Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why care about the Older Americans Act?” you ask? Good question. (While we might be doing someone’s homework here it beats answering the question: “Why does my girlfriend not change her sheets after I’ve spent the weekend with her?”)
Keep reading ‘cause you’re gonna be old someday. 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act. Its renewal is currently “stalled” by politicians as this goes to press. For now though let’s just do a quick review and get to the answer, shall we?
This law accomplishes a lot. Millions of adults get much needed service be it nutrition, care-giving, transportation, legal services or elder abuse prevention. Specifically, one in five seniors—or 11 million folks—gets some kind of service or services from an Older Americans Act program.
You should care about the Older American Act because it allows older adults—who we all will be someday unless we die young of course—lets older folks stay independent. Bob Blancato, a writer for Forbes, has even more good news for you socially-conscious kids out there.
He says: “It is worth noting that the act, by law, targets its services to those in the greatest economic or social need, with particular attention to low-income minorities, rural residents and those with limited English proficiency.” (Notice he said “limited” proficiency. He did not say it is specifically targeted for people who come to this country to live and won’t even try to learn the unofficial language of this county and the international language.)
Another reason you should care about the Older Americans Act is that it’s also a source of “important part-time community service employment opportunities for thousands of low-income adults over age 55 through the Senior Community Service Employment Program. “ In turn, Blancato notes, many “of these community service jobs have benefited other older adults.”
Additionally, the Older Americans Act matters because “of the increased number of (baby-)boomers becoming family caregivers.” In 2000 they amended the law in order to found the National Family Caregiver Support Program.
Forbes reports that this act is the “only federal program of its kind (that) provides resources to allow individuals the tools to be effective caregivers when the need arises. It also aids the growing number of grandparents raising grandchildren in the U.S.” (Yeah, well, you know not every easy little tart can get a reality TV gig on MTV being an infamous teen mom, mmmkay?)
Last but not least, you should care about the Older Americans Act because its programs are in all 50 states and nearly every Congressional district in the U.S. Forbes notes “It operates through an outstanding aging network consisting of state units on aging, area agencies on aging and thousands of service providers. The Act stresses local decision-making on what are the best and most needed services for older adults.”
Why care about the Older Americans Act? Now you know.
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