Growing Older With A Disability (GOWD)
The Growing Older With A Disability (GOWD) conference was a big success, with a total of 138 delegates and 91 sessions, including the joint plenary on Technology with the Caregiving and RESNA/ 3rd International Conference on Technology and Aging conferences. Although the majority of attendees were from North America, GOWD was enriched by experts from 23 other nations around the world including, but not limited to: Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. GOWD was designed around eight major topical themes that affect the lives of persons growing older with a disability, with the shared aim of advancing research knowledge and informing practice and policy at the nexus of aging and disability.
GOWD program highlights included two introductory plenary presentations on “International Perspectives on the Rights of Persons with Disability and Older Adults – Implications for Aging” by Venus M. Ilagan
Secretary General, Rehabilitation International
CEO, RI Foundation, and Jerome E. Bickenbach, PhD, LLB
Professor, Queen’s University
Canada. In these presentations, Ms. Ilagan summarized the status and impact of the International Charter on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities around the world, and Mr. Bickenbach characterized the barriers and opportunities for bridging knowledge and practice between aging and disability communities and identified the best national programs protecting the rights of persons aging with disability.
Other keynote sessions involved three plenaries on Policy, Research and Practice.
The policy plenary addressed Trends in Health Care Reform and Impacts on Aging with Disability from a European (Matilde Leonardi, M.D., Carlo Besta Neurological Institute Foundation, Milan, Italy) and Asian perspective (Father Boniface Mendes, PhD, Caritas for Asia
Thailand). The research plenary addressed the “state-of-the-science” with regard to the health and societal challenges of growing older with a disability from the perspective of both developed and developing countries and featured presentations by Professor Christine Bigby, Australia; David McDaid, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, Lisa I. Iezzoni, MD, Harvard Medical School. The practice plenary tackled the challenging topic of “Bridging Aging and Disability Networks: Strategies for Translating Knowledge and Practice” from the perspective of the European Union (Luis Salvador-Carulla, MD, PhD, Spain) and North America (Michelle Putnam, PhD, Simmons College, Boston, MA).
Follow up activities from the conference included the preparation of two reports, “Bridging the Gaps: Supporting People Aging into and with Disability” and “Factors that Contribute to Life Satisfaction.” An expert panel drafted the Toronto Declaration on Bridging Aging and Disability Knowledge and Practice. Both reports are based on research presented at the conference as well as selective reviews of the literature. Click here for the reports and The Toronto Declaration.
Delegates from Europe, North America, Australia and Thailand met to plan a global initiative in order to develop bridges of knowledge between aging and disability. (From left to right: Matilda Leonardi, Vishaya Naidoo, Christine Bigby, Tamar Heller, Michelle Putnam, Margaret Campbell, Luis Salvador Carulla, Donna Thomson, Andria Spindel. Growing Older with A Disability (GOWD) Conference, Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving Disability Aging and Technology, Toronto, Canada, June 4-6, 2011)
Several Delegates had worked on two previous statements, the Statements of the Graz Declaration on Disability and Aging 2006 and the Barcelona Declaration on Bridging Knowledge in LTC and Support 2009 on "aging with disabilities." Dr. Luis Salvador Carulla helped in the development of the Barcelona Declaration, and Dr. Margaret Campbell was the promoter of the idea of the Toronto Declaration for an international exchange to enhance coordinated research studies to promote policy and lifestyle change.
The working group agreed that the challenge is to promote the quality of life for persons with a disability and also to increase awareness on a global scale. Some of the key areas of major interest for bridging knowledge in aging and disability include attention to long term care and social/community services, technologies, topics linked to informal family minders, poverty, self-determination and economic participation.
Participants in the conference were from the following countries:
Australia Italy Sweden
Belgium Japan Switzerland
Brazil Malaysia Taiwan
Canada Netherlands Thailand
Denmark Norway United Kingdom
France Portugal United States of America
Germany Singapore US Virgin Islands
Hong Kong South Korea