May 1, 2021

A History Lesson for Older Americans Month

By Mike Mathews
Milestones Area Agency on Aging

Every May, the Administration for Community Living leads our nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. This serves as the perfect opportunity to reflect on the Older Americans Act, the very piece of legislation that ensures funding for Area Agencies on Aging, including Milestones.

So, what is an Area Agency on Aging? Effectively, an Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is a public or private nonprofit agency designated by a state to ensure the needs of older Americans are met within that area. AAAs coordinate and offer services that help older adults remain in their homes, if that is their preference, aided by services such as home-delivered meals, homemaker assistance, and whatever else it may take to make independent living a viable option. By making a range of supports available, AAAs make it possible for older individuals to choose the services and living arrangements that suit them best.

The programs offered by the AAAs can vary from state to state or even agency to agency but, at their core, they exist to offer resources and assistance to help older Americans age in place safely and with dignity.

Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA) in the summer of 1965, alongside Medicaid and Medicare, in response to concern by policymakers about a lack of community social services for older persons. President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill into law on July 14, 1965.

At the signing of the Older Americans Act, President Lyndon Johnson said, “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and to their aunts. And no longer will this nation refuse the hand of justice to those who have given a lifetime of service and wisdom and labor to the progress of this progressive country.”

The OAA also protects against abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Milestones, for instance, employs Adult Rights Specialists exclusively dedicated to ensuring the well-being of seniors by providing support to at-risk clients, and through education and collaboration with community providers.

The OAA is reauthorized periodically to provide Congress opportunity to improve the law’s vital programs and services. Notable amendments include the addition of a family caregiver support program in 2000 and funding for evidence-based health promotion in 2006. The OAA was reauthorized in 2020 and will last through 2024.

While often unrecognized, the impact of these programs is substantial and positively affect the lives of millions of older adults each year. At Milestones, we are committed to the vision of the Older American’s Act by diligently working to ensure every adult in our region can age successfully with dignity and independence.

To learn more about Milestones Area Agency on Aging and the programs we offer, please visit milestonesaaa.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information, Referral & Assistance services are available by calling Milestones at (855) 410-6222.

Filed Under: History, Retirement