Home care agencies and their employees are performing critical services that help clients continue to live independently, work that has become even more challenging and dangerous in the coronavirus pandemic.
Kevin Smith is the chief executive of Best of Care, an agency headquartered in Quincy, Mass., that serves clients in greater Boston and many other areas of Massachusetts. Smith is also president of the Home Care Aide Council, Inc., a trade association of 70 agencies providing home care services in Massachusetts.
Gerontology Institute Director Len Fishman spoke with Smith on March 23 about home health agencies and their workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The following transcript was edited for length and clarity.
Len Fishman: Tell us briefly who your agency serves.
Kevin Smith: We are serving about 1,500 people. They are typically over age 60 and actually skew toward their 80s. It’s fair to say many depend on the care of our aides to remain independent and out of facility-based care. Continue reading →
Gerontology Institute Director Len Fishman testifies Feb. 5 before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Elder Affairs
Gerontology Institute Director Len Fishman offered a simple suggestion to state legislators wrestling with the critical shortage of low-paid direct-care health workers: Make the jobs more attractive.
Fishman told the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Elder Services that two things – more money and a legitimate career path to better jobs – were overwhelmingly the most important factors that would attract more workers to the field.
“How can we convince more people to accept and remain in jobs that are physically and emotionally demanding, provide poor benefits, low wages and offer virtually no opportunity for career advancement? When you ask the question honestly, it answers itself,” he told the legislators at a Feb. 5 hearing. Continue reading →
What’s better than a grant funding new faculty research? Two grants.
Two assistant professors from the McCormack Graduate School’s Gerontology Department recently won two-year grants of $152,500 each from the National Institute on Aging. Work on both projects began recently.
Jeffrey Stokes received a grant to study the impact of loneliness of a spouse on the health and well-being of both older adult partners in a marriage. Qian Song is the principle investigator on a project that won a grant to examine the long-term effects of job loss on health in a setting that mimics a natural experiment – the massive layoffs of State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) workers in urban China. Continue reading →
As the population ages in the United States and around the world, technology will surely play a role assisting in the care of millions of older adults and help them lead productive lives. But how will that actually work?
Fishman noted that people currently in their 60s are among the first in history to reach that age with an expectation of living into their 80s or well beyond, and they are planning accordingly. As a result, he said, “there’s an opportunity to have a conversation with people about how technology can help. The technology – some of it is disease-specific, some of it is more to help people stay well. You’re talking about almost 50 million people, that’s a huge market.”
The Harvard Catalyst event was held in June at the Countway Library of Medicine in Boston.
Anne Tumlinson is the nationally recognized eldercare expert who founded Daughterhood, an online community providing support and advice to adult children caring for their aging parents. She is also the founder of Anne Tumlinson Innovations, a research and advisory firm focused on transforming the way care is delivered and financed.
With more than 25 years of research and consulting experience, Tumlinson has often testified in Washington and written on innovation in aging services. Previously, she led Medicaid program oversight at the federal Office of Management and Budget.
Recently she talked with Gerontology Institute Director Len Fishman about the evolution of Daughterhood, practical problems facing caregivers and policy issues that affect innovation in the field. The following is an edited version of their conversation. Continue reading →
Although traditionally understood as a childhood condition, autism is a lifelong disorder that presents in both children and adults. Many of the children with this disorder who were born during the last century and who are now reaching mid- and later-life did not receive formal diagnoses of autism. Further, increases in human longevity and the aging of the largest birth cohort (born between 1946-1964) in our nation’s history suggest that although prevalence rates of autism remain around 1% of the population, the sheer numbers of these adults stands to increase dramatically in coming years.
Caitlin Coyle, left, and Danielle Waldron.
These adults on the spectrum who live much or all of their lives without diagnoses, often struggle to develop their personal identities. Due to their difficulties with communication and relationship development, they work tirelessly to manage their disorder in order to assemble lives that include stable employment, intimate social relationships and families. As one adult aging with autism describes (his or her) life without an autism diagnosis, “…something basic was missing: Not knowing how to think about and appreciate ourselves.” Continue reading →
Carl V. Hill is director of the Office of Special Populations at the National Institute on Aging, which leads the federal government in conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. Hill recently visited the UMass Boston campus, where he was the featured speaker at the first annual Gerontology Institute Fellows Dinner. Earlier that day, Hill talked with Institute Director Len Fishman about his career, how he promotes funding for health disparity research and current priorities for the institute’s $3.1 billion research budget. The following is an edited version of their conversation.
Len Fishman: How did you first become interested in a career in public health and health disparity research in particular?
Carl V. Hill: I was in the first class of the Masters of Public Health program at the Morehouse School of Medicine. The founder of that program was Dr. Bill Jenkins, who passed away this year. He was one of the first whistle-blowers on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. He was also a mentor to many African-Americans in public health and he started this program that allowed many of us to have a start. Later, I had a chance to study for my PhD at the University of Michigan. I worked with people like Woody Neighbors and James S. Jackson, who both worked on the Survey of American Life. They also worked on the Survey on Black Americans, the first data collection on the lives and health of African-Americans in this country. Continue reading →
UMass Boston gerontology PhD student Haowei Wang shared New Hampshire Healthy Aging data with N.H. state Rep. James MacKay at a legislative breakfast in April.
A UMass Boston research team that recently published comprehensive reports on the health of older adults living in Massachusetts and New Hampshire has received new funding to produce similar studies covering two additional New England states.
The team at the McCormack Graduate School’s Gerontology Institute received grants of $448,000 from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation to support healthy aging data reports for Rhode Island and Connecticut. Tufts had funded the earlier healthy aging state reports as well.
Research for the new reports began this month and is expected to be complete by April 2021. The team will be updating a previous Rhode Island report it published in 2016. The Connecticut research will become the basis of that state’s first healthy aging data report. Continue reading →
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 research team from the University of Massachusetts Boston has delivered a comprehensive new report on the health of older people in New Hampshire, along with detailed profiles of 244 communities in their state.
“We are all aging,” said Dugan. “Identifying and understanding the gaps in healthy aging will allow communities to continue to adapt, improving quality of life for all New Hampshire residents.” Continue reading →