Founded in 1973, AgeWell Services of West Michigan’s mission invites adults 60 and older to redefine their age. We provide vital connections to keep one of our most vulnerable populations nourished, active, learning and living independently.

In the first blog post of this four-part series, we learned about the Older Americans Act (OAA). OAA was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 14, 1965. To administer the grant programs and “serve as the federal focal point on matters” regarding older adults, the law created the Administration on Aging (AoA). This is what we’re going to learn about in the second blog post.

What is the Administration on Aging (AoA)

The Administration on Aging (AoA) is the principal agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since its inception, AoA has “provided home and community-based services to millions of older adults through the programs funded under the OAA”. Overall, there are both offices and programs that fall under AoA. An organizational chart notes the four offices –  

  1. Office of Supportive and Caregiver Services – services supported by AoA funds include, but aren’t limited to, health promotion programs, transportation (such as the Senior Transportation Program), adult day care and health promotion programs.
  2. Office of Elder Justice and Adult Protective Services – this office “manages the operation, administration and assessment of the elder abuse prevention, legal assistance development and pension counseling programs” and also “leads the development and implementation of comprehensive Adult Protective Services systems”.
  3. Office of Nutrition and Health Promotion Programs – this office “manages health, prevention and wellness programs for older adults”. These include, but aren’t limited to, nutrition services (such as Meals on Wheels and Lunch & Activity Centers), disease prevention, health promotion services, falls prevention programs, HIV / AIDS education, oral health promotion, behavioral health information, chronic disease self-management education programs and diabetes self-management.
  4. Office for American Indian, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian Programs – with the addition of Title VI to OAA in 1978, the program has “expanded to include caregiver support services” for Native Americans (includes American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians). Eligible Tribal organizations receive grant support for “delivery of home and community-based support services for their elders, including nutrition services and support for family and informal caregivers”.

While not noted on the organizational chart, a fifth office is noted on their overall organization website –

  • Office of Long-term Care Ombudsman Programs – this program began in 1972 with funding from Titles II and VII of the OAA, along with other resources. Each state has an Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, which employs local ombudsman staff and volunteers to assist “residents and their families by providing a voice for those unable to speak for themselves”. The Ombudsman program works to “Resolve problems related to the health, safety, welfare and rights of individuals who live in Long Term Care (LTC) facilities”. LTC facilities include, but aren’t limited to, nursing homes, assisted living and other residential care communities.

A long list of programs supported by AoA funds can be found through this link. Programs include, but aren’t limited to, No Wrong Door, Chronic Disease Self-Management Education Programs (CDSME), Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers (MIPPA), Person Centered Planning and Veteran-Directed Home & Community Based Services (VD-HCBS).

In 2012, former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius brought together the AoA, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disorders. This is how the Administration on Community Living (ACL) was established, with a “fundamental idea that people with disabilities or functional limitations of any type, regardless of age, have a common interest in being able to access home and community-based supports and services”.

To further support the implementation of OAA specifically in Michigan, the Older Michiganians Act was established in 1981. This will be the topic for the third blog post in this four-part series.

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