Guest Blog – The Latest Edition of the Older American Act – The Benefits

Our guest blog this week has been written by Amanda McCarthy

A Brief History of the Older Americans Act

The Older Americans Act (OAA) was first passed in 1965 in response to complaints that there were not enough social services available to older Americans. Because of the lack of social services offered to older Americans, there was a general feeling among this age group that Americans past a certain age were not treated with dignity.

Today, amendments to the OAA also help establish nutrition programs for older Americans. The most well-known nutrition program established through the OAA is Meals on Wheels. Grant programs formed in response to the OAA allow older Americans to receive proper physical and mental health care and provide employment training for older Americans needing more income. Senior centers have also been built under the guidance of the Older Americans Act.

Recent Efforts to Improve the Older Americans Act

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-V.T., introduced a new bill in January that is aimed at reauthorizing the OAA and clearly establishing initiatives that would be enacted through the reauthorization of the OAA.

Many organizations in the United States have expressed their intent to back Senator Sanders’ bill through letters of support. Listed below are some of the organizations that are supporting the bill with a brief summary of their offer of support.

• National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare

This organization was expected to support the bill, as Senator Sanders is a chairman on the board. The organization notes that an increasingly aging population would not be supported through the current funding available for the OAA.

• American Bar Association (ABA)

The ABA has offered their support, especially after discovering the inclusion in the bill of a provision establishing low-cost, high-quality legal services for older Americans.

• National Council on Aging (NCOA)

The NCOA applauds Senator Sanders’ effort to continue to keep older Americans independent and active in their communities, and notes that a lack of funding has been the main hurdle in realizing the OAA’s full potential in the past. The bill specifically outlines provisions for additional funding.

Benefits of the Older Americans Act

As the OAA requires significant funding, many Americans may wonder what the benefits to reauthorizing the act may be. There are several benefits that should be noted.

• The bill calls for a change in inflation calculation as it applies to the elderly, especially in regards to medication and healthcare. Currently, healthcare assistance is often not adequate for older Americans because of the way costs are calculated.

• More assistance will be provided for older Americans looking for work. This would help reduce costs to the public, as older Americans with jobs would require less assistance from public programs.

• Provisions in the bill would help the elderly receive nutrition and healthcare while living at home rather than in a senior facility or hospital. Even though this will be accomplished through increased funding to programs like Meals on Wheels, proponents of the bill believe that this will significantly lower the cost of healthcare for elderly Americans.

• Older Americans living in long-term care will receive representation to protect their rights and assure that they are given proper healthcare while being treated with dignity and respect.

Amanda McCarthy’s passion for senior care, political issues and reading has allowed her to pursue a career in writing. Amanda is currently working as a part-time writer for a Senior Retirement Care site.

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