"There Was No 'That’s Not My Job'": New York Area Agencies on Aging Approaches to Supporting Older Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Journal of Applied Gerontology, February 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many older adults’ traditional sources of formal and informal supports, increasing demand for Area Agency on Aging services (AAAs). This study examines strategies used by AAAs to support older adults’ health and well-being during COVID-19 and identifies contextual influences on AAA pandemic response activities. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with representatives of 20 AAAs in New York State.
A combined inductive and deductive approach was used to code and thematically analyze the data. AAAs rapidly expanded capacity and dramatically modified program offerings, communications activities, and service delivery protocols to address emergent needs and minimize COVID-19 exposure risk for clients. AAAs’ trusted relationships with older adults and community partners improved their capacity to identify priority needs and coordinate appropriate supports. Policymakers should ensure that AAAs receive sustained financial and technical support to ensure critical community-based services are available for older adults throughout pandemic response and recovery.
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