Over 240,000 residents of Rhode Island are aged 60+, representing 23% of the population. The state is more diverse, and the latest figures (as of 2020) show a dramatic increase in its aging population. About 13% of older adults 65+ are living alone. With just above the 121 housing index, Rhode Island is expensive to retire in. Luckily, the state has several retirement benefits and programs to help older adults under healthy aging. Here are the resources for seniors in Rhode Island.
Living Options for Senior Rhode Islanders
Seniors have several choices when it comes to living options, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and nursing homes. Older adults or their loved ones should choose one of these options depending on their needs and circumstances.
Independent Living: There are over 4o independent living facilities in Rhode Island costing anything between $1,003 and $3,513. These facilities are suitable for seniors who are healthy and do not need nursing care. Residents of these communities can typically thrive on their own. One can join 55+ or 65+ communities. The facilities provide amenities, such as walking trails, Jacuzzis, pools, and fitness centers.
Assisted Living: These are for older adults in need of assistance with daily tasks, healthcare, access to local activities, and social opportunities. There are caregivers and healthcare professionals in these institutions to provide support if need be. Rhode Island has over 60 assisted living facilities and the cost ranges between $1,825 and $6,388.
Memory Care: There are over 70 Memory Care facilities in Rhode Island, and they cost between $2,646 and $9,262 per month. These facilities are designed for seniors with dementia or any memory-related disease.
Nursing Homes: Rhode Island has over 110 nursing homes, where seniors in need of 24/hour nursing care are living. The average cost of a nursing home in Rhode Island is $255 per day.
Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging (OHA)
Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging is the chief advocate for the senior citizens of Rhode Island, older adults living with disabilities, and their caregivers. The division is committed to empowering the elderly by availing the necessary resources the residents need to undergo strong and healthy aging. The division’s work is strongly influenced by equity and engagement to help seniors in their aging journey. Their focus is on older adults aged 55+, and along with different partners, the division connects the elderly to the available information and community resources to help them live happy and healthy lives. The division advocates for laws, policies, and investments that influence the rights and interests of the older Rhode Islanders. OHA serves the interests of older adults through these programs:
DigiAGE: The goal of DigiAGE program is to bridge the gap existing between older Rhode Islanders and their level of technical know-how. As technology advances, so many things change, and seniors need to cope with the changes and quickly adapt to the digital world. DigiAGE operates in partnership with the technical industry, the government, and local communities to ensure older adults are up to date and are linked with technological opportunities in the modern world that keep us all connected. The program provides:
Access to Digital Devices: This service is geared towards helping seniors and older adults living with disabilities have access to the devices they need to improve the quality of their lives. DigiAGE provides the following programs to increase the availability of these devices to elderly Rhode Islanders:
- The Rhode Island Adaptive Telephone Equipment Loan (ATEL): The purpose of ATEL is to avail landline devices and wireless communication devices that are specifically designed to serve the needs of older adults and those living with disabilities. Landline devices include emergency devices, captioning telephones, amplified telephones, and hands-free speakerphones. Wireless communication devices include Jitterbug, Lucia, iPad, iPhone, and Google Pixel. To qualify for this program’s support, seniors must have hearing problems, a disability to deliver a speech, or are deaf, thus reducing their ability to operate the standard phone. The applying seniors’ incomes must not exceed 250% of the federal poverty line. Find out more at http://www.atel.ri.gov/.
- AccessWireless: The purpose of this program is to provide seniors, older adults with disabilities, elderly veterans, and their families and caregivers with access to cell phones and wireless devices. Find out more at https://www.accesswireless.org/.
- RAZ Mobility: The purpose of this service is to make information about accessibility and the use of digital devices available to make the process simpler for the elderly. More information is available at https://www.razmobility.com/accessibility/.
- National Cristina Foundation: This organization is behind championing the reuse of tech devices and operates under a platform where people can donate used equipment they no longer need. These devices are then made available for seniors. The goal is to help bridge the technological divide among seniors and older adults living with disabilities. Read more about the program at https://cristina.org/.
- Telehealth Access for Seniors: This is a nonprofit dedicated to offering the elderly Rhode Islanders tech devices, information, and the technical support they need to connect with their physicians through telehealth and to their family and friends through the internet. The organization also connects seniors with apps they can use to have access to wellness tools for them to remain healthy and age stronger. More information is available at https://cristina.org/.
