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Presidential Symposium

Presidential Symposia were developed by the president and program chairs. These sessions were created around the theme of the meeting. New this year! Our 6 disciplinary Presidential Symposium will have a rapporteur present for each session. The concepts and themes emerging from the individual presidential symposia will be combed together and discussed among the designated rapporteurs and the audience at the GSA Presidential Symposium on Saturday afternoon.

The Ties That Bind: The Influence of Social Media and Technology in the Lives of Older Adults 

Thursday, November 14 | 8:00 to 9:30 a.m.

  • Chair: Tamara A. Baker
  • Discussant: Lewina O. Lee
  • SpeakersNeil H. Charness, Toni Antonucci, Wendy Rogers, Sara J. Czaja

Data show that seven out of every ten adults, over the age of 50, own a smartphone, with one out of ten owning a tablet. While traditional activities dictate the use of technology among this cohort, there is growing evidence that adults similarly use devices to also manage their medical care and to learn online. This increase has guided scholars in recognizing the utility of technology from designing interventions to understanding how technology may serve as a barrier and/or facilitator to one’s general well-being. This symposium features four presentations from nationally recognized scholars that will expand traditional perspectives on technology use, and how it influences social ties among older adults. Dr. Charness will examine the population-level trends in social network use by aging adults and discuss a recent CREATE intervention study (PRISM), that used a computer-based platform to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older adults. Dr. Czaja will similarly present findings from CREATE, and other trials, on the access to and use of email, social media sites, and online support groups among older adults, and the resultant impact on social connectivity, loneliness and social support. Dr. Rogers will discuss technologies that currently exist (e.g., apps, mobile devices, social networking) or are being developed (e.g., robotics, telepresence, virtual reality) to support social engagement. Dr. Antonucci will examine aspects of new technologies and their influence on health and well-being, while underscoring the perspective that new and emerging technologies hold great promise in overcoming traditional barriers to maintaining social contact and exchange. Supported by the Behavioral and Social Sciences Section. 

Presidential Symposium: Expanding the Geroscience Network 

Thursday, November 14 | noon to 1:30 p.m.

  • Chair: Matt Kaeberlein
  • Speakers: Daniel Promislow, Jing-Dong Jackie Han, Anne Brunet

In keeping with the 2019 GSA Annual Meeting theme of "Strength in Age—Harnessing the Power of Networks", the Biological Sciences Presidential Symposium focuses on cutting edge approaches to understand the biology of aging using network and systems approaches. Supported by the Biological Sciences Section. 

Museums and Aging: Novel Network Opportunities to Support Optimal Aging 

Thursday, November 14 | 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

  • Chair: Desmond O'Neill
  • Co-Chair and Discussant: Robert Roush
  • Speakers: Manfred Gogol, Ray Williams, Teresa Bonner, David J. Ekerdt

Museums represent an evolving and under-recognized network of opportunity for examining aging while supporting optimal aging across the lifespan. Museums bind communities together in a civic body by “…identifying its highest values, its proudest memories, and its truest truths.”(Duncan, 1991). They represent a secular ritual of the modern state in which the spiritual heritage of the nation is offered as a public reinforcement of political values. Art museums are also sites which enable individuals to achieve liminal experience - to move beyond the psychic constraints of mundane existence, step out of time, and attain new, larger perspectives. The interaction and potential synergies between museums and aging have been insufficiently explored in gerontological scholarship, with the existing emphasis largely focusing on facilitating access to older people and those with age-related health conditions. This symposium reflects and magnifies the networking of GSA with a major art museum through an Educational Site Visit during GSA 2019 to the Blanton Art Museum. It proposes to review museums and ageing in a broader context, exploring the context within which aging is represented in the discourse of heritage and museums, museums networking to provide a repository of late-life creativity, networks of older people as a key resource and client group for museums, life-course and inter-generational engagement with museums. Finally, the insights that the ageing of art works provide for curating the longevity dividend through developing scholarly networks between gerontologists and curators. Supported by the Humanities and Arts Committee.

Optimizing Surgical Care for All Older Adults 

Friday, November 14 | 8:00 to 9:30 a.m.

  • Chair: Thomas Robinson
  • Co-Chair: Ronnie Rosenthal
  • Speakers: Marcia McGory Russell, Emily Finlayson, Meixi Ma, Lindsey Zhang, Mark Katlic

Our program will provide a detailed overview with an emphasis on the research aspects of the new Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery, a project supported by the American College of Surgeons and the John A. Hartford Foundation. This project is a national endeavor which aims to systematically improve the surgical care of older adults by establishing a verifiable quality improvement program with standards based on best evidence focused on what matters most to the individual patient. We believe there is a critical need for safe, high-quality, patient-centered surgical care for older adults. Aging surgical patients have unique physiological needs, social needs and unique goals of care. We formed the Coalition to help hospitals meet these rising needs by setting and verifying interdisciplinary standards and developing outcome measures that matter to older patients, families and caregivers. In collaboration with our 50+ stakeholder organizations, we have set the standards, developed measures that matter, educated providers and patients, and created awareness about the surgical needs of older adults at all hospitals through the program. The geriatric surgery program, set to launch in the Summer of 2019, will use the four principles of continuous quality improvement: set standards, define the right infrastructure, collect rigorous data, and verify. The program not only improves perioperative care, but also impacts the full cycle of care for older adults. Our group has harnessed the power of networks through partnership and collaboration of all disciplines involved in the peri-operative care of older adults. Supported by the Health Sciences Section. 

