2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) 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. Four major areas of focus are:
• Retirement security is a vitally important issue. 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 remain a priority. 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 is important given that 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, and we need to realize its vision of protecting seniors from scam artists and others seeking to take advantage of them.
Recently, Green House Project, Chief Operating Officer, Susan Frazier, met with WHCOA Executive Director, Nora Super, and Communications Director, Michele Patrick. During this meeting, they talked about how The Green House model highlights so many of the key areas addressed in the conference objectives, especially, Healthy Aging and Long-term services and supports. The Green House Project plans to be visible and involved in all of the activities surrounding WHCOA, and will amplify the voice of the elders and staff who are living this innovative model every day.
The Green House Project is an innovative model of skilled nursing care that offers high quality care and saves Medicare and Medicaid dollars. In an era of budget deficits and a growing aging population, our country needs to identify effective models that can save money and yet offer choice, quality and independence to our nation’s seniors. After viewing this short video you will have a sense of the model and how it differs from large, traditional, institutional-style nursing homes. In his recent book, Being Mortal, Dr. Atul Gawande examines the loneliness, helplessness and boredom so often experienced by those living out the end of their lives in long-term care institutions and he argues that this should not be the norm in our country. He writes that Green House homes are “…designed to pursue that idea that a life worth living can be created…by focusing on food, homemaking, and befriending others.”
Nora Super and her team have been invited to visit Green House homes as they travel the country and learn more about the issues that are important to various consumers, policy makers and stakeholders. To learn more about the local, state, regional and policy events as well as other ways to be involved, visit http://whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov/