Our country is transforming as we become both older and more diverse every day. Every day for the next 15 years, thousands of Americans will reach retirement age at a pace so that, by 2030, there will be more than twice as many older Americans as there were at the turn of the century.
As our population changes, we have a collective responsibility to make sure older Americans can both take advantage of the opportunities of their golden years and overcome the barriers that aging can create. That’s why President Obama was so proud to sign a reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, a bill he had called on Congress to pass since last summer’s White House Conference on Aging. As the President said then:
We’re going to work with Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act because we know it will provide critical support to families and communities.President Obama
The President believes in the Older Americans Act because it funds services that are central to older adults’ health and lasting independence, such as meals, job training, transportation, and health promotion. And for those who do need consistent care, the law provides nursing home protections and enhances the Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs.
The reauthorization of the Older Americans Act is just the latest example of our work to ensure older Americans can live the lives they want, with the people they choose. The Administration was the first to invest in elder justice and the prevention of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults. The Federal Government is now leading in establishing national guidelines, creating a common vocabulary across states, and developing a framework for sharing best practices and collecting data.
The Department of Health and Human Services created Aging.gov to provide a one-stop shop for Americans looking for information about services and support. The Department of Housing and Urban Development released a guide to help older homeowners, families, and caregivers make changes to their homes so that older adults can remain safe and independent. We have also led the way in making investments across government on healthy aging and into research on conditions such as Alzheimer’s. And we will continue to fight to preserve and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.
The simple truth is that aging affects us all. A part of our nation’s social contract is the promise we make to older generations of Americans who will leave behind a brighter future for us all to enjoy. It is a promise we make to our elders so that as we work to leave our indelible stamp on America, in our time, our children and grandchildren will keep that promise with us. That fidelity to one another is central to who we are. Those are American values. They are part of why the Older Americans Act is so important.