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Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue: Major Themes of the 2021 American Geriatrics Society Annual Meeting

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There were a few major themes for this year’s American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Annual Scientific Meeting — a meeting unlike any other in recent memory. This year’s meeting was the first annual meeting to occur after the previous year’s meeting was canceled. It was also the first annual meeting conducted entirely in a virtual format. The planners for this year’s meeting should be commended for the excellent job they did in pulling off this first-of-its-kind virtual meeting for the American Geriatrics Society.

Needless to say, one of the major themes for this year’s AGS meeting was the COVID-19 pandemic. There were a number of talks and posters that focused on epidemiologic trends, diagnosis, prognosis, or clinical care of the elderly during the pandemic. The problem of social isolation will hopefully improve as we enter a different phase of the pandemic, with vaccination rates increasing across the country.

Deprescribing medications was another major theme of his year’s meeting. Different aspects of deprescribing were highlighted, including by subspecialty (like Cardiovascular), by care setting (like long-term care), by the level of multimorbidity, and by personal preference. Different deprescribing tools were presented, including MedStopper, STOPPFrail, and VIONE.

Another major theme was the Geriatric 5M’s — Mind, Mobility, Medications, Multicomplexity, and Matters Most. In many ways, this represents the move toward personalized/ precision medicine for Geriatrics, which differs from many of the other medical subspecialties, where genetics is increasingly a point of focus.

Finally, the importance of multidisciplinary team care was highlighted by this year’s Henderson Lecture, given by Dr. Ellen Flaherty from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She provided a nice outline of the history of multidisciplinary team care that has been a cornerstone of Geriatrics from its inception, in addition to acknowledging the role of the multidisciplinary team in improving the care of older adults.

In conclusion, one can summarize this year’s AGS meeting by the old English rhyme, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” — the four good luck objects with which brides are familiar. “Something old” would be multidisciplinary team care. “Something new” would be the Geriatric 5M’s, which was adopted by AGS in 2020. “Something borrowed” would be deprescribing, with many of the current guidelines borrowed from our Canadian colleagues. “Something blue” would be the COVID-19 pandemic — how many older adults felt as a result of the social isolation that became the norm, especially in many long-term care settings. It also reminds us of the many lives lost to COVID-19 in the United States and worldwide this past year.

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