(Note: The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: Bifocal, Vol. 36, Issue 1.)
The White House has held a Conference on Aging each decade since the 1960s to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) is an opportunity to look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans for the next decade.
The White House Conference on Aging will be held in 2015—next year that marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is an opportunity to recognize the importance of these key programs as well as to look ahead to the next decade.
In the past, conference processes were determined by statute with the form and structure directed by Congress through legislation, as part of the authorization of the Older Americans Act.
At this point in time, Congress has not reauthorized the Older Americans Act, and the pending bill does not include a statutory requirement or framework for the Conference.
However, the White House is committed to convening the 2015 conference and we will seek broad public engagement and work closely with stakeholders in the lead-up to the conference. We also plan to use web tools and social media to encourage as many older Americans as possible to participate.
The Conference Web site provides regular updates on Conference activities. The website also provides opportunities for older Americans and leaders in the field of aging to provide their input and personal stories.
The White House is engaging with stakeholders and members of the public about the issues most important to older individuals, their caregivers, and families. To listen and learn from key aging leaders and older Americans, the Administration is participating in listening sessions with older Americans and advocates across the country. These listening sessions began in July 2014 and will continue up to and during the Conference.
Some of the common themes voiced so far by aging leaders and older Americans include the following:
- Retirement security is a vitally important issue. Financial security in retirement provides essential peace of mind for older Americans, but requires attention during our working lives to ensure that we are well prepared for retirement.
- Healthy aging will be all the more important as baby boomers age. As medical advances progress, the opportunities for older Americans to maintain their health and vitality should progress as well and community supports, including housing, are important tools to promote this vitality.
- Long-term services and supports remain a priority. Older Americans overwhelmingly prefer to remain independent in the community as they age. They need supports to do so, including a caregiving network and well-supported workforce.
- Elder justice is important given that seniors, particularly the oldest older Americans, can be vulnerable to financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect. The Elder Justice Act was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, and we need to realize its vision of protecting seniors from scam artists and others seeking to take advantage of them.
For additional questions or to provide specific input, please visit: