Q: What is an Area Agency on Aging and do we have one in our community?

A: An Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is an agency designated by the state to address the needs of older adults in the community. AAAs were created in 1974 under the Federal Older Americans Act, with the mission of creating home and community-based services to maximize the independence and dignity of older adults.

The demographics in America are shifting and aging quickly. By 2030 it is estimated there will be more then 70 million Americans aged 65 and older, which is twice the number we saw in the year 2000. As people age, the need for health and social support programs to help seniors maintain their quality of life will drastically increase. The AAA’s are set up to bring services to community to help older adults age in place.

AAA is the general term for these agencies, but each local one may use a different name. These agencies are all over the country, and you can look up one near you or a loved one by calling 1-800-510-2020 or visiting https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/About/Aging_Network/AAA.aspx .

If you are seeking services for an older adult anywhere in the country, you can start by contacting the local AAA for that area. They will provide many services and referrals to assist you in caring for your loved one.

In Ventura County, the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) is a very robust agency that offers many integral services for older adults and family caregivers, as well as people with disabilities. They offer an Aging and Disability Resource Center, transportation services, home delivered meals, caregiver resources, fall prevention programs, health insurance counseling, a shared housing program called Homeshare, and much more.

By working with community partners and non-profit organizations the VCAAA is able to expand their reach to all areas of the county and provide a wide variety of services.

During the COVID pandemic, the VCAAA played an important role in ensuring older adults and people with disabilities had what they needed to stay safe at home. This included expanding their home delivered meals programs, creating food boxes to deliver to people’s homes, developing services to bridge the digital divide, offering rides to vaccination clinics, and organizing a mobile vaccination to go to people’s homes if they are home bound.

You can learn more about the VCAAA at their website https://www.vcaaa.org/ or by calling 805-477-7300.

Senior Concerns will be presenting a free seminar via Zoom on the VCAAA on Wednesday, April 27th at 2pm. This will be an opportunity to learn from the agency’s Public Information Officer, Jannette Jauregui, about all their programs and services. Register at https://www.seniorconcerns.org/seminars/ or learn more by calling 805-407-0189.

In Los Angeles, the AAA is named the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging. You can learn more at https://aging.lacity.org/ or by calling 213-482-7252. This agency also operates meal programs, social service programs, transportation programs and more.

The AAAs also provide services to reduce social isolation. The COVID pandemic highlighted an already important issue among older adults and people with disabilities. Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks of physical and mental health conditions. This includes high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression and cognitive decline. Reach out to your local AAA to learn what they offer to increase socialization in your area.

As of 2016, there were 622 AAAs in the country. Each one is mandated to create their programs and services to meet the specific needs in their community. Therefore, no two AAAs should be exactly alike, although their core service areas may be similar. One thing does remain constant, if you are looking for services to support an older adult in your community, the local AAA is a great place to start.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org.

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