News Flash: UMass Boston Gerontology Makes Headlines in 2018

By Taryn Hojlo

UMass Boston’s gerontology faculty and students produced exciting new research findings and achieved remarkable public service achievements in 2018. The news media took notice.

Associate professor Beth Dugan and her Gerontology Institute colleagues published the 2018 edition of the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Data Report in December.The comprehensive report examined a vast array of health indicators on a community-by-community basis, creating an essential resource for policymakers and local leaders to better serve Massachusetts seniors. News coverage by WBUR in Boston looked at seven key takeaways from the report. The Boston Globe dove into the healthy aging data and produced a front-page story examining the impact of depression among elders. Dugan and her team ended the year at work on a similar report profiling the health status of seniors in New Hampshire. Continue reading

Gerontology Institute Team Delivers Comprehensive Report on Healthy Aging in Massachusetts

Mass. Heatlhy Aging Team

The Healthy Aging team, left to right: Wendy Wang PhD, Bon Kim, Nina Silverstein PhD, Jay Lee PhD, Sae Hwang Han, Shiva Prisad, Frank Porell PhD, Haowei Wang, Beth Dugan PhD. Team members not in photo: Natalie Pitheckoff and Evan Chunga.

A new report authored by a research team from the University of Massachusetts Boston provides a comprehensive examination of the health of a million older people living in the Commonwealth, including detailed profiles of every city and town.

The 2018 Massachusetts Healthy Aging Data Report, prepared by the team from the McCormack Graduate School’s Gerontology Institute, became available online Monday at HealthyAgingDataReports.org. The report, made possible with the support of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, follows statewide research conducted by the same team in 2015 and 2014. The new research looked at health trends among residents over age 65 who make up about 15 percent of the state’s population.

“Since our last report, Massachusetts gained approximately 125,000 more people age 65 and older,” said associate professor Elizabeth Dugan, who leads the UMass Boston team. “The aging population in Massachusetts is growing more racially and ethnically diverse, too. But what was most striking to me is how the experience of aging could vary so profoundly based on where you live. Continue reading

UMass Boston Shows Progress in Audit of Age-Friendly University Initiative

By Taryn Hojlo

The first audit of the UMass Boston age-friendly university initiative shows the campus is making progress embracing its pledge to become more inviting to older students, staff, faculty and other members of the community. The audit, led by gerontology professor Nina Silverstein, reviewed the university’s age-friendly strengths as well as areas in need of additional attention. The volunteer research team included representatives from across campus departments and constituencies.

“Beyond simply endorsing principles, we needed to understand what age-friendliness means for our campus and what steps need to be taken to achieve it,” said Silverstein. “The audit is a step in the right direction.” Continue reading

Special Journal Edition Examines Aging Policy and Politics in the Trump Era

Edward A. Miller

Editor-in-chief Edward A. Miller

It takes more than a few words to explain what the Trump administration means to older Americans.

In fact, the Journal of Aging & Social Policy has dedicated an entire edition to address the issue. Its recently published special edition, “Aging Policy and Politics in the Trump Era,” looks at the White House and Republicans controlling both houses of Congress from eleven different perspectives on senior issues.

“The role of older Americans has been critical in both shaping and reacting to this political moment,” JASP editor-in chief and UMass Boston professor Edward A. Miller, along with four co-authors, write in the edition’s lead article (free access).

“Their political orientations and behaviors have shaped it through their electoral support for Republican candidates, but they also stand as highly invested stakeholders in the policy decisions made by the very officials they elected and as beneficiaries of the programs that Republicans have targeted,” they wrote. Continue reading

Research to Examine Impact of Aging Populations on Local Finances, Services

This post originally appeared in the Collins Report.

Municipalities face a changing demographic profile in the coming years and decades. By 2030, 28 percent of the Massachusetts population will be age 60 or older, and seniors will constitute at least 30 percent of the population in two of every three municipalities in the Commonwealth.

