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May is Older Americans Month

The Older Americans Act was enacted in 1965. This ground-breaking law was the first federal government initiative to provide broad-based assistance to older adults that would help them stay in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. If you have ever been a caregiver for an aging loved one, you probably know how much they cherish their independence and how much they appreciate their connection to familiar surroundings.

The Older Americans Act supports many programs that enable seniors to maintain that level of independence.

Meals on Wheels, for example, is supported by this landmark law. Through Meals on Wheels, hundreds of volunteers deliver nutritious meals to older adults (60+) who can no longer do their own grocery shopping or who can no longer easily prepare their own balanced meals. If you would like to learn more about eligibility requirements or if you would like to become a volunteer with this extraordinary program, contact your local Area Agency on Aging at 1-877-353-3771.

The month of May is National Older Americans Month, a strong tradition that demonstrates our nation’s commitment to recognizing the achievements and contributions of older Americans. Further, this annual recognition day also gives us the opportunity to showcase available programs and services in Maine that can make a tremendous difference in our communities.

For example, in addition to Meals on Wheels, another program that helps thousands of older Mainers every year is the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program commonly known as SNAP.

SNAP helps those who qualify with the cost of groceries, a much needed benefit during these tough economic times. SNAP participants use an electronic benefits card to purchase their groceries. Eligibility is based on a number of factors including: citizenship, the size of the household, any mobility issues, monthly household income and expenses including medical expenses, and then total assets.

Applications are available at many locations statewide including the Department of Health and Human Services Regional Offices, Town Offices and, of course, the local Area Agency on Aging.

The Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is another important resource when searching for information about local services and programs for those who may be in need of extra assistance. You can find out much more online or by calling 1-800-499-0229.

Perhaps the best way we can acknowledge Older Americans Month is by helping our friends, family and loved-ones remain independent and in their own homes and communities for years to come. This is the reason the Older Americans Act was enacted in the first place and it deserves to be recognized each May.

As always, AARP is working with local agencies and other partners to raise awareness around issues that affect older Mainers, and we certainly hope that you find information about these programs useful.

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