New Programs on Creative Brains, Patient Transitions and More

By Golden, Robyn L. | Aging Today, November/December 2007 | Go to article overview
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New Programs on Creative Brains, Patient Transitions and More


Golden, Robyn L., Aging Today


Over the past year, the American Society on Aging has experienced several important changes. ASA's new president and CEO, Robert Stein, and the ASA staff have developed a fresh format for the annual conference, as well as new programs and services to be introduced in the coming months. In addition, ASA's board of directors has been discussing the association's long-term strategic plans for better helping ASA members serve older adults. Watch this column for future updates.

I'd especially like to thank those who completed ASA's recent membership survey, which enabled ASA to gather data about the uses and importance of the organization's benefits, programs and services. Core membership benefits, particularly publications and conference discounts, received very favorable ratings. According to the survey, nearly half of ASA's current members have more than 20 years of professional experience in the field of aging-and they require different educational and training content and products than their younger colleagues.

Although less than 10% of survey respondents identified as emerging professionals (those with fewer than five years in the field of aging), ASA is committed to providing them, as well as long-standing professionals in the field, with networking opportunities, training and resources. Overall, more than 30% of respondents expressed interest in online learning opportunities.

One such opportunity came in early November, when ASA added the second video Web seminar to the MindAlert program, funded by MetLife Foundation. MindAlert was established in 2001 to disseminate research and innovative practices that address steps older adults can take to maintain and enhance mental functioning in their later years. The latest lecture, which is free to all viewers, was taped at ASA's recent Autumn Series on Aging program in San Francisco. The video features a fascinating talk on dementia and art by Bruce Miller, a physician and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, where he is clinical director of the Memory and Aging Center.

In his lecture, Miller explored the intricate and mysterious association between brain structure and the visual arts. He described several theories regarding the creative process and discussed differences between right-brain and left-brain systems involved with creating a painting. Those lucky enough to attend Miller's luncheon keynote were held in rapt attention as he outlined what is known about the brain's organization in artists vs. nonartists-and what this information tells us about how human minds function.

Miller, a behavioral neurologist with a special interest in brain and behavior relationships, explained how neurodegenerative disorders have provided an unexpected model for thinking about creativity. Particularly notable is the case of people with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), in which a small but significant number of individuals develop a new interest and ability in art at the beginning stages of their illness. Affected people who never before displayed artistic talent can suddenly become accomplished visual artists. Miller also showed the differences between art created by FTLD patients and those with AIzheimer's disease. To view this illuminating lecture, visit www.asaging.org/ webseminars.

NVL'S 15TH ANNIVERSARY

In October, 25 enrollees in the 2007 class of ASA's New Ventures in Leadership (NVL) attended the yearlong program's week of training in Washington, D.C. NVL is designed to promote the leadership potential of professionals of color and their involvement in the national arena in aging. NVL participants, known as partners, each develop a special project aligned with their career objectives, such as a community outreach campaign, applied research, a regional needs assessment, policy-related work or a plan to improve delivery of services.

ASA staff would particularly like to thank our colleagues at the U.

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