James Madison University

Gerontology Minor Attends National Conference

PHOTO: Jenna Cohn

Jenna Cohn, gerontology minor - health science/pre-physical therapy major, attended the 63rd Annual Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Conference, Transitions of Care Across the Aging Continuum held in New Orleans, Louisiana. If you’re interested in exploring a gerontology career track, there is no better choice than to be around over 3500 gerontologist from around the world!  Researchers of older adults and issues of aging from a variety of arenas come together at this interdisciplinary conference. Participants represent health science, behavioral and social sciences, social policy, researchers, academia and practitioners. There were over 500 papers and symposiums with hundreds of poster sessions on topics such as dementia, international issues, or housing.  One highlight was a presentation with a 104 year old Japanese physician who shared his perspectives on longevity.

Jenna reported learning about end of life, hospice & palliative care; the impact of chronic illness on aging; challenges for individuals with intellectual disabilities when aging; the experiences of older adults during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina; along with issues such as transitional care in senior housing options, biological aspects of aging, and addressing aspects of ageism.  An unanticipated experience was finding the GSA conferences a place of professionals with passion for working with older adults who love what they do and who are happily fulfilled in their career choices. 

Speaking to professionals in medicine, nursing, social work, nutritional services, direct care, and policy Jenna was able to explore how gerontology can stand alone as a professional area, but also how it integrated into other professional arenas. There were over 100 exhibitors at the conference. She learned firsthand about professional networking speaking to graduate schools around the country learning about multiple paths for focusing on gerontology.