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Dean Jeanette Takamura is an invited participant at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA), which President Barack Obama is scheduled to open this Monday, July 13th.

Dr. Takamura served as the U.S. Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary on Aging in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1997 to 2001. During her tenure at HHS, she laid the foundation for policies addressing challenges facing the aging baby boomer generation. The Older Americans Act was reauthorized for the first time in years, the National Family Caregiver Support Program—the federal government’s first formal recognition of the substantial contributions and needs of family caregivers—was established, and a national data system for aging programs was institutionalized.

At the Regional White House Conference Forum in Boston held in May to generate ideas for the national conference, Dr. Takamura called for the prioritization of a universal long-term care program. She stressed the need for a financing system for comprehensive long-term supports and services, noting that one outcome would likely be a positive multiplier effect on the U.S. economy.

Addressing the inadequacies of Medicaid, Dr. Takamura noted that the public has an important role to play in convincing political leaders to initiate much-needed changes to social and health policies.

Long-term care is one of the focal issues at Monday’s White House Conference on Aging, along with retirement security, elder justice, and healthy aging. The topic of retirement security is relevant at a time when life expectancies are growing faster than financial assets. Likewise, the physical, psychological, and financial abuse of elders has become a major public health issue. Finally, longevity presents opportunities, not just challenges, for aging individuals and their families.

Dr. Takamura has said that she looks forward to Monday’s event, which will be her fourth WHCOA:

It is an honor to attend the 2015 White House Conference on Aging along with 200 other invited participants, including five others who have served as assistant secretaries on aging or as commissioners on aging (as the position was previously known). Each of the three previous WHCOAs has been dramatically different in form and process, shaped by the Administration that has been its host. Yet, most of the issues have remained the same and are familiar to those of us working in health and human services professions including social work, which is heavily represented in gerontology and geriatric settings: long-term care, retirement security, and healthy aging. While it is heartening that elder justice has been added to the agenda, we will need to redouble our efforts to make significant progress as a nation so that the future, which is aging, will be a bright one for older persons and their families.

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The National Association of Social Workers joins the White House in encouraging social workers to either host or attend a viewing session of the Conference via the White House live stream web page. Join the national conversation through social media. Simply use the hashtag #WHCOA to have your questions and comments heard and considered by conference participants.

The White House has held a Conference on Aging each decade since the 1960s to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The conference is an opportunity to recognize the importance of these key programs while bringing together older Americans, caregivers, government officials, members of the public, business leaders, and community leaders to discuss the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans in the next decade and explore policy solutions to address them.

Photo credit: White House Conference on Aging blog; photo of Dean Takamura (second from left) with (from right) Kathy Greenlee, JD, current Assistant Secretary on Aging; Dr. Joyce Berry, Commissioner on Aging under President George H.W. Bush; and Dr. Fernando Torres-Gil, Assistant Secretary on Aging under President Clinton (1992-1996).

– See more at: http://socialwork.columbia.edu/news-events/dean-takamura-participate-once-decade-white-house-conference-aging#sthash.aoAazjmD.dpuf

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