The Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency in the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, is one of the nation's largest
providers of home- and community-based care for older persons
and their caregivers. Our mission is to develop a comprehensive,
coordinated and cost-effective system of long-term care that
helps elderly individuals to maintain their dignity in their
homes and communities. Our mission statement also is to help
society prepare for an aging population.
Created in 1965 with the passage of the Older Americans Act (OAA), AoA is part of a federal, state, tribal and local partnership called the National Network on Aging. This network, serving about 7 million older persons and their caregivers, consists of 56 State Units on Aging; 655 Area Agencies on Aging; 233 Tribal and Native organizations; two organizations that serve Native Hawaiians; 29,000 service providers; and thousands of volunteers. These organizations provide assistance and services to older individuals and their families in urban, suburban, and rural areas throughout the United States.
While all older Americans may receive services, the OAA targets those older individuals who are in greatest economic and social need: the poor, the isolated, and those elders disadvantaged by social or health disparities.
Services Funded By The OAA
There are six core services funded by the OAA including:
Supportive services, which enable communities to provide
rides to medical appointments, and grocery and drug stores. Supportive
services provide handyman, chore and personal care services so
that older persons can stay in their homes. These services extend
to community services such as adult day care and information and
assistance as well.
Nutrition services, which include more than a meal. Since
its creation, the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program has provided
nearly 6 billion meals for at-risk older persons. Each day in
communities across America, senior citizens come together in senior
centers or other group settings to share a meal, as well as comradery
and friendship. Nutrition services also provide nutrition education,
health screenings, and counseling at senior centers. Homebound
seniors are able to remain in their homes largely because of the
daily delivery of a hot meal, sometimes by a senior volunteer
who is their only visitor. March 2002, marked the 30th anniversary
of the OAA Nutrition Program, and AoA will be celebrating this
successful community-based service throughout the year.
Preventive health services, which educate and enable older
persons to make healthy lifestyle choices. Every year, illness
and disability that result from chronic disease affects the quality
of life for millions of older adults and their caregivers. Many
chronic diseases can be prevented through healthy lifestyles,
physical activity, appropriate diet and nutrition, smoking cessation,
active and meaningful social engagement, and regular screenings.
The ultimate goal of the OAA health promotion and disease prevention
services is to increase the quality and years of healthy life.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP),
which was funded for the first time in 2000, is a significant
addition to the OAA. It was created to help the millions of people
who provide the primary care for spouses, parents, older relatives
and friends. The program includes information to caregivers about
available services; assistance to caregivers in gaining access
to services; individual counseling, organization of support groups
and caregiver training to assist caregivers in making decisions
and solving problems relating to their caregiving roles; and supplemental
services to complement care provided by caregivers.
The program also recognizes the needs of grandparents caring for grandchildren and for caregivers of those 18 and under with mental retardation or developmental difficulties and the diverse needs of Native Americans.
Services that protect the rights of vulnerable older persons,
which are designed to empower older persons and their family members
to detect and prevent elder abuse and consumer fraud as well as
to enhance the physical, mental, emotional and financial well-being
of America's elderly. These services include, for example, pension
counseling programs that help older Americans access their pensions
and make informed insurance and health care choices; long-term
care ombudsman programs that serve to investigate and resolve
complaints made by or for residents of nursing, board and care,
and similar adult homes. AoA supports the training of thousands
of paid and volunteer long-term care ombudsmen, insurance counselors,
and other professionals who assist with reporting waste, fraud,
and abuse in nursing homes and other settings; and senior Medicare
patrol projects, which operate in 47 states, plus the District
of Columbia and Puerto Rico. AoA awards grants to state units
on aging, area agencies on aging, and community organizations
to train senior volunteers how to educate older Americans to take
a more active role in monitoring and understanding their health
Services to Native Americans, which include nutrition
and supportive services designed to meet the unique cultural and
social traditions of tribal and native organizations and organizations
serving Native Hawaiians. Native American elders are among the
most disadvantaged groups in the country.
Additionally, AoA supports the Eldercare Locator, a national
toll-free service to help callers find services and resources
in their own communities or throughout the country. That number