WASHINGTON (December 15, 2022)—Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, in a letter to the White House urged the Biden Administration to follow up its demonstrated commitment to older Americans and their families with the creation of a robust, visible Office on Aging Policy charged with providing centralized leadership and cross-government coordination to address the needs of and ensure resources are delivered to older adults and families. 

“We are not prepared for the demographic change that is fast approaching. The federal government’s focus on aging has developed from bottom up, without designated leadership. The result of this scattered approach is severely inadequate support for older adults in our country, which impacts quality of life and takes extraordinary tolls on communities and families – particularly those of color,” said Sloan said. “We need leadership and vision to focus on the critical issues relevant to this growing cohort of our population.”

The concerns relevant to older adults, their family members and the hardworking people who serve and care for them span a range of areas – health; long-term care; housing; economics; environment; labor; education; budget; technology; agriculture; international/global issues; homeland security; and veterans affairs. As described in the brief accompanying Sloan’s letter, challenges include: 

  • Preventing poverty and assuring retirement income
  • Shifting patterns of employment, access to jobs for older people who work, and retirement 
  • Ensuring equitable access to adequate housing
  • Services and housing
  • Food security
  • Eliminating barriers to transportation
  • Need for long-term care 
  • Protecting seniors against abuse, including financial scams
  • Environmental threats may harm older people first
  • Inequity for older people, particularly those of color
  • Incomplete data to support policymaking

Responsibilities within the federal government for policies related to them are spread across more than 25 agencies, and, Sloan notes, while some aging policies within those agencies are robust, there are also policy redundancies, gaps and an inconsistent distribution of resources.

“Other developed countries, such as Singapore, Japan, Israel, and Germany have taken a whole-of-government approach to ensuring programs and supports are in place, and to maximize on the ability to reap the dividends of population aging,” said Sloan. “It is time for our leaders to step up and take action, too, by intentionally coordinating the government’s focus on aging. The Biden Administration has the opportunity to both drive change and demonstrate its commitment to the value of a growing population of Americans.”

Read full brief here.