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New Lens on Aging: Reflections on the Gerontological Society of America’s Annual Scientific Meeting 2016

Posted on December 21, 2016 | by Kathy Black
New Lens on Aging: Reflections on the Gerontological Society of America’s Annual Scientific Meeting 2016
Approximately 3,500 people attended The Gerontological Society on America’s (GSA) Annual Scientific Conference on Aging held on November16-20 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The meeting kicked off with keynote speaker David Bornstein, a journalist and author who focuses on social innovation. He is also the founder of the Solutions Journalism Network which supports journalists who report on constructive responses to social problems. He shared stories from around the globe with relevance to aging issues faced throughout our society today. He encouraged all of us to ask what we love and make it happen!

I was particularly impressed with the number of presentations pertaining to the age-friendly domains. Housing, and respect and social inclusion were prominently addressed. The AARP Foundation announced its latest initiative connect2affect — focused on outreach to people living alone. Together, we can ensure that our friends and neighbors are not lonely!

I presented a session on Arts-Friendly Approaches to Age-Friendly Communities. My colleague, USFSM Professor Valerie Lipscomb and I presented Florida Studio Theatre’s play, Old Enough to Know Better. We shared the origin, development, and components of the play for others to emulate. We spoke of the feedback sessions which raised consciousness about one’s own aging and increased understanding about the shared experiences with others. Valerie discussed the type of play and its particular relevance to documentary theatre and hearing the voices of the community.

I also presented in a session on Environmental Gerontology with my colleague Emily Greenfield from Rutgers University who is involved in age-friendly efforts in New Jersey. We discussed the emergence of what we refer to as “community gerontology,” which requires a distinct knowledge, value, and skillset in the realm of age-friendly work. Other participants in the session spoke about the value of wellbeing as well as agency, identity, belonging, and autonomy; altogether, important contributions to the growing age-friendly movement.

Kathy Black, Ph.D

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