LeadingAge Magazine · July-August 2019 • Volume 09 • Number 04
Gene Mitchell
Gene Mitchell

The Global Ageing Network’s next Biennial Global Ageing Network Conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, in September. As the conference approaches, we decided that now would be a good time to step back from the usual domestic topics—those concerning long-term services and supports for people in the United States—and look at perspectives on aging from beyond our borders.

That approach was fruitful, as you’ll see in our feature articles this month. Providers all over the globe are dealing with aging populations, difficulty finding and retaining workers, costs that make provision of care for all difficult, and attitudes about aging that diminish popular perceptions of the value of older adults to their societies.

Wait a minute: Those issues sound familiar, don’t they?

It turns out that those “usual domestic topics” occupy the minds of providers all over the developed world, despite the country-to-country differences in health systems and regulatory regimes.

Those pressing issues exist in the developing world as well, although providers in many poor countries struggle with fundamental deficits in resources, infrastructure, and political priorities that we would consider crippling in comparison to our own problems.

Recruiting and maintaining a quality workforce is a challenge that respects no borders. In “Worker Shortages Challenge Providers Worldwide,” you’ll get a sense of how much difficulty almost all providers have in staffing even though the dynamics causing worker shortages can vary country to country.

The 21st-century world is awash in wellness. Vast improvements in public health and medical knowledge have made wellness a priority—and much more possible—for all demographics, including older adults. For sectors like ours, cold financial reality adds even more motivation to help people stay healthy and active; the same is true all over the world. Even so, wellness means different things in different countries due to demographic, cultural, and financial considerations. Read “Global Aging: How Countries Across the World Are Incorporating Wellness Into Elder Care.”

Like workforce challenges and the focus on wellness, LeadingAge members’ interest in fighting ageism also reflects efforts underway elsewhere. A number of national and international organizations have taken up the effort, outlined in “Ageism: A Global Challenge.”

The Age-Friendly Cities movement has been covered (here, here, and here) in LeadingAge magazine and at LeadingAge conferences, and is really picking up steam. For a look at what it means in other societies, read “An Age-Friendly World” to learn more.

Global Providers, in Their Own Words” is an article that I want to make the first in a series. We interviewed a few aging services professionals abroad, all of them connected to the Global Ageing Network, to get a sense for how well older adults are served in their countries, what providers do well, what problems they face, and what improvements they would like to see. Thanks to those Global Ageing Network members who gave us insight into this work as it is done in other societies.

The 2019 Biennial Global Ageing Network Conference” is a preview of this year’s Global Ageing Network conference, held in conjunction with the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA), in Toronto. Remember, if you’re a LeadingAge member, you’re also a Global Ageing Network member, and this conference’s close proximity to the U.S. makes it easy for LeadingAge members to attend.

A related article, “Partnering for Global Education and Understanding,” investigates why the partnership with OLTCA makes so much sense for bringing worldwide providers together.

Finally, read the member-written “Trailblazers, Artists, Psychologists, and Athletes: These are the People We Serve” for the latest look at the fascinating older adults our members exist to serve. Keep the stories coming by contacting me at GMitchell@LeadingAge.org or 202-508-9424.

Gene Mitchell is editor of LeadingAge magazine.