Under the Older Americans Act, the Administration on Aging (AoA) is designated as the federal focal point and advocate agency for older persons. AoA works closely with a nationwide network of tribal, state, and local programs on aging to plan, coordinate, and develop community-level systems of services that meet the unique needs of older persons and their caregivers. Programs are targeted to older Americans in the greatest economic and social need, with particular attention to low-income minorities and individuals residing in rural areas. The Aging Service Provider Network includes 56 state and territorial units on aging, 655 area agencies on aging, 243 tribal organizations, and 29,000 service providers. The health promotion and disease prevention goals of AoA are the following:
- Make it easier for older people to access an integrated array of health and social supports.
- Help older people stay active and healthy.
- Support families in their efforts to care for their loved ones at home and in the community.
The health-related programs include the national Elderly Nutrition Program that provides congregate and home-delivered meals to more than 2.7 million elderly participants aged 60 and older. The program is intended to improve the dietary intakes of participants and to offer opportunities to form new friendships and to create informal support networks. The program also provides nutrition screening, assessment, education, and counseling to help older participants meet their health and nutrition needs, which may include special health assessments for such diseases as hypertension and diabetes.
The preventive health service program targets the medically underserved areas of each state where large numbers of elderly with the greatest economic need for services reside. Services include health risk assessments and screenings (e.g., glaucoma and vision), health promotion, fitness and exercise, injury control, mental health, medication management, and other education and counseling efforts. The National Family Caregiver Support Program has reached out to more than 3.8 million individuals with information about caregiver programs and services. The program provided assistance in accessing services to approximately 436,000 caregivers, significantly exceeding the agency target of 250,000 caregivers. It served almost 180,000 caregivers with counseling and training services and provided respite to more than 70,000 caregivers. Also, the Native American and American Indian tribal organizations have a program where at least 4,230 caregivers received one or more caregiver support services.
AoA, through the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging, funded a multisite demonstration project to implement and evaluate the “Eat Better, Move More” Community Guide. Ten grantees were selected, and these sites represented local programs that were large and small; were urban, rural, and suburban; were racially and ethnically diverse; and included individuals with mobility problems. Programs were implemented in a variety of settings, such as senior centers, senior housing, and community centers. Approximately 500 to 600 older adults finished the program. The Center is in the final stages of data compilation and analysis. Preliminary results indicate that there were significant changes in nutrition, physical activity, and stages of change.
AoA-awarded Evidence-Based Prevention Program for the Elderly grants, totaling more than $2 million as part of a public/private partnership to increase access for older people to programs, have proven to be effective in reducing the risk of disease, injury, and disability. The partnership involves a variety of federal agencies and private foundations that are coordinating their efforts to help implement evidence-based prevention programs through aging-services providers at the community level. The areas of focus include disease self-management, nutrition, physical activity, falls prevention, and medication management. The Evidence-Based Prevention Program for the Elderly grants are in their second year of a three-year cycle.
Area agencies on aging also fund a wide range of home- and community-based services that are non-health-related, such as access, in-home, and home repair, which assist older persons in their efforts to remain in their own homes. AoA funds a toll-free service (1–800–677–1116) to assist callers with information about programs and services in their own community. AoA maintains a website that contains information for professionals and consumers: www.aoa.gov.
One Massachusetts Ave. NW, Room 5712
To access state and local aging organizations serving your area, call the AoA National Elder Care Locator at 1–800–677–1116.
See the description above on programs and services.
For information about available printed materials, as well as other resources, contact the Aging Information and Resource Services Library. They house an extensive collection of current and historical aging-related resource and reference materials. The library can be reached at 202–357–3565, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.