With the holiday season upon us, 2016 is quickly drawing to a close. On behalf of the Department of Aging, I want take this opportunity in this end of the year Friday Wrap-Up to thank each of you for your efforts to serve, protect, enable, and empower older Pennsylvanians and their families in communities throughout the 67 counties of our commonwealth. It was a year full of incredible opportunities for us to engage in meaningful dialogue with so many of our stakeholders as we journeyed throughout the state conducting community listening forums and holding public hearings to craft our 2016-2020 State Plan on Aging, which received approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living. Such approval is important as it assures our stakeholders and the seniors we strive to serve that our State Plan on Aging meets the complimentary objectives of the Older Americans Act, which calls us to be the constant and vigilant voice for older Pennsylvanians. A voice especially for those who are often not heard, those on the margins of society, those whose rights have been violated, and those who have been the victim of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
It was also a year full of amazing experiences, such as hosting the National Adult Protective Services Association Conference in Philadelphia, which brought over 650 professionals from across the country together to address the issue of elder abuse and neglect; and participating in two national Alzheimer’s disease forums. The first was held in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with The Atlantic, and was entitled, The Path Forward: An Atlantic Forum on Alzheimer’s; and the second was held in Washington, D.C. last month with The Hill, and was entitled, Race Against Time: Overcoming Alzheimer’s by 2025. These two opportunities, combined with our own 2016 Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Forum and our on-going partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Pennsylvania and the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter, allowed the department to connect with policy makers, medical experts, caregivers, and individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease for conversations about what combination of federal policies, state policies, new treatments, funding and support for patients and their families will be most effective with diagnosing, treating, and curing Alzheimer’s, while also ensuring that those impacted are connected to community services and supports.
While I could continue sharing and otherwise reminding everyone about our highlights and accomplishments, along with the challenges before us as we respond to the current and not-so-distant future of aging and long-term services and supports, I will wrap-up this last message of 2016 by thanking you for the strong support and assistance you provide the department and me every day. At this joyous time of year, we pause to wish you an abundance of happiness, and wish you and all those you hold dear a New Year filled with peace and hope.