White House conference on aging presents opportunities for local conversations

To the Editor:

Vermont is considered the second oldest state in the nation, and over 36% of Vermont households include a person age 60 or older. It is critical that Vermonters consider how we create communities that best support seniors to age with health, dignity and independence.

Vermont's five Area Agencies on Aging work hard every day to meet this goal by supporting elders to live in the setting of their choice, to know their options, to have needed tools like nutritious meals, exercise, and financial management, and so much more. These services are largely hidden from the broader community but are extremely visible within seniors' homes, who, through these services, are able to live healthy and independent lives long past retirement.

This year, we mark the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act (OAA), key legislation in supporting Americans to age with dignity and independence. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging, being held on July 13th in DC and live streamed for all to see, is an opportunity to appreciate OAA's importance now and look to the future: What do we need to do to ensure our growing elder population is well supported in the long term? What does our workforce need to support elders' health and well-being? What does it take to build a livable community for all ages?

In Vermont, the Agencies on Aging think about these topics every day. We hope the Conference on Aging will encourage you to join us in considering these same questions so that together we can create a state that sees its status as second oldest in the country not as a problem, but as a real opportunity.

Learn more about the White House Conference on Aging at whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov. To connect with your local Agency on Aging, call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-642-5119.

Angela Smith-Dieng

Executive Director of the Vermont Association of Area Agencies on Aging

Burlington, Vt.

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