Phyllis N. Segal, vice president of Encore.org, makes a good point in an OpEd piece for the Boston Globe when she talks about the recent White House Conference on Aging, at which she was among one of those accomplished leaders in the over-50 generation invited to attend. She points out that the original conference in the 60’s and those held every 10 years thereafter focused largely on legislation, community services, or governmental programs that could assist the aging population. Outcomes of past conferences helped to build assistance and protections for older Americans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Older Americans Act.
But what about, asks Phyllis, now turning an equal amount of attention on how the aging population can help everyone else? She remembers, and still lives by, the immortal words of JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you…” If you’re 60 or over, you know the rest.
Says Phyllis, “I hope the WHCOA recognizes that ‘older Americans’ represents a human spectrum that includes those in need as well as a large cohort of experienced people with talent, skills, and the desire to contribute rather than withdraw. Millions in the encore stage of life can be part of the solution to social problems facing young and old alike. These life-seasoned people are ready, willing and very much able to do what we can for our country.”