By Jessica Nagro
EWA Policy & Communications Manager
Each May, the United States recognizes the vital role of older adults by celebrating Older Americans Month. This year’s theme, “Age Out Loud,” is meant to give aging a new voice. In particular, the theme showcases how, more than ever before, older Americans striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others. By highlighting the many ways that older adults engage in their communities, Older Americans Month creates opportunities to reflect on and celebrate what aging looks like today.
Older Americans Month is also a great time to recognize the individuals who support and care for older adults across the county. The eldercare workforce plays a critical role in enabling and promoting the ability for older adults to live out loud. From providing needed medical care to assisting with activities of daily living to offering comfort and companionship, the entire interdisciplinary team supports the health and well-being of our seniors. Together, health care professionals, direct care workers, and family caregivers contribute to the changing dynamics of aging and ensure that older adults are able to engage in their communities as they wish.
However, in order to have a well-prepared eldercare workforce, we as a country must invest in training. As our nation ages and life expectancy increases, more and more older adults will rely on critical eldercare services in medical settings, communities, and homes. We need a health care workforce that understands the unique needs of older adults, the importance of well-coordinated team care, and valuable role of family caregivers. The Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) is the only federal program that equips the primary care workforce with the knowledge and skills to care for older adults and builds community networks to address gaps in health care for seniors. Each program is designed to meet the unique needs of individual communities but all GWEPs share a goal of providing more coordinated and comprehensive care for older adults and their caregivers.
Right now, Congress is making critical decisions about the future of the program. The funding for the GWEP is at risk each year and even more so in this political environment. However, you can help by sharing the value of this workforce and this program with your elected officials. Through our website you can send a pre-drafted email, find talking points to call your representatives, and information on how to set up meetings and site visits. EWA is also here to help so feel free to contact us if you need assistance. The more voices we can add to the conversation the stronger our eldercare workforce can be.
This Older Americans Month, help older adults live out loud by contacting Congress today!