Experts, pioneers, and community leaders
gathered at the Keiro Conference: Aging Into Tomorrow on Saturday, Oct. 13,
2018, to learn how to reinvent the aging experience. Leaders from a variety of
fields spoke about the latest aging trends, providing insight and depth on topics
such as nutrition, financial health, dementia, decluttering, and more.
Keynote speaker Dr. Carla Perissinotto, Associate
Chief of Clinical Programs in Geriatrics at the University of California, San
Francisco, spoke about the complexity and growing rise of social isolation
among older adults.
“I’m so thankful for organizations like Keiro that
talk about aging in a positive way,” Dr. Perissinotto explained. “Aging is
complicated. Life is complicated. But this is our chance to think about our
lives and how we want to age.”
Social isolation and loneliness are incredibly
common, according to Dr. Perissinotto. Nearly 28% of Americans over the age of
50 are afflicted by at least one of these issues. While loneliness and
isolation are different, she explained, they affect our health in significant
ways. Research has shown that prolonged social isolation is as harmful as
smoking 15 cigarettes a day. But Dr. Perissinotto, along with other geriatric
researchers, are working to bring awareness to this public health issue and
prevent at-risk aging adults from falling victim to it.
In her presentation, Dr. Perissinotto shared
highlights of her research, which includes intervention methods that use
technology and ways to improve social frameworks. While there isn’t a
one-size-fits-all prescription for social isolation, she added, being proactive
in identifying solutions is critical.
“It’s something we cannot ignore,” Dr.
Perissinotto said. “It’s not a fix that happens overnight but it’s an ongoing
conversation on next steps.”
A number of the different solutions included
topics featured in other conference sessions.
June Masui attended Chef Simon Elmaleh’s session,
“The Secret is at the Table: The Mediterranean Diet.” With a tasting and cooking
demonstration, June learned cooking tips to improve her health and meals at
“It was so easy, not complicated, and
refreshing,” June said, adding that her daughter has taken her to Mediterranean
restaurants, but she never cared for it before. “After this session, I realized
it was so simple and without a lot of ingredients.”
When Chef Simon showed how saffron rice could be
made in a Japanese rice cooker, June started to grow more curious. “It was so
unexpected to see how a combination of Japanese and Mediterranean tools could
make such healthy options.”
June’s friend, Carol Matsuoka, attended a session
titled “Keeping Your Brain Healthy: How to Lower Your Risk for Dementia.” Carol
said, “I always worry about my memory and it’s a big concern.” She was
surprised that nearly everyone is at risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“I collected a lot of handouts and after the social isolation session, the
brain session reinforced how not to isolate ourselves,” she said.
Attendee Diana Ono found herself surprised and
inspired after listening to Peter Walsh’s keynote presentation on decluttering
and downsizing. “I’ve read other books, but this is different,” Diana said.
“Everybody needs to downsize. Eventually we all have to and this speaker really
explained the importance of it – especially for me.”
As a Keiro supporter and volunteer, she said
she’s happy that Keiro hosts events such as these. “I think it’s good to keep
your mind active, your body moving, and to eat well. This is such good
programming and here we are today being active.” Diana added that opportunities
like these are vital for the community, giving people the resources to learn
and have conversations about aging. “It’s always good to learn something – especially
Davis Park, executive director of Front Porch
Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, went over new technology that supports
aging adults. Davis showcased a variety of available products and resources
from virtual reality to transportation and ridesharing – even social robots.
While holding PARO, a therapeutic robot seal, Davis
explained that technology is a powerful and surprising tool to engage aging
adults. However, technology can’t simply be given to a person. “It needs a
human element in order to help us,” he said. “Technology isn’t about
babysitting you. It’s about finding ways to engage and learning how it can
Other sessions throughout the day discussed
financial health, contemporary aesthetic treatments, and mind-body exercises.
Many in attendance said the conference was full of unexpected and surprising conversations
on how to talk about aging in a positive and proactive way.
Attendee Nori Kurose commented, “We’re aging, and reading
through these topics, I felt that they were relevant and interesting. A lot of
these apply to what I’ve been thinking about and that’s the reason for coming.
I can’t attend everything, but I plan to come again next year to continue
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