An inspired day

Apr 27, 2017 | News

"Stimulating, inspiring, practical, authentic."

Those were the words a delegate used to describe the Tapestry Foundation's 14th Annual Geriatric Services Conference. The conference, held earlier this month in Vancouver and at satellite stations throughout the province, was attended by 300 hundred of physicians, nurses and many other health care providers.

Among other things, the conference emphasized the importance of preparing for - and embracing - the future, a theme reflected in the conference title, Going Beyond: Explore. Engage. Evolve.

Now if you've read all the grim statistics about our aging population - stats that predict a dramatic rise in dementia over the next 15 years, for example - you might not see the future as something to be embraced.

But conference delegates were treated to a different perspective. While statistics are important and useful, the future is not something we predict. It is something we create - and conference delegates heard much about how can create a better future for patients, family members and ourselves.

In the opening keynote address, for example, psychiatrist David Conn detailed strategies for optimizing mental health in older adults. And palliative care physician Tim Sakaluk highlighted approaches to helping people live longer and better while psychiatrist Carol Ward discussed creative caregiving.

In addition to hearing these keynote speakers, delegates attended a wide variety of practical, hands-on workshops concerning everything from dealing with frailty and financial matters to best practices in support of family caregivers.

The keynotes speeches and workshops were complemented by many poster presentations, and as one delegate noted, the conference presented a unique opportunity for researchers, clinicians and educators to connect with each other and discuss recent innovations, trends and practical solutions.

While health care providers play an increasingly important role in our aging society, much caregiving remains the responsibility of friends and family members. Consequently, the conference also included an evening keynote, open to the public, from family physician Davidicus Wong, who discussed how we can all achieve our highest potential.

I've had the honour and pleasure of co-chairing the conference for the last few years. And as someone whose family has been touched by dementia, I've learned much that has helped me and my family. But most important, after listening to the conference speakers, participating in the workshops and speaking with the delegates, I am certain of two simple things: The future is something we create, and it is in good hands.  And along with the delegates and speakers, I look forward to attending the next conference in 2018.

Peter McKnight was co-chair of the Tapestry Foundation's 14th Annual Geriatric Services Conference.

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