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Internet, Digital Technology, and Aging Well

From the time we are born, everyone is aging. I just have more experience at it. We should all be so lucky.

So said a speaker at the first listening session at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) held in Tampa on February 19. The WHCOA listening series started in Tampa and will continue in Phoenix, Seattle, Cleveland, and Boston before the Conference convenes late in 2015. The listening sessions are an opportunity for those interested in public policy to help all Americans age with dignity and health in the most independent living environment that we can manage. Ideally a majority of us wish to stay in our own homes, but if that isn’t possible, then in supportive settings that allow us to experience life as fully as possible for as long as possible.

History of Aging Programs in America

2015 is the 80th anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act, our country’s first and most comprehensive effort to date to help people survive losing their income due to disability or advanced age. President and Mrs. Roosevelt in the White House spearheaded the passage of the Act to keep sick and old people out of the proverbial poor house. However, it took the federal policy recommendations of the 1961 White House Conference on Aging and the leadership of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to convince Congress to implement Medicare and Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act in 1965, 50 years ago. More recently, WHCOAs have led to Congress-legislated protections for older workers from job discrimination (for those over age 40 because many employers wished to avoid paying into retirement plans or higher health care costs for their workers), annual cost of living adjustments in Social Security benefits, and Long Term Care ombudsmen to help residents of long-term care facilities. Other programs preventing elder abuse, assisting elders with legal issues and adult protective services have been added in the last decade. Millions of Americans—as well as their families—depend on these public pillars to live with less vulnerability and more security. Read more