State Agencies for Aging and Disabilities
NASUAD members represent agencies of state and territorial governments designated by governors to administer, manage, design and advocate for benefits, programs and services for older adults, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers. In 1964 the organization was founded to help support the development of a comprehensive system to support seniors. The Older Americans Act (OAA) was signed into law in 1965 and today it remains the cornerstone of home and community based services and supports. Through a state network of area agencies on aging, centers for independent living, and service providers, a range of services is provided to seniors and people with disabilities including services such as congregate and home delivered meals, respite, transportation, information and assistance, transportation, respite, adult day health, employment, and advocacy on behalf of seniors and individuals with disabilities.
The specific title and organization of the governmental unit will vary from state to state and may be called a Department, Office, Bureau, Commission for the elderly, seniors, aging, older adults and/or adults with physical disabilities. Regardless of the exact title, these state government agencies all share a common agenda of providing the opportunities and supports for older persons and individuals with disabilities to live independent, meaningful, productive, dignified lives and maintain close family and community ties.
Policy, Planning, and Advocacy
State agencies on aging and disabilities also have significant policy, planning and advocacy roles in leveraging other federal, state and local public and private funds to support programs that support community living. Today, in addition to the OAA, in all states, states administer state funded home and community based programs for older persons, the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waiver programs for the elderly, and/or programs for younger adults with physical disabilities. The goal of these programs is the development of a comprehensive service system that enables individuals to remain independent in their homes and communities and avoid unnecessary institutionalization. In addition to a primary focus in each state on home and community based services, states have the mission to assure that seniors and individuals with disabilities have their civil rights, autonomy and dignity protected, their claims to entitlements honored, and their contracts and covenants for care and benefits fulfilled. States address that mission through the administration of a number of programs including the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program; Adult Protective Services; State Health Insurance Program; and Legal Services Program.
All state agencies play significant roles in ensuring that all older persons and individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to continue productive lives in their communities through the administration of a variety of programs, such as employment and training/workforce development, health promotion and disease prevention, volunteer and intergenerational activities.