Celebrating 50 Years

Kendrick Heinlein, CEO and President of the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan

This year marks 50 years of Area Agencies on Aging! Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) were created in 1974 through the Older Americans Act, and since then, AAAs across the country have been able to help millions of older adults every year to age with health, independence, and dignity in their communities. With this milestone comes a moment to reflect on how aging services have transformed over the years and how the needs of older adults in our nine-county region have both remained steadfast and evolved.

In marking the passing of time, I must recognize the outstanding work of our Partners through the Older Americans Act (OAA) and Kent County Senior Millage (KCSM). These groups have transformed into strong networks of open communication, collaboration, and care for seniors at the forefront while adapting to meet changing needs. From key programs of home delivered meals and transportation, to social options and wellness classes, seniors are supported in a comprehensive and person-centered way.

The largest transitions we’ve seen as a collective over the years have been the continued need for connection, reinvention of purpose, and true autonomy in aging. Creating connections is universal to the human experience, but perhaps becomes more important as you age. Your sense of purpose may shift as you navigate through life and take on new endeavors. And finally, of course, it‘s impossible to predict just how you’ll age, yet throughout this unknown is the power of choice. The support you may need as you age could vary, but being able to choose, trust, and rely on these resources is paramount. Our hope is that our agency, Partners, and resources can act as a guide, to support your journey to age in place.

At present, we see a growing need for services and senior support. Therefore we advocate alongside recognizing that the common threads of aging are universal. For FY2023, we saw new services meet seniors where they are, spurred change at the legislative level, and celebrated client and Partner accomplishments. Let’s take a closer look together...