In 2011, over 13 million seniors struggled with economic security, with annual incomes at or below $21,780. Millions more continue to live right on the edge. These older adults have to decide each day whether to pay for medicine, food, rent, or utilities. They live one bad break, one missed rent check, or one health problem away from a financial crisis.
Despite their struggles, their voices are unheard, and they face a frustrating system ill-equipped to respond to their complex needs.
That is why the National Council on Aging (NCOA) launched One Away, an innovative, national video awareness campaign to give voice to older adults who are struggling to make ends meet.
Through 2011 and 2012, One Away highlighted ways to coordinate the variety of public and private resources —from meals and housing, to job training and home equity loans—to help seniors live with greater economic security. Through a dedicated website, the campaign also provided a platform for aging professionals and advocates to discuss the solutions that are working and making it easier for vulnerable seniors to get the services and supports they need.
One Away engaged a broad network of aging service and advocacy professionals, caregivers and family members to speak to the real concerns of older Americans. Using videos, local and national events, media and social outreach, and a dynamic campaign website, NCOA mobilized their stories to shape public policies to strengthen economic security for low-income older Americans.
Public Policy Goals
One Away engaged older adults as well as community and national organizations to shape a policy agenda, create public attention, and demand for systems changes that will strengthen older adults’ economic security. With a particular focus on leveraging the Older Americans Act reauthorization, the main policy changes were related to achieving three major goals:
- Fostering coordinated access to a comprehensive array of certified, non-profit financial and social services to improve elders’ economic security.
- Improving access to public benefits programs for older adults in greatest need.
- Strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of systems and policies designed to empower and assist vulnerable seniors.
Central to One Away were the Local Advocacy Partners, leaders in 14 states working on elder economic security issues. These advocates captured video stories of older adults in their communities, coordinated broad outreach to their own networks, and provided a powerful local voice to NCOA’s national campaign. The Partners were:
- California: Family Service Agency of San Francisco, San Francisco
- Colorado: Seniors’ Resource Center, Denver
- Illinois: Age Options, Oak Park
- Iowa: The Heritage Agency, Cedar Rapids
- Kentucky: Green River Area Development District, Owensboro
- Maryland: MAC – Maintaining Active Citizens, Salisbury
- Minnesota: Minnesota Women’s Consortium, St. Paul
- New York: Council of Senior Centers and Services of NYC (now LiveOn NY), New York
- North Carolina: Senior Resources of Guilford, Guilford
- Pennsylvania: The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), Philadelphia
- Texas: Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department, Senior Community Services Division, Corpus Christi
- Vermont: Vermont Associates, St. Albans
- Washington: Senior Services, Seattle
- Wisconsin: Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Madison
Visit the One Away YouTube channel to watch video stories of older adults who are struggling from across the country and share a story of what economic struggle looks like.