You can find many resources for seniors online and in your local area. Some of those are national companies, such as AARP. Others are regional or focus on resources on the state level. Still others, such as the Area Agency on Aging, are all of these things and offer seniors access to resources on a regional, state, and local level too.
What is an Area Agency on Aging?
The Area Agency on Aging is a conglomerate of organizations that are networked across the United States. Their goal is to provide assistance and access to resources for the senior population found in their localities. In short, they are a gateway organization that helps seniors on the local level.
To help define the “local level,” an Area Agency on Aging works within an assigned geographic location. Those locations can be as large as a several state region, a single state or a geographic area within a state. Most are assigned an area that covers several counties within a state. This allows an Area Agency on Aging to really get to know the local senior population and to focus on finding resources and services that address the unique needs of that population.
What Services Do Area Agencies on Aging Provide?
Most Area Agencies on Aging provide service or information for just about everything that a senior or family member of a senior could need. Here is a closer look at the services that they offer.
- Information and Referral Services – Part of what each Agency does is provides a list of companies that provide services to seniors within their geographic area. These include companies that provide care, legal help, transportation, diet and nutritional services, and insurance or insurance assistance. It is important to note that the Area Agencies on Aging does not provide personal care directly, but instead directs seniors to companies that do provide personal care.
- Referral Services – The Area Agencies on Aging screens and refers companies to seniors within their area.
- Transportation – If you need transportation, such as to a doctor's appointment, the Area Agencies on Aging would be able to refer you to all of the screened companies within your local area. This service also includes transportation services for those seniors in wheelchairs, scooters, and other special adaptive devices.
- Care and Personal Care – If you are a senior who needs personal care or care around your home, then the Area Agencies on Aging can help. They refer companies that offer a variety of care services and can help you find one that best matches your needs. Care services range from house cleaning and yard work to bathing, cooking, and nursing care. In addition to personal care, the Area Agencies on Aging can also refer family members to companies that provide personal care training. One of the most often needed services is caregiver respite, which provides temporary care to a senior which allows the family to run errands, etc.
- Nutritional Services – Seniors can find nutritional help through their Area Agencies on Aging. Services include meal preparation, delivery and nutritional advice, such as how to cook for a diabetic. Seniors and their families can gain access to registered dietitians for nutritional information and companies, such as Meals on Wheels, that provide ready to eat, healthy, and balanced meals to seniors.
- Legal Services – The Area Agencies on Aging has access to free and reduced-rate legal services for seniors and family members so that legal needs are met. They also offer easy access to an Ombudsmen service for those seniors who are in a long-term care facility, working with a home care agency or are under the care of a hospice.
- Insurance – Through your local Area Agencies on Aging seniors can gain access to insurance professionals and those who have experience with health insurance and other forms of insurance. This service allows seniors and their families to find the best type of insurance to fit their needs and budget and to help solve issues that might occur because of insurance.
Where Can I Find an Area Agency on Aging Near Me?
A good first place to look is on the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging's website. There, you will find a simple search tool that allows you to search for your local Area Agency on Aging by your city, state, or by zip code.
You can also begin your search on sites that are well known to help seniors find the local resources they need. Our site helps seniors find resources, and also provides access to an extensive database that contains complaints, ratings, and other helpful information about local companies.
You can also check with your local senior center. The senior center nearest to you might also have information on how to find and contact your local Area Agency on Aging.
The benefit of using an Area Agency on Aging goes beyond simply finding local help. The biggest benefit is that many of the companies on their list have been screened to make sure that they are properly licensed, reliable, and legal.