Agencies on Aging

By Robert F. Bornstein, PhD and Mary A. Languirand, PhD

People often ask us if there is a place they can go to obtain information regarding service for older adults-an "information hub" that's a good place to start when you're not sure where to go, and who to ask. There is indeed-your local Agency on Aging (AOA).

Most counties in America have a local AOA, staffed with people who serve the needs of community members age 60 and over. Their mission is simple: to allow older adults and people with disabilities to "live with dignity and choice in their homes and communities for as long as possible."

Initially created in 1973 following passage of the Older Americans Act, your local AOA can be a tremendous resource, advocating for retiree-friendly programs at the local, state, and national levels, and coordinating social services within the community (everything from Meals on Wheels to elder abuse prevention). AOA staff are available to answer questions and address problems (within reason), and you should feel free to use their services-it's your right. You may also want to consider getting involved in your local AOA as a staffer or volunteer; agencies encourage those who receive their services to take part in the action.

AOA staff members are often extremely devoted to their clientele: When we sat on the Citizen's Advisory Council of the Adams County, PA AOA back in the 1990s, the Director took a personal interest in every individual who sought services-so much so that he would often make after-hours home visits to people living alone if they hadn't checked in with the agency in a while.

You can contact your local AOA by phone (they should be listed in the Human Services section of the phone book), or call the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging at 202-296-8130. You can also reach them online at, or by mail at 927 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington, DC, 20036.


Robert Bornstein and Mary Languirand are the authors of When Someone You Love Needs Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or In Home Care, which is available at, or may be purchased directly from HarperCollins Publishers.

Our latest book is entitled How to Age in Place: Planning for a Happy, Independent, and Financially Secure Retirement, published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House.