2008 Aging in America Conference

By Kleyman, Paul | Aging Today, May/June 2008 | Go to article overview

2008 Aging in America Conference


Kleyman, Paul, Aging Today


It's the annual impossible task of Aging Today: to provide readers a taste of the variety and vitality of our national conference. This year, nearly 4,000 professionals attended the Aging in America Conference of the National Council on Aging and American Society on Aging in Washington, D.C., March 26-30. Between the poetic opening session by Maya Angelou and the closing program on family caregiving led by Gail Sheehy, conference-goers had access to more than 800 presentations and poster sessions.

Our coverage, some of which began in Aging Today 's March-April issue and more of which will come later this summer, aims to bring together many of the voices heard during the five-day event. What these pages can't do is introduce those unable to join us to the rich networking opportunities and virtual candy-store of concepts and innovations at the conference.

One way to take in the full Aging in America experience is to attend the 2009 conference in Las Vegas, March 15-19. Mark your calendars!

WHAT'S NEXT BOOMER SUMMIT

"The point at which your mom is released from the hospital-it's not like checking out of a Marriott. Your mom falls and suddenly you have to think about her house, her care, her insurance," said Mary Furlong. She found herself scrambling to make arrangements earlier this year when the hospital gave Furlong only nine hours' notice before her mother was to be discharged.

Furlong, director of the fifth annual What's Next Boomer Business Summit, held in March, recounted her experience with emergency parent care-one repeated with increasing frequency for adult children among the 78 million boomers in the United States-at a press briefing following the What's Next meeting. The gathering was a special program held prior to the Aging in America Conference of the National Council on Aging and American Society on Aging.

A HOLISTIC MODEL

In identifying caregiving as one of the major trends that emerged at the What's Next conference, Furlong observed that because caregiving is "one of the most challenging experiences anyone can go through," corporate America "is beginning to look at a holistic model for new business opportunities." The pain, worry and stress of eldercare, she said, is finally-after years of market neglect-beginning to find relief in new products and services tailored for a wide range of unmet needs. "More business opportunities are created at the trip and fall of an older parent than at the birth of a baby," Furlong stated.

Furlong emphasized that she has "never seen a social issue that has been so silent become so large and present in so little time." Among the What's Next speakers was Passages author Gail Sheeny, who later led the closing plenary session for the full Aging in America conference. As Sheehy spoke about her personal experience of caregiving for her husband, which was to inform the core of her book on family care, the more than 350 executives attending What's Next fell completely silent. "You could hear a pin drop," said Furlong. She explained, "It was a real topic to most of the people in the audience, not only a business concept."

Speakers and summit participants, Furlong said, were discussing product and service development in areas ranging from information and resources, to in-home supportive services, to stress management. For example, she said, representatives of two companies at What's Next spoke about stress reduction. Recalling her race to rearrange her demanding schedule while planning her mother's post-hospital care, Furlong said that coping with caregiver stress, long a subject of concern in gerontology, will be the focus of new solutions through stress-reduction programs and innovations.

What's Next participants from companies as large as MetLife and as small as Caring.com focused on market developments in caregiving, said Furlong, the author of Turning Silver Into Gold: How to Profit in the New Boomer Marketplace (New York City: Financial Times Press, 2007). …

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