A need for temporary financial help can happen suddenly. Sometimes serious circumstances come up in life in which assistance is necessary, including as we age. Even those who thought they had made careful financial plans may find themselves needing a little short-term help.
Sometimes something happens and saving for retirement is not quite enough. You may have been told by others to have a garage sale, sell assets, ask family for a temporary or permanent loan, even donate blood. These are all helpful short-term. But there are many other resources you can tap into too. Besides federal public benefits, assistance can be found through local sectors and private organizations.
Both state and city governments are aware of the high cost when subsidizing seniors in assisted living or nursing homes, and find it more cost-effective to help people remain at home for as long as possible. So various programs are provided or coordinated with agencies and non-profit organizations.
Here are more of our findings for senior assistance, for a variety of needs. The care of elderly can sometimes feel overwhelming, and extra assistance can help. Programs will differ in various states and counties, so this is just a basic guideline.
It is always amazing to me how many services and temporary financial help are offered through individual cities. I live in a relatively small city, yet there are a vast number of helpful services available. It is likely that your town also has a community action office. These are usually private, non-profit organizations.
They may offer help in such areas as:
Emergency cash; small loans. Home repair and painting (since cities have ordinances mandating home upkeep). Food shelves; free weekly community meals where folks can socialize. Emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing. Short-term counseling; bus tokens or free transportation; free gently-used clothing and access to thrift shops; vouchers for various city services; referrals to other free local services.
Your city may also have volunteer or low-cost services provided by organizations for personal emergency device assistance, homemaking and housekeeping, hospice, and telephone reassurance.
Also call your utility company to see if they have temporary programs such as heating assistance. Make sure you ask them what documentation you must provide for an appointment or mail-in application.
Our town (and others I am familiar with) also has a private organization that provides temporary financial help through a one-time cash gift to those who are referred to them – by churches, senior centers, civic groups, etc. The money is for a specific purpose such as rent or mortgage assistance, bills, even emergency car repair. These groups are very low-key and you find out about them through networking and referral.
You can call your city hall if you don’t know where to start. Or you may already be familiar with a similar local community action center.
Almost all counties provide social services and various types of
temporary financial help. It depends on your county (and state). They
can be quite extensive, including:
Housing assistance, senior outreach and health, discount drug programs, special veteran’s services, senior transportation (especially for disabled), help to stay at home programs, free activities and transportation, food shelves and food delivery (i.e. Meals on Wheels in conjunction with given cities), financial medical assistance, long-term care waiver programs, companionship programs, and referrals to many other helpful sources and advocacy groups. You may also be able to get help with basic financial planning and how to make a budget.
You can look up your county social services online. In the search box, type in “social service” with your county, state. It will also be listed in the County section of the phone book.
Your state’s Department of Human Services will have valuable
programs and temporary financial help. These will vary from state to
state, depending on legislation and funding. Examples are:
Medical assistance and health care programs including for catastrophic illness, prescription drug assistance, family cash assistance, deaf and hard of hearing services, and adult daycare services.
Also Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as Food Stamps. Programs may overlap with county services.
State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) -- A
national elderly assistance program run by the state, offering
individual counseling and help to those on Medicare, and to their
families. Participate via phone, personal meetings, public
presentations, etc. Call Medicare at 1-800- 633-4227, or visit the web
Find help online by doing a search with your state and “Department of Human Services.” It is also listed in the State section of the phone book.
Many states also have an Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).
Free business help -- For those who need free help starting or maintaining a business (small or large), call your local chapter of SCORE – a volunteer network of retired executives in every state. They were established in the 1960’s and have assisted many millions of businesses. I have used their services and they’re extremely effective. They can also direct you to other local resources for additional help.
Private organizations provide various levels of temporary financial help. Most have many local chapters throughout the country. They emphasize respect and overall support, be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Many are non-profit, dependent largely on donations, and have strong networks of volunteers to help make their services possible.
Salvation Army -- The Salvation Army offers many means of temporary financial help and also has programs especially for seniors, age 55 and up. Programs differ with various locations. They may include day care, hot lunch, special senior residences; plus a variety of activities classes, post-retirement information, even senior camping.
United Way -- Has many programs especially for health and financial stability. Although much of their work is with children and working families, they do have some elderly assistance including tax assistance. Call the office in your area.
Local council of churches -- Most larger towns and cities have a local council of churches in which religious leaders from many traditions come together to help with the needs of the community. Temporary financial help will be available in different ways.
Some help with cash assistance. Services can overlap with food shelves and housing shelters, as well as energy assistance. They may operate a type of crisis assistance ministry. Your local place of worship can refer you as well. If you are not a member of one, many will be open to your phone call anyway.
Lutheran Social Services (LSS) -- This dedicated organization has offices in most states. They can provide temporary financial help with life basics such as food and shelter, health issues and safety. As a religious group, they also offer assistance with spiritual and emotional matters.
Catholic Charities USA -- This large organization, over 100 years old, helps millions of people each year, regardless of religion or background. They have many affiliates and agencies nationwide and do a lot of work on the local level. They’re very helpful with inquiries about their programs.
The Evangelical Good Samaritan Society -- This group was established in 1922 and is very experienced in helping the elderly. It has many offices around the country. They offer many options for housing and campus living, such as senior apartments and assisted living, memory care, therapy, skilled nursing, etc.
Local clinics and hospitals -- Many states have large networks of clinics and hospitals, some being non-profit. Often these groups have special funds for temporary financial help set aside for those who qualify. Free or low-cost services are available – and not just for standard doctor exams and immunizations.
Clinics could including CAT scans and MRI’s, xrays, blood work and other tests, counseling, etc. Prescription assistance or vouchers may be available. Religiously sponsored hospitals also often have funds set aside for temporary financial help.
If your Medicare benefits to not cover your needs and/or you have been putting off medical attention due to finances, be sure to specifically inquire with your local clinic and hospital about such programs.
Seeking temporary financial help often includes getting your personal and financial information together in advance. Call first, check brochures, etc., to find out exactly what documents you need to send in or bring into an appointment.
About Quick Money and Debt Help
Always be cautious of groups and companies (especially online) who offer you ways to re-finance your home (which you can then lose should you end up defaulting), or credit cards, or debt consolidation.
We have written more about these issues – see the links below. Also, if you are considering a payday advance loan, consider whether it is realistic for you to pay it back, and how you will do so. Otherwise, this type of temporary financial help can really backfire.
If you call your senior center or city hall, you may find volunteers who can give free advice to those who financially qualify, for basic financial matters and paying off debt. You may qualify for Legal Aid in your area, if needed.
Again, to find out about more temporary financial help in your area, you can also connect with:
Your local senior center
Your town hall
Your place of worship
Clubs and organizations you or friends and relatives belong to
Local clinics and hospitals
There may come a time when you or your loved ones are stabilized and able to give back. If you are not able to financially donate to organizations such as the ones mentioned, then do consider whether you are able to volunteer, even in a small way. At least spread the word so that others may do so. Every bit helps, as you may well know!