The Cleveland White House Conference on Aging Regional Forum, held on April 27, 2015, was the fourth in a series of 2015 White House Conference on Aging regional forums. These regional forums were co-sponsored by AARP and were planned in coordination with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of more than 70 of the nation’s leading organizations serving older Americans.
Over 200 older adults, caregivers, advocates, community leaders, and experts in the field of aging attended the Cleveland Regional Forum. The forum featured remarks by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown; U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9); Armond Budish, Cuyahoga County Executive; and Jeannine English, President, AARP.
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, and Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), each delivered keynote addresses. Secretary Castro discussed the need for a 21st century vision of planning that puts housing and communities at the center. He stressed the importance of affordable housing, as well as the possibilities for connecting housing to the community assets that people of all ages need to thrive. Director Cordray highlighted the work of the CFPB’s Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans, noting the information and tools it provides to help older consumers navigate safely through financial challenges and prevent elder financial exploitation.
The forum included two moderated panels. Nancy LeaMond, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer and Executive Vice President of AARP’s State and National Group, served as moderator of the first panel, which explored the topics of healthy aging and long-term services and supports. Panelists included: Sarita Gupta, Co-Director, Caring Across Generations; Bonnie Kantor-Burman, Director, Ohio Department of Aging; Michelle Norris, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer, National Church Residents Development Corporation; and Peter Whitehouse, Professor of Neurology, Case Western Reserve University and President, Intergenerational Schools International. The panelists discussed a range of issues, including the importance of housing with services, person-centered care, and the need to support family caregivers and home care workers. Panelists also touched on the opportunities of aging, including efforts to maximize the physical and social well-being of older adults.
Kathy Greenlee, Administrator of the Administration for Community Living and Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, moderated the second panel, which examined the themes of elder justice and retirement security. Panelists included: Ben Harris, Chief Economist and Economic Advisor to the Vice President, Office of the Vice President; Annamaria Lusardi, Chair of Economics and Accountancy and Academic Director, Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, George Washington University; Ron Long, Senior Vice President and Director of Regulatory Affairs and Elder Client Initiatives, Wells Fargo Advisors, L.L.C.; and Ursel McElroy Drake, Deputy Director of Education and Policy, Office of the Ohio Attorney General. The panelists explored both the public and private sector responses to elder abuse issues. They also discussed the challenges that people face with regard to saving for retirement, noting the importance of programs such as myRA.
In the afternoon’s breakout sessions, attendees discussed each of the four topic areas that are the focus of this year’s Conference --healthy aging, long-term services and supports, elder justice, and retirement security-- and identified their top priorities, challenges, and proposed solutions related to these issue areas.
Participants at the healthy aging breakout session prioritized adopting holistic approaches to healthy aging that included health and well-being programs, prevention, mental health, vision, hearing, and nutrition. They also focused on the idea of creating a matrix that matches the individual needs and wants to existing programs across governments and private sector. Cleveland participants emphasized the need for culturally-competent services. The breakout session on long-term services and supports focused on supporting caregivers, both the paid workforce and family caregivers, with greater training and supportive services.
The elder justice breakout session focused on the need to enhance prevention and coordination efforts for first responders, providers, and law enforcement. During the retirement security breakout session, participants talked about the challenges of saving enough and noted the importance of affordable and available housing, healthcare, transportation, and good nutrition to a secure and dignified retirement.
Participants came together for a concluding session, where they shared summaries about each breakout session and expressed their additional comments and concerns. These ideas and suggestions will inform the White House Conference on Aging’s work going forward.
The forum was also available by webcast, and communities were encouraged to host local viewing sessions, facilitate discussion, and submit feedback through the White House Conference on Aging website.
If you were not able to view the live webcast, a recording of the Cleveland forum is available here.
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