $40,000 are available to cover things like accessibility modifications, structural repairs, and other modifications to remove health hazards. Seniors over the age of 62 may apply for grants of up to $10,000 to make repairs to their homes. For applicants who can repay part but not all of the costs, a combination of a loan and grant may be offered. For more information on the Section 504 Home Repair Program in Louisiana, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-programs/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants/la.
Residents of Jefferson Parish can get transportation assistance from the Jefferson Council on Aging (JCOA). JCOA provides transportation for seniors to help them get from their home to area centers and back, giving them a chance for community engagement. Buses operate between 8:00am and 4:00pm on weekdays along fixed routes and modified routes. The vehicles are equipped to handle seniors with mobility challenges and drivers are certified to perform basic first aid procedures. More details can be found at https://www.jcoa.net/transportation-services.
Seniors in Baton Rouge can contact the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging (EBRCOA) to get special transportation assistance. Rides are provided for seniors aged 60 and above to help them get to and from senior centers. Applications must be submitted 2 days in advance to secure a transportation slot as services are provided on demand and on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested seniors can obtain more information from https://ebrcoa.org/transportation/.
The various Councils on Aging in the state provide alternative transportation services for elderly residents. The options available include door-to-door services, fixed route scheduled services and ridesharing services. The transportation arrangements ensure that seniors can get to where they need to be with as little financial burden as possible upon them. The links to transportation providers across Louisiana can be found in the brochure at http://goea.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/TransportationNarrative.pdf.
Help with Utility Bills
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps seniors who are unable to pay for their energy bills. LIHEAP is funded at the federal level and administered in the state by the Louisiana Housing Corporation. Assistance is provided to cover outstanding and future bills for things like heating and cooling. Crisis assistance is also available to handle emergency financial situations. The household income is used to determine eligibility for the program and how much can be received once deemed eligible. Louisiana operates LIHEAP in three seasons, the heating season from November 15 to March 15, the cooling season from April 1 to September 30 and the Crisis season from October 1 to September 30. Unlike other states that restrict seniors to one LIHEAP benefit per year, seniors in Louisiana can receive one LIHEAP benefit each season. For more information on the Louisiana LIHEAP, visit https://www.lhc.la.gov/energy-assistance.
The Power to Care program helps seniors make emergency bill payments. This program is open to Entergy customers and is provided in collaboration with charities like the Salvation Army and the Catholic Charities. Through the program, seniors with low income do not need to worry much about their bills as most of the energy bills get paid by the assisting organizations. More details on the Power to Care program are available at https://www.entergy-louisiana.com/bill-help/, while supporting agencies across the state, along with contact information are listed at https://cdn.entergy-louisiana.com/userfiles/content/your_home/docs/LOUISIANA_P2C_Agencies.pdf.
The South Western Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) offers grants of up to $200 for residents. Seniors over the age of 62 who have paid at least $75 of their bills within the previous three months can be considered for this grant. In cases of extreme hardship, an exception may be made. While the maximum amount is $200, the actual amount awarded depends on the beneficiary’s circumstances and is decided on a case-to-case basis. More information can be gotten from https://www.dollarenergy.org/need-help/louisiana/aep-swepco-neighbor-neighbor-program/.
The energy providers in Louisiana have deferred payment options to delay the due date of unpaid bills. The payments can then be split over up to 12 months for easier repayments. Information on how this works with each provider can be found on their respective websites.
Assistance for Senior Veterans
The Military Family Assistance Fund (MFA) helps veterans and their families by providing financial support when necessary. Veterans can apply for MFA support when undergoing financial hardship and may receive up to $10,000 of financial assistance in a year. MFA is open to veterans who have been honorably discharged and meet the minimum active-duty requirements. Veterans who want to apply can download a form from https://www.vetaffairs.la.gov/wp-content/uploads/MFAApplication.pdf or complete their application online at https://www.vetaffairs.la.gov/benefit/military-family-assistance-fund/.
Veterans who were permanently or totally disabled during active service may be eligible to receive disability benefits. This is provided through the LA National Guard Death and Disability Benefit program, giving up to $100,000 worth of benefits to qualifying veterans. For more information, visit https://www.vetaffairs.la.gov/benefit-category/emergency-assistance/.
Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) is a program that caters for veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Assistance is provided to help locate affordable housing and to make payment for rent and utilities. Financial resources may also be provided to pay for arrears and to assist with the purchase of items to furnish the home. More details on the SSVF in Louisiana can be found at https://www.voagbr.org/supportive-services-for-veteran-families-ssvf.
Veterans can also turn to the Salvation Army for help. Assistance is provided in the form of housing, financial aid for bills, medical care services, help with cost of medication, etc. Community interaction is also provided, helping veterans reintegrate back into society. Other programs offered to assist veterans can be found at https://salvationarmyalm.org/serve-veterans/.