A Month of Celebrations
July is a month of celebrations, or at least it should be! In July, we should celebrate the anniversaries of the Older Americans Act (July 14), Americans with Disabilities Act (July 26), and Medicare/Medicaid (July 30), as well as Age Friendly Seattle (July 27), an initiative that took root just three years ago.
The first three represent important federal legislation that supports the people that Aging and Disability Services (ADS) serves, as well as our families, friends, and ourselves. And Age Friendly Seattle is part of a growing national movement toward age-friendly communities. I’m proud that our agency staff works in all four areas.
Older Americans Act and Area Agencies on Aging
The Older Americans Act of 1965 established the national network of federal, state, and local agencies that plan and provide services that help older people live independently in their homes and communities. Area Agencies on Aging were added to the Act in 1973, to provide “on the ground” services and supports.
Did you know that Aging and Disability Services, as the Area Agency on Aging for King County, served more than 46,000 people in 2018—unduplicated? You’ll find that number on the final page of their 2018 Client Profile, and earlier pages provide numbers for each of their core Older Americans Act programs—adult day services, care coordination, information and assistance, person-center options counseling, elder abuse prevention, caregiver support, respite, kinship services, health promotion, legal assistance, PEARLS, senior centers, transportation, and the big ones: nutrition (congregate, emergency, and home-delivered meals) and case management services.
Americans with Disabilities Act—a civil rights law
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. ADA Title II applies to state and local government entities—of which ADS and the City of Seattle are one—and protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities that ADS provide. For a quick overview, click on the ADA Notice that appears at the bottom of every City of Seattle webpage.
I’m proud of Age Friendly Seattle, which I’ll talk about below, and the Northwest Universal Design Council(NWUDC), staffed by ADS, for pushing the ADA envelope over the past couple years. They recognized that the intent of the ADA is even more important than the letter of the law—it’s not enough just to give someone with a disability in the door for an event or just access to services. Their experience needs to be comparable to that of someone who does not have a disability.
Age Friendly Seattle developed a Community Guide to Accessible Events & Meetings and has presented it at a variety of events, local and national, including an NWUDC forum on May 30 that filled the Bertha Knight Landes Room at Seattle City Hall to the brim. Kudos to all involved!
Medicaid provides funding for core services
Medicare resulted from Title XVIII of the Social Security Act amendments of 1965—just days after the Older Americans Act was passed. More than 55 million people age 65+ (or under 65 with a disability) rely on Medicare for their health insurance.
At the same time, Medicaid resulted from Title XIX (“19”) of the Social Security Act amendments, which established a joint state-federal program to provide health care for people of all ages who have low incomes and certain disabilities. More than 65 million people rely on Medicaid for their health insurance. Of course, Title XIX is a major source of funding for the ADS Case Management Program—our largest core program—in which case managers help clients hire the in-home care they require to live independently and arrange for other types of long-term services and supports.
Age Friendly Communities
As I mentioned at the top of the article, Age Friendly Seattle launched three years ago. Last year, on its anniversary date, Age Friendly Seattle submitted its Action Plan for 2018–2021. No longer a new initiative or a pilot, Age Friendly is another line of business for Aging and Disability Services that works in nontraditional ways to make Seattle a great place to grow up and grow old. The Age Friendly Coalition for Seattle and King County is a place that Aging Network advocates (professionals, community activists and those who would like to become active) can talk about how to expand age-friendly communities throughout King County. All are welcome at the table. You are invited to participate! For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
Each of the programs listed above makes a difference for ADS clients and for our community. I raise my virtual glass of lemonade and toast their success. Happy anniversaries, and happy summer!
Contributor Ava Frisinger chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. She welcomes input from readers via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.
This article originally appeared in AgeWise King County (July 2019).