In order to address the opportunities and challenges of a diverse aging population, the U.S. Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA) in 1965. Noting a lack of community social services for older Americans and training for those working to provide care for them, policymakers established authority to provide grants to states for community planning, research and development, social services, and training for employees in the field of aging and geriatric care. The OAA helped establish the Administration on Aging, which administers grants and services as an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Since 1965, the OAA has been amended to serve more diverse aging populations with unique needs and has helped establish agencies and programs to support them, including the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, the National Center on Elder Abuse, and the National Family Caregiver Support Program. These programs provide caregiver support, elder care education, information about money and legal issues, senior living information, education and training to employees in the aging field, and several publications about the expanding field of aging.
Biological, psychological, and social aspects of advancing age warrant special attention when it comes to living conditions, physical and mental health treatment, and community support. The onset of Alzheimer’s, for example, increases with age. Depression affects more than 6.5 million Americans aged 65 years or older and may be linked with higher rates dependency and disability. The risk of memory issues, dementia, and chronic illnesses can also heighten with age, and the effect on individuals and family members can be debilitating to physical and mental health.
Many organizations public and private are working to make life better for older adults and those working in the field of elder care. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best online resources for aging—excluding GoodTherapy.org—in 2014. Our selections are based on presentation, depth of content, and functionality.
- American Society on Aging (ASA): Primarily geared toward professionals in the field of aging and geriatric care, the American Society on Aging provides articles, forums, and seminars on various aspects of life for older adults. ASA pioneers advocacy efforts on behalf of aging individuals and helps provide support for LGBT aging and the elderly in multicultural groups. Blogs and articles by ASA can help both caregivers and older individuals understand issues specific to aging.
- Aging Care: If you’re a caregiver looking to talk with other caregivers about issues related to elder care, this site offers an open forum for support and discussions. You can answer questions posted by others and post your own topics, as well as read articles and do research about caregiver burnout, financial issues, and physical health problems that affect seniors. AgingCare also hosts a search function to help caregivers find assisted living facilities, help for Alzheimer’s, hospice care, and more. Whether you’re a professional or a loved one offering care, you can find support for helping seniors at every stage of aging.
- National Resource Center on LGBT Aging: Often, resources are often limited for minority seniors, including those in the LGBT community. The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging aims to provide both seniors and their caregivers with information specific to LGBT individuals. The Resource Center acknowledges that many LGBT elders may still be closeted, and that issues like discrimination, HIV, and domestic abuse are not ageless. Information is presented in a variety of ways, including educational videos, slideshows, and easy-to-read online pamphlets.
- Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health (CCSMH): The Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health strives to put the well-being of aging individuals at the forefront of the country’s attention, helping ensure that senior wellness is a priority in Canada. Through interdisciplinary study and activism, the CCSMH advocates for geriatric rights and resources and provides information for seniors, their families, and health care professionals. Based in Canada, CCSMH sets a great example for country-wide advocacy efforts for seniors and is relevant to all caregivers and aging individuals.
- Help! Aging Parents: As a December 14 blog article on the site states, “Life changes in the blink of an eye” for adults who become caregivers for their aging parents. As a self-proclaimed “serious, well-educated cheerleader for helping parents age well,” this blog shares information and insight about issues that affect geriatric parents and their adult children. Susan, the sole author, often tackles everyday issues that seem banal but can become problematic in old age, like swallowing medication or planning dinner events. She writes with humor and candor, and cites input from professionals as well as her “senior” advisers.
- Senior Journal: Senior Journal is an online newspaper that caters specifically to older individuals and their caregivers. Daily updates cover important, timely issues that affect seniors, such as Medicare, fitness, sexuality, and much more. Items on Senior Journal can help elders, their families, and their caregivers by keeping them informed of important policies and alerts that pertain to senior living.
- Age UK: Learn to “love later life” with Age UK, a British charity organization working to reform care for seniors in the United Kingdom. Resources on Age UK are generally geared toward seniors themselves, with advice on traveling comfortably, eating well, and taking care of finances. Current and recent campaigns by Age UK include work to end pensioner poverty, reduce winter deaths, and reform social care for seniors.
- National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging (NCMHA): The NCMHA is an independent entity that unites professionals, consumer organizations, and government agencies toward a goal of improving mental health care for seniors. The NCMHA works to advocate for aging individuals and increase awareness of mental health issues that affect the elderly, bringing senior mental health to national attention and discussion. Myriad resources on their site detail ways of advocating, dangers of elder abuse, and issues like Alzheimer’s and long-term care.
- Vital Aging Network (VAN): VAN aims to improve well-being for seniors throughout the aging process by encouraging service, community work, leadership, and education. VAN is a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota, but anyone can access resources for health and wellness on the site. By educating aging individuals about volunteer work, finances, creativity, and more, VAN empowers seniors to retain independence and enrich their own lives.
- The Victorian Hands Foundation (VHF): The Victorian Hands Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 with a goal of uniting generations through volunteer work and community involvement. Through their work with VHF, youth and seniors participate in events like the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk and the Arthritis Foundation’s Arthritis Walk to raise awareness and recognition of issues that affect aging individuals. In an effort to reduce elder abuse and neglect, VHF fosters an appreciation of elders in youth, and vice versa, by encouraging and enhancing intergenerational relations.
Have a website you would like to see in our Top 10? Recommend it here.
- Administration on Aging (AoA). (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2014, from http://www.aoa.gov/
- Administration on Aging (AoA) Older Americans Act. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2014, from http://www.aoa.gov/AoA_programs/OAA/
- Risk factors in an ageing population: Evidence from SAGE. (n.d.). World Health Organization. Retrieved December 16, 2014, from http://www.who.int/healthinfo/12_RF_LopezRidaura.pdf
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