GAO: Older Americans Act: HHS Could Help Rural Service Providers by Centralizing Information on Promising Practices

Key Takeaways

“To stay in their homes as they age, older adults often need services such as in-home care, meal delivery, and transportation to medical appointments. Under the Older Americans Act of 1965, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funds grants to help state and local agencies provide these services. Rural older adults are identified as important service recipients because of their economic and social needs.”

“However, studies indicate that rural older adults received certain services, such as home-delivered meals, less frequently than urban older adults. Local officials and service providers told us how reaching older adults in remote, sparsely populated areas can add to the cost and effort of providing services, and how a dwindling working-age population can mean fewer caregivers and volunteers to help.”

Why This Matters

“Rural areas cover the vast majority of the country and tend to be “grayer” than urban areas, with higher percentages of older adults. Many older adults prefer to stay in their homes as they age, but it can be difficult to connect rural older adults to needed services.”

What GAO Recommends

“HHS should centralize access to and promote awareness of promising practices or other useful information pertinent to serving rural older adults. HHS agreed.” Read the full 92-page report here.

Source: Older Americans Act: HHS Could Help Rural Service Providers by Centralizing Information on Promising Practices – June 24, 2019. GAO.

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