2006 Joint Conference Spotlights Asa's Constituent Groups

Article excerpt

During the 2006 Joint Conference of the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and American Society on Aging (ASA) held in March, more than 3,500 attendees, staff and volunteers enjoyed educational training opportunities and professional networking in Anaheim, Calif. Guests enjoyed our first-ever Cyber Café, sponsored by NCOA's My Medicare Matters, to check messages and stay in touch with their offices around the United States. This year, we received a record number of 41 sponsorship contributions that played an important role in helping us develop leading-edge programs.

In our recent online membership survey and in conversations during the conference, I was pleased to hear that many attendees-including those who have attended several past ASA conferencesfound that the programs and sessions continue to provide timely, relevant, high-quality information. This year, our expanded offerings in Critical Issues in Aging sessions, Special Programs, Special Lectures and Breakfast Symposia continued to grow in attendance and interest.

NEW THIS SUMMER

In past columns, I've highlighted the activities of some of ASA's eight constituent groups, our specialty networks of professionals in healthcare, business, older-adult education and so on. Each constituent group offers a quarterly newsletter, as well as a specific website with regularly updated resource links and examples of promising practices in the field. Later this summer, we will roll out our new Web-based format for constituent group newsletters, featuring live links to emerging research and online bulletin boards for posting responses to articles. The new features will help create virtual networks for members of each group. The new websites will also highlight ASA activities and resources, such as ArticleSearch, our information bank of articles from ASA publications. In this issue, I want to tell you about two more ASA constituent groups.

Network on Environments, Services and Technologies for Maximizing Independence-NEST shares information about best practices and innovative programs across the many systems and settings serving older adults. These include technology, transportation and community mobility, home and environmental modifications, universally designed products and spaces, rehabilitation services and caregiving practices, and work with families and caregivers, among others. The network also provides information on trends in policy and funding and on strategies for advocacy and systems change.

Many factors-health conditions, impairments and physical environmentcan threaten or compromise an individual's' ability to function later in life. NEST members come from a variety of work settings, including senior housing, leisure-and-recreation programs, rehabilitation, Healthcare and long-term care.

During the 2006 Joint Conference, NEST members presented a special program, "Universal Design and Aging in Place," that examined the relationship between universal design of products and spaces for use by people of any ability level, as well as the continued independence and participation of older adults as they age in place, in the workplace and in their leisure activities.

In addition, NEST members and colleagues enjoyed a special networking reception to visit with longtime colleagues and meet new ones. Particular thanks went to outgoing NEST chair Cynthia Stuen for her leadership in guiding diverse interests of the group's more than 450 members. Cynthia, who is senior vice president of education and vision rehabilitation services at the Lighthouse International, New York City, recently became chair-elect of ASA's board of directors. New NEST chair Jon Sanford, research architect at the Rehab R&D Center, Atlanta VA Medical Center, has already been at work identifying opportunities to expand NEST membership and programs. …