Aging in Place Services More Important Now Than Ever

Aging in place resources grew to new heights in 2013, as more organizations than ever in recent years increased their focus toward enabling seniors and disabled individuals to live independently for as long as possible within their homes and surrounding communities, according to a new survey on aging services.

Today, there are more than 70% of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) providing what’s known as “diversion programs” to keep people living in their homes longer, an increase from less than one-third that were providing such services in 2008, says the 2013 National Aging Network Survey of Areas on Aging.

The 2013 survey was designed to assess the evolving role AAAs play in the long-term care system, especially when considering their positions in new health care delivery.

With a grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, the National Association of Areas Agencies on Aging (n4a) partnered with Miami University’s (Ohio) Scripps Gerontology Center of Excellence to learn how AAAs are not only enhancing, but evolving services to meet community needs in the coming years.

Currently, there are 618 AAAs nationwide. Established in 1973 under the Older Americans Act, these organizations help adults aged 60 and older maintain their independence by providing services to help them live in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

AAAs provide a wide variety of services not only for the elderly, but for individuals living with disabilities, too. These services span from healthcare-related programs such as disease prevention, case management, insurance counseling and respite care, to programs specializing in providing transportation resources, preventing elder abuse and transitioning from hospital to home.

Despite the array of integral services these organizations provide for America’s most vulnerable population, demographic trends and funding present several challenges.

By 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be age 65 and older, reports the n4a in its study. Coupling this with the nearly 90% of adults in this age group who want to age in place, federal funding is crucial for AAAs to provide their services for a vastly aging population.

In 2013, the budget of the average AAA was over $9 million, which n4a noted as a nearly 6% increase from 2010. However, while the average budget increased, the median budget decreased, as more than half of AAAs have a budget below $3.9 million.

The economic downturn has had a strong impact on AAAs, as well, with more than 95% of these organizations reporting being affected, leading them to reorganize and change their operations.

Facing difficulties in securing enough federal funds to meet the needs in their communities, nearly all AAAs (98%) draw on multiple sources of funding in addition to Older Americans Act dollars.

The web-based survey spanned from July 2013 through September 2013 and included data responses from 63% of AAAs, or approximately 391 organizations.

View the full report.

Written by Jason Oliva

Jason Oliva