Policy Series

GSA’s 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting offers a unique opportunity to learn how GSA members are applying research findings and analysis to generate solutions to the most pressing aging-related policy issues facing policy makers today. Known as the popular “policy series,” these sessions and symposia feature researchers from a range of disciplines as well as congressional staff and policy analysts. This year, we are pleased to announce that the Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator of the Administration for Community Living Lance Robertson will be leading a “Fireside Chat.”

Follow @aging_society on Twitter and visit GSA’s Policy Center to subscribe to the free bimonthly e-newsletter for updates on aging and policy issues throughout the year.

Thursday, November 15

A View of Women’s Economic Security: Policy Issues & Practical Steps
Chair: Brian W. Lindberg
Panelists: Cindy Hounsell, Hector Ortiz, Janna Kaplan
Important changes across the retirement landscape that impact women’s financial security are making news every day. These changes can be complicated and confusing, but women need to become informed to ensure they make the best decisions and avoid costly mistakes that will affect the rest of their lives. Being financially prepared helps women build financial security and empowers them to make choices. This session will explore the different factors and policies that impact women's economic security, including ways to measure financial well-being in later life. Also included will be steps and strategies older adults can take to plan for and manage their overall retirement journey.

Older Americans Act Reauthorization: A First Look
Chair: Brian W. Lindberg
Panelists: Suzanne Kunkel, Amy Gotwals, James Firman, Andrew MacPherson
With the Older Americans Act (OAA) programs due to expire at the end of fiscal year 2019, this session provides an early look at the OAA reauthorization process. Speakers from the aging network, and other stakeholders will address proposed changes to the OAA and its service delivery system and its relationship to other health care services and programs.

Missing from Medicare: Where Are We on Oral, Hearing, and Visual Health?
Chair: Brian W. Lindberg
Panelists: Michele J. Saunders, Nicholas S. Reed, Heather E. Whitson, Alice Bers
This session will highlight the policy changes needed to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries receive care in the critical areas of oral, hearing, and visual health. The panel will discuss current policy proposals and advocacy efforts and will include experts and key stakeholders in the field.

Friday, November 16

The Opioid Epidemic and Older Adults: Pathways to Elder Abuse and Justice
Chair: Brian W. Lindberg
Panelists: Pamela B. Teaster, Karen A. Roberto, Robert Blancato
Although no part of the country is spared, the opioid crisis has been particularly rampant in rural counties, where approximately one out of four adults aged 65+ live. As a group, older adults often have multiple chronic conditions and high rates of chronic pain for which opioids are frequently prescribed. Misuse of these drugs leads to devastating results, including premature death. In addition, the opioid crisis infiltrates the lives of older adults though the addiction of their family members. As a result, the potential relationship between opioid misuse and elder abuse is starting to receive national attention. The three papers in this symposium advance an understanding of the opioid epidemic as it exacerbates the problem of elder abuse. The goal of this symposium is to examine the impact of the opioid crisis on older adults and their families living in rural America, its pathways, and intervention and prevention strategies. In the first paper, Karen Roberto uses both scientific and population literature to investigate health and well-being effects of opioids on the lives of older adults and their families. The second paper, presented by Pamela Teaster, discusses the results of four focus groups in four states with county-level agency participants knowledgeable about how the opioid problem affects elder abuse in rural areas. The third paper, by Robert Blancato, focuses on the need for action to address the problem on federal, state, and local levels in order to improve identification, awareness, and remediation of the opioid problem in late life.

