“All of us are aging, some of us are just more experienced,” Nora Super, executive director of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, told me back in March. Nora is an expert on challenges affecting older Americans and is passionate about seniors because of her own experiences with her parents. For her, successful aging means living a productive and meaningful life.
“My mom unfortunately died at a young age. She was only 54. From a very young age, I understood that life is very short and we need to take advantage of every moment that we have and never take anything for granted. On the other hand, my dad, who did live a long life, had Alzheimer’s. I saw the opposite side of the spectrum…”
Unfortunately, Nora’s story isn’t unique. Millions of family members and caregivers across the country have parents or grandparents that are aging and/or living with age-related health issues. In fact, every eight seconds someone in this country turns 65. By 2030, one out of every five people will be age 65 or older, making this the largest demographic shift in our nation’s history.
That’s why this year’s White House Conference on Aging, held on July 13, will recognize and celebrate the 50th anniversary of seminal public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act, as well as explore fresh ideas around care for the next senior generation. The conference, held once every decade, is an opportunity to recognize the importance of these key programs as well as to look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans for the next decade. The agenda promises to provide in-depth discussion around four key focus areas including retirement security, elder justice, healthy aging and long-term services and supports. “As Americans we really need to see this as an opportunity to think about how we deliver services and goods and help each other in our communities,” Nora said.
With most of the baby boomer population retiring or nearing retirement and increasing medical advancements that are helping many live longer lives, we need to address how we best care for this growing population. As our healthcare delivery system is changing, more and more people are recognizing the importance of community-based organizations and realizing how they can actually deliver care that’s more personal to the people, how they want to receive it, that’s also cost-effective.
My talk with Nora ended with an important sentiment I would like to echo: Seniors want to be empowered to be part of the solution and help redefine what their future will look like. “What we’re hearing over and over is that people don’t want to be called seniors…they want to look at this as the second act.” We need to ensure they have the best second act possible—on their own terms.
West Health and the Gary and Mary West Foundation share the same commitment and belief that Nora does–our seniors deserve a higher quality of life—with better health outcomes — at an affordable cost. We’re committed to making successful aging a reality for seniors and their loved ones so they lead high-quality, engaged lives with choice, dignity and independence. We applaud the conference and look forward to supporting their efforts to ensure our nation’s seniors can live a fulfilled life, where ever they choose, for as long as possible.