20 Senior Advocacy Organizations You Should Know About

This article was updated on May 7, 2021.

Most people are familiar with AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) and the many benefits they offer older Americans, but what about very specific needs such as dealing with diversity, domestic abuse, or job searching? Here is a list of senior advocacy organizations that you might not have been aware existed. Wherever you find yourself in need, there are people willing to help!

Senior Assistance

Meals on Wheels America (MWA)

Meals on Wheels America is the leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network serves virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers nutritious meals, friendly visits, and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research, and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time.

Vulnerable seniors are at the greatest risk amid COVID-19. Local Meals on Wheels programs are on the front lines every day, focused on doing all they can to keep older Americans safe and nourished in communities across the country. In fact, a new survey conducted by Meals on Wheels America reveals that programs are now serving an average of 47 percent more seniors than they were March 1, when concerns over COVID-19 and social distancing measures began taking hold. The survey also found that 97 percent of local Meals on Wheels programs have seen costs rise, particularly due to the need to acquire safety supplies and deliver more meals to each senior amid uncertainty.

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Senior Medicare Patrol

Senior Medicare Patrols empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse. SMP’s mission is to educate Medicare beneficiaries about their medical statements and bills and subsequently reduce fraud and errors. Though beneficiaries have several avenues they can take to report fraud, such as the Office of Inspector General (OIG) hotline or 1-800-Medicare, some beneficiaries choose to report fraud to the SMP. In these cases, SMPs refer the complaint to the appropriate entity.

The SMP projects receive grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to recruit and train retired professionals, community members, and other older adults to prevent, recognize, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse. These SMP team members then participate in outreach events to help educate Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries on the same prevention, recognition, and reporting techniques.

Community

Shepherd’s Centers of America (SCA)

Shepherd’s Centers of America was built on the idea of community, and that no one should be excluded from it, regardless of age or health. Established in 1971, SCA has been providing opportunities to some 160,000 seniors (and their caregivers) every year to live their lives fully so that they, and everyone around them, benefits. 

They offer a three-part menu:

  1. Adventures in Learning: Through SCA, elders – usually taught by elders – can learn a language, study finance, politics, or pretty much anything you can think of.
  2. Adventures in Wellness: Recognizing that wellness is a complex combination of nutrition, physical activity, mental challenges, health screenings, and belonging, SCA offers a full range of fitness classes to suit your tastes and needs, from chair exercises to Zumba.
  3. Adventures in Volunteering: Aware that this is a way of giving back to the community, SCA promotes volunteerism for its other fringe benefits, as well. Among other things, it’s fun, you can make friends, add to your repertoire of life experience, and enhance your health on every level. Regardless of how much – or how little – time you can give, you might choose to tutor, serve as a part-time caregiver, provide office support, or care for shelter animals. Whatever your skills and interests, there is any number of people or organizations that would value your time, energy, and talent.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA)

The AFA was established in 2002 to provide support and information to those suffering from Alzheimer’s as well as to their caregivers and loved ones. 

It supplies a full range of information, educational tools for caregivers, a calendar of events, and various types of practical assistance. Whether you’re looking for the latest research, where to take caregiving classes, how to contact a support group, or how to register for a webinar, the AFA is your best bet.

They also have a section on their website on the value of “memory screening,” a useful diagnostic tool available nationwide and at no cost to you. AFA has provided more than four million free memory screenings to date. You can visit the website above or if you just need someone to talk to, phone the Help Hotline: 866-232-8484.

Alzheimer’s Association

Since 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association has led the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support.

Their vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. They offer support groups and an online community for caregivers, individuals living with Alzheimer’s, and others dealing with the disease.

Everyone can help in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Join the cause by staying informed, making a donation, or becoming an advocate for those with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Click here to join the fight to end Alzheimer’s. 

Have more questions? Call their 24/7 helpline 800-272-3900.

Job seeking

Workforce 50

Recruiting and retention have yet to keep pace with the aging of the workforce. Companies still cling to the notion that workers over the age of 50 are approaching retirement. This outdated view of the workforce must evolve to include the energetic, talented crop of over-50s who want and need employment. 

Workforce50 is working to keep pace with change too. Under the direction of the website’s original designer and now publisher, Nancy Peterson, the site has a fresh look that is compatible with any device so our readers can reach us from anywhere. They continue to publish new knowledge experts and bring new features, like their YouTube channel, to their readers. Best of all, they have aggressive new projects underway to deliver the services of the future while staying true to their mission.

