xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Policy decisions on aging issues are coming up [Senior Circles]

As an older American, are you happy with decisions affecting your life being made without your input? Did you know that there is a venue for us to influence public policies on aging, which can make our lives better as we age?

That outlet to express our opinions and share our thoughts on issues of importance to us is the White House Conference on Aging, scheduled for July 13, which identifies and advances actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans.

Advertisement

At the first White House Conference on Aging held in 1961, people 50-plus were involved and introduced to Medicare's prescription drug program; a cost-of-living increase for Social Security beneficiaries; and the unveiling of a model home designed for ease of living for older adults.

The 2015 focus of the conference is on retirement security; healthy aging; long-term services and supports; and elder justice. Each of these topics has a corresponding policy brief on the conference website. See URL below.

Advertisement

In terms of Retirement Security, the policy brief states that longer lives can also challenge older Americans' financial security, increasing the risk of outliving their assets. "Americans are living longer than ever before. In 2012, life expectancy at birth in the United States reached a record high of 78.8 years. A 65 year-old man can expect to live another 17 years and a 65 year-old woman another 20 years."

According to the Healthy Aging brief, "Older Americans are calling for a shift in the way we think and talk about aging. Rather than focusing on the limitations of aging, older adults across the nation want to focus instead on the opportunities of aging. Older adults are seeking ways to maximize their physical, mental, and social well-being to remain independent and active as they age."

Long-term health and social services and supports help older adults to accomplish activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, preparing a meal, or managing money. These services may be needed to maximize the independence and well being of an older adult.

Older Americans are living longer and healthier lives, with the assistance of new technologies. However, they may be more susceptible to financial exploitation and other elder abuse, which includes physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional and psychological abuse. "Elder abuse is a serious public health problem affecting millions of older Americans each year, with some studies suggesting that as few as one in 23 cases is reported to authorities."

For all the policy briefs and follow-on discussion questions, go towhitehouseconferenceonaging.gov. It is hoped that older adults will answer the questions, provide ideas and comments, which will be displayed in the public conversation area of the website. You can see others' comments on the focus topics and policy briefs on this site.

Considered a catalyst for developing policy on aging over the last 50 years — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Older Americans Act — the White House Conference on Aging is held every 10 years.

In the past, as part of the Older Americans Act, Congress directed through legislation the processes, form and structure of the conference. At this point, Congress has not reauthorized the Older Americans Act, and unfortunately, the pending bill does not include a statutory requirement or structure for the conference.

In spite of Congress's inaction on the bill, the White House is committed to holding the 2015 conference and is encouraging older Americans to get involved. They are offering the use of web tools and social media to get older Americans to participate. In preparation for the conference, five regional forums were held across the country, bringing people together who wanted to influence "the changing landscape of aging."

At least four of the Howard County 50+ Centers — Bain (10 a.m.-noon), East Columbia (9 a.m.-3 p.m.), Ellicott City (9 a.m.-noon) and North Laurel (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) — afford you the opportunity to join others July 13 for a "Watch Party," a live streaming of the conference from D.C. The conference will assemble older Americans, caregivers, government officials, the public, business leaders and community leaders to form a vision for aging in the next decade.

You can also join in on the conversation in Washington by tweeting your questions and comments on key aging issues using #WHCOA.

In light of the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, and the 80th anniversary of Social Security, all this year, it is fitting that we actively participate in the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. Take advantage of this opportunity to help determine aging policy for your future. Be a part of history, just like those older Americans were back in 1961!

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement