'Tis the (festive) season in long-term care

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor

October is for many of us in the long-term care field what December is to others.

There is a lot of good eating, friendly visits and starry-eyed planning for the year ahead.

They are, of course, layered in and around the annual conventions of the two biggest U.S. nursing home associations, the American Health Care Association and LeadingAge. AHCA had its big show last week in Tampa, while next week it's LeadingAge's turn in Denver.

These two events are almost always held within weeks of each other, and if they're not both in October, the month is spent either in anticipation of, or for recovery from, them. Odds are you have to attend only one to see your normal routine blow up for a while.

With AHCA's event already on the books — if you don't know what I'm referring to, you clearly haven't been checking out mcknights.com enough — anticipation turns toward LeadingAge. (As an aside, I MUST say this is the time of year I again truly want to thank Win Marshall and any other leader who pushed the group's name change a few years ago. Typing “the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging” once, yet alone those many, many times, tended to test one's patience and wear down the tips of the fingers.)

So what can an attendee expect in the Mile High City next week? First of all, McKnight's editors will be reporting continually from the meeting rooms, exhibition hall and other areas. As usual, you can expect magazine pieces and video interviews that will be posted to our website. For ongoing coverage, check out mcknights.com, our free Daily Update newsletter and our Twitter feeds for updates. Yes, that's plural — Twitter feeds.

You'll be getting numerous dispatches of 140 characters or fewer from: @mcknightsltcn and @LTCEditorsDesk. Sign up to follow them now if you haven't already. Even if you're onsite at the convention, odds are we're going to be tweeting about things you might not have seen, should see or just plain ought to know about.

That's because there is going to be a lot to try to soak up. Beyond the hundreds of educational sessions and more traditional booths on the exhibit floor, there also will be the national Wii bowling senior league championship, a ping-pong tournament and a “food showdown” that maybe should be called “Taste of LeadingAge.” It's a daily lunchtime festival named “the LeadingAge Food Showdown.” Bring your appetite.

There also will be a (3,000-square-foot!) Idea House, a standalone exhibit space that will feature some of the latest in senior care and architectural trends. Once again, multiple vendors who have stepped up for the prime show space will be dazzling visitors.

One of the first-time new things there will be IGNITE LeadingAge. It sounds a lot like speed-dating for LTC wonks. Speakers will climb an exhibition hall stage and be allowed to speak only as long as it takes 20 slides to flip — one every 15 seconds. (By my journalist's math that's five minutes total.)

It's billed as an “international social phenomenon,” and I'm not sure whether to expect something akin to a senior care poetry slam or auditions for a Jimmy John's commercial. But with this marketed as a place to learn more about operations, communication and successful aging practices, my curiosity is piqued. I have to check it out. Five minutes (or numerous multiples of that) will surely be available.

To be honest, I wasn't even sure of all the details until I started to write about the show for this post. But they aren't surprising. This is the type of innovation we have come to expect. (And mind you we haven't even touched on all the social media opportunities — call it “CCY stuff” — or the networking and after-hours entertainment that await.)

And my biggest question is still out there: Which big-name entertainer will LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix end up dancing, singing or otherwise performing with this year? Happily, it seems to have become a tradition to look forward to.

The man and his colleagues do know how to put on a good show. If we won't see you there, please remember to tune us in.


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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 Marty Stempniak.