Older Americans Act Up for Reauthorization

The Older Americans Act, passed in 1965 as part of President Johnson’s Great Society plan, is a federal piece of legislation aimed at reducing poverty among people 60 and over and allowing people to age well in their own homes. In 1973, changes to the Act as part of reauthorization (a renewal process for Congress) created the aging network and designated Area Agencies on Aging for each part of the country. Today there are 622 Area Agencies on Aging throughout the United States, of which PCOA is one. As an Area Agency on Aging, we provide core services to older people in Pima County that allow them to live with dignity and respect as they age. A major portion of the Older Americans Act is Title III, which includes home and community- based services (help with things like bathing or light housekeeping), community lunch programs for older adults, home- delivered meals (Meals on Wheels), evidence-based health education, and family caregiver supportive services. government, bringing the aging network closer to the goal of restoring funding to pre-recession levels. This year, we are working again with our partners at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) to obtain additional funding for the Older Americans Act, specifically Title III. PCOA is also working to ensure local flexibility in the Act because as we all know, the needs of Pima County vary greatly from the needs of other more rural counties throughout the state. Last year there was an increase in appropriations from the federal

Left to Right: Maddy Bynes (PCOA), Heidi Robertson (Inter Tribal Council of Arizona), Congresswoman Debbie Lesko, Mary Lynn Kasunic (Area Agency on Aging, Region 1), and Laurai Attcity (Inter Tribal Council of Arizona)

per day are reaching retirement age and most are living longer with fewer resources to sustain them through retirement. Funding the aging network through the Older Americans Act becomes even more critical today than it has been ever before in its over 50-year history. You will hear more from PCOA on this important topic throughout the coming months. The Federal Fiscal Year ends on September 30th and Congress hopes to have the Older Americans Act reauthorized by then. Congress will be working to fund the Act by the end of the Federal Fiscal Year as well. Always stay tuned to our website at to learn about new opportunities to engage on this and other issues.

Not only do we need to work on appropriations, but the Older Americans Act is again up for reauthorization this year, meaning that Congress is going to take a deeper look into the mechanics of the Act and see how services can be improved throughout the country. The reauthorization of the Older Americans Act has not been inconsequential. In 1973, the Area Agencies on Aging were created, and as recently as 2000, family caregiver supportive services were added to the Act through the reauthorization process. Members of Congress are home a lot over the summer and need to hear from constituents as to why these services are critically important to fund. The fact is that our community is aging much more quickly than it is expanding, leading to new opportunities for innovation and collaboration. Over 10,000 baby boomers

July/August 2019, Never Too Late | Page 27

Pima Council on Aging

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