The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (formerly the Commission on Aging) was created by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1963. The Commission is the designated state agency on aging and is mandated to provide leadership relative to aging issues on behalf of older persons in the state.
Twenty-two members serve on the policy and decision-making board with nineteen members being appointed by the Governor. Additionally, the Commissioners of Departments of Human Service, Health, Veterans Affairs, Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are ex-officio members. Two non-voting representatives are appointed by the Speakers of the Senate and House of Representatives to represent the General Assembly. The citizen members appointed by the Governor include:
- A member of a chartered, statewide organization which advocates exclusively for older persons;
- An active member of a federally chartered organization which advocates exclusively for older persons having membership statewide with chapters chartered in the state; and,
- An active member of a chartered, statewide organization which advocates exclusively for adults with disabilities.
The Commission fulfills responsibilities relative to advocacy, planning, coordination, public and private agency organization linkages, information sharing, monitoring, and quality assurance designed to promote the development or enhancement of comprehensive and coordinated community-based systems. State legislation passed in 1998 created a Long-Term Care Planning Council charged with developing a long-term care services plan to guide the future funding, coordination and delivery of long-term care in the state. New legislation passed by the General Assembly in June 2001 expands the authority of the Commission to include services to adults under age 60 with disabilities.
For a number of years, the Commission has administered state funds providing multipurpose senior center programs, public guardianship, homemaker services, and home-delivered meals. On July 1, 2000, the Commission received $5 million in state funds to initiate a home- and community-based service program for older adults and other adults with disabilities who do not qualify for Medicaid long-term care services.
Homemaker, personal care and home-delivered meals are offered under the state-funded OPTIONS for Community Living program operated by the nine area agencies on aging and disability. Each area agency functions as a single point of entry to link individuals with available services through a district-wide information and referral, intake, screening, assessment, service authorization, and case management system. Access to the system is provided by statewide toll free numbers that connect callers to the appropriate area agency. The Commission, a clearinghouse for information on needs and characteristics of older adults, maintains a specialized resource library and responds to requests for information.