ACL Update 10-15-19


Residents' Rights Month: Know Your Rights, Stand for Quality

October is Residents' Rights Month, an annual event recognizing the respect, dignity, and rights to which all residents of long-term care facilities are entitled. The federal Nursing Home Reform Law guarantees residents’ rights and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity, choice, and self-determination.  The law also requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.”

The Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care has selected "Stand for Quality" as this year's theme. This theme "emphasizes the importance of quality in all aspects of residents’ experiences – quality care, quality of life, quality services, and quality choices – to name a few."

To celebrate Residents' Rights Month, ACL is releasing a new infographic and handout highlighting the rights of people living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other residential facilities.

Know Your RIghts Graphic

Help us spread the word:

The Consumer Voice has many more resources for Residents' Rights Month including factsheetsa PSA and other promotional materials, and  artwork by residents.

ACL funds Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. These programs work to resolve problems affecting residents’ health, safety, welfare, and rights. Residents, their families, and others have the right to contact their local Ombudsman program to help them understand their rights, learn about community resources, and work through problems. In 2017, Ombudsman programs:

  • Worked to resolve 201,460 complaints initiated by residents, their families, and other concerned individuals.
  • Resolved or partially resolved 73% of all complaints to the satisfaction of the resident or complainant.
  • Visited 68% of all nursing homes and 30% of all board and care, assisted living, and similar homes at least quarterly.

Learn more about the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

ACL Update 10-08-19


Alzheimer's Disease Programs Initiative (ADPI) 2019 Awards Announced

ACL announces the 2019 awards for its state and community ADPI. The 13 newly awarded, 3-year cooperative agreements are with 4 states and 9 community organizations for a total of $10,370,642. The awardees are located in 11 states across the nation.

ACL’s ADPI program is dedicated to developing dementia-capability in states and expanding it in communities. All of the new grantees are required to dedicate 50% of their funds to direct services that include, but are not limited to, delivery of home and community-based dementia specific evidence-based and evidence-informed interventions and dementia education and training programs.

The programs are engaging in a range of activities designed to meet the needs of the communities and individuals they serve. Programs target long-term services and supports to persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) as well as paid and unpaid caregivers. While each program is different, all include activities designed to support special populations, including low-income and minority communities, people with ADRD who live alone, and individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities at risk of developing a dementia.

The successful 2019 ADPI applicants are:

  • Hawaii Department of Health (HI)
  • Summit County Combined General Health District (OH)
  • Maryland Department of Aging (MD)
  • South Carolina Department on Aging (SC)
  • Durham Center for Senior Life (NC)
  • Chinese American Service League (IL)
  • Hospice of the Bluegrass, Inc. (KY)
  • Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (AL)
  • Visiting Homemaker Service Passaic County (NJ)
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WI)
  • SeniorsPlus (ME)
  • Community Research Resource Information & Services for Seniors (IL)

Learn more about ADPI and other related ACL initiatives

ACL Update 10-01-19


Celebrating the International Day of Older Persons 2019: “The Journey to Age Equality”

By Lance Robertson, ACL Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging

The United Nations designates October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons.  This year’s theme—The Journey to Age Equality—focuses on pathways of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequality. It is aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda, Goal 10 which is designed to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequality of outcome, including through measures to eliminate discrimination, and to employ and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic or other status.

The 2019 theme is intended to explore how to address demographic and other societal changes and to change the narrative of “old age”. In less than two decades, older adults are projected to outnumber kids for the first time in U.S. history. Starting in 2030, when all Baby Boomers will be older than 65, older Americans will make up 21 percent of the population, up from 15 percent today.  These demographics have great implications for policies related to healthcare, caregiving, social structures, pensions and social security.

At the Administration for Community Living, we strive to maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults and people with disabilities. Today, at the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) 57th Directing Council Side Event, I am moderating a panel, The Response to Aging Societies: Challenges and Opportunities in Fostering Sustainable Health and Long-Term Care System in the Americas, highlighting perspectives from the U.S., Europe, Japan and the PAHO Regional.

In August, I had the privilege to represent the United States at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Third Senior Officials’ Meeting. Specifically, I participated in the 9th High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Health and the Economy in Puerto Varas, Chile. There, I shared our vision to help older adults reach their full health potential, live with dignity, and participate fully in society. I presented on the economic imperative for planning to enhance healthy aging, embracing the digital future in support of healthy aging in place, and supporting the global aging agenda.  These presentations included examples of how progress has been made possible in the United States because of the framework we have based in equity, inclusion and nondiscrimination. 

