CONA spring 2012 meeting

The committee discussed research funding, Medicare, the APA cross-cutting agenda and health disparities

The Committee on Aging (CONA) held its first meeting of the year on March 30 - April 1. CONA spent time at this meeting reviewing its strategic initiatives and crafting a strategic plan that is aligned with the APA Strategic Plan. CONA has six current goals: 

  1. Developing and Maintaining the Workforce to Serve Older Adults 

  2. The Science of Aging 

  3. Integrated Health Care

  4. Age and Diversity 

  5. Collaboration and Partnership 

  6. Advocacy

Related to Age and Diversity, CONA’s activities this year include providing input to the APA Public Interest Directorate Health Disparities Initiative, ensuring that attention to older adults and the increasing diversity of the aging population is incorporated in relevant APA efforts and cosponsoring programming on issues of diversity at the APA Convention. This year, Telehealth Services for Individuals with Chronic Illness and Disability and Vulnerable Populations Affected by Natural Disasters will be offered and include attention to aging issues. CONA will also work to update two popular publications, Elder Abuse and Neglect: In Search of Solutions written in 1997 and Life Plan for the Life Span, a web-based brochure that was written by 2005 CONA and other contributors and updated by 2007 CONA.

CONA met with a number of guests throughout its meeting to discuss aging issues including: Donald Bersoff, PhD, JD, APA president-elect; Norman Anderson PhD, CEO; Katherine Nordal, PhD, executive director, Professional Practice; and Steven Breckler, PhD, executive director, Science. CONA asked Dr. Bersoff to remember the needs of older Veterans in his Presidential Initiative on the Mental Health Needs of Military Personnel and Veterans. They also noted the contributions of older adult caregivers who are often responsible for the care of their wounded sons and daughters returning from combat and also provide care to grandchildren when their parents are deployed. CONA discussed critical aging research funding issues with Dr. Anderson, who is a member of the NIA Advisory Committee. CONA spoke with Dr. Nordal regarding concerns that arise in working with Medicare. With Dr. Breckler they discussed plans for the second wave of The Survey of Professional Geropsychology Training and Experiences which will be completed with support and funding by the APA Center for Workforce Studies which he oversees.

During its meetings, CONA also spends time reviewing and responding to APA Cross-Cutting Agenda items that are working their way through the governance structure to become APA policy. This ensures consideration of aging issues in all relevant APA policy. Following are a sample of items CONA addressed.

CONA thanked the crafters of the Resolution on Recognition of Psychotherapy Effectiveness for incorporating their previous substantial recommendations and references resulting in older adults being considered throughout the final version of the resolution. For the Revision of APA Guidelines for Ethical Conduct of Behavioral Projects Involving Human Participants by High School Students, CONA recommended to the Committee on Human Research that students complete the training that is provided by the Department of Health and Human Services for researchers who conduct research with human participants to ensure that students understand the historical and scientific background on which the rules and guidelines have been established. CONA also asked the committee to elaborate on the description of vulnerable populations in the guidelines, including older adults. It was noted that older adults in institutional settings, and those with cognitive impairment are usually considered vulnerable populations and students need to be informed of this. CONA commented on plans for the APA Health Disparities Strategic Initiative, stating that health disparities affect individuals across the entire lifespan. CONA provided data and empirical evidence related to the three priorities selected for the Initiative’s initial efforts — stress, obesity, and substance abuse — as they are of concern for older adults. For the petition for the renewal of Clinical Psychology as a specialty, CONA requested that eleven age-related references be incorporated in the petition so that it more fully reflects the breadth of clinical psychology including practice with older adults.