Growing Numbers of Older Adults Create Escalating Demand for Older Americans Act Services

For Immediate Release

Contact: Joellen Leavelle, and 202.872.0888

WASHINGTON—The Older Americans Act, the federal law that provides an array of much-needed home and community-based supports to older adults, is due to be reauthorized by Congress later this year. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) calls on Congress to not only reaffirm its commitment to the Older Americans Act and its focus on local service delivery, but also to significantly increase its investment to ensure that the Act meets the current and future needs of the nation’s older adults.
“For more than fifty years, the Older Americans Act (OAA) has provided needed supports that have enabled millions of older adults to age successfully where they want—in their homes and communities, avoiding more expensive and often unnecessary institutional care,” said n4a CEO Sandy Markwood. “The critical services provided by the Act and administered locally by Area Agencies on Aging, including home-delivered meals, medical transportation, in-home personal care, home modification and caregiver supports, keep older adults safe, healthy and able to maintain their independence.”
The population of adults age 60 and older is growing at the fastest rate seen in the nation’s history. By the year 2030, one in every five Americans will be over the age of 65 and studies show that nearly 70 percent of older adults, approximately 80 million Americans, will need an average of three to five years of long-term care services and supports as they age. And today’s older adults need and want OAA services so they can age successfully at home.
Through the supports and services it provides, the Older Americans Act enables older adults to age where they want, in their homes and communities. In addition, the Act keeps older adults connected to their communities, reducing social isolation. But as the population of older adults continues to grow, the Act has been unable to keep up with the demand for services. According to the 2017 National Survey of Area Agencies on Aging, 81 percent of Area Agencies on Aging reported that the funding they received from the Act had remained stagnant or declined from previous years. The reauthorization of the Older Americans Act is the perfect opportunity for Congress to take bold, innovative steps to ensure that the country meets the needs of older adults in the smartest way possible. 
“The funding currently provided by the Act is not keeping pace with the growing demand for services, resulting from a combination of stagnant funding and the escalating demand for services brought about by the growing number of older adults,” said Markwood. “The reauthorization of the Older Americans Act must demonstrate an increased commitment to fund the critical services it provides.”
To assist members of Congress—new and returning—with understanding the issues that are at stake as it considers the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, n4a has released two policy briefs, Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act and What the 116th Congress Needs to Know About an Aging America. In conjunction with the release of n4a’s 2019 Policy Priorities, these documents reflect what n4a and its members see in communities across the country and what our nation must do to both encourage the health and independence of this growing population of older adults and support their family caregivers.
“The reauthorization of the Older Americans Act provides Congress with an opportunity to ensure that our nation is well positioned to meet the needs of older adults and the caregivers who support them,” said Markwood. “Congress must take bold steps now to ensure that Area Agencies on Aging and other Aging Network entities have the resources, tools and supports they will need now and in the future to meet the outsize demand for the home and community-based services that older adults rely on to ensure they can continue living in their homes and communities for as long as possible.”