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AAA's serve Nebraskans throughout the state
Lincoln - Nebraska's eight Area Agencies on Aging (AAA's) have been creative in meeting the needs of clients across the state, according to Cynthia Brammeier, Administrator for the State Unit on Aging (SUA).
During the current pandemic, the Older Americans Act (OAA), which primarily provides nutrition, health promotion and disease prevention, caregiver programs, and legal services to Nebraska senior adults, has been put to good use. These services are often provided through senior centers located around the state. These grants are based on census data for those aged 60+.
The OAA regulates aging programs and requirements which are designed to help people age in a place of their own choosing. Financial and social services, especially for those living in a rural community, minorities, and people with limited English speaking skills are available, with federal priorities aimed at those most in need.
In March, Nebraska received emergency funding as a result of the pandemic, which permits flexibility between the categories of services. The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) totaled an additional $5.7 million for programming. This funding has been used to support expanded services from grab and go and home delivered meals, to activities helping with social isolation, and caregiver services including counseling, training and support groups, and providing “Needs Bags" to caregivers with PPE products, and shelf stable foods. Staff conduct well-check calls to clients, which allows for responsive and adaptive solutions at the local level.
Funds were also used in some agencies within the state to support the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) through University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop materials related to telehealth technologies for older adults. This provides better access to safe health care for seniors without the need to leave their homes. Several AAA's have initiated one-time projects to address safety items within a client's home, such as step repair, railing replacement, and snow removal, and have used funding to increase the Ombudsman Program Coordinator's hours, legal services, and insurance counseling.
The SUA established new documentation requirements to accommodate this flexibility in spending the additional funds. It is expected that senior centers will continue to be maintained and reopened once the public health emergency is over. Additionally, Brammeier states that some of these programs and services may become permanent, such as grocery delivery and prescription and mail pick up for example.
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