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This November, Daniel, Beth and Gemma represented the School for Primary Care Research and Newcastle University Institute of Ageing at the 70th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA).

Their work was selected from over 4,300 submitted abstracts, for presentation to an international audience at this meeting of the oldest and largest interdisciplinary scientific organization devoted to the advancement of gerontological research, learning, and practice. Daniel chaired a session “Advanced topics for end of life care” and presented his work “Unstable frailty: a focus for end of life care”, based on a paper that was recently published in BMC Medicine.  Gemma presented a poster “Use of long-term care and health services by older adults – what difference does wealth make?” - which follows the first paper from her PhD, recently published in the journal Age and Ageing. Beth’s poster “The Late-Life and the Life-Long: Exploring perspectives on factors shaping older adults’ alcohol use”, develops her work that was recently the subject of an editorial   in Age and Ageing. This was the first time at GSA for all three doctoral students, and they share their thoughts (and some photos) below.

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Gemma Spiers

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Daniel Stow

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 Bethany Bareham

 

 

 

What struck us most was that the conference had a great atmosphere, and a real academic buzz. Attendees were willing and eager to engage in debate and discussion, and it was exciting to be part of this research community. Over 4,000 researchers, care professionals and industry leaders attended, making it the largest conference we had ever joined.  You might think that such large numbers of attendees would make it difficult to connect with others, but this wasn’t the case at all. Paper sessions and symposia were designed to facilitate discussion, and the poster sessions were especially useful for networking: being very well attended, and with one hour of face to face presenting time.

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 Left: The John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Centre in Boston - the main venue for the conference

 The GSA conference has a reputation for high quality research on a diverse range of topics relating to older adults. This was one of the best things about the conference for us. We all went to sessions that closely reflected our own areas, but we were also able to explore topics beyond our own ‘research bubble’. It’s easy to become narrowly focused on your own topic when you are doing a PhD. This conference was a great opportunity for us to think about where our research fits in the context of wider issues in ageing research.

 

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Left: Gemma, Beth, Daniel, Andrew Kingston and other members of the Newcastle institute for Ageing team outside the convention centre

Outside the conference, and despite the freezing cold and snowy weather, we also managed to explore Boston. Trips to the “Cheers” bar (where everyone knows your name!), Boston’s beautiful public library, Berklee College of Music, MIT, and Harvard were great fun, and we took the opportunity to enjoy large quantities of local foods (see below for examples). All three of us found different ways to work off the calories: Gemma walked Boston’s historical freedom Trail, Beth made it to the hotel gym, and Daniel was up at the crack of dawn to join other members of GSA on the Doris Schwartz nursing research award 5k fun run.

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Left: Interior of Boston’s Library

Boston's famous chowder.

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A triple stack of pancakes with fruit for nutritional balance.

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 Below: Daniel joined other members of GSA 2018 for the Doris Schwartz nursing research award 5k fun run.

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 Above: Mid run and the sun rises on Boston’s skyline.

We thoroughly enjoyed our venture to the states and the frontiers of ageing research. We would encourage fellow SPCR students to consider submitting their work at the GSA annual conference. You can expect a critical, thought provoking, expert audience, ready to discuss and lots of fun. We already have our sights set on GSA 2019 in Austin, Texas! In the meantime, check out the GSA twitter feed and #GSA18 hashtag for more information and pictures from the event.

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