Momentum Discussions

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

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Friday, November 16 • 10 to 11 am

Improving the Oral Health of an Aging Society
Moderator: Stephen Shuman
Panelists: Beth Truett, Michael Dodds, Dena Fisher
Despite substantial evidence that good oral health is an important part of overall health and well-being, improving or maintaining oral health in the aging society remains a significant challenge due to multiple potential access barriers. To promote better oral health and quality of life outcomes in older adults, we need to focus all members of the health care team on interprofessional whole-person care that recognizes and values the inherent connection between oral and systemic health. Fundamental to this effort is the conviction that health professionals of all types, not just dental professionals, can be “oral health champions” by advocating, educating stakeholders, and providing and facilitating direct care that supports better oral health. This session will address the need for more research to demonstrate the effectiveness of interventions provided by nondental health professionals, showcase how workforce management and a greater understanding of roles and resources can improve oral health in older adults and illustrate how an interprofessional educational approach to oral health care has enhanced students and practitioners understanding of the oral-systemic health linkage.
Supported by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare and Mars Wrigley Confectionery.

Fireside Chat with Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administration for Community Living Administrator Lance Robertson
: Brian W. Lindberg
Panelist: Lance Robertson
The Older Americans Act and the Elder Justice Act, administered by the Administration on Aging under the Administration for Community Living, are due for reauthorization. The revisiting of theses acts will take place in the context of a new Congress, tight budgets, a growing demand for services, an evolving aging network and a changing delivery system for long-term services and supports. This session will provide an opportunity to discuss these critical issues with Lance Robertson, who has spent his career advancing gerontology, serving older adults, and building coalitions. Robertson’s commitment to the field was demonstrated at Oklahoma State University where he co-founded the Gerontology Institute and continued his involvement during his tenure as director of Oklahoma’s aging services programs. He brings the same commitment to his role at the federal level where he guides policy on the OAA, the Adult Protective Services program, elder justice activities, and programs for individuals with disabilities.  Robertson will share his perspective on how evidence-based information can help make the case for high quality programs serving older adults.
Supported by The Gerontological Society of America’s Public Policy Committee.

Leveraging Improved Vaccine Technology and the Healthcare Team to Protect Older Adults
Kevin O'Neil
Panelists: Janet McElhaneyStefan Gravenstein, April Green
The immunization landscape for older adults has experienced a boom of innovation in recent years, such as higher doses, adjuvants, and recombinant technology to offer more effective products against influenza and shingles for older adults. At the same time, research offers a better appreciation of the impact that vaccines have on the health of older adults, including prevention of heart attack and stroke that are caused by influenza disease. All of these developments further the case for a strong recommendation for vaccination by health care professionals, but adult immunization rates remain low. Evidence-based strategies show that the entire health care team can contribute to raising immunization rates in offices and communities.This session will explore the exciting developments in vaccine technology and review the underappreciated benefits of vaccination. In addition, we will share evidence-based strategies that health care teams can use to help raise immunization rates, with the goal of preventing disease and its complications in older adults.
Supported by Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, and Seqirus.

Making the Most of Longer Life: Lessons From and for the Field
Erwin Tan
Thomas Perls, Jay Olshansky, Cheryl Woodson
We live in an age of contradictions. The massive race to find the technical, medical, and biological miracle interventions that will combat the aging process is juxtaposed with our knowledge that in many parts of the developed world the potential for a human lifespan beyond 100 years already exists. We also know that for many people, disparities in race, income and geography make increased longevity out of reach. In this session we discuss the science of longevity and the mindsets needed to actively pursue a healthier and longer life.We live in an age of contradictions. There is a massive race to find the technical, medical and biological miracle interventions that will combat the aging process.  However, we already know that in many parts of the developed world the potential for life beyond 100 already exists. We also know that for many people, disparities in race, income and geography make increased longevity out of reach. In this session we discuss the science of longevity and the mindsets needed to actively pursue a healthier and longer life.
Supported by AARP.

Saturday, November 17 • 10 to 11 am

Inside Innovative Technologies: Outwit, Outlast, and Outlive—The Role of Artificial Intelligence and Data to Drive Innovation in Aging
 Frances West 
 Vincent Mor, Heather Ames, Peri Tarr
Maching learning, artificial intelligence, and deep neural network techniques have a profound potential to unlock learning, discover new hidden signals in large datam and offer prediction to enhance our health, human performance, and experience of aging. Panelists will discuss techniques, research, and benefits of using these technologies to explore aging. Their insights will enhance our understanding of the assumptions, data, and algorigthms used to generate and train these systems. A sime example: if we train our autonomous cars using data accumulated testing with young male drivers, how will the system be prepared to signal need for a human intervention when the driver is an older woman? How should we be thinking about architecting these systems to help us avoid our biases, particularly as we look to improve our understaning of aging and create inovative solution to support us as we live longer?

Older Adults and Cancer: Building the Research and Clinical Care Infrastructure for an Aging Population 
Moderator: Harvey Jay Cohen
Harvey Jay Cohen, Elana Plotkin, Peggy Burhenn
As a result of improvements in treatment and supportive care, the number of older cancer survivors is increasing, including many with comorbid conditions that complicate treatment plans. Frequently, because of the lack of research into the care of older adults with cancer and comorbid conditions, clinicians find themselves unprepared to assess and manage these complex patients. Older adults are often underscreened for cancers, the conditions are understaged when they are found, and treatment is often less aggressive than in younger individuals or not provided at all. This session will examine the relationship between aging and cancer, as well as ways that cancer research, prevention, and care can be improved for older adults. 
Supported by Pfizer. 

The Role of the Health Care Community in Solving Social Isolation
Moderator: Lisa Marsh Ryerson
Panelists: Sheila K. Shapiro, Leigh Ann Eagle, Charlotte Yeh
The dire health consequences of social isolation (equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day) have made it a major public health issue. This dynamic discussion will involve a multi-perspective dialogue around national strategies for combating isolation in older adults, with a specific focus on the scalability and sustainability of solutions and the need for collaboration with the health care community. The aim will be to shed light on social connectedness as a social determinant of health.
Supported by AARP Foundation.

Clinical Trials and Older Adults - Strategies to Drive Older Adult Participation
Stephanie A. Studenski
Roger A. Fielding, Jay S. Magaziner
Individuals enrolled in a clinical trial of a novel intervention ought to represent those who are intended to benefit. However, older adults, especially those with multimorbidity or frailty, are under-represented in most trials, even when they may benefit and are likely to use the intervention in real life. While practical barriers and unnecessary research assumptions have limited participation, multiple feasible solutions exist. This session, based on a recent conference, will describe the strengths and limitations of trial design and implementation strategies that can open the door to greater participation by, and generalizability to, a broad range of older adults.

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