Registration open for MTSU Positive Aging Conferen...

Registration open for MTSU Positive Aging Conference set for April 5

Positive Aging Conf 2024 promo

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Midstate residents interested in how to age well should register now for Middle Tennessee State University’s Positive Aging Conference set for early April on campus.

Dr. Deborah Lee, National Healthcare Corp. Chair of Excellence in Nursing, School of Nursing, College of Behavioral and Health Sciences
Dr. Deborah Lee

Held in Miller Education Center at MTSU, located at 503 E. Bell St., the all-day conference is set for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 5. The event, first held in 2022, is sponsored by the MTSU Positive Aging Consortium and will feature guest speakers, on-site parking and meals for the $35 admittance price. Registration is only available online and limited to 120 participants.

“The conference is focused on and for older adults,” said Deborah Lee, holder of the NHC Chair of Excellence in Nursing at MTSU and director of the Positive Aging Consortium. “We’re all aging and we need to think about what we can do early enough to help ourselves age well.”

Keynote: ‘Growing Older with Enthusiasm’

By 2050, more than 80 million Americans will be age 65 or older, according to data from the not-for-profit Population Reference Bureau.

Dr. Ron Aday
Dr. Ron Aday

And that is going to be a “tremendous pressure” on the health care system, said conference keynote speaker and Professor Emeritus Ron Aday, who taught over 40 years in the MTSU Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

“For 99.9% of the time humans have inhabited the Earth, average life expectancy was 30 to 40 years. We are, for the first time, in new territory and with medical advances millions of older adults now have the opportunity to live decades longer than previous generations,” said Aday, who will talk about “Growing Older with Enthusiasm: A Conversation on Positive Aging.”

The purpose of the Positive Aging Conference is to provide aging adults with information and resources to “be more intentional about taking responsibility for living a longer and healthier life,” Aday said.

Dept of Sociology and Anthropology logo

This year, the conference will have breakout sessions that delve into critical aspects of aging, offering a comprehensive exploration of topics such as mental health, the impact and management of opioid use, nutritional insights, issues for veterans’ health, the secrets behind Blue Zones (regions of the world where people live longer and healthier lives), innovative longevity strategies, and technologies for staying connected and independent.

More featured speakers

Dr. Ralph Alvarado, Tennessee Department of Health commissioner, will educate participants at the conference about “Tennessee Age-friendly Health Systems.”

Dr. Ralph Alvarado
Dr. Ralph Alvarado
Keith M. Huber, MTSU senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives
Keith M. Huber

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU, will speak on “Mature Realities” during lunchtime.

Following lunch, there will be four breakout sessions from 12:30-1:30 p.m. The full conference agenda is available at

Topics and presenters include:

• Keith Prather, a U.S. Army Reserve veteran who recently earned his master’s degree in social work at age 64, will lead a veteran-focused discussion on “A Whole Health Approach to Mental Health.”

• Pamela Morris, graduate program coordinator for MTSU’s University College who oversees the Master of Professional Development major, and Janet Colson, MTSU professor of nutrition, will speak on “Nutrition and Brain-building Activities.”

Vanderbilt University Medical Center geriatric medicine specialists Dr. Kimberly Beiting and Dr. Jim Powers will discuss, “What You Need to Know About Opioid Use and Aging.”

• Keita Cole, Aging Program director of nutrition with the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, will discuss, “Social Eating: Eating with Others Can Benefit Overall Health,” and Elizabeth Smith, associate professor of nutrition at MTSU, will talk about how to “Eat, Thrive, Age Well: Bridging the Gap with Anti-inflammatory Mediterranean Mastery.”

Deborah Lee, chair of the NHC Chair of Excellence in Nursing at MTSU and director and co-founder of the Positive Aging Consortium, welcomes some 100 attendees to MTSU's inaugural Positive Aging Conference June 10 at Miller Education Center. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)
In this file photo, Deborah Lee, chair of the NHC Chair of Excellence in Nursing at MTSU and director and co-founder of the Positive Aging Consortium, welcomes some 100 attendees to MTSU’s inaugural Positive Aging Conference June 10 at Miller Education Center. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna)

Four more breakout sessions will take place from 2-3 p.m. Topics and presenters include:

• Kevin Fehr, president and CEO of Amada Senior Care in Murfreesboro, will focus on “Understanding Veterans Administration Benefits.”

• Amanda Cook will focus on “Lessons for Everyday Living from the Blue Zones Research.”

• Cathy Maxwell, professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt School of Nursing, will talk about “Staying Healthy Longer: Innovative Strategies.”

• Kim Lilley, executive director of the Tennessee Technology Access Program,and Jennifer Cunningham with the STAR Center for assistive technology services will present, “Using Technology to Stay Connected and Independent.”

About the Positive Aging Consortium

The MTSU Positive Aging Consortium was established in April 2019 and brings together faculty from numerous programs, departments, and colleges who have expertise and research interests in the area of aging and older adults, including community partners.

The purpose of the Positive Aging Consortium is to bring together participants from MTSU, community partners, and individuals who provide services to aging and older adults to focus on framing aging from a place of positivity rather than decline.

To register for the conference, visit