Education Networks: Strengthening Gerontology and Geriatrics Through Connectivity

Friday, November 15 | 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

  • Chair: Judith Howe
  • Discussant: Kathryn Hyer
  • Speakers: Phillip Clark, Joann M. Montepare, Margaret A. Perkinson

The AGHE Presidential Symposium, related to the theme of the annual scientific meeting, underscores the importance of networks, collaborations and partnerships in advancing education in gerontology and geriatrics. AGHE has been at the forefront of many innovative programs since it was founded in 1974, contributing to the growth of the field and the recognition of education as one pillar of the field of gerontology and geriatrics, along with research, policy and practice. This symposium highlights three ongoing initiatives that promote connections and collaborations. The first paper discusses the Age-Friendly University (AFU) network which is made of institutions around the globe who have committed themselves to becoming more age-friendly in their programs and policies. AGHE endorses the AFU principles and invites its members and affiliates to call upon their institutions become part of this pioneering initiative. The AFU initiative is one of several international activities that AGHE, global leaders in education on aging, has engaged in. The second paper describes international networking activities such as collaborations with international organizations including the World Health Organization and connecting international and US students. In the third paper, initiatives to connect disciplines and professions through competency-based education and curricula are discussed. For instance, the Gerontology Competencies for Undergraduate and Graduate Education and the Program of Merit promote competency-based gerontology education across disciplines and professions. Supported by the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education. 

Multidisciplinary Emerging Perspectives on Building and Maintaining Networks in Aging 

Friday, November 15 | 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

  • Chair: Darina Petrovsky
  • Co-Chair: Jamie N. Justice
  • Speakers: Ameya S. Kulkarni, Mariya A. Kovaleva, Katherine Kennedy, Danielle Waldron, Eugenie Stephenson

This ESPO Presidential Symposium features a multidisciplinary perspective and recent scientific advances made by early career researchers from each of the GSA scientific sections. They will provide examples of how their work is addressing ways to build and maintain networks in aging and gerontological workforce. These talks will span research on the age-associated transcriptional networks (Biological Sciences, Kulkarni), enhancing care for persons with dementia using a professional healthcare network (Health Sciences, Kovaleva), ways to maintain care networks in nursing home residents (Behavioral and Social Sciences, Kennedy), exploring the impact of social isolation in older adults on the Autism Spectrum (Social Research, Policy, and Practice, Waldron) and reflections on a project that linked aging education and student involvement within the aging network at the state level (Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education, Stephenson). These talks will demonstrate the diversity of aims, strategies, methodologies, and tools employed across disciplines. In addition, these early career researchers will share how they use networks in their own disciplines to advance their science with the goal of building an independent program of research. We will conclude with a discussion on ways to identify synergies across different fields and promote strategies for successful cross-discipline collaboration.  Supported by the Emerging Scholar and Professional Organization (ESPO). 

Harnessing Social Networks to Optimize Environmental Contexts for Diverse Aging Experiences 

Saturday, November 16 | 8:00 to 9:30 a.m.

  • Chair: Philip Rozario
  • Co-Chair: Emily Greenfield
  • Discussant: Nancy Kusmaul
  • Speakers: Harry O. Taylor, Caroline Gelman, Sato Ashida

Social networks provide opportunities for engagement with others and structure the receipt and provision of emotional, instrumental, informational and appraisal support. Indeed scholars in this field have documented the importance of having strong social networks in influencing older adults’ well-being and quality of life. The three papers in this symposium draw on the convoy model of social relations and ecological model to examine and better understand the micro, mezzo, macro contexts that shape and influence how older people engage with and benefit from their networks in three areas: low-income senior housing communities, urban areas specifically targeting older Latinos with dementia, and disaster preparedness in micropolitan counties in eastern Iowa. The first paper, a cross-sectional study focusing on social connections in senior housing communities, examines levels of social networks, engagement, support and loneliness and their relationship with well-being outcomes. The second paper, a community-based participatory research project, reports an intervention that seeks to train natural helpers in a predominantly Latino urban neighborhood to identify and refer older Latinos with dementia to bilingual assessment services. The third paper, synthesizing findings from interventions targeting network building at the individual and state levels as well as a community-based network analysis, presents ways to strengthen networks at the mezzo and macro levels as well as environmental contexts that enable better disaster preparedness for community-based older adults. These papers will consider practice, policy and research implications in strengthening social networks and engagement to optimize older adults’ well-being in various settings. Supported by the Social Research, Policy and Practice Section. 

The GSA Presidential Symposium – Strength in Age: Harnessing the Power of Networks 

Saturday, November 16 | noon to 1:30 p.m.

  • Chair: Harvey J. Cohen

GSA is a network of disciplinary components each of which is a network composed of members. This large system possesses powerful emergent properties that are realized at many interdisciplinary interfaces. The GSA Presidential Symposium mirrors this by bringing together rapporteurs from our disciplinary presidential symposia who will summarize the major findings of these symposia. The Behavioral and Social Sciences presidential symposium explores the use of social networking by aging adults, the media and technologies utilized, and the impact of these trends on health and well-being. The Biological Sciences presidential symposium examines multiple layers of biological networks as predictors of systemic aging. The Social Research Policy and Practice presidential symposium dissects the reciprocal relationship between broad environmental contexts and social networks throughout life and ways in which this relationship can be used to optimize the aging experience. The Health Sciences presidential symposium reports on the improvement of perioperative care of older adults achieved through harnessing the partnership and collaboration of all disciplines involved in this care. The Academy of Gerontology in Higher Education presidential symposium discusses ongoing initiatives that build networks to shape age-friendly programs and policies at universities, international collaborations, and competency-based gerontology education. The Humanities and Arts presidential symposium investigates the synergy between museums and aging, both of which are represented as networks. A discussion between the presidential symposia rapporteurs with audience participation will ensue to identify common, overarching themes and to spark approaches to important, interdisciplinary problems in gerontology.

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