Increasing Life Expectancy: The subject of anti-aging is perhaps the most publicly sought-after gerontology news topic today. How far can science extend the human lifespan? This question is due to be answered during one of the over 400 presentations at The Gerontological Society of America's annual meeting. The particular matter of human longevity will be addressed during a symposium consisting of four 20-minute talks, including presentations from biologists Leonard Hayflick and Caleb Finch and demographers James Vaupel and James Carey. They are slated to present the GSA audience with hard, baseline information about current U.S. and worldwide trends in life expectancy and life span, as well as a synopsis of recent developments and/or breakthroughs in the biology of aging.
November 24 at 3:30 p.m.
The Fountain of Youth: The seriousness of the aforementioned extension of the human lifespan will be tackled in GSA's Public Policy Committee symposium, titled "The Genie's Out of the Bottle: Moral, Ethical, and Societal Implications of the Search for the Fountain of Youth." It begins with a review of the great strides that biological research on aging has made in the last two decades, and the possibility of a drug for life-extensions. Next it presents a humanistic exploration of whether decelerating or arresting aging would be an assault on human dignity. Then it considers the professional ethical issues that effective anti-aging interventions would raise for physicians. And finally it considers the radical societal implications of bringing about a world populated by the "prolonged old" in "long-lived" societies.
November 22, 10:30 a.m.
The Keynote Address: Scottish professor Lawrence J. Whalley of the University of Aberdeen will showcase GSA's multidisciplinary nature during the meeting's keynote address. He has recently drawn a great deal of international renown as the author of The Aging Brain and the head of a 65-year study linking youthful intelligence with a longer lifespan.
November 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Obesity and the Elderly: Obesity over the lifespan is the topic of one of seven GSA presidential interdisciplinary symposia. Obesity is the most prevalent nutritional disorder in the Western societies with more than 30% of the US adult population obese. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and arthritis. Behavioral considerations of why we eat include stress, time of day, social events, free access to food, pleasure, and hunger. During the life cycle the importance of the different stimuli for eating may change, and thus, the strategies to modify these behaviors.
November 24 at 1:45 p.m.
Socialization Among the Aged: Another topic receiving a great deal of media attention in recent months is that of volunteerism and social activity among older Americans. A number of presentations at the GSA meeting will focus on this issue. The proportion of older adults who volunteer has significantly increased in recent decades and is predicted to continue growing. Understanding the personal characteristics and motivations of senior volunteers will help policymakers and practitioners develop more efficient volunteer recruitment and retention techniques.
November 24 at 1:45 p.m.
Aging: Who Cares?: The Donald P. Kent award is given each year to a member of The Gerontological Society of America who exemplifies the highest standards of professional leadership through teaching, service, and interpretation of gerontology to the larger society. Dr. Carl Eisdorfer, the award's 2002 recipient, will discuss his view of the field in a lecture titled "Aging: Who Cares?" The talk will be followed by the presentation of the award to the 2003 winner, Dr. Marshall B. Kapp of the Wright State University School of Medicine.
November 24 at 12:30 p.m.
Minority Issues: Health disparities among ethnic and racial minority elders will be addressed in a symposium that covers a variety of topics related to minority elders' health and health care. Health disparities are persistent issues that challenge health care providers and policy makers. There is a great need to develop successful models and strategies to reach minority elders, culturally competent instruments to assess their needs, and appropriate services to meet their needs.
November 22 at 1:30 p.m.
Telehealth & Telerehabilitation: Technology is playing an increasing role in society, particularly in the health care industry. Presenters will discuss widespread applications of technology for remote health monitoring, remote rehabilitation service delivery models, environmental and activity monitoring, web-accessible information resources, and home-based technologies for maintaining health, function and independence.
November 24 at 1:30 p.m.
New Options in Work and Retirement: Against a background of population aging, concerns about rising costs of pensions, and emerging labor shortages among many industrialized nations, policymakers are increasingly emphasizing the need to extend work life, support older workers to stay in work or to find a job, and to tackle age discrimination in the labor market. Specifically, this symposium examines in detail policies and programs designed to allow older workers to gradually reduce their work schedules in stages from full-time work to full-time retirement.
November 24 at 1:45 p.m.
Hormones and Aging: The grand finale of the presidential interdisciplinary symposia tackles the topic of Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT). This talk will present and discuss the latest information and research on MHT, including the biology of hormones, the epidemiology of hormone-related therapy, the latest research data on the impact of hormones on cognitive function, the results of current population studies, future research initiatives, and lessons learned from the past year's experience with MHT studies. The speakers are renowned investigators in their fields and are nationally recognized for their expertise.
November 24 at 8:00 p.m.
Meeting of the Media Minds: The meeting also offers a chance for gerontology journalists to meet and talk shop. The Journalists' Exchange on Aging meets every year in the press room at GSA's conference to discuss emerging concerns and developments on the age beat. This is an informal gathering and all journalists are welcome.
November 22 at 5:30 p.m.
The sessions listed above are just a sampling of what to expect at the 55th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Gerontological Society of America, the national organization of professionals in the field of aging.