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Highlights from the White House Conference on Aging

The White House Conference on Aging focuses on the issues facing Americans as they plan for retirement, care for older loved ones, and work to improve our quality of life as we age.  It is held once every ten years, and on Monday, seniors tuned at over 600 viewing parties across the country and many more participated in an online discussion on Twitter.

President Barack Obama opened his White House Conference on Aging remarks by saying, "One of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens." He went on to mention a number of senior citizens are living longer, healthier lives and doing great things including serving on the Supreme Court.  "Arguably the toughest justice on the Supreme Court is the oldest, Ruth Bader Ginsburg," he said. “Also known as the Notorious RBG. She’s tough."

His remarks drew laughs, before he moved on to more serious matters as The White House Conference on Aging announced several new initiatives.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed a new a rule to update the quality and safety requirements for nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. The goal is to improve quality of life for residents including improved meal and medication delivery, improved safety requirements, and enhanced person-centric care and services - particularly for those with dementia.

Fitness was also a big topic on the agenda. The National Prevention Council, chaired by the Surgeon General, will launch its Go4Life  activity campaign in September with community partners nationwide to promote exercise and physical activity in older adults. The YMCA also announced plans for intergenerational events during the first week of August to give younger and older Americans opportunities to be active together.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that will be launching a free online course with continuing educations credits to physicians, nurses, and other health professionals on fall prevention. Also, their prevention tool, STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) will be implemented nationwide.

A brighter light will be coming to the problem of Elder Abuse with The National Institutes of Health convening a state-of-the-science workshop on elder abuse with researchers, clinicians, and other eldercare professionals. They will review the science of understanding and preventing  abuse, elder abuse screening tools, as well as looking at interventions and research in related areas like child abuse and domestic violence that could be transferred to the issue of elder abuse.

Finally, several Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia initiatives are being launched. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is creating an Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias training curriculum to train healthcare providers in the skills needed to ensure timely detection and diagnosis of dementia and to provide high-quality dementia care.

The Office of Women’s Health is developing related training for family caregivers to help them better understand the needs of those with dementia and ensuring their own support needs are addressed. While the Administration on Community Living is launching a Brain Health Awareness Campaign to help older adults better understand cognitive changes as they age and help families and healthcare workers address their concerns.

In addition, the Dementia Friendly America Initiative will partner with several private sector groups will partner to create dementia-friendly communities across the country to help older adults with dementia safely age in place.

For more information on the 2015 White House Conference on Aging announcements, visit the new resource site that also provides information on healthy aging, elder justice, long-term care, Social Security and Medicare.


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