Serious Business (with Some Serious Fun) to Mark 2009 Conference

Article excerpt

The deepening recession is raising many questions about how older Americans will be able to cope in this difficult period. Recently, for example longtime ASA member W. Andrew Achenbaum of the University of Houston raised key concerns in the "Public Policy & Aging E-Newsletter," which he coedits for the National Academy on an Agin g Society.

Among the critical questions Achenbaum asked were, What do ;s today's economic turmoil mean in terms of retirement savings, home values and retirement decisions? Are retirement savings too exposed to market risk? How has the mortgage crisis hit older A mericans? What needs to be done to protect older investors? He listed a number of recent reports that address these and other questions (visit www.agingsocwty.org and click on "Publications").

Professionals in aging can also learn about these and other issues-and get answers to their own questions-at the upcoming Aging in America Conference of the American Society on A ging (ASA) and National Council on Agi ng (NCOA), to be held in Las Vegas, Man :h 15-19.

400-PLUS SESSIONS

Those attending this year's Aging in America Conference will have a shopping-mall array of more than 400 sessions to attend-wear your comfortable shoes-in such wide-rang ng areas as chronic care and care manag ement, environments and technology, civic engagement of elders, business development and leadership, elder-friendly communities, long-term care, mental health and aging with purpose and spirituality.

The intense public-policy challenges we all face today will be broached in sessions that explore the new rational campaign for elder economic security, renewment for midlife and elder women, the improvement of Social Security for today's retirees, issues im olving older immigrants and Medicare's prescription drug program, among mar y workshops and seminars.

One featured lecture at the conference will spotlight two former U.S. assistant secretaries of aging - both of them also former ASA board chairs - who will speak on the topic "What the Next Assistant Secretary of Aging Should Know." They are Jeanette Takamura, now dean of the Columbia University School of Social Work, New York, and Fernando Torres-Gil, associate dean of the School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Takamura and Torres-Gil will examine the current social-economic context and the challenges that have become ever more daunting for older Americans during the last eight years. They'll examine today's priorities for the new assistant secretary and identify the expectations of the newly installed Obama administration in revamping policies for our rapidly aging nation.

FOCUS ON OUR TIMES

Our terrific ASA-NCOA conference staff has lined up conference sessions that will focus on the challenges and opportunities of these difficult times. The plenary session titled "Health Reform: What Will It Look Like? What Are Its Chances?" will feature an all-star team addressing this very timely subject. The program, sponsored by aarp and presented in collaboration with ASA and NCOA, will feature Jennie Chin Hansen, president of AARP (also a past ASA chair); Rebyn L. Golden, ASA immediate-past board chair and director of older adult programs at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago; Howard Bedlin, vice president of NCOA; John Rother, policy director of AARP; and Joanne Handy, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston, also a former chair of the ASA board.

Always a popular feature at the conference is the "Panel of Pundits" presentation, moderated by Robert Blancato, president of Matz, Blancato and Associates and a leading analyst of public policy issues in Washington, D.C. The panel will focus on current initiatives in national policies on aging and healthcare policy.

Among the featured lectures at the conference will be "The Aging Network and 'Re-Balancing' Long-Term Care: Whose Mission and Who Decides? …