The world of Aging Services is large, complicated, and can be overwhelming. It is difficult to understand where to go, what agency does what, and how to access assistance for your parents.
Here’s a bird’s eye view of what’s what:
The Older Americans Act (OAA)
Initiated in 1965, the OAA has been the cornerstone of home and community based services* for aging Americans. The OAA provides funding to states for services that support aging persons who are at risk of losing their independence and may face nursing home placement. The OAA has been amended 15 times. Those amendments have expanded services, increased local control and responsibility, and added more protections for the elderly. It is currently up for renewal.
The Aging Network
The Aging Network is made up of federal, state, and local agencies working together to implement the requirements established in the OAA. The US Administration on Aging (AoA) is at the center of the network. There are 56 State and Territorial Agencies on Aging, and at the local level there are 629 local Area Agencies on Aging, 246 Title VI Native American and Native Hawaiian aging programs, and over 30,000 service provider organizations.
Each year The Aging Network provides more than 8 million older Americans receive nutrition, in-home care, transportation, disease prevention/health promotion, long-term care ombudsman, senior employment, and other independence supporting service.
National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)
Added to the OAA in 2000, the NFCSP provides grants to the Aging Network to help family members who are caring for loved ones with disabilities, illness, or who are aging.
Local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)
Local AAAs are often the entry point to services. They provide assessment for services, determine eligibility, authorize and/or purchase services and provide service oversight and monitoring. Because of their vast knowledge of local communities and resources, your local AAA is the very best place to start when seeking resources for your elderly parents.
*Home and Community Based Services are those services provided in the natural home/community setting. These services are geared toward the aging, those with disabilities, and veterans, and designed to avoid long-term facility placement.