The first Positive Aging Conference was hosted at Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Fl, in 2007. The first of its kind, the Conference targeted individuals who found themselves asking, “How can I work more effectively with the emerging Baby Boomer retiree cohort – some 76 million strong?” The expectation was that participants would increase their commitment to a philosophy of ‘positive aging’ through association with national and international thought leaders and practitioners, and learn about current and future trends in services and programs for mature adults.
Workshops, discussions, demonstrations and experiential activities focused on: Brain & Physical Fitness, Purposeful Living, Creativity in Later Life, Intergenerational Programming, Third Age Life Planning, Lifelong Learning and Thriving in Community.
The opening session, “Positive Changes that Occur Because of Aging, Not in Spite of Aging,” featured a conversational-style interview between the late Dr. Gene Cohen, Director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at George Washington University and Michael C. Patterson, then AARP Educator Community Manager. In 2009, Eckerd would host the Conference once again, introducing the now historical themes of Life Transitions, Creativity, Wellness, and Community.
In between the 1st and 3rd events hosted by Eckerd, the second conference migrated to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healingutilizing a unique strategy designed to engage distant attendees. Establishing host sites in more than 10 states and 2 Canadian provinces, Minnesota webcast the one-day conference in an effort to invoke community conversations across the country. In addition a DVD was compiled to chronicle the presentations, addressing the importance of achieving purpose, meaning, and vitality in the second half of life.
2010 saw the newly christened International Conference on Positive Aging move out west to Fielding Graduate University located in Santa Barbara, California. Hosted by the University’s Institute for Social Innovation, the 4th, 5th, and 6th Conferences aimed to provide practitioners and policymakers with knowledge to improve their support of older persons and increase the quality of life for all.
Slated for February 9th-12th, 2014 the International Conference on Positive Aging returns to the Gulf Coast for its seventh edition as the Institute for the Ages prepares to carry the torch and add a new chapter to the Conference’s story. With the theme of “Positive Aging Transcends: The Voices of Innovation and Community”, businesses and researchers from across the country and around the world will gather to interact with individuals and the community, to gain insights for a more positive experience in aging. Retaining the spirit of past conferences, the Institute is working with Fielding Graduate University and the Life Planning Network to make the 2014 Conference an engaging experience, leaving attendees with a wealth of knowledge to bring back to their companies, organizations, communities, and their own lives.