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tv   President Obama Remarks at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging  CSPAN  August 27, 2015 3:00pm-3:59pm EDT

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[ hearing concluded ] today president obama travels to new orleans to meet with residents who have rebuilt their lives following hurricane katrina and he will also deliver remarks. live coverage getting underway at 5:00 p.m. eastern followed by your phone calls. this year marks the 50th anniversary of medicare, medicaid and the older americans act.
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as well as the 80th anniversary of social security. in july, the white house conference on aging held a forum on the role and support for care-givers in the united states and financial planning and saving for retirement. the white house has held this conference each decade since the 1960s to address ways to improve the quality of life for older americans. thank you. good morning, everyone. >> good morning. >> from the smiles that i'm seeing on your faces here, you share the awe that this day presents. we are privileged. we are a privileged few who are not only at the white house, the very center of the planning and strategy for the planning of our nation's future but we are also those who have been chosen to focus our knowledge and our experience on the challenging
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that longevity has presented itself in our nation's future. that is quite a dramatic challenge, you all are aware of that. but i'm convinced that we are all up to the task before us that we have today. i served as a delegate to the 1961 white house conference. [ applause ] that's why i'm hanging on. there were over 3000 delegates at that time. we weren't privileged to be in the white house. we were serving the white house. we were divided into 13 specific sectional areas and we had great
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discussions. as a matter of fact, although the convictions were strong, maybe that is not the word i should say, they were passionate, the delegates were committed to resolving the issues from which we were there. we examined every issue and every proposal presented. and you know the results of that conference. that is what we're hoping to achieve at this conference. so we are called upon to extend the energy and the sense of responsibility in addressing the challenges that are presented that have been presented at the regional meetings that we've had around the country in preparation for this. i was 38 years of age in 1961. i'll be 93 in two months.
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[ applause ] and i'm just as excited as i was then. the future is with us, in this room and we are going to be a strategic part of it. the profile of our society is changing. you all know that. but rejoice. rejoice. we have the opportunity to shape that profile and to provide opportunities for the seniors who are yet to come, our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. so we take on a very difficult task this day. and we are going to be responsible and happy when we see the results of that. i'm told there are over 600
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watch parties today, observing our activities and our deliberations. in 1961, i never would have imagined that in one year, tis past year, much information and sharing could be so accomplished. not only the u.s., but throughout the world. because we have been heard. this 2015 conference on aging has maximized the opportunity for interaction between the professionals in our programs and the people that we are hoping to be increasingly more involved and active. and certainly the younger generations, the thousands and thousands of baby boomers who are going to be coming into our
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age group and are going to be looking to us to have shaped that period of time in their lives, that they will be proud to participate in. well, that's enough information. just the background. [ laughter ] you know far more than i what is going on today. and it is time that we get to work. so it is my honor to -- distinct honor to introduce the senior adviser to barack obama, valerie jarrett. [ applause ] >> i'm really not this bad off.
