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Momentum Discussions

Discussions that stimulate dialogue on trends with great momentum to advance gerontology.

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Opportunities and Strategic Directions for Cancer Prevention During Older Adulthood

Thursday, November 14 | 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Panelists: Richard A. Goodman, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Emory University; Dawn M. Holman, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mary C. White, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This session builds on highlights from a CDC-funded supplemental issue of The Gerontologist on “Opportunities for Cancer Prevention During Older Adulthood.” The papers in the supplement address a wide range of innovative topics related to cancer risk among older adults, including health literacy and communication, age discrimination, financial hardship, the health effects of natural disasters, sun protection behaviors, and preventive health services, among others. Research suggests there may be more we could do lower exposures to known causes of cancer, promote social and physical environments that facilitate healthy behaviors and positive attitudes about aging and cancer prevention, expand appropriate use of preventive health services at older ages, and improve communication with older adults about cancer prevention efforts. Among the many potential imperatives are what society can do to reduce cancer risk and preserve health as adults enter their 60s, 70s, and beyond; what societal and environmental approaches might help to shift negative attitudes about aging and cancer prevention; and how best to engage older adults and their families, caregivers, and relevant community sectors in these efforts. Panelists will lead a discussion of these questions and provide insights into potentially promising new directions for research and practice to expand cancer prevention efforts for older adults.

Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

How do the Mouth, Eyes and Ears Impact Social Isolation?

Thursday, November 14 | 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Panelists: Frank R. Lin, Johns Hopkins University; Stephen K. Shuman, University of Minnesota; Bonnielin Swenor, Johns Hopkins University; Amber Willink, Johns Hopkins University. 

Research shows that social isolation is a deadly risk factor and social determinant for poorer health in the older adult population and a rising public health epidemic. Older adults who are socially isolated have a greater risk of death than their well-connected peers. We will discuss interventions and define sensory perception issues, such as vision loss and blindness, difficulty hearing, and missing teeth and other dental issues, and how they can lead to or perpetuate loneliness and social isolation in older adult populations.

Supported by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare and Mars Confectionery. 

 

Thriving Across the Life Course Through Longevity Fitness?

Thursday, November 14 | 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Panelists: TBD

To maintain Longevity Fitness means to thrive while aging—specifically, to thrive across the life course. “Longevity Fitness” is the term used in a new GSA/Bank of America report to describe how people can thrive by matching their Health Spans, Wealth Spans, and Life Spans as they enjoy increasingly long lives. Transitions commonly associated with advancing age—work disruptions, physical decline, dementia—can be better managed when a person has planned for the social support, financial means, and health resources needed to compensate for aging-related physical and cognitive changes. As people age, chronic diseases accumulate and reduce the ability to carry out the necessary activities of daily life. When a person also is lacking in social support, financial resources, or access to health care, the result of declining functional ability is a downward and potentially irreversible spiral. Insecurities in life—including uncertainty about food, housing, transportation, health care, or safety—exacerbate this situation, leading people to live in isolation or poverty, and to be unable to seek the interventions they need for maintaining health and ultimately their ability to take care of themselves. In this session, experts in the field and attendees will exchange ideas about the concept of Longevity Fitness and insights into positive aging across the life course.

 

Overcoming Barriers to Including Older Adults in Clinical Trials

Friday, November 15 | 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Moderator: Jeff D. Williamson, J Paul Sticht Center on Aging, Wake Forest School of Medicine

Panelists: Marie Bernard, National Institute on Aging; Mark A. Espeland, Wake Forest School of Medicine; Kim Kennedy, Wake Forest School of Medicine; Jay Magaziner, University of Maryland

