2011 Aging in America Takes on a Triumvirate of Critical Issues

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In April, the 2011 Aging in America Conference in San Francisco attracted more than 3,400 professionals in the field of aging and offered 600-plus educational sessions. The conference annually includes a series of dynamic General Sessions- gatherings for all attendees that capture the scope and pulse of the meeting. This year, with the support of sponsors Walmart, AARP and the MetLife Foundation, ASA presented three thought-provoking events that pondered the future of America's aging services, its changing multicultural profile and a call for activism against Alzheimer's disease.

"The Future of Aging Services in America"

On April 26, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi took to the conference stage amid a thundering standing ovation. Pelosi gave an impassioned, straightfrom-the-hip plea to protect the future of Medicare-Medicaid and Social Security, first lauding President Lyndon Johnson's signing of Medicare into law in 1965: "...President Johnson codified a commitment between America's citizens and their government.... For the last 46 years, it has been the responsibility of elected officials to preserve and strengthen that promise."

That promise, she said, is in jeopardy, especially in light of the current U.S. budget cut proposals: "But after making historic progress, building on Social Security and Medicare in our Affordable Care Act, we now face some historic threats, I am sad to say. But I say it in a hopeful spirit that working together, we will push them back."

The U.S. Administration on Aging's Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee and Barbara Kennelly, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, echoed Pelosi's call to action, and spoke about the privileges of serving America's elders, the importance of the "fourth pillar" of America's entitlement programs- the Older Americans Actand the need for aging services professionals to stand strong and united in advocating for these programs. We who serve elders, they said, are the future of aging services in America.

"The Changing Face of America: Aging in Our Multicultural Society"

Lorraine Cortes-Vázquez, Maya Rockeymoore, Jennie Chin Hansen and Fernando Torres- Gil shared the stage on April 27 to present perspectives on America's current- and future- multiculturalism. Referring to 2010 Census data, CortesVázquez said, "America is changing. And we have to change to embrace it."

The facts are that "six of the ten largest cities in America are majority-minority. …