Feature Series: White House Conference on Aging Through the Decades – 1961

The White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) has been held every decade since the 1960s to address issues currently faced by older adults. As we approach the WHCOA date in 2015, we will highlight topics and results from each one held to date.


In 1958, Congress passed legislation to hold the first-ever WHCOA in January 1961. The chairman of the conference noted that over 2,500 delegates from around the nation met on Capitol Hill to discuss, debate and delineate the conditions and needs of the country’s aging population, and to work out specific policy statements and recommendations covering 20 areas bearing on the trends, conditions and issues affecting older adults.

As we face today, society in 1960 also, experienced an exponentially growing aging population. The older adults’ population increased by 60% throughout the decade. Aging adults struggled to meet the increased cost of health, medical services and housing on a fixed income.  No longer could problems be approached ‘after the fact’ but rather required foreword thought, coordination and planning.

The 1961 Conference focused on topics of nursing homes and related health problems, retirement income, housing and governmental organization of services for the aged. As a result of the conference and to keep older Americans living healthy, dignified and independent lives, the Older Americans Act and Medicare were signed into law in 1965.

As we prepare for the 2015 conference, the WHCOA is asking you to share your story. Raise your voice on the issues you find important and to shape the landscape for older Americans in the next decade.

For advocacy questions, please contact Oral Health America’s advocacy department at [email protected]