One of the municipal functions most heavily impacted by the aging population is emergency services. Based on preliminary research, the share of EMS responses for residents aged 65+ (47 percent) is three times the share of the population currently aged 65+ (16 percent) statewide. If these patterns of response and transport persist, demand for EMS services will grow dramatically in coming decades, with a more than 35 percent increase in demand for EMS expected by 2035, just for the population aged 65 and over.

Given the need to understand how aging populations will affect the finances of municipalities, the Gerontology Institute and the Collins Center for Public Management have partnered with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy to study this topic. The research will attempt to address questions such as: How do aging populations impact municipal costs, particularly related to EMS? How do aging populations impact revenues, particularly related to EMS? How do changes in the size of the senior population correlate with changes in EMS calls? And what models have emerged to manage the impact of aging populations on costs?

The results of this research will help municipalities understand the financial impact of their own aging populations and begin to consider how they provide EMS and related services to their residents so that they can devise new strategies to meet the needs of an older population.

If you are interested in learning more about or contributing to this research, please contact Michael Ward at michael.ward@umb.edu.

 

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Awards UMass Boston New Grant to Support Age-Friendly Boston Initiative

Tufts Health Plan Foundation has announced a two-year grant of $200,000 to the University of Massachusetts Foundation to provide strategic support for the Age-Friendly Boston initiative, which supports healthy aging through access to community resources, services, and supports that older people need and want.

This is one of 16 new community investments totaling nearly $1.8 million that reflect the foundation’s commitment to make cities and towns great places to grow up and grow old. Continue reading

UMass Gerontology Researchers Deliver Study on State Transportation Options for Older Adults

Elizabeth Dugan, ChaeMan Lee and Nina Silverstein.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Dugan, far left, and Professor Nina Silverstein, far right, with Postdoctoral Fellow ChaeMan (Jay) Lee.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Boston have prepared a detailed new study of the state’s transportation options to older residents, examining the need for services and available resources.

The report by researchers from the McCormack Graduate School’s Gerontology Institute was delivered to a workgroup dedicated to transportation on the Governor’s Council to Address Aging Issues in Massachusetts. It was produced with the financial support of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. Continue reading

Boston Residents Graduate as First Class of New Senior Civic Academy

Cindy Bui

Cindy Bui, a PhD student, is a member of the UMass Boston Gerontology team working on the Senior Academy project.

Want seniors to become more engaged in their communities and speak up effectively on issues that matter to them? Cities and towns can help by teaching their older residents some important skills and providing practical information.

Case in point: The city of Boston recently graduated the first class of its Senior Civic Academy. The class of 25 students over age 50 live in neighborhoods across Boston. They completed a 28-hour curriculum including aging policy, advocacy training and meetings with local, state and federal administrators and elected officials. Continue reading

Transportation: The Senior Issue That Impacts All Others

You can’t get there from here (and back again).

Many seniors who want to go places and do things that most people consider routine might say that. Transportation challenges – from simple availability to special needs – can make it difficult to shop, attend events or make appointments. The ability to reliability get from one place to another when needed is essential for everyone.

“To me, transportation and the larger sense of community mobility is a critical issue that we as gerontologists need to be concerned about because it impacts everything,” said Nina Silverstein, a professor at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School. Continue reading

5 Strategies to Address the Home Care Workforce Challenge

Here’s the good news from home health agencies in Massachusetts: They manage to find an average of 18 new hires to join the care workforce every three months, according to a recent  report by the Home Care Aide Council.

Here’s the bad news: The same agencies lose an average of 15 home care aides over those three months.

That revolving door puts enormous pressure on agencies to find enough qualified new people to continue serving clients and meet growing demand, according to the report authored by Hayley Gleason, assistant director at the council and a gerontology PhD candidate at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School.

The report found a quarterly staff turnover rate of 16 percent among home care agencies. Nearly 90 percent of agencies said finding enough qualified home care aides was their top workforce challenge. The report identified low pay, lack of benefits, scheduling and training concerns to be among the top issues leading to staff turnover. Continue reading