Each year, ASA members from around the country bring their passion for the field of aging to ASA's Aging in America Conference. And while we are all linked by this common bond of dedication and commitment to improving the lives of older adults, the varying experiences, goals, populations served and distinct communities create a diverse and rich experience for attendees and presenters alike.
We at ASA feel that this aspect of our community is source of strength and a great benefit to the field of aging and we work every year to design a conference that reflects the multitude of perspectives of the ASA membership. From one day to the next, even the general sessions feature widely different views on issues affecting elders. And AiA16 was no different. Here are some highlights from day four:
The conference community came together at the Wednesday morning general session to hear four leading experts discuss issues around senior poverty. Lisa Ryerson, President of the AARP Foundation, opened the sessions proclaiming that as a nation, "we have danced around the issue of poverty for far too long." Ryerson says that "poverty is fundamentally America's problem. It affects all of us, and the solution needs to come from all of us."
"We at ASA have to be the voice of poor seniors so that they are not invisible"
The 2016 Diversity Summit featured a distinguished, multigenerational panel of experts who spoke on four key domains of social inequality from their own personal and professional experience. The domains explored included socioeconomic inequality, health inequality, political inequality and sociocultural inequality. Speakers challenged attendees to flip current policies on their heads. Dr. Colette Browne asked, "what would a pro-poor policy look like?" Panelists shared how their organizations' advocacy efforts, as well as direct advocacy by older adults, resulted in programs such as housing protection for LGBT seniors and door-to-door public transportation. The Summit shined a light on important issues and questions that touch the lives of all of us as we work toward social justice.
If you weren't able to attend the 2016 Diversity Summit (or even if you were) you can still read the report on which the program content was based online: Inequality Matters, authored by Prudence L. Carter and Sean F. Reardon of Stanford University.
Older adults, their caregivers and the professionals who serve them are increasingly facing the reality of a growing population of older Americans and diminishing availabitly of resources to meet their needs. The National Summit on the State of Older People, sponsored by CVS Health, delved deeping into issues around poverty and the solutions offered through policy and advocacy and programs developed by both corporations and non-profit organizations to fill in the gaps. Paul Nathanson, JD, Special Counsel at Justice in Aging put the issues into perspective during his opening presentation, where he shared the following touching video:
During the final general session of the 2016 Aging in America Conference, attendees heard the inspiring stories of three survivors of the Holocaust. Moderated by ASA Board Member Bill Benson and featuring Emanuel (Manny) Mandel, Rachel (Mutterperl) Goldfarb, and Josiane Traum (Aizenberg), all participants of the US Holocaust Museum's First Person Program, the moving event brought many to tears and applause as these three remarkable individuals shared their stories of resilience during World War II, after immigrating to the United States to rebuild their lives, and into their present age.
Each shared the new hurdles they faced as they aged and experienced evolving abilities and caregiving responsibilities. Manny Mandel offered that he had found that his thinking had slowed as he aged. "I can still think," he said. "I just think differently now." Both Rachel Goldfarb and Josiane Traum were family caregivers and spoke eloquently about the rewards and challenges of that role. When asked "What keeps you going?" by moderator Bill Benson, Rachel replied, "That Hitler didn't win and I'm still here," putting those challenges in stark perspective.
After a week of learning, sharing and networking, AiA16 participants let loose at the Final Night Party...
Thank you to the entire AiA16 conference community! We are always blown away by the amazing presenters, attendees, volunteers and exhibitors who all make the ASA Aging in America Conference the premier multidisciplinary conference in the field of aging year after year.
We would also like to extend a very special thank you to the sponsors of this event who's support helps make this conference possible.
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