Of Stars, Constellations and Community

By Stein, Robert G. | Aging Today, November/December 2010 | Go to article overview

Of Stars, Constellations and Community


Stein, Robert G., Aging Today


If, like me, you're a fan of taking an evening stroll, you'll know that the winter season offers its own special delights: the night sky seems clearer, the air is more crisp and invigorating (unless you happen to live in our country's balmier climes) and the stars seem multiplied and brighter - a light show that is rivaled by seasonal (now, often year-round) light displays throughout the neighborhood.

On a recent nighttime walk, while appreciating the celestial and local constellations, I reflected on the recent story that made headlines in The New York Times and all across the newswires. It seems mat scientists have discovered that me universe has perhaps three times as many stars as previously believed.

Good news, I thought, especially in this most exponential time of wishes.

But what the news report clearly stated is that this new research on elliptical galaxies, and the trillions of stars they house, is inconclusive and can, according to Richard Ellis, an astronomy professor at the California Institute of Technology, remind us of "how fragile our knowledge of the universe is."

It seems that we can take nothing for granted - not the stars you can, or cannot, see. We earthlings must always be seeking for more knowledge, but need to realize that even with the most rigorous research in hand there is always something more to know - and more mysteries to try to figure out.

A COMMUNITY OF STARS

The fascinations of galaxies aside, the atmospheric upheavals caused by the recent mid-term elections will undoubtedly have a galvanizing effect; those of us who are committed to working with and serving America's older adults will need to redouble our service and advocacy efforts.

Which is where you, our ASA members, come in. All of my nighttime musings on distant and newly discovered stars gave rise to this realization: the community of ASA membership and beyond into the large network of aging services professionals is a constellation of sorts. Just as the universe houses stars old and new - and as yet undiscovered - our membership is home to botìi leading lights and newly emerging professionals in aging whose star is just beginning to shine.

Nowhere is this network of "stars" more in evidence than at our Aging in America Conference where the aging services community annually comes together.

The study of astrophysics has revealed that many stars do not exist alone, but interact with each other to form binary or multiple star systems. This may be the ultimate in networking - stars coming together to increase their light and power.

That said, I extend a personal invitation to my colleagues in the aging services network to join us at the 201 1 Aging in America Conference in San Francisco, April 26-30.

This always-stellar event, which brings together both our industry's luminaries and unsung heroes, always generates a powerful light of its own - a dynamism of passion for the work, information sharing and the excitement of new ideas, practices and models. To secure your place at Aging in America, visit www.agingconference.org.

AGING IN AMERICA SHEDS LIGHT ON ISSUES IN AGING

This past year, our profession - and our nation - has seen landmark changes in healthcare and in older adult services. At our 2010 Aging in America Conference, we explored the potential of healthcare reform. Though that potential is now reality - though perhaps a precarious one - there is a new need to be better informed and poised to understand health reform's impact and our collective changing roles within an ever more complex healthcare system. …

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