Building the New

Conversations with Katie | November 15, 2016

There is little doubt that significant change is in the air. From the cool fall air that now breezes through my window in Washington, DC after a hot, humid summer to the headline that covered every newspaper around the world this morning, change is what we will face in the coming days and months.

Last week, I spent 5 days in Indianapolis for the LeadingAge Annual Meeting and EXPO with more than 6,500 members, partners, sponsors, and friends. It was another tremendous event where aging services professionals from all corners of the country - and world - came together to celebrate the journey that unites us all: aging. Being in Indianapolis with so many people who are passionate about caring for aging adults reminds me how vitally important our work is, now more than ever.

Our next President, Donald Trump, has been largely silent on the issues that we care about most deeply. And yet, I believe the new Administration will be unable to ignore the implications of the dramatic demographic shifts that are underway.

Throughout this long election cycle, LeadingAge has remained nonpartisan while being extremely vocal about the needs of all older adults, regardless of political affiliation or socioeconomic status.

We reached out to presidential candidates to talk about the priorities we believe are the most critical to our aging population: the need for more affordable senior housing to address a severe housing crisis; the burden of paying for long-term services and supports on our families and healthcare system; the rapidly changing - and often confusing - landscape of payment reform; and workforce challenges that haunt us, impede our success, and divert precious resources.

With a new Administration and Congress set to take the stage in early 2017, we will remain as focused and determined as ever. As a community of aging services professionals, we will be stewards for the well-being of the people whose lives we touch. We will stand up for what is right so we can permanently erase the stigmas around aging. And we will amplify all of our voices so that the issues that matter most to us are heard LOUD AND CLEAR.

Progress on these issues will only happen if we, as a nation, can repair the glaring gap in trust among voters and policymakers that has become so evident in this election cycle. We can do our small part by forging relationships that will lead to trust so we can develop policies that address the most essential issues for our aging society.

As Socrates famously said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”