By passing key legislation, Congress could better prepare the nation to address the needs of the aging population, said geropsychology experts Peter Lichtenberg, PhD, and Sara Honn Qualls, PhD, at a May APA-sponsored congressional briefing on "Promoting the Mental Health of Older Adults: An Action Agenda for an Aging America." The Older Women's League (OWL) and the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging co-sponsored the event.
Lichtenberg, a professor and director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University and chair-elect of APA's Committee on Aging, discussed the importance of integrated health care and urged policy-makers to support the Positive Aging Act of 2007. The bill seeks to integrate mental health services for older adults into primary-care and other community settings where older adults live and receive services.
Qualls, director of the Gerontology Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, called for Congress to restore funding for the geropsychology grants in the Graduate Psychology Education Program. Doing so, she explained, could help address the provider-shortage crisis in geropsychology at a time when baby boomers are aging and more geropsychologists are retiring than entering the field.
Briefing moderator and OWL Executive Director Laurie Young, PhD, urged policy-makers to pass Medicare parity legislation. Panelist Bob Blancato, the national coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition, called for the enactment of the Elder Justice Act to combat elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
--Public Interest Government Relations Office staff