The Older Americans Act is a federal law that provides funding to each state and to the state’s network of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). The AAAs, in turn, use that funding to provide a variety of different non-medical, supportive services to the elderly individuals in the geographic areas that they serve. New Mexico is somewhat unique in that it has only two Area Agencies on Aging; one which serves Albuquerque (Bernalillo County) and the other, which serves the rest of the counties in the state.
The services provided to seniors are selected to help them remain living independently, in their homes, or in the homes of their loved ones. Services vary by county, but typically include home delivered or group meals, transportation assistance, respite care, and homemaker services (details below). Services are mostly provided free-of-charge, but occasionally there are minor fees based on a sliding scale (based on income).
Families should not think that assistance provided under the Older Americans Act from one’s Area Agency of Aging will be enough to solve all their aging challenges. However, this support, when combined with other forms of assistance, as well as with family caregiving can help aging individuals remain living at home or, at least, extend the time that they are able to do so.
Age – candidates for assistance must be at 60 years of age.
Residency – candidates must be legal residents of New Mexico. The duration of their residency has no impact on their eligibility. In other words, newcomers are equally eligible as long-term residents.
Income and Assets – there are no income limits or assets limits. However, some services have a sliding scale of fees associated with them. Therefore, some program participants must pay the full cost of their assistance services, some pay partial costs and others will receive assistance free of charge.
Functional Ability – requirements vary with the service being provided. For example, to gain approval for adult day care, one must be unable to care for themselves during day-time hours. Transportation assistance is limited to those who cannot drive themselves.
In New Mexico, most services provided under the Older Americans Act are provided free-of-charge. The available services differ in each county.
Case Management – assistance determining / securing the services eligible applicants need to remain living at home.
Meal Services – typically once or twice daily meals are provided either for groups in senior centers or by home delivery. Restrictive diets, such as a diabetic diet or renal diet are also available.
Transportation Assistance – assistance with transportation can come in several forms. Sharing van rides or personal assistance with public transportation depending on one’s location within the state. Assistance is provided for purposes, such as shopping for groceries, and going to and from medical appointments, senior centers, and recreational activities
Homemaker Services – can include help with laundry, housecleaning, cooking, shopping, light yard work, and home maintenance. This form of assistance may be reserved for those who live alone.
Respite In-Home Care – respite care is usually provided for persons who are caring for their spouse or loved one in their home and where the individual requires near constant supervision. This is typical of persons with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s. A state-funded, caregiver will come to their home and relieve the primary caregiver of their responsibilities typically for 2-4 hours, once or twice weekly. Respite vouchers may also be available.
Adult Day Care – daytime supervision and assistance with activities of daily living of elderly individuals who cannot be left by themselves for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, Older Americans Act-funded, adult day care is available in only a few limited areas of the state.
Caregiver Support – support services are also provided for caregivers who are 60 years of age or older. This includes services, such as counseling and skills training.
Interested parties should inquire with their Area Agency on Aging for more information or to begin the application process. New Mexico has two Area Agencies on Aging; One for the Albuquerque area and the other for the remainder of the state.
Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging
3900 Paseo Del Sol
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Albuquerque / Bernalillo County Area Agency on Aging
400 Marquette NW
Albuquerque NM 87102
Links to each of the Area Agencies on Aging websites are available below.