Momentum Discussion: Fireside Chat With Assistant Secretary for Aging and ACL Administrator Lance Robertson
Chair: Brian W. Lindberg
Panelist: Lance Robertson
The Older Americans Act and the Elder Justice Act, administered by the Administration on Aging under the Administration for Community Living, are due for reauthorization. This will take place in the context of a new Congress, tight budgets, growing demand for services, and an evolving aging network and LTSS delivery system. This session will provide an opportunity to discuss these critical issues with Lance Robertson, who has spent his career advancing gerontology, serving older adults, and building coalitions. Robertson’s commitment to the field was demonstrated at Oklahoma State University where he co-founded the Gerontology Institute and continued during his tenure as director of Oklahoma’s aging services programs. He brings the same commitment to his role at the federal level where he guides policy on the OAA, the Adult Protective Services program, elder justice activities, and programs for individuals with disabilities. Robertson will share his perspective on how evidence-based information can help make the case for high quality programs serving older adults.
Supported by The Gerontological Society of America’s Public Policy Committee.

GSA Public Policy Priority Discussion
Chair: Brian W. Lindberg
Panelist: Lynn F. Feinberg
This session provides both GSA section leadership and members an opportunity to have an open dialogue on hot public policy issues. Section leaders will present their top policy issues and Public Policy Committee Chair Lynn Feinberg will share input from the GSA public policy survey. This will be an interactive session with plenty of opportunity for audience feedback and input.

National Family Caregiver Support Program: Evaluation Results and Practical Applications
Chair: Heather Menne
Panelists: Cindy Gruman, Alice Bonner, Joanne R. Campione, Lynn F. Feinberg
Established in 2000, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) of the Older Americans Act Title III-E is administered by the Administration on Aging within the Administration for Community Living (ACL). The NFCSP supports caregivers through grants to States and Territories for a range of services that assist unpaid family and friend caregivers to care for someone at home for as long as possible. A growing expectation for quality federal programs is a requirement for rigorous evaluation. This session will highlight results from the first national evaluation of the NFCSP. The first paper sets the stage by describing NFCSP services, participating caregivers, funding levels, and the rationale for the recent process and outcome evaluations. The second paper, focusing on results of the Process Evaluation, highlights program operations based on results of surveys with State Units on Aging, Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), and Local Service Providers. The third paper presents the experience of Massachusetts, and how NFCSP is integrated with other programs in the state to support family caregivers. The final paper takes a multi-level approach by combining data from the process study and the caregiver outcomes study to look at the association between AAA assessment processes and outcomes of caregivers. To close the session, an expert in federal policy related to unpaid family caregiving will lead discussion about next steps for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in light of the evaluation results.

Saturday, November 17

Congressional Update
Chair: Brian W. Lindberg
Panelists: Erica Solway, Sarah Khasawinah
This popular annual session will provide cutting-edge information on what the 115th Congress has and has not accomplished to date, and what may be left for the lame duck session to address. Speakers will discuss key issues such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, and how older adults rate the importance of various issues. Predictions for the 116th Congress will abound. Feel free to come and add your challenges and prophecies to the list. Hill staffers, advocates, and lobbyists will present.

Aligning Research With Public Policy: Recommendations From Experts in Policy and Aging
Chair: Shani H. Bardach
Co-Chair: Lynn F. Feinberg
Discussant: Brian W. Lindberg
Panelists: Jean Accius, Brian Kaskie, Jennifer Wolff
Given the projected growth and diversity of the older population in the United States, researchers and clinicians are exploring ways to promote the health and well-being of older adults and their family caregivers through public policies. This symposium, co-sponsored by GSA’s Emerging Scholars and Professional Organization (ESPO) and the Public Policy Committee, brings together national experts to discuss how and why to integrate policy in research studies. Emerging scholars have a unique opportunity to contribute to the development and implementation of policy at the federal, state and local levels, and engage in important discussions with policy-makers to advocate for improving the lives of older adults and their families in an aging society.

This symposium will highlight best practices in aligning research with the public policy arena. Presenters will examine the intersection between public policies and older adults, describe the difference between conducting research in aging relevant to policy and actual policy research studies, and discuss how to conceptualize public policy upfront in research. Presenters will also offer examples of how research informs policy, using family caregiving, long-term services and supports, and livable communities as examples of relevant policy areas from a research perspective. Implications of how research informs policy for an aging society, including how an advocacy organization looks to research to support its policy agenda for older adults, and lessons learned from aging advocacy will be addressed.

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