Reflections from Montreux | Katie Smith Sloan

By Katie Smith Sloan

The Global Ageing Network concluded its biennial conference last week in Switzerland. The conference was an amazing gathering of leaders from around the world sharing one purpose: to make the world a better place in which to grow old.

Imagine the opportunity to learn from, share insights and identify solutions with leaders in aged care and services around the world. Think about the challenges facing organizations in rural Uganda, Bangladesh or Malawi. Picture yourself leading an organization in Kenya that serves over 450 home-bound elders who have been neglected and are in need of the basics:  food, housing and clothing. The conference is both humbling and inspiring.

I would argue that no nation, institution, or community is prepared for societies that are rapidly ageing. But, many in Switzerland last week recognized the opportunity this presents to innovate and experiment. There is an eagerness to try new things – a western-inspired nursing home in an eastern culture (China); a hospice program in a country in Africa for which hospice is a new concept; a community center built and run by elders in the aftermath of a natural disaster to bring the community back together; and a wellness center for exercise in rural South Africa where exercise has heretofore come from walking from one village to another. A world of possibilities.

Each of us has a unique role to play.

As a global network, we have the opportunity to work together–to tackle ageism, to fight abuse and neglect,  to design better systems of care and service, and to realize the potential of technology. Creating a better future for the world’s elders is an imperative; and the opportunity to be part of the creation is a gift. A gift embodied by the Global Ageing Network.

We look forward to hearing your ideas, innovations, and challenges.

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