Speaker of the House Mike Johnson hedshot
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) (Credit: Win McNamee / Staff / Getty Images)

The growing population of older adults requires “bold leadership” to ensure aging with dignity, as well as access to care and support, according to an open letter from LeadingAge to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA).

The changing demographics and need to support older adults where they live and receive services presents a unique opportunity for Johnson to demonstrate leadership and commitment to “protecting human dignity,” according to the letter from LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan.

Along with requesting a meeting to discuss the aging and long-term care field, Sloan provided several recommendations, some shared previously with others:

  • Form an aging stakeholders’ group to advise congressional leaders on aging services, long-term care in all settings, affordable senior housing, and the aging services and healthcare workforce.
  • Create a White House Office on Aging Policy to take on an all-of-government approach to the challenges and opportunities facing older adults.
  • Streamline the immigration process for applicants seeking to enter the country legally and work in aging services.

“The US healthcare system is navigating a new and unfamiliar landscape in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Sloan wrote. “Three years of sustained stress and increasing workloads have caused a dramatic shift in staffing patterns and an alarming rise in burnout across health professions.”

She said that the aging services industry has reached a “crisis point” in workforce shortages and needs more training, education, supply and incentives — specifically for direct care workers and nurses — to enter the field. 

“Ensuring that older adults are not aging into poverty, that hard-working caregivers are compensated fairly, and ensuring older adults receive dignified care are American values,” Sloan wrote. “Our country needs decisive and bold action from principled, mission-driven leaders, like you, to shape policies that are worthy of the elders who have built our country.”