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President's Message

IPA Bulletin: VOLUME 37, NO. 4 • DECEMBER 2020

William Reichman, IPA President

Dear Colleagues and IPA members,

At the time of this writing, the global pandemic has raged for almost a year. This fall and winter we are experiencing the most severe outbreaks since the onset of the plague.  Those we serve have suffered particularly dire consequences. In my home country of Canada, nearly 80% of COVID-related deaths have occurred in our long-term care facilities.  Older adults and their families have suffered greatly from well-intentioned public health measures that have been put in place including limits on family visitation and social gatherings. However, good news appears to be on the horizon. Recent media reports suggest that we will shortly have available safe and effective vaccines to protect us from the dangers of the COVID-19 virus. It is widely desired that health care workers and those most at risk for the serious adverse health effects from infection will be vaccinated first; that includes our older adult patients who may be physically, mentally and cognitively frail.

It is critical that we healthcare providers, educators and researchers marshal our expertise and community leadership positions to ensure that all older adults are given immediate access to vaccination in a timely and affordable manner. Never before has the need for our advocacy on behalf of those we serve been more vitally important than now. In accordance with this theme, IPA has been remarkably active these past few months strengthening our advocacy efforts through establishing and strengthening strategic relationships and conducting joint activities with other global organizations. These partners have mandates that include ensuring accessible healthcare for marginalized populations, promoting financial stability in later life, building age-friendly communities, combatting ageism, and advancing the cause that the human rights of older adults must be universally respected. We have commenced fruitful dialogues with the International Federation of Aging (IFA), the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), the World Dementia Council (WDC), Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), and the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP).  I am very pleased to share that our colleague and IPA board member, Kiran Rabheru of Canada has just been named the new Chair of GAROP.  Please join me in congratulating Kiran on this tremendous honor. To continue to build on these efforts, we are exploring how best to reengage with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN).  To date, we are planning joint webinars and presentations by several of these organizations at our annual Congress. We are hopeful that IPA’s growing activity in the advocacy arena will also be of great benefit to the efforts of our members who are already passionate advocates for older adults in their home countries and regions of the globe. We invite any of you with this interest to join our Advocacy and Public Awareness Taskforce, chaired by Manabu Ikeda of Japan, our President-Elect.

Recently, the IPA held a Webinar in coordination with the WPA Section of Old Age Psychiatry on the topic of Human Rights and Mental Health of Older Adults. For those unable to attend the live program, I encourage you to learn more and view the recording.

In addition to our growing advocacy efforts, IPA has been very busy working on a number of other initiatives.  For example, we are starting to plan for our 2021 Congress.  The state of the pandemic will guide to what extent this meeting will be held live and/or virtual. Please stay tuned for more information about this. Also, our new Online Course: Global Perspectives on the Mental Health of Older Adults: A Primer for Clinicians is being finalized and will be launched shortly.

Finally, I want to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to our first and remarkably successful Virtual Congress held several weeks ago. Nearly 600 individuals attended our live and On-Demand sessions.  It was a great pleasure to see and hear from so many of you, especially since the pandemic has kept us physically distanced.  Attendees rated our virtual meeting very highly, especially with regard to the educational content that was provided. However, despite the rewards of a virtual Congress, the majority of us still prefer to have the opportunity to network and be together in person in varied international locales.

As always, I wish you the very best over the coming months and thank you for your dedication to supporting IPA.

With Kindest Regards,
William Reichman


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