Friday, July 31, 2009

At last--US signs UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Via the AoA: 

Today, the United States joins 141 other nations who have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.   The signing of the UN Convention sends an important message that this country is committed to equal rights for people with disabilities, in the United States and around the world. 

Another important example of our commitment is the President’s launch of the "Year of Community Living" in June.   The Department of Health and Human Services has already begun to carry out the Community Living initiative by establishing an HHS Coordinating Council, led by the Office on Disability.

The Administration on Aging, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Office for Civil Rights, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and—most recently—the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Office of Public Health and Science have joined the Coordinating Council.  I am pleased that we have assembled such considerable expertise to ensure that living independently with a disability is a real choice.

HHS is proud to support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first new UN human rights convention of the 21st century.  We look forward to advancing dignity, autonomy, full inclusion, and equality of opportunity for Americans, and for people with disabilities around the world.   

Thank you President Obama!

July 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Deadline for digital cable converter box application approaching

A message from the AoA:

n less than two weeks, NTIA will stop accepting coupon applications and appeals. While the transition to digital was completed on June 12, there are a number of households that remain unready – they are in the dark. The TV Converter Box Coupon Program is still accepting coupon applications and appeals, but only until midnight on July 31, 2009, so households must act immediately.  

NTIA continues its outreach to those who still need help to keep their older analog televisions working, and we are hoping you can make sure your constituents are aware of this impending deadline by forwarding the information below, talking to consumers about it or posting it in public places.

Coupon Application Deadline Nears. The coupon application deadline is fast approaching. If you are still not DTV-ready, it’s not too late. Help is still available, but you must take action immediately. Eligible households may continue to apply or re-apply for TV converter box coupons. Applications for coupons are accepted online, by phone at 1-888-388-2009 (1-888-DTV-2009), by mail and by fax. Mailed applications must be post-marked no later than midnight on July 31, 2009. It typically takes nine business days to process and mail coupons. If you have applied for coupons, but not yet received them, check the status of your request on by selecting Check Your Application Status.

Appeals for Denied Coupon Applications. The last day to file an appeal is midnight on July 31, 2009.  If you apply for coupons through the Web site, and the application is denied, there is a link within the denial message to appeal.

Filing an appeal via the Web site is the quickest way for the Coupon Program to process and respond to appeals. If you wish to provide additional detail beyond the space provided, you may submit your appeal in writing or by e-mail.

More info:

Coupons Can Be Used Until They Expire. Even though the last day to apply for coupons is July 31, 2009, you can use your coupons at participating retailers until they expire. Call ahead to area retail stores to confirm availability of coupon-eligible converter boxes on the day you plan to shop. Coupon-eligible converter boxes also may be purchased online or by telephone and shipped directly to your home.

Once again, we greatly appreciate your continued efforts to reach consumers who are still not DTV-ready. During these final days for consumers to apply for a TV converter box coupon or file an appeal, will you please spread the word and help ensure that people who need help purchasing their converter boxes are able to receive it? Your efforts will make it possible for them to experience the benefits of the digital TV transition.   

July 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Get ready for Grandparents' Day, Sept. 13

Grandparents Day 2009: Sept. 13

Grandparents Day was the brainchild of Marian McQuade of Fayette County, W.Va., who hoped that such an observance might persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage of their grandparents. President Jimmy Carter signed the first presidential proclamation in 1978 — and one has been issued each year since — designating the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. The first official observance was Sept. 9, 1979. In honor of our nation’s grandparents, the Census Bureau presents an array of data about these unsung role models and caregivers.

6.2 million
The number of grandparents whose grandchildren younger than 18 lived with them in 2007.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey <>

Grandparents as Caregivers

2.5 million
The number of grandparents responsible for most of the basic needs (i.e., food, shelter, clothing) of one or more of the grandchildren who lived with them in 2007. These grandparents represented about 40 percent of all grandparents whose grandchildren lived with them. Of these caregivers, 1.6 million were grandmothers, and 932,000 were grandfathers.

1.8 million
The number of grandparent-caregivers who were married in 2007.

1.5 million
The number of grandparents who were in the labor force and also responsible for most of the basic needs of their grandchildren.

Number of grandparents in 2007 responsible for caring for their grandchildren for at least the past five years.

