Imagine returning home from a conference and being greeted at the airport by an enthusiastic crowd of well-wishers singing and dancing to celebrate your arrival. The occasion? You and your organization received an Award for Excellence in Ageing Services at the Global Ageing Network conference. A prestigious recognition for anyone—but even moreso for a small organization with a meager budget in Nairobi, Kenya that provides food, shelter, and basic home care for older adults.   

The Global Ageing Network is an amazing and unique amalgam of individuals and organizations that come together around a common goal: Make the world a better place to grow old.

Well-resourced organizations from the U.S. and Australia sit side-by-side with organizations comprised largely of volunteers from less developed parts of the world to learn and grow together. Issues they tackle are varied but cross borders and overcome language barriers.

  • What do we know about supporting people with dementia?
  • How do we best address cultural norms that counter what is considered "best practices"?
  • How do we address loneliness in older age?
  • How do we prepare family members for a caregiving role?
  • What impact does ageism have on public policy?
  • How do we build the leadership skills necessary to help organizations grow and thrive regardless of the size of their budgets?

As provider members of LeadingAge, you are also a member of the Global Ageing Network—along with providers from 30 countries in 6 of the 7 continents. Twenty-five years ago, the leaders of what is now LeadingAge determined that we had much to learn and to share from our peers around the world. They created the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing, which is now the Global Ageing Network. In recent years, it has grown in depth and breadth. How can it do anything else, given the unprecedented demographic shifts in countries around the world?

The nature of a network is that it is fluid, with multiple touch points and ways to engage. It is a place for creativity and opportunity. A number of LeadingAge members have tapped into the network over the years, some as recently as a few weeks ago when they attended our 12th biennial conference in Switzerland. They reported that the experience was instructive and inspiring, and they left having made friends from around the world.

As we anticipate an unprecedented number of older adults by 2030--more than double the number from 2000 estimated at 74 million people--we must look to other countries who have experienced a similar demographic shift for solutions. Japan is one such country and is frequently cited for its approach to positive aging. Going beyond our own borders to learn from other countries must be a key part of our strategic thinking. And having the Global Ageing Network at your fingertips should make this easier than ever.

Stay connected with your peers around the world by learning more about the Global Ageing Network. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and take part in conversations about making the world a better place to grow old.