Among the 1,800 people gathering at the White House next week to discuss problems facing the nation's elderly will be four representatives from Northern Virginia.
Morris Sahr of Fairfax County, Kenneth L. Kramer of Annandale, Barbara Thomas of Leesburg and Mary Tovar of Springfield will be part of the 20-member Virginia delegation appointed by Gov. John Dalton, according to Wilda M. Ferguson, director of the state's Office on Aging. In addition, 15 others, including five from Northern Virginia, will attend the third White House Conference on Aging as observers, appointed by the state's Congressional delegation.
"In the tradition of Virginia, older Virginians are very much independent," Ferguson said."When they may need assistance is when their health fails, and health issues will be very much under discussion." Promotion of nutrition as a means of staying healthy and preventive health care will be covered at the conference, she said, as will such topics as housing, transportation needs and crime prevention.
"Income issues are high priority," Ferguson said. "Included in discussing economic well-being will be employment opportunities, tax relief and inflation."
Conference delegates, Ferguson said, will be mostly women. A majority will be older than 55. Each state's delegation will have representatives from both rural and urban areas, with minority representation proportional to each state's minority population.
Northern Virginia delegate Sahr said past conferences "were somewhat instrumental in the advent of Medicare and similar programs." But, he added, "I question the sincerity of the present administration."
Expressing particular concern about the future of Social Security, Sahr said: "I think the United States government made a commitment to all its citizens, young and old.... It's [the administration's Social Security cutbacks] causing much concern and bewilderment."
Conference observers from the Northern Virginia area will be Rita Chow of Fairfax, Constance McAdams of Arlington, Thelma Petichak of Fairfax, Donald Stone of Annandale and Francis Speh of Vienna.