NCOA Launches One Away Campaign for Elder Economic Security; Releases National Poll on Struggles Facing Older Adults
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NCOA Launches One Away Campaign for Elder Economic Security; Releases National Poll on Struggles Facing Older Adults

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March 31, 2011

CONTACT:
Ken Schwartz
Director, Marketing & Communications
202-600-3131
ken.schwartz@ncoa.org

Campaign Uses Video to Spotlight the Problem, Calls for Change in the Older Americans Act

Washington, D.C. (March 31, 2011) – More than 13 million older adults are considered economically insecure, living on just $21,780 a year or less. Every day, these seniors, and millions of Boomers, have to choose whether to pay for food, housing, utilities, or out-of-pocket for medication costs. They live one bad break, one accident, or one layoff away from economic disaster.

To spotlight their struggles—and call for change—the National Council on Aging (NCOA) is launching One Away, an innovative, national advocacy campaign that uses video to allow older adults to tell their own stories, in their own words. One Away videos and stories are available at OneAway.org

“We are already receiving real stories of seniors who are struggling,” said Sandra Nathan, senior vice president for economic security at NCOA. “It’s clear that vulnerable older adults are in desperate need of help and want to be heard.”

National Poll Shows Depth of Problem

Almost two-thirds (63%) of adults aged 18+ said they or an older adult they know is struggling to make ends meet in today’s economy, according to the new One Away poll. A majority (62%) also knows that one out of three older adults relies on Social Security for over 90% of their income.

Commissioned by NCOA and conducted online in March 2011 by Harris Interactive, the One Away poll of 2,526 adults aged 18 and older also found that 80% of adults know that older workers who lose a job are more likely to face very long-term unemployment, up to 99 weeks or more.

In spite of this harsh reality, the House of Representatives recently passed legislation to cut funding by 64% for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), our nation’s only jobs program designed to help older Americans in need. The cut would result in the loss of over 83,000 jobs.

At the same time, some economic challenges facing older adults are less well known to the public:

  • Fewer than 1 out of 5 people (19%) are aware of the scale of senior credit card debt, which averages $10,000.
  • Only 34% are aware that people over age 65 make up the fastest-growing segment of the population seeking bankruptcy protection.
  • Almost three-quarters (72%) either underestimated or did not know that nearly 6 million seniors are at risk of going hungry every day.

“The struggles seniors are facing are all too often overlooked or dismissed,” said James Firman, president and CEO of NCOA. “This campaign is about elevating their voices, and we need Congress to catch up to the realities of their constituents and develop concrete solutions to make life better for our seniors.”

As part of the One Away campaign, NCOA has also published A Blueprint for Increasing the Economic Security of Older Adults: Reauthorizing the Older Americans Act. The report outlines specific recommendations to improve elders’ economic security through reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA), which is scheduled to occur this year. 

Funding for the One Away campaign was provided by The Atlantic Philanthropies.

Local Advocacy Partners

Central to One Away are Local Advocacy Partners, leading service organizations in 14 states who are capturing video stories of older adults in their communities, coordinating broad outreach to their own networks, and providing a powerful local voice to the One Away national campaign.

Current partners include:

NCOA’s Approach to Economic Security

In addition to One Away, NCOA offers several important programs that provide hope and assistance to seniors in need.

“NCOA has always been committed to serving the interests of vulnerable and disadvantaged seniors,” said NCOA’s Firman. “We hope Congress will seize the opportunity to address their needs when considering reauthorization of the Older Americans Act this year.”

Some of NCOA’s programs include:

  • NCOA’s Economic Security Service Centers, a pilot program to provide low-income older adults with one-on-one, holistic counseling that has helped more than 700 seniors develop personalized “economic action plans.”
  • BenefitsCheckUp.org, a free online screening tool that searches over 2,000 federal, state, local, and private programs to help seniors pay for prescription drugs, utility bills, meals, health care, and other needs.
  • Benefits Enrollment Centers provide person-centered assistance to vulnerable seniors and younger adults with disabilities to find and enroll in all the benefits programs for which they are eligible.
  • The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which trains low-income workers aged 55+and places them in community service job in 11 states, with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • The Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) program, which provides an opportunity for retired and unemployed older Americans aged 55+ to share their expertise in jobs for the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Home Equity and Reverse Mortgage Counseling, which helps millions of seniors make prudent use of their home equity so they can “use their home to stay at home.”

About One Away  One Away is an innovative, national video advocacy campaign that gives voice to vulnerable older adults who are struggling to make ends meet in today’s economy. The campaign captures real stories of seniors on video—and calls for legislative and policy changes to make it easier for them to get the services and supports they need to live with independence and dignity. NCOA is working with Local Advocacy Partners around the country to build support for this campaign. For more information, please visit www.OneAway.org and www.facebook.com/OneAwayCampaign.

About Harris Interactive   Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.  

About the Survey  The One Away Survey was conducted by Harris Interactive® on behalf of the National Council on Aging. The survey was conducted online within the United States between March 11 and 15, 2011 among a nationwide cross section of 2,526 adults aged 18 and over. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. With a pure random probability sample of 2,526 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 2%.

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About NCOA  The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older adults and the community organizations that serve them. Our goal is to improve the health, independence, and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA has been a trusted voice and innovative problem-solver helping seniors navigate the challenges of aging in America. We work with local and national partners to give older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure, and we advocate for programs and policies to improve the lives of all seniors, especially the most vulnerable. For more information, please visit www.ncoa.org.

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