Also, I heard from, and was inspired by, what I learned from others about their structures and innovations in the fields of health and aging. As a result, I urge us all to use today, the International Day of Older Persons, as an opportunity to honor and celebrate the countless contributions and enormous potential of older people throughout the globe. We should rededicate ourselves and continue to promote the health, well-being, community involvement, and independence of older Americans.  Also, we should all work to promote equality in access and opportunity -- including access to healthcare, caregiving, the ability to work and remain employed, access to lifelong learning, or in the range of social protections that lead to productive living throughout the life course.

Learn more about the UN's International Day of Older Persons and celebrations in New York City, Geneva, and Vienna.

ACL Update 9-27-19


Beware of a Growing Medicare Scam: “Free Genetic Testing”

By Rebecca Kinney, Acting Director, Office of Healthcare Information and Counseling, ACL

Over the past few years, DNA tests have become popular across the country. Unfortunately unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the buzz around these tests to scam Medicare beneficiaries.

Scammers will often target Medicare beneficiaries through telemarketing calls, booths at public events, health fairs, and door-to-door visits. They offer "free" genetic testing to help recipients avoid diseases or find the right medications.

The scammers claim that the testing is covered by Medicare, and therefore is free to the beneficiary. In reality, Medicare only covers genetic testing in limited situations, and only when ordered by the beneficiary’s physician. If a company bills Medicare for genetic testing, and Medicare denies the claim, the beneficiary could be responsible for the entire cost of the test – which often totals around $10,000.

In other cases, the scammers are simply trying to obtain Medicare numbers they can use to steal a beneficiary's medical identity or to fraudulently bill Medicare for services they did not provide. Such fraud hurts not just Medicare beneficiaries, but all American tax payers whose contributions keep Medicare strong.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) offers this advice to avoid being scammed:

  • Do not accept genetic testing services, including a cheek swab, from someone at a community event, a local fair, a farmer’s market, a parking lot, or any other large event.
  • Always be cautious about giving out your personal information, including your Medicare number.
  • If you receive a genetic testing kit in the mail, don't accept it unless it was ordered by your physician. Refuse the delivery or return it to the sender and keep a record of the sender's name and the date you returned the items.
  • Always review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits. The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” may indicate questionable genetic testing.

If you received a cheek swab or a screening that was not ordered by a trusted provider, or have any concerns about billing errors or possible fraud, contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). The SMP program, funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living, helps Medicare beneficiaries protect themselves from Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse and detect and report them when they occur. To find your local SMP visit: or call 1-877-808-2468.

More resources:

ACL Update 9-23-19


ACL Elder Justice Grants to Strengthen Legal Assistance Programs, APS Systems

ACL is awarding a total of $1.25 million in funding to help six legal assistance organizations strengthen programs serving older adults. The first-ever Legal Assistance Enhancement Program (LAEP) funding will focus on four key areas: outreach, partnerships, intake, and delivery. Grantees will address a diverse set of issues including the opioid epidemic, supporting grandparents raising grandchildren, utilizing technology to advance elder justice, Medical-Legal Partnerships, reaching under-served communities, and disaster recovery.

A recent Legal Services Corporation report found that elders seek legal assistance for less than 20% percent of their legal issues. Gaps in access to legal assistance are particularly pronounced among low-income elders, elders facing Isolation by virtue of geography or language, and elders living in rural, frontier, or tribal communities. Access to quality legal assistance can help improve health and wellness outcomes for older adults by promoting personal and economic independence, preserving access to appropriate services, and supporting the right to live free from (or recover from) the experience of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

ACL is also awarding $2.8 million to help 10 states strengthen their adult protective services (APS) systems through innovations and improvements in practice, services, data collection, and reporting. Alaska, New Jersey, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia are receiving State APS Enhancement Grants for the first time while Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, and Washington will build on work funded by previous State APS Enhancements. Innovative approaches proposed by states include a restorative justice program and closer partnerships with tribes. 

State APS systems investigate reports of abuse and exploitation of older adults and people with disabilities. They provide support and case-management, and connect people facing abuse to a variety of protective, emergency, and support services.

