What the White House Conference on Aging Teaches Us

The White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) takes place only once every 10 years. Given the topic’s importance, one would reasonably expect quite a bit of hoopla to accompany this more-rare-than-a-blue-moon event. Quite the contrary. Since the passage of the Older American Act in 1965, prior conference had 1,000 or more delegates and met over a few days. This time around, there were no delegates, but 200 instead people were invited to the national event. This time around the conference lasted only one day; it was held July 13. One reporter dubbed the event “The Conference on Aging that Wasn’t.” Congress hadn’t reauthorized the Older Americans Act so there was no funding for the traditional multi-day event. As a result of the severe time constraint, the day’s content focused on 4 subjects,. Unfortunately, none of the four was how to pay for long term care. If one were cynical, you could reflect that Congress’ lack of attention to the WHCOA – and the agenda for the event itself – reflected the greater population’s widespread denial of the importance of planning for how to pay for an extended old age. Long term care planning is the kind of topic that individuals, politicians, and even whole countries like to ignore. Belle Likover, an elderly woman who commented at a regional forum leading up to the 2015 WHCOA: “In 1995, I met Claude Pepper [the late politician and advocate for elderly rights] at the WHCOA,” said Belle Likover, “and the thing that strikes me is that the issues are the same issues year after year, decade after decade.” By 2030, one in every 5 Americans will be age 65 or older. Experts agree it’s best to plan for future long term care costs by age 50 or 60 or so (the sooner one

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