New Study Benchmarks Federal Aging Research
By Stephen Baetge
The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has released its official report assessing the federal government’s efforts to stay ahead of the curve in formulating policies to help older Americans.
Entitled “Recognition of Excellence in Aging Research,” the report is based on studies of federally-funded research into the well-being of older Americans in a wide range of areas including health maintenance, income, employment, recreational activities, housing and long-term care.
Information contained in the report guides Congress during the process of developing legislation, and it guides executive branch agencies in implementing programs and policies.
“America’s older population will double in size over the next thirty years,” explained Senator Herb Kohl, D-Wis., chairman of the Special Committee on Aging. “Every federal agency will be affected, and every federal agency should be taking steps to prepare.”
Each Congress, the Special Committee on Aging is required to produce a report that outlines the gaps as well as advancements made in programs and policies for American seniors.
Last May, the Committee asked all federal departments and agencies to identify federally-funded research projects that address the well-being of older adults and contribute significantly to policymakers’ knowledge and understanding of social, economic and medical issues related to aging.
Twenty-seven agencies, ranging from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA, responded by submitting over 200 research projects to be included in the report.
The responding agencies identified a wide range of research projects, including efforts to promote interagency collaboration in aging-related research, strengthening research infrastructure, data collection efforts and demonstration projects that test new methods of resolving aging-related policy issues.
The Special Committee on Aging found that federal agencies are making vital scientific contributions in fields as diverse as the biomedical sciences, housing and environmental protection regarding age-related knowledge.
“Their research has been and will continue to be vital as we shape policy to keep our nation’s seniors healthy and financially secure in the coming decades,” Sen. Kohl stated.
Collecting data about seniors and conducting research on their health, economic status and social support systems substantially improves the ability of community leaders, program administrators and the legislative branch to develop and monitor effective public policy.
Aging-related research conducted by federal agencies helps older Americans lead healthier and more productive lives, and it has also led to significant breakthroughs in science and medicine.
The report indicates the commitment and dedication of the public sector to improving the quality of life for seniors and their families.
The research also serves as a catalyst for continued progress in addressing the most pressing concerns of the nation’s older population.