2015 White House Conference on Aging

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Nora Super and others at Listening Sessions 2014

30. April 2015 11:13
by WHCOA Blog Contributor

Healthy Aging Requires Livable Communities

30. April 2015 11:13 by WHCOA Blog Contributor | 3 Comments

By Julian Castro, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Earlier this week, I traveled to Cleveland, Ohio to speak at the fourth regional forum as part of this year’s White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA). The meeting brought together a wide variety of leaders to work on a common goal: addressing the changing landscape of aging.

Our nation is experiencing an incredible transformation, with 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day. And we also know that the way folks view retirement is changing—it’s no longer looked at as the closing chapter in one’s life, but rather the beginning of a new one.

As HUD Secretary, I’ve made supporting affordable and accessible communities for all Americans one of my top priorities. One example is HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, which provide approximately $34 million a year to improve senior centers across the nation; an additional $36 million to offer public services to approximately one million seniors annually; and CDBG funds the rehabilitation of nearly 70,000 single family and multi-family housing units each year, many of them occupied by low-income older adults—allowing them to age in place.

Strong, diverse communities benefit each of us, but they are especially critical for older adults who want to remain active, find affordable housing, and access needed health and social services. Like many younger generations, they also want access to amenities and cultural opportunities that urban centers offer. The one thing that’s clear is that we need to get this right. If we don’t, not only do we make it more difficult for older Americans to live longer and healthier lives, the costs can be significant—potentially depleting a family’s life savings for basic housing and healthcare costs. Our communities will also lose out on the lifetime of knowledge, skills and experience that older Americans offer.

That’s why we’re approaching this issue through a nationwide conversation—and we need to hear from you. If you want to add your own thoughts to the discussion on healthy aging and healthy communities, visit the WHCOA website where you can share your comments, thoughts, and ideas through the Get Involved section or sign-up for updates.

Thank you for your interest in commenting on this blog. At this time, we are no longer accepting comments. If you are still interested in sharing your thoughts, please e-mail them to info@whaging.gov

Comments (3) -

The people who work with elders every day can be among the first to discover abuse signs and can help to support victims through proper reporting. Educating them on the subtle signs, the importance of reporting and the local agencies charged with abuse investigations would be a highly effective way to make a difference.  Additionally, community education programs can help to spotlight this important issue that often goes unreported by family, friends and neighbors.

There are many older people in our neighborhood now, having been here for 30+ years.  We are fortunate to have a local grocery store with pharmacy, car mechanic, nail salon, restaurant, and hardware store.  The bank branch moved and left an empty small building.....perfect for a small health clinic.  I realize that stores like CVS have pharmacists, and maybe nurses, that can take care of minor concerns, however, small neighborhood clinics would be so helpful.  Is this a feasible option for communities to invest it?

One aspect of livable communities is attitude. Stigma and misconception about aging and salient issues like dementia have the potential to make any community with all the right infrastructure non-aging-friendly and non-dementia-friendly. Conversely, a community filled with people who are accepting, supportive, positive, knowledgable about the aging process, and skilled in salient communication (and other) skills yet lacking some of the infrastructure could be a more aging-friendly and dementia-friendly community in which to live safely as one ages, even with dementia. Widespread training and education to increase awareness and sensitivity about aging and, especially, about dementia is CRUCIAL for the U.S. to embrace its shifting demographic with more older adults and more people caring about and caring for older adults. This is essential for a community to develop a usable infrastructure and be considered livable.

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