2017 General Council Breakout Sessions

On March 24, General Council guests were given the opportunity to attend three breakout sessions. Here is a brief overview of each session:

Keeping Your Mind Sharp in your 50s, 60s and Beyond

Kevin Duff, PhD, presented, “Keeping Your Mind Sharp in Your 50s and 60s and Beyond.” Duff conducts research in clinical neuropsychology, aging, and dementia. His primary areas of interest include longitudinal cognitive assessment, practice effects as an indicator of cognitive plasticity, neuropsychological test measures, training to improve cognitive deficits in later life, cognitive decline in normal aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and dementia.

Duff began his presentation by explaining the problems we will all face. As we age, our hippocampus begins to shrink. This is where your brain stores memories. As it shrinks, you become unable to recall things that you should, he said. In addition, as you age, your brain becomes less active, you work less, have fewer problems to solve, and generally just use your brain less.  The combination of these two things has increased the prevalence of dementia Duff said. Currently, about 30 percent of people older than 80 will experience some form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form, affecting about 35 percent of dementia patients.

Everyone worries about dementia, whether it is your own, a family member’s, or a friend’s. Luckily, there are many things you can do to maintain or improve your brain function. Here are a few that Duff recommended:

  • Take a walk
    • Aerobic exercise has been proven to actually increase the size of your hippocampus, improving your memory.
  • Get social
    • Whether it is with a spouse, family members, or friends, social activity has been shown to decrease memory deterioration.
  • Dance:
    • Dancers, even amateur dancers, have better cognition, reaction time, and motor performance.

These are just a few of the examples Duff provided during his presentation. If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment, please contact the University of Utah Center for Alzheimer’s Care, Imaging and Research to set up a consultation.



Chelsea Larsen, a mortgage representative from Mountain America Credit Union, spoke to members about the right way to buy a home. Whether it is your first time buying a home or you’re buying your vacation home in Aspen, there are many things to consider before closing the deal.

Larsen explained what lenders consider before granting a loan. She mentioned things like loan repayment ability, stable income/payment history, debt-to-income ratio and sufficient assets. Lenders need to be smart about their mortgage investments in order to keep their interest rates as low as possible.

Before buying a home, the buyer should first run through a personal checklist: How are your finances? What can you afford? What is the loan application process? Each individual is different when it comes to buying a home. It is best to meet with a loan officer to discuss all of the options and decide what is best for you specifically, Larsen said.

In addition to the price of the home, there are many other costs to consider before applying for a loan, such as the interest rate, taxes, assessments, and utility payments. The closing costs alone are usually between 3-6 percent of the mortgage amount.

Larsen said she just skimmed the surface of mortgage lending and would love to answer additional questions. Contact your Mountain America representative to schedule an appointment with a mortgage loan officer.


Utah’s State Parks

Park Ranger Chris Haramoto enthusiastically presented on Utah’s 43 various state parks during two of the General Council breakout sessions. He reiterated that when most people think of Utah, they are familiar with Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capital Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks, yet don’t necessarily think of the state’s parks. Haramoto did state that Antelope Island is the closet state park that resembles a national park.

As part of the breakout session, Haramoto used a game where attendees guessed which county the state park resides in to receive a state park pin or freebie. Many attendees correctly guessed the county for well-known state parks, such as Bear Lake, Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley, Yuba and Jordanelle. However, some of the smaller parks, such as East Canyon, which is in two counties, and Otter Creek, were trickier to guess correctly.

In an attempt to bring repeat visitors to Utah’s state parks the Department of Natural Resources conducts several events at the individual state parks that coordinate with holidays, wildlife mating or migration patterns, and local school events, including athletic runs. Haramoto said that 2017 is the 60th anniversary of the creation of Utah state parks so each park should be holding an anniversary event. You can find the list of events via the specific park’s social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) or on the Natural Resources website.


WOWW – Working on What Works in Business

During the breakout session titled, “WOWW – Working On What Works in Business,” Pamela King presented on building positive relationships in the workplace.  Even if a workplace situation seems dauntingly negative, king reminded attendees to focus on the positive, “what is working,” in order to build a solution.  To create a more positive and productive workplace, Pamela says that there are three critical skills:

  • create a culture of appreciation
  • solve your solvable problems
  • find common ground

Workshop, attendees left with a renewed confidence that they could have a positive impact at their workplace.


How to Be Prepared in an Active Shooter Situation

John Jones and Gene Miner showcased an “Active Shooter Response Training” presentation.

Jones and Miner are original members of the St. Mark’s Hospital Disaster Response Team responsible for training drills, hospital emergency response to disasters, and hazardous materials decontamination processes.

Both have been certified through the University of Utah Safety Certificate Program and hold master’s level certifications as healthcare safety professionals and healthcare emergency professionals.

“It’s all about your perception and how you react to threats,” Jones said. When you know your escape routes and play the “what if” game, you will be more prepared. Every scenario will vary when it comes to an active shooter being present. If you flee, not everyone will follow and everyone in the room will react differently. “This presentation will make you think ahead of time,” Miner said.

In some situations, you can’t hide because you’re in an open area. What do you do? You find cover and search for concealment. Miner explained, “For employees, become familiar with your work office or the environment around you. You could use office furniture as a shield or block an entrance the shooter might want to break through.” Think outside the box, use different types of tools, talk with your coworkers and create safety plans. Without training, people wouldn’t know what to do.

  1. The officers shared some steps: If you can, try to escape.
  2. If you can’t escape, barricade the doors.
  3. If you none of the above apply, take action.

Statistics show that of those involved:

  • 10 percent will take aggressive action or find a solution
  • 80 percent will freeze and do nothing
  • 10 percent will make the situation worse

When taking action, make sure that you attack the perpetrator from behind and when they are “distracted.” You can help yourself and others by scanning the room in search of items for protection. Find a weapon that is readily accessible for you to fight with. For example, use a pen, chair, etc.

Everyone is a perpetrator until the police investigate each individual. If you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, do not pull out your gun until you have a clear shot because law enforcement cannot determine if you are the perpetrator or not.

If you are interested in having a similar presentation presented at your worksite, please contact UPEA.






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