In 1965, the Older American’s Act established a network of federal, state, and local agencies to plan and provide services that enable older adults to live independently in their homes and community. This is what the Aging Network is made up of:
The Aging Network
The Aging NetworkTo meet the diverse needs of the growing numbers of older persons in the United States, the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA), as amended, created the primary vehicle for organizing, coordinating and providing community-based services and opportunities for older Americans and their families. All individuals 60 years of age and older are eligible for services under the OAA, although priority attention is given to those who are in greatest need.
The OAA established a national network of federal, state, and local agencies to plan and provide services that enable older adults to live independently in their homes and community. This interconnected structure of agencies is known as the National Aging Network.
The National Aging Network is headed by the U.S. Administration on Aging. The network includes 56 State Agencies on Aging, 655 Area Agencies on Aging,
243 Native American aging programs, over 29,000 service providers, and thousands of volunteers.
State Units on Aging
The Administration on Aging awards OAA funds for supportive home and community-based services to the State Units on Aging (SUAs), which are located in every state and U.S. territory. SUAs are agencies of state and territorial governments designated by governors and state legislatures to administer, manage, design and advocate for benefits, programs and services for the elderly and their families and, in many states, for adults with physical disabilities. The term "state unit on aging" is a general term: the specific title and organization of the governmental unit will vary from state to state and may be called a Department, Office, Bureau, Commission, Council or Board for the elderly, seniors, aging, older adults and/or adults with physical disabilities. Regardless of the exact title, these state government agencies all share a common agenda of providing the opportunities and supports for older persons to live independent, meaningful, productive, dignified lives and maintain close family and community ties.
Funding for programs is allocated to each SUA based on the number of persons over the age of 60 in the state. Most states are divided into planning and service areas (PSAs), so that programs can be tailored to meet the specific needs of older persons residing in those areas.
Area Agencies on Aging
An Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is a public or private non-profit agency, designated by the state to address the needs and concerns of all older persons at the regional and local levels. “Area Agency on Aging” is a generic term—specific names of local AAAs may very. AAAs are primarily responsible for a geographic area, also known as a PSA, that is either a city, a single county or a multi-county district. AAAs may be categorized as: county, city, regional planning council or council of governments, or private, non-profit.
AAAs coordinate and offer services that help older adults remain in their home - if that is their preference - aided by services such as Meals-on-Wheels, homemaker assistance and whatever else it may take to make independent living a viable option. By making a range of options available, AAAs make it possible for older individuals to choose the services and living arrangement that suit them best..
Each town and city offers a range of supporting services available to older residents 60 years of age or over. Local Information and Assistance Programs and/or Area Agency on Aging can assist older persons and their families in locating the services they need. Some of the services available include:
* Adult Day Care: Adult Day Care Centers offer social, recreational and health-related services to individuals in a protective setting who cannot be left alone during the day because of health care and social need, confusion or disability.
* Caregiver Programs: The National Family Caregiver Support Program provides programs and services for caregivers of older adults and some limited services to grandparents raising grandchildren.
* Case Management: Case managers work with family members and older adults to assess, arrange and evaluate supportive efforts of seniors and their families to remain independent.
* Elder Abuse Prevention Programs: Allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of senior citizens are investigated by highly trained protective service specialists. Intervention is provided in instances of substantiated elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.
* Financial Assistance: There are benefit counseling programs that can be accessed through the (I&R/A) specialist at your local area agency on aging to assist older adults with financial assistance.
* Home Health Services: Home health care includes such care activities as changing wound dressings, checking vital signs, cleaning catheters and providing tube feedings.
* Home Repair: Programs that help older people keep the condition of their housing in good repair before problems become major. Volunteers might come to an individual's home and patch a leaky roof, for instance, repair faulty plumbing or insulate drafty walls.
* Home Modification: Programs that provide adaptations and/or renovations to the living environment intended to increase ease of use, safety, security and independence. There are some local, state, Federal and volunteer programs that provide special grants, loans and other assistance for home.
* Information and Referral/Assistance Information Services (I&R/A): Information Specialists are available to provide assistance and linkage to available services and resources.
* Legal Assistance: Legal advice and representation is available to persons aged 60 and over for certain types of legal matters including government program benefits, tenant rights, and consumer problems.
* Nutrition Services: Home Delivered Meals popularly known as "Meals on Wheels," are nutritious meals delivered to the homes of older persons who are homebound. Congregate Meals provide the opportunity for persons aged 60 and over to enjoy a meal and socialize with other seniors in the community.
* Personal Care: Services to assist individuals with functional impairments with bathing, dressing, shopping, walking, housekeeping, supervision, emotional security, eating and assistance with securing health care from appropriate sources.
* Respite Care: Respite is relief or rest, for a specified period of time, from the constant/continued supervision, companionship, therapeutic and/or personal care of a person with a functional impairment.
* Senior Housing Options: The decision to seek care outside an individual’s home is a difficult one. If you are considering such a move for yourself or a family member, please contact your local area agency on aging I&R/A specialist to determine the full range of support options available to you.
* Senior Center Programs: Senior Centers offer a variety of recreational and educational programs, seminars, events and activities for the active and less active older adult.
* Telephone Reassurance: Provides regular contact and safety check by trained volunteers to reassure and support senior citizens and disabled persons who are homebound.
* Transportation: Programs that provide door-to-door transportation for people who may be elderly or disabled, who do not have private transportation and who are unable to utilize public transportation to meet their needs.
* Volunteer Services: There are numerous volunteer programs and opportunities available for older adults such as daily telephone reassurance, friendly visiting and insurance counseling.