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“Silver Tsunami” Can Also be a "Silver Reservoir"

As the White House Conference on Aging approaches, New Hampshire advocates say the nation needs to switch from a medical focus, to listening to what elders say the need to live independently. Credit: Mike Clifford
As the White House Conference on Aging approaches, New Hampshire advocates say the nation needs to switch from a medical focus, to listening to what elders say the need to live independently. Credit: Mike Clifford
June 29, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. – It's time to re-evaluate the so-called silver tsunami and how to approach it, according to Barbara Salvatore, co-chair of Engaging New Hampshire.

She's referring to the idea that aging baby boomers will come with an increase demand for senior services.

Salvatore says the current system puts too much focus on seniors' disabilities and medical needs. She'd like to see a shift in approach that would focus on prevention and helping seniors live independently.

"Frequently what elders want, in order to remain independent and capable, is not what the current service system, in its paternalistic approach thinks they should have," she stresses.

Salvatore says while nursing homes need support, the nation also needs to shift resources to build livable communities that take into account alternative forms of housing, engagement and transportation.

Salvatore took part in regional meetings in New England in preparation for the White House Conference on Aging, and she says there was broad agreement on the need to change focus to the positive assets older adults offer.

"We frame our policy around people being sick, people being ill,” she explains. “And we have shied away from looking at our broader community to see how it can be supportive of all of us regardless of age."

Salvatore says policies need to include and reflect older voices. She calls for a re-branding of the Silver Tsunami.

"Which is now called the silver reservoir,” she states. “Wisdom of experience, many positive attributes that older Americans can continue to provide."

The White House Conference on Aging gets underway on July 13.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH