Several experts on issues confronting seniors have been announced for the Senior Advocacy Group of Ahwatukee’s 2017 Senior & Family Conference.

The free and public conference will be 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Oct. 28  at the Pecos Community Center, 17010 S. 48th St., Ahwatukee.

It will offer educational sessions with experts on aging, information on local resources, over 30 vendor exhibits, flu and pneumonia shot clinic, breakfast, snacks and raffle prizes.

“Often older adults and their families don’t know how and where to find information or services when they need them.  SAGA gives the growing 65+ population a place to go for help,” said Gregg Powell, a SAGA founder.

The conference theme is “Straight Talk! Ways to Combat Loneliness and Isolation Today” and will offer presentations by local experts on topics related to aging and interactive round table session to allow attendees to ask questions.

SAGA is a nonprofit comprising area businesses and individuals organized to bring needed resources, education and advocacy to seniors and their adult children and caregivers.

Keynote speaker will be Carol O. Long, CEO of Capstone Healthcare, who will discuss “The Secret Sauce for Successful Aging: What are the Ingredients?”

Carol Long

Long will examine healthy aging and how to “rejuvenate and nurture the body, mind and soul. “

Long has presented end-of-life and palliative care training both nationally and internationally in the Middle East, South America, Australia and Asia. She is a fellow in the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association and a fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Nursing.

Special guest presenter will be Amanda Sokan, director of the MS Program in Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Deptartment.

Amanda Sokan

Sokan will discuss the important differences between isolation and loneliness for older adults and caregivers and where to find help.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to speak directly to area experts.

Roundtable presenters include Rev. Dr. Kristin Longenecker Hansen, pastor of Desert Foothills United Methodist Church in Ahwatukee, who will be hosting a session on “Hopeful living: Navigating Aging and Change.”

“We spend so much of our lives creating a certain lifestyle and environment, but as we grow older, things can change, we may become ill and our bodies aren’t as resilient. I’ll be discussing how to positively manage these changes, our hopes and expectations – and still thrive.” Hansen said.

Donna Lewan

Donna Lewen, who has worked with aging adults and persons with disabilities for more than 25 years, will be facilitating “Ageless Spirit,”  demonstrating ways to combine safe and effective meditation, breathing and other techniques to foster psychological, physical and spiritual vitality.

Tina Pyykkonen of the YMCA will discuss innovative programs available for active seniors, including the LiveStrong  program, which helps adult cancer survivors reclaim their health and well-being following a diagnosis.

“This program is creating communities among cancer survivors and guiding them through safe physical activity, helping them build supportive relationships, and reducing stress – leading to an improved quality of life,” she said.

Dr. Vanessa McCarthy will discuss how to combat isolation and loneliness as the result of vision loss.

Vanessa McCarthy

“Loss of vision often leads to lost independence. Many lose the ability to drive or feel they can no longer participate in meaningful activities.  I’ll be showing how low vision therapies can help restore engagement driving, reading, seeing faces, and even navigating unfamiliar environments,”  McCarthy said.

Sponsors of the conference include the Ahwatukee Foothills News, Generations at Ahwatukee, Visiting Angels South Phoenix, Spectrum Retirement Communities, Homewatch Caregivers of Phoenix and Tempe, Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee, Hospice of the Valley and Dispatch Health.

Walgreens will also be on hand to provide flu and pneumonia shots with proof of insurance.

Conference attendees will also receive MedStats packets.

MedStats is a special free program developed by SAGA for Ahwatukee residents to help save critical time by providing first responders with health and contact information in the event of a medical emergency.

The conference is part of an ongoing educational series by the nonprofit.  Space is limited.

Register:  Information: 480-270.8276 or .

SAGA is composed of area business leaders, agencies, civic organizations and individual members founded in 2011 to provide resources, education and advocacy for seniors, their adult children and caregivers.

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