Good News/Disappointing News

Good News/Disappointing News

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report titled, “Aging in the United States: a strategic framework for a national plan on aging.” The report outlines steps to create a national effort to foster both positive aging and communities that respect and embrace old people.

Imagine that! Creating a national plan on aging right at the moment of our never-seen-before demographic shift. Could our huge federal government be doing the right thing at the right time?

And that’s where the good news gets just a bit disappointing.

Just doing more of what we’ve been doing will not cut it.

And that’s what’s disappointing about the just-released HHS report. This entire 40-page report, with contributions from 8 HHS divisions, as well as the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Social Security Administration and AmeriCorps, mentions the word ageism once. One time in 40 pages.

How can we talk about wellness and healthy aging if we don’t talk about ageism?

How can we craft a competent national plan on aging if we don’t talk about ageism?

Most institutions and individuals are behind the curve on aging and ageism. It’s just a fact of life in our mainstream society. This is both a challenge and an opportunity. It is important to identify weaknesses in the plans our governments unfold to meet our needs. And it is also important to educate ourselves and our leaders about how to reduce those weaknesses. One opportunity to do this is Ageism Awareness Day, on Oct. 7.

Yes, we need a national plan on aging. Kudos for the good efforts to make that happen.

And we need a national plan on aging that is forward-looking and includes the effects of ageism, both systemic and internalized.

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