From the morning exercise and morning buzz with the Students and Emerging Professionals (STEP) Group to the Exhibit Hall Grand Opening Reception and Chicago dine-around, the 2017 Aging in America Conference was fully underway on Tuesday with nearly 2,500 participants.
Every year, this conference heralds an extraordinary creation and sustaining of community and commitment. Between individuals who are just meeting for the first time, or who have worked together for decades, thousands of moments of learning, sharing, renewal and discovery take place.
Among many other sessions, the morning kicked off with a dynamic look at demographic politics with AARP's Nancy LeaMond and political strategists Amy Levin and Greg Strimple. Next door, the Gary & Mary West Foundation's West Health hosted a National Summit on Oral Health showcasing the extraordinary success of the Senior Dental Center the Foundation supports in conjunction with San Diego's Serving Seniors. The downtown facility provides comprehensive care to low-income older people and is a model for replication nationwide.
The Opening General Session at 11:00 AM kicked off with Encore Chorale, a Chicago project of Encore Creativity. ASA Board Chair Bob Blancato exhorted attendees to meet the challenges of the current policy environment with a firm rejection of the attack on vital programs like Medicaid and senior nutrition, and to let policymakers know that “It’s NOT O.K.” to abandon commitments to older people’s well-being.
AARP Foundation’s President, Laura Marsh Ryerson, delivered a rousing call to envision a world where poverty no longer exists. She and Fernando Torres-Gil, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging and long-time advocate for aging and disability services, and Candace Baldwin, Director of Strategy, Aging in Community, for Capital Impact Partners, discussed how key support for communities originates with taking the time to listen and learn from the community about their priorities and challenges.
The afternoon was just as packed with learning options. All-day programs from ASA's constituent groups including the Forum on Religion, Spirituality and Aging (FORSA), the Lifetime Education and Renewal Network (LEARN), the LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN) and the Mental Health and Aging Network (MHAN) provided designed programs on specific topics and are a core part of the conference curriculum. The National Forum on "A Message to the President on Aging Policy" built upon the Winter 2017 issue of ASA’s journal, Generations. A distinguished panel of experts including several authors from the issue discussed what's sensible and needed in policies affecting older people, as distinct from the recent emanations from Congress and the Trump Administration.
The day’s Second General Session, supported by AARP and PhRMA, provided a vigorous and informed discussion on prescription drugs costs, pricing and their impact on healthcare and people, with Leigh Purvis from AARP’s Public Policy Institute, and PhRMA’s Lori Reilly, moderated by Benjamin Rose Institute CEO (and past ASA Board Chair) Rich Browdie.
The day came to a crescendo with the opening of the Exhibit Hall. The traditional reception in the Hall brought more than 1,400 attendees through to visit the booths, grab a drink and some nosh, and network with colleagues. The Exhibit Hall is also open from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Wednesday, and from 8:00 to 11:00 AM on Thursday.
And, there were over a hundred break-out sessions on every topic imaginable concerning older people!
More to come tomorrow for Day 3!