Older Americans Act of 1965
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The Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA), 42 U.S.C. 3001-3058, is implementation legislation for policy regarding care and support for the elderly that is intended to remove barriers to independent living. It provides funding and implementation protocols for a range of programs that offer services and opportunities for older Americans, with particular emphasis on those individuals that are at risk of losing their independence due to the aging process. In its current form, it has a broad focus on the following:
- Improving quality of life for the elderly in the areas of income, housing, health, employment, retirement and community services.
- The OAA represents one component of the overall federal policy on the aging, and uses the mechanism of providing incentives in the form of grants to encourage the states to develop support programs for the elderly that conform to the federal policy initiatives.
Specifically, the OAA as originally enacted and through subsequent amendments established the Administration on Aging (AOA), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and is headed by the Assistant Secretary on Aging. The OAA also requires that each state have a Unit on Aging (UA) that is responsible for the coordination of state activities related to the OAA, the development of a state plan on aging, review of budgets and policies that affect the elderly, and for providing technical assistance to any agency, organization or association representing the needs of the elderly. The OAA provides direct financial assistance to the states to support programs for older Americans such as home-delivered meals, meals served at community centers, in home personal assistance and transportation. It also establishes programs for protection against elder abuse, to promote employment among older Americans, to support adult day care services and senior centers, and to provide legal assistance. The most recent amendment to the OAA in 2000 created the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) to provide assistance to family members caring for the elderly. The operation of the OAA since its inception in 1965 has resulted in the development of a national Aging Network composed of 57 state and 655 local agencies delivering services related to aging. The Network also consists of 225 Native American tribal organizations, more than 2,000 senior centers, and 27,000 service providers throughout the United States.