Programs ranging from free food to grants for utility bills are available to seniors as well as the disabled from New Orleans Council on Aging. The agency operates across Jefferson and Orleans parish and focuses on addressing the sometimes unique needs of the older population.
The primary purpose of the NOCOA Nutrition Program is to provide appropriate hunger prevention services for senior citizens. Another objective is to address psychological, physical and social well-being and ensure that is maintained or improved.
Free meals are provided and they will be hot, freshly prepared, and meet one-third of the federal government funded USDA daily recommended dietary allowance as indicated by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Participants must reside in Orleans Parish, and be 60 years of age or older. If someone is applying to NOCOA and is younger than age 60, the individual must be the spouse of a participant who is over age sixty to be served a meal. Other food and meal services are available as well. These include the following.
Formerly known as Helping Hands, the Power to Care Utility Assistance Program from New Orleans Council on Aging supports qualifying senior and disabled residents with paying utility or air conditioning bills. Financial benefits are limited and dependent upon availability of funding.
Most of the aid is provided by the United Way of Greater New Orleans, Entergy, as well as through donations made by utility customers. Contributions from New Orleans ratepayers and employees are matched by the company, and all of this is used for paying utility bills.
NOCOA is administrator of Louisiana Answers and its Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), which offers free referrals to programs and access to other services that can help with unmet needs. In addition, ADRC staff members provide counseling as well as information in regard to Medicaid and Medicare. They answer questions and also assist with the enrollment process.
The Center will also have staff that give answers to questions about long-term care planning, tips on paying for medications, or suggestions on how to live with a disability. ADRC serves the parishes of Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard in Louisiana.
The SeniorRx Program provides adults aged 21 and older with access to free or discounted medications for their conditions. Additional services and referrals to other programs that can help with unmet needs are also available.
SCP, or the Senior Companion Program from New Orleans Council on Aging pairs senior or disabled adults who have difficulty performing the basic tasks of daily living with others from the community. They will serve as companions in exchange for a stipend.
Companions for SCP tend to be low-income seniors, aged 55 and over, who provide in-home assistance. The exact details range from personal care, advocacy or home management for the individual with whom they are paired. Specific services provided include shopping, light chores, meal preparation, escort to medical appointments, respite for caregivers, or just simply making a friendly visit. Senior companions are required to participate in pre-service training from NOCOA and must be free of criminal convictions.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program, or NFCSP, assists grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. There is also support for individuals in Jefferson Parish who are caring for elderly or developmentally disabled relatives. NFCSP collaborates with other community agencies in Orleans Parish that are serving seniors to ensure that caregivers have access to needed services to take care of themselves and to meet the needs of their loved ones. Program services include the following:
-Information in regard to available resources, Family Caregiver Educational Trainings, as well as support services.
-Individual and family counseling.
-Outreach to identify potential clients and provide referrals to appropriate government programs or social services.
-NOCOA will coordinate in-home respite to provide the caregiver with a break.
-Personal Care Assistance with grooming, toileting, bathing and so on.
The New Orleans Council on Aging Homemaker service takes care of light home maintenance tasks, such as cleaning and laundry. This is done in an effort to help Orleans Parish seniors aged 60 and older remain in their own homes. This programs helps the elderly who may not be able to perform household chores strengthen, maintain, and safeguard their personal health and ability to function.
While some elderly participants only require temporary assistance, the Homemaker Program is always available to them once enrolled, unless they pass away or withdraw from the program. Around two-thirds of the current participants would have likely been placed in nursing homes without this housekeeping assistance. Client selection from NOCOA is prioritized according to where the home is located in the city, the applicant’s age; physical health and condition; as well as the overall condition of the home.
Those from Orleans or Jefferson Parish who have questions about services and resources available to older adults are encouraged to call NOCOA’s Social Services Department. Staff at the center are trained to assist in finding the most current resources, information on benefits and services to help improve the quality of life of Orleans Parish residents over the age of sixty.
The New Orleans Council on Aging outreach workers make home visits to older adults who request the services of Meals on Wheels and the Homemaker Program. They also provide information on community resources in the city as well as Jefferson Parish that help older adults retain their independence.
The NOCOA Senior Centers abound with opportunities for older adults to socialize with peers as well as participate in interactive activities. All ages are welcome and encouraged to participate at these locations, especially youth, who are integral to a healthy and beneficial intergenerational exchange and a strong connection with elders. Senior Center activities vary, but may include dancing, exercise, card games, bingo and arts and crafts.
For more information on what New Orleans Council on Aging can offer to people in the parish or Jefferson, the office is at 2475 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70119, dial 504-821-4121.
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