Campaign Uses Video to Spotlight the Problem, Calls for Change in the Older Americans Act
WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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 www.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."
Full poll results can be found at www.OneAway.org/press.
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. The full paper can be found at www.ncoa.org/EconomicSecurity.
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:
- California: Family Service Agency of San Francisco, www.fsasf.org
- Colorado: Seniors' Resource Center, Denver, www.srcaging.org
- Illinois: Age Options, Oak Park, www.ageoptions.org
- Iowa: The Heritage Agency, Cedar Rapids, www.involvementonline.org
- Maryland: Maintaining Active Citizens, Salisbury, www.macinc.org
- Minnesota: Minnesota Women's Consortium, St. Paul, www.mnwomen.org
- New York: Council of Senior Centers and Services of NYC, www.cscs-ny.org
- Pennsylvania: The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), Philadelphia, www.carie.org
- Washington: Senior Services, Seattle, www.seniorservices.org
- Wisconsin: Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Madison, www.cwag.org
- North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Kentucky pending
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.
www.OneAway.org / www.facebook.com/OneAwayCampaign
The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans—especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged—and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities.
www.NCOA.org / www.facebook.com/NCOAging / www.twitter.com/NCOAging
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%.
SOURCE National Council on Aging