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Tampa Forum Kicks Off Conversations on Aging

“Make this a national conversation,” Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, urged participants in Tampa at the first in a series of five regional forums preparing for the White House Conference on Aging this summer.

Caregiver helping senior woman on a walk

The invitation-only forums allow older Americans and those who work with and for them an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns on various issues. Discussions aim to form a vision and agenda for the White House conference, held in Washington once a decade. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security.

In Tampa, panelists highlighted trends and concerns in the conference’s four key topics: healthy aging, long-term services and supports, retirement security and elder justice — meaning protection for older Americans from financial exploitation, abuse and neglect.

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“You don’t have to be famous to be a victim of elder abuse,” said elder law attorney Rebecca Morgan, a professor at Tampa’s Stetson University College of Law, who recalled celebrity cases involving Mickey Rooney and Brooke Astor. “It can happen to anyone.”

Vickie Elisa, director of community education for WISER, an Atlanta nonprofit that provides financial training to women, talked about the difficulties women face in planning for a secure retirement. They lose money by working for lower wages than men and taking time off to care for loved ones. “A lot of women don’t even begin to think about saving for retirement until a year or two before they retire,” she said.

The regional forums are being cosponsored with AARP and planned with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), a coalition of more than 70 of the nation’s leading organizations serving older Americans.

AARP will live-stream the remaining forums, set for Phoenix (March 31), Seattle (April 2), Cleveland (April 27) and Boston (May 28).

Photo: kali9/iStock

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