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Most older adults are missing out when it comes to all the resources that could help them with aging and caregiving issues, according to a new poll.

The National Poll on Healthy Aging from the University of Michigan surveyed more than 4,000 people over the age of 50 to see if they knew about Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) for navigating Medicare, and their options for long-term services and supports (LTSS). The programs may go by different names based on regions or state, so the poll did give a more general description of the resources. The report was published Wednesday.

Less than 10% of respondents said they knew about the programs or used them. Of respondents, 7% said they had used their AAA services, 4% said they had used a SHIP program’s services and 3% said they knew a lot about LTSS options.

About 1 in 4 of the respondents knew about AAAs but had never used them, and 21% were familiar with SHIPs but had never used them. A total of 67% of those over age 50 weren’t familiar with AAAs, 75% weren’t aware of SHIPs, and 88% said they didn’t know anything, or knew very little, about their options for receiving LTSS.

People over 65 had a little more awareness about AAAs and SHIPs compared to people in the 50-to-64 bracket. In total, 37% of people over 65 were familiar with AAAs compared to 29% of those aged 50 to 65; for SHIPs, 31% of the older group said they were familiar, compared with 20% of the younger group. Though there was more awareness in the 65-and-up crowd, 9% had used AAA services and 5% used SHIP.

“Even if people don’t know these programs by name, it appears that states and nonprofits could do more to spread general awareness of websites and hotlines that can act as gateways to the full array of services each person might qualify for,” Erica Solway, PhD, the deputy director of the poll, which is based at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, said in a statement.

“Often, members of the public seek these services for themselves or others in times of crisis. So, the message that support is available, and how to find it when it’s needed, could help people plan.”Two resources for older adults: The federal government’s Eldercare Locator site,, which prompts visitors to enter their ZIP code or to call 1-800-677-1116 to start the process of finding services for older adults and caregivers in their community, is one. Another is the Benefits Checkup website run by the National Council on Aging, a nonprofit organization, which is available at