Paul Kusuda’s column
Older Americans Act -- 2017
Paul H. Kusuda
available to meet all known public needs, they must be found and directed to fully-fund OAA programs.
The federal report, Older Americans 2016: Key Indicators of Well-Being, provided interesting data about older adults in the
U.S. Some of the high lights are:
*In 2014, 46 million age 65 and older were living in the U.S. and comprised 15 percent of the total population. The
projected increase is that the elderly population in 2030 will be twice what it was in 2000, growing from 35 million to 74
million and representing 21 percent of the total U.S. population.
*In 1966, 29 percent of persons age 65 and older lived below the poverty line; by 2014, it dropped down to 10 percent, an
*Between 1974 and 2014, the proportion of low-income older adults declined from 35 to 23 percent; the proportion with high
income rose from 18 to 36 percent.
*In 2014, for persons 65 and older, two-thirds of income came from retirement benefits including Social Security, which
accounted for half of total family income.
*While the number of hospital stays changed a little from 1992 to 2013, the average length of stay steadily decreased from
year to year. In 1992, a Medicare recipient’s average length of hospital stay was 8.4 days, by 2013, it decreased to 5.3.
*Health-care costs per person, adjusted for inflation, rose slightly for those 65 through 74 years of age; however, they were
substantially higher for those 85 and older.
*Average prescription drug costs for non-institutionalized over 65 years of age increased for many years but became
relatively stable from 2005 to 2012, reflecting the fact that low-income subsidies began in 2006.
*Medicare paid for almost 60percent of all health-care costs of enrollees age 65 and older in 2012.
*In 2014, about 1.2 million 65 years and older resided in nursing homes, and nearly 78,000 lived in residential care
facilities such as assisted-living. In both types of settings, people 85 years and older constituted the largest age group
*In 2013, about one-third of non-institutionalized Medicare population age 65 and older limited themselves to daytime
OAA programs cover a variety of services to meet needs of the elderly population. Examples include a variety of programs
aimed to help older residents live well where they want to live, within familiar neighborhoods, and to avoid congregate living
as long as possible. OAA funds are used for meals (including congregate, reduced-cost meal sites, and home-delivered
food), home-care services, protection against physical and other forms of elder abuse, transportation, employability
By Paul H. Kusuda
May is Older Americans Month, as it has since 1980 when President Jimmy Carter changed the
name known previously since 1963 as Senior Citizens Month. Congress must responsibly
increase funding of the Older Americans Act (OAA) to assure continued expenditure of federal
funds to meet needs of elderly U.S. residents. The number, including frail elderly (i.e., persons
85 years and older), increases each year because of advances in medicine and other relevant
reasons. Its proportion within the total U.S. population is also growing rapidly. The net effect is
that as the proportion of elderly (most of whom are retired and out of the job market) grows, the
proportion in total population of those of working-age declines. The dilemma presenting itself
is that the aging population requiring public programs burgeons at the same time the
population from which public funds are derived declines.
Congress recognizes that dilemma and has periodically decided not to increase OAA budgets.
Advocates for the aged once again urge Congress to review its priorities and grant increases
necessary to meet OAA budget needs. Despite the fact that federal funds are not readily
training. It also provides
long-term care ombudsman
programs to protect rights of
frail elderly in institutional
facilities. OAA is cost-effective
and saves public funds by
helping to keep the older
population healthy and able to
remain in their local
communities. It delays or
prevents need for more
expensive institutional care
such as those paid through
use of Medicaid.
Members of Congress should
be prodded by constituents to
increase OAA funding.