The Older Americans Act was enacted in 1965, and supports a range of home and community-based services, such as Meals On Wheels and other nutrition programs, in-home services, transportation, legal services, elder abuse prevention, and caregivers support. The law established the system for funding local programs— Federal funds flow through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs to Area Agencies on Aging. The local Area Agencies on Aging use the funds to provide services to elders in their homes.
In addition to Area Agencies on Aging, Massachusetts has Aging Services Access Point agencies to provide state-funded services authorized within Section 19A of Massachusetts General Laws. In Massachusetts, there are 22 Area Agencies on Aging and 26 Aging Services Access Points. In many cases, a single agency serves as both the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and the Aging Services Access Point (ASAP).
Two major services offered by all AAA/ASAP agencies—Information & Referral and Options Counseling—are available to elders, adults with disabilities, and caregivers at no charge.
Information and Referral Specialists offer advice on all aspects of elder care and aging and services for adults of all ages with disabilities. In addition, resources to individuals, families, and professionals are available. Trained staff guide callers through the many aging and disability resources available and help obtain the most appropriate and current information.
Options Counselors are state-trained counselors for people age 60 and older, or age 22 and older with a disability. This service is short term– usually about 30 days. Counselors can meet with consumers by phone, online (i.e., zoom), email, in person, or a combination. Options Counseling is available to people who reside at home, in nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, and to caregivers wherever they may live, including out of state.
Options counselors can help with:
- Finding all available community care options for people age 60 and older, or age 22 and older with a disability
- Ensuring that the individual retains control over the process
- Unbiased information to help you weigh the pros and cons of each available option
- Referrals to other services on your behalf
Boston’s North Shore communities are covered by three AAA/ASAP agencies:
- SeniorCare Inc.
Provides services to: Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester by the Sea, Rockport, Topsfield and Wenham.
- Greater Lynn Senior Services
Provides services to: Lynn, Lynnfield, Nahant, Saugus and Swampscott
(Formerly Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore Elder Services)
Provides services to: Danvers, Salem, Peabody, Middleton, Marblehead, Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Boxford, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Merrimack, Methuen, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Rowley, Salisbury, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, West Newbury, Westford
Although each of these agencies has specific services and programs, they all provide the same basic services to help promote aging in place—assisting older residents with basic services so that they can stay in their homes as long as possible.
If this seems a bit overwhelming, there is good news. Massachusetts has a “No Wrong Door” policy. If you need services for yourself or an elder in your life, you can contact any AAA/ASAP in the state—regardless of your location—and that agency will help you contact the correct agency for you or your loved one’s needs.
For more information on aging services in Massachusetts, visit these websites:
- Mass Options – Your Link to Community Services, www.massoptions.org
- Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, www.mass.gov/orgs/executive-office-of-elder-affairs