Part of the Transforming Life as We Age Special Report
Four of Next Avenue’s 2017 group of the 50 Influencers in Aging just spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the American Society on Aging’s 2018 Aging in America conference in San Francisco. Their topic, appropriately: The future of Aging in America. Next Avenue Director of Editorial and Content Shayla Stern moderated the panel.
Highlights from the insightful, often surprising, sometimes fearful and sometimes optimistic panelists:
Gretchen Alkema, vice president, policy and communication, The SCAN Foundation:
“We often think of aging as negative motifs like a change in function and decline… We have to transform that into how you are living every day, how you are doing, what are the needs and preferences driving a person’s life and how can we support them? It takes a huge shift to do this. The aging services field has a great opportunity to say: ‘Let’s transform the conversation to say: ‘Who you are and what matters to you are as important as the life stage you’re in and the health and daily living activities you face.’
“The world I live in is health care… Most people want to not engage with the health care system. How many of us woke up today and said: ‘God, I can’t wait to go to the hospital!’ So what is the way we can innovate in that platform? People are walking into health care with the absolute premise of vulnerability; something is not going well and that’s why they are at the doctor… How do we honor the person entering that doorway and say: ‘What’s going on with you now and what do you need?’
“A policy passed in February was fairly astounding for me: The CHRONIC Care Act. It fundamentally transforms the way Medicare can provide services to people with long-standing chronic conditions and fundamental limitations for their daily living needs… We’ve been talking for a long time about how to use Medicare dollars to support people’s health and well-being through things that are not necessarily medical innovations… It’s an important law.”
Richard Browdie, president and CEO, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging:
“There are spaces in urban settings with no access to wireless and the cost of cellular is going up, not down. The lower end of the economic spectrum, particularly, is starved for resources where infrastructure would be most beneficial.”
Yanira Cruz, president and CEO, National Hispanic Council on Aging:
“There’s a lot of fear and confusion with the population we’re working with… I want us to innovate and engage and hopefully have an impact in protecting the safety net — I mean Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.
“Earlier this year, Congress passed the RAISE Family Caregivers Act that will impact caregiving at a national level and bring the creation of an advisory board to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). All of us have an opportunity to have a say in the direction HHS will take with this new program.”
Robyn Stone, senior vice president for research, LeadingAge:
“The major issue coming down the pike is that 14 percent of the U.S. population is 65-plus and it’s about to be 25 percent in coming years. We are babies compared to most of Europe and Japan. Japan is experiencing some significant economic and workforce problems that have to do that this situation and is a bellwether of a lot of things we’re looking forward to.
“The suburbs are the absolutely worst place [to grow older] with a lack of transportation and an ecosystem… Think of the challenges society faces about living into your 90s in your own home; that’s not necessarily a great choice and we haven’t seen any great innovation in this area… Smart homes are a fad; I don’t even know what ‘smart home’ means.
“We will face serious changes in affordable housing and affordable services for modest-income older adults… We have to understand the questions demographics raises about how our system will meet the needs of the vast majority of elders who are not able to support themselves well and live to 95 or, god forbid, 120.”
Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:
- Meet our 2017 Influencers in Aging
- New Law Broadens Chronic Care Through Medicare
- What the New RAISE Family Caregivers Act Will Do
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