Changes Take Hold in Asa's National, Regional Programs

Article excerpt

Change is good. Although challenging and intimidating in some respects, the introduction of fresh ideas and processes can ultimately lead to greater success. We have seen this success at the American Society on Aging (ASA), and the staff and board of directors continue to work hard at improving your membership and educational experience while maintaining the traditions that you and I have come to know and enjoy.

This year, ASA made significant changes to the format and presentation of the fall conferences on aging. Most notably, the name changed from the Autumn Series on Aging to the East Coast and West Coast Conferences on Aging. I'm pleased to report that the West Coast Conference on Aging, held Sept. 2-5 in San Francisco, was a great success. The sessions were well attended and the fullday conference formats were well received. Additionally, the number of sponsors and exhibitors broke previous records, confirming that more and more professionals are seeing value in these regional educational programs.

The East Coast Confereflce, held Sept. 22-25 m Philadelphia, celebrated the 15th anniversary of AS As New Ventures in Leadership (NVL) program. ASA board member Louis Colbert and Denise Stewart, both of the Delaware County Office of Services for the Aging (OSA), organized a luncheon on the closing day of the conference to honor NVL's anniversary with a keynote address by Perdi Stanford, chief diversity officer at AARP and a former head of the ASA board. ASA is especially grateful to the three area agencies on aging - the Delaware County OSA, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and Montgomery County Aging and Adult Services - that sponsored the luncheon tribute.

Preparation is currently underway for the 2009 Aging in America Conference, which ASA will cosponsor with the National Council on Aging in Las Vegas, March 15-19. A preliminary look at the presentation submissions indicates that presenters are responding to the conference theme, "What's New, What's Important, What Works and How We Can Do It in Our Communities."

EMERGING TRENDS

A special feature of the 2009 conference will be a series of daylong national forums addressing significant issues affecting older adults, including civic engagement, caregiving, transportation, boomers and other topics. Additional conference programs will offer timely information on such topics as Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, behavioral health, end-of-life issues, care management, retirement, older workers, long-term care and many other subjects.

Each year, the number of proposals for conference presentations, and the range of topics they embrace, reflect national trends, innovations and best practices in the field of aging. The hundreds of submissions for the 2009 conference reveal that national interest is growing in the development of community collaborations and in the creation of livable communities for an aging America. Professionals in aging nationwide are seeking ways to extend services through civic engagement of elders and by more effectively incorporating full community participation.

For many elders, civic engagement is emerging as a prime pathway to purpose and passion in the second half of Ufe. In addition, a rising number of conference session proposals for health promotion and wellness emphasize a growing demand in communities for activities to enhance elders' overall quality of life. In addition, reaching out to caregivers is an increasingly prominent focus of the field, as evidenced by many conference sessions that will showcase gains in research and practice in this area.

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT GRANT

I am pleased to announce that The Atlantic Philanthropies has extended its support of ASA's civic engagement program for the coming year. The development of both unpaid and stipended volunteer opportunities for elders will become more and more crucial to nonprofits and community organizations, and ASA is grateful for. …