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[ laughter ] >> hardly. hardly. good morning, everyone. >> good morning. >> what a pleasure it is to welcome you to the white house. and thank you vernon ash for that terrific opening. your leadership and your dedication and your spirit at the ripe young age of 93 is something we should all emulate. so thank you. another round of applause for bernie nash. [ applause ] >> you have and continue to inspire generations. i am thrilled to look around and see so many friends in the audience. of course i have to recognize congressman dangle and congresswoman dengel that are here today. thank you so much. true champions, both of them, for the issues we are going to be discussing. and to all of you who are here today, welcome to the white house. you are joining us during a pretty exciting year, i have to say. we've already made a great deal
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of progress in 2015 but as we know, this is also a year of rather important landmarks. medicare and medicaid are 50 years old. a round of applause for them. [ applause ] >> and social security just turned 80. another important landmark. [ applause ] >> these three programs truly symbolize who we are. and they reflect our country's values. they reflect the fact that we are our brother's keeper. we are our sister's keeper and we understand we're all in this together and we importantly have a responsibility to each other. and because of our steadfast commitment to these programs, america is leading longer and healthier lives. and as we recognize that americans are regularly living 20-30 years beyond the traditional retirement age, we
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must reshape what it means to age in america. and we view our changing demographics aston opportunity and not a burden. older americans like all of us want to be defined by our abilities and not by our disabilities. that is why president obama and his entire administration have consistently worked to ensure all americans are able to look forward to healthy, secure and fulfilling lives after they retire. thanks to the affordable care act seniors are saving a fortune on prescription drugs and taking advantage of preventative benefits in higher numbers than ever before and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions and thanks to the united states supreme court, aca is here to stay. [ applause ]
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>> president obama is also working to strengthen older american's financial security and to reinforce the basic american compact that hard work should be rewarded with dignity and stability in retirement or in the case of disability. we're working to protect social security and reject all calls to privatize it. >> amen. >> amen. amen. [ applause ] >> the future of hard-working americans should not be dependent upon the fluctuation of the stock market. today we look forward to exploring future strategies for how we best empower all americans as our population ages and as older americans continue to live fuller, healthier and more vibrant lives as burny demonstrates.
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today provides leaders and advocates from around the country to share best practices and identify both individual and collective goals for the next ten years. i learned firsthand from my mother barbara bowman, a vibrant and 86-year-old mom who has to plans to stop working any time soon by the way, the potential of our elders if we provide them the support they need to lead full and productive lives. this is a very important day for the administration and for all of you. and for the future of our country. and we hope that this conversation will move our country forward and the older generation upon whose shoulders we stand will be able to look towards a brighter future. this year's conference is the most exclusive in history and inclusive in history. we're beginning to join -- we're going to be joined as bernie mentioned of 600 watch parties
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watching online and engaging with us and we want a brought engagement because we want everyone to participate on the solutions and suggestions we have to put in place both immediately over the medium and the long-term. so we welcome all of you who are here today and everybody who is tuning in online. your voices will be heard as well. and we hope that today will be a productive, energetic session as bernie also said. so thank you for being with us and thank you for everything that you've done and led us up to today but very importantly thank for the very hard work we'll engage in going forward. and so now i would like to turn over the first panel to a tremendous acting talent and advocate, david pierce, who will moderate our first panel. david hyde pierce, come on up. [ applause ]
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>> good morning. >> good morning. >> i am honored to be in this building. and on this panel. i am 56 years old and to be asked to be part of a conference on aging is slightly bracing. but on the other hand, i was in leesberg, virginia, two days ago buying a bottle of wine and for the first time in over 20 years i was carded. so the lord giveth and taketh away. but it made me think how we define ourselves and how some of the words that we use become fixed and cal sievized including words like aging and care giving. i think we need to shake-up some
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of these definitions. and something happening in this country i feel is that we've been able to recognize and see beyond and in some cases take down the barriers and the divisions that we have sometimes artificially created between ourselves. i think these words aging and care giving with two of the words. they almost come wearing cozy sweaters and leaning on a walker. and i think we all have had a very different experience of those -- those words. my family's experience with care giving came under the shadow of my grandfather's and dad dementia and they were both diagnosed in their 80s but the burden and honor of caring for them was shared by many generations, my parents, grandparents and siblings and even their children. and even the role as care giver, my mom and grandma were the
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primary care-giver for their spouses and the physical toll on their health ultimately made it very difficult to separate the sufferer from the person who was caring for the sufferer. we feel like alzheimer's took all four of them. so those definitions become very fluid. and i think my hope is that this amazing panel that we have here today, their different perspectives will help shake up our calcified definitions and to remind us that to age is to live and to care is to be human. so let me introduce this wonderful panel. starting at the far end, secretary robert mcdonald. robert is the sect of the u.s. department of veterans' affairs, a position he's held since july of 2014. he previously served as chairman, president and ceo of proctor and gamble.