Legal Assistance Enhancement Program Award Recipients

  • Legal Services Alabama will use a variety of strategies including an integrated point of contact, specialized community education and outreach, and full on-site services in targeted underserved areas to provide enhanced and coordinated legal services to older Alabamians.
  • The Public Law Center, in partnership with Council on Aging Southern California, will expand and maintain an elder justice project for low-income older adults in Orange County, CA over three years. The project will have a specific focus on enhancing services for victims of elder abuse.
  • Cherry Street Services, in partnership with Legal Aid of Western Michigan, will enhance and expand its use of a Medical-Legal Partnership model to address the social factors that can contribute to poor health.
  • SeniorLAW Center, and its partners in the aging network and legal community, will respond to the opioid crisis by enhancing legal assistance and access to justice for older Pennsylvanians raising grandchildren and intergenerational families.
  • Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc., along with diverse partners, will increase ILAS’s ability to identify and provide legal aid to Idaho seniors statewide by performing statewide education and outreach and developing a Legal Risk Detector and self-assessment app.
  • Legal Services of North Florida, in partnership with Legal Services of Greater Miami and the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, will develop a replicable, statewide model to improve access to legal assistance for elders with critical needs including elders recovering from disasters, elders who are homeless or on the cusp of homelessness, elders who are victims of physical abuse, and elders who have been victimized by consumer scams and other forms of economic exploitation.

State APS Enhancement Grant Recipients

  • The Alabama Department of Human Resources will enhance system documentation and data tracking to improve outcomes for APS clients. Alabama will implement a comprehensive dashboard system to provide quick ad hoc reports and improve statewide data quality.
  • The Alaska Division of Senior and Disability Services will work with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency to implement Structured Decision Making instruments through a web based data collection and storage system. Alaska will also train APS caseworkers to use these new assessment tools to support the system's work.
  • The Arizona Department of Economic Security will develop a program of enhanced investigator training to meet the challenges of recruitment and retention while providing clients with trained, culturally competent, and committed investigators.
  • The Illinois Department of Aging will enhance APS training and outreach to the public and professionals, with the goal of improving APS caseworker and supervisor response to an increase in reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation and improve relationships between APS, law enforcement, and other legal professionals.
  • The New Jersey Department of Human Services will design and build a database system that will meet the case management and programmatic needs of NJ APS. This will include development of a framework for statewide uniform NJ APS data collection practices and expansion of data elements to include all phases of APS involvement, alignment of data collection with NAMRS, and consolidation of the existing county based databases into a single cloud-based comprehensive information management system.
  • The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services will partner with UT Health, the Tarrant Count DA, Harris County DA, Houston Senior Justice Assessment Center, TEAM Institute, and Eide Bailey LLP to improve investigations and client services by incorporating high quality forensic accounting into standard investigative systems and practices, including enhancing training for APS investigators on financial exploitation and developing financial exploitation investigation checklists and law enforcement reporting protocol.
  • The Utah State Office of Adult Protective Services will enhance services to vulnerable adults in Utah by improving system infrastructure and services aimed at financial exploitation. Their project will expand Utah’s reporting capabilities to NAMRS, improve the quality of data collection, improve tools for assessing capacity and protective need for victims of financial exploitation, and establish a multi-disciplinary team approach with community partners focusing on victims of financial exploitation.
  • The Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living will create, coordinate, and maintain a Restorative Justice Program to serve both victims and perpetrators of adult maltreatment. The restorative justice program will provide substantiated perpetrators additional options for restitution, rather than placement on the Vermont Adult Abuse Registry, with the goal of decreasing recidivism among offenders and reducing re-victimization rates.
  • The Washington Department of Social and Health Services, Aging and Long-Term Support Administration will expand and improve their APS system. Efforts will include developing a training curriculum for statewide use with a focus on self-neglect and financial exploitation, creating and validating risk and safety assessment decision tools, integrating a financial tool to assist in financial exploitation determinations. They will also expand outreach and collaborations with community partners, tribal government, and law enforcement through multi-disciplinary teams and Elder Justice Centers (enhanced multi-disciplinary teams).
  • The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will develop, implement, and evaluate a new standardized determination tool for APS referrals; develop a new adult services monthly management report; develop training curriculum; and enhance community outreach.

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