Momentum Discussions

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

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The Momentum Discussions listed below were presented during the GSA 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting Online for a live audience. 

Risk Communication for Vaccine Preventable Illnesses: Addressing Concerns, Facilitating Behavior Change

Communicating effectively with older adults about risk requires an understanding of biases, perceptions and how we learn from science. This Momentum Discussion will delve into what is known about infectious disease and prevention communication, how to facilitate uptake of preventive health services, and how can we improve education in prevention. The panel will utilize case studies to showcase how to improve the practice of recommending and following through on preventive services.


  • Robin L. P. Jump, MD, PhD. Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System, Associate Professor of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (Moderator)
  • Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, Professor, University of Maryland, Sonya Ziporkin Gershowitz Chair in Gerontology
  • Aaron Scherer, PhD, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa, Director of the Healthcare and Public Perceptions of Immunizations (HaPPI) Survey Collaborative

Supported by Johnson & Johnson Health Sciences, Inc.

Fostering Resilience and Fighting Poverty

The experiences of low-income older adults are diverse and multifaceted, many playing critical roles in their families and communities. Yet, negative perceptions and stereotypes lead to discrimination and exclusion that hinders their ability to engage in their communities and pursue economic opportunities. What if instead, we saw low-income older adults as contributors to their families, neighborhoods and communities? And, what if we empowered individuals to reach their goals, lean into their own motivations, and build meaningful relationships in their communities?

This Momentum Discussion will include a conversation with expert leaders discussing ways to foster personal and community resilience – a key component to building pathways to economic opportunity for low-income older adults.

Speakers will discuss three powerful tools in building resilience: Hope, Income and Social Connections.


  • Lisa Marsh Ryerson, President, AARP Foundation (Moderator)
  • Valerie Maholmes, PhD, CAS, Researcher and Author of “Fostering Resilience and Well-Being in Children and Families in Poverty: Why Hope Still Matters”
  • Maria Flynn, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future
  • Risa Wilkerson, Executive Director of Healthy Places by Design

Supported by AARP Foundation.

Long-Term Care and Infection Control: Doing it Differently

The global COVID-19 pandemic put infection control and long-term care facilities at the forefront of public dialogue. The pandemic presented a perfect storm of a highly contagious disease and ageist decisions that resulted in providing limited treatment options. As the pandemic continued, issues of community infection rates, higher than usual staff turnover, and social isolation continued to present challenges to appropriate and effective care in long-term care facilities. And as COVID-19 vaccines were created and rolled out, new federal models of vaccine delivery created opportunities and challenges. Recognizing that little was known about COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic, outbreaks of other infectious diseases are not new to long-term care facilities. Influenza presents a yearly challenge – outbreaks shut down facilities, staff vaccination rates continually remain low, and the use of enhanced influenza vaccine product that better protects older adults compared with standard dose is modest. And, unfortunately, influenza and pneumonia continue to represent the eighth leading cause of death in the US and disproportionately affect older adults, specifically those residing in long-term care facilities. Despite evidence that enhanced influenza vaccines are more effective in preventing disease and also provide a higher return on investment in maintaining the health of older adults, interest in learning about vaccines among long-term care staff and advocates has been limited.


  • Stefan Gravenstein, MD, David S. Greer Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Director, Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Brown University (Moderator)
  • Carolyn Blackman, MD, Senior Vice President Medical Affairs, Genesis Healthcare
  • H. Edward Davidson, PharmD, MPH, Cofounder and Partner of Insight Therapeutics, Assistant Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine, Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Eastern Virginia Medical School

Supported by Sanofi.

The Evolving and Essential Role of Interdisciplinary Care of the Mouth, Ears and Eyes of Older Adults

This Momentum Discussion will address the pivotal topics that are driving changes to management of the mouth, ears, and eyes of older adults. The panel will also address how an interdisciplinary team can be instrumental in providing high quality care.


