Key Takeaways from One of the Most Informative Conferences on Aging

By |2019-06-18T07:54:56+00:00December 2, 2018|

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the oldest and largest interdisciplinary scientific organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. Their mission is to advance the field by educating direct care professionals, decision makers, and the general public about the latest research, data, and innovation in the senior care space.

A record number of attendees gathered in Boston from November 14 to 18, for this year’s annual GSA conference. There were nearly 4,400 who attended over 500 content sessions, workshops, events, and opportunities to network. The speakers, poster presenters, and panelists were a diverse and dynamic group who provided in-depth insights, actionable steps, and practical tools for attendees to take back to their disciplines and apply.

Policy Series and Future Considerations
The conference offered a unique opportunity to learn how GSA members are applying research findings and analysis to generate solutions to aged-related policy issues facing policy makers today. Sessions and symposia featured researchers from a range of disciplines as well as congressional staff and policy analysts. One of the prominent themes this year focused on the critical health areas currently missing from Medicare. Oral, hearing, and visual care needs of older adults were highlighted in detail and the policy changes needed to ensure that people get the care they need in the future.

“Inside Innovative Technologies”
A special series of educational sessions was devoted to technological innovation at GSA this year. It featured cutting-edge research and startups currently putting these technologies into action. Technologies highlighted ranged from artificial intelligence that recognizes emotion to assistive robotic devices, social engagement solutions, and virtual reality therapy for pain. Some of the companies that presented were MIT Media Lab, Rendever, Continuum, MedRhythms, Mt. Sinai Health System, MIT Age Lab, Safely You, and Eargo.

Claire Wickersham, Eversound’s Science and Partnerships Manager attended GSA along with her colleague from the Gerontology PhD program at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Natalie Shellito. They presented preliminary findings regarding assistive headphone devices and their impact on mood. If you missed the conference presentation, you can check out the findings on Eversound’s website, or read the abstract for a shortened version of the results. Key take-aways of the study demonstrated a significant improvement in resident mood with assistive group headphone technology. Among residents with dementia they found that 35% of participants experienced improved mood, and that mood improved by nearly 20% on average.

Next Year at GSA’s Annual Meeting
The 2019 GSA Annual Scientific Meeting will be held in Austin, Texas, from November 13 to 17, with the theme, “Strength in Age—Harnessing the Power of Networks.” Some of the main questions that will be explored: How can we ameliorate cognitive decline? How do we combat decline and frailty at the cellular, physiologic, and patient levels? How will we harness social capital in the service of an aging population?