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6 Ways to Help Elderly Parents Who Have Run Out of Money

One hundred years ago, when the first babies of “The Silent Generation” were born, the life expectancy for men was 64, and the life expectancy for women was 49. Now, the life expectancy for men is 73.5, and for women is 79. 

In other words, retirement (and “old age” itself) lasts much longer than it once did. 

The elderly have seen many major structural and societal changes in their lifetimes, and many of them are fortunate enough to reach old age but, unfortunately, don’t always have the finances to support their golden years.

Financial struggles can be especially difficult for elderly people, when they can’t work and are prone to health problems.That said, there are many ways to aid an elderly family member or parent who is dealing with financial hardship. 

You don’t have to handle your circumstances alone– there are many programs out there that can help.

Key Takeaways

  • There is help available for older adults who have run out of money, if you know where to look.
  • The government has many programs that help with needs like healthcare, housing, food, and energy bills.
  • Your local community offers hubs of information like libraries, city hall, and the parks district.
  • If your parents own a home, you can downsize it or even rent out part of it.

Many programs offer help with paying for prescriptions and other expensive medical fees.

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Research Government Assistance Programs

As a tax-paying U.S. citizen, your parents have access to a wide variety of government programs that can help make sure that even if you’re having trouble with money right now, your parents will receive the housing, food, healthcare, and living expenses help that they are entitled to.

Senior-Friendly Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers low-cost living that is based on your income. 

The government provides homes that are already prepared with accessibility options like ramps and bedrails, and the rent you pay is based on 30% of your income. 

A government housing counselor can talk to you about your options.

Home Repairs

If your parent’s home needs to be updated or requires expensive repairs, then you might qualify for a USDA loan or grant. Check out this page to learn more about requirements and rewards given.

Help Paying the Bills

Are you worried about your parents paying the bills? The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal program that helps elderly people pay for their energy bills and also can offer help with things like:

  • Winterizing your home 
  • Installing climate control like A/C and heating 
  • Taking care of energy-related home repairs

Fresh Produce

A program called Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program from the USDA helps both local farmers and seniors by connecting low-income seniors with locally-grown, healthy fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey.

Monthly Food Packages

The USDA also has a program called the Commodity Supplemental Food Program which delivers healthy foods via package to elderly people every month.

Help for Vision- or Hearing-Impaired People

If your elderly parent has significant vision or hearing loss, then you may be eligible for aid from iCanConnect, which is officially known as The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP). 

This program offers many useful benefits like tablets, smart phones, training, and other resources that allow area agency for older adults. 

You can apply here, or get an application from your doctor.

Financial Aid

Social Security offers many benefits for elderly people and their families in the form of:

  • Income for retired people
  • Income for disabled people
  • Payments for the surviving loved ones of someone who paid Social Security and passed away

Tax Help

Your elderly parent may also be eligible for tax benefits from the IRS. Check out Publication 524, tax credit for the elderly or disabled.

Check if You Are Missing Out on Benefits!

The website Benefits Checkup allows you to enter in a few details about yourself, then it lets you know if you are missing out on any opportunities for government benefits that you might not know about. 

Explore Community Resources

There also may be more information about senior care at local community spots around your area. For example:

  • Stop by your local City Hall and discuss how they might be able to answer questions about estate planning, elder law attorney help, life insurance policies, and more.
  • Your community’s Parks District, which is usually located in a government building, also offers resources such as socialization opportunities, lectures about government benefits, contact with nonprofits, advice for caregivers, and more.
  • Your local librarian can answer many questions about meetings, lectures, support groups, and more. Ask them for the information of a low-cost financial advisor who can point you in the right direction.
  • You don’t need to be living in a senior living community to seek out resources from one. Assisted living facilities often carry a wealth of information that they will usually be happy to share with you if you ask.

Maximize Social Security Benefits

How much money you get monthly from Social Security can vary widely in terms of long-term care insurance. You can use this quick calculator to see how much you can expect to get. Some ways that you can maximize your benefits from social security can include:

  • Claim dependents if you are responsible for anyone under the age of 19.
  • Claim benefits for a spouse, ex-spouse, or deceased spouse
  • If your parents have a spouse, ex-spouse, or recently deceased spouse who had better benefits than them, then you might be able to claim their benefits instead of your own and thus earn more.
  • In worst-case scenarios, you are able to work longer and thus earn more, or even go back to work if you only retired under a year ago, then that can increase your social security check as well.

Consider Downsizing or Renting out Space

Sometimes elderly people live in family homes that are, now, too large for them. 

Open the conversation with your parents about selling the home and moving somewhere smaller, or maybe even renovating and renting out part of the home. 

Look Into Prescription Assistance Programs

If you are specifically looking for help with healthcare and medication costs, here are a few more resources. 

Income-Based Medical Care

If you didn’t already know, Medicaid offers all sorts of helpful aid related to health for seniors. They can cover medications, medical care, and even in-home care, memory care, nursing home care services, or home healthcare for those who need it. 

Medicaid is need-based, so you can qualify for different care options based on your income.

Age- and Disability-Based Medical Care

While Medicaid is for anyone who meets a certain income threshold, Medicare is for people who are disabled or who are over 65. What Medicare covers will depend largely on your circumstances and needs, but some things that it can pay for include:

  • Hospital fees
  • Medical equipment, outpatient care, x-rays, MRIs and other similar tests, and doctor’s fees
  • Drugs that you are prescribed

Medicare “Extra Help” Option

If you have low income and low resources, then you can qualify for “extra help” in the Medicare program, which helps you pay for copayments for prescription medication.

Re-Apply for Medicare During The Open Enrollment Period

If your financial or health situation has changed, it can help to re-apply for Medicare during the Open Enrollment period, which is from October 15th to December 7th each year. This might grant you access to different medications.

Patient Assistance Programs (PAP)

Patient Assistance Programs are run by drug manufacturers and they offer lower-cost generic brand medications to those who need them. 

If there is a specific medication you need help with, then find out who manufactures that drug, and search for the name of the pharmaceutical company followed by “patient assistance program.”


This list gives the names and contact information of charities that help seniors pay for medical costs and prescription fees.

The charities on this list support chronic illnesses, cancer, or rare diseases. 

Don’t Get Discouraged

Caregiving for a parent or older adult can feel very lonely at times. Plus, aging can be expensive! 

But if you put the time and organization into finding and contacting resources, then you will find the financial help that your parents need.

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