  • Tricia Neuman, ScD, Senior Vice President, Executive Director, Program on Medicare Policy and Senior Advisor to the President, Kaiser Family Foundation, Washington, DC (Moderator)
  • Frank Robert Lin, MD, PhD, Director, Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Professor of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • Michèle J. Saunders, DMD, MS, MPH, FGSA, Adjunct Professor and Director, South Texas Geriatrics Education Collaborative, Departments of Psychiatry and Periodontics, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), GSA Past President
  • Kira N. Baldonado, MPH, Vice President of Public Health and Policy, Prevent Blindness

Supported by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.

Exploring the Economic Contributions of People 50 and Over and the Business Case and Innovative Best Practices for Supporting Healthy Longevity

In the first half of this session AARP and Economist Impact (formerly The Economist Intelligence Unit) will explore the economic contribution of people age 50 and older—specifically in the US context—encompassing their participation in the labor force, support of economic growth and job creation, donation of time and money to charitable causes, and provision of caregiving support for family and friends. Furthermore, we will discuss the economic benefit of supporting working family caregivers and the economic cost of racial/ethnic disparities in life expectancy in the US, based on findings from two counterfactual scenario analyses.
Following the first part of the discussion, which establishes the business case for why it is important to support healthy aging and close gaps in life expectancy, the second half of the session will feature a panel discussion about innovative/leading practices from across the globe. These practices are highlighted in the latest Aging Readiness & Competitiveness report (ARC 3.0 report) and have emerged in a variety of contexts to provide better and more equal and accessible access to care. The panel will also share key takeaways from the ARC 3.0 report on how society as a whole can drive innovations in elevating healthcare and wellness.


  • Erwin J. Tan, MD, Director of Thought Leadership Health, AARP (Moderator)
  • Matt Terry. Senior Analyst, Policy & Insights Team, Economist Impact
  • Yuxin Lin, Senior Manager, Policy & Insights Team, Economist Impact
  • Peter Rundlet, Vice President, AARP International

Supported by AARP.

A Better, New Normal for Covid 19 Vaccine Distribution and Administration

Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are safe and highly effective and have lowered COVID-19 disease burden. Yet getting vaccine to vulnerable populations remains a challenge. What can we learn from our experience in vaccinating homebound older adults? How can we boost vaccine uptake among long-term care staff? This Momentum Discussion will review progress in achieving a “better, new normal” for vaccination of hard-to-reach populations.


  • Steven M. Albert, PhD, MS, FGSA, Professor and Chair of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Philip B. Hallen Endowed Chair in Community Health and Social Justice, University of Pittsburgh, USA, Editor-in-Chief, Innovation in Aging (Moderator)
  • R. Gordon Douglas, MD, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, Former President, Merck Vaccine Division
  • Theresa (Terri) Harvath, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, GSA President and Board Chair, Professor and the Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives. Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. University of California, Davis
  • Jasmine L. Travers, PhD, MHS, RN, AGPCNP-BC, Assistant Professor of Nursing, New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing

Supported by the GSA National Adult Vaccination Program.

The Momentum Discussions listed below were presented during the GSA 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting Online for a live audience. 

The Interrelationships Between Nutrition and Oral Health in Older Adults

The relationship between oral health and nutrition is a circular one. Without a healthy mouth to chew food and begin the digestive process, nutritional status suffers. And, without adequate nutrients, oral health often declines, muscles weaken, gum tissues become infected, bone supporting the teeth resorbs, and teeth decay and - may be eventually lost. And the process repeats. We will discuss the interrelationships between nutrition and oral health with an emphasis on older adults who undergo surgery, have cancer, or require special diets due to chronic health conditions and factors related to social determinants of health. Discussants will also examine the need for interprofessional education initiatives that reinforce care that benefits both oral health and nutrition.


  • Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili, Drexel University (Moderator)
  • Judith Haber, New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing
  • Michele Saunders, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • Kathryn Starr, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham VA Medical Center

Supported by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.

The Significance of All Vaccines for Older Adults During the COVID-19 Era

This Momentum Discussion recognizes the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and other vaccine-preventable diseases on older adults. Panelists will discuss what is known about COVID-19 and the status of COVID-19 vaccine development. The biology of aging and age-related declines in immunity will be explored, particularly in relationship to pre-existing health conditions and the development of serious disease complications. Recommendations for maintenance of health using existing vaccines will be explained. Finally, the panelists will share their thoughts on the ethics of recruiting older people into clinical trials, particularly vaccine trials. The information shared will be useful to all who work with older adults, not just those in a healthcare setting.


