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Older Americans Act - Conclusion

age aging aging administration oaa care

After very shaky early years and a remarkable spurt of growth in the 1970s, the OAA has had a fairly stable history in more recent years. However, attention has shifted from addressing the preferences of relatively able older people living in the community to meeting the needs of very frail people in hopes of allowing them to remain in the community. As a result of this "geriatric imperative," the OAA, and especially the aging network agencies it brought into existence, have found themselves increasingly drawn to the world of long-term health care. Given that these clients' needs are multifaceted and the agencies serving them are multiple in number, it has become increasingly important for individual states to tailor their response to these new pressures in a coordinated manner. Many of the agencies created through the OAA have been key players across the nation in implementing these coordinated long-term care efforts.

Because the OAA itself has not grown during this period of long-term care expansion, it has become a relatively smaller element in this new and larger service universe. And the Administration on Aging—charged with running the OAA from Washington—has itself been weakened by years of personnel and funding cuts. Indeed, AoA's most recent strategic plan is again reminiscent of the symbolism of the early years, speaking of the need "to provide leadership," "promote cross-cutting initiatives," and "gerontologize America" (U.S. Administration on Aging, 1985). Yet, those who designed the OAA and those who continue to oversee it from today's AoA can take considerable solace in the fact that many state and other agencies operating from the now ubiquitous "aging network" are playing leadership and cross-cutting roles across the nation.



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