Senior Care Corner attends AARP’s Life@50+ Annual Event and Expo each year to report back to family caregivers on programs and innovations available or coming down the road for senior loved ones. As we prepare for our trip to this year’s event – and already start planning for next year – we want to point out the potential benefits for family members of seniors to attend one of these events themselves.
When we talk with others and bring up AARP, we often hear “that’s for ‘old people'” or “it’s a political organization” and sometimes don’t get very far. We are not advocates of AARP, but simply look for ways to help family caregivers of seniors improve the lives of aging loved ones. As for the feedback we get, family members caring for seniors are for “old people” too, or at least specific ones. Regardless of your feelings about their political positions (we avoid talking politics at Senior Care Corner), there are a number of benefits we as family caregivers can get from the AARP Annual Event.
While the value of specific sessions and topics depends on the needs and situation of individual seniors and their families, there is something to address most needs.
Key Benefit from AARP’s Annual Event – The Expo
If we were asked to rank the top 10 things there that offer benefits to family members and seniors, we might count the Expo as our top 5, or even more. The Expo is separated into a number of “Pavilions” – in reality areas of one huge exhibition floor – with exhibitors grouped generally by subject matter. While there is probably something in each pavilion of interest to most everyone, we see these as key stops for family caregivers.
- Health & Fitness Pavilion – A wealth of health-related information can be found here, with products, services and organizations in abundance. Yes, much information is available online, but here you can see demonstrations and get questions answered about topics ranging from Alzheimer’s Disease to hearing aids to mobility products and much more. Depending on needs and interests, you could spend hours in this area alone.
- Technology Pavilion – Learn about technology solutions for problems faced by seniors and many products with which most are already familiar but are presented and discussed with the specific needs of older adults in mind.
- Financial Pavilion – Not so much products but information on benefits for and risks faced by seniors. Here you might find representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services next door to those from the FINRA Investor Eduction Foundation and more. We’ve found the information here is also online but experts are here to answer specific questions or point to resources with the answers.
- AARP Pavilion – This is the place to learn about many of the benefits and resources available to AARP members from the organization and many of its sponsors. Yes, you’ll find some sales pitches here (they pay to be there, after all) but we learn each time we visit about some discounts or information we didn’t know was available through them.
- Other Pavilions include Homes & Gardens, Retail and Travel & Leisure, with exhibitors generally matching those themes, as well as the Universal Pavilion, whose primary tenants are Platinum Sponsors UnitedHealth Group and Walgreens. Each of these likely has something of interest to the seniors in our lives – and thus to us.
AARP Life@50+ Sessions
The event also includes two days of sessions and other activities, some of them informational, some entertaining and many both. As with the Expo, the value of these will depend on individual interests and family needs. Be sure to check out the schedule to see if they match your interests.
- University Sessions – Best of the sessions, at least in our view. Here you might find sessions with tips on health, finance, technology and other areas of interest to many seniors and their caregivers alike.
- Lifestyle Sessions – A variety of topics are covered in these sessions with, as you might expect, a lifestyle flavor.
- Feature Sessions – Combinations of information and entertainment, sometimes with a touch of AARP “message” included.
Yes, we feel there are a number of potential benefits for family caregivers of seniors as the AARP Annual Event and Expo, some beyond what you might learn that directly benefits your older family members. There are entertainment features included in each event. Of even greater benefit, though, are the locales of these events, which are planned in places with many activities for those younger than retirement age. This could be a great way to get double benefit – yes, learning things that might improve the care we can give but also a chance to get away ourselves without the need to feel guilty (which we shouldn’t feel anyway).
We hope to see you at one of these events in the future and would love to hear YOUR comments when you do!