AAHSA ready to embrace change

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So, it's been (nearly) determined. The new name for the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging is, drum roll please, LeadingAge.

I have to say it's a pretty gutsy title. It suggests that the organization not only affiliates with the field of aging but also leads the pack. And this powerful message is exactly why the folks at AAHSA like it. The moniker sums up the package—more so than the current name does, they believe.  

“We're this incredibly bold organization on the inside,” said Sharon Sullivan, vice president of marketing and conferences, who talked to McKnight's about the new name Wednesday.

The current, soon-to-be former name, “didn't capture us on the inside,” she noted.

Of course, some 5,400 individual members still have to vote on the title by the end of the month. They may not feel the same way as Sullivan about the name, but that is unlikely. Because of the excitement the name has already generated among state executives and some state boards of directors, AAHSA decided to run it by members early, in advance of its fall meeting.

“We want to capitalize on the momentum,” Sullivan noted.

To wit: The name is strikingly similar to the name of AAHSA's magazine, FutureAge. That name was one possibility, but the creators felt that FutureAge conveyed “think tank” as opposed to an organization working now and in the future on aging concerns, Sullivan said.

It's worth mentioning that the board-approved title comes with certain catchphrases:

— The brand promise is “inspire, serve, advocate.”

— The brand ethos is “transformational stewardship.”

— The new mission is “expanding the world of possibilities for aging.”

Once members provide feedback, AAHSA will go ahead and create a new tagline and logo.

So far, it appears that AAHSA is hitting the right notes. After all, if you're going to change your identity, you may as well go for big and bold. Today, especially, a name is more than something to call yourself. It's a brand that defines you.     

The skinny on obesity

OK, America. It's time to go on a diet. About 40 states have obesity rates of more than 25%, according to a new report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010.” The report contains some other particularly troubling findings. Here are a few:

— Adult obesity rates for blacks topped 30% in 43 states and D.C.

— Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were at 30% and above in 19 states.

— The 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension are in the South.

— The number of states where adult obesity rates exceed 30% doubled in the past year, from four to eight—Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.

This is not healthy, both from the standpoint of individuals, and for our healthcare system. Obesity leads to chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, which cost big bucks down the road. It'd be nice if we could head off some of our looming healthcare costs by keeping our diets in check. But even a nearly $1 trillion healthcare bill cannot solve this one. Its up to each of us to take responsibility for our own health.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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