The relevance of clinical trial results to those in whom the disorder is most prevalent and who are most likely to experience adverse outcomes is of critical importance. Significant progress has been made over the past 30 years toward increasing the representation of older adults in clinical trials, yet substantial work lies ahead. In 2018, The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) sponsored a special Momentum Discussion symposium reviewing this issue, which formed the foundation for GSA member-led initiatives to promote greater representation of older adults in clinical trials. This year’s symposium will present specific examples of progress stimulated by the National Institute on Aging through the funding of networks such as the Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Centers (OAIC) and the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers as well as funding from the Veterans Administration for the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Centers. As the population aged 65 years and older continues to grow, including the population of older persons who are frail, it is even more critical that members of the aging research community promote proven strategies for including larger numbers of older adults in trials along with rigorous methods for analyzing the resulting data. Insights from the Pepper OAIC’s 30 years of experience in recruiting, enrolling, and retaining older participants in clinical trials, in conjunction with other federally funded programs, will be shared with the audience. The panelists will present case studies of persons over 75 years of age with perceived barriers (e.g., age, transportation, chronic medical conditions and medications, retention issues, fears) who participated in clinical trials. Each barrier and resulting design issues will be examined and discussed with the audience in light of recent insights into overcoming these barriers. The goal of this interactive symposium is for attendees to acquire knowledge and skills for both advocacy and implementation that promote the inclusion of older adults in clinical and translational research.

Supported by The Gerontological Society of America. 

 

Aging as Disease: Implications and Repercussions

Friday, November 15 | 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Moderator: Linda K. Harootyan, Harootyan2 Co-Moderator: Scott Leiser, University of Michigan

Panelists: Peter Boling, Virginia Commonwealth University; Tara L. McMullen, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Jamie N. Justice, Wake Forest; Joan Mannick, resTORbio

Based on new and continuing cutting-edge research, we are on the cusp of having treatments that slow aging in multiple model systems and are nearly ready for clinical studies. Unfortunately, since aging is not currently classified as a treatable disease, there is no mechanism to obtain clinical approval for a treatment that slows aging. There have been arguments made both for and against aging to be classified as a disease for decades, but as we are nearing a point where an actual treatment could be made available, it is worthwhile to revisit the question. We want this session to ask the question “is aging a disease?” (or “what if aging was a disease?”) from the perspective of scientific research implications, policy implications, clinical implications, and the overall benefits and drawbacks of considering the leading disease-causing process as a disease itself. The session will take an open-minded and thoughtful approach to the topic with the goal of getting people to really think about the pros and cons of how aging is viewed and treated and the fact that treatments for aging are now on the horizon. The session will devote a significant amount of time for questions and discussion of this thought-provoking topic.

Supported by The Gerontological Society of America's Public Policy Committee.

 

Older Adults Living with HIV/AIDS: Striving to Thrive through Optimal Medical Care, Mental Health, and Community Support

Friday, November 15 | 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Moderator: Tonya Taylor, SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Panelists: Charles Emlet, University of Washington – Tacoma; Michelle Lopez, Advocate; Anna Rubtsova, Emory University; Anjali Sharma, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The population of people living with HIV/AIDS is aging – it is expected that 75% of HIV-positive Americans will be 50 and older by 2030. In addition, 17% of new HIV diagnoses in the US are adults 50 and older. Significant progress has been made in new medication therapies, but co-morbidities that necessitate multiple medications present challenges to adherence. Some health conditions – including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and certain cancers — occur at younger ages in people living with HIV. And while the HIV treatment cascade has helped identify gaps in outcomes for those living with HIV/AIDS, it does not address psychological health. Discrimination, stigma, depression, and social isolation are frequent issues that older adults with HIV/AIDS must deal with, in addition to challenges with maintaining community supports. Panelists at this session will discuss why HIV/AIDS is an important topic in gerontology, how co-morbid conditions create complexities in delivery of effective care for this with HIV/AIDS, the relevance of models of successful aging for those with HIV/AIDS, strategies to support mental health, and ways to provide social support and connections through community-based programs. The session will highlight recent research, practical implementation strategies, and personal experiences of those living with HIV/AIDS. The goal of this interactive symposium is for attendees to acquire knowledge about how to best support older adults living with HIV/AIDS.

Supported by ViiV.

 

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