Number of grandparents whose income was below the poverty level and who were caring for their grandchildren.

Number of grandparents with a disability who were caring for their grandchildren.

Number of grandparents who spoke a language other than English and who were responsible for caring for their grandchildren.

Median income for families with grandparent-caregiver householders. If a parent of the grandchildren was not present, the median dropped to $33,453.

Among grandparents who cared for their grandchildren in 2007, the percentage who lived in an owner-occupied home.

Source for statements in this section: 2007 American Community Survey


6.6 million
The number of children living with a grandparent in 2008; these children comprised 9 percent of all children in the United States. The majority of these children, 4.4 million, lived in the grandparent’s home.
Source: Families and Living Arrangements: 2008

2.6 million
The number of children who lived with both a grandmother and a grandfather in 2008.
Source: Families and Living Arrangements: 2008

Among children younger than 5 whose mothers worked outside the home, the percentage cared for on a regular basis by a grandparent during their mother’s working hours in 2005. Grandparents and fathers were the two biggest sources of child care by relatives when mothers went to work.
Source: Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2005

July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Census Bureau releases new report on global aging

The average age of the world’s population is increasing at an unprecedented rate. The number of people worldwide 65 and older is estimated at 506 million as of midyear 2008; by 2040, that number will hit 1.3 billion. Thus, in just over 30 years, the proportion of older people will double from 7 percent to 14 percent of the total world population, according to a new report, An Aging World: 2008 [PDF].

     The report examines the demographic and socioeconomic trends accompanying this phenomenon. It was commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health and produced by the U.S. Census Bureau.

     “The world’s population of people over age 65 is growing rapidly, and with it will come a number of challenges and opportunities,” said NIA Director Dr. Richard J. Hodes. “NIA and our partners at the Census Bureau are committed to providing the best data possible so that we can better understand the course of population aging and its implications.”

     An Aging World: 2008 examines nine international population trends identified in 2007 by the NIA and the U.S. Department of State (“Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective”). The report also contains detailed information on life expectancy, health, disability, gender balance, marital status, living arrangements, education and literacy, labor force participation and retirement and pensions among older people around the world.

     “Aging is affecting every country in every part of the world,” said Richard Suzman, director of NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research. “While there are important differences between developed and developing countries, global aging is changing the social and economic nature of the planet and presenting difficult challenges. The fact that, within 10 years, for the first time in human history there will be more people 65 and older than children under 5 in the world underlines the extent of this change.”

     Highlights of the report include:

  • While developed nations have relatively high proportions of people 65 and older, the most rapid increases in the older population are in the developing world. The current rate of growth of the older population in developing countries is more than double that in developed countries, and is also double that of the total world population.
  • As of 2008, 62 percent (313 million) of the world’s people 65 and older lived in developing countries. By 2040, today’s developing countries are likely to be home to more than 1 billion people 65 and over, 76 percent of the projected world total.
  • The oldest old, people 80 and older, are the fastest growing portion of the total population in many countries. Globally, the oldest old population is projected to increase 233 percent between 2008 and 2040, compared with 160 percent for the population 65 and over and 33 percent for the total population of all ages.
  • The 65-and-older population in China and India alone numbered 166 million in 2008, nearly one-third of the world’s total. Issues related to population aging in the world’s two most populous nations will be accentuated in the coming decades as the absolute number climbs to 551 million in 2040 (329 million in China and 222 million in India).
  • Childlessness among European and U.S. women 65 and older in 2005 ranged from less than 8 percent in the Czech Republic to 15 percent in Austria and Italy. Twenty percent of women 40–44 in the United States in 2006 had no biologic children. These data raise questions about the provision of care when this cohort reaches advanced ages.
  • Older people provide support to as well as receive support from their children. In countries with well-established pension and social security programs, many older adults provide shelter and financial assistance to their adult children and grandchildren. Older people in developing countries, although less likely to provide financial help to children, make substantial contributions to family well-being through such activities as household maintenance and grandchild care.

     The report was prepared by Kevin Kinsella and Wan He of the International Programs Center in the Population Division of the Census Bureau. Research for and production of the report were supported under an interagency agreement with the NIA’s Behavioral and Social Research Division.

     The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older people. For more information on research and aging, go to <>.

