The United States thanks the Independent Expert for her report on the social exclusion of older persons. We view housing, social protection, employment, health, and independent living as goals to be realized over time, and agree that attention to these areas will promote social inclusion. A key U.S. government entity in my country’s efforts in this regard is the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living, HHS/ACL, which has an overarching objective of maximizing the independence, well-being, and health of older persons, persons with disabilities, and their families and caregivers. We invite you to explore HHS/ACL’s website, which describes U.S. legislation, policies, and programs on behalf of older persons.
The United States disagrees with the Independent Expert’s view that we cannot advance older persons’ human rights without a new UN convention on older persons. Despite multi-year stakeholder discussions, there remains no consensus on this issue. Because existing human rights instruments promote and protect the human rights of all individuals, including older persons, it is not necessary to develop a new instrument reiterating these rights. Older persons have challenges concerning violence and abuse, economic security, and health and nutrition that require immediate attention. Rather than direct scarce resources toward prolonged multilateral negotiations, we should use them for actions at the national and local levels that address these concerns in a tangible and meaningful way for our citizens.
In exploring ways to alleviate social exclusion, we ask the Independent Expert’s input on promising directions for the use of technology to promote greater social connectivity among older adults, particularly those who are socially and geographically isolated. There is strong evidence that social support and engagement can protect against poor health, abuse, and neglect.
What recommendations do you have for governments trying to bolster and empower civil society to play its full role in supporting elders and their caregivers?