HHS delivers framework for national aging plan

As the U.S. and much of the world will have to reckon with a population that is growing older at a faster rate, governments are determining the best courses of action to deliver on age-related initiatives. To that end, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has delivered a strategic framework for a national plan on aging.

Released late last week, the framework includes what HHS calls the “groundwork for a coordinated effort” across the public and private sectors. In partnership with “older adults, family caregivers, the aging services network, and other stakeholders,” it would create a series of recommendations to facilitate age-friendly initiatives and communities.

“The national plan on aging will advance best practices for service delivery, support development and strengthening of partnerships within and across sectors, identify solutions for removing barriers to health and independence for older adults, and more,” HHS explained in its announcement.

The framework includes input from 16 federal agencies and departments, including reflected input from “community partners and leaders in the aging services network.”

The realities of an aging population necessitates coordination, according to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

“From day one [of the Biden administration], we have focused on lowering prescription drug costs, improving support for family caregivers, strengthening the workforce that provides in-home services, increasing access to health care and more to support older adults,” Becerra said in a statement. “The Strategic Framework provides a roadmap for us to build upon that progress to improve the experience of aging in our country.”

One of the key domains of the framework is housing, and it acknowledges the overwhelming desire that older Americans have to age in place in their homes. Portions of the framework address the need to provide more avenues for seniors to fulfill these wishes.

“Studies over the past 30 years consistently show that 90 percent of older adults want to remain in their homes as they age,” the framework reads. “As people grow older, they often experience changes in physical and/or cognitive abilities that can impact their ability to live independently. Getting help with activities of daily living often allows aging adults to remain living in their desired home in the community — even those with substantial daily needs, such as help with dressing and eating.”

The pace at which the population is aging shows a need for such coordination, according to Alison Barkoff, who leads the Administration for Community Living (ACL), a division of HHS that previously updated federal policies to support aging in place.

“ACL was proud to lead the development of this strategic framework, and we are excited to work with our partners at every level of government, across sectors, and with older adults to develop a national plan on aging,” Barkoff said.

HHS will host an informational webinar about the new framework on June 10, which is designed to offer the public an overview of what the agency hopes to accomplish.

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