     The NIH — the nation’s medical research agency — includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit <>.

July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Funding opportunity from AoA

AOA Community Living Program Cooperative Agreements

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a landmark collaboration to help the families of older Americans and Veterans with disabilities of all ages care for their loved ones in the community. This partnership builds on the similar missions of HHS and the VA with regard to caring for the populations they serve and has as its ultimate goal a nationwide home and community-based long-term-care support program to serve older Americans and veterans of all ages.

Eligible applicants are State Units on Aging. Deadline: August 3, 2009.  For more information see:

July 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Report: "Health characteristics of adults aged 55 years and over: United States, 2004-2007."

TNational Center for Health Statistics recently released a report, "Health characteristics of adults aged 55 years and over: United States, 2004-2007."

This report is based on data from the 2004 through 2007 Sample Adult component of the annual National Health Interview Survey.  It highlights selected health characteristics for four age groups of older adults: 55-64, 65-74, 75-84, and 85 years and older. Data on assessed health status, selected chronic conditions, physical and social functional limitations, utilization of health services, and personal health behaviors including cigarette smoking, leisure-time physical activity, body weight status, and hours of sleep are presented  for each of these age groups by sex, race and Hispanic origin, poverty status, health insurance status, and marital status.

The report concluded that prevalence rates for fair or poor health status increased with advancing age; and that poor adults with Medicaid coverage were the most disadvantaged in terms of health status.  The report also found that health disparities exist across subgroups of older adults and vary by age.  To review the entire report please go to

July 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

EPA Intergenerational Photo Contest--vote now!

EPA's Aging Initiative, Generations United, and the Rachel Carson Council, Inc. are pleased to present the finalists for the second annual intergenerational photo, essay, and poetry Sense of Wonder contest. All entries were created by an intergenerational team.

Please register before voting, and vote once for your favorite entry in each of the four categories: photos, essays, poems and mixed media.

Ballots must be cast by Wednesday, October 10, 2009. Winners will be announced on this page in October, 2009.

Vote here:

July 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Today marks 44th anniversary of Older Americans Act

Statement by Assistant Secretary Kathy Greenlee on the 44th Anniversary of the Signing of the Older Americans Act

On July 14, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law.  At the ceremony, President Johnson said, "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.  This legislation is really the seed-corn that provides an orderly, intelligent, and constructive program to help us meet the new dimensions of responsibilities which lie ahead in the remaining years of this century.  Under this program every State and every community can now move toward a coordinated program of services and opportunities for our older citizens."  He continued, "The Older Americans Act will make it possible for us to move faster in these places where we have already started. It will permit us to travel new ways where old ways have not worked before. It will permit new beginnings where none have been made before."  President Johnson went on to say, "The grants under this law will be modest in dollars, but will have far reaching results.  Its results will come from where they are needed - always at the hometown level."

Now, 44 years later, those inspiring words continue to guide our work on behalf of millions of older Americans and their families. The Older Americans Act programs and services, which exist in nearly every community in America, have made a difference in the lives of our aging population --  providing so many older Americans with the opportunity to live at home for as long as possible with their families and friends. The Act has created an extraordinary network of dedicated individuals, advocates, volunteers, community-based organizations and Federal, state, tribal and local partners whose work each and every day makes life better for older Americans and their caregivers.

As we work together to meet the pressing demographic, social, and economic challenges before us, let us reflect on the tremendous progress that has been made over the past four decades to support older Americans.  We have come a long way, but our work is not yet complete.  In the days and weeks to come, I look forward to working with all of you to continue to honor our older Americans and to meet the needs of America's future generations.  "

July 14, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Funding opportunities from the feds

Grants for Healthy Aging: Requests For Applications: RFA #HA-2009
The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announces the availability of funds for state health departments to improve the health of older adults through state-level public health action. Funded projects will be cross-cutting in nature and will draw upon the respective strengths, expertise, and resources of multiple public health programs and the aging services network. Projects will be funded to develop state health department readiness for action around healthy aging. Letters of intent due: June 3, 2009.  Applications Deadline: July 8, 2009.

