Next year will be the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. It will also be the year when the White House will convene the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. The Conference will be of particular interest in Connecticut, currently the 7th oldest state in the nation based on median age. The state is undergoing “a permanent and historic transformation in its demographics,” according to the state’s Legislative Commission on Aging (LCA).
The first White House Conference on Aging was held in 1961, with subsequent conferences in 1971, 1981, 1995, and 2005. These conferences have been widely viewed as catalysts for development of aging policy over the past 50 years.
The White House is “fully committed,” to conducting a 2015 conference, and is moving forward developing plans. Officials intend to seek broad public engagement and work closely with stakeholders in developing the conference, viewed as “an opportunity to look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans for the next decade.”
Given the advances in technology and social media in the past decade, the 2015 Conference is expected to use web tools and social media “to encourage as many older Americans as possible to participate,” according to White House officials.
Among the key issues likely to be included are: retirement security; healthy aging; long-term services and supports to help older adults remain in their communities; and preventing financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect of older adults.
According to the Connecticut for Livable Communities report, issued earlier this year by the LCA, the state’s 65 and older population is projected to grow by 57% between 2010 and 2040. During the same period, Connecticut’s 20- to 64-year-old population is projected to grow less than 2%.
“In 2010, there were 4.35 working-age people for each person age 65 and older in Connecticut,” according to the CLCA. “In 2030, there will be only 2.75.” More than one-third of the Connecticut population is over the age of 50, according to the report, and that proportion continues to rise. Residents born in Connecticut today, the report indicates, can expect to live to be 80.8 years old—the third highest life expectancy in the nation.
Nationally in 2013, there were 44.7 million Americans aged 65 and over and 6 million aged 85 and over. Over the next 50 years, the number of people aged 65 and older is expected to more than double to 92 million and the number of people aged 85 and older is expected to triple to 18 million.
Among the key areas expected to be highlighted during the Conference, according to the White House website:
- Retirement security - Financial security in retirement provides essential peace of mind for older Americans, but requires attention during our working lives to ensure that we are well prepared for retirement.
- Healthy aging will be all the more important as baby boomers age. As medical advances progress, the opportunities for older Americans to maintain their health and vitality should progress as well and community supports, including housing, are important tools to promote this vitality.
- Long-term services and supports - Older Americans overwhelmingly prefer to remain independent in the community as they age. They need supports to do so, including a caregiving network and well-supported workforce.
- Elder justice - Seniors, particularly the oldest older Americans, can be vulnerable to financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect. The Elder Justice Act was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, aimed at protecting seniors from scam artists and others seeking to take advantage of them.
In 2013, there were 75.9 million baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) accounting for almost one-quarter of the population. Baby boomers began turning 65 years old in 2011. Between 1980 and 2013, the centenarian population more than doubled from 32,194 in 1980 to 67,347 in 2013.
Between 1990 and 2013, the labor force participation rate of people age 65 and over increased from 12% to 19%. Among the population age 65 and over, there are 128 women for every 100 men. At age 85 and over this ratio increases to 196 women for every 100 men.
Earlier this year, Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, announced that Nora Super will be leading this effort as the Executive Director of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging.
Additional information can be obtained by contacting: White House Conference on Aging, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Suite 637D, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Washington, DC 20201, (202) 619-3636, firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals can also sign up for updates as plans develop, at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USWHCA/subscriber/new?topic_id=USWHCA_1