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next is al jen poo, the national domestic workers alliance and the codirector of caring across america and organizing immigrant workers since '96 and calling for care-givers in the home she launched caring across generations to address two of the major social issues, widespread unemployment and the need for care of the nations expanding aging population and in 2015 she published the age of dignity: next is frank fernandez who is vice president of government programs and president and chief executive officer of blue plus for blue cross and blue shield of minnesota where his role focused on blue cross's medicare, medicaid and the federal employee programs an he was elected president and ceo of blue plus in 2010. harry leider is a general internist with 20 years experience as a physician and
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executive in a variety of medical executives and is from walgreens and offers serving offerings and outcomes that improve patient lives. and finally sitting next to me is britney fergins. she is a 30-year-old chemist who works full time at a chemical bland and received her batch lars at gambling and a mother of a 2-year-old and a care-giver for her 90-year-old dad, a veteran with alzheimer's and dementia and she lives in shreveport, louisiana so help me welcome our distinguished panel. [ applause ] >> so let me start and i have some questions. let me start with secretary mcdonald. i served on a panel a few weeks ago where it was a interview with a woman whose husband is a
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veteran and she spoke about the services that the veterans administration provide and you wonder if you could tell us how the v.a. care-giver program fits in with the veterans administration to support veterans. >> thank you david and thank you for moderating this important panel. if you think about the veterans -- department of veterans' affairs, we're the largest integrated health network in the country and as a result we tend to be the canary in the coal mine for the united states and aging is no different. if you think back to the crisis that occurred for the v.a. in 2014, most americans would think that that was because we'd been fighting a war in afghanistan and iraq for over 14 years. the reality is that aging of the veteran population was one of the primary, if not the primary reasons for that crisis. the year i graduated from west point in 1975 we had about 2
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million veterans over the age of 65. in 2017 we'll have 10 million veterans over the age of 65. a quintupling means that our number of disability claims has gone up by 50%, in a very short period of time. and it also means the number of items per claim, in other words the number of chronic illnesses occurring has more than doubled. so this put tremendous stress on our system and a system in which we have to build capacity. obviously as veterans age, the need for care-givers dramatically increases. so what are we doing for care-givers? well first, we're providing support and education. we have things like webinars, workshops, face-to-face training, telephone training. since being a care-giver can
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lead to isolation, we have peer support programs which are very important to linking care-givers and also identifying best practices. secondly, we've opened a national care-giver support line. it is a phone line, in 2011. the number in case you need it is 1-855-260-3274. 855-260-3274. there are licensed social workers that will answer the phone and provide counseling and information for care-givers. to date we've had over 190,000 calls and provided 33,000 referrals. third, we have a program -- an acronym for it, many things that the v.a. and government have acronyms, called reach, standing for resources for all
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care-givers health. it is an evidenced based clinical evaluation program teaching care-givers of those with dementia problems, how to solve problems and get things done. it is part of the national alzheimer's project act. the v.a. worked with the indian health services as well to assess whether reach interventions are effective and can also meet the needs of those in tribal communities. now there is a fourth program. it is called my v.a. communities and this is a very recent one. we're just establishing my v.a. communities around the country. this is an opportunity to bring together local veterans, veteran support groups, service providers, care-givers and advocates through community-driven networks that we've established and these are chaired by local leaders, not by v.a. employees, to bring people together to talk about common issues and make sure we're applying the right resources to
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get these issues resolved. we've lost the -- launched the first of these this month and we hope to have 50 by the end of the summer and over 100 by the end of the year. i can think of no more important group than we can care for in the v.a. than the care-givers. no more generous group, no more kind group and we're working hard to do that and share our knowledge with others. thank you, david. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> that is fantastic. and it is true, the reach of that work goes far beyond veterans. we're all taking advantage of what you are learning and exporting it to the wider community so thanks for that. okay. britney. so as we said, you're a mother of a small child and you are taking care of someone with dementia. what is your -- that is the
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definition of the sandwich generation, by the way. caught in the middle. and i'm just wondering what it was like, what the diagnosis and process of dealing with your dad was like and what your daily life is like. >> my daily -- it will come on. okay. sorry. my daily life is very difficult. balancing a 12-hour work shift, also a very, very, very energetic 2-year-old and my dad who can be stush orn at times because he's so used to being independent, it is very difficult. there are medical appointments. there are prescriptions. general things like grocery shopping and even going to the bank. it has been very difficult for me. but he is my father and he's
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been a great father so i do it. [ applause ] >> are you pretty much on your own handling this? >> pretty much. my mom helps when she can. but she's also suffering from arthritis. so she helps when she can but it is pretty much me. >> and how old is your mom. >> my mom is 62. you're going to get me killed. >> no. no one will know. no one will know. and so first of all, how is she holding up under this because i know for a spouse it can be traumatic and how is she holding up under her husband's illness. >> she is doing well. i help him and her. and it is difficult. but we get through it. she is doing pretty good. pretty good. >> and finally i would just ask, here you are, thank you. and it's amazing you are here.
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who is taking care of the fort. how did you manage this? >> my mom has my son now. my mom and my brother is helping as well. and i was conveniently off work for the next couple of days so that was easy. >> great. well we're lucky to have you. >> thank you. >> thanks. [ applause ] >> so question for frank fernandez. frank, minnesota is amazing. it is really a role model in terms of what it is doing. it is in the forefront of care in taking people of people especially can alzheimer's and dementia. and you have made great strides with dementia friendly communities and i'm wondering how the program works and whether it is a program that would work elsewhere and could be exported and also because it's such a diverse community that you have in minnesota,
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whether that enters into how the communities are formed and what part of the process that is. >> absolutely. thank you for the question. as david said, at the heart of what is going on in minnesota, are the dementia friendly communities. and these communities are critical in terms of supporting people living with dementia and their care-givers. they ensure that those experiencing dementia can continue to live in the community but not just live but to thrive and to continue to be part of the community. and do the things that britney was talking about in terms of being able to continue to go to the grocery store or go to the bank. in minnesota, they act on alzheimer's collaborate, developing tools and resources and a community engagement process that includes technical support that is fostering 34-dementia friendly communities in every areas of the state. the communities are rural, urban, suburban and communities of interest more highly impacted
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by the disease such as the african-american community and the latino communities. the dementia friendly community is informed, safe and respectful of individuals with dementia and their families an the care-givers. it provides options and fosters a high quality of life. the resources that have been developed provide a process tool, and national and international dementia-friendly practices that help communities convene stakeholders from all sectors of the community, such as law enforcement, government, businesses, legal and financial service providers, government and health care and faith communities. and these very different segments then work together to develop dementia-friendly practices. and in fact, david, to your point, the exciting part about being here today is it is a great pleasure to share with you
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that there is a huge desire to replicate and accelerate this work across the country. and so it is my great pleasure again to announce the launch of a national effort called dementia friendly america. and the initiative is a collaboration of nearly 50 organizations with a shared goal of sell pouping dementia-friendly communities across the united states and we're going to pile it -- 15 dementia friendly communities across the country in 2016 with the hope of ultimately supporting any willing community across the country. at this point in time, there are six communities ranging from rural and metro communities and including cities, counties and even an entire state. and so the communities that are leading this effort right now are denver, colorado, knoxville, tennessee, tempe, arizona, santa clara county, california, prince
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george's county, maryland and the entire state of virginia. and we are excited to share this with you today and we are excited and we want all of you working to make an impact on this disease join us and be part of the effort. i did want to add a little bit about what you were talking about, david, in terms of the communities who unfortunately suffered disproportionately from the disease. we've been working hard in minnesota to ensure we're paying attention to the cultural differences, whether they are linguistic or other barriers that seek barriers to care. and we've been working on basic things, translating information but other ways that we can make sure that the communities underserved have access to the
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tools to be successful in care giving. thank you. [ applause ] >> it is fantastic and it all boils down in a weird way to one word which is awareness. when these communities are made aware and which law enforcement is made aware of what the issues are and the responsibilities are and then as the whole country is made aware of what we can do and that is possible, both between what you are at the v.a. are doing in minnesota and that is extraordinary and what all of this is about as well, is raising awareness. so i go back to this whole issue of categories and games and we think of care-givers as either families or paid professionals and is that right to make that distinction or do you see people in both roles or do you see that there is a combination of those roles that can be had, what is
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your sort of vision as your book calls it, aging with dignity and how does that include care-givers? >> well, actually, i think the former first lady roslyn carter said it best when she said there are four kinds of people in the world. people who are care-givers, or will be care-givers, and people who need care or will need care. and many of us experience those identities in overlapping ways and even within care-givers there are many that become professional care-givers and most professional care-givers also have families who they are caring for. and that is just the truth of it. that we are a care-giving nation. we are a nation of care-givers. and even as we speak, there are 50 million of us who are either caring as family care-givers or as professional care-givers for a growing, aging population and for people with disabilities.
