In preparation for the reauthorization process for the Older Americans Act (OAA), the GAO has issued a preliminary report titled: Older Americans Act: Preliminary Report on Services Requested by Seniors and Challenges in Providing Assistance. The report reviews the services most requested by seniors, how state and local agencies reach seniors in need, and how agencies have coped with increasing demand in the current economy.
The GAO gathered data for this report by reviewing aging plans of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, conducting site visits to four states, interviewing national, state and local officials and a web-based survey of Local Area Agencies on Aging.
According the testimony included in this report, approximately 10 million seniors age 60 and older, or about 18 percent of the national 60 and over population, benefited from OAA programs in FY 2008. Local agencies who responded to the survey identified home-delivered meals, transportation and information assistance as the most requested services. The report also shows that requests for services such as home-delivered meals and transportation services by seniors are increasing. And, according to local officials, seniors’ desire to remain in their homes as they age and the economic downturn are the reasons for the increase in requests.
Many state and local officials said that although there is an increase in demand for services, state funding for these services was cut for FY 2010. Some states were forced to reduce services to seniors to cope with the reduction in funding.
Demographic studies show that older Americans will make up a larger proportion of the country’s population in coming decades, with those aged 65 and older projected to increase from 40 million in 2010 to 72 million in 2030. Delivery of services related to long-term care, nutrition, and other needs of seniors will likely be increasingly in demand as well, particularly services that help individuals remain in their homes and communities.
Future funding for the OAA will be determined in the reauthorization process in 2011.
You can read the full report and testimony here.
You can also share your ideas about what needs to be included in the reauthorized version of the Older Americans Act on the NCOA’s Exchange website.