There are 655 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) across the United States. When seniors need help within our communities, we are the first call. We encourage, coordinate, and deliver community-based services that link local, public, private, voluntary, and corporate resources. In Missouri, there are 10 AAAs, each serving a different region of the state. We serve Region 1 which includes 17 counties in Southwest Missouri.
The goal set for AAAs by the Older Americans Act is clear: develop comprehensive, coordinated services designed to encourage the optimal health and independence of older adults. Because the range of capabilities among older persons is wide, this is a complex challenge. At one extreme, a senior may be in excellent health without any challenges to independence. At the other extreme, a senior may be very frail and require constant care. In between these two extremes are diverse economic, social, and medical conditions.
An older person may need help from others. For many, this help is provided by a network of family, friends, and neighbors. But a senior who is unable to meet particular needs through such an informal network must increasingly draw upon support from the larger community. This outside support may include a hot meal enjoyed with friends in a senior center dining room and transportation to the doctor or, in more extreme cases, meals delivered to the home, and the regular visits of a homemaker aide.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of an Area Agency on Aging depends upon the ability to appropriately match services to the needs of each individual. This is the calling of an Area Agency on Aging . . . and it defines our identity.