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Use This Hidden Resource for Older Adults and Caregivers

A local agency gives free help to support your plans for aging at home


Part of the Transforming Life as We Age Special Report

One of the best supports for older adults and family caregivers might also be the least known. Here’s how you can find it and tap into the help:

The support is available from your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Never heard of it? You are not alone, and it might be because the work done by AAAs happens under so many other names.

Some AAAs call themselves the metro or county or state “office on aging” or “senior services.” They connect people with support that goes by even more names: the local Meals on Wheels program, a ride service, a group that gives housework help or the senior center in town.

It’s free to call or meet with your Area Agency on Aging to get answers, advice and help enrolling in programs. Some support programs are free or on a free-will-donation basis. Others require out-of-pocket costs, but that might be reduced through subsidies and sliding-fee pricing. In some cases, Medicaid or long-term care insurance will cover costs. AAA representatives know the ins and outs of how to determine what each older adult qualifies for and how to reduce and manage costs.

You can find your Area Agency on Aging at eldercare.gov by doing a ZIP code, city or state search. Or call 800-677-1116, the eldercare locator service of the U.S. Administration on Aging.

There are 622 Area Agencies on Aging across the country. They were created in 1973 as an addition to the Older Americans Act of 1965. The same federal law that created AAAs requires that they be locally governed and responsive. AAAs host public meetings and ask for local residents’ input before deciding how they will develop and fund services in their region for the next few years.

Watch this four-minute video from PBS affiliate WQED in Pittsburgh to see what you can expect when you call your Area Agency on Aging.

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By Denise Logeland
Denise Logeland is a writer and editor in Minneapolis who has covered business, health and health care. She is the author of Next Avenue's ebook, 10 Things Every Family Should Know: Aging With Dignity and Independence.

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