Aging Network: An Introduction
Older AMERICANS ACT
In 1965, Congress enacted the Older Americans Act to coordinate community-based programs for older citizens. Its objectives were to assist senior citizens in finding adequate housing, health services, dignified long-term institutional and in-home care and to act as an advocate for job opportunities. Amendments to the Act in 1972 increased its range to include a nutrition program for the elderly and in 1973 required states to establish Area Agencies on Aging to coordinate federal and state programs with local efforts. In the year 2000, amendments to the Older Americans Act extended additional services to caregivers of seniors. The Older Americans Act is administered by the Administration on Aging, a part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A)
N4A is the umbrella organization for the 655 area agencies on aging (AAAs) and more than 230 Title VI Native American aging programs in the U.S. Through its presence in Washington, D.C., N4A advocates on behalf of the local aging agencies to ensure that needed resources and support services are available to older Americans. The fundamental mission of the AAAs and Title VI programs is to provide services that make it possible for older individuals to remain in their home, thereby preserving their independence and dignity. These agencies coordinate and support a wide range of home- and community-based services, including information and referral, home-delivered and congregate meals, transportation, employment services, senior centers, adult day care and a long-term care ombudsman program.
AAA's, ASAP's and COA's/Senior Centers
In Massachusetts the formal part of the aging network begins with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs in Boston. This State agency serves as the State Unit on Aging (SUA) and is a cabinet level Secretariat within the government of the Commonwealth. Elder Affairs oversees the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs), and Councils on Aging (COA)/Senior Centers. Each of these organizations have their own authority and responsibilities. The Comparison of Responsibilities for the Massachusetts Aging Network shows the basic differences in the jobs of the Central Massachusetts AAAs, ASAPs , and COAs.
Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging
(CMAA), is part of this formal national and state network of organizations established under the Older Americans Act (OAA) to respond to the needs of Central Massachusetts seniors who are 60 years and older, and their caregivers. CMAA funds aging service providers who offer a variety of services for older individuals that are designed to foster their independence as well as support services for their caregivers. These services are targeted to those who are in greatest economic and social need, but all older individuals and caregivers may participate.
CMAA also plays an important part in the informal group known as "The Aging Network". "The Aging Network" is made up of a variety of community based organizations together with governmental agencies that work cooperatively to make the lives of area seniors and caregivers better. The National Aging Network Organizational Chart graphically depicts the myriad of organizations that work collaboratively as well as the way federal funding flows from the federal government to local services. As envisioned by the Ten Objectives for Older Americans (Title I of the Older Americans Act of 1965), the aging network brings together these different parties to provide a variety of services such as congregate meals, meals-on-wheels, transportation, legal services, information and referral, residential services, and myriad others to help seniors and their caregivers lead safer and more secure lives.
A Brief History of the Aging Network