Strengthening the Voice of Older Adults and the Aging Network: A Vision for the Reauthorized Older Americans Act
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Strengthening the Voice of Older Adults and the Aging Network: A Vision for the Reauthorized Older Americans Act

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The term “advocacy” is found throughout the Older Americans Act (OAA), and virtually every program and funding stream created by the OAA requires that the entire aging network advocate on behalf of older Americans.

Advocacy is about creating positive change through strategies, actions, and solutions that attempt to influence decision-making. Advocacy can be a highly effective tool for drawing public attention to the needs of particular vulnerable groups, including the economically and socially vulnerable older Americans who are the priority populations targeted by the OAA.

Yet, while the OAA abounds with multiple uses of the term “advocacy” and requirements to engage in advocacy activities, a precise definition and explanation of the scope of this term are noticeably absent in the “definitions” section of the Act. This has left room for confusion and misunderstanding about the scope and directives of the many advocacy mandates within the Act.

OAA reauthorization presents a unique opportunity to make significant improvements to the advocacy provisions under the Act. This paper presents three dimensions and five principles that form the basis of advocacy under the OAA, and it offers seven recommendations to strengthen advocacy within the next OAA reauthorization.

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