Wayne Langley

The LeadingAge California 2018 Annual Conference & EXPO is in the books! As always, the event was truly “extraordinary,” fitting with this year’s theme. From the PAC dinner on Monday evening to the continuing education classes and the exposition hall, the event was filled with opportunities for learning and networking.

Over the last year, we’ve built up an article series about our three takeaways from major events like “be extraordinary” by LeadingAge California. This gives me a chance to share some of the insight I’ve gained and, hopefully, provide some thoughts around what’s on the horizon for aging services organizations.

 

The sharing economy is here to stay.

Given the flood of Boomers who fall into a more moderate income category, expect the concept of sharing even more of their collective assets to continue, up to and including their homes. Brace yourself for groups of friends who want to move to your community to cohabitate — perhaps two or three to a home. Ride sharing continues to grow in this space as well. I had the opportunity to speak to several people who are using Lyft as a primary source of transportation at their communities, with much success. Other organizations are making shared vehicles, like Zipcar, available to residents. As individual assets continue to shrink, expect to see Boomers looking for creative ways to pool their resources to get the best experience possible.

 

In advocacy, there is power.

Advocacy remains vital to keeping the needs of our aging society in front of legislators; as a field, we must do more work in coordinating a common voice on behalf of those we serve. LeadingAge California is leading the charge by increasing its focus on developing its PAC and targeting specific legislators who have an interest in helping LeadingAge member organizations. It isn’t just investing in lobbyists, but also in causes that can make a big difference in the bottom line for communities across the state.

 

Technological advancements can’t replace social interactions.

Right now in our communities, we are seeing a technological revolution that is being driven by our residents. During the conference, we heard multiple stories of residents utilizing the Amazon Echo and Apple Siri products to augment their day and make it easier. Boomers and seniors are taking these devices and finding new and creative ways to apply them to their daily lives, especially for those who may have vision issues. Think about it — our society is incredibly driven by visual interactions; however, this new generation of device is best interacted with using our auditory senses.

All that being said, these advancements aren’t likely to replace human interaction. Attendees were cautioned on the consequences such devices can bring with them, like families who visit less often, a decline in face-to-face doctor visits and a desire to automate health. It’s a rabbit hole that we can easily fall down as we cut costs and stretch our staff farther. Remember, no piece of technology can beat the caring voice and the compassionate hand on the shoulder of a trained nursing professional.

 

We’d like to thank our friends at LeadingAge California for the opportunity to present two education sessions at this year’s event. Our team had an excellent time meeting and networking with communities from all over the Golden State, and we are already looking forward to next year!