Recently, I had the honor of participating in the Global Aging Network conference. It was held in a simply amazing location — Montreux, Switzerland, known best, perhaps, as a mecca for jazz music. I came away from my visit to Montreux inspired and energized by simply seeing the sights in and around the beautiful city.
The conference experience represented a unique opportunity to freshen my perspective around opportunities to enhance the aging experience on a global scale. Leaders from around the world traveled to Montreux, with their own biases shaped by how their particular cultures view aging. I certainly came with my own preconceived notions about how successful aging looks, based upon my narrow worldview.
What inspired me as the conference progressed was the ever-increasing ease I saw as people from different points of view came together to solve similar issues of aging, regardless of the culture in which they lived. There are nuances within any society — and family — about how aging occurs; however, as we simply share our stories openly with those from other corners of the world, it quickly becomes evident that we are all working toward solving issues of frailty, loneliness and the ultimate commonality of our collective mortality.
Our opportunity, as aging service professionals, is to work collaboratively to enhance the aging experience for those entrusting their lives to us. I believe we can do that more effectively if we openly entertain ideas that may seem distinctly different from our own. I recognize cultural and societal differences require flexibility, but our ability to secure a global perspective on aging has never been easier.
I left Montreux with a fresh glimpse of aging in the 21st century, and I must admit — it’s invigorating to network with people who envision far more engaged aging adults, embracing life to its fullest, as they are being served wherever they call home. There are countless aging services professionals around the globe innovating the aging experience, and it is our responsibility to leverage the intellectual capital that makes this market sector so special.
My challenge to colleagues is rather simple: Don’t underestimate the power of sharing your ideas; seriously consider those ideas that seem just a bit outside your comfort zone, and find ways to rekindle the passions that drive the mission behind your everyday work. Let’s seize the opportunity before us to make aging experiences better for those we serve.