En español | WASHINGTON—AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins issued the following statement on the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic:
“Throughout the pandemic, AARP has worked tirelessly to protect older adults. As the country moves forward, we must take the lessons we’ve learned and use them to fight for positive changes to strengthen health, economic security and the fabric of our communities. We will continue to be there at the forefront of helping people age safely, with independence and dignity.
“The nation has been through two years of tragedy. We’ve faced grief, pain, illness, financial hardship and social isolation. The fact that more than 90% of the nearly 1 million COVID deaths in the U.S. have been among those ages 50 and older spotlights the urgent need to address how we support health as we age.
“One top priority for the future is the need to reform our long-term care system. It’s a national disgrace that around 15-20% of COVID deaths have been among nursing home residents and staff despite being just 1% of the population.
“AARP led efforts to improve nursing home issues during the pandemic. We were instrumental in achieving better support for family caregivers and staff, increasing transparency about cases and deaths, improving access to virtual and in-person visitation, and increasing safety and access to vaccines, testing, protective gear and equipment.
“As next steps, we must advance new models for nursing homes, including smaller facilities with more private rooms; improving infection control and safety monitoring; increasing staffing and providing better pay and working conditions; and increasing accountability for nursing home operators. AARP will also advocate to truly reform long-term care options. A large majority of Americans wish to age in their own homes, and we will fight for policies that can make this a reality. Some of these include investing in creating a more professional home healthcare workforce with standardized training and better pay; supporting more age-friendly housing; ensuring Medicaid beneficiaries can receive care at home; and providing support, tax credits and paid leave for family caregivers.
“Throughout the pandemic, AARP also focused on a wide range of other needs of older adults. We fought to prioritize vaccines for those in nursing homes and older adults and provided information about where, when and how to get vaccinated. We provided connections and support for millions, such as trainings to use technology, supporting the expansion of telemedicine, and opening a Virtual Community Center featuring programs like Connect 2 Affect to combat social isolation and opportunities to learn, grow and have fun. AARP also worked to address long-standing disparities that have been exacerbated during COVID, including creating opportunities for women and people of color who disproportionately lost jobs.
“Our experience with COVID has only strengthened our resolve to continue focusing on these issues to make life better for all people as they age. It demonstrated that there is still much work to be done. As a Wise Friend and Fierce Defender for older adults, AARP is committed to stand strong for and with our members and to fight for the needs and interests of all people 50-plus and their families.”
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.