Last Gasp of White House Conf. on Aging

WHCOAA Sad Reflection on the State of Aging in the U.S.

“One of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens.”

“We have to work to do more to ensure that every older American has the resources and support they need to thrive.”

There were a lot of hackneyed slogans at the seminal meeting of the once-in-a-decade White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) – including the above observations by President Barack Obama.  U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez observed that “age is a state of mind.” Assistant Secretary of Aging Kathy Greenlee issued a memorable pronouncement that “a good old age is too good to lose.”

Innumerable middle-aged mostly-federal bureaucrats fawned about “this momentous day” and “this extraordinary conference” and a bevy of “experts” attempted to hawk products and services to viewers listening via the internet (i.e., Uber, Peapod Grocery Delivery, Eversave Technology, AARP brand partners,, etc.).

Greenlee was the moderator of the elder justice panel, which largely focused on the financial exploitation of older Americans. She was harshly critical of paid caregivers who financially exploited a veteran acquaintance, the perpetrator of a scam that targeted a grandparent, and a crooked financial planner who ripped off two older Americans. She never mentioned the mostly anonymous Wall Street pirates who were never prosecuted for stealing the homes and retirement savings of literally millions of older Americans during the Great Recession (2007 –   ) Continue reading “Last Gasp of White House Conf. on Aging”

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Does the White House Conf. on Aging have Alzheimer’s?

WHCOA

What a difference a decade makes – unless you are The White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA).

Then it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

Today, the once-every-decade conference will hold its signature event after months of low-level activity sponsored mainly by the AARP, America’s leading purveyor of health insurance to older Americans (not to mention vacation travel, car repairs, telephone and internet service, etc. etc.).

The WHCOA  sent out emails Saturday detailing the agenda for the big event.

Apparently there was no time in the jam-packed schedule to discuss the financial havoc wrought upon older Americans by the worst recession in America in 100 years. Similarly,it does not appear the conference will address the epidemic of age discrimination in hiring that relegates older workers to chronic unemployment, low-paid work and a financially improvident “early retirement.” It’s almost as if this unpleasant chapter of American history, attributable to Wall Street pirates who were never prosecuted, never happened.

The conference will focus on care-giving, “planning for financial security at every age,” nutrition, “the power of inter-generational connections and healthy aging,” universal design and technology and the future of aging.

To add insult to injury, the organizers of the WHCOA are asking Americans to complete this sentence: “Getting older is getting better because …”

Is getting older getting better?

Continue reading “Does the White House Conf. on Aging have Alzheimer’s?”

Age Discrimination in the U.S. Financial Sector?

justiceWhat are the chances that a recent survey by an Australian recruiting firm that found widespread age discrimination in the financial sector there could be replicated here?

The firm, Marks Sattin, reports it surveyed 476 hiring managers in the accounting, banking and finance, insurance, and wealth management industries in Australia and found that three-quarters of those aged over 50 felt they had encountered age discrimination. Older workers were perceived as “resistant to change” (67 per cent), and “slow to learn” (37 per cent). Sattin reports that age discrimination was twice as prevalent as gender discrimination,.

Leuan William, director of Marks Sattins, called age discrimination the “white elephant in the room.” She said there were discussions around gender discrimination but age discrimination flew under the radar. “The result is a substantial number of mature candidates who are unable to get jobs, despite immense qualifications and experience. Australia needs to eradicate the stereotypes and adopt a pro-mature workforce culture,” Williams said. Continue reading “Age Discrimination in the U.S. Financial Sector?”

Age Discrimination Linked to Worsened Mental Health

A team of university researchers has found that age discrimination in the workplace is “significantly related” to a series of negative outcomes for victims, including worsened mental health.

mental healthA team of university researchers has found that age discrimination in the workplace is “significantly related” to a series of negative outcomes for victims, including worsened mental health.

In addition to declining mental health, workers who are subject to age discrimination suffer higher general stress, increased job dissatisfaction, elevated turnover intentions and increased desires to retire.

The researchers created a scale called the Workplace Age Discrimination Scale to measure age discrimination in the workplace discrimination.  It includes the following questions:

  • I have been treated as though I am less capable due to my age.
  • I have been given fewer opportunities to express my ideas due to my age.
  • I have unfairly been evaluated less favorably due to my age.
  • I receive less social support due to my age.
  • My contributions are not valued as much due to my age.
  • Someone has delayed or ignored my requests due to my age.
  • Someone has blamed me for failures or problems due to my age.

