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California Office on Aging locations and assistance programs for seniors.

Seniors often have a number of unique needs, and the programs offered by the California Area Office on Aging offer a number of resources and services that can be used to help. People over 55, elderly, senior citizens and the disabled in California are the primary beneficiaries of the various programs and services provided by this non-profit organization. A summary of the various assistance programs administered are below.

Traditional Free Legal Assistance may be provided to eligible individuals who are 60 years of age and older. Applicants need to have qualified social and economic needs in order to receive help from this program. This valuable service is provided by a partnership between the Area Agency on Aging, the California State Bar, and volunteer attorneys.

Other services provided by this free legal aid program include monthly community legal education seminars at selected sites, consultation at senior center sites, and free or low cost in-home consultations  between attorneys and senior or disabled individuals who are confined to their home. Legal issues that can be addressed need to be civil (not criminal) and can include issues such as consumer debt, housing/evictions, illegal terminations, consumer fraud, domestic, and more.

Food, nutrition, and the home delivered meals program can help seniors and home-bound individuals in California. When food and meals are delivered to an individual on a weekly or daily basis, it not only provides seniors with support and helps them meet their nutritional needs, but it also serves as a mechanism for the person delivering the food to check up on the senior and provide companionship. While the meals are delivered for free and it does not require seniors to pay any money, a small donation of a few dollars is appreciated.

Individuals 55 years of age and older may be able to get a job from the Senior Community Service Employment Program. Case managers from the local Office on Aging centers will partner with local non-profit and public agencies in California. It can provide senior participants with subsidized jobs, on-the-job training experiences, or other support that can help them gain and learn new job skills. SCSEP’S primary goal is to equip older workers and people over 55 with new or enhanced job skills to enable them transition into full time unsubsidized employment.




To qualify for this job program, a person must be at least fifty-five (55) years of age, an unemployed resident  of California, and they also need to meet established federal government low-income guidelines. The primary purpose of the Senior Community Services Employment Program is to offer candidates a temporary way to get back into the work force. Positions offered within the program are not meant to be permanent employment, but rather they are part time positions that could potentially lead to full time jobs.

Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy is provided by trained volunteers that work with the Area California Agency on Aging. The program, also known as HICAP, provides seniors with community education, information and counseling assistance with Medicare and related health insurance issues and government programs. So senior citizens and others can receive advice on dealing with medical bills and debts or free health care services through advocacy or legal representation.

HICAP specializes in providing information and assistance with applying for programs such as Medicare Prescription Drug coverage, Medi-Cal, Medicare and related Advantage Plans. All services are offered free of charge. Also get help in dealing with other related health insurance and medical billing issues as well as Medicare counseling for beneficiaries.

Counselors that are registered with the state of California offer objective information to help elderly and seniors, as well as other Medi-Cal and Medicare beneficiaries, make good health care decisions and access the services they need. When problems arise at any part of this process, HICAP counselors can help resolve them. Along with local individual counseling, the program also offers community education presentations.





Information and assistance is always a key service provided by Area Agency on Aging centers. Highly trained staff provide information as well as assistance in applying for programs. Follow-up is also offered and can link older persons and their families to specific community services in California. Examples of services provided can be information on federal government utility assistance programs, emergency housing and rent, food stamps, and other public aid.

Multipurpose Senior Services Program may be able to provide social and health case management to assist persons aged 65 and over. The client needs to be eligible for Medi-Cal and certifiable for skilled nursing care, and they can access services to help them remain safely at home.

California Elderly Nutrition Program can provide meals and other nutrition services to older individuals in California. It can help people live independently by promoting better health through improved nutrition, high quality food, and also reduce isolation through programs coordinated with nutrition-related supportive services. Meals are offered in both senior centers and can be delivered to someone’s home.

Applicants need to be age 60 or older, a disabled individual who resides at home and accompanies an older individual who participates in the program, spouses of older individuals are supported, and another group that can qualify is a person with a disability, under age sixty (60), who resides in housing facilities occupied primarily by older individuals at which congregate nutrition services are provided.

Home-delivered food, groceries and hot meals may be provided by some Area Agency on Aging locations to any older individual who is 60 or older, homebound by reason of disability, illness, or isolation, or who is frail. Spouses may also qualify, as well as an individual with a disability who resides at home with older individuals.

Surplus food distribution is a unique program offered by some offices in California that collects and distributes surplus food to those in need. Most of the perishable or commodity items are free to the needy.

Multipurpose Senior Services Program can help prevent or delay the inappropriate placement of persons into nursing homes or facilities. Various assistance programs and services are offered to eligible clients and their families which will enable them to remain in their homes.

An assessment will need to occur to determine what is needed. If qualified, some of the services provided by MSSP include personal hygiene, basic housekeeping chores, personal health care chores, transportation to non-emergency medical appointments, and grocery shopping.

In-Home Supportive Services is another option for seniors. It is a federal government, state of California and locally funded program that was designed to help pay for services and bills that can be incurred that have to do with keeping older people in their own home. To be eligible for assistance paying for personal care in your home you must be a low income individual with who is aged (over 65), and blind or disabled persons of any age. Also, disabled children are eligible for IHSS. This federal government program is considered an alternative to out-of-home care, such as care facilities, nursing homes or other boarding homes.







