As I’ve often said, when it comes to caring for your aging parents, “you don’t know what you don’t know”! It’s not until you’re directly in the moment that you realize you’re in over your head. You find yourself in circumstances or in need of services you never even imagined. You need resources for seniors!
Fortunately, there’s help!
And it’s not too far away!
You need to contact the local branch of your Area Agency on Aging!
What is the Area Agency on Aging (AAA)?
In 1973, there was an amendment to the federal Older Americans Act (OAA). It required states to divide into planning and service regions. They had to designate Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)to develop and implement programs and services for older persons at the local level.
AAA is a network of approximately 655 offices nationwide which serve the elderly population (60+) in their local areas. They receive funding from the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).
Each office provides resources for elderly and disabled individuals. Their goal is to assist seniors in remaining in their own home and community for as long as possible. With this they can make their own decisions and retain their independence.
What Resources for Seniors can AAA Provide?
Your local AAA can provide the following categories of service:
- Information and Referral Services– Your agency can provide a list of companies that offer services to seniors within their geographic area. These include companies that provide care, legal help, transportation, diet and nutritional services, and insurance or insurance assistance.
- Referral Services– Before any company is referred by the AAA they are fully screened to guarantee quality and dependability.
- Transportation– If you need transportation, such as to a doctor’s appointment, your agency could refer you numerous screened companies within your local area. This service also includes transportation services for those in wheelchairs, scooters, and other special adaptive devices.
- Care and Personal Care– There’s help if your loved one needs personal care or home care. These services range from house cleaning and yard work to bathing, cooking, and nursing care. In addition, the AAA can also refer family members to companies that provide personal care training.
- Nutritional Services– Services include meal preparation, delivery, and nutritional advice. Seniors and their families can gain access to registered dietitians for nutritional information. Companies, such as Meals-on-Wheels, partner to provide ready to eat, healthy, and balanced meals to seniors.
- Legal Services– The Agency has access to free and reduced-rate legal services for seniors and family members.
- Insurance – One can gain access to insurance professionals.This allows seniors and their families to find the best type of insurance to fit their needs and budget.
Local Senior Centers
You may have driven through a small town and seen the local “Senior Center”. These small centers are run by the AAA. Senior centers serve as a gateway to the aging network—connecting older adults to community services that can help them stay healthy and independent.
Each Center is unique to it’s own community, offering programs and activities that align with the needs and requests of the seniors. Centers offer a variety of wellness programs and education, fun activities (cards, games, pool, dances, crafts, and parties), and nutritious meals. These meals can be delivered to homes as well!
See my Senior Center post for more information!
So Where do You Start?
I would recommend you begin by going to the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s website www.n4a.org. There you will find a simple search tool that allows you to search for your local AAA by your city, state, or zip code.
You can also check with your local Senior Center. The center nearest you will have information on how to find and contact your local AAA office.
Get the Help You Need!
When caring for your aging parents you can often feel alone, lost, or overwhelmed. Fortunately, through government programs such as the Area Agencies on Aging, you can get the help you need at a convenient, accessible, local level.
Stop by your regional office, get on their website, or pick up the phone and call. Even if you think there’s no way they could help with your specific need…you might be surprised!
Do everything you can to get the help you need!
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