Lifespan Respite Care Programs-Administration on Aging

AOA announces the availability of $2.5 million to provide family caregivers with more opportunities to receive much-needed short-term, temporary relief from providing care for their loved ones. These projects will enable states to establish, enhance or expand Lifespan Respite Care systems, including new and planned emergency respite services, training and recruitment of respite workers and volunteers and assist caregivers with gaining access to needed services in their communities. Letters of intent are due June 19, 2009. Applications due July 29, 2009. 

AOA Community Living Program Cooperative Agreements-HHS and VA to Develop a Nationwide Program to Help Older Americans and Veterans with Disabilities Remain Independent in the Community

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a landmark collaboration to help the families of older Americans and Veterans with disabilities of all ages care for their loved ones in the community. This partnership builds on the similar missions of HHS and the VA with regard to caring for the populations they serve and has as its ultimate goal a nationwide home and community-based long-term-care support program to serve older Americans and veterans of all ages.
Eligible applicants are State Units on Aging. The closing date for the application is Monday, Aug. 3, 2009. The deadline for submission of a letter of intent is Wednesday, July 1, 2009. Letters should be submitted to Joseph Lugo, by e-mail: or call (202) 357-3417. For more information about this opportunity, visit:

July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AARP report addresses urban planning issues for senior-friendly streets

AARP Public Policy Institute Releases “Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America”

This report addresses the need to create Complete Streets that are safe and convenient for travel by automobile, foot, bicycle and transit regardless of age or ability.  The study encourages roadway planners and engineers to approach road design through the lens of Complete Streets and employ design strategies that support older drivers and pedestrians. Findings from original research conducted for this study show that:

* Two-thirds of planners and engineers report that they have not yet begun considering the needs of older road users in their multi-modal planning.

* More than 80 states and localities have adopted Complete Streets policies, but less than one-third of these explicitly address the needs of older road users.

* Forty percent of adults age 50 and older report inadequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods. More sobering, nearly 50 percent report they cannot cross main roads close to their home safely.

* The report suggests revisions to five intersection treatments in the Federal Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians to better balance the needs of both older drivers and pedestrians.

This paper is available electronically at

July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

GAO report finds insufficient oversight of Reverse Mortgage marketing

HECMs can provide borrowers with multiple benefits, but they also have substantial costs and are relatively complex. HECMs allow seniors to convert their home equity into flexible cash advances while living in their homes. Additionally, the borrowers or their heirs can fully pay off the HECM by selling the home, even if the amount owed exceeds the current home value. However, HECMs also have large insurance and origination costs. Furthermore, the long-term financial implications of a HECM can be difficult to assess because the borrower’s remaining home equity depends on the amount of cash advances and interest rate and house price trends.

Various federal agencies have responsibilities for protecting consumers from the misleading marketing of mortgages. Although these agencies have reported few HECM marketing complaints, GAO’s limited review of selected marketing materials for reverse mortgages found some examples of claims that were potentially misleading because they were inaccurate, incomplete, or employed questionable sales tactics. Federal agency officials indicated that some of these claims raised concerns. For example, the claim of “lifetime income” is potentially misleading because there are a number of circumstances in which the borrower would no longer receive cash advances.

Federal agencies have had a limited role in addressing concerns about the sale of potentially unsuitable financial products in conjunction with HECMs (“inappropriate cross-selling”). For example, an annuity that defers payments for a number of years may be unsuitable for an elderly person. HUD is responsible for implementing a provision in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 that is intended to restrict inappropriate cross-selling, but the agency is still in the preliminary stages of developing regulations. Some of the states GAO contacted reported cases of inappropriate cross-selling involving violations of state laws governing the sale of insurance and annuities.

HUD's internal controls do not provide reasonable assurance that counseling providers are complying with HECM counseling requirements. GAO's undercover participation in 15 HECM counseling sessions found that while the counselors generally conveyed accurate and useful information, none of the counselors covered all of the topics required by HUD, and some overstated the length of the sessions in HUD records. For example, 7 of the 15 counselors did not discuss required information about alternatives to HECMs. HUD has several internal controls designed to ensure that counselors convey the required information to prospective HECM borrowers, but the department has not tested the effectiveness of these controls and lacks procedures to ensure that records of counseling sessions are accurate. Because of these weaknesses, some prospective borrowers may not be receiving the information necessary to make informed decisions about obtaining a HECM.

Read the report:

July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)