By Matt Perry
Sit back. Relax. You’re about to hear from some of the world’s leading aging experts in the comfort of your own home. No conference fees. No airfare. No hotel accommodations.
Launching online this Sunday, the Age Without Borders Virtual Summit joins over 50 global experts who will discuss health and wellness, technology, global breakthroughs, retirement, travel, caregiving, housing, finance, nutrition, spirituality and activism.
“The idea was to bring together innovative leaders in aging around the globe and make it possible for people everywhere to access great information from innovative thinkers who are really interested in helping people break down the barriers that prevent them from living fully — regardless of age,” says Bruce Frankel, long-time aging writer and summit coordinator.
While several of the American participants have been profiled by the California Health Report — arts programmer Tim Carpenter, housing rebel Dr. Bill Thomas and aging manifesto author Ashton Applewhite — the summit travels the world and includes countries that have faced their own Baby Boom two decades before the United States.
“It’s really fascinating to get that global perspective,” says summit founder Kari Henley. “It’s very important to pick your head up out of your community, your company, even the borders of your own country. The global movement is amazing, fast-paced and very inspiring.”
Henley enthusiastically ticks off some of the conference speakers and programs: Jean Walker of Tasmania and her online University of the Third Age; London-based Jonathan Collie who in 2014 launched the online service Trading Times that connects adults over 50 with flexible, paid employment; ‘The Complete Eldercare Planner” author Joy Loverde who explores creating neighborhood caregiving communities; the Freebird Club which offers social travel and homestays for older adults; Czech Republic memory expert Dana Steinova; Rebecca Wilson, publisher of the “Starts at 60” website targeting Australia and New Zealand; and Dr. Leng Leng Thang, who specializes in intergenerational relations in Singapore and Japan.
Countries represented include Australia, India, Iceland, France, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Tasmania and Mauritius.
The seven-day online summit runs Sunday, February 26 through Saturday, March 4. Each day’s 30-minute video sessions can be viewed free for the first 24 hours. Permanent video access and other perks are available for $97.
For Henley, the genesis of the conference was her in-laws — both Holocaust survivors.
“They were the epitome of active agers,” she says. “They had a profound affect on my life.”
Married to a man 19 years older than her, Henley’s grieving mother-in-law “reinvented herself” in her 90’s by surrounding herself with tight-knit female friends after her husband’s death at 103.
“I saw how important community is in every stage of life,” says Henley.
A long-time virtual conference producer and Huffington Post blogger, Henley immersed herself in aging books and conferences as director of community relations for Silvernest, a roommate matching service for Baby Boomers and empty nesters. She also joined the Pass It On Network — an online community of elders who share creative aging ideas.
Henley eventually blended all of these personal and professional interests to launch the Age Without Borders Virtual Summit.
“I just have this desire for community and deep learning,” she says. “This is too good not to share.”