UMass Boston Gerontology Contingent Follows Research Projects to South Korea

(L-R) Bon Kim, assistant professor Kyungmin Kim, associate professor Kathrin Boerner, and Yijung Kim at Seoul National University.

A small contingent of UMass Boston Gerontology professors and students were simply following their work wherever it led. In this case, it took them nearly 7,000 miles to South Korea.

The group included associate professor Kathrin Boerner and assistant professor Kyungmin Kim, as well as PhD candidates Yijung Kim and Bon Kim. They spent two weeks recently in Seoul, working on a series of projects related to South Korea’s aging population and making presentations organized around their visit.

Two particular points of research interest: The lives of Korean baby boomers and the relationship between the country’s senior children and their surviving parents. Both had connected the UMass Boston group to their host in Seoul, Dr. Gyounghae Han. Continue reading

Bureau of Sages Project Brings Elder Voices to Research Development

Erin McGaffigan

Erin McGaffigan will lead the LTSS Center’s contribution to the Bureau of Sages project.

Amy Eisenstein had a powerful idea. She wanted to see what would happen if researchers made a point of reaching out to nursing home residents and stay-at-home older adults, people who were typically not consulted during projects.

Eisenstein, director of the Leonard Schanfield Research Institute, tried to do exactly that at the Chicago campus of CJE’s Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation. Her plan was an immediate hit and soon led to the creation of the Bureau of Sages, a research advisory group that brings the voices of older adults to the process of developing research studies.

Now the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston will help CJE spread the Bureau of Sages concept across the country in a new two-year project. Continue reading

PAC Case Study: Assisting Veteran Denied Pension Vesting Right

The Gerontology Institute’s Pension Action Center is part of the McCormack Graduate School at UMass Boston. It provides free legal assistance to low- and moderate-income workers, retirees and their survivors in the six New England states and Illinois whose pension benefits have been wrongfully denied. This is one in an occasional series of posts about cases the center pursues on behalf of its clients.

An Illinois man who reached his normal retirement age in June of this year discovered he had a big pension problem. The company he expected to pay the pension said it didn’t exist.

The man came to the Pension Action Center for help through the Illinois Pension Assistance Project. PAC counselor Susan Hart and attorney Sophie Esquier soon discovered the event that caused their client’s immediate problem had taken place more than 40 years earlier. The event was the Vietnam War. Continue reading

How Housing Plus Services Addresses Senior Needs

By Meghan Hendricksen

A shortage of affordable housing for seniors will pose a huge challenge for the United States in the years ahead. But finding homes for those elders is only part of the solution, according to Alisha Sanders.

Helping seniors deal with health issues locally and age in place in their homes should be an important element of any housing plan, she said.

Sanders, director of Housing & Services Policy Research at LeadingAge, was the final fall speaker series guest at UMass Boston’s Gerontology Department. Her talk, “Affordable Senior Housing Plus Services: Meeting the Needs of Low-Income Seniors,” stressed the value of providing housing and services together. Continue reading

Crucial Support for Senior Affordable Housing at Risk in Tax Reform Legislation

Len FishmanBy Len Fishman

Low-income elder Americans face a housing crisis today. We don’t have nearly enough decent, affordable housing for them, and our country’s aging population is adding waves of new seniors to the waiting lists every day.

States and the federal government generally do not build new affordable housing directly. Instead, they maintain a market-based system that allows private firms and nonprofits (many of them faith-based) to partner with government to build and preserve housing for low-income elders and the working poor.

For decades, this public-private partnership has been the main engine driving new construction and preservation of subsidized senior housing. With the passage of tax legislation in both houses, Congress now faces a stark choice.

The House tax bill would eliminate private activity bonds and accompanying tax credits—one of the last forms of government support making private investment in affordable housing for seniors possible. The Senate bill would leave the bonds and tax credits largely intact. It’s essential that a final bill preserves these critical tools to help us address the dire housing problem facing many of our most vulnerable citizens. Continue reading

Marc Cohen Co-Chairs National Panel Examining State-Based LTSS Programs

Marc Cohen, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, has been named co-chair of a study panel organized by the National Academy of Social Insurance to help states design new programs to address challenges facing many of their citizens.

The study panel is part of a new academy project called “Designing State-based Social Insurance Programs for Paid Leave, Affordable Child Care and Long-Term Services and Supports.” Continue reading

LTSS Center Analyzes Senior Demographic Profiles for National Councils on Aging

The LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston is conducting research to help the National Councils on Aging develop a deeper understanding of older adults it serves by analyzing their economic and demographic profiles.

NCOA asked the LTSS center to develop a series of profiles of non-institutionalized older adults and use them to separate seniors into several segments. In particular, it wants to better understand a part of the senior population not often served by its programs and services – middle-income older adults. Continue reading

Jennifer Gaudet Hefele Leads Research on Care Disparity at Nursing Homes

Reports examining racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of nursing home care typically focus on the very big picture – the collective experience of thousands of residents living in many facilities. Should the same kind of information about individual nursing homes be publicly reported as well?

It’s commonly acknowledged that in the U.S., older Black and Hispanic adults often reside in lower-quality nursing homes, which focuses debate on access to high-quality facilities rather than the care of individual residents. That begs another question: Do disparities still exist between residents of different races and ethnicities within the same nursing homes?

Assistant professor Jennifer Gaudet Hefele of the UMass Boston Gerontology Department, along with six co-authors, recently published the first study to examine within-facility differences in nursing home quality by race and ethnicity for a large set of publicly reported quality measures nationwide. Continue reading

The Journey Toward Equity in Health Care

This post originally appeared on The Joint Commission Quality Data Download blog.

By Jennifer Gaudet Hefele, PhD

“If there are differences, they should be known.”Focus group participant, White female

This is what one respondent said when asked whether a nursing home’s report card should show quality performance ratings for each race/ethnicity represented among its residents. In other words, should a nursing home report show a quality measure for how well a facility does for its Black residents and, separately, how well the facility does for its White residents? Continue reading

A Closer Look at Bulgaria’s Aging Population Challenge

By Natalie Pitheckoff

Most Americans know very little about Bulgaria. Even fewer are aware of its aging population, which is creating great challenges (and opportunities) across the country. People often hear or read about aging in countries such as China and India due to their large projected increases in older adults. It seems like Bulgaria gets lost among the giants, even though the country’s current rate of population aging ranks fourth worldwide behind only Japan, Italy, and Germany (Karpinska & Dykstra, 2014; Velkovska, 2010).

As a Bulgarian citizen, I felt it was due time to shed some light on the country’s aging and demographic landscape. I decided to write a manuscript for The Gerontologist, published in the October edition, which describes in detail the factors that have led Bulgaria to its current circumstance and examines the serious implications for the years ahead. Continue reading