Feature

Since its founding 10 years ago, APA's Committee and Office on Aging have accrued an impressive list of accomplishments, spanning a variety of areas both within and outside the association, according to Bucknell University psychologist Michael Smyer, PhD, one of the committee's founders.

"CONA has served to effectively focus APA's attention and effort on issues of aging," said Smyer at a symposium celebrating the group's 10th anniversary.

Over the past 10 years, CONA has:

  • Co-sponsored a workshop, "Self-care for Aging Services Providers in the Aftermath of Katrina and Rita" in New Orleans and Baton Rouge with Divs. 20 (Adult Development and Aging) and 12 (Clinical) one year after the storms hit.

  • Developed a resolution against ageism that was adopted as APA policy by APA's Council of Representatives.

  • Encouraged psychologists to participate in the White House Conference on Aging and succeeded in making mental illness one of the meeting's top 10 priorities.

  • Offered "What Psychologists Should Know about Working with Older Adults," an all-day continuing-education workshop aimed at increasing the competencies of psychologists interested in working with older adults.

  • Participated in a Public Interest Government Relations Office-sponsored federal advocacy training and Capitol Hill day in which psychologists met with congressional offices and encouraged legislators to reauthorize the Older Americans Act to include new provisions for the delivery of mental health screening and treatment services.

  • Provided comments for APA's response to the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging's strategic plans, which emphasized behavioral science's contributions to healthy aging and the need for increased focus on psychological research related to older adults.

  • Released the "Life Plan for the Life Span" brochure, which helps young, middle-aged and older psychologists plan for challenges including work and retirement, financial concerns and health issues.

In the coming years, CONA and APA's Office on Aging must prepare to address the mental health concerns of those living into their late 80s and 90s and enlist retired psychologists for mentorship programs and other association activities.

"APA is an aging organization in an aging country in an aging world," said Smyer. "With an increasing average age, APA must ... view current and former experienced members as resources."

-S. Dingfelder


The event was sponsored by CONA and APA's Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest.