EXPECTED DIFFERENT, GOT MORE OF THE SAME

By November 3, 2015Longevity, Random/Rants

Disillusion was the takeaway after attended yet another conference on aging. I expected a different outcome but got more of the same, again. Yipes, isn’t that the definition of insanity.

For my own sanity, I thought I’d share my cynical observations and selfish recommendations to make future gatherings on long-term services and supports less predictable and more provocative.

  1. Increase participation by older adults, the conference’s actual target audience. This will at least create the semblance of inclusivity, of representing “us” not “them.”
  1. Remind special guest speakers of the professional commitment of conference participants. And that beginning a presentation with “This issue is very personal to me” may come across as patronizing and disingenuous, as though the only reason this matters is because it affects you personally.
  1. Also, remind policymakers who ask attendees to “Please tell me what I can do to help” to please actually acknowledge the advice they do receive.
  1. Include a workshop with a panel of “age-beat” journalists, who can offer attendees valuable insight into the public’s pulse, interests and opinions.
  1. Include presenters who exemplify healthy, purposeful longevity. Highlight older adults whose self-determination and self-empowerment demonstrate how they remain relevant and productive, and buck stereotypes.
  1. If one exists, feature a politician who was elected to office based on a platform championing healthy, purposeful longevity.
  1. Examine the broader context of aging concerns. Include presenters (and encourage attendees!) from complementary disciplines, such as economics, technology, human resources, justice, city planning and cultural anthropology, among others.
  1. Be provocative and newsworthy. Include subject matter to entice media coverage, so the conference’s messages extend beyond the attendees.
  1. Consider contributions by experts from other countries. Because the United States is a comparatively young country, European and Asian responses to their older populations could offer useful indicators, models and solutions.
  1. And, last but hardly least, because time is always tight, lay out ground rules to prevent so zealous audience members from hijacking sessions with self-indulgent monologues.

 

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