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 three blog posts of this four-part series, we learned about the Older Americans Act (OAA) and the Administration on Aging (AoA). 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 AoA. To further support the implementation of OAA specifically in Michigan, the Older Michiganians Act (OMA) was established in 1981.  OMA then created the Commission on Services to the Aging (CSA). Comprised of 15 individuals appointed by the Michigan Governor, CSA “reviews plans submitted by each region’s Area Agency on Aging” (AAA). In Michigan, there are 16 AAAs that serve all of Michigan’s 83 counties. AAAs can be considered a “one-stop shop with expertise on aging and long-term care”. AgeWell Services’ AAA is Senior Resources of West Michigan. AAAs are what we’re going to learn about in the fourth and final blog post.

Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs)

There are Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) throughout the United States. AAAs are designated entities who “plan and develop services to promote health and independence”. Throughout the state of Michigan, there are 16 AAAs. AAAs “promote healthy aging, dignity and independence in many ways”. These ways include, but aren’t limited to –  

  • Assisting older adults, as well as individuals with disabilities and caregivers, with information and resources. *
  • Providing specialized counseling on Medicare, Medicaid and health insurance through the Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP). *
  • Providing support coordination for older adults, including in-home assessments with the older adult, person-centered care plan, coordination of care (i.e. services and support provided by medical professionals, hospitals, etc.), other benefit(s) qualifications and providing information and resources. *
  • Providing funding received through government agencies for home and community-based services. For example, Meals on Wheels is considered a home-based service. One source of funding that supports Meals on Wheels is the OAA Title IIIB. Many organizations receive this funding from their local AAA, which is the fiduciary of the government funding. *
  • Performing assessments of providers. For example, our local AAA, Senior Resources of West Michigan, conducts assessments on the programs funded by the government funding passed through them. This helps ensure that “performance and quality are maximized”. *
  • Helping older adults transition back to community for a variety of reasons, such as from nursing homes, from hospitals and to residential communities. *
  • Creating new services to fill identified gaps through partnerships.*
  • Advocating on behalf of older adults and caregivers, including new programs, funding increases, public policies and well-being. *

Our local AAA, Senior Resources of West Michigan, is the “gateway to local resources, planning efforts and services to help older adults, their families and caregivers in Muskegon, Oceana and Ottawa Counties”. In addition to providing significant support to service providers, such as AgeWell Services (i.e. Meals on Wheels, Lunch & Activity Centers, etc.), Senior Resources also manages both their own programs and administers others. These include –

Additionally, Senior Resources’ Options Counseling is a fantastic resource for older adults and caregivers. Supports Coordinators “will listen to your unique life situation, present options and help guide you to information and resources”. A video highlighted on the Senior Resources website explains about Options Counseling – give it a watch through below!

* If you’d like to read more about Michigan AAAs and where this information was obtained, check out this fact sheet by 4AMI that provides more detail to everything outlined above. 4AMI, also known as Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan, is the “association responsible for advocacy, training and education” for all Michigan AAAs. Learn more about 4AMI here.

Establishment and Growth of the Aging Network Conclusion

Over the last four blog series, we’ve learned about the intricate complexity that is the Aging Network. From the federal Older Americans Act to local service providers, such as AgeWell Services, there is a unique network whose responsibilities are to the older adults in their local communities. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the Aging Network in the United States, Michigan and our local communities.  

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