Post Content

May is Older American’s Month and the 50th Anniversary of the Older Americans Act

In 1965, when the United States Congress passed the Older Americans Act, only 17 million Americans lived to their 65th birthday. In Massachusetts, approximately 600,000 reached that milestone. Today, that number has more than doubled in Massachusetts and the nation as a whole. Still, with the advent of antibiotics and other lifesaving drugs, it was clear that people were going to live longer and need more services as they age.

Massachusetts, always an innovation leader, was among the first – some say THE first – state to designate a cabinet secretary to lead a state agency dedicated to meeting the needs of its aging residents. Responding to elder advocates like Frank Manning, whose vision led to the integrated system of federal, state and local agencies, the Legislature created the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA), which now oversees federal and state services and supports through its network of 30 local Aging Service Access Points and Area Agencies on Aging and its 349 Councils on Aging.

Fifty years after the passage of the Older Americans Act, and as the ranks of seniors swell, the EOEA has adapted to the expansion in numbers and changing needs. Today, most older people prefer to age in place in their homes or home communities, even if chronic conditions and frailty make them eligible for nursing facility placement.

Through its well established network, EOEA offers a comprehensive array of community-based, long-term services and supports that make it possible for elders to remain in their homes. Options Counseling was launched to provide objective information no matter where a person is in his or her decision-making process even if someone is already in an institutional setting. Options Counseling is a free service open to Massachusetts residents that assists people at any age or income by providing counseling sessions in the convenience of their home, hospital, rehabilitation or nursing facility.

In Massachusetts we have three, state-funded home care programs that provide trained home care aides and community services to elders who want to receive care at home. Programs like EOEA’s Elder Nutrition Program’s Meals on Wheels – staffed by 7,000 volunteers – deliver 7 million meals a year to homebound seniors for whom they often represent the only daily human contact. The Nutrition Program also provides an additional 1.6 million meals at 325 local congregate meals sites, many of which are in senior centers.

Elders and their families often access services through the councils on aging and senior centers – often the only social service agency in a community and the gateway to the world of community, state, and federal programs as well as chronic disease self-management, falls prevention, volunteer opportunities, free health insurance counseling (through the Serving the Health Insurance Needs for Everyone, otherwise known as the SHINE program) and a variety of support groups and companionship.

If you are looking for a council on aging or assistance for yourself or a family member, please check out EOEA’s programs and hotlines at http://www.mass.gov/elders/docs/shine-by-town.pdf or www.mass.gov/elders, or call us at 1-800-AGEINFO (1-800-243-4636).

We look forward to connecting with you as we embark on the second half century of the Older Americans Act.

Written By:

Tags: , , ,

Recent Posts

The Commission on Bullying Meets to Discuss Ways to Prevent Bullying in Public and Subsidized Housing posted on Jul 13

The Commission on Bullying Meets to Discuss Ways to Prevent Bullying in Public and Subsidized Housing

The concept of bullying has increasingly become a widespread issue affecting many individuals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, especially elders and those with disabilities. In order to resolve bullying in public and/or subsidized housing, all members who are affiliated with the housing community must be   …Continue Reading The Commission on Bullying Meets to Discuss Ways to Prevent Bullying in Public and Subsidized Housing

In innovative partnership, City and State team up to house chronically homeless older adults and pair them with services & supports posted on Jun 23

The City of Boston’s Boston’s Way Home, in partnership with MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and MassHealth, hosted a “housing surge” on June 15, designed to connect chronically homeless older adults with housing while qualifying them for services and support.  This unique partnership   …Continue Reading In innovative partnership, City and State team up to house chronically homeless older adults and pair them with services & supports

Massachusetts Commission LBGTQ Youth Swearing In posted on Jun 20

Massachusetts Commission LBGTQ Youth Swearing In

Secretary Marylou Sudders, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, members from the Legislature, and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Youth (LGBQT) Commission came together in the beautiful State House Library to recognize and celebrate the LGBQT Massachusetts Commission. Established 25 years ago,   …Continue Reading Massachusetts Commission LBGTQ Youth Swearing In