For 10 years, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP has attended the American Society on Aging’s annual conference, On Aging, the nation’s largest multidisciplinary conference about aging. At this year’s conference in Atlanta, OATS was the proud sponsor of the Age Tech Pavilion stage, where it presented five panel discussions with thought leaders and subject matter experts on topics of importance to the field of aging.
“Long before our government paid attention to the digital divide, OATS partnered with ASA to make sure the field of aging understood the importance of getting older adults to adopt technology to improve their lives,” said ASA CEO Peter Kaldes. “We’re proud of the collaboration and look forward to more innovative opportunities with OATS as ASA turns 70 and beyond.”
“ASA is the go-to source for information, networking, and professional support for all of us at OATS,” said OATS Executive Director Tom Kamber. “We participate actively in ASA online trainings, advisory councils, and of course in the On Aging conference each year. It’s been great to stay connected to ASA members and programs that share with OATS a focus on professionalism, diversity, and building a vibrant future in the aging services sector.”
The conference’s opening Launch & Learn session on Monday, March 26th, jointly presented by OATS and AARP, included a fireside chat between AARP SVP of Corporate Strategy Keanne Henry and ASA CEO Peter Kaldes, followed by a dynamic panel discussion on how organizations that strive for excellence use strategy to effect transformational change. The panel included AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith, Executive Director of Legacy Harvest Foundation Jerry Myers, CEO of MetroMorphosis and Purpose Prize winner Raymond Jetson, and CEO of Hilarity for Charity Bonnie Wattles. The Launch & Learn session also included a lively and informative discussion about the intersection of ageism and ableism with author, speaker, and ageism expert Ashton Applewhite; Founder and CEO of New Disabled South Dom Kelly; and OATS Executive Director Tom Kamber.
On Tuesday, March 27, the first two OATS-sponsored sessions drew over 60 people to the Age Tech stage. “How Local Partnerships Thrive,” presented by OATS Manager of the National Licensing Program Deirdre Lee who showed conference attendees how the Senior Planet licensing program works with organizations across the country to deliver Senior Planet programs locally. The session featured a segment on the Digital Skills Ready @50+ initiative presented by AARP Foundation VP of Workforce Programs Mindy Feldbaum. In the next session, “Fitness as We Age,” 2022 Senior Planet Sponsored Athlete Carolyn Hartfield and Director of Health and Wellbeing for the National Senior Games Association Andrew Walker shared inspiring stories of athletic achievements among older adults and their personal journeys to health and wellness. The two closed out the session by bringing the crowd to their feet with a tai chi demonstration.
The day’s final session, “Age Tech and Philanthropic Investing,” brought regional organizations to the stage. Stephen Sherman, Director of Research and Data for Philanthropy Southeast, the premier network of philanthropic organizations from 11 U.S. states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Deke Cateau, CEO of A. G. Rhodes, a group of nonprofit nursing homes in metro Atlanta, discussed trends in how nonprofits that serve older adults are funded in a post-covid environment. Lindsay Goldman, CEO of Grantmakers in Aging, moderated the session.
The opening session on Wednesday, Marcy 28, “Inclusive Innovation,” featured Debra Lam, Executive Director of The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a statewide, public-private partnership jointly supported by the State of Georgia and the private sector that supports innovative solutions for shared economic opportunities, and OATS Executive Director Tom Kamber. The final session on the Age Tech stage, “Online Learning is Here to Stay,” offered key insights to identifying and overcoming the many barriers hidden in virtual learning and program delivery. The session, featuring Senior Planet Trainer Sherlyn Freeman and OATS Director of Innovation and Program Design Colette Buscemi, addressed misconceptions about older Americans and technology, the vast scope of online training apps, classes, and lectures, and the importance of developing programs with the end user in mind.
Each year at the On Aging conference, ASA highlights priority areas that include Justice & Equity, Ageism & Culture, Health & Well-Being, Economic Security, and Innovation & Social Impact. These priorities align with the work that OATS does to change the future of aging for tens of millions of older adults – and for generations of older adults to come. We are proud of our work with other industry leaders like ASA and look forward to continuing this work in the future!