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Older Americans Act


Signed into law in 1965, the Older Americans Act (OAA) is the primary vehicle for delivering social and nutrition programs to older adults. OAA authorizes these
programs through a national network of 56 state agencies on aging, 629 area agencies on aging, nearly 20,000 service providers, 244 Tribal organizations and two Native Hawaiian organizations. The program is administered through the Administration on Aging (AoA) which manages a comprehensive, coordinated, and cost-effective system of services that helps older adults maintain their health and independence in their homes and communities. The largest health program in the OAA is the nutrition program, which comprises congregate dining and home-delivered meals.

Academy Resources

Key Points

  • OAA programs provide critical services, including healthy meals, to older adults who might otherwise be at risk of malnutrition. About 11 million (one in five) older adults are served annually by OAA programs.
  • A varied, healthy diet that takes into account the particular nutritional needs of older Americans keeps older adults healthy and independent.
  • Nutrition therapy and interventions are cost-effective:
    • The cost of one day in a hospital is roughly the same cost as providing a patient with one year of meals through OAA nutrition programs.
    • The cost of one month in a nursing home is the same cost as providing an OAA nutrition client with mid-day meals, five days per week, for seven years.
  • As primary prevention and health promotion, medical nutrition therapy delivered by registered dietitian nutritionists as part of OAA nutrition programs lessens chronic disease risk and addresses nutrition problems that can lead to more serious and costly conditions and adverse effects.

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