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“Promises made to America’s seniors must be promises kept.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), senior Democrat on the Retirement Security and Aging Subcommittee of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, urged the bipartisan reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA) at today’s Committee hearing. Created in 1965, the OAA is essential for the delivery of social and nutritional services for America’s seniors.

“Seniors today are living longer, healthier lives. We must do what we can to help them be as independent and active as possible. We must provide the resources necessary to meet new challenges and support our seniors,” said Senator Mikulski. “Reauthorizing the OAA is a responsibility we have to our seniors. Promises made when the OAA was created must be promises kept.”

The reauthorization bill strengthens current OAA programs, and creates new innovative initiatives to address the needs of our country’s aging population. The legislation supports programs such as information and referral services that are the backbone of OAA programs, senior nutrition programs and elder abuse programs.

The bill also contains several priorities that Senator Mikulski has been fighting for:

— NORC Aging in Place Initiative: provides for a new national innovative grant program that will support and enhance the ability of seniors to age in place by providing them with necessary support resources, including transportation, health programs and social work services. The program builds on the success of Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) programs, which have a proven track record in Maryland communities in Baltimore and Montgomery County.

— National Family Caregiver Support Program: increases the federal investment over the next five years to make sure there are adequate resources for this program, which helps family caregivers with information, resources and respite care. The bill also lowers the age eligibility for the program for individuals with Alzheimer’s from 60 to

55 years of age.

— Emergency Preparedness for Seniors: requires states and Area Agencies on Aging to coordinate and develop plans to establish guidelines for addressing the senior population during a disaster or emergency.

— Senior Community Service Employment Program: supports critical program that helps seniors gain employment in community service settings such as Meals on Wheels programs, senior centers and public libraries.

The Senate bill strengthens the community service component of this vital program.

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