Area Agencies on Aging (AAA’s) are “on the ground” organizations. They help seniors and their families attain assistance, based in their local communities, that enable them to live more independently and with dignity. AAA’s primary undertaking is to help older adults age in place. They coordinate multiple services to honor the preference of seniors who want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. Although AAA’s do not provide the actual care, their expertise ensures that seniors and their families are referred to reputable and competent agencies. AAA’s recommend services such as Meals on Wheels, homemaker assistance, and health insurance counseling (to name a few).
Area Agencies on Aging are a nationwide network of over 600 non-profit organizations that serve older adults age 60+ (some locations serve age 55+ and some also serve younger adults with disabilities). AAA’s receive federal funding under the Older Americans Act of 1965 and are also supplemented by state and local revenues. “Area Agency on Aging” is a generic term; some AAA’s use the term while others elect to go by other names.
Area Agencies on Aging are not “one size fits all”. Each AAA focuses on getting to know the unique needs and offerings of their local community. They furnish a wide range of options that address seniors in a specific area and at the same time adapt services to accommodate family caregivers too.
AAA’s acknowledge that the far-reaching services rendered by unpaid caregivers make it possible for seniors to age in place. Support for overwhelmed caregivers (who make up 30% of the general population) is in demand due to the heavy emotional, physical, and financial toll caregivers endure. AAA’s provide respite, caregiver education, and training along with emergency caregiver assistance.
Popular services offered by Area Agencies on Aging
- Personal In-Home Care is not actually delivered by the AAAs; nevertheless, they refer seniors and families to reputable companies that can provide “hands on” care. Services range from bathing, dressing, exercising, medication reminders, and meal preparation. Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) is supplied by non-medical in-home care or private duty homecare agencies. Refer to our online directory to find non-medical home care in your area.
- Meals on Wheels is overseen by the AAAs; they deliver meals to homebound seniors to help those who are debilitated as well as those seniors who are at risk for poor nutrition and/or hunger. AAAs refer seniors and their families to registered dieticians for nutritional information and training, such as learning to cook for a diabetic. AAAs also sponsor congregate meals provided in senior centers where older folks can enjoy a healthy meal while socializing with their peers. Find Meal on Wheels in your area.
- Caregiver Support may come in the form of an Area Agency on Aging referring a family caregiver to personal care training. By far the most requested support that AAA facilitates is respite care (temporary supervision of a loved one to provide rest for the caregiver). The National Caregiver Family Support Program, created in 2000, provides grants to fund various caregiver programs that help families care for older adults in their homes for as long as possible.
- Information & Referrals that connect families with local providers range from those who help create caregiving plans to support services such housekeeping, yardwork, emergency alert systems, and home modification. More importantly, the AAAs go beyond finding help and also screen companies to make sure they are legal, reputable, and properly licensed.
- Long Term Care Ombudsmen provided through AAAs furnish information about long term care facilities, as well as home and community-based agencies. Ombudsmen investigate complaints made by, or on behalf of, residents in long-term care facilities and in-home care settings. Additionally, they answer questions about the quality of care. Learn more about ombudsman.
- Health Insurance Counseling is provided for those aged age 65 or older who are enrolled in Medicare to help maximize their benefits. Despite both its popularity and reach, the Medicare program is complicated and often misinterpreted. Furthermore, the majority of AAAs (60 percent) serve as the local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) which is a federally sponsored service to help seniors better understand their Medicare coverage.
- Transportation Assistance through understanding and arranging shared transportation services is challenging but key to support the health and well-being of seniors. Transportation is reportedly the most requested service by seniors making it a huge priority for AAAs to find ways to accommodate them.
- Health and Wellness Programs are designed to help older adults and their caregivers better manage their health. Emphasis is on improving self-management of chronic conditions, which impact over 92% of those aged 65 and over.
- Elder Abuse Prevention programs though education, training, and launching public awareness campaigns. AAAs have also played an important role in detecting and preventing elder abuse and recognize the importance of combating this very serious and widespread problem.
- Legal assistance programs help people who have low and moderate incomes with their legal needs. Free programs and services vary widely among AAAs by state because they are dependent on funding. When unable to give free legal help, AAAs will refer to free agencies or reduced rate services for seniors.
- Adult day care centers, sometimes administered by AAAs, are designed to provide care and companionship for older adults who need daytime assistance or supervision. In communities where AAAs do not oversee centers, they are still able to help seniors and families find the most appropriate adult daycare offered in their community. Learn more about adult day services.
- Medicaid and Veterans benefit planning to assist seniors and their families better understand the very restrictive requirements. However, note that while AAAs can offer guidance, their services do not include taking part in the actual qualifying procedures.