The Older Americans Act of 1965 established a system whereby authorized program funds flow through State Units on Aging (in Massachusetts, the State Unit on Aging is the Executive Office of Elder Affairs) to Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) where they are used to support home and community based supportive and nutrition services. In Massachusetts, there are twenty-two Area Agencies on Aging representing a like number of Planning and Service Areas (PSA). Planning and Service Areas are collections of communities that any given Area Agency on Aging serves; PSAs in Massachusetts range in size and composition from a single city (for example, Boston) to ones that serve over thirty cities and towns.

Area Agencies on Aging solicit and contract with private vendors for services, administer the disbursement of funding, monitor programs for regulatory compliance and maintenance of quality, and generally coordinate operation of services and resources.

Area Agencies on Aging represent the original structure and system for delivering federally funded services to the elders of the nation and the Commonwealth. In Massachusetts, Area Agencies on Aging provide services in concert with another group of entities known as Aging Services Access Points, (or 'ASAPs', authorized within Section 19A of Massachusetts General Laws), which are often collocated with AAAs. ASAPs were formerly known as "Home Care Corporations", a name that spoke to their principal responsibility of operating the state-funded Home Care Program, a collection of supportive services designed to help elders remain independent and in their own homes, services that naturally complement those of the AAAs. In Massachusetts, there are 26 Aging Services Access Points, 19 of which are collocated with an Area Agency on Aging; seven ASAPs are 'stand-alone' entities, leaving three free-standing AAAs that fall outside the ASAP system.