White House Conference on Aging

July 2, 2015

On July 13, 2015, the White House will hold its Conference on Aging.  These conferences have been held every decade to identify and advance the quality of life of older Americans and help shape their future. There are many policies that are being discussed and seniors, families and caregivers are being asked about issues that are important to them.

Among the most critical are retirement security, healthy aging, long term care/support and elder justice.

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Retirement security is a huge issue!  One-third of older adults count on social security as their only source of income. Monthly benefits average just $1330/month.  Some of the discussion will focus on strengthening the social security system so that it remains solvent while not reducing benefits.

Healthy aging focuses on how to promote vitality as Americans live longer.  Physical activity, nutrition, preventive health services, management of chronic conditions and injury prevention are all ways to help us age gracefully.  People that adopt healthy lifestyles and are involved with family and in the community are healthier and more independent.  Discussions will take place at the Conference on how to engage older Americans in their communities, how to inform them of the services available through Medicare and how to optimize their health and manage chronic conditions.

Long-term care/support is also a vital topic. Most seniors want to stay in their homes and remain independent.  This rarely happens without the help of a caregiver.  The likelihood of needing assistance jumps dramatically as you age: 11% of those aged 65-69 need some assistance, while 62% of those over age 90 need assistance. The conference will discuss rising costs of care, training of caregivers, support programs and the use of technology.

Lastly, elder justice is critical because seniors are exposed to abuse and exploitation. It is essential to protect them from scam artists. Elder abuse is not just about financial exploitation, but also physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Women account for two-thirds of victims.  Such exploitation erodes the stability and quality of life of older Americans and as a result they are more likely to be admitted to nursing homes and hospitals.

There are no easy fixes to the problems of aging.  It’s good to know that these issues are being addressed at a national level.  With intelligent planning the future can be made better for all.

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