In New Jersey, more than 1.5 million people are over the age of 65, or about 17 percent of our population. The percentage is expected to continue rising. Most people in this age group want to stay in their communities as they get older — close to families, friends, and other connections in their lives. An AARP poll shows that eight in 10 New Jersey voters would prefer being cared for at home if they ever need help. Yet enabling people to age in place will require fundamental shifts in our towns and cities, everything from transportation to housing to the health care workforce.
Our Quality Institute members repeatedly tell us that supporting New Jersey’s aging population is a priority for them. That’s why our Winter Conference this year will be, “A Framework for an Age Friendly New Jersey.” I urge you all to join us on December 12. Our keynote speaker, Lina Walker, PhD, Senior Vice President for Global Thought Leadership at AARP, will share her insight and ideas for the future, including what other countries are doing to support their aging populations.
After Dr. Walker’s keynote, we’ll hear from expert speakers who will share innovations to support people on the individual level, such as initiatives to enable those with late-stage chronic illnesses to comfortably stay home through Visiting Physician Services and Hospital at Home. And for those who do need to enter a facility, we’ll explore how to make them as person-centered at home as possible.
We’ll move onto how we can plan for larger initiatives that build or adapt environments that consider the needs of older people. Our panel of experts will address housing, transportation, food support and other fundamental elements of our communities. Through the Quality Institute’s Mayors Wellness Campaign, we’ve heard from mayors who are looking for opportunities to make their communities more age friendly. Places where older residents can thrive need transportation options for those who don’t drive, physical and social activities, amenities such as parks and safe streets as well as affordable housing. At the conference, we’ll also discuss the necessary workforce and how technology can supplement the care and connectivity people need.
Planning organizations, such as NJ Future, and advocacy groups, such as AARP, have been putting together resources to support these efforts. We want to ensure that these efforts are top of mind for the entire health care community and policy makers to accelerate this important work. In particular, the health care workforce, access to care, and affordable housing are issues that must be addressed.
To bolster the health care workforce needed for our aging population, the Quality Institute, with support from The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, has joined forces with the Essential Jobs, Essential Care New Jersey coalition to support and grow the direct care workforce, including home health aides, personal care aides, nurse aides, and direct support professionals.
Our conference will bring together leaders to create the partnerships and collaborations to build the sustainable and creative solutions we need for the future. There will be time for a Q & A as well as networking. You can learn about our speakers in this newsletter and register for the conference. I hope you can join us.