AAHSA wants you to ‘change lives’

A senator tells a lobbyist that she will not change her stance on legislation that could adversely affect seniors. She then finds out the impact such a bill would have on her own mother, who calls straight from the nursing home and convinces her to reconsider.

A resident in a wheelchair watches a young woman dance and then laments how she used to love ballet in her youth but can no longer participate. The woman grabs the resident’s hand, telling her, “Whenever you have a dancer’s spirit you can always dance,” and the two sway their arms in harmony.

These scenes may remind you of something you as aging leaders have witnessed in facilities around the country. However, these did not take place in a nursing home—rather, they were acted out and presented on stage during Sunday’s opening general session of the 2009 AAHSA Annual Meeting & Exposition in Chicago.

The purpose of these vignettes was to enforce the conference’s theme—changing lives—and served as an introduction to AAHSA President and CEO Larry Minnix’s brief address.

“You’re here because you know so many people depend on you,” Minnix said to a large audience, which could surpass last year’s record attendance by the end of Wednesday. Throughout his speech, Minnix reminded everyone that tough financial times may bear some low-hanging fruit, such as the potential for leaders to gain insight from colleagues into problem solving.

Minnix also stressed the importance of the CLASS Act, a piece of legislation added to the recently House-approved health reform bill, which promotes independence for retirees and seniors with an alternative financing option for long-term care. (Click here to read more about the CLASS Act.)

Whether or not everyone agreed upon health reform and the CLASS Act, the audience was indeed unanimous in the declaration that aging leaders must continue to show up to their difficult jobs, learn how to improve resident quality of life, and advocate for industry solidarity.

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