Wednesday, September 2 , 2015, 5:51 pm | A Few Clouds 74.0º




Fielding Graduate University Hosting Conference on Positive Aging

The Sixth Annual International Conference on Positive Aging will include a variety of workshops exploring themes of creative expression, community, wellness and life transitions.

The Sixth Annual International Conference on Positive Aging will include a variety of workshops exploring themes of creative expression, community, wellness and life transitions.  (Peter Whitehouse photo)

By Hilary Edwards for Fielding Graduate University |

According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Health and Human Services Department, baby boomers will turn 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day for the next decade, making them the fastest-growing segment of the population.

Future implications indicate: “Tomorrow’s elderly will have quite different social, demographic, health and economic characteristics than today’s elderly ... as average length of life continues to increase, issues regarding the quality of active life expectancy are likely to assume greater importance.”

In anticipation of this growing segment of our population, the Sixth Annual International Conference on Positive Aging, hosted by Fielding Graduate University’s Institute for Social Innovation, brings together notable speakers and workshop leaders to explore new and innovative approaches to positive aging. The topic will be “Life Reimagined: New Approaches to Positive Aging,” and the conference will take place Feb. 10-12 at the Center for Healthy Communities at The California Endowment in Los Angeles.

The Sixth Annual International Conference on Positive Aging includes a variety of workshops that explore themes of creative expression, community, wellness and life transitions.

“Positive aging promotes creativity, wellness and growth,” said Dr. Katrina Rogers, provost of Fielding Graduate University and senior vice president. “It means taking personal control of your life instead of being a victim or passive observer. In this model, aging presents a new opportunity for being socially active, for engaging with the community, for being productive, and for seeking a new meaning and purpose in life. This is why the conference is larger each year: people are interested about how to age well.”

The conference provides opportunities to engage in physical and creative activities, including yoga, meditation, music and connecting with others with similar interests. Conference registration is open to the public.

The keynote speaker for this year’s conference will be Wendy Lustbader, MSW, who serves as affiliate associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work.

Lustbader has considerable experience working with older people, their families and caregivers, and lectures nationally on subjects related to aging. As a medical social worker, she specialized for almost 20 years in outpatient mental health at the Pike Market Medical Clinic in Seattle, and has also practiced in a home health care agency, hospital geriatric unit and nursing home.

Lustbader’s first book was co-authored with Nancy Hooyman, Taking Care of Aging Family Members. This is a practical guide to caregiving, which is still considered the best book of its kind by experts in the field of aging. At the opening reception on Sunday, Feb. 10, Lustbader will speak about her latest book, Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older.

The conference will also host a webinar with renowned American contemporary spiritual teacher and author Ram Dass. He is known for his personal and professional associations with Timothy Leary at Harvard University in the early 1960s, for his travels to India and his relationship with the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, and for founding the charitable organizations Seva Foundation and Hanuman Foundation. His practice of karma yoga or spiritual service has opened up millions to their deep, yet individuated spiritual practice and path. Dass continues to uphold the boddhisatva ideal for others through his compassionate sharing of true knowledge and vision. His unique skill in getting people to cut through and feel divine love without dogma is still a positive influence on people all over the world.

Dr. James Birren is one of the “reigning pioneers” in the organized field of gerontology since the 1940s. He is a past president of the Gerontological Society of America, and author of more than 250 publications. Birren will receive Fielding’s Creative Longevity and Wisdom Award in recognition of his six decades of seminal contributions including the influential work on guided autobiography.

Featured speaker Dr. Brian de Vries, professor of gerontology at San Francisco State University, will share his extensive work on aging experiences, including bereavement among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults. He is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of American, a member of the Leadership Council for the American Society on Aging, and co-chairman of the Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network constituency group. Most recently, de Vries has become a policy adviser for AARP, California.

Attendees include professionals in the fields of health care, insurance, life planning, care giving and lifelong learning, as well as those interested in ageism, gaining, spirituality, creativity, wellness, entrepreneurship and more. Early registration for the three-day conference is $275 until Jan. 14 and $300 after. Single-day tickets are $125. Registration includes meals and opening reception Sunday evening.  o attend only the Sunday dinner reception featuring keynote speaker Wendy Lustbader is $85. Click here to register.

Click here for more information about the conference.

— Hilary Edwards is the manager of university relations for Fielding Graduate University.




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