  • Kathleen Cameron, National Council on Aging (Moderator)
  • Jason Karlawish, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
  • Stefan Gravenstein, Brown University Center for Gerontology and Health Research
  • Amy Walker, Biotechnology Innovation Organization

Supported by GlaxoSmithKline.

Isolation During a Pandemic

Just before COVID-19 hit North America, the National Academy of Sciences released a groundbreaking consensus study, sponsored by AARP Foundation, titled, “The Health and Medical Dimensions of Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults.” In a little over a month after the study’s release, we were hit with unprecedented changes in the way we interact in our daily lives resulting in an increasing number of people facing social isolation. During this Momentum Discussion, we will revisit the study’s recommendations within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and hear how organizations have begun implementing the study’s recommendations. We will also discuss the questions we wished we had asked and how we can move forward to mitigate prolonged social isolation as the pandemic continues to disrupt the way we connect.


  • Lisa Marsh Ryerson, President, AARP Foundation (Moderator)
  • Kelly Cronin, Deputy Administrator, Innovation and Partnership, HHS Administration for Community Living
  • Abby Sears, CEO, OCHIN
  • Robert Espinoza, Vice President of Policy, PHI

Supported by AARP Foundation.

The Impact of Diversity on Longevity Fitness: A Life-Course Perspective

Race. Place. Gender. Sexual orientation and gender identity.

When it comes to optimizing Longevity Fitness through attention to health, wealth, and social aspects of life, many Americans face intractable inequities based on the color of their skin, where they live, their sex, and who they love. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of such demographics in the cold hard realities of caseloads and mortality rates. This Momentum Discussion—based on the third in a series of GSA/Bank of America reports on people’s increasingly long lives—documents the effects of these inequities and explores the beneficial efforts of corporations and other employers to enhance diversity and inclusion.


  • Richard W. Johnson, Urban Institute (Moderator and Panelist)
  • Maricruz Rivera-Hernandez, Brown University
  • Diane Ty, Georgetown University
  • Kai R. Walker, Bank of America

Supported by Bank of America.

Dementia-Related Psychosis in the Long-Term Care Setting: Challenges and Opportunities for Improvement

Dementia-related psychosis, along with other neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) of dementia, can have a devasting impact on persons with dementia and their families. NPS are among the primary reason persons with dementia transition from the home to a long-term care facility. Yet once admitted, residents with dementia-related psychosis may face considerable stigma and fail to receive person-centered care. This panel will seek to address recent developments in clinical research and best practices in the diagnosis of and care planning for dementia-related psychosis, and opportunities to translate these into evidence-based, person-centered long-term care programming.


  • Gary W. Small, Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging, Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (Moderator)
  • Gary Epstein, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Associate Professor of Medical Science, Associate Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice, Brown University
  • Joyce M. Mahoney, Regional Vice President - East Memory Care and Programming at Belmont Village
  • Barbara Resnick,PhD, Professor, University of Maryland School of Nursing; Co-Director, Biology and Behavior Across the Lifespan Organized Research Center; Sonya Ziporkin Gershowitz Chair in Gerontology
  • Chad Worz, Chief Executive of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists

Supported by Acadia.

How Where You Live Matters: Geographic Disparities in Life Expectancy at Midlife

When it comes to determining how long you can expect to live geography matters. Conditions and the general environment in which people live, learn, work, play, worship and age have tremendous influence on their health and longevity. This session will discuss the causes of geographic disparities in life expectancy that are highlighted in a recently released AARP report, How Growing Geographic and Racial Disparities Inhibit the Ability to Live Longer and Healthier Lives was released in October and examines at life expectancy at age 50 from 1980 -2014 in all US counties. This report reflects a collaboration with leading researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). This discussion will focus on how many of the geographic disparities reflect on going economic inequality and systemic disparities that existed long before the arrival of COVID-19 has compounded the impact of the virus. This discussion will include thought leadership and experts on relationship between place and health from AARP, UCSF, Johns Hopkins and the University of Washington on what geocoded data can tell us about systemic disparities, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how addressing these geographic disparities can help us achieve health equity.


