In August 2021, NICOA held its 23rd conference on aging in Indian Country. “Resilience for Tomorrow…Together” was the theme of the American Indian Elders Conference.
Keynote speakers from federal, state and tribal programs and agencies were present to provide program updates and listen to the aging needs of American Indian and Alaska Native elders. Symposium topics included “Role of Tribal Leaders in Reaffirming the Value of Elders In Preserving Tribal Cultures,” “Becoming an Elder: Tribal Perspective on Aging in Indian Country,” “Native American Veterans: Issues and Concerns as They Age,” “Future Elders: Perspectives on Aging from the Youth,” and “The Aging Network: Challenges & Opportunities in the Next Decade.”
Informational workshops were provided by service providers and aging network professionals with experience in providing services to Native elders. Workshop sessions included caregiver support, elder abuse prevention, health, nutrition, transportation, disease prevention, long-term services and supports, employment and training, financial assistance and more.
Our partner, IA2, the International Association for Indigenous Aging, was a prominent presence at our conference. They estimate to have reached more than 296 folks and talked with 49 elders, caregivers, and advocates during multiple listening sessions. They officially announced and debuted their new “Dementia Friends for American Indians and Alaska Native Communities”, and trained nine new “champions” from eight different tribes with the pilot content.
NICOA’s conference is the only national aging conference in the country focusing exclusively on the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native elders. It offers the opportunity to elevate issues in American Indian politics and legislation, and focus on issues such as health, safety, financial management, elder abuse, caregiving, employment, retirement and the Older Americans Act.
Registration for conference attendees is available online and by mail. Pricing is based on your membership type, which is also available for purchase online and by mail. You must apply for or renew your membership before registering for the conference.
NICOA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1976. Our mission is to advocate for the improved comprehensive health, social services and economic wellbeing of American Indian and Alaska Native elders. Our biennial conference is the place where elders can educate and recommend solutions to policymakers to help improve aging services across Indian Country. Members submit resolutions which are presented and voted on by all members attending our biennial conference. Resolutions that are approved are passed on to the National Congress of American Indians for presentation to the appropriate federal government agencies.
Conference attendees represent over 2,000 American Indian and Alaska Native elders, stakeholders, elected tribal representatives, government agencies and aging network providers. Voting members actively participate in caucus sessions representing each of the 12 NICOA regions, participate in the election of board members, submit aging specific resolutions, revise bylaws and develop a collective aging policy agenda for NICOA to advocate in Washington, D.C.
The conference is the elders’ forum; the place to voice concerns, provide recommendations on policies that are important to aging older Indians, and to receive up-to-date information and resources to help elders age at home and in their own communities. NICOA works closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor to advocate for grant funded programs and services such as Title VI Services for Native Americans, Indian Health Services, Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, the Senior Community Service Employment Program and others. Officials from federal, state and tribal services and departments are invited to listen, learn and share in the discussion about the successes and concerns impacting aging in Indian Country.