What Is the National Council on Aging?
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a nonprofit advocacy and service organization that focuses on joining the efforts of government, businesses and nonprofit organizations to improve the lives of our older adults. They center their attention on developing creative solutions and programs to help older adults live more productive lives through a variety of programs, including Savvy Saving Seniors, Benefits Check Up, Falls Prevention, Restart Living and many more that focus on the finances, employment and health of our senior population. The National Council on Aging works to increase the visibility of challenges that aging individuals face through programs, services and advocacy.
- Vision Statement: A just and caring society in which each of us, as we age, live with dignity, purpose and security.
- Mission Statement: To improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Public Policy Initiatives
The NCOA focuses its efforts on “Improving the health and economic security of millions of struggling older adults.” Currently it is campaigning on behalf of our aging population for the federal funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA). This act provides older adults with job training, senior centers, caregiver support, elder rights protection, nutrition services and more. The council is advocating for all of our aged population and has presented its “NCOA 2011 OAA Reauthorization Priorities” of the Older Americans Act to Sen. Bernard Sanders:
- Promote Economic Security: Establish economic security as a primary goal of the act, enhance measurement of economic need and interventions, and invest in testing and disseminating innovative strategies to enable older adults to attain economic security (including expanding access to coordinated benefits, debt management and credit counseling and housing options).
- Empower and Protect Older Adults: Improve education and training in best practices for advocacy and consumer empowerment, integrate various existing advocacy provisions, support independence to promote systems and policy change, and enhance accountability at all levels.
- Enhance the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP): Promote flexibility in eligibility requirements and service options and test innovations such as sector strategies for job creation for older adults to address employment and training needs in the current economy. SCSEP is the nation’s only jobs program specifically designed for seniors and has a long, successful history of job training and placement for those in need.
- Support Modern Senior Centers: Create new opportunities to modernize multipurpose senior centers to foster innovation, build leadership and capacity, and promote pathways for centers to shape and deliver aging services, including congregate and home-delivered meals.
- Advance Evidence-Based Healthy Aging Initiatives: Embed the key principles, standards and lessons learned from Administration on Aging’s (AoA) Evidence-Based Disease and Disability Prevention Program in the core services of the OAA under Title IIID.
- Restructure Aging Services Research and Development: Create a robust aging services research and development authority in the act to evaluate and improve measurement of current services and support development of evidence-based innovations.
Services and Programs
The NCOA offers services and programs for economics and health and wellness. These programs are free, and information is readily available on its website and through its community partners. Programs include:
- Benefits Checkup: A free, confidential online service for older adults to find access to federal, state or private benefit programs. There is funding available for medications, food, legal, health care, utilities, housing, in-home services, taxes, employment training and transportation.
- Savvy Saving Seniors: Toolkits for our older population that needs help with money management, benefits and avoiding scams. Additionally, the NCOA has developed training guides to help community organizations format workshops.
- Home Equity Advisor and Reverse Mortgage Counseling: These programs help our aging population by allowing them to gain equity in their homes more quickly than with traditional mortgages.
- Employment Programs: The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is the United States’ oldest program that focuses on helping low-income, unemployed individuals over age 55 to find work.
- Falls Prevention: Every 29 minutes, an older adult dies following a fall. The NCOA has several proven programs including the Falls Free Initiative that focuses on advocacy, awareness, education and community infrastructure to help reduce falls among the elderly.
- Restart Living: Restartliving.org is a website filled with resources, including videos, to help our aging population learn to cope with ongoing health conditions. These self-management workshops point the way toward practical ways to live healthier and better.
The NCOA offers a wide array seminars and events, in-person and online, for agencies, nonprofits and care facilities. Topics include:
- Benefits Counseling
- Taking Your Medicines Safely
- Chronic Pain Self-Management Program
- Depression, Anxiety and Suicide Prevention
- Environmental Health in an Aging Society
- Falls Prevention
- Putting Home Safety to Work
It is estimated that more than 13 million seniors in the United States are at or below the poverty level. Many struggle every day to pay for their needed medications, food, housing and other expenses. The National Council on Aging provides much-needed resources to this segment of the population. As the population continues to age and longevity rates continue to increase, the need for resources will only increase. With its eyes set on 2020, the NCOA has set a path toward improving the health and financial well-being of vulnerable older adults.
Please visit USC’s Master of Art’s in Gerontology & Master of Aging Services Management to learn more about online gerontology degrees.
 National Council on Aging. “NCOA 2011 OAA Reauthorization Priorities.” Retrieved: July 22, 2012. http://www.ncoa.org/assets/files/pdf/public-policy–action/OAA-Reauth-6-Priorities-newltrhd.pdf.
 National Council on Aging, Falls Prevention Fact Sheet