Their mission to find and promote quality employment opportunities for America’s older workers remains the same but is even more compelling today than at the launch.

SeniorNet

Founded in the U.S. back in 1986, presciently foreshadowing a future where computers would become an essential of everyday life, SeniorNet has since become an international organization with learning centers that are staffed by trained volunteers who follow a carefully crafted curriculum.

All of this is premised on the understanding that maintaining a foothold in the world these days is a great deal easier for those who are computer savvy.

Not only does this sort of knowledge allow one to continue learning by taking online classes or researching topics of interest, but it also facilitates communication, socialization, and creativity.

In the 150+ classes offered, instructors cover everything from computer basics to digital photography, as well as how to avoid scams, protect your computer, and more. Membership is a non-refundable $43 a year, which grants access to any Learning Resource Center in the country plus access to exclusive portions of the website.

The Center on Aging & Work

The Center on Aging & Work aims to promote opportunity, choice, and quality of paid and unpaid work across one’s lifespan, with a focus on older adults. Through research studies, engagement with a multi-disciplinary network of scholars and practitioners, and efforts to translate research into practice, we bridge the worlds of research and practice.

The Center’s vision and mission align closely with Boston College’s School of Social Work’s values of individual dignity, respect for diversity, and pursuit of justice. The University’s mission, based in the Catholic, Jesuit tradition, is reflected strongly in our projects, as we work to consider the “whole person”—mind, body, social, emotional—in the context of vocation and across the lifespan.

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Celebrating Diversity

National Caucus & Center on Black Aging (NCBA)

NCBA believes older adults, regardless of race, ethnicity, or status, are the fabric of our country and have earned the right to enjoy their golden years without fear or lack of resources.

The National Caucus & Center on Black Aging, Inc. was founded in 1970 to ensure that the particular concerns of elderly minorities would be addressed in the then-upcoming 1971 White House Conference on Aging.

Since then, NCBA has helped protect and improve the quality of life for elderly populations, making certain that legislators, policymakers, philanthropists, advocacy groups, service organizations, thought leaders, and the public-at-large include minority seniors in their programs, policy- and law-making, and giving.

NCBA is one of the country’s oldest organizations dedicated to aging issues and the only national organization devoted to minority and low-income aging.

National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA)

The National Indian Council on Aging is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1976 by members of the National Tribal Chairmen’s Association who called for a national organization focused on the needs of aging American Indian and Alaska Native elders. The mission of NICOA is to advocate for improved comprehensive health, social services, and economic wellbeing for American Indian and Alaska Native elders.

In addition to providing service through the Administration for Community Living within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NICOA operates as a national sponsor for the Senior Community Service Employment Program authorized under Title V of the Older Americans Act. As of 2006, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, NICOA has operated this program in eight states, serving more than 800 participants who receive employment training and experience.

NICOA is governed by a 13-member board of directors composed of American Indian and Alaska Native elders representing each of the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs regions, as well as a representative of the National Association of Title VI Grantees. The regions are Alaska, Eastern, Great Plains, Midwest, Navajo, Northwest, Eastern Oklahoma, Pacific, Rocky Mountain, Southern Plains, Southwest, and Western. Elders are encouraged to join to have their voices heard.

Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE)

For 40-plus years, SAGE has worked tirelessly on behalf of LGBT older people. Building off the momentum of the Stonewall uprising and the emerging LGBT civil rights movement, a group of activists came together to ensure that LGBT older people could age with respect and dignity. SAGE formed a network of support for LGBT elders that’s still going and growing today. SAGE is more than just an organization. It’s a movement of loving, caring activists dedicated to providing advocacy, services, and support to older members of the LGBT community. According to their website, “LGBT elders fought— and still fight—for our rights. And we will never stop fighting for theirs.” Need help? Call the SAGE Hotline: 877-360-LGBT.

National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA)

NAPCA provides resources and support for Asian Americans and Pacific Islander elders. With over 40 years of working on behalf of AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) older adults, NAPCA is more committed than ever to promoting their dignity, well-being, and quality of life.

Their mission is to ensure that AAPI elders have the programs and services they need wherever they live in the U.S. They are constantly updating sources for mainstream service providers to be culturally competent and linguistically appropriate. They are adamant that the input of our older adults are taken into account in all decisions that affect them.

