SAGA Unfolds

By LLAF Staff

Speakers announced for conference on aging

Several experts on issues confronting seniors have been announced for the Senior Advocacy Group of Ahwatukee  (SAGA) 2017 Senior & Family Conference, which is open to Chandler and other East Valley residents.

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

It will offer educational sessions with experts on aging, information on local resources, over 30 vendor exhibits, a 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-plus population a place to go for help,” says 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 an interactive roundtable 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?”

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 Department.

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 says.

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 to 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 says.

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

Sponsors of the conference include 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 also will be on hand to provide flu and pneumonia shots for people with proof of insurance.

Conference attendees also will 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