The Administration on Aging and the Older Americans Act (1965 as Amended)

(10/25/10)- The New York City's Department for the Aging's budget for fiscal 2010 was cut by 10%, or $30 million, to $264.3 million. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration is considering slashing the department's budget by a further 40% for fiscal year 2011.

The city is faced with a $3.3 billion deficit as the mayor attempts to close the gap. The city has already closed 29 senior citizens centers and slashed other services including an elder-abuse program and a healthy-aging initiative. Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, the commissioner for the depatment is faced with some very, very difficult choices as she attempts to comply with the edict.

Not only is the quality of life for seniors being affected by these decisions, but the very life and well being of seniors will be detrimentally influenced by these budgetary measures.

(2/18/08)- In order to encourage participation by people older than 60 in New York City's arts offerings, a $1million partnership between cultural organizations and centers for the elderly has been formed. The members of the partnership are the city's Department for the Aging, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Council.

About 60 arts organizations will team up with more than150 centers for the elderly in all five boroughs to provide a variety of programs, like jewelry design, storytelling, circus arts, horticulture, blues cabaret, creative writing, inter-generational theater and cinema.

By the year 2030 one-fifth of the city's population will be 60, outnumbering school age children, city officials said.

(10/28/00)-According to the1998 census estimate, of the approximate population of 270 million Americans, about 43 million are 60 years or older. This is about 1/6th of the population. You may ask yourself if such a large segment of the population has any federal advocacy agency to represent and protect them and this article hopefully will tell you about the representative. In addition to older Americans, The Administration on Aging (AoA) is empowered to protect the abused, neglected or exploited as well as members of minority groups.

First let us look at a little history so we can better understand the background from where we have come. In 1935 we had the Social Security Act passed during the Great Depression. The Act provided for Old Age Assistance and Old Age Survivors Insurance.

On July 14, 1965 the Older Americans Act (AoA) was signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. It established the Administration on Aging within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Title XVIII covering Medicare and title XIX covering Medicaid were also signed into law in 1965.

In 1967 the Age Discrimination Act was signed into law. That year also saw the AoA moved into a newly created Social and Rehabilitative Service Agency within the Department. In 1973 an amendment to the OAA established Area Agencies on Aging. A new Title V in the Act authorized grants to local community agencies for multi-purpose senior centers. In 1974 Amendments to the Social Security Act under Title XX authorized grants to states for social services. In 1978 OAA amendments required each state to establish a long-term care ombudsman program to cover nursing homes. In 1987 the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act provided for nursing home reform in the area of nurse aide training, survey and certification procedures, pre-admission screening and annual review for persons with mental illness. The Nursing Home Reform Act also required that nursing facility residents have "direct and immediate access to ombudspersons when protection and advocacy services become necessary".

The position of Commissioner of Aging was elevated to Assistant Secretary for Aging within the Department of Health and Human Services in 1993. On May 6, 1993 Fernando M. Torres-Gil was sworn in as the first Assistant Secretary for Aging. Jeannette C. Takamura, Ph.D., was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Aging on December 8, 1997 and she is the present Assistant Secretary. Congress must reauthorize the OAA every few years and we will try to find out reauthoriztion is needed. The 104th and 105th Congress failed to enact reauthorization, and now it will be up to the 106th Congress to deal with the reauthorization issue. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dianne Feingold (D-WI), Murray (D-WA), Dodd (D-CT) and Lincoln (D-ARK) introduced a reauthorization bill on June 10,1999(S.1203). Senator DeWine (R-OH), Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Aging of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, introduced on August 5, 1999, an Older Americans Act reauthorization bill, S.1536. On March 31, 1999, the Administration transmitted a proposal for reauthorization of the Older Americans Act and it was introduced in the House on April 29th, 1999. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000. The president announced that he would sign the bill. The Administration's National Family Caregiver Support Program was included as a key component of the bill.

The AoA administers key programs at the Federal level mandated under various titles of the Older Americans Act. Some of these programs are aimed at allowing older people to remain in their own homes while affording them supportive services. Title III of the Act covers nutrition, transportation, senior center, health promotion, and homemaker services. Title VII encompasses elder rights programs (including the nursing home ombudsperson program), legal services, outreach public benefit and insurance counseling and elder abuse prevention efforts. Title VI deals with the needs of older American Indians, Aleuts, Eskimos and Hawaiians.

Each State Agency on Aging is allocated funds based on the number of older persons in each state. Most States are divided into Planning and Service Areas (PSAs) so that the local needs of a particular area can be better understood. The State Agencies in turn provide funding to 660 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). If there is a large city involved it may encompass a single AAA in and of itself. Sometimes an AAA may encompass several counties within a State.

The AAA's in turn contract with public or private groups to provide the needed services to the elderly. Nationwide there is some 27,000-service provider agencies. If no local contractor is available the AAA may act as the service provider. Anyone concerned about the welfare of an older person can contact their local AAA for information and referral services and benefits in their locality. Supportive services are classified as follows:

Under Title IV of the Act the AoA awards funds to support research, demonstration and training programs.

AoA is also making a concerted effort to expand the involvement of agencies and organizations representing the government, business, labor, and voluntary, religious and civic communities to join together in helping the elderly. By the year 2030 the 60 and over group is expected to double to 85 million people. AoA's Older Americans Act Eldercare Volunteer Corps has about 1/2 million volunteers, many of them older persons themselves, assisting in service programs under the Act.

In addition to the above the AoA maintains a bibliographic database managed by the National Aging Information Center (NAIC). This database is indeed an impressive information site for information for and about the elderly. We highly recommend that you check it out. The database records describe materials produced by Administration on Aging grantees funded under Title IV of the OAA.

The AoA chairs the Federal Committee for the "1999-The International Year of Older Persons".

In concluding this article we will now take a look at the Assistant Secretary for Aging in the Department of Health and Human Services, Jeanette C. Takamura, Ph.D. Dr. Takamura served from 1994 to 1998 as First Deputy of the Hawaii Department of Health. She oversaw program and policy development, legislative strategies, information systems, the district health office, and the alcohol and drug abuse division. From 1987 to 1994 she was the Director of the Hawaii Executive Office on Aging. She was instrumental in developing the program for long term care, Alzheimer's awareness. And pre-retirement and life planning programs. Prior to this Dr. Takamura was on the faculty of the School of Medicine and the School of Social Work at the University of Hawaii. She earned a B.A. degree in political science and sociology and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Hawaii. She received her Ph.D. in social policy from Brandeis University. She is married to Carl Takamura, Executive Director of the Hawaii Business Roundtable. She has a daughter Mari and resides in Hawaii.

We are deeply indebted for much of the information for this article to the site maintained by the Administration on Aging: For more detailed information on this topic we highly recommend this site.


By Allan and Harold Rubin
updated October 25, 2010

The original article was corrected on September 3, 1999 for which we are deeply appreciative to the staff of the AoA and to Moya Benoit Thompson.

E-mail: hrubin12@nyc, .or