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House Reauthorizes Support Services for Older Americans

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed H.R. 4334, the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019, which reauthorizes the Older Americans Act (OAA).

“AARP applauds the House of Representatives for passing the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019,” said AARP Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Bill Sweeney. “For many older Americans, the key to being able to stay in their own homes and communities, where they want to be, is the dedication and commitment of family caregivers.”

The Older Americans Act provides critical services—such as home-delivered and congregate meals, family caregiver support, in-home assistance, preventive health services, transportation, job training, protection from abuse, and other supportive services.

The bipartisan bill would reauthorize for five years the Older Americans Act, which benefits nearly 11 million older adults as well as their paid and unpaid caregivers, according to Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), the legislation’s sponsor.

“Under this bill, all OAA programs are eligible to immediately receive a 7% increase in funding and a 6% increase each year thereafter,” said Ms. Bonamici. “This will result in a more than 35% total increase in program funding over the 5-year reauthorization program, restoring OAA funding to the pre-recession baseline.”

Among other features, the bill extends support services for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients beginning at 60 years old previously starting at 65.

According to the AARP, an estimated 40 million family caregivers provide $470 billion annually in unpaid care to their loved ones — ranging from bathing and dressing to paying bills and transportation and assisting with complex medical and nursing tasks.

“By supporting family caregivers, we can help people live independently in their own homes, helping to delay or prevent more costly nursing home care and unnecessary hospitalizations,” said Mr. Sweeny.

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