Phoebe Institute on Aging Spring Conference to Feature Ruth Westheimer as Keynoter

“Dr. Ruth” Westheimer

“Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Baby Boomers and Aging” is coming to the Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania. The spring conference of UCC-related Phoebe Institute on Aging takes place Thursday, April 23, from 7:50 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pa. In addition to keynoter Westheimer, the day will feature a series of plenary and break-out sessions on various topics related to the aging boomer population.

“In 1971, when I was 10 years old, my parents bought my first record player and gave me a Johnny Cash album and the Beatles new album, ‘Let it Be.’ I played those over and over and fell in love with rock and roll,” says the Rev. Scott Brooks-Cope, Phoebe Ministries’ director of pastoral care. “I am at the tail end of the baby boomer generation, but there is a whole generation that is moving into their retirement years. They will want to play and hear rock music as well as lots of other genres. They will most likely not want to play bingo all the time, but will want lectures and classes and lots of options for wellness and an active life style. What does this mean for life in the retirement community in the years ahead? This conference explores that question.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 77 million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964. These baby boomers came of age during an era of challenging authority and cultural norms.

The Pew Research Center reports that each day, some 10,000 people turn 65, a trend that will continue until 2029. As they did in the 1960s and 1970s, boomers are again challenging conventional wisdom — this time about aging and long-term care. “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll” will focus on the age-driven necessities of this self-reliant and highly-educated generation.

The conference opens with a PBS-produced video, “The Boomer’s Guide to Growing Older,” which offers expert perspectives on the challenges faces as baby boomers grow older and face their own health issues, often while also dealing with aging parents and spouses with health issues. The video sets the tone for a day filled with noted speakers, panel discussions, and special break-out session topic tracks.

Westheimer, or Dr. Ruth as she is known throughout the world, will deliver the keynote at 10:30 a.m. The keynote will be in a moderated Q&A format. Conference attendees — including community health care professionals and family caregivers — will be able to ask Dr. Ruth questions about sexuality, aging, and loneliness in the boomer population. Westheimer will discuss the connection between reliance on technology to communicate and loneliness among older adults.

Three afternoon break-out sessions will feature four tracks, aptly titled Sex, Drugs, Music/Activities, and Lifestyle/Wellbeing. Participants do not have to choose a track: they are free to attend any of the sessions. Topics explored run the gamut from sex ed for older adults to medical cannabis to music in the treatment of older adults with memory issues.

“My generation will be sexually active for longer and will be open to both medical and recreational marijuana,” Brooks-Cope adds. “What will this all mean as we age? Those are the topics we are raising as we present this conference. As always, Phoebe is on the cutting edge of innovation as we plan for services and hospitality for this coming generation.”

The lifestyle/wellbeing track also will feature a session on the Be Bold, Claim Old Movement, where attendees will share ideas for a more balanced, accurate and positive narrative around growing older. Another wellbeing topic will focus on some of the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ boomers as they age.

The Large Flowerheads, a 1960s tribute band, will play during the lunch break. Large Flowerheads drummer Maureen “Moe” Jerant, also a rhythm facilitator, will lead one of the afternoon’s music-focused break-out sessions.

Learn more about the conference.

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