Older Americans Act
The OAA contains several intergenerational provisions. These lesser-known areas provide for programs that encourage the young and old to share their talents and resources and support each other in relationships that benefit both individuals and the community.
In 1965, Congress enacted the Older Americans Act (OAA) to provide grants to states to develop and improve services and programs to help older people. The services provided by the OAA have made a notable difference in the lives of millions of older adults and those who care about them. Reauthorized in 2006, it now includes significant additions to the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) and new provisions for multigenerational demonstration projects.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) was the first major intergenerational initiative in the Older Americans Act and the first OAA program to provide services directly to individuals under 55 years old. Through the NFCSP, caregivers can access critical supportive services including:
- Individual counseling
- Support groups and caregiver training
- Respite care and supplemental services
Agencies can use up to 10 percent of the funding appropriated for the NFCSP to provide support services to grandparents or relatives over age 55 who are raising relatives’ children.
Over three million older Americans participate in senior meals programs each year under the Older Americans Act, Title III C. Meals are provided to individuals who need them most. Seventy three percent of home-delivered meal recipients are at high nutritional risk, and 62 percent of them receive half or more of their daily food intake from their home-delivered meals. An additional four million older Americans suffer from food insecurity or the inability to afford, prepare, or acquire food. While the main goal of the OAA nutrition programs is to feed older people in need, it also plays an invaluable role in giving participating seniors the opportunity to socialize and remain engaged in their community.
The 2006 reauthorization of the OAA provided for grants to fund multigenerational activities and civic engagement activities. The OAA gives examples of a range of activities, as well as defining some important terms. To be eligible for a grant, an organization can:
- Promote volunteerism, and facilitate the development of and participation in multigenerational activities and civic engagement activities through the use of a multigenerational coordinator
- Support grandparents or other older relatives raising children
- Involve older volunteers in providing support and information to families with special needs