AFS Blog

Energy, Enthusiasm, Excitement: Florida Conference on Aging 2022

Posted on September 09, 2022 | by Pam Mahoney, UPLIFT Florida Network Board Member
Energy, Enthusiasm, Excitement: Florida Conference on Aging 2022

The Florida Council on Aging (FCOA) held its annual aging conference at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on August 22–24! Over 500 attendees from across the state participated. We were welcomed by FCOA leadership and pleased to host the event in person this year.

Laughter filled the kickoff luncheon event with Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry’s keynote address. Part of his address included his entertaining views on the uniqueness of living in Florida. He declared 75 to be the new 73.

Breakout sessions focused on a variety of current aging issues: Caregiving, wellness with a focus on mental health, technology, meaningful engagement, ageism, promoting independence through livable environments, nutrition, elder justice/scams, effective marketing /messaging, diversity in the aging population and the workforce, and advocacy. So many of these topics resonate with the mission and vision of UPLIFT Florida Network.

The Department of Elder Affairs was recognized for its 30th anniversary.
Newly appointed Secretary Michelle Branham is in the process of traveling to the state’s 11 planning and service areas (PSA) to engage with each Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and local community stakeholders.

Several sessions highlighted the challenges of COVID faced by aging service providers and lessons learned in shaping services for the future, such as:
the positive impact of technology in maintaining connections and reducing isolation and loneliness (robotic pets and mp3 players)
the need to address barriers such as access, cost, and direct support.

New collaborations across the aging network were developed and will be sustained. An example was the involvement of local restaurants in working with the home-delivered meal programs to create an expanded menu that met the required nutritional guidelines.

Dr. Nancy Schlossberg was a featured plenary speaker and shared her perspectives as a 93-year-old retired professor living in Sarasota –“Aging Rebels Don’t Give Up – They Reinvest in Life.” An author of numerous books on aging, life transitions, staying relevant, and mattering, her latest book, Too young to be Old, offered guidance on coping with life transitions.

Bob Blancato, an annual conference favorite, delivered his 10 issues in 10 minutes - what is happening in DC that we need to know? A White House conference on Nutrition and Health will convene in September, building on the success of the Older Americans Act’s nutrition programs, now celebrating 50 years. Elder justice programs are in danger of decreased funding – Florida ranks in the top 5 states with the most reported elder abuse cases.

AARP and the American Society on Aging (ASA) held sessions to discuss the critical need for advocacy to encourage older adults to engage in the issues that most impact them and future generations and remind them age is a nonpartisan issue. ASA has developed a new 5-year strategic plan that includes these priorities: Ageism and Culture, Innovation and Social Impact, Health and Wellbeing, Equity and Justice.

CEO Peter Kaldes titled his session, “Shaking up Aging Advocacy,” Making Sure Congress cares about Older Adults. He encouraged expanded thinking about aging issues – more than Medicare and Social Security – and reframing the scope of concerns to move away from a “decline narrative.”

Connecting with aging advocates, businesses, and service providers is always the highlight of this conference— lots of enthusiastic hugs and elbow bumps were shared.

Looking forward to UPLIFT presenting at FCOA 2023!


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