'Let's Rethink Aging'-More Than Just the 2007 Conference Theme
Golden, Robyn, Aging Today
Preparations are well under way for the 2007 Joint Conference of the American Society on Aging (ASA) and the National Council on Aging, March 7-10 in Chicago. I am looking forward to welcoming you to the Windy City, my home turf, for this premier event in professional education and networking. With nearly 4,000 professionals, volunteers, exhibitors and sponsors expected to attend, this annual conclave is the largest gathering of professionals serving older adults in the United States.
In the coming weeks, ASA members will receive the conference announcement catalog with details about planned programs, travel arrangements and local site visits. You can also visit the website at www.agingconference.org for more information or to register. The next issue of Aging Today will highlight some of the special programs, critical issues in aging sessions and breakfast symposia.
AWORLD OF CHANGE
The theme "Let's Rethink Aging" challenges session presenters and local planners to engage conference attendees to reimagine today's possibilities and those in the years ahead. To me, "Let's Rethink Aging" is more than a conference theme: It reflects both the challenges and opportunities of an aging society. In spite of the tremendous potential at hand, especially with the aging of the enormous boomer generation, myriad contrasts continue to cloud the possibilities inherent in the emerging longevity revolution.
Those of us who serve older adults and their families work in an unusually rich environment of professionals ranging from entrepreneurs to public servants, from researchers to practitioners. Our charge is to reach out to an older population that encompasses those who are frail or critically ill, as well as those who are independent and creatively active. We hope for a time when products, programs and services benefiting older adults will expand our capacity to serve them and strengthen the infrastructure necessary to meet their changing needs.
During the past year, everyone has heard endlessly about the estimated 78 million boomers bom from 1946 through 1964. Professionals in the field know that programs and services for elders must change to meet the evolving requirements of this large influx of elders and those nearing their later years. ASA must also evolve to meet the changing needs of professionals devoted to serving the aging community.
AT OUR BEST
Professionals in aging can be both realists, fully aware of today's challenges, and idealists-people who entered this field with a deep sense of respect for elders and their dignity. At our best as professionals, we value individual worth, regardless of health status or ability. We believe in responsibility shared at personal, local, state, national and global levels. We know that by contributing to promising practices, we can help realize a society that delivers on the promise of communities enriched by age and experience. In this youth-obsessed culture, professionals aging can play a special role by dispelling the myths of what it means to grow old while fostering a greater understanding of the real benefits possible in a more mature society.
ASA members have learned that as individuals age, they have wants and needs beyond those presented by the medical model of aging. Individuals frequently seek spiritual advice, financial counseling, mental health assistance and social services, for example. Many older adults face disparities in access to assistance or quality of care because they come from diverse cultural backgrounds, have different sexual orientations or live with functional disabilities. Elders also have interests in lifelong learning and want to continue to be engaged in-and contribute to-their communities. Our goal at ASA is not only to bring professionals together, but also to create opportunities for them to work in concert to meet the needs of each elder as a whole person, not merely as a consumer of healthcare services.
ASA'S NEW ERA
Several changes that ASA is undergoing will contribute to the way we rethink aging. Longtime president and CEO Gloria Cavanaugh retired from ASA this fall, but she continues to advise the board and staff on the Joint Conference. At its biannual meeting in October-the first full board meeting since Gloria announced her retirement- the board voted unanimously to commend Gloria for her extraordinary and effective 31 years of service to ASA and the field of aging. Her leadership, vision and commitment have supported broad-ranging efforts to bring together practitioners, researchers, educators and policymakers from many different disciplines to share information, resources and support
I hope you will join me and the board of directors in expressing our appreciation to Gloria for her countless contributions to ASA. She will be honored at the upcoming Joint Conference during constituent group receptions, special awards luncheons and the annual Leadership Salute event.
Although Gloria cannot truly be replaced, we intend to build on ASA's history and move forward as the organization enters a new era. The board is providing strong leadership in this important transition, and has organized a committee to conduct a national search with the goal of announcing ASA's new leader at the 2007 Joint Conference. Until then, Lanny Hardy-who joined the staff as chief operating officer only a year ago-is serving as acting CEO.
In the coming months, ASA will continue to look for ways to expand on its core mission: bringing service providers, researchers and members of the community together to work for the benefit of America's growing population of older adults. ASA will look at ways to provide training to those who cannot participate in the Joint Conferences every year-potentially with new online resources, webcasts and regional programs. Furthermore, ASA aims to expand the organization's educational mission beyond professionals already in the field of aging to other professionals who serve elders without specific knowledge about best practices for older adults.
LEARN AND CELEBRATE
Whether or not you can come to Chicago next March, I hope you will bring your realities and your ideals to the fore to help professionals in our field rethink aging. Those of you who will join us for the conference should know that ASA has a wonderful crew working to make the event successful in every detail. In addition to the hard work of ASA staff in producing the conference, I want to thank my Chicagoland colleagues for their leadership and vision in developing the event. Program planning cochairs Karen Graham, director of multicultural outreach at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago, and Jon Lavin, president and CEO of AgeOptions (suburban Chicago's area agency on aging), have been working with more than 45 subject track cochairs and over 140 track reviewers to select sessions reflecting the diverse interests of professionals in aging-everything from adult day services to workforce issues.
Also, heading up the Local Arrangements Committee are Amy Eisenstein, education coordinator in geriatric medicine at Rush University Medical Center, Carolyn Hicks, executive director at Renaissance Adult Day Services; and Robin Tillotson, regional director of the Chicago Department on Aging. They've been working with the nearly 50 committee members on such local programs as site visits, restaurant dine-arounds and volunteer recruitment.
All of them are working to make sure that we will have a productive-and great-time as we rethink aging.
ASA must evolve to meet the changing needs of professionals who serve elders.
By ROBYN GOLDEN
ASA BOARD CHAIR
ASA Board chair Robyn Golden is director of older adult programs at Rush University Medical Center. She can be reached at email@example.com.…
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Publication information: Article title: 'Let's Rethink Aging'-More Than Just the 2007 Conference Theme. Contributors: Golden, Robyn - Author. Magazine title: Aging Today. Volume: 27. Issue: 6 Publication date: November/December 2006. Page number: 16. © American Society on Aging Jan/Feb 2009. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.