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and those numbers are going to double by the year 2050. and so the challenge and also the opportunity ahead for us is really to put into place the systems to really support and value our care-givers, both our family care-givers and our professional care-givers. and to say a word about the professional care giving workforce, this is a workforce whose job it is to support the dignity of the people we love every day. and they do it with incredible skill and incredible patient, hard work. and the average annual median income for a home care-giver in this country is $13,000 per year. this is to care for the most precious people in our lives who have cared for us. and so when we look at the future of care giving and the opportunity ahead to put into place a whole new system to
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support our families, and to support living well across generations, it has to revalue care and particularly support good, quality care giving jobs. so that we can have a sustainable, strong, vibrant, diverse and dynamic care giving workforce for the 21st century to support and be a part of the care force for the future that we will need in this country to live well. [ applause ] >> it is so true. i keep hoping that capitalism will catch up with the need. because these people -- we've all had the experience, when you find someone who is so dedicated and the work for so little, the people who last as these para professional care-givers are the people with the biggest hearts and the strongest backs.
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>> we continue to attract the best care-givers to this field. that is so important. >> exactly. that is so true. all right. harry. walgreens is everywhere. it has thousands of stores with a presence in every community in just about every state. so how does such a big and powerful organization play a role in supporting not just older americans' health but also the health of care-givers. >> well david, thank you for the opportunity and i want to thank the white house too for the opportunity to participate. before i answer your question, care giving is certainly touched my family this year as i've watched my wife struggle to support two elderly parents with dementia. so it is an honor to be part of the dialogue today, so thank you. i think the way that we support care-givers and in particular seniors is based on three factors that provide us a unique opportunity. the first is really around
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convenience. as you mentioned, we're everywhere. we have over 8300 walgreens stores across the country and there are some interesting statistics about americans. 60% of americans live within a mile of a walgreens. and so when you need something -- like you, brittany, you are within three miles away usually. but it is not just being on the best corners of america but the hours. many pharmacies are open 24 hours. if you have a young child, we have drive-thru pharmacies and nurse practitioners can write prescriptions and treat illnesses. so the ideas of after hours and on weekends is really an advantage when perhaps the prime care-giver providers like the primary care doctor is not available. the second thing is we can provide important services for
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care-givers and seniors. things like medication management. the average senior is on four or five or six medications and keeping them straight so you can stay healthy is important. and the drugs can have interactions and be live saving and make it more likely to fall or be confused and our pharmacists help sort that out. and then other support services like immunizations which are important in saving lives for senior s like influenza and pneumonia and then the painful shingles and then the clinical services. and then the third factor is really frequency. i'm a primary care doctor by background and when i was treating seniors, i would feel fortunate if i saw them two or three times a year. and just a statistic, the
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average diabetic or the care-giver comes to our pharmacy 20 times a year to pick up prescription or supplies. so being supportive of the doctors an the patients and the care-givers is unique. so there are three factors. convenience in the community and the services that are important and the frequency of connection being on the front line provides us with a great place to try to make a difference. >> that is fantastic. that is really stepping up to the plate and seeing the need and filling it. >> thank you. >> we have some questions that were tweeted to us, because it is 2015. [ laughter ] so let's see. well i'll ask this. this is robert, probably for you, but i think you've answered this but maybe there is a new answer here. carol gardner from the fitzgerald house in new york city is asking what are the newest plans to help senior veterans. so you've talked about the
