The Assisted Living Federation of America recently reported that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would both reauthorize and improve the Older Americans Act. Originally enacted in 1965, the Older Americans Act (OAA) provided federal funding to create an infrastructure for delivery of social services vital to senior citizens. The law covered areas such as meals, protection from elder abuse, caregiver support and job training services, enabling seniors to remain independent in their homes and local communities.
The bill was co-sponsored by 14 other senators and would extend the original law with Amendments of 2013. Five elements highlight the bill’s goals. The first key element of the amendments is that all programs be reauthorized through fiscal year 2018 and include a 12% increase in funding over the 2010 levels, addressing the growth of the population of older adults. This also includes expansion of data collection and program evaluation of the National Adult Protective Services Resource Center, National Resource Center for Women and Retirement and the National Resource Center on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Aging.
Other goals of the OAA reauthorization include:
- Updating definitions – Streamlining the targeting language defining economic and social need by adding the categories of older adult veterans, LGBT, Holocaust survivors and people with Alzheimer’s.
- Improve economic security – Addressing the economic status of seniors with an emphasis on more financial security and job training services for seniors.
- Authorize innovative programs – Funding of new programs to coordinate community care and create the National Resource Center on Family Caregiving.
- Bolster elder abuse protections – Promote more efforts on federal, state and local levels to protect seniors from elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
A complete summary of the proposed bill can be found here.