Optimal Aging Conference coming to Louisville, seeks to inspire

Courtesy of Pixabay and Orna Wachman

Getting older isn’t necessarily something people look forward to, but as the old saying goes, it beats the alternative.

With that in mind, a conference coming to the Brown Hotel from June 9-11 will explore, and sometimes celebrate, various aspects of aging, including how to do it well.

The Optimal Aging Conference, hosted by the University of Louisville’s Trager Institute and the Kentucky Association for Gerontology, will center on the theme “Aging Inspired.”

“It’s really about living and it’s about learning how to flourish while we age,” said Anna Faul, Trager’s executive director. “So basically, the focus is this idea that we can all come together in a joint effort to explore how we can inspire, how we can innovate, how we can impact, how we can investigate and how we can integrate the whole aging experience in our daily lives.”

But it’s also about getting the whole community, from the health-care sector to social services, to rally around the aging population, “realizing that we are all a part of it,” Faul said.

About 200 people are expected to attend the conference, which will address such topics as social isolation, music therapy, holistic pain management, age-friendly business practices, strokes and polypharmacy.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Gregory Jicha of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky. The neurologist, who’s also a UK professor, will provide an update on Alzheimer’s disease, which has proved challenging to cure.

Researchers are “trying to understand better the causes of the disease so that they can intervene earlier, and a lot of the work is starting to focus more on prevention medicine — how you can lead a healthy life, healthy behaviors and all of that — in order to get your body to be healthier and your brain to be healthier, so that you are more protected against getting Alzheimer’s disease,” Faul said.

Other speakers include Brandy N. Kelly Pryor of the Humana Foundation, who will speak on health equity across the life course; Dr. Lori Earnshaw of Hosparus Health, who will talk about palliative care; and Carol Taylor-Shim of CTS Training and Consulting, who will address intimate partner violence in the aging LGBTQ community.

The latter face special challenges, such as nursing homes not being adequately equipped to meet their needs and the health-care system not always recognizing their partners, Faul said.

“What we’re trying to do is get more focus on that group,” she added.