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The Older Americans Act OAA , originally enacted in , supports a range of home and community-based services, such as meals-on-wheels and other nutrition programs, in-home services, transportation, legal services, elder abuse prevention and caregivers support.

Lawmakers can strengthen this vital program

These programs help seniors stay as independent as possible in their homes and communities. In addition, OAA services help seniors avoid hospitalization and nursing home care and, as a result, save federal and state funds that otherwise would be spent on such care. The intent of the OAA is to promote the dignity of older adults by providing services and supports that enable them to remain independent and engaged citizens within their communities. The original OAA established the Administration on Aging AoA and the aging services network that provides essential home and community-based supportive services.

OAA funding is distributed to 56 state agencies, over tribal organizations, two native Hawaiian organizations, more than area agencies on aging and 20, local service providers. While the program is open to older individuals, generally defined as 60 and older, it focuses on offering assistance to persons with the greatest social or economic need, such as low-income or minority persons, older individuals with limited English proficiency, and older persons residing in rural areas.

Most services do not require means testing or copayments, but donations may be requested and some newer programs may have cost sharing on a sliding scale.

Older Americans Act - Generations United

Unfortunately, years of limited funding have restricted access to OAA services, resulting in waiting lists for many of these essential programs. There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. More in Healthcare Professionals. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback!

Email Address Sign Up There was an error. What are your concerns? Article Sources. Fox-Grage, Wendy and Uivari, Kathleen. Government Accountability Office. GAO, February Continue Reading. Adult Day Services Rules and Regulations. What Is a Nutritionist?

Another Look at the Numbers: Legal Services And Older Americans Act Reauthorization

Geriatric Care Manager Job Description. What Is Meaningful Use Stage 2? Although the amendments consolidated the various service programs under one program umbrella, Congress maintained separate authorization of appropriations for supportive services and nutrition services. Although the amendments made no structural change in the organization of the Title III services program, they significantly expanded certain service components of the state and area agency on aging program to address the special needs of certain populations of the elderly, including the frail elderly living at home, residents of long-term care facilities, and persons at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

The law added 6 additional distinct authorizations of appropriations for services under Title III, as follows: in-home services for frail older individuals; long-term care ombudsman services; assistance to older persons with special needs; health education and promotion services; services to prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older individuals; and outreach activities for persons who may be eligible for benefits under the Supplemental Security Income SSI , medicaid, and food stamp programs.

Although state and area agencies on aging had some responsibilities to address these service areas, there was no separate authorization of funds under Title III to carry out these responsibilities prior to the amendments. The amendments modified the structure of the Title III program through a series of changes designed to promote services that protect the rights, autonomy, and independence of older persons.

Programs shifted from Title III to the new Title VII included the long-term care ombudsman program; services to prevent abuse, neglect, or exploitation; and state legal assistance development services. This program is designed to assist older persons to secure certain rights to which they may be entitled under other public programs and to obtain assistance under private programs. In addition to creation of a new elder rights title, the amendments added two new service components to Title III: school-based meals for volunteer older individuals and multigenerational programs; and supportive activities for caretakers who provide in-home services to frail older individuals.

Major functions of state and area agencies on aging include planning and coordinating services on behalf of the elderly and acting as their advocates. The goal of the program as set forth in the legislation is to develop a comprehensive service system designed to assist older individuals maintain maximum independence, to remove barriers to economic and personal independence, and to provide a continuum of care for the vulnerable elderly.

The program supports 57 state agencies on aging and area agencies on aging. State and area agencies on aging administer Title III service funds in addition to substantial funding from other federal, state, and local sources. In order to be eligible for funds under Title III, each state is required to designate a state agency on aging to be responsible for developing a state plan on aging to be administered within the state.

Older Americans Act

State agencies on aging may be either independent agencies within state government reporting directly to the governor, or units located within larger state human resources agencies. A little more than half of state agencies on aging are independent, single-purpose agencies, and the balance are located within a multipurpose agency. As part of its responsibilities, the state agency is required to divide the state into planning and service areas and to designate area agencies on aging that, in turn, are to be responsible for community planning, coordination of services, and development of supportive and nutrition services within their respective areas.

In designating planning and service areas within the state, the state agency must consider the following factors: the geographic distribution of persons 60 years and over; the areawide need for supportive and nutrition services, multipurpose service centers and legal assistance; the distribution of older persons with greatest economic and social need with particular attention to low-income minority older persons , and of older Native American Indians; existing boundaries designated for the planning and administration of other supportive services programs; and the location of units of general purpose local government within the state.

A state may designate as a planning and service area any unit of general purpose local government representing a population of , or more. Upon approval of the Commissioner on Aging, planning and service areas may cross state boundaries, including instances in which an Indian reservation is located across state boundaries.

Indian reservations and, in certain limited circumstances, entire states, may constitute a single planning and service area. In FY , there were planning and service areas, including 11 single planning and service areas covering whole states or territories.


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In designating an area agency, the state agency must give preference to an established office on aging unless said agency does not have the capacity to carry out the area plan. Other entities specified by law for designation as area agencies include: an office of general purpose local government or any combination of units of general purpose local government designated by local officials, and any other public or nonprofit agency that can conduct planning activities and provide services supported by Title III. When an area agency is part of another organization, the designated unit must function only as the area agency and be an identifiable unit within the organization.

When designating any new area agencies after October 9, , state agencies are required to give the right of first refusal to units of general purpose local government if these units otherwise meet the requirements of the law, and if the boundaries of the unit and the planning and services area are reasonably contiguous. About 40 percent of the area agencies are private, nonprofit organizations.

The goals of Title III programs are as follows:

About a quarter are located in councils of government, slightly more than a quarter are public agencies, and the remainder are other entities. State and area agencies are required to develop plans on aging on a 2-, 3-, or 4-year basis as determined by the state agency. The plans must comply with requirements set forth by federal law and regulation. The Commissioner on Aging approves state plans, and state agencies approve plans developed by area agencies. In general, plans are to set forth goals and objectives as to how state and area agencies will implement the Title III program and coordinate service programs on behalf of the elderly.

Among other things, state agencies are required by law to: 1. Area agencies on aging are responsible for the administration of Title III funds and for coordinating all services and programs for the elderly within their respective planning and service areas.