The White House is releasing $1.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan to help older Americans. The money will be used to reach more older adults with COVID-19 vaccinations, bolster nutrition programs, combat loneliness and offer support to family members who take care of elderly loved ones.
The focus is largely on helping older adults remain in their communities.
The funding, which will go through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living, was accompanied by a proclamation Monday for Older Americans Month in May. In it, President Joe Biden emphasized the contributions of older Americans to their families, communities and the country.
“We celebrate older Americans and the key role they play in sharing the wisdom and experience that inform today’s decisions and actions, and fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities. And we recognize our responsibility to ensure that every American has the opportunity to age with dignity,” he said.
He pointed out that during COVID-19, older adults have faced “tremendous hardships,” from social isolation and accompanying sorrows to comprising most of the deaths from the novel coronavirus. But he noted that older adults have also “stepped up to support their families, friends and neighbors. They are among our essential workers, volunteers and donors, bolstering their communities and inspiring others to do the same.”
He added that the American Rescue Plan puts their needs “at the forefront of our country’s path to recovery.”
The $1.4 billion includes:
Meals: $750 million for home-delivered and grab-and-go meals for those who normally eat at senior centers that the pandemic closed. States can now also opt to reopen those congregate meal settings if it can be done safely.
Help with home tasks: $460 million for home and community-based services that are provided under the Older Americans Act, including grocery shopping and household chores, transportation to doctors and grocery stores and case management.
Promoting health: $44 million for programs like fall prevention, chronic disease management and mental health diagnosis and treatment in older adults.
Caregiver support: $145 million in services to help families care for their loved ones in home settings, including respite care and training, among others supports.
Advocate for those in long-term care: $10 million for ombudsman programs for the safe return of folks who left long-term care during the pandemic, as well as health, rights and safety promotion of residents.
The administration emphasized this is not the only funding for programs for older adults and highlighted other help that’s been offered, including more access to affordable housing for seniors, vaccines and testing for older residents of housing programs and expanded food assistance for low-income older adults.
Also noted were proposals for “robust investment in the caregiving economy.” Even before the pandemic, experts predicted significant growth in the share of older adults who would need long-term services, whether at home, in nursing homes or in assisted-living facilities. The American Jobs Plan includes addressing some of those needs by expanding access to long-term services and supports by $400 billion.