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PHI Commentaries Emphasize the Opportunity of the White House Conference on Aging

July 13, 2015

With the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) taking place July 13, Newsday and The Hill have published PHI op-eds marking the decennial event.

In Newsday, PHI President Jodi Sturgeon uses a personal anecdote about her father-in-law, Bill, to show why the WHOCA specifically resonates with her.

Bill suffered a broken hip, limiting his mobility. Unfortunately, he lacked the resources to pay for the consistent home care he needed to maintain his independence. After losing part of his leg, Bill was forced to move into a nursing home.

Bill’s story is “typical of many older Americans — living on their own, children out-of-state, unable to get adequate day-to-day support,” Sturgeon writes. “What they and our families need is an eldercare system that makes it easier to access a robust, flexible and affordable system of long-term services and support.”

In The Hill, PHI Vice President of Policy Robert Espinoza highlights a recent study showing that the U.S. will need 2.5 million more long-term care professionals in the next 15 years to keep up with rising demand for care.

But this goal is unlikely to be met without a firm commitment to improving the quality of direct-care jobs, Espinoza writes. He points out that direct-care workers “provide most of the paid, hands-on care for individuals who have age-related functional limitations.”

Low wages, inadequate training, and nonexistent career-advancement opportunities are some of the factors currently causing high turnover in the direct-care field, potentially driving talented caregivers out of their jobs right when we need them both.

Both the Newsday and Hill editorials highlight the opportunity that the WHCOA brings to address the issues of building a stronger direct-care workforce and strengthening the eldercare system in the U.S.

Another WHCOA-themed commentary, written by Espinoza and published in The Huffington Post, highlights “a profound issue that’s being subsumed within…the conference at large: the growing social and economic inequality facing significant segments of the elder population.”

Last month, PHI submitted responses to WHCOA questions about long-term care.

— by Matthew Ozga


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