Many cities and towns are failing to support the kinds of simple, relatively cheap programs that could help older Americans avoid using formal long term care.

Researchers at the Maturing of America project have published data mapping the services gaps in a summary of results from a survey of about 10,000 local governments.

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Washington, is running the 5-group project team with financial backing from a foundation affiliated with MetLife Inc., New York.

Although many local governments provide or fund a wide array of services for older residents, project researchers found that only 55% of the communities surveyed provide or fund services that transport older residents to and from locations such as senior centers, grocery stores and pharmacies.

Only 33% of communities supply “door-to-door” transit services for the elderly.

Just 35% of communities deliver meals or finance meal delivery programs for the elderly, and just 33% help modify homes to accommodate the needs of elderly residents who have disabilities, the project researchers report.