President Donald Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which the senators say will strengthen and increase funding for Meals on Wheels and other programs critical to older Americans.
Since 1965, the Older Americans Act supported senior citizens by supporting transportation options, caregiver services, employment, and community service opportunities, among other services. This year’s reauthorization includes increased funding, and additional measures to tackle social isolation.
Specifically, the bipartisan bill will:
- Reauthorize the Older Americans Act for five years with a 7% increase in the initial year, and 6% annually for the remainder of the authorization;
- Extend the RAISE Family Caregivers Act for one additional year;
- Extend the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Council for one year;
- Increase the focus on addressing the detrimental effects of social isolation;
- Improve the availability of transportation resources to seniors;
- Enhance flexibility for states to address the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren;
- Ensure that those living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease are included in key Older Americans Act services;
- Improve elder abuse prevention activities through increased outreach and education activities;
- Increase transparency of home-modification opportunities for eligible older adults.
"Older Americans face immense challenges right now—not only is their health at high risk if they were to contract COVID-19, but many older Americans are also increasingly struggling to go about their daily lives, from ensuring that they have food and groceries to paying their bills to maintaining their mental health as they self-isolate,” said Hassan.
“As a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, millions of seniors are facing tremendous risks to their health, safety, and well-being and need our support now more than ever,” said Shaheen. “I’m very pleased that the Supporting Older Americans Act is now law, because it reauthorizes and bolsters important meal programs, like Meals on Wheels, which provide nutritional assistance to aging Granite Staters.”
More than 30,000 seniors in NH rely on the Meals on Wheels program, which has become strained for resources in parts of the state as NH keeps up with an aging population, and now even more so as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.