HomeIntroductionSocial Welfare PolicyThe Mission of the OAADiscussionDiscussion Page 2Analyzing the Older Americans Act as it currently standsIII. Evaluating the programsAmendments to the Older Americans Act 2000Resolutions for the Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, 2005The Future of the Older Americans ActConclusionsReferences

DiNitto (2005) gives a good number of standardized questions that could be asked as one sets up the specifics of the evaluation. The specific methodology also needs to be decided upon. Although experimental design is the best method for measuring cause and effect, there are ethical dimensions to be considered (p.394). It would not be acceptable to randomly divide the older age cohorts into case groups, which would be allowed the benefits of the OAA and control groups which would not be allowed to benefit. An alternative is to measure the outcomes of those who voluntarily use the OAA benefits against those who choose not to use the benefits. However, gathering such data would be daunting. The most reasonable method would be to measure outcomes from those who do obtain benefits from the OAA based upon how those outcomes improved their quality of life. Qualitative research within the senior centers can, as an example, ask seniors how they view their experiences at the center. This is the type of data that is constantly required by the federal government of all AAAs in the country and provides a basis of measuring the effectiveness of the programs.

     Dolgoff and Feldstein (2000) suggest specific areas of concern when analyzing and maintain a social welfare policy.

I. Structural Components:

    A. What are the needs and goals to be met?

         Quality of life increases for those over age 60.

         Rural vs. urban: The AoA recognizes that the rural areas are not being served very

         well at this time. They have set a goal that by 2007, 38% of rural elderly will be


    B. What is the form of benefit that the program produces?

             The benefits are not money, but services and goods to save the older adult     

             money. They include the following areas:

                        Adult Protective Services through the Ombudsman program

                        for nursing home residents.

                        Long-term ombudsman program seeks to protect residents rights.

                        Elder Locator to help locate services for the older adult.

                        Employment services for those over age 55.

                        Legal Assistance for simple wills, help on taxes, and the like.

                        Nutritional programs, both Meals on Wheels and congregate meals to

                        help older adults stay healthy and in their own homes.

                        Referral source information for all over 60 to help enable them to find

                        resources and the help that they may need.

                        Linking aging with public health through Title III. D. of the Older

                        Americans Act in preventative programs and practices.

                        Senior Citizen Centers and other sites to provide activities and fellowship

                        among senior citizens.

                        Telephone reassurance programs to reach out to the isolated elderly.

                        Out reach services to identify older adults and their needs.

                        Alternative programs to provide services such as house cleaning,

                        bathing, health screenings, etc. to keep older adults in their own homes.

Similar programs are to be offered to Native Americans.

(Elder Rights & Resources, n.d.) & (Diwan, Berger, & Manns, 1997).

     C. Who is eligible for the program?

      The program is age tested and has three age levels. The employment services are available at age 55. Most services and benefits are available by age 60, and all benefits and services are available at age 65 and up.

     Although the OAA is only age tested, states have, in practice, been doing a balancing act between universal and selective eligibility. Most services are not advertised and purposely saved for those in greatest need. Asking for donations from beneficiaries has become more emboldened. 

    D. How is the program financed?

             The foremost source of revenue is the U.S. general tax revenues. Unfortunately authorizations have differed greatly from appropriations actually received. States and local governments in some cases add funds from their tax streams and local senior citizen centers regularly have fund drives. Many sites have begun to charge a small “membership fee” to belong to the center (usually $20 – 30 per year). Donations are accepted.

     E. What is the level of administration?

On the federal level the Administration on Aging, on the regional level,

PSA’s, on the state level, the State Division of Aging, on the local level

the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and at the grass roots level, senior

citizen centers.

II. Alternative program characteristics

As Justice (1995) considers the OAA program, she writes that the program is not very helpful to the oldest old who are in the most need. She also criticizes the program for not being very flexible towards meeting the divergent needs of the elderly.

A.     Residual, institutional, developmental, or socio-economic development residual: The OAA can refer older adults to other programs to help in residual needs. It does have an effect on nursing homes by providing ombudsmen but does not run institutional housing programs directly (Estes, Zulman, Goldberg, & Ogawa, 2004) and (Home and Community-Based Services for Older Adults, n.d.). However, within the ombudsman program, Jogerst, Daly, Brinig, Dawson, Schumcuh, & Ingram (2003), suggest that domestic elder abuse reports need to be standardized among the states, which is not yet the case.

The OAA is also charged with a mandate to get the local community involved  in the development of other programs to help the senior citizen. Through teaching the use of computers and the Internet, the senior centers may impact the socio-economic development of older Americans.  

B.     Selective or universal:

       The federal intent is that the OAA is a universal program for all Americans over age 60. However, the states are not given enough funds for those lofty goals and are only able to treat the program as if it were selective as they target the poorest segment of older adults. However, any one over 60 is accepted at the centers without a means test.

C. Benefits in money, service, or utilities
    The OAA does not supply money to beneficiaries but, as an information and referral service, does offer to help older adults in filling out forms that may help them receive benefits from other government agencies (How to Find Help, n.d.). One referral services may be to programs who do help the elderly with utility bills and fixing broken windows. However, the bulk of the OAA benefits are in services which include Meals on Wheels and congregate meals, among other benefits (Wellman & Kamp, 2004).

D. Public, or private
     Senior Citizen Centers, although public, are to try to encourage the private sector to help seniors as a part of their federal mandate. Due to cuts in actual funding, the thrust of this endeavor has been to increase the numbers of volunteers from businesses that will deliver Meals on Wheels during their normal lunch breaks (History, n.d.).

E. Central or local        

The OAA programs are provided on the local level with central oversight since funding comes mainly from federal dollars. The Senior Citizen Centers must provide accounting of their activities through the state aging service departments and on to the AoA. Local oversight is also mandated by the states and counties.

    F. Lay or professional

        The AAAs employ professional workers both in aging services and for the senior citizen centers. However, these relatively few people are aided by a host of volunteers who are usually seniors themselves.

An Analysis of the Older Americans Act, December, 2005

The three Davis County, Utah Senior Citizen Centers

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