Older Americans Act Impact

July 19, 2016 - Serving Seniors

1 billion meals

The Older Americans act was passed into law 51 years ago this month by President Lyndon B. Johnson. We stand by his belief that “The Older Americans Act clearly affirms our nation’s sense of responsibility toward the well-being of all of our older citizens. But even more, the results of this act will help us to expand our opportunities for enriching the lives of all of our citizens in this country, now and in the years to come.”

In the decades since, the OAA has helped seniors remain independent in their homes and communities. OAA programs provide basic necessities such as meals, home-care, help coordinating long-term care, job training, legal services and protection from abuse and neglect in nursing homes. These programs save taxpayer dollars, by reducing health care expenditures and keep people out of nursing homes and other expensive long-term care settings.

In April of this year, Congress passed and the President signed a reauthorization of the OAA, reaffirming our nation’s commitment to the health and well-being of older adults. This was the latest of many milestones for the law over the last 51 years.

Click here to learn more about earlier milestones and the OAA’s impact on older adults

This post was adapted from an article by Administration for Community Living 

Cheers to six years!

May 7, 2016 - Serving Seniors

Celebrating the 6th Anniversary of the Gary and West Senior Wellness Center 

More than 100 seniors gathered at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center today to celebrate the passage of the Older Americans Act (OAA) and the six-year anniversary of the Senior Wellness Center, a community-based health and wellness model of coordinated care located in San Diego that provides seniors access to daily meals and a host of holistic services and supports. cheers

U.S. Representative Scott Peters, a key congressional supporter of OAA, joined the festive celebration and commended Serving Seniors and the Senior Wellness Center, touting the importance of the Center not only to the seniors here locally, but as a nationwide model.

We were really pleased to reauthorize the Older Americans Act,” said Rep. Peters. “It’s very important—it’s the foundation for the federal government support for what you do here.”

Featuring testimonials from regular clients, songs sung by the “West Singing Seniors,” and a ceremonial toast, the event concluded with every senior receiving a “Hope for Successful Aging” bracelet knotted in the shape of the number eight. Each one symbolizes the reality that every eight seconds someone in America turns 65, and that we should all have the ability to age on our own terms.

Our CEO at the White House

July 14, 2015 - Serving Seniors

What does it mean to get older in 2015? The President of the United States convened a group of the nation’s top experts and leaders on older Americans to answer this question at the White House Conference on Aging on July 13. Among those in the group of about 200 attendees was our president and CEO, Paul Downey.


“It was very exciting to be part of the White House Conference on Aging.  Sitting in the East Room of the White House listening to an inspirational speech by the President that touched on our core values of assisting seniors in need and doing so with passion was very moving.   The rest of the sessions, which included the Secretaries of HHS, Labor, Agriculture and the Surgeon General, were also important because they emphasized the importance of strong and supportive policies for our nation’s seniors.”

Paul Downey, and West Health’s CEO, Shelley Lyford, attended the once-in-a-decade conference, to be part of the conversation about planning for retirement, caring for older loved ones, and working to improve our quality of life as we age.


2015 also marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. These reminders of where we have been helped set the stage for discussions about our booming population of seniors.

“In just about every field, Americans who once might have been dismissed as out of touch or past their primes are making vital contributions in every field. And all of us, as a consequence, are able to raise our own ambitions about what we hope to achieve in our golden years,” said President Obama in his remarks to the group.

More than 70 million Baby Boomers are rapidly aging and putting unprecedented pressure on the long-term care industry. The way caregiving is managed today will not be sustainable for the future, said panelists. Mirian Rose, a senior research analyst at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging in Cleveland, advocates providing family caregivers with respite care—planned and funded temporary relief.

“Most people don’t have long-term care insurance,” said Rose. “They think Medicare is going to pay for a nursing home or long-term home health services, and that is not true. So there’s a lot of education and more thinking at the policy level that needs to happen.”

About 15 percent of Americans who are over age 65 and who seek out long-term care are living below the poverty level, according to data collected by the Family Caregiver Alliance. The “oldest old”—people over age 85—are among the fastest growing segments of the population, and they are the ones that will need the most support going forward, both financially and emotionally.

“One of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens,” said President Barak Obama in his remarks at the conference. “We have to work to do more to ensure that every older American has the resources and the support they need to thrive.”

WHCOA Watch Party

The Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center was one of four locations in San Diego to host a Watch Party, with the event live-streamed into the Gathering Place as well as the Dining Room for seniors to watch and discuss.

“Perhaps the most important thing from the conference was, at least for a day, the nation (and the media) talked aging policy,” says Paul. We couldn’t agree more.

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