What is the National Council on Aging?

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a nonprofit service and advocacy agency whose mission centers on improving the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged (Prescott, 2009). The organization was founded to be the voice for older Americans and it has headquarters firmly based in Washington, DC. The NCOA was created to provide various services in order to help seniors find jobs, benefits, improve their health, and live independently (Prescott, 2009). According to AARP Livable Communities, the NCOA is a “practical source of information for older adults and their caregivers” that can be utilized to seek out all options for maintaining independence. The NCOA website currently states that the organization “brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults”. There are thousands of organizations in the United States that actively work with the NCOA to bring services and community awareness for older adults in regards to finding employment, benefits, health education, living independently, and staying active within their communities. The NCOA has the centralized vision to strive for “a just and caring society in which each of us, as we age, lives with dignity, purpose, and security”. By working under that vision, the NCOA has an extensive history of advocating for older adults and transforming societal aging programs.

The NCOA sets annual and long-term goals to ensure that the needs of older adults in the United States are being met. Currently, the NCOA has a goal to improve the health of over four million older adults (Prescott, 2009). The NCOA identifies that key initiatives for improving the health of older adults focus on education regarding chronic conditions, falls prevention, community education, and self-management. The NCOA hosts a 6 week workshop via Stanford University’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program to help individuals with chronic conditions understand how to better manage their health, diminish stress, seek out community resources, and how to speak openly with their physicians. In addition, the NCOA directs the Falls Free Initiative with a group of seventy national organizations and over forty state coalitions to reduce falls among older adults. The NCOA has stated that the organization has developed the alliance to promote collaboration among business, government, and other nonprofit organizations. The goal of the collaboration has been to ensure that self-management is integrated into the healthcare policies in the United States by 2020. According to the NCOA, more than 70% of older adults live with one or more chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Because of the significance that chronic health conditions have on older adults and their well-being, the NCOA has recognized that financial security is linked to being able to obtain improved health and lifestyle.

The economic security of older adults is another key issue that the NCOA has focused on in order to improve the lives of older adults. Paul DelPonte, spokesperson for the NCOA, stated that “retirement is not golden for all older adults” (Prescott, 2009). He also confirmed that “over twenty-three million Americans aged sixty plus are economically insecure, living at or below two hundred fifty percent of the federal poverty level” (Prescott, 2009). The Federal Reserve has reported correlating evidence that twenty percent of families age fifty and older had debt payments in excess of forty percent of their total income (Firman et al., 2009).

The NCOA works to improve the financial well-being of older adults so that they do not have to make daily decisions concerning how to allocate their income in regards to paying bills or choosing to buy food and medicine. To assist older adults that have to combat rising housing cost, healthcare bills, job loss, and an increased price of living, the NCOA has provided services to help increase income and reduce the living expenses of older adults. Such services provided by the NCOA include; the Economic Security Initiative to help disadvantaged older adults work towards financial stability, and the Home Equity Advisor as a free inquiry tool to learn how to protect and utilize their home equity in retirement. Being able to check available benefits via the BenefitsCheckUp website is another service mentioned that aids older adults in achieving economic security. According to current BenefitsCheckUp data, the organization has helped 3,712,732 people find over $13.6 billion worth of benefits. Older adults have been able to seek help for their health care costs, prescription drug cost, housing utilities, and food from over 2,000 federal and local programs by using the site.

To learn more about NCOA, visit their website at https://www.ncoa.org. Watch the NCOA's 2015 Success Video here