The White House Conference on Aging: Why it should matter to you (McKnight’s LTC News)

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


The White House Conference on Aging: Why it should matter to you

If you, like me, completely missed the 2005 White House Conference on Aging (or if you weren’t in the field at the time), you may be wondering what the WHCOA is, what it does, and how one can get involved. Below, I share the answers to my own questions under the theory that I can’t possibly be the only one who doesn’t know enough about the conference.

What it is

The White House Conference on Aging is a once-a-decade national conversation about the needs of our aging population. The goal, according to the WHCOA website, is “to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans.” The first WHCOA was held in 1961, with subsequent conferences in 1971, 1981, 1995, and 2005. As indicated on the conference’s website, the 2015 conference takes place during a 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 WHCOA agenda

Next year’s conference will focus on four main areas:

• Retirement security

• Long-term services and supports that allow elders to remain in the community

• Healthy aging

• Preventing financial exploitation, abuse and neglect of elders (elder justice)

What it does

For a positive view of the conference, Anne Montgomery’s article for the National Academy of Social Insurance points out concrete actions taken as a result of previous conferences.

According to Montgomery, the 1961 conference led to the development of 50 State Units on Aging as part of the Older Americans Act; the 1971 WHCOA resulted in the creation of the Supplemental Social Insurance program and establishing the National Institute on Aging within the National Institutes of Health; the 1995 WHCOA lead to the National Family Caregiver Support Program; and the 2005 WHCOA “provided momentum for reauthorizing the Older Americans Act in 2006, which strengthened the role of Aging Disability Resource Centers.”

Delegates to past conferences commented on her article, stating that the WHCOAs have been crucial in identifying problems and their solutions.

No stranger to controversy

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The White House Conference on Aging: Why it should matter to you


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