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communities. is there a must cutting-edge thing you can think of it. >> one of the things, we mentioned alzheimer's on the panel here and one of the things that is exciting is the research that we in the v.a. do. we in the v.a. i think are necessary for the medical care of veterans but also necessary for american medicine. we have a project which the president has very much supported and touted called the million vet project where we have the blood samples of a million veterans who have volunteered. we're not yet at a million be we're working our way there. we're doing the genome mapping on the veterans. and for most of them, we have 40 or 50 years of medical records because they spent their careers in the military so we have everything that happened in their lives. and that -- that genome mapping an the medical records will be available for research to be done so that we can do research and discover prevision medicine.
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how do we understand using the genome what medicine to prescribe, how to care for people in order to do a better job of identifying the potential for alzheimer's before it occurs. i think this is incredibly exciting. and i think it is a very important part of research that we are doing which makes me optimistic for the future of getting ahead of some of these diseases before they begin. >> and with that particular gene pool maybe you can discover the gene for bravery. now we have from janicekerch and gerald sue mckendrick and tammy wiggins on twitter, they ask questions about the support -- okay, yeah. i think this is a good question for you. what is the -- they are asking about the support we can provide family care-givers. what is the things that you
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think you most wish you had? >> i most wish i had convenience. i most -- i wish i had the programs that they have, all of the great programs that i hear them talking about, i call them. there are numerous 800 numbers and i call and either no one answers the phone or they won't return a phone call, or if they do answer, there is another 800 number because i've called the wrong department. so that has been a big difficulty of mine, to get the resources and the benefits that he needs. so i would like to have it more convenient for me, basically. >> or to have the system work. >> right. >> i think that is such an incredible point because there is so many well intentioned
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organizations and as you say phone numbers and everything else, but it is bad enough if you are trying to get your car fixed and you can't get through. imagine dealing with caring for multiple people and you don't have time to make the call in the first place. and then to have that kind of run-a run-around, that is very interesting for everyone to think about how to make that system work better. al jen, do you have anything to add to that? >> i think it points out the need -- the way that we have to shift our culture and the way that we think about our systems, to see care-givers as a huge part of the solution for the future, as a huge part of the equation for quality of life. [ applause ] and for how we improve not only health outcomes but our humage relationships, our quality of life and how our systems work. care-givers that are responsible for the well-being and quality of life of so many are just an
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incredible leverage point for the society that we all want to live it. >> brain. >> yeah. i just wanted to add that at the end of the day, when you think about a dementia friendly community, it is about supporting the care-giver and easing the burden that we know the care-givers have in terms of doing the daily things that we all take for granted at times. and so it is really about integrating the system and getting away from the silos so at the end of the day the care-givers and the folks experiencing dementia themselves can live full and rich lives. and so if you have the desperate parts of the system working together and understanding, having the awareness and then the tools necessary to better support the individuals an the care-givers -- and the care-givers then we are getting somewhere. and that is why we believe that the dementia-friendly communities are a way in which we'll do a much better job of supporting the britneys out
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there and the other care-givers. >> that is great. and i have a question from katie barnett, with the elder care workforce alliance. she e-mailed a question. what can be done to increase and better support the care giving workforce by which i think she's referring to paid and para professional workers. and you mentioned actually paying them is a good idea. >> yes. actually paying them is a great idea. paying a living wage where you can take pride in your work, support your family, care for your own loved ones as a first step. but there is also training and other kinds of support. one of the things about care-givers is that it can be isolating for care-givers and professional care-givers. so creating community, connections, support and letting every care-giver know they are valued and that they are a critical part of our economy and our society and our families.
