Next year, the American Society on Aging (ASA) will celebrate its 50th anniversary since it was founded in 1954 as the Western Gerontological Society (WGS). The organization was born in the early days of gerontology-after the formation of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA)-as a professional scientific association for those conducting research and education in the new field of aging.
Originally formed so that gerontology researchers on the West Coast could have greater input into the Washington, D.C.based GSA, WGS soon began to attract a different breed of professionals, and its character started to evolve into the multidisciplinary, multisetting organization that ASA is today. ASA's members are a rich mixture of researchers, policymakers, educators, administrators and practitioners. Through its conferences and programs, ASA helps them share the latest applied research and innovative program models in order to enrich the practice of a wide range of professionals in aging.
BIG FIVE-O CELEBRATION
ASA will be celebrating its Big FiveO throughout the coming year, and I will be focusing on different aspects of the organization in this column. A high point, of course, will be a celebratory event at the 2004 Joint Conference of ASA and The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) in San Francisco in April. To build up to that celebration, ASA will be conducting its own midlife review and reminiscence activities, collecting memories of the early days of WGS and ASA, of its founders and leaders, of the members who were there at the beginning and of those who are still part of our vibrant group.
In the next issue of Aging Todaywhich will be celebrating its 25th year of publication in 2004-we will provide readers with ways to share their personal recollections of ASA. In the meantime, we'd like to ask for your help in contacting some of the WGS/ASA old-timers you may be in touch with. Also, let us know if you're one of the many who started your association with the organization before it became ASA. One of our projects will be to start a record of all WGS members who are still part of ASA, with the year that each joined. So if you joined before 1985, please drop me an e-mail at email@example.com with your name and the year you first joined the WGS family.
October is Persons with Disabilities Month; one of WGS/ASA's ongoing concerns has been addressing the needs of older people who have acquired a disability in later life, as well as the needs of those who are aging with disability. Since the mid-1980s, if not earlier, ASA has explored the issues of common language and concerns with leaders of the broader disability movement. This exploration took us into a number of conferences and think tanks. It also pushed ASA to take up the issues of assistive technology, home and environment modification, and universal design.
One consequence of this effort was our realization that ASA could play a useful role in bringing these concerns to the attention of the business community. In 1986, ASA formed the National Forum on Technology and Aging, which later merged with the association's Business Forum on Aging. The Business Forum on Aging continues to have a strong interest in the development of products and services designed for people of all ages and ability levels, as well as the promotion of this concept in the forprofit sector. …