Every summer, I spend time in a remote area of Maine, with few of the creature comforts I’m used to at home. And I love every second of it.

The peace and serenity provides me with a time to reflect on the year in progress and an opportunity to plan for the months ahead.

This year was no different. I’ve had a lot to think about since starting as President and CEO of LeadingAge a little more than 6 months ago. The aging services field is changing and I am committed to making sure LeadingAge is in lock step with those changes, if not a step ahead.

David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, suggested that there are 4 big forces of change coursing through modern societies.

  1. Global migration, leading to demographic diversity.
  2. Economic globalization, creating wider opportunities (but also inequality).
  3. Internet access, giving people more choices over what to buy and pay attention to.
  4. Culture of autonomy, valuing individual choice and self-determination.

 

If that’s not enough, the pace of change is getting faster and faster, giving us a shorter time to adapt.

These changes are transformative and, therefore, bring with them opportunity and a great deal of uncertainty. Each one touches our aging services work in significant ways: increased diversity of our workforce and those we serve; the challenges of distinguishing our services in the marketplace for an increasingly discerning consumer; the growing population of poor elderly; and changing consumer expectations.

Since we are far from immune from these changes, our task is to embrace them, fold them into our organizations, and do so rapidly.

If this isn’t already enough, we have change and uncertainty in our political arena. What will the next Congress, administrations at the federal and state levels, and state legislatures look like? Where will we find a friendly ear? What will it take to advance our legislative agendas?

LeadingAge recently adopted a strategic plan that calls on us to be bold, proactive and innovative. It demands that we seize opportunities, form strategic partnerships, and provide unparalleled value to our members. Our work will be informed by these "big forces of change coursing through (our) society."

We will use the tools and resources at our disposal to tackle these challenges and know that each of you will do so as well. It is in times like these that associations are more essential than ever. Key to our future success requires pooling our collective resources, expertise, and passion for what we do.

The fellowship within the LeadingAge community is unparalleled in aging services. Our big hearts, working together, will make us stronger and better at turning changes into opportunities.