The API Briefing: Finding Help for the Elderly – The ElderCare Locator API

Old and young hands

If you have ever been a caregiver for an elderly family member or friend, you know that there are many resources to help you in giving care. But finding these resources can be difficult and frustrating. The Administration on Aging in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been guiding people to local resources since 1991. Starting with a phone service, the Administration on Aging created its first website in 2001. Now, it offers an API.

The ElderCare Locator API is a simple API that transmits only raw data in response to a request containing geographic information such as City/State or ZIP code. The data points to local resources: “Area Agencies on Aging, State Units on Aging, aging information and referral programs, Aging and Disability Resources Centers, and special purpose information and assistance resources for legal services, elder abuse prevention, health insurance counseling, and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.”

Developers can view the SOAP code samples that access the ElderCare Locator database. SOAP (formerly known as Simple Object Access Protocol until version 1.2) is an early method for accessing API information across the Web. SOAP delivers data in XML form. Maybe the Administration on Aging will soon offer a RESTful version of the API so that this vital API can be more widely adopted by developers. As the American population continues to age, apps based on APIs like the ElderCare Locator can be a lifeline for the elderly and their caregivers.Each week in “The API Briefing,” I will showcase government APIs and the latest API news and trends. Visit this blog every week to learn how government APIs are transforming government and improving government services for the American people. If you have ideas for a topic or have questions about APIs, please contact me via email.

Dr. William A. Brantley, PMP, is a Program Analyst, in Forecasting and Methods at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). You can find out more about his work in this space at BillBrantley.com.

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