What is the Older Americans Act?

To accommodate the "graying" of America, the United States passed the Older Americans Act in 2013. The act had a life of three years, but in 2016 the President renewed the programs created by the legislation. According to the Census Bureau, between 2012 and 2050 the population of Americans over 65 is expected to double from 43.1 million to 83.7 million. In addition, the Baby Boomers still surviving in 2050 will be in their eighties. The number of older people is growing, and the country is taking steps to provide for them and to protect them.

What Is the Act?

The act is designated S.192. The National Council on Aging says the bill signed into effect in 2016 offers new support to programs mentioned in the original legislation. It includes funding to modernize existing multipurpose senior centers, spotlights areas of economic need in older Americans, requires programs and initiatives focused on health promotion and disease prevention to be evidence-based and promotes individual responsibility for wellness and fall prevention. It also strengthens language regarding the protection of the elderly against abuse and gives more access to legal services. The programs supported by the act are things like Meals-On-Wheels and other nutrition initiatives. There is also support for in-home services that monitor health and provide help to maintain seniors in their own homes. Transportation services are included, as are legal services and caregivers and family support.

How the Act is Defined

The Older Americans Act consists of seven "titles." Titles I and II establish the goals of the legislation and create an Agency on Aging. Title III lays out grants for state and community projects concerning aging. This might include case management services or senior center modernization, information and referral services and other programs. The funds allocated for this title are based on the state population of those over 65. Title IV provides funding for research on aging and training of service providers. Title V funds programs for senior employees, including part-time employment for those over 55, and training programs to increase employability in the elderly, especially to those who are designated low-income. Title VI provides the same types of services but targets Native American, Alaskan and Hawaiian populations.

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Eligible Individuals

The OAA intends to serve all Americans over 65 in some way, but it targets especially the low-income or underserved populations such as those in rural areas. Most programs are free of cost, but suggested donations may be requested. Newer programs and initiatives may feature cost sharing using a sliding income scale. Not only does the OAA benefit older Americans, but also serves their caregivers and families by supporting respite and other services like training. The act helps the local economies as well by increasing the number of jobs available in health services and long-term-care facilities.

People today live longer. The purpose of the OOA is to help them live healthier lives into old age. Eventually, most people who reach 65 will benefit from the provisions of the Older Americans Act.