Many people look forward to retirement for years. But when the time comes, they trade their old sources of stress for new ones. This is particularly true when it comes to finances. Stress itself can lead to significant declines in a senior’s emotional and physical health and even accelerate the aging process. And, of course, your elderly parents’ financial stress can affect you as well. Whether some of the financial burden falls on your shoulders or not, it can be very unsettling to face compounding bills and other expenses without knowing how you will manage together.
The good news is that there are more helpful financial resources for seniors than you might expect. In California, there are programs to help aging adults and their families with many necessary living expenses, from family caregiver support to home utility relief. If you’re looking for financial assistance for your elderly parents, this is a good place to start. With a combination of federal and California state benefit programs, you can help them to rebuild some stability and to refocus on their special freedom in the later years. In a lot of cases, even a little bit of financial help for seniors goes a long way.
What Financial Assistance Is Available for Your Elderly Parents?
When your parents are retired and on a fixed income, they may find that they have a lot less flexibility than they are used to. The spending habits that supported their previous lifestyle may become impractical or even impossible. In some cases, low-income seniors may struggle just to cover their basic necessities of life.
This is why California has a number of programs that offer financial assistance for the elderly, including:
Health Care and Prescription Drugs
Medicare is a common benefit that can help cover the costs of many of your parents’ health care needs. Depending on their income level, they may be eligible for Medi-Cal benefits, which make medical costs even more affordable. Among the benefits, these programs offer prescription drug discounts and assistance for home care services. You can visit the Social Security Administration website for more information about eligibility and benefits.
State Property Tax
Based on age and income, your parents could be eligible for property tax assistance in California. This can be a relief when facing the whole range of bills and daily expenses on a fixed income. Contact your county assessor to find out more and to access application forms.
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) offers cost savings to low-income seniors for heating and cooling their homes. Discover county-specific assistance programs here. Benefits for telephone and Internet services are also available to low-income seniors through the Lifeline program. Learn more about this federal benefit here.
Food and Nutrition
Many seniors struggle to feed themselves, let alone to feed themselves healthy, balanced meals. If your elderly parents are subsisting on a low income, they may be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through CalFresh. If eligible, they’ll receive funds through a debit card system that they can apply toward their regular groceries. Find out how you can get started applying for nutrition assistance here.
Social Security assistance is based on an individual’s work history and whether they paid into Social Security in the past. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is an additional benefit for senior citizens who currently meet the low-income threshold, helping recipients further relieve financial stress. Click here to calculate your parents’ estimated Social Security benefits, and learn more about SSI benefits here.
Medicaid covers some home care services, and there are local organizations throughout California that can help cover the costs of a caregiver or other assistance as needed. Institute on Aging offers home care services in the San Francisco Bay Area and a wide range of programs and resources to help older adults age in place safely and comfortably.
Overcoming the Barriers to Financial Help and Stability for Seniors
With the range of programs and opportunities for relief available, it’s unfortunate that many aging adults do not realize the benefits of these resources. Common reasons seniors do not participate in federal and state assistance programs include:
- They don’t know what’s available or what they qualify for.
- The benefits and services are difficult to access.
- The application processes are too complicated.
But, with your help, your elderly parents can overcome these barriers and create their own personalized financial strategy for the years to come. If new expenses arise that appear to be unmanageable, you’ll know that you can reach out to see if financial assistance is available.
Whether your parents are living on a limited income to begin with or the expenses simply pile up and outweigh the resources of retired living, the financial assistance in California is designed to help fill in these holes. With the right money management strategies and diversified, purposeful income sources, your elderly parents can move into their later years with confidence and freedom.
These empowered strategies will lighten your parents’ load and yours too. When your parents have meaningful tools and resources, you can feel more assured of their independence and security, and the time you spend together can be more about enjoying each other’s company than about financial worries and problem-solving.
Institute on Aging also offers reliable financial services to give aging adults peace of mind. To find out about this program or our other resources for seniors, caregivers, and families, give us a call today.