Access to Internet Connection: The goal of this service is to increase internet connectivity among seniors, older adults with disabilities, and their loved ones. These programs ensure increased internet connectivity among seniors:
- Lifeline Wireless Telephone Service: This program provides free service plans to low-income elderly Rhode Islanders and those eligible for various state resources. The plans vary, and seniors and their loved ones should choose one, depending on their needs. The plans allow for unlimited minutes, free texting, internet access through data allowance, and free cell phones. Note that you will find some providers offering some of these services, and others won’t. If they do, the number of minutes, free texts, or amount of data is also going to vary. Read more at http://www.ripuc.ri.gov/utilityinfo/telecom/Lifeline.html.
- Public Wi-Fi is accessible across the state, and seniors can always stay connected, by finding a Wi-Fi location near them. One can also check the list of libraries and colleges with accessible outdoor Wi-Fi that older adults can use to stay connected with their loved ones. There are local libraries, including Warwick, Barrington, and the Providence Community Library offer their Wi-Fi hotspots for loans. Visit https://www.innovate.ri.gov/digital-equity-resources to learn more about the service.
Training Programs to Enhance Seniors’ Skills: The goal of these programs is to create platforms that promote social engagement through digital connection and literacy among seniors.
- University of Rhode Island Cyber for Seniors: This program connects the elderly with college students who can help them with technical support so that they can stay up to date with technological advancements. The seniors can engage in these cybers by asking questions about operating their own devices and apps. They can also learn about the technical programs they’d like to use. This program enables seniors to connect easily with their families and friends and allows them to have access to the local programs and support from organizations available online. Read more at https://web.uri.edu/rigec/university-of-rhode-island-engaging-generations-program-cyber-seniors/.
- Senior Planet: is operated by Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) and offers courses, activities, and programs to help seniors make new connections, save money, and learn new skills to improve their lives. Read more at https://seniorplanet.org/.
- Generations On-Line: This is a national nonprofit dedicated to offering seniors free internet training to enhance their tech skills. Learn more about it at https://www.generationsonline.com/.
- Other resources include AARP TEK Workshops, TechBoomers, and URI Geriatric Education Center.
Online Content: These are resources available in writing and audiovisuals to help seniors stay connected and updated.
- The Village Common of RI (TVC) works to alter the way of life of older people in Rhode Island, their goal is to change the experiences the residents go through as they get older by creating support communities and offering direct assistance to attain long-term sustainability among older adults. Read more at https://villagecommonri.org/content.aspx?page_id=4001&club_id=908317.
- Well Connected and Bien Connectado are online communities consisting of participants, facilitators, partners, and volunteers who want to support and stay connected with one another.
Health and Human Services for Older Adults: The Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) offers several options for getting the care they need while living in their homes or retirement communities. These options are safe and secure. EOHHS agencies are operating throughout the state, and seniors or their loved ones should learn about their programs and services to help enhance their quality of life. The office only serves elderly citizens aged 65+.
Financial Assistance for the Elderly in Rhode Island
Rhode Island Works is a financial support program designed to help seniors raising kids in high school or younger children. The program connects members with services, including child care, transportation, and educational services to help them achieve long-term financial stability. Learn more about the program at https://dhs.ri.gov/programs-and-services/ri-works-program.
The temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program supports the elderly Rhode Islanders with financial needs to pay for daily services, like clothing, food, transport, and housing, among others. Applicants must meet the low-income limits. Visit https://www.tanfbenefits.com/tanf-rhode-island for more information.
Housing Assistance for Seniors
Building Homes Rhode Island: This is a state program whose purpose is to create safe housing through affordable apartments and modest single-family homes. The program is funded by the state’s Housing Resources Commission. More information is available at https://ohcd.ri.gov/programs/building-homes-rhode-island.
Neighborhood Opportunities Program :This program was created to provide low-income seniors and older adults living with disabilities with access to homes. The program subsidized the rental cost of low-income seniors, making housing affordable to eligible seniors. Find out more at https://ohcd.ri.gov/programs.
Public Housing: Public Housing is locally operated by Public Housing Agencies. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and allows seniors to contribute up to 30% of their income towards rent, while the program covers the rest of the arrears. Find more at https://www.rihousing.com/renters/.
HUD Section 8 for Seniors: This program also subsidized the housing expenses of seniors by paying a part of their monthly rent, while they contribute 30 or 40% of their income to settle the rest of the arrears. The program is also managed by the local Public Housing Authorities.
Home Repair Assistance for the Elderly: Senior Rhode Islanders can qualify for home improvement grants to help meet their home repair needs through Rhode Island Housing. More information is available at https://www.hud.gov/states/rhode_island/homeownership/homerepairs.
