Asa's New Board Chair Introduces Three Programs for This Fall

Article excerpt

Usually, reports from ASA President and CEO Gloria Cavanaugh occupy this space, but she asked me to introduce myself to Aging Today readers in this issue and tell you about some of the terrific things happening at ASA this fall. At its March 2006 meeting, the ASA board of directors welcomed several new board members and installed new officers, including me as chair. It's an exciting time for me but also a challenging period as we seek new opportunities to enable professionals in aging to serve elders and their families in the rapidly aging U.S. population.

Some of ASA's activities this autumn provide glimpses into the dynamic energy of this organization. To name just a few of the developments ASA is undertaking, the organization is generating news about brain health, seeking fresh ways to engage older people in their communities and educating leaders of color in the field of aging about the workings of Washington, D.C. Below are highlights of these activities.

BRAIN HEALTH

MetLife Foundation and ASA wanted to know whether people in the United States think brain health can be improved and if people use what they know to stay mentally fit. The two organizations spearheaded a national poll, with the results released on Sept. 12, in a report titled Attitudes and Awareness of Brain Health, during a special public forum at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The national poll, conducted by Harris Interactive, is highlighted on the front page of this issue of Aging Today.

We hope this research contributes to the emerging practices and policies on cognitive fitness. MetLife Foundation generously funded the national brainhealth survey and provided valuable vision and support for this important initiative. An expert panel framed the issues and formulated the questions that formed the nucleus of the poll. Seven leading professionals in the research, policy and practice communities reviewed the data and commented on the findings.

The expert panel included Gene D. Cohen, Center on Aging, Health and Humanities, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; Linda Ercoli, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles; James E. Frasier, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Sandi Johnson, North Shore Senior Center, Northfield, Ill.; Paul D. Nussbaum, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pa.; and Kirsten L Tierney, Kisco Senior Living, Carlsbad, Calif.

ASA appreciates the participation of these experts and is delighted to include their commentaries in the "Expert Commentaries" section of this report. We thank the Harris Interactive team of Regina Corso, research director, and Amie Kim, senior research associate, for their expertise. We're also grateful to Terrie G. Raphael of the 2020 Group, San Francisco, for bringing her exceptional writing, editing and conceptual skills to bear on this report. Special thanks go to Nancy Ceridwyn, ASA's director of special projects, for her leadership in managing this initiative.

To read the report, visit www.asag ing.org/mindalert.

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

More than a dozen ASA leaders and key figures involved with civic engagement were scheduled to meet in Washington, D.C., Sept. 19 and 20 to recommend future ASA activity aimed at community involvement of older adults. The goal of the summit was to determine priorities for the future of ASA's civic engagement activity. This ASA program, funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, focuses on civic involvement as part of ASA's overall strategic commitment to strengths-based approaches, which affirm what older adults have to offer in building quality of life for themselves and their communities. Late-life civic engagement encompasses individual and collective actions involving older adults in activities of personal and public concern. Growing evidence shows that such activity both enhances individuals and enriches their communities. …