2012 Conference on Aging

English: Lynchburg College Grounds

English: Lynchburg College Grounds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I attended the annual conference on Aging put on by Beard Center on Aging at Lynchburg College.  As has been the trend, this year’s conference was excellent and attended by over 300 people.

The keynote speaker was Nikki Giovanni, an African-American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. She reached prominence during the late 1960s and early 1970s and has more awards and recognitions than one can possibly place, but suffice it to say that she gets at least ten awards a year for her poetry and for the service she gives to community. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor.

She shared her reflection that in our society, a baby, bald, with no teeth, who babbles and whose bottom has to be wiped is considered cute. Take those very same traits in an old person, not so cute.

Although I had no particular interest in the topic, someone was needed to introduce the speaker and so I found myself in attendance at a workshop entitled, “Faith Communities at Work.”  As it turned out, the speaker, Reverend C. Randall Harlow, was speaking a language I am very interested in: the language of creating community in order to assist the aged and aging to stay at home.

It is certainly an essential concept what with the fact that older adults may soon outnumber their children and youth.  The way Reverend Harlow presented the concept, it was open to and needed to go beyond what churches could provide, but bottom line, the only way it would work is for people to serve each other.

This trend seems to be expanding.  There is a group in the Lynchburg area that has developed the Lynchburg Area Village, modeled on the Beacon Hill concept of having neighbors get together and pay for services or help each other out with services.  This group has started one neighborhood and is planning to expand into more neighborhoods.

 

With the imbalance of young to old and the fact that the demand for services will far outweigh the ability to provide those services, this is the way we have to think.

So I was very pleased with Reverend Harlow’s presentation and for the movement of creating a “village”.  It is a start.

© Yvonne Behrens  2012

 

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