In 1965 Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA) to address concerns about a lack of community based social services for older persons. This legislation would create an authority for grants to the States for community planning and social services, research and development projects, and personnel training in the field of aging.
Today, the OAA is considered to be the major vehicle for the delivery of social and nutrition services to seniors and their caregivers. The Act authorizes a wide array of service programs through a national network of 56 State agencies on aging, 629 area agencies on aging, nearly 20,000 service providers, 244 Tribal organizations and 2 Native Hawaiian organizations. These service programs include (i) community service employment for low-income older Americans training, (ii) research and demonstration of activities in the field of aging, and (iii) vulnerable elder rights protection activities.
This legislation expired in 2011 and created a large gap in the care for many seniors. In 2016 the United States House of Representatives passed the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act. The reauthorization will allow the type of support initially intended to help the aging population continue through 2019. On top of extending the support, the new legislation would also bolster the original law by providing better protection to vulnerable elders, streamlining the administration of the programs, improving nutrition services, and aligning senior employment services with a broader workforce development program.