Eat Right Georgia

OAA Protects Older Americans, Includes RDN Services

May is Older Americans Month but with the National Council on Aging reporting that 1 in 6 older adults is at risk for hunger, this is no reason to celebrate.1 The good news is that for individuals aged 60 and older, resources are available under the Older Americans Act to help combat hunger in an effort to reduce malnutrition and hospital admissions while helping older Americans keep their independence.

 

The Older Americans Act (OAA), initially signed into law in July 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, establishes funding for a multitude of services for older Americans carried out by the Administration on Aging (AOA).  Benefits include caregiver support, preventative health services, transportation, job training, elder abuse prevention and most importantly, nutrition programming! 2 The Office of Nutrition and Health Promotion Programs manages the various nutrition programs with the aim to promote the health and well-being of older adults while reducing adverse health conditions, hunger, and food insecurity among older individuals. 3 Here in GA during the 2013 Federal Fiscal Year, 13,758 residents benefited from a home delivered program and 14,331 residents enjoyed congregate meals – all made possible with funding from the OAA.4 The meals must comply with the dietary guidelines and provide at least 1/3 of the RDAs per meal under the supervision of a Registered Dietitian.

 

Funding for the OAA is not guaranteed; the bill must be reauthorized every five years. The OAA has been in the news recently as reauthorization was due this year. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy) has been actively working for reauthorization given that this legislation will directly impact the Academy's position on nutrition for older adults. The Academy's position paper on Food and Nutrition Programs for Community-Residing Older Adults states that “that older adults should have access to food and nutrition programs that ensure the availability of safe, adequate food to promote optimal nutrition status. Appropriate food and nutrition programs include adequately funded food assistance and meal programs, nutrition education, screening, assessment, counseling, therapy, monitoring, evaluation, and outcomes documentation to ensure more healthful aging6 From grassroots advocacy efforts connecting Registered Dietitians with policy representatives, to a Dietetic Practice Group focused solely on Healthy Aging DPG, the Academy has continued to advocate for funding for these nutrition programs under OAA.

At last summer’s Public Policy Workshop, the reauthorization of the OAA was one the issues that more than five hundred Registered Dietitians discussed with members of Congress. Now almost a year later on April 7th, the Senate unanimously passed the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2016. As the House of Representatives passed the bill on March 21st, in order for funding to be secure all that was left in due process was for President Obama to sign it into law on April 19th. 5 Now with funding secure, find the resources offered by your local area Agency on Aging at http://aging.dhs.georgia.gov/local-area-agencies-aging-aaas

  1. Food & Nutrition. National Council on Aging.  Accessed on May 4, 2016. https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/benefits/food-and-nutrition/

  1. The Older Americans Act. Administration on Community Living. Updated May 16, 2015. Accessed on May 4, 2016. http://acl.gov/NewsRoom/Observances/OAA50/Index.aspxhttps://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/benefits/food-and-nutrition/

  1. Administration on Aging (AOA). Administration on Community Living. Accessed on May 4, 2016. http://www.aoa.acl.gov/AoA_Programs/HPW/Nutrition_Services/index.aspx

  1. Persons Served Under OAA Title III- Estimated Unduplicated Count and Counts of Registered Clients by Service. FFY 2013 (10/01/2012-09/30/2013) OAA Title III State Program Reports (SECTIONS I.A.3 and II.A.1-9) as of 12/19/2014.

  1. Statement from Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee on Older Americans Act Reauthorization Signed Into Law” US Department of Health and Human Services. Updated April 19, 2016.  Accessed on May 4, 2016. http://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2016/04/19/statement-assistant-secretary-aging-kathy-greenlee-older-americans-act-reauthorization.html

  1. Food and Nutrition Programs for Community-Residing Older Adults. EatRightPro. Updated March 2010. Accessed on May 7, 2016. http://www.eatrightpro.org/resource/practice/position-and-practice-papers/position-papers/food-and-nutrition-programs-for-community-residing-older-adults

-Written by Nicole Schutte, RD

 

 

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