There are over 50 AAPI ethnicities that speak over 100 languages. According to their mission, “As diverse as we are as AAPIs, the common thread that ties us together is our families. Our parents, and grandparents before them, have instilled the value of family above all things, and that’s what makes our AAPI elders so special.”

National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)

As the organization approaches its fourth decade of existence, NHCOA has established groundbreaking programs targeting older adults and their families, health care providers, media, local health departments, and other public agencies, and academic institutions, among others.

NHCOA not only works to improve the quality of life for Hispanic seniors—it focuses on bringing out the best in the Hispanic community to empower seniors and their families, and therefore ensure our abuelitos and abuelitas fully enjoy their golden years.

In working to empower and bring together the best of local communities to support Hispanic older adults and their families, NHCOA works at the national and local level to implement initiatives, work on public policy, and conduct research that is aligned with the organization’s priorities.

phone numbers, senior advocacy

Senior Protection

National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

The National Center on Elder Abuse serves as a national resource center dedicated to the prevention of elder mistreatment. Its mission is to disseminate elder abuse information to professionals, and the public also provides technical assistance and training to states and community-based organizations. The NCEA makes news and resources available online and in an easy-to-use format, collaborates on research, provides training, identifies and provides information about promising practices and interventions, operates a listserv forum for professionals, and provides subject matter expertise on program development.

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

The Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, helping to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. Their goal is to be a primary source of information and tools for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates, and ombudsmen to help ensure quality care for the individual.

To carry out this mission, they advocate for public policies that support quality care and quality of life responsive to consumers’ needs in all long-term care settings, empower and educate consumers and families with the knowledge and tools they need to advocate for themselves, train and support individuals and groups that empower and advocate for consumers of long-term care, and promote the critical role of direct-care workers and best practices in quality care delivery.

The Consumer Voice envisions a world in which all consumers of long-term care, services, and supports are treated with respect and dignity and have a wide range of affordable, quality options across all settings. These options will make it possible for individuals to receive care and services in the location and manner of their choice while attaining a high quality of life.

Pension Rights Center

Founded in 1976, the Pension Rights Center is a nonprofit consumer organization committed to protecting and promoting the retirement security of American workers, retirees, and their families.

The Center acts as a consumer watchdog to preserve key protections, secure the adoption of a dozen federal laws and regulations, help thousands of people obtain wrongfully-denied pensions, author numerous publications to explain complex rules and serve as an indispensable resource for the media.

Treat your loved one

Honor Flight Network (HFN)

The Honor Flight Network was inspired by veterans and all they have given to our country. The ultimate goal was to provide vets the opportunity for closure, if possible. The HFN also aims to give veterans the chance to share a special experience with other men and women who have served their country in one or another branch of the military.

Since 2005, the network has flown thousands of veterans to Washington, DC free of charge to view the memorial commemorating their war. Heroes Welcome, a subgroup of the HFN, orchestrates a suitable and rousing welcome for these heroes as they get off the plane in DC, and possibly when they exit the plane on the return trip. There are volunteer guardians who escort the veterans around town.

Pets for the Elderly (PFE)

The Pets for the Elderly Foundation helps pay the fees to participating animal shelters throughout the United States for senior citizens (age 60 and over) who want to adopt a companion dog or cat from a participating shelter – including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter if part of the adoption fee. 

Interested? You can reach PFE through email Susan Kurowski, Executive Director [email protected], or call 480-625-4679.

Second Wind Dreams 

No matter your age, you’re never too old to have a dream, and those dreams, when possible, should be fulfilled. That’s the belief that spawned Second Wind Dreams back in 1997. Since then, more than 10,000 dreams have been made a reality for elders living in nursing homes, assisted living, and memory care communities.

A growing number of elder care facilities participate in SWD, encouraging their residents to talk about what they still want from life. This could be acquiring a pet, being reunited with family or friends, visiting a special place, or any of a myriad number of desires.

Besides making dreams a reality, SWD also sponsors the Virtual Dementia Tour. This uses virtual reality technology and trained guides, permitting those free of the illness to experience how dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers view the world. It also allows us to find out firsthand how, with the onset of dementia, common everyday tasks can become impossible.

Want to know more?

Whether you are looking for a worthwhile senior citizen organization to volunteer with, donate funds, or are looking for resources for a loved one, these well-respected organizations have earned a place in our hearts. If you know of an organization not listed here that deserves a mention, please leave a comment on Facebook and let us know all about it!

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