The study, Age Discrimination in the Workplace and its Association with Health and Work: Implications for Social Policy, was primarily conducted by Dr. Ernest Gonzales, Assistant Professor and Peter Paul Professor at Boston University’s School of Social Work and Dr. Lisa Marchiondo, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology at  Wayne State University. Continue reading “Age Discrimination Linked to Worsened Mental Health”

Why is the White House Conf. on Aging Censoring Public Comments?

Ed. Note: Since this was written, my comments on two of the three White House Council on Aging’s policy briefs re-appeared on the WHCOA web site, this time on a right-hand side column.  Still missing is my comment about the WHCOA’s Retirement Security Policy Brief, where I complain that age discrimination in employment is a cause of poverty in retirement and certainly should be part of any serious discussion about retirement security.  PGB 

WHCOA
The White House Conference on Aging recently invited the public to comment about its policy briefs but it appears to be censoring which comments it is publicly displaying on its web site.

I commented last night on the Conference’s policy briefs on Healthy Aging, Elder Justice and Retirement Security. I noted the Conference had failed to address the role of age discrimination in all of these areas, which is particularly baffling in the case of retirement security. My comments were posted on the Conference’s web site last night but they were missing today. Continue reading “Why is the White House Conf. on Aging Censoring Public Comments?”

White House Conf. on Aging Punts – Again

The White House Conference on Aging issued its fourth and final policy brief this week, a myopic document that supposedly addresses “retirement security” without even once mentioning age discrimination.

WHCOA

The White House Conference on Aging  issued its fourth and final policy brief this week, a myopic document that supposedly addresses “retirement security” without even once mentioning age discrimination.

This WHCOA’s Retirement Security policy brief is focused upon the following three areas:

  1. Protecting and strengthening Social Security. “Current beneficiaries should not see their basic benefits reduced.”
  2. Increasing retirement security and employer-based retirement savings options. “Automatically enroll Americans without access to a workplace retirement plan in an IRA.”
  3. Ensuring workers receive retirement investment advice in their best interest. Require “more retirement advisers to abide by a ‘fiduciary’  standard—putting their clients’ best interest before their own profits.”

The WHCOA concedes in the policy brief that Social Security has become the main source of income for older Americans, especially women and minorities, but fails to inquire into the reasons for this. There is no mention of the bogus down-sizings and restructurings that are little more than ploys to rid the workplace of older workers who earn high salaries or just don’t look “hip” anymore.  There is no mention of  overwhelming evidence of age discrimination in hiring, which robs older workers of the ability to find meaningful work and save for retirement. There is no mention of  evidence that older workers are disproportionately subject to chronic unemployment, which forces them to spend down their savings, take low-paid work and, eventually, to retire as soon as possible, resulting in at least a 25 percent cut in benefits for the rest of their lives.  There is no mention of age discrimination at all, just as there was no mention of age discrimination in the WHCOA’s earlier policy briefs on Elder Justice, Healthy Aging and Long-Term Services and Supports. Continue reading “White House Conf. on Aging Punts – Again”

THE AARP’S ROLE IN WHITE HOUSE CONF. ON AGING

What is the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) … Really.

Is it a serious examination of the problems facing older Americans that occurs once every decade, or is it a public relations opportunity?

At its fourth regional forum on Monday, the WHCOA held a panel discussion on retirement security that featured a panel of  bureaucrats who failed to even mention age discrimination. That’s like talking about California’s drought without mentioning climate change. A spokesperson for the Obama administration promised the President would protect Social Security and said the administration is working to make the process of retirement savings easier and more transparent. No one is asking why so many older Americans  are poor and struggling

Numerous attempts in recent months to contact Nora Super, executive director of the WHCOA, to urge her to address employment discrimination based on age have failed to elicit any response whatsoever. Why does the WHCOA seems to be focusing upon soft issues like “healthy aging.”

On its web site, the AARP says it is “co-sponsoring” and “co-planning” the WHCOA’s regional forums, along with a lobbying group called Leadership Council of Aging (LCAO), which describes itself as a coalition of 72 of the nation’s leading organizations serving older Americans. The contact person for “all questions” regarding the LCAO is Nicholas Barracca at LCAO@aarp.org. I emailed that address on Monday and received an unsigned reply stating that the AARP is the “current chair organization” of the LCAO, which rotates chairs each year among five different organizations. I inquired again about the LCAO’s source of funding and Barracca replied that the LCAO is funded through membership dues.

At some point, it is fair to ask whether there is a conflict of interest with respect to the AARP’s dominating role in the WHOA forums.

Continue reading “THE AARP’S ROLE IN WHITE HOUSE CONF. ON AGING”