Time to Celebrate Older Americans

Since 1963, May has been Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate seniors and the anniversary of the Older Americans Act, which helps millions of people every year.

Our country is getting older; soon more than 77 million people will be over the age of 60, and more than 34 million people - mostly family and friends - will be supporting a loved one who is over 60. Both these groups are expected grow for the next several decades. That is why it is crucial that we act now to make sure that older Americans have the support they need to continue to live healthy and productive lives.

Last month President Obama signed the Older Americans Act (OAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016 which funds a variety of well-known and effective programs that ease the difficulty seniors and their families face as they age.

For example, the OAA's support for Meals on Wheels, family caregivers, and transportation will help families keep their loved ones out of nursing homes, thereby helping avoid Medicaid costs. Decisions on how to meet the needs of aging family members are always difficult, but the OAA will give some of the tools necessary to make the process easier. Many of these programs include preventive measures that save taxpayers money in the long run.

Other provisions are aimed at reducing scams and elder abuse by helping states train law enforcement officers, health care providers, and other professionals to recognize and respond to elder abuse.

The final bill that Congress and the President approved increases funding by 6% over the next three years, reflecting the growth in the senior population.

The Older Americans Act helps seniors live in dignity. By signing this law, President Obama has helped millions of older Americans improve their health, independence, and quality of life.

In the Administration's statement regarding the Older Americans Act, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee stated, "For more than 50 years, the Older Americans Act has helped people live the lives they want, with the people they choose, throughout their lives."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Robert Roach, Jr. is president of the Alliance for Retired Americans. He was previously General Secretary‐Treasurer of the IAMAW.