The White House has held a Conference on Aging every decade, beginning in 1961, to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans. In 2015, the United States marked the 50th anniversaries of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) provided an opportunity to recognize the importance of these key programs as well as to look ahead to the next decade.
On July 13, 2015, President Obama hosted the sixth White House Conference on Aging, joining older Americans and their families, caregivers, and advocates at the White House and virtually through hundreds of watch parties across the country. The July event built on a year-long dialogue; the White House Conference on Aging launched a website to share regular updates on our work and solicit public input; engaged with stakeholders in Washington, D.C. and listening sessions throughout the country; developed policy briefs on the emerging themes for the conference and invited public comment and input on them; and hosted regional forums with community leaders and older Americans in Tampa, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; Cleveland, Ohio; and Boston, Massachusetts.
These forums and engagements provided the opportunity for older Americans and their families to highlight the issues most important to them, in order to help inform the changing aging landscape in America for the coming decade. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging was truly a national conversation. In addition to the older adults, caregivers, and leaders in the aging field who were in attendance at the White House, this year’s conference took advantage of communication channels that were not available for past conferences. Individuals and groups participated via live webcast in watch parties held in every State and were able to ask questions of panelists and others via Twitter and Facebook.