In this recent issue of the Journal of Aging Life Care, thought leaders and experts reflect on the topics covered by the 2015 White House Conference on Aging and discuss the ways to move and shape dialogue forward.
Journal of Aging Life Care™ Takes a Look at The White House Conference on Aging One Year Later
by Jennifer E. Voorlas, MSG, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Aging Life Care
The White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA), held in July 2015, marked the historic 50th anniversary of Medicare, and included many hopeful discussions about better ways to support seniors and their families. Over the years, this national event has been responsible for a number of significant changes in public policy. The first conference was held in 1950, when President Harry S. Truman ordered the Federal Security Agency to hold a national conference on aging. The 1961 Conference led to the development of the 50 state units on aging as part of the Older Americans Act; and in 1971 the WHCOA led to the creation of the Social Security Insurance program.
Fast forward to July 13, 2015, and as Author Gretchen Alkema of SCAN describes, this conference was “for the first time onsite at The White House and celebrated in the East Room, utilizing a more modern approach to community engagement via extensive social media.” President Obama’s attendance and remarks elevated the importance of the event and served as a call to action.” She notes that it “was laser-focused on four specific issues: elder justice, healthy aging, long-term services and supports, and retirement security.”
However, “Despite the positive dialogue at the conference, there was a topic glaringly absent from the day: a clear-eyed discussion of current and future long-term care costs [the elephant in the room], which is the largest and most unpredictable factor eroding retirement security for individuals and families.” While the WHCOA was a forum for advocating resources and programs which allow seniors to age in place in the comfort of their own homes, Aging Life Care Managers™ are keenly aware that affordability for some does not mean most; as the majority of those seniors with increased health care needs and lower socioeconomic status are often thrust prematurely into long-term care arrangements.
Presenting options to finance long-term care, Author Eileen Tell in her article delves into educating care managers on the different types of policies in existence, as well as the “hybrid” policies that are now in the market place, weighing the benefits and risks, including helpful tips for care managers working with their clients. Continuing the dialogue, Helene Bergman addresses the impact of overtime laws in a diverse compilation of anecdotes from Aging Life Care Managers and home care agencies across the country, underscoring the impact on care managers, home care agencies, and ultimately the elders we care for.
In alignment with the National Institute of Health and National Institute on Aging, the WHCOA advocated for initiatives to increase healthy aging via physical exercise, and a “stepped up” effort of the National plan to address Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In keeping with these goals, Dr. Steven Castle’s article introduces his fall prevention program, how it has been instituted on a state and national level, and how care managers can play an important role to encourage exercise for seniors. In addition, he emphasizes the importance of physical fitness on brain health, introducing Jennifer Voorlas’s article which supports exercise as being “neuroprotective,” offering evidence of exercise as being a potential (and critical) factor in the prevention of cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
The topic of elder abuse still remains a national priority which was addressed through discussion of major initiatives and training programs to identify and prevent elder abuse in alignment with goals of The US department of justice and the National Institute of Health. A clear focus on initiatives to combat elder abuse is explored by authors Amy Berman, Kathrin Lozah, and Dr. Terry Fulmer of the Hartford Foundation. They identify the most vulnerable, at-risk elders, providing information on the signs of elder abuse Aging Life Care Managers need to aware of, and offer information on what care managers can do when they identify victims of elder abuse in the course of their practices.
Finally, while the WHCOA addressed how doctors will now be reimbursed for end-of-life discussions with their patients, absent from the discussion was the value of hospice and palliative care measures included in advanced care planning. Striking this chord is Dr. Nancy Berlinger’s article which focuses on the ethics of end-of-life planning as key to long-term care and support of the elderly, which is directly relevant to how care managers can support older adults and their families.
Throughout this edition, each author has contributed to enhancing our knowledge as Aging Life Care Managers about relevant policy issues which impacts the seniors we work with on a daily basis. The articles presented in this issue are not only intended to provide an update on some of the most salient points from last year’s conference; but to address their current relevancy, along with a provocative attempt to move and shape the dialogue forward. On behalf of the entire editorial board, we hope you enjoy this edition!
2016 Summer Edition of the Journal of Aging Life Care:
About the Journal: Each issue of the Journal of Aging Life Care is filled with in-depth articles and case studies on clinical topics and business topics that are vital in educating Aging Life Care Professionals on the latest trends, best practices, and research in the field. To view past issues visit http://www.aginglifecarejournal.org/issue-library/.
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.