Area Agency on Aging: NCOA recommends help for elders

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    By Kay Kaylor
    PREVIEW Columnist

    I advocate for residents in skilled nursing and assisted living residences as the regional long-term care ombudsman. I also am a Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor, all as an employee of San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA). The many aging and care concerns will be addressed here.

    In a press release from Jan. 21, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a nonprofit that operates benefitscheckup.org and other websites, gives four recommendations to the new federal administration to protect elders. 

    NCOA notes on its website, “We partner with nonprofit organizations, government and businesses to provide innovative community programs and services, online help and advocacy.” Its Social Impact Goal is to “improve the health and economic security of 40 million older adults by 2030.” 

    The first recommendation, “Invest in a coordinated, equitable vaccine distribution program,” acknowledges the proposed federal plans and spending for the first 100 days of 2021 but emphasizes the need for municipalities to have flexibility to address local needs. NCOA urges equal access and “culturally competent messaging” for older adults who are hard to reach while also partnering with community organizations.

    Due to higher unemployment for people age 55 and older, NCOA supports wider access to job training and placement programs and continued unemployment insurance for older adults. It asks for expanded funding for a Department of Labor program started in 1965, the Senior Community Service Employment Program, as part of the second recommendation.

    NCOA advocates for increased funding to strengthen the “social safety net” in its third recommendation so that elders can remain independent. Such programs include Medicaid, home care services and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

    Finally, the fourth recommendation seeks more federal funding for the aging network, such as senior centers and area agencies on aging. These organizations provide supportive services on the “frontlines of the pandemic.” 

    This fiscal year, NCOA notes, Older Americans Act programs received only “modest” funding increases.

    SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare; see sjbaaa.org. For further information, please call or text 403-2165 or send an email to kkaylor@sjbaaa.org.