The House has passed H.R. 4334, the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019, which reauthorizes the Older Americans Act. The bill maintains funding for the important work of the long-term care ombudsman program and continued authority for the National Center on Elder Abuse and National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC). These organizations are critical in preserving the rights and dignity of the elderly and the bill addresses their need for funding to continue providing necessary social services.

Introduced by Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), the Dignity in Aging Act was passed with wide bipartisan support. The House bill reauthorizing the Older Americans Act has moved to the Senate. The Dignity in Aging Act will authorize $12.5 billion through 2024 for federal programs that help the elderly.

Funding in recent years has not kept pace with the needs of a growing senior population, resulting in gaps that those without dedicated advocates can easily slip through. The funding provided by the Dignity in Aging Act will cover comprehensive programs for meal delivery to senior centers, schools, and churches. The Act also includes measures to prevent elder abuse and exploitation, support for family caregivers, and opportunities for community service.

Major beneficiaries of the bill include the National Center on Elder Abuse and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. The National Center on Elder Abuse serves as a resource center for preventing elder mistreatment, providing important services to protect our aging population and prevent and address any instances of abuse. The NCEA shares information about elder abuse and provides training and support to state and community-based organizations. As an active collaborator in elder research, NECA is essential in providing subject matter expertise for program development and innovation.

The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) is another major beneficiary of the Dignity in Aging Act. Funded by the Administration on Aging (AoA), the Center is run by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, in cooperation with the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD).

NORC provides support and training to the 53 state long-term care ombudsman programs and their networks. These long-term care ombudsmen advocate for nursing home and assisted living facility residents, providing information about locating quality care. They also assist with complaints. As per the Older Americans Act, each state must have an ombudsman program that handles complaints and advocates for long-term care system reforms.

All of these resources aim to provide outlets for abuse complaints, which tend to occur while under the care of a nursing home or a long-term care facility. In these types of situations, abuse can present itself as not just physical and emotional abuse, but also as neglect and lack of appropriate care. No matter what age someone is, everyone deserves to be treated with compassion and given adequate attention to their needs.

If you suspect someone you know has been a victim of elder abuse, don’t hesitate to contact any of the organizations responsible for investigating these claims. At Stark & Stark, our experienced lawyers are here to make sure those responsible are held accountable.

Contact information for reporting abuse claims:

National Center on Elder Abuse
Website
Phone: 855-500-3537
Email: ncea-info@aoa.hhs.gov

National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC)
Website
Phone: 202-332-2275
Email: ombudcenter@theconsumervoice.org.