AMARILLO The U.S. Congress reauthorized the Older Americans Act this month, ensuring the continuation of the Area Agencies on Aging program, a Texas Cooperative Extension specialist said.
A five-year reauthorization of the Older Americans Act was signed on Oct. 2 and sent to President Bush. According to the National Council on Aging, the legislation not only reauthorizes the program, but strengthens services offered.
“Whether you are an older adult or a caregiver concerned about the well-being and independence of an older adult, Area Agencies on Aging are well-suited to help meet your needs,” said Andrew B. Crocker, Extension gerontology health specialist.
“By providing a range of information and options, the agencies make it possible for older individuals to choose the services and living arrangements that suit them best,” Crocker said.
Area Agencies on Aging were established under the Older Americans Act in 1973 to respond to the needs of Americans ages 60 and over in every local community. All persons age 60 and older are eligible for services under Older Americans Act programs.
The Older Americans Act also helps fund Native American aging programs, known as “Title VI,” to meet the unique needs of older American Indians, Eskimos and Hawaiians.
Services available through the aging agencies and Title VI fall into five broad categories: information and access services, community-based services, in-home services, housing and elder rights.
Categories and some examples of programs offered include:
Nutrition: Home-delivered meals, group meals and nutritional counseling.
In-Home Assistance: Support for homebound elderly, including housekeeping, domestic chores, personal care and visitation.
Transportation: Rides to essential destinations such as nutrition sites, senior centers, health appointments and grocery shopping.
Senior Centers: Places to go for nutrition services, employment services and health screening, as well as a venue for social interaction and recreation.
Information, Referral and Assistance: Help getting information about federal, state or local services.
Benefits Counseling/Legal Assistance: Help provided by trained benefits counselors on public and private benefits.
Care Coordination: Arrangement and coordination of services.
Nursing Home Ombudsmen: Trained and certified volunteer advocates, supervised by professionals, who visit nursing facilities and work with the residents, families and facility employees.
Health Maintenance: Coordination or provision of health services including, health screening, oral health and optical services, and proper use of prescription drugs.
Other Assistance: Services such as home repair/modification, adult day care, emergency response systems, respite services and escort service.
Service availability is determined by the regional needs of older persons within a service area, the level of funding available to support these services and availability of providers to deliver these services, Crocker said.
Not all services are available through all Area Agencies on Aging, he said.
When program resources are limited, priority is given to those in greatest economic and social need; however, no income requirements must be met, Crocker said. Voluntary contributions are encouraged to defray costs and expand services.
He said Area Agencies on Aging often serve as portals to care, assessing multiple service needs, determining eligibility, authorizing or purchasing services and monitoring the appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of services.
Application for services should be made through the Area Agencies on Aging serving the location where the person who needs help lives, he said.
In Texas, services funded are offered through 28 Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state.
To access more information on the Area Agencies on Aging, visit the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services Web site: http://www.dads.state.tx.us/contact/aaa_directory.html or call 800-252-9240. Information may also be accessed by dialing 2-1-1.