Your Area Agency on Aging (AAA)
One important product of the Older Americans Act is the nationwide network of
area agencies on aging (AAA). Today, every area of the country is served by either an
AAA or a state unit on aging. These agencies help local communities develop services
specifically for older residents. The AAAs channel funds from the Older Americans Act to
Each AAA operates autonomously. All of them offer information and
referral services to older adults. A few provide services directly, but most only coordinate
services and provide assistance to designated service agencies in the local communities.
AAAs provide funding and programming for local senior citizen centers,
too. Programs include recreation, socialization, meals, and educational programs. Many
service organizations offer programs at the senior centers as well as at other sites in the
community. Additional funds are generally provided by local and state governments, as
well as by such organizations as the United Way, private foundations, corporations, and
You can feel confident in calling your AAA with almost any question about
services in your neighborhood for older people. You can also go directly to a senior
citizen center near you and ask for help. If staff there cannot provide it, ask them to put
you in touch with someone in the AAA who can help.
Q. My Aunt Minnie is in a nursing home. I fear they do not treat her well.
They may even tie her in a chair part of the day. Her husband is in a board care
home, and they won’t let him visit Aunt Minnie. Her younger sister lives in her own
home. She had an aide and nurse to help her when she left the hospital, but they just
stopped visiting her. How can I be certain that all three receive quality care?
A. You should call the local long-term care ombudsman, an advocate who works
to ensure that older Americans receive appropriate quality care.
Q. A. I have an elderly neighbor who is finding it hard to manage on her own,
especially with shopping and preparing meals. Are there services that could help
A. Yes. Under the Older Americans Act, several types of nutrition programs and
chore services are available to aid older adults. These include home-delivered hot meals,
as well as meals served at a “congregate” dining site. There may be limitations placed on
home-delivered services because of the great need and the limited amount of funding. The
AAA or someone designated will do an assessment of need. The result of such an
assessment may lead to the identification of more services that may be arranged for your
Q. I would like to use some of the services described here, but I really can’t
afford to pay for helpers or home-delivered meals. How can I use these programs?
A. The Older Americans Act targets services to low-income and minority elderly,
as well as to those who are frail or disabled. Many of the programs funded by the Act are
provided without charge, although donations may be requested. Other programs offered
by, arranged for, or provided through area agencies on aging may have a small fee or use a
“sliding scale,” where the fee is assessed on the basis of your ability to pay. Some
programs are reimbursed by other governmental programs such as Medicaid. Do not let
financial concerns keep you from benefiting from the variety of programs available.
Q. My elderly mother has been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease. I
would like to have her live with me. Are there services available to help me provide
for her needs in my own home?
A. Maybe. Although the Older Americans Act authorizes grants to be made to
provide such services, they may or may not be available in your community. These may
include in-home supportive services for victims of Alzheimer’s disease or related
condition, and for the families of these victims.
The services and the extent of services vary from place to place. They might
include counseling and training for family care-givers, a needs assessment and assistance
in locating and securing services, and case management. A case manager acts as an
advisor, broker, and services might also include homemaker and home health aides, inhome
respite service so family care-givers can get away for short periods, assistance in
adapting a home to meet the needs of an impaired older person, and chore maintenance.
A second very important resource is the state or local Alzheimer’s Association.
Local chapters can be found through the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral
Center, P.O. Box 8250, Silver Spring , MD 20907, telephone: 1-800-438-4380, website
www.alzheimers.org. The Alzheimer’s Association’s local chapters provide extensive
knowledge of resources for families of Alzheimer’s victims in your specific community.
Chapters also offer support from others whose loved ones are victims.
Q.I would like help in getting a job, since I feel able to continue working even
though I have retired. Can I get help under the Older Americans Act?
A. Yes. Through the Community Service Employment for Older Americans
program you may be able to get help in finding a job or training opportunity. These may
be part-time positions, at minimum wage. In general, this program is designed for lowerincome
seniors, so income and resource eligibility requirements may apply.
Q. I’m retired and I’m looking for new experiences, but I don’t really want to
enroll in a school. Is there anything for me?
A. Many universities, local junior colleges, and museum education programs
provide special programs, reduced fees, and auditing of classes. A call to the one closest to
you can provide information about such programs. The Elderhostel program meets the
needs of people like you. Elderhostel is a not-for-profit agency offering educational
programs for adults aged sixty years and older. Through an international network of
colleges and universities, Elderhostel is able to offer low-cost residential academic
programs both in America and abroad. Courses offered have included “The Literary
Heritage of Oxford,” offered in Oxford, England; “Political Controversies, Judicial
Politics and You”; and lectures on Greek Island society, in conjunction with a cruise of the
Greek Isles. The courses are usually taught by university faculty, and run from one to
three weeks. Most of the time, participants are housed in dormitories. On special trips,
other arrangements may be made. Students may expect to spend approximately three
hours a day in class, with many field trips and opportunities for sightseeing.
For more information, contact your local agency on aging or write to Elderhostel at
75 Federal St., Boston, MA 02110-1941, or call 617-426-8056. web: www.elderhostel.org