April 2 conference offers opportunity to be heard

White House Conference on Aging

The White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), a special event held once a decade that began in 1961, is designed to generate ideas and discussion regarding policy development for senior programs and elder care to improve the quality of life for older people in the upcoming decade.

The 2015 WHCoA is planned for July in Washington DC and will build on the work from a series of five regional forums, including one planned for Seattle on Thursday, April 2. The first regional forum was held in Florida on February 19 and can be viewed at this link http://www.aarp.org/health/white-house-conference-aging-2015-live-stream/. Future forums are scheduled for Phoenix (March 31), Cleveland (April 27), and Boston (May 28).

The WHCoA regional forums are co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with AARP and co-planned with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations. Although participation is by invitation only, the regional forums will be webcast. According to organizers, the 2015 WHCoA will be different from past conferences, which were determined by law regarding their form and structure through legislation authorizing the Older Americans Act. However, OAA reauthorization remains pending at this time. The 2015 WHCoA regional forums will utilize technology to involve as many people as possible, including the event planned for Seattle.

The 2015 WHCoA includes four focus areas: 

• Ensuring retirement security, especially the importance of financial planning.

• Promoting opportunities for healthy aging to maintain health, vitality and community supports, such as housing.

• Long-term services and supports to allow seniors access to a network of home- and community-based supports to remain independent for as long as possible.

• Elder justice to protect vulnerable seniors from financial exploitation, abuse and neglect.

The White House Conference on Aging website ( http://www.whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov/ ) contains important information related to this event, including a portal for submitting comments and input related to the WHCoA focus areas.

The Alaska Commission on Aging encourages seniors, their families, regional senior advisory commissions, AgeNet, State Independent Living Center organizations, providers, and other interested public members to participate in the WHCoA Seattle regional forum that will be streamed live on April 2 and to submit comments and recommendations through the WHCoA website.

Lesley Thompson is a planner at the Alaska Commission on Aging. Her phone number is 907-465-4793 or visit http://www.alaskaaging.org.