JESPY hosts symposium on aging and disability

JESPY hosts symposium on aging and disability

“AGING IN PLACE: Innovative Strategies to Support Adults with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities” was hosted by JESPY House on Oct. 11-12 at South Orange Performing Arts Center.

The symposium, the first of its kind in the Northeast, drew more than 125 participants from 10 states. JESPY, also in South Orange, serves 250 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), working to advance their independence.

“Our clients are presented with age-related challenges decades earlier than the traditional population,” said JESPY executive director Audrey Winkler. “Physical aging, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes — all of the age-related challenges that we typically see in the population, we see it earlier, and we have 100 clients that are in that situation.”

Keynote speakers were Drs. Tamar Heller, Lawrence T. Force, Michelle Putnam, and Caitlyn Coyle.

Heller, who heads the University of Illinois-Chicago Department of Disability and Human Development, discussed bridging aging and disability. “I like the notion of interdependence instead of independence,” she said. “It’s being able to voice what you want instead of being left alone to do it yourself.”

Force, a gerontologist and director of the Center on Aging and Disability at Mount Saint Mary College, presented innovations in services for adults with dementia. Putnam, associate professor and associate dean for research at Simmons College School of Social Work in Boston, focused on disability policy. And Coyle, a research fellow and assistant professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, introduced the need for an inclusive approach to building age-friendly communities.

A screening of the documentary film “Possibility: The Space Between Limits” included remarks by Marsha Atkind, executive director of The Healthcare Foundation of NJ (a lead sponsor of the event); and South Orange Village trustee Deborah Davis Ford.

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