Around the Country in 180 Days: The White House Conference on Aging Regional Forums

The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is slated to be held later this year in Washington, D.C., but in the months leading up to the big event, multiple regional forums are being held around the United States, bringing together “a community of older Americans, advocates, caregivers, experts, and local leaders who are committed to working to address the changing landscape of aging.” These forums are intended as an opportunity for local leaders to provide input and ideas for the conference and to begin the much-needed dialogue on the many issues facing older Americans, like economic security, health and independence, long-term care, and preventing elder abuse.

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Co-sponsored by AARP and co-planned with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), the forums are open only to invitees, but events will be webcast live around the country for anyone who wishes to listen in. The most recent regional forum was held on February 19th in Tampa, FL, and a webcast link can be found here. Subsequent forums will be held in Phoenix, AZ (March 31st); Seattle, WA (April 2nd); Cleveland, OH (April 27th); and finally, Boston, MA (May 28th). The conference web site also includes tools to help plan your own local “viewing session.”

The Diverse Elders Coalition has engaged the White House Conference on Aging and the regional forums in a variety of ways. We are committed to ensuring that the voices of our diverse constituents are represented in each region and are connecting the White House to our constituents. Additionally, in anticipation of both the regional forums and the White House Conference on Aging, we have prepared a set of Principles of Inclusion and Engagement, which we are sharing with WHCOA leaders and organizers. In our experience, these practices reflect lessons learned in how to ensure that those who are often the most disenfranchised can best claim their seat at the table.

There is more work to be done, and we will be ramping up our efforts throughout the regional forums and the months leading up to the conference in D.C. In the meantime, stay tuned to our blog and our Facebook and Twitter pages to hear more about our efforts surrounding the 2015 WHCOA and what you can do to get involved.

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.