Some of the types of bills and expenses that can be authorized and paid for by IHSS are grocery shopping, housecleaning, laundry, personal care services (such as bowel and bladder care, bathing, grooming and paramedical services), meal preparation, accompaniment to medical appointments, and protective supervision for the disabled and mentally impaired.

California State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is an Agency on Aging service that help seniors helps and will answer health insurance questions, including Medicare, California plans, and Medicaid. Also get help in dealing with medical billing issues, including potential fraud. The service is free, residents can expect to get accurate, unbiased and current information. More on Senior Health Insurance Program - SHIP.

Many Office on Aging locations in California also serve as cooling centers. During the summer months, senior citizens, disabled, and others who are most vulnerable to the heat may be able to find relief at cooling centers across California. Many centers also have staff that can assist people with applying for government programs that can help pay utility and air conditioning bills. There are plenty of cooling centers offering air conditioning, cold water, refreshments and activities close to home and the centers are free to use.

Transportation can be provided to seniors in the community. This includes non-emergency medical transportation to social services, doctor appointment, health providers, and grocery stores. Rides can also be coordinated by Agency on Aging offices for qualified clients who do not have means or money to pay for expensive transportation.

Meal services are offered at many non-profit organizations and Agency on Aging centers in California. Free food is passed out in a congregate setting, and spouses are able to attend as well. The meals will be hot, healthy, and meet a senior’s nutritional need.

Chore and Personal Care Assistance is offered to elderly persons who need outside help to maintain independent living. This means that senior citizens can receive help with household tasks, and personal care provides assistance to maintain personal safety, bodily hygiene, and provide support for the activities of daily living.

Senior housing assistance – This may include temporary lodging expenses (motel or hotel vouchers), provision of assistive devices or physical adaptations, rent help for emergency assistance in situations that demand relocation, and assistance in paying for and restoring utility services.

General social services includes activities such as money management, social reassurance / friendly visiting, bill paying services, individual or group counseling, and more.

Energy Crisis Intervention Program and weatherization can help low income senior citizens and disabled with their energy-related bill and conservation. The federal government and state of California Home Energy Assistance Program provides financial assistance and cash grants to qualified elderly households to offset the cost of paying for their heating and/or cooling bills. Your local agency on aging office can accept and process applications for energy assistance and weatherization.





Senior Companion is another California program. Volunteers can help older adults who need extra assistance or attention, and services can help them live independently. A focus is on frail older adults, homebound seniors, adults with disabilities, people with terminal illnesses, and the program can also offer respite for caregivers. Assistance is offered at multipurpose senior centers, private homes, nutrition sites, and skilled nursing facilities. Seniors can receive assistance with tasks such as shopping and meal preparation, transportation to medical appointments, help for simple chores, and volunteers offer general companionship and friendship.

Area Agency on Aging offices in California

Local county and city locations are below. Or for referrals to more services and to find a local office, call the California Department of Aging at (800) 510-2020.

Alameda, telephone (510) 577-1900
Alpine, (209) 532-6272
Amador, (209) 532-6272
Butte, (530) 898-5923
Calaveras, (209) 532-6272
Colusa, (530) 898-5923
Contra Costa, main number (925) 229-8434
Del Norte, (707) 442-3763
El Dorado, (530) 621-6150
Fresno, (559) 600-4405
Glenn, (530) 898-5923
Humboldt, (707) 442-3763
Imperial, (760) 339-6450
Inyo, call (760) 873-6364 for information
Kern, (661) 868-1000
Kings, (559) 582-3211, ext. 2824
Lake, (707) 262-4517
Lassen, (530) 842-1687
Los Angeles County : Either try Los Angeles (City), dial (213) 252-4000 or another option is Los Angeles (County), (213) 738-4004. Or read more on Community Services in Los Angeles for seniors.
Madera, dial (559) 600-4405
Marin, (415) 499-7396
Mariposa, (209) 532-6272
Mendocino, call (707) 262-4517 for information
Merced, call (209) 385-7550
Modoc, (530) 842-1687
Mono, (760) 873-6364
Monterey, (831) 755-3403
Napa, primary phone (707) 644-6612
Nevada, (916) 486-1876
Orange, call (714) 567-7500 for intake
Placer, (916) 486-1876
Plumas, (530) 898-5923
Riverside, dial (951) 867-3800
Sacramento, seniors should call (916) 486-1876
San Benito, (831) 688-0400
San Bernardino, (909) 891-3900
San Diego, phone (858) 495-5885
San Francisco, primary phone (415) 355-3555
San Joaquin, (209) 468-2202
San Luis Obispo, main number is (805) 925-9554
San Mateo, (650) 573-2700
Santa Barbara, (805) 925-9554
Santa Clara, (408) 296-8290
Santa Cruz, (831) 688-0400
Shasta, dial the agency at (530) 842-1687
Sierra, call (916) 486-1876 for intake
Siskiyou, (530) 842-1687
Solano, (707) 644-6612





Sonoma, (707) 565-5950
Stanislaus, (209) 558-8698
Sutter, (916) 486-1876
Tehama, phone number (530) 898-5923
Trinity, dial (530) 842-1687
Tulare, (559) 730-2553 or dial (800) 321-2462
Tuolumne, (209) 532-6272
Ventura, (805) 477-7300
Yolo, (916) 486-1876
Yuba, call (916) 486-1876


By Jon McNamara

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