Whether they know it or not, older adults across the United States rely on critical programs and services funded by the Older Americans Act (OAA) to help them live safely in their homes and communities as they age.

By the year 2030, more than one in five people in the United States will be 65 or older. Increasing our investment in cost-effective OAA programs and services is a critical step in responding to the needs of our aging America. Santa Cruz County’s elderly population is around 30-percent, the second-largest proportional group of seniors in the state.

The vital OAA dollars sent to states and communities every year provide a wide range of services that prevent unnecessary nursing home placement, promote healthy aging and help people age with independence and dignity where they want to be – in their homes and communities.

The OAA helps millions of older adults each year by providing in-home supportive services that assist them to bathe, get dressed or maintain a clean and safe home. It provides transportation programs to keep older adults engaged in the community. OAA-supported home-delivered meals or dining at community centers supports the nutritional and social needs of older adults, while evidence-based community programs help people manage their chronic conditions and prevent falls. Family caregiver supports offered through OAA help those who help older adults.

The Older Americans Act is due to be reauthorized by Congress later this year, and negotiations are already underway in both the House and Senate to get this act passed. Thanks in part to a longstanding history of bipartisan support, this upcoming reauthorization presents an opportunity for our nation to recognize the needs of older adults and their caregivers in Santa Cruz County, and in communities around the country.

Family Health Care Amigos, a non-profit corporation whose mission is to assist the elderly and disabled, has joined the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) in calling on Congress to support and expand the act.

Please let your congressional representatives know you support this re-authorization.

Linda Huffstetler-Dearing

Patagonia

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