Abundant Aging in the 21st Century
Ruth Frost Parker Center Symposium
9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Cost: $25 (includes lunch)
“The Symposium is meant to transform the way people think about aging and older adults,” said Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, executive director of the Ruth Frost Parker Center, who added there are more adults aged 65 and older than there have been in the history of “human kind.”
“Adults aged 65 and older are living longer, healthier and happier lives and we want to educate the public about their experiences, the choices they make as they age, the challenges they face and the impact longevity has on their lives,” Rev. Long-Higgins said.
Dr. Laura Carstensen, a longevity and aging expert, who also is a professor of psychology at Stanford University and the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in Sanford, California, will be the keynote speaker.
Carstensen debunks the myths and misconceptions about aging that stop us from adequately preparing for the future both as individuals and as a society, like the ideas that growing older is associated with loneliness and unhappiness, and that only the genetically blessed live well and long, according to her website.
She said longer life is the byproduct of better living conditions, but more needs to be done to meet the needs of older adults and young people. In addition, she said studies have shown there are psychological or emotional benefits to growing older, despite losses in some areas.
“When time is perceived as constrained, as it typically becomes as we grow older, people are motivated to focus on what is most important. They are more likely to invest in sure things, deeper, existing relationships and savor life,” Carstensen said. “Under these circumstances, people are less interested in banking information for a long and nebulous future and instead invest in pursuits that are emotionally meaningful.”
Carstensen will be joined at the Symposium by several panelists who are experts in gerontology and healthcare from organizations including The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, United Church Homes, the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the American Health Care Association and LeadingAge.
Panelists include: Linda Mauger of Optimized Healthcare, Jo Dee Davis of Healing Broken Circles and Rev. Mark Frey, retired pastor of the United Church of Christ, Larke Rechhie, CEO of the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Pete van Runkle, Ohio American Health Care Association, and Dr. Lauren Southerland, a geriatrician at the OSU Wexner Medical Center.
The center is named after Ruth Frost Parker, whose philanthropy helped to create the senior living residence of Parkvue Community in Sandusky, Ohio. Nearly 200 people joined UCH during the first annual event held in Columbus last year when former journalist Joan Lunden spoke about the changing landscape of aging.
Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes, said he is excited about the upcoming event. He said he expects the topics discussed during the Symposium to change the way the participants view older adults and life after age 65.
“It’s time we change the way we think and talk about aging. I think people will leave the Ruth Parker Center Symposium thinking about the benefits of longevity and the opportunities and growth that will occur as we age,” he said.