Aging & Disability Resource Centers


Beginning in 2003, the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, both part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, have overseen the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) grant initiative. The grants were part of the New Freedom Initiative of the Bush administration to help overcome barriers to community living for the elderly and disabled. 

It was noted that "a broad range of programs and services ranging from home-and-community based care to institutional support are available to assist older adults and individuals with disabilities.   These services are sponsored and supported by numerous agencies and have diverse and sometimes complex eligibility requirements.  Individuals and their families who are seeking support services often have difficultly sorting through or even locating community-based services. The result may be unnecessary and costly institutionalization." *CMS

The purpose of these grants was and is to promote:

  • the integration of long-term care information and referral services between disability services providers and aging services providers
  • benefits and options counseling services
  • access to publicly and privately financed services and benefits for those in need of long-term supports

The disabled community has long had Centers for Independent Living. These centers began in 1978 as part of the Rehabilitation Act of Title VII. The intent has been to support and empower people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes and in their own communities, ideally with a job and with access to transportation, housing, health care and any other supports that they may need to be truly independent in the community. All of these centers are non-profits and are owned, operated and staffed by people with disabilities. The core philosophy has been consumer choice and consumer direction in the programs that seek to support and empower them.

The Aging Network has long had Area Agencies on Aging, local aging services providers, and senior centers that have served as focal points for service and information delivery to seniors and their family caregivers.

The ADRCs were envisioned as:

  • system entry points to provide streamlined services and information to seniors and people of all disabilities
  • a system to integrate and collaborate efforts to serve these populations since, many times the services overlap
  • locations where a consumer could get entered into the system and have the paperwork for the service be handled at that location no matter where the service is performed.

The philosophy is to be committed to:

  • consumer control
  • consumer direction
  • self-determination
  • autonomy
  • and dignity.

Agencies and organizations within the community work together to provide information about, assistance with, and access to services for individuals who are aging or have a disability.


Older Woman with Granddaughter



Required Functions of an ADRC:

  • Awareness & Information
    • Public education
    • Information on long-term support options
  • Assistance
    • Options counseling
    • Benefits counseling
    • Employment options counseling
    • Crisis intervention
    • Planning for future long-term services needs
  • Access
    • Eligibility screening
    • Assistance in gaining access to private pay services
    • Facilitation of programmatic eligibility determination
    • Facilitation of medicaid financial eligibility determination
    • Uniform access to all public programs

The ADRCs also are expected to work within the guidelines of a prior grant program called Real Choice Systems Change (RCSC) to further enhance what an ADRC is able to offer. Bottom line, the intent is to enable those with a disability or long-term illness to:

  • Live in the most integrated community setting appropriate to their individual support requirements and preferences
  • Exercise meaningful choices about their living environment, the providers of services they receive, the types of supports they use, and the manner by which services are provided; and
  • Obtain quality services in a manner as consistent as possible with their community living preferences and priorities.

Consumers have the right to be informed of all their choices, including those consumers being discharged from hospitals. Consumers also have the right to choose which option they prefer within the framework of what is possible for their individual situation. The hope is that informed consumers may well fit into community and home based care parameters instead of automatically being channelled into the long-term care system.

Over time, the concept of encouraging the maximum level of personal choice in health care decision making and long-term care planning has come to be knows as Person Centered Care. Agencies involved with ADRCs support this concept.



What does this mean for Centers for Independent Living and Area Agencies on Aging? For now, as a consumer, you have multiple opportunities to connect to services and support. If you have an ADRC in your area, chances are your Area Agency on Aging and any Centers for Independent Living that are in your area are involved. If not, either of the above can be contacted for assistance as well as your local aging services provider. Senior Centers are also knowledgable in local available services. A consumer in need can contact any of these options to get connected and to get assistance.


How Can I Find My Area Agency on Aging?

Find Help


    Bookmark and Share