At last month’s White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA), President Barack Obama advocated for increased flexibility for family leave in order to provide for workers who are caregivers for aging family members.
In 2013, there were more than 44 million individuals aged 65 and older living in the United States. There are estimated to be more than 80 million individuals in this demographic by 2050. The country is preparing for that significant increase in the senior population.
Not only did experts, advocates and government watchdogs at the WHCOA gather together to discuss concerns and opportunities for the senior community, but they also gathered to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act. They also celebrated the 80th Anniversary of Social Security.
With such historic happenings, it was no surprise that the 2015 Conference attended to such significant topics as:
- Retirement security
- Healthy aging
- Long-term services and supports
- Elder justice
The first White House Conference on Aging was held in 1961. Conferences are held once a decade, and each has been considered integral to creating change amongst the senior community.
As the attendees discussed how to propel the senior community into the next few years safely and in the best possible health, they were asked to consider a few basic statistics.
Seventy-one percent of older men lived with a spouse, while 19% lived alone. Comparatively, 45% of women lived with a spouse, while 35% lived alone.
During the past century, the poverty rate for older adults has decreased significantly.
Access to health care has improved, thanks to Medicare. Despite the fact that the majority of older Americans report at least one chronic condition, they have the insurance needed to assist with proper care.
There were a variety of additional announcements made during the WHCOA that will be of import to seniors.
One of the significant outcomes of the Conference was that President Obama announced and launched Aging.gov, a new portal site that will gather together information on aging from multiple government agencies. It provides information for caregivers as well as for older adults looking to age in place.
The website allows seniors to file for Social Security benefits as well as to enroll in Medicare and apply for Medicaid coverage. There is also detailed information about age discrimination that, when combined with the information about elder justice, can be vital to the lives of seniors.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is developing training curriculum in order to build a workforce that has the necessary skill set to work with a growing number of older Americans with dementia. They are also launching a Brain Health Awareness Campaign to help individuals better understand the changes that occur in the brain when dementia and Alzheimer’s are present.
The rideshare provider announced that it would be launching pilot programs in a few states – California, Ohio, Florida, Texas, and Arizona – to work with senior community centers to provide free or reduced rate rides to seniors. Transportation is often one of the greatest challenges older adults face.
ReAct (Respect a Caregiver’s Time), Care.com & MIT
ReAct, Care.com and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have joined together to develop tools to assist employers in supporting employees who are caregivers. They will be encouraging best practices and strategies that support caregiving responsibilities.
Policy briefs were issued on each topic issue if you would like to read more about these and other actions announced.
Image source: http://www.niacouncil.org/