Habitat for Humanity is an organization helping to build homes and may also help with emergency home repair needs. The seniors must demonstrate the urgent need for assistance. That is, their homes must have health or safety hazards that should be dealt with immediately.
USDA’s Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants program provides low-income seniors with up to $10,000 in grants to help them remove health and safety hazards from their homes. The grants are not repaid unless the senior resell or changes the ownership of the property within three years of receiving financial assistance. To qualify for support, older adults must prove that they are homeowners and occupy the residence, meet low-income limits, and demonstrate an inability to access credits from other sources. Find out more at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-programs/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants.
Healthcare Assistance for Seniors
Medicaid for Older Adults: Medicaid is dedicated to meeting the healthcare needs of older adults aged 65+. Medicaid is offered by the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), and offers the following services:
- Comprehensive health coverage for doctors’ appointments, hospitalization, and prescription drugs.
- Assistance in paying Medicare premiums.
- Long-term services and support (LTSS) at seniors’ homes, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes.
There are other services and programs for seniors who don’t qualify for Medicaid.
Medicaid Health Coverage: Seniors without Medicare or any other health insurance coverage, but are eligible for the Medicaid program can receive assistance through Rhody Health Partners.
Eligible older adults with Medicare can receive support through EOHHS Integrated Care Initiative (ICI). Enrolment in the program is voluntary, and participants have access to all Medicaid-covered services they need. Seniors with Medicare coverage, Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, and Medicare Advantage Plan will not have them interfered with. Those willing to enroll can do so through:
- Neighborhood Integrity: This is a health and drug plan for senior residents with both Medicare and Medicaid. Through this service delivery option, older adults or their loved ones will have access to a wide range of choices, and they will have all the benefits explained in detail to help them understand all the options they have. Find out more at https://www.nhpri.org/medicare-medicaid/.
- Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE): This option is suitable for the elderly Rhode Islanders eligible for Medicaid Long-Term Care and has the highest level of care need. To qualify for enrolment, seniors must have attained the age of at least 55. Visit https://www.cms.gov/Medicare-Medicaid-Coordination/Medicare-and-Medicaid-Coordination/Medicare-Medicaid-Coordination-Office/PACE/PACE for more information.
Medicaid Eligibility: Uninsured seniors with low income will have their resources, income, and health care needs determine if they are eligible for the program assistance. If determined that they qualify for support, seniors will receive a letter offering them a choice for enrolment in a Rhody Health Care Plan. The elderly Rhode Islanders qualifying may also receive dental care. More information is available at http://www.eohhs.ri.gov/Consumer/ConsumerInformation/Healthcare/DentalServices.aspx.
Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS): Medicaid LTSS helps seniors with chronic infections or disabilities, making them unable to take care of themselves all the time. This program covers both medical care and non-medical care services that help eligible seniors with their daily tasks, such as bathing, grooming, and taking meals. Seniors can receive these services from the comfort of their homes or in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Eligibility requirements include:
- Attain the age of at least 65.
- Have resources (cash, savings, etc.) below $4,000.
- Meet low-income limits in your area. Seniors with over $878 monthly income may partly contribute to their long-term care expenses.
Prescription Drug Assistance: Prescription Drug Assistance helps seniors pay for their prescription drugs. Programs such as Medicare Part D Prescription Coverage, Partnership for Prescription Assistance, and Veterans Administration assist seniors by paying part of the expenses associated with prescription drugs.
The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP): SHIP provides counseling services and information to help seniors determine the right Medicare coverage that meets their needs and circumstances. The program also assists low-income seniors to apply for Medicaid, Medicare Savings Program, and Low-Income Subsidy – a program designed to reduce seniors’ healthcare costs. Visit https://oha.ri.gov/Medicare for more information.
Medicare Premium Payment Program (MPPP): MPPP provides Medicare Premium assistance to low-income seniors who don’t have Medicare. The program supports the elderly Rhode Islanders aged 65+ and older adults living with disabilities to cover premiums associated with Medicare Part A and Part B, as well as co-payments and deductibles. Medicare Part A is for hospital insurance coverage, while Part B covers physician services, outpatient services, and durable equipment. Eligibility is based on seniors’ resources and income information. Read more at https://eohhs.ri.gov/Consumer/ProgramsServices/MedicarePremiumPaymentProgram.aspx.
Food Assistance for Seniors
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP is the largest food program designed to fight domestic hunger among seniors by offering the low-income with resources to buy healthy food items they need. Eligibility for this program depends on income, resources or assets, and the size of the family. The benefits are placed in EBT cards that older adults can use to get food from supermarkets, grocery stores, online retailers participating in the program, or farmers’ markets. Apply for SNAP at https://dhs.ri.gov/programs-and-services/nutrition-assistance/snap-eligibility-how-apply.
Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island: The purpose of this program is to help homebound older adults and those with disabilities stay safe, healthy, and happy by delivering meals to their homes. The goal is to do away with food insecurity and social isolation among seniors posing a high risk. Read more at https://www.rimeals.org/.
Ocean State Senior Dining Program: This program allows low-income to eat free lunch. Seniors can donate about $3 per meal. But it’s not a requirement. Those who can donate should because it helps to sustain the program. The donations are accepted in checks, payable to the East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP). Older adults looking to participate in the program should provide their details by filling out a Personal Information Form. The applying seniors can complete the form on phone, as they make their lunch reservations, which should happen 24 hours in advance. The meals are only available on Mondays through Fridays by 12:45 pm. Find meal sites and contacts here. More information is available at https://www.ebcap.org/programs/ocean-state-senior-dining-program/.
Transportation Assistance for Seniors
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Services: The purpose of this program is to provide transportation support to Medicaid senior participants looking to get to various facilities to collect their Medicaid benefits but have no transport means to get there. The program offers assistance through Medical Transportation Management, Inc., their vendor. MTM works with various transportation providers to provide senior Medicaid participants with this benefit. The program also assists older adults 60+ who have no access to transportation means for non-emergency medical appointments and other services they may need. Read more at https://eohhs.ri.gov/Consumer/TransportationServices.aspx.
Elderly Transportation Program (ETP): ETP offers curb-to-curb transportation assistance to seniors aged 60+ with no means or access to transportation. The program allows participants access to various community services, like grocery stores or farmers’ markets, health care/medical appointments, and social gatherings. Find out more about the program here.
Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program: These are no-fare or reduced fare passes given to seniors 65+ and low-income older adults with disabilities. More information is available here.
Help Paying Bills for Seniors
RI Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): RI LIHEAP helps low-income seniors pay their heating bills. There are two programs under LIHEAP:
- Heating Assistance: The program helps seniors with their heating expenses through grants payable to the heating fuel service provider or utility company.
- Crisis Assistance: Designed to help older adults resolve heating emergencies: cut off from heating sources for failure to pay overdue bills, inability to pay for deliverable fuel, or heating system failure.
More information about LIHEAP is available at https://dhs.ri.gov/programs-and-services/energy-assistance-programs/heap-program-information/heap-eligibility-and-how.
Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP): LIHWAP offers federal grants to enable seniors to have access to safe drinking water and water services. Older adults qualifying for the program support receive a one-time payment, given directly to the household’s utility service provider. There is a Crisis program under LIHWAP that provide emergency grants to eligible seniors and their loved ones. Eligibility requirements include:
- Have past due bills with a balance of more than $150.
- Have received a notice of disconnection from the vendor.
- Are at risk of having their water services terminated.
Find out more about LIHWAP at https://dhs.ri.gov/programs-and-services/energy-assistance-programs/low-income-household-water-assistance-program-0.
Assistance for Senior Veterans
The Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services acts as the advocate for the rights and interests of veterans. The goal is to reduce homelessness and poverty among senior veterans. The office also ensures that the older veterans receive the medical care they need to age healthy and strong. Learn more about the program at https://vets.ri.gov/about-us.
Rhode Island Tax Benefits for Retired Military Members. Seniors aged 65 can qualify for up to $15,000 in tax reductions. Other eligibility requirements include meeting income limits and must be receiving a federally taxable pension. Learn more about taxes on military retired pay here.
Assistance from Nonprofits and Charities for Seniors
National Council on Aging helps thousands of seniors apply for government benefits. They also provide financial support to low-income older adults to enable them to pay for utilities, medicine, and other housing expenses. Read more at https://www.ncoa.org/.
Sanctuary for Senior Dogs’ purpose is to help dogs in need of a quiet and loving home. The dogs are then matched with older adults in need of a dog companion. Dogs are a great way of having a companion and providing comfort to seniors, especially the homebound older adults receiving care for suffering from stroke, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. Find out more at http://www.sanctuaryforseniordogs.org/.
Actions for Older Persons, Inc focuses on services and programs aiming at counseling and providing work opportunities to seniors with low income. They offer advisory services in matters relating to end-of-life plans, business, and insurance issues. Learn more about the program at https://actionforolderpersons.org/.