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Speakers Challenge Conventional Thinking on the Future of Aging

Popular NIC Talks series returns to fall conference

Today’s disruptive innovations often determine the future. Uber has upended the transportation business. Amazon changed retailing.

The same holds true for the concept of aging. Disruptive innovations will change the future of the aging experience and drive how society responds to the needs of an aging population in the years ahead.

With this in mind, the future of aging will be highlighted this year at NIC Talks. The popular series of 12-minute TED-style talks returns for a fourth time to the 2018 NIC Fall Conference, Oct. 17-19, Sheraton Grand Chicago.

Over the course of two days, NIC Talks will feature eight thought leaders, primarily from outside the industry, who will address the topic, “How Am I Changing the Future of Aging?”

NIC Talks will be presented during sessions on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. NIC Founder and Strategic Advisor Bob Kramer will moderate the program.

Speakers will not specifically focus on seniors housing, noted Kramer. “Instead, they will present the innovative trends that will disrupt the future of aging and aging services.”

NIC Talks will address several broad themes: culture and workforce issues; artificial intelligence and applied technology; and quality of life and caregiving. Here’s quick preview of some of the topics and speakers.

Culture and workforce issues

As the industry grapples with a shortage of workers, several speakers will provide new insights into the issue. As Kramer noted, “It’s not just the lack of caregivers.” The industry needs to connect with workers on a deeper level in order to recruit and retain talent.

NIC Talks speaker Dwayne J. Clark will spotlight the importance of company culture. As co-founder and CEO of Aegis Living, Clark has created a culture of innovation based on its most important asset: its workers. He will detail his successful approach, which has led to innovative architecture, a nonprofit that supports employees in need, and fun and unusual ways they reward employees.

Chinwe Onyeagoro will provide insights into how to create a high-trust, high-performing workplace culture. Onyeagoro’s analytics firm, Great Place to Work, studies more than 10,000 organizations a year. She’ll present new research on workplace trends in the senior living industry and share the impact of high-performing cultures that inspire a sense of purpose.

Speaker Kelly Leonard from The Second City—Chicago’s famed comedy/improv theater—will share current research using improv techniques to improve interactions with people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Leonard will share how learning this application improved his end-of-life interactions with his brother Kyle, showcasing the power in caregivers applying these techniques.

Artificial intelligence and applied technology

Technology has the ability not only to provide a better quality of care, but a better quality of life, noted Kramer. He foresees a time when technology will allow medical practitioners and caregivers the opportunity to spend most of their time interacting with residents instead of on administrative work. “Technology will have a huge impact on frontline workers,” said Kramer.

As Chief Technology Officer at NEST—Google’s smart home technology company—Yoky Matsuoka is one of the nation’s thought leaders on advances in intelligent home automation. At NIC Talks, she will highlight the challenges of building technology that seamlessly blends into people’s lives, and discuss specifically how this technology is being adapted to assist elders.

Renowned tech consultant Chetan Sharma will explore the idea of aging in place amid a significant technological shift to connected intelligence. He will describe how sensors are providing tremendous amounts of data on daily life and how intelligent software is helping us understand that data. This combination of sensors and software is dramatically altering industry after industry, and will shape aging and care in the coming decades.

Quality of life and caregiving

“Quality of life involves much more than just good quality of care and good health outcomes involve much more than good medical care,” noted Kramer. “We need to think about the social determinants of health.”

Two speakers will address quality of life issues and their impact on health and healthcare costs.

Lisa Marsh Ryerson is president of the AARP Foundation and a noted expert on social isolation. She will discuss loneliness—which from a health impact standpoint is the equivalent of smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. Loneliness leads to depression, and depression leads to the worsening of chronic conditions—all of which can be helped by community engagement.

Speaker Susan Dentzer will talk about the key trend of hospital at home, which will have major repercussions on the role of seniors housing in elder care. Dentzer is CEO of the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, a nonprofit organization seeking intelligent ways to advance healthcare at reasonable costs. She will provide a look at healthcare without walls, how seniors housing can prepare and participate, and the impacts on health outcomes with this approach.

“Healthcare and eldercare will be understood differently in the future,” noted Kramer. He added that NIC Talks is a provocative forum where conference attendees can get a glimpse into the future and challenge their own thinking about aging and aging services. “These ideas will transform the aging experience,” he said.

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