  • Erwin Tan, Director of Thought Leadership Health, AARP (Moderator)
  • Rodney Harrell, Vice President of Family, Home and Community at the Public Policy Institute, AARP
  • Courtney Lyles, Associate Professor at UCSF in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and a co-Principal Investigator of the UCSF Population Health Data Initiative
  • Ali H. Mokdad, Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and Chief Strategy Officer for Population Health at the University of Washington
  • Roland Thorpe, Professor Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, faculty at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions & Co-Director Johns Hopkins Alzheimer’s Disease RCMAR

Supported by AARP.

Obesity: Its Effect on Increasing the Risk for COVID-19 and Other Health Conditions

Obesity in older adults impacts morbidity and mortality, quality of life and increases the risk of institutionalization. Weight loss interventions can effectively lead to improved physical function. Diet-alone interventions can detrimentally impact muscle and bone physiology and without interventions to affect these elements, can lead to adverse outcomes. Understanding social and nutritional issues facing older adults is essential. This session will address the physiological changes that put older adults at risk for obesity and the specific impact of obesity on chronic health conditions, including COVID-19. The panelists will also discuss the impact of stigma associated with obesity and the role of an interprofessional team in ensuring the safety of older persons with obesity.


  • John A. Batsis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine and Gillings School of Global Public Health (Moderator)
  • Shenbagam Dewar, Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan
  • Ted Kyle, ConscienHealth
  • Kathryn N. Porter Starr, Duke University School of Medicine and Durham VA Medical Center

Supported by Novo Nordisk.

Barriers and Opportunities Related to the Use of Telehealth with Older Adults

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services significantly expanded payment for telehealth services and introduced related flexibilities. As a result, the number of Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth each week increased from 14,000 before the pandemic to over 10.1 million from mid-March through early July. While telehealth, which includes telephone-based visits and virtual visits, promises both convenience and improved health outcomes for older adults, it’s not without challenges. Older adults who lack broadband access or the necessary equipment and understanding of how to use the technology, will miss out on virtual visits. In addition, questions remain about telehealth’s effectiveness and whether expanded telehealth benefits are permanent. This panel will share learnings from recent experiences using and delivering telehealth services in various settings of care.


  • Neil Charness, William G. Chase Professor of Psychology, Director, Institute for Successful Longevity, Department of Psychology, Florida State University (Moderator)
  • Liz Hamburg, Candoo Tech
  • Fred A. Kobylarz, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • Barbara Resnick, University of Maryland School of Nursing; Co-Director, Biology and Behavior Across the Lifespan Organized Research Center; Sonya Ziporkin Gershowitz Chair in Gerontology

Supported by Eisai.

The Need for Action: Vision and Aging

The panel will cover the VISION 2020 / USA publication that led to a national Call to Action from the U.S. Surgeon General to address vision loss as a national priority. The urgency of action is even more evident as we come to understand the unforeseen consequences of COVID-19 on older Americans.

The panel will discuss the current state of vision and aging, noting how cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and other diseases affect almost 30 million Americans over the age of forty and that diabetes-related retinopathy and macular edema are the leading causes of new cases of blindness in working age adults.

These numbers are expected to grow as our population ages. Because eye diseases and conditions become more common as part of the normal aging process, the number of blind and visually impaired people will double by the year 2050. The loss of vision carries a heavy toll for both individuals and society—with older adults encountering vision loss more likely to be burdened by depression, a higher risk of injury or death due to falls, loss of driving privileges, social isolation, and poverty.

The panel will also cover the economic cost of vision loss and eye disease in the US, which makes a compelling case for immediate action. Our aging population and changing demographics are expected to quintuple today’s economic toll to $717 billion a year by 2050.


  • Mike Hodin, Global Coalition on Aging (Moderator)
  • Jane Barratt, Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing
  • Bonnielin Swenor, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University
  • James Tsai, Professor and Chair, Department of Ophthalmology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Supported by the Global Coalition on Aging.

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