Financial gerontologist Cynthia Hutchins gives the keynote talk on August 13.

Name a hot-button issue, and chances are it has some impact on the senior community. Whether it be healthcare or climate change or immigration, older adults face the impacts of policy choices that are made.

These topics and more will be the subjects of lectures and discussions at the Trenton-based New Jersey Foundation for Aging’s 22nd annual conference, being held virtually on Thursday and Friday, August 13 and 14, from 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $50 for one day or $85 for both days. To register, visit

Each day of the conference, centered on the theme “2020 Vision for Successful Aging,” will include welcoming remarks, a keynote address and Q&A, and a choice of two workshops also followed by Q&A periods.

The keynote speaker on Thursday is Cynthia Hutchins, director of financial gerontology at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Her topic is “Health and Caregiving in the Age of Longevity.”

“The issues and the opportunities and the challenges people face are very different than they were in the ’80s,” she said on an episode of NJFA’s “Aging Insights” program earlier this year.

“We’re planning for much longer retirement; we’re planning for health challenges and cost challenges that we hadn’t planned for before, and we’re living with families that have multiple generations.”

“It becomes a whole lot more than just planning for what we think we know,” Hutchins said of how financial planning has evolved. Focus is now on the what-ifs, including planning for contingencies like an unexpected illness.

Hutchins, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Towson University, has worked in financial services for more than 30 years, but her focus changed when to returned to school to earn a master’s in gerontology from the University of Southern California in 2014.

Upon graduation she became the first gerontologist at a major financial services firm. In her talk she will address the pressing need to educate, equip, and empower older adults and current/future caregivers to better plan for and manage their caregiving journeys.

Hutchins’ keynote address is followed by a choice of two workshops: “Long-Term Care Trends: Settings, Challenges and Policy” and “Confronting Ageism Head-On to Prevent Elder Abuse.”

The long-term care workshop is presented by representatives of several state agencies and nonprofits. Laurie Facciarossa Brewer and Amy Brown from the office of the NJ Long-Term Care Ombudsman are joined by Gwen Orlowski of Disability Rights New Jersey, and Ryann Siclari of the nonprofit law firm Central Jersey Legal Services.

They will discuss issues that older New Jerseyans receiving long-term care services are facing both in institutional and community settings. They will also cover current advocacy trends, challenges, and anticipated policy changes, as well as offer practical tips to overcome individual and structural barriers to receiving quality long-term care services.

The ageism workshop is led by Colleen Beach, Cory Cummings, Christa Hogan, Kaitlyn Strobel, Paul Urbanski, all of Monmouth University, and Maria Aberasturi of the Bergen County Board of Social Services.

Their discussion will focus on personal experiences confronting ageism in various settings as well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Roadmap.

The roadmap is a report that arose from a survey of 750 stakeholders that asked them to complete the statement, “To understand, prevent, identify or respond to elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, we need…” The responses led researchers to identify five priorities: awareness of elder abuse; focus on cognitive capacity and mental health; improved support and training for caregivers; better quantification of the costs of elder abuse; and greater investment of resources into services, education, and research.

Speakers from the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers University lead Friday’s keynote presentation on “Creating a Vision for Successful Aging that is Supported by a Sustainable, Resilient Future.” Presenters include Jeanne Herb, Karen Alexander, Patricia Findley, and Marjorie Kaplan.

Though research shows that the health of all people living in the U.S. will be affected by climate change, the health of some populations, including seniors, will be affected more than others. With the population of people over age 65 growing as climate change accelerates, the potential for a future crisis increases. Researchers at the center seek to identify key climate-related issues faced by organizations that work with the older population.

Two workshop options follow: “Addressing Stereotypes” and “The Influence of Immigration Policies on the Economic Security of Aging Immigrants.”

Katie York of Lifelong Montclair, along with Ashley Ermer and Katharine Mauro of Montclair State University, discuss how communities can work toward becoming more age-friendly by attempting to change the culture surrounding beliefs on ageism and related stigmas. One solution they suggest is intergenerational performing arts interventions, which may reduce age stereotypes.

Jonnelle Rodriguez of the American Friends Service Committee addresses reasons why foreign-born seniors are twice as likely to live in poverty as U.S.-born seniors and explains ways that service providers can help them navigate the public benefits system.

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