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[ applause ] >> i sat in on trainings/support groups that the alzheimer's association has, i was in the new york city office. and just like any family member, what they are going through, the dedicated people, and the opportunity to just vent and learn from each other, plus it is a very specific, especially when deals with issues of dementia, how you respond to this ever-shifting disease is it takes training and expertise and that is vital. this i'm going to toss out to anyone on the panel. the national association of area agencies on aging an un colvention in philadelphia is live streaming our conference today. yes. [ applause ] and they asked via twitter, what
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is the single most important need care-givers have and what can the area agencies on age do to support them. so what do you think? anyone? >> well i will have the privilege of joining them in philadelphia tomorrow. and they've played an important role in what is going on in minnesota in terms of supporting the efforts and being the ones that are in the community who understand what the supports are and ensuring that those are available to the communities that are leathering and building education and awareness and trying to understand what the supports are so everyone who needs them can take advantage of them. so they've been very critical in terms of their participation in the dementia-friendly community efforts and also going forward at the national level and will be very involved in what is happening across the country.
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and so we're very happy as a collaborate that they are part of that and we look forward to evolving these communities across the country with the help from the n four a. >> and if i were to say the most important thing they could do for care-givers is to find them. that i continue to be amazed -- i've been working as a spokesperson for the alzheimer's association now for about 20 years and i'm still amazed at how many places people just don't know there is still the stigma about dementia and that disease and some of it is because of culturally different communities and different ways of looking at dementia. but it is just -- it continues. and also just the isolation of being a care-giver. and your time is taken up taking care. so unless we find ways to reach into people's homes and say, hey, guess what, there is a
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resource and people you can talk to and places you can go and people that will answer the phone, that, for me, would be the most important thing. yes, robert. >> david, i would say, from my brief experience in government this second time, that collaboration is incredibly important. there are only certain programs you can have on a national level, on a state level and local level. and getting collaboration between all of them so you have that skill and the importance of the skill and the program and setting up the program and the resources, demographics are destiny. so we know the people aging in the future because they are alive today. but at the same time, you have to have a human being on the phone line that britney calls so that you get this personalized service and an automated answer isn't the right answer. so how do you get that collaboration, that permeates, everybody working together
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synergistically and still get the customized service at the local level. >> let me toss that back. we have people coming from the business community and what you just described sounds like how a business would want to be run and therefore we sort of know how to make that happen. so what do we do to create that kind of clab -- collaboration nationwide. >> i'll just make a comment. i think the -- does this work? testing. no. there we go. okay. so some of the barriers to that happening that have been alluded to are economic, where the funding doesn't exist, alzheimer's to enable to collaboration. so for example, there is a lot more that we can do to leverage or 8300 stores with our pharmacists because they are open late and on weekends. but we don't always have the mechanisms to compensate them for the work they do.
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there are many other care-givers or providers in the same boat. so i think we have to find ways to create business models to compensate folks in the community that can provide the care and we were chatting a little bit about that before the panel and that is a work in progress, but it would make a huge difference. some of it is economic im. >> al-jen. >> i think there needs to be a lot of attention on how the aging population is very diverse. we have lgbt elders, elders of color and lots of different needs and not just in terms of health and different illnesses and conditions that people are living with, but also traditions and cultures and quality of life is so deeply tied to so many of those realities. and so to the extent that the offices and the area agencies on aging can really be oriented towards, how is the reality of
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who is aging and what their care giving needs are changing in the full diversity of who we are as a country, i think that that is a really key priority. >> so in minnesota, blue cross and blue shield of minnesota has essentially been living out it's mission of helping people in their lives throughout this work and we have been focused on creating an atmosphere on the job of being supported so we've had brown bag lunches where we provide education and create awareness for our employees. we have provided training for our customer service representatives so that they can detect issues and then do a better job of helping those individuals navigate what is a very complex system and then going to the point about how do we better support those cultural communities, one of the unique
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ways in which one of the community partners has been raising education and awareness is through having written a play call. roughly translating to order out of disorder and the play is based on the real live experiences of three families and more importantly that there are people out there who care and can support you and provide the resources for not only the individuals experiencing the dimensions but the caregivers and -- yeah. [ applause ] >> how great that theater could play a role like that. that's very exciting. i'm not sure what our time is but does anyone have questions they want to toss up to us while we're here?
