After wrapping up a successful visit to the International Council on Active Aging conference (ICAA), we’re excited to share some news and developments we’ve learned during our stay in California. Discussions explored multiple trends in the health and wellness landscape, and sessions throughout the conference shared demographic influences on shifting trends, and provided professionals and businesses new tools and resources needed to adjust to the changing landscape. Here’s a wrap-up of what we learned at the international conference.
Ensuring business development keeps up with aging population
A number of keynote speakers at the conference addressed the fact that the aging population is rapidly increasing, and those in the health and wellness industry should consider this as they plan for the future. Common topics of discussion included the notion that older adults are looking for ways to continue their independence as they get older, and that people are becoming more aware of their health and lifestyle choices.
Speakers such as Dr. Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, advised companies and government groups should ensure support for product and service development for adults over the age of 50. He added that because of “rising longevity and the aging of baby boomers worldwide”, there will be a growing demand for products, services and education that’s easily accessible and simple to understand and use.
The importance of assessment
It’s common for people to develop illnesses and conditions as they grow older, and there are a number of conditions that affect physical and mental health such as Osteoporosis, Peripheral Neuropathy and others. Therefore, the importance of assessment and customizing programs was another key topic of discussion at the conference.
In addition, our Merrithew® Master Instructor Trainer, Laureen Dubeau, offered sessions on STOTT PILATES® Osteoporosis Management and Flexion-Free movement for people advised not to move their spine; using props such as Flex-Bands® and Stability Cushions™.
The benefits of community for mental and physical wellness
Mental wellness and physical health are often tied together—if one is off balance the other is likely also out of sync. A number of speakers and attendees we connected with stressed the importance of community for older adults. It is becoming increasingly common for people to want to live healthily and independently longer in their own homes and communities rather than living in a facility where they fear isolation. This in turn creates a greater demand for group services such as exercise classes, wellness treatments, spas and more.
Bridging the gap for accessible health and wellness services
One of the panels opened up the floor to participants for questions about working towards inclusivity and accessibility of information and tools for healthy aging—such as therapy treatments, exercise classes, spa services and more. Speakers such as Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute, Executive Director Gloria Caulfield of Lake Nona Institute and Susan E. Docherty, CEO of Canyon Ranch®, joined in on the conversation and included their concerns for bridging the gap of accessibility for these highly-demanded wellness products and services. Steep price tags for products and services often prevent those who are truly in need of support from accessing benefits that support their health and longevity. As the official equipment sponsor for the ICAA, Merrithew donated all the props used in the teaching sessions to Cal State Fullerton, a local teaching hospital.
New research on improving longevity
Ellis and Docherty, along with Dr. Richard Carmona also discussed options and methods for healthy habits that support longevity—habits that are often associated with the ‘Blue Zones’ (regions in the world where people tend to live much longer). In addition, Dr. Joseph F. Coughlin, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Age Lab, contributed to the conversation by illustrating how increased longevity may impact the future in terms of demographics, technology, consumer behavior and trends for innovation.
Merrithew offers an array of education and training to support instructors on serving their active aging clients. For more information on our courses and workshops for active aging, click here.