The AGS 2021 virtual annual scientific meeting was a beacon of resilience for clinicians around the world providing medical care to older adults as they tirelessly work to save lives. These professionals passionately advocate for infection control policies in long-term care facilities, increasing access to testing and vaccination for patients and caregivers, and models of care that exemplify care aligned with patients’ priorities. The meeting allowed clinicians, educators, and researchers to meet in a socially distant mode to share their valuable experiences, research, and innovative models of care and learning developed during the pandemic.
While summarizing the highlights of this four-day meeting in a few hundred words is impossible, I will share a few highlights of the meeting. Though the virtual nature of the meeting limited socialization, it allowed attendees to listen to recordings of sessions at their convenience, especially when multiple sessions of interest occurred during the same time slot. The meeting had high-quality content for attendees of all backgrounds, including clinicians, researchers, and educators as well as subspecialists looking to expand their research or clinical practice to include care of older adults. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the AGS staff, these sessions were broadcasted virtually without any serious technical glitches.
The meeting began with a day of numerous interesting pre-conference sessions, including substance use disorder, Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) model of care, and a rigorous board review session for busy physicians planning to take their initial certification or recertification board exams.
While the poster sessions included over 800 submissions, attendees were able to access the posters at their convenience, to learn about atypical presentations of common medical conditions in older adults, quality improvement initiatives, and health policy research..
Key presentations included health care innovations, such as the Hospital At Home Value-based model of care, which allows older adults to get treated for acute medical conditions from the comfort of their homes, thus reducing the risk of delirium, functional decline, and nosocomial COVID-19 infection. Projects around the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations to homebound older adults, interdisciplinary collaborative primary care model of care, and models implementing patient priorities aligned care were among the other popular sessions at the meeting.
In addition to the much-awaited updates in Geriatric Medicine competencies for medical students, educators shared their innovative educational programs such as telementoring for nurses in post-acute care settings, dementia simulation, falls curriculum for medical students, etc.
For clinicians, there were a wide variety of high yield sessions, including evidence-based non-pharmacologic therapies for pain management, augmentation therapy for late-life depression, management of End-Stage Renal Disease, controversies on blood pressure management, immunizations, deprescribing and safe prescribing, and recommendations for firearms in older adults with high-risk medical conditions. For those clinicians who get palpitations every time they hear an announcement about a medical emergency on a commercial flight, the "Taking Flight” session had very valuable information.
The popular Geriatric Update session lived up to the reputation by delivering high yield literature updates in standup comedy style.
While geriatricians missed seeing each other in person this year, we were delighted at the opportunity to connect, though virtually, after a challenging year, to share our experiences and work. For readers who may have never attended an AGS meeting but whose clinical, research, or educational activities involve medical care of older adults, this is the event to find collaborators, get ideas for future research projects, and learn about evidence-based management of complex medical conditions of your older patients.
We look forward to connecting again next year, hopefully in person, in Orlando, Florida.
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