The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is set for Monday, July 13, and will be streamed online.
While the one-day virtual event won’t solve the pressing problems of aging – most acutely elder abuse and retirement savings – executive director Nora Super says it will be successful if it achieves one overarching goal:
Change the dialogue about aging to a positive one.
During a recent interview, Super said regional forums held around the country this year have illuminated the powerful presence older adults bring to American life.
She calls civil engagement “a critical factor” for older adults – and essential to the healthy aging process.
“They’re healthier people,” says Super. “They avoid isolation, they’re active in their communities, they feel like they have meaning and purpose.”
Super frequently references the characters in the hit 2011 movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” as ideal representations of aging characters who still embrace adventure and romance.
“What we’re trying to do is change the dialogue so that ‘them’ is ‘us,’” says Super.
Older adults also offer qualities desperately needed in today’s world – including patience and wisdom – which are often available for mentoring or intergenerational programs.
The White House has established four central topics for the conference: elder abuse, healthy aging, retirement savings, and long-term services and supports.
Organizers are asking people to get involved with the conference by hosting a watch party, submitting ideas about positive aging, uploading interviews with elders, tweeting questions to experts, or completing the sentence “Getting older is betting better because….”
The conference has received cooperation from a variety of federal governmental organizations, including: the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development.
Super hopes the conference will be similar to the regional forums held in Tampa, Phoenix, Seattle, Cleveland and Boston – yet super sized.
“People had so many ideas and creative solutions,” she says. “They came up to me and said ‘I’ve been working in aging services all my life and I learned so much.’”