Landscapes of Aging, 2014

Niagara Falls. What a perfect location as a symbol of longevity in the beautiful landscape of the Niagara region. From Oct.16-18, 2014 the Canadian Association of Gerontology (CAG) holds its 43rd annual conference – Landscapes of Aging – Critical Issues, Emerging Possibilities.

Suzanne Cook, (apart from being a scout for Planet Longevity), will be a presenter at the conference on the Saturday morning, chairing the session under the banner “Intergenerational Learning within Formal Educational Programs”. Suzanne’s specific piece will focus on the work she has been doing at York University in a one-year course – Sociology of Aging. More from Suzanne on this in our next Planet Longevity blog post.

Take a scan through the CAG conference program and you will be amazed if not overwhelmed by the wide range of niche topics related to aging issues. There is no room to say that you aren’t spoiled for choice; and you don’t have to be a gerontology professional or academic to understand that each of the aspects covered has a real connection to what everyday people are experiencing.

Setting aside keynote speakers, the granular details of the “critical Issues & emerging possibilities” are parcelled out in thematic doses over three days, too many to mention here. Sample of a few that popped out at me:

  • Person centered home care
  • Challenges in long term care
  • Experiences of caregivers
  • Aging and social exclusion
  • Rural aging
  • Changing the culture of dementia care
  • Aging and technology

Gerontology as a field of knowledge and professional practice encompasses so much as any Google search will reveal, a “multidisciplinary” field as the CAG describes itself. Considering the direction society is taking in terms of aging demography, it serves all of us to be well informed about the challenges and possibilities.

So much news on the social aspects of aging is headlined in caution and worry words like risk and cost or being under capacity to serve the old. Easy as it is to define the critical issues, the more enlightening outcome from this conference will hopefully be about what the world of gerontology is doing with the emerging possibilities.

Mark Venning

Business Think Points: The Upside of Aging

If you are a new student to the subject of aging or longevity, trying to gain an appreciation of the “dawn of the multi-faceted world of extended lifetimes”, and how the world is changing, then the new compendium – The Upside of Aging by Paul H. Irving, President of the Milken Institute is a great starting point.

9781118691908.225x225-75

One of those books in the category of “pick up, put down” any time, Upside of Aging is sixteen separate articles or essays written by some of the top (mostly American) thought leaders in this subject area. For someone like me who has researched and built an extensive library on global aging and longevity issues this collection, though not big news, is a widely scoped quick reference.

Everything covered here is useful to provoke conversation more widely in your social or business circles, timely and comprehensive on topics included in the subtitle – health, work, innovation, policy and purpose. That’s what we need, enlightened provocation of ideas on these think points. Earlier I used the word dawn because for many people, they are just catching up to all this. Plus – the macro effects of the global demographic shift have not yet hit full stride.

As a business, community leader or politician you may be currently dealing with other pressing matters in the economy; so finding relevance or “upside” in any of these topics, near term or long term, may at first seem like a disconnect to an immediate bottom line outcome. So I suggest for you, start with Chapter 4 – Disruptive Demography: the New Business of Old Age by Joseph F. Coughlin. Check out his blog on MIT Age Lab.

Business in the fast lane already too much for you? Then the next best thing you could do is to read Chapter 6 – The New Global Economy, through an Aging Lens by Michael. W. Hodin; Executive Director of the Global Coalition on Aging.

One upside insight from reading any part of this collection is that how we view progress or prosperity will need to change based on how we reset the vocabulary of longevity.

Mark Venning