There are almost 16,000 seniors living in the Fort Myers, Florida, area, and at some point most of these residents or their loved ones will start looking for age-related support and resources. Easy access to these resources is a primary contributor to successful senior independence, but locating those resources can be challenging.
In Fort Myers, the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL) fills this need for adults ages 60 and up living in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota counties.
AAASWFL is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Southwest Florida seniors and their caregivers connect with local resources like elder care, adult day care, housing assistance, home care, meals, housekeeping, legal assistance, personal care, and volunteer opportunities.
AAASWFL is fulfilling its mission of “connecting older adults and adults with disabilities to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity” by providing the following services to the communities they touch:
The Elder Helpline
The Elder Helpline is step one for finding aging, disability, and caregiver resources. Helpline specialists can answer questions, refer callers to local services, and explain how to access those services.
Helpline staff is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Eastern time. Staff can assist callers in English, Spanish, and many other languages.
Home- and Community-Based Care
AAASWFL helps eligible adults ages 60 and older and adults with disabilities find long-term, government-funded home and community care services, including:
- Adult day care
- Personal care
- Case management
- Home-delivered meals
- Congregate meals
- Nutrition education
- Caregiver training, support, and respite
- Home health aid
- Legal assistance
- Shopping assistance
SHINE Medicare Counseling
The Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE) program pairs seniors with trained counselors who help them navigate Medicare and make the best decisions about coverage.
AAASWFL’s SHINE volunteers are trained to help seniors by:
- Offering guidance on important Medicare decisions
- Helping evaluate Medicare coverage
- Screening for cost savings programs
- Assisting with claims and appeals
Health and Wellness
AAASWFL offers health and wellness programs that are designed to help adults 60 and older engage in education and activities. Some popular programs they offer include:
- Chronic Disease Self-Management
- A Matter of Balance
- Tai Chi
- Walk with Ease
- Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program
- Caregiver Support
To find a health and wellness class in your region, call the AAASWFL Elder Helpline at 866-413-5337 (866-41-ELDER).
You can also check the events calendar to learn about upcoming classes in your area.
Elder Abuse Education and Prevention
AAASWFL provides elder abuse education training to local seniors and caregivers.
If you suspect elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, call the Florida Abuse hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.
AAASWFL offers respite care services for family members and loved ones who provide long-term care for medically vulnerable seniors. Respite services let caregivers recharge so that they are able to provide the highest level of care for their loved one.
You can learn more about respite care through the Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ RELIEF program and the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative.
Hurricanes are a reality here in Florida, so it’s crucial for seniors to be prepared in case of an emergency. AAASWFL’s emergency preparedness resources — including hurricane tips and where to turn for disaster assistance if you have special medical needs — will help you prepare for many different kinds of disasters so that you can stay calm in the event of an emergency.
Seniors and their caregivers have a unique set of needs, but getting access to the appropriate resources can be challenging if you don’t know where to look. The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida offers a wealth of services and information to help older residents of Fort Myers and surrounding areas of Southwest Florida live safely and independently.
If you would like to learn about additional senior-centered resources and activities in the region, check out this great article: 10 Helpful Services for Seniors in Fort Myers, FL.