Help Us Create an Actionable Aging Policy Agenda

aging policy agenda

Over the past several months, the Bell’s been hard at work researching a strong aging policy agenda to ensure all Coloradans are able to age in a way they find meaningful.

This has included everything from examining best practices from across the country to exploring existing programs and initiatives here in Colorado. All of this research has laid the foundation for an upcoming project — the creation of an actionable policy agenda with state-based solutions to support healthy aging.

As we create this policy agenda, we want to hear from you! Through our research, we’ve identified several issues we think are among the most important to focus on. We talk about them and possible policy solutions below. Take a look and give us feedback about your experiences and what you think of our policy priorities by filling out this survey.

Potential Aging Policy Focus Areas

To begin the development of a realistic actionable aging policy agenda, we created a list of possible priority focus areas based upon both need and feasibility. This list includes:

Developing opportunities to leverage the skills of older adults in the workplace: Though they bring unique assets, older adults who either want or need to work can find it difficult to obtain adequate employment with meaningful compensation. To address this, we can:

  • Create and enforce regulations which prevent hiring and workplace discrimination
  • Support the creation of workplace programs, like paid family and medical leave, which allow workers to take time off for serious health needs
  • Offer older adults worker education and training opportunities to help them build in-demand skills

Supporting unpaid caregivers: It’s difficult to overstate the importance of unpaid caregivers in the long-term care ecosystem. Addressing unpaid caregivers’ mental, physical, and financial needs is imperative to creating an environment supportive of healthy aging. As a state we can:

  • Develop supports and programs to offset the financial impacts of caregiving
  • Incorporate holistic, comprehensive assessments of unpaid caregiver needs into existing health systems
  • Implement programs like paid family and medical leave to ensure caregivers have both job protection and income replacement as they balance their simultaneous employee-caregiver roles

Fostering a quality, well-trained direct care workforce: A complex assortment of factors is contributing to the growing gap between the need and availability of the direct care workers responsible for the day-to-day safety of our loved ones. We can bolster supports for this workforce by:

  • Creating more comprehensive, unified training opportunities for workers
  • Developing pilot programs to assess the impact new career ladder opportunities have on worker retention
  • Finding sustainable ways to increase worker benefits and wages

Developing sustainable financing streams: Put simply, there isn’t enough current funding from either individuals or the state to adequately support Colorado’s aging policy agenda and long-term care needs. To address this, state policy solutions could include offering:

  • Earlier access to quality preventative Medicaid services before expensive acute care is needed
  • A retirement savings plan for workers who lack an employer-sponsored option
  • Increased access to quality, sustainable, long-term services and supports through private Medigap and long-term care insurance plans

Protecting older adults from abuse: Elder abuse impacts 1 in 10 older adults and has tremendous impacts on both older adults and their caregivers. We can address this by developing:

  • Comprehensive training opportunities to educate people about the signs of abuse and how it can be prevented
  • Expanded enforcement and regulation mechanisms

Tell Us What You Think

The above list of possible policy priority issues was developed using our research and feedback from conversations we’ve had with community leaders. In the coming months we’ll be refining this list to ensure our policy agenda focuses on both the most impactful and high need issues facing Coloradans as our state ages.

To do all of this, we need your help. Are we on the right track? Does our list fit with your own, lived experiences? What issues do you think are most important? And are there any other important issues you think we should include, but don’t see above? Let us know by filling out this survey and help us make Colorado a state ready and able to take advantage of the many benefits which come with an aging population.