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you have quite a group here. yeah. >> from twinkle to wrinkle. >> it was about considering paid family leave for people that need to take care from twinkle to winkel which is an expression i never heard before. that would be probably okay for you, wouldn't it? >> right now he needs surgery but i can't take off work to be with him so paid leave would be wonderful. [ applause ] >> yeah.
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>> perhaps an opportunity to bring awareness through your extraordinary chain of stores. >> yeah. [ applause ] >> let me repeat that. it was the issue of elder abuse which is such a plague in this country and because many of these people coming into walgreens is a great resource to be observant and notice when this is happening. >> it's a very important comment. again i commented on that frequency of interactions where you'll have a senior our their caregivers come in 20 or more times a year. it's a great opportunity where our pharmacists develop these relationships and can often pick up subtle things that are amiss. i appreciate the comment and the insight. i think it's on target. >> hey, i'm sandy from new york city and i'm a jewish lesbian
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feminist and my fear is to not be able to do what i have to do and to need care giving and to go into a system known to be discriminatory, homophobic so i'll concerned that after all the years of being an activist i'll have to go back in the closet if i need care giving at home and if i go into an institution. so i'm concerned that there should be training. all the nondiscriminatory laws and be training from the administrative level down from the care giving level because things start at the top. i don't want to go into an institution. most of all i don't ever want to have to go back into the closet again. thank you. [ applause ]
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>> you mentioned about the program that they had for training social workers, caregivers. i know that they have social workers in their training program but when there's a veteran that needs long-term care then who pays the bill? where does the veterans administration fit in on that? because if families can't afford to pay a caregiver, then what happened to their veterans? and number two question is, and that's for all of you, do you support and believe that home care workers really is worth the
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$15 an hour? they're underpaid and they're fighting to get recognition, to hold on to their cig anity and take care of their family. where do you stand on that? that's for anyone out there. >> the answer to your question is it depends upon the status of the veteran. the application of benefits for veterans is some what complex because of the number of laws that had been passed over the years. i think the best way to get an answer to a specific question would be to call our caregiver line and i'll repeat that number again. 855-260-3274. because we'll need to drill down on the specific status of each veteran to be able to answer the question. >> and just on the question of 15 of course the work of care giving and home care workers deserves at least 15 an hour if
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not more. and that's just the first step in what it will take to secure a really strong home care and care giving workforce to support the 90% of us that would prefer to age in place at home, in our communities con neknected to ou families living life on our own terms. i want to shout out my grandmother's caregiver takes care of my grandmother and supports her to live independently. takes her to church so she can be in the church senior choir and sing twice a week. so she can play with her friends and you do not want to take her on, by the way. and all of that is made possible by the work of her so i wanted to recognize her here today.
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>> i think that is a great note on which to wrap up talking about a great caregiver. i want to thank the panel. i want to thank all of you and i want to take this second to thank the president and the congress, miraculously all moving together to pass the national alzheimer's project. we talk about the division in this government. there was unity there and we all benefit from that. i'm grateful to be able to thank them and thank all of you. have a wonderful rest of the conference. [ applause ] >> can you hear me? good morning, i'm tom perez. it's an honor to be here. i see a bunch of serial activists in the back. so i'm in the right place. thank you t


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