The month of May provides America with the opportunity to celebrate our families, neighbors, colleagues, and friends as we all age. It is an opportunity to recognize and share the collective wisdom and rich history afforded by older age. It is also a time to reflect on how we, as a nation, view ourselves as we age, and to reflect on how well we are working to create supportive environments for equitable health and well-being across the lifespan.
Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), as a non-profit public health policy, research, and advocacy organization committed to ensuring healthy environments for all individuals and communities, prioritizes the roles of the public health sector in creating such supportive environments. We have seen the significant toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on not just the health, but also the social and economic well-being of older adults. We commend the public health sector for actively addressing these challenges and working across sectors to collaboratively and equitably support our nation’s older adults, their families, and caregivers.
Older Americans Month offers us the opportunity to examine the public health practices that can be expanded to include older adults beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. We must continue to elevate healthy aging as a core public health function, from collecting robust data on older adult health, to embedding multi-sector partnerships, to prioritizing and advancing health equity, to exploring how the social determinants of health can be framed with an aging lens. And public health departments can continue to collaborate with America’s aging services network to support and build opportunities and options for more older adults to age in the communities and spaces of their choice.
TFAH will continue to explore new opportunities with state and local health departments to embed healthy aging within public health practice, to develop resources to support this engagement, and to advocate for policy changes to ensure appropriate authority and funding for these efforts. For more information on TFAH’s Age-Friendly Public Health Systems initiative, please visit www.afphs.org.