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White House Regional Conference on Aging: A Recap

In July, the White House hosted its 2015 Conference on Aging.  If you have been following the Seniors Speak Out blog, you are very aware of the event. In fact, I recently talked to Bob Blancato, a long-time advocate for seniors who has been involved in three of the previous White House Conferences on Aging (WHCOA), about this year’s conference.

Photo from whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov

Our discussion covered the history of the WHCOA and the important part it has played in developing policies for seniors in the past. You can check out part 1 of my interview with Bob here and part 2 here

In addition, after attending the conference, Bob wrote a recap of his experience in a column featured on Next Avenue. Bob summarized how the conference built off past successes but also highlighted what made it distinct. He touched on how, unlike in past conferences, the White House was much more involved. Also different from previous events was the format. This year, five regional forums (also summarized on our blog here) led up to the main conference, which featured a strong virtual component. While only 200 people attended in-person, over 600 people around the country registered to watch it live.

Bob discussed how the results of this year’s conference were significant:

“In the aggregate, they will both improve existing aging policy and programs and create new ways of improving the quality of life for people as they age. No fewer than 20 private-sector actions were announced at the conference. As they are implemented, they offer the real prospect to achieve positive change.”

President Obama’s policy remarks were also important to understanding future priorities of aging policy in the U.S. In his announcement, the President touched on policies related to retirement savings, food for the homebound, better access to resources, as well as justice and support for victims of elder abuse.

While Bob’s article emphasized the achievements of the 2015 conference, he concluded that the real marker of success will be the implementation of ideas and proposals laid forth at this year’s event:

“The prospect of real change emanating from this White House Conference on Aging is contingent, however, on full implementation of the proposals announced and other actions, such as reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, further implementation of the Affordable Care Act to strengthen Medicare, greater national attention to long-term care and ensuring that Social Security is strong now and in the future.”

You can learn more about the issues covered at this year’s conference by visiting the WHCOA website and watching some the videos covering conversations that took place here.

Thanks for following our coverage of this historic conference!