How Gerontology Grad Used MAS Capstone Project to Help Launch New Service Organization

By Taryn Hojlo

Erin Kopecki didn’t consider much beyond the grading rubric when she drafted a business plan for her gerontology capstone project at UMass Boston. Her professor told students they could satisfy the project’s requirements with either a research paper or a business plan. As someone with an interest in management, Kopecki was quick to declare her choice.

Like most of her Management of Aging Services assignments, she had written the capstone in piecemeal during lunch breaks and the rare bits of downtime that her full-time job as a home care scheduling coordinator allowed. But that project would later become the plan to launch TUCKed-In Eldercare, a geriatric management organization she co-founded on Nantucket. Continue reading

Dr. Shuangshuang Wang, Gerontology Graduate, Thanks Her Village at McCormack

By Saadia Ahmad

The first time that Dr. Shuangshuang Wang learned of the gerontology field was from a professor in college who mentioned that while there are many researchers interested in child development, far fewer are focused on the development of older adults. She enrolled in a class on human aging and discovered an interest in care-giving and marital relationships in the later stages of life. From that point forward, she began thinking about how to improve life quality at the larger stage of human development and found the Gerontology PhD program at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School.

That was seven years ago. Last month, Wang graduated with a doctoral degree in gerontology and with the Gerontology Book Award, presented to a graduating student who has demonstrated excellence across both coursework and dissertation work. Continue reading

Better Tools Needed to Evaluate Health Care Consumer Engagement Strategies

Consumer engagement has become a health care priority, but it is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and organization-level plans developed to achieve that goal.

In a recent blog post for Community Catalyst’s Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation, authors Marc Cohen, Erin McGaffigan and Danielle Skenadore argue that “consumer engagement” itself is a term of art and can mean many different things.

“While the concept appears to have many supporters, how [it] is defined and applied in practice is much less clear,” they wrote. “Moreover, evidence-based strategies for successfully engaging consumers that are linked to clearly articulated and specific outcomes are few and far between.” Continue reading

Strategies to Manage Financing Challenge for Housing Plus Services

By Alisha Sanders

“How will we pay for services?”

That’s the number-one question I get during presentations and conversations about implementing housing plus services models in affordable senior housing communities. Unfortunately, I generally don’t have a good answer.

Right now, these communities are funding services through a variety of mechanisms: they squeeze money out of their operating budgets, apply for grants, collaborate with community partners, solicit in-kind donations, or come up with other creative maneuvers.

This bootstrapping approach can mean a couple of things. Potentially good service ideas may not get fully developed or could go away after some time. And those good service ideas may not get replicated in other communities. Continue reading

Video: Marc Cohen at U.S. Treasury Committee Hearing on Long-Term Care Insurance

The market for long-term care insurance has a lot of problems. That same market could be an important element in a broader solution to financing challenges surrounding long-term care as the nation’s population grows older.

That was the message Marc Cohen, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, brought to the U.S. Treasury Department’s federal advisory committee on insurance. Cohen spoke to the committee in detail about the state of the long-term care insurance market on Feb 22. His complete presentation can be viewed here.

 

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

PAC Case Study: Helping a Widow Secure Survivor Pension Benefit

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.

A 67-year old widow from Charlestown came to the Pension Action Center with a sad story and a serious problem. Her husband had worked cleaning offices as a member of the Service Employees International Union for over 30 years. But union pension fund officials told her she was not entitled to a survivor’s benefit as a result of his sudden death – just one day after signing forms to begin receiving his pension. Continue reading

Pension Action Center Gets Funding to Continue Illinois Free Counseling

The Pension Action Center of the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston has received two new grants that will help it continue free pension counseling and legal assistance to low- and moderate-income workers in Illinois. The separate grants from The Retirement Research Foundation in Chicago and the United States Administration for Community Living total nearly $200,000. Continue reading

Gerontology Institute Pilot Grants Give Researchers a Funding Boost

Professor Christian Weller

Professor Christian Weller recently received a Gerontology Institute Pilot Grant.

How do some researchers get a leg up in the hyper-competitive world of grant funding?

One important source of funds, the National Institute on Aging, only has the financial resources to support 15 percent of grant applications. And that’s an improvement from the odds of success in other recent years.

Most applications to elite agencies like NIA are of high quality, so simply presenting a good idea usually is not enough. Researchers can improve their chances of funding success by developing some preliminary evidence a project hypothesis has merit.

That’s the point behind the Gerontology Institute’s Pilot Grant program, launched in 2016. The awards support researchers in the initial stages of their work, seed funding for promising projects. Continue reading

Meet Jim Hermelbracht, New Director of OLLI at UMass Boston

Jim Hermelbracht is the new director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UMass Boston. Recently, Hermelbracht talked about why he was drawn to the job and explained his initial priorities at OLLI. He also discussed his roots in the Midwest and a career in higher education. The following is an edited version of that conversation.

 

 

What attracted you to the position of director of OLLI at UMass Boston?

I’ve been in higher education for 20 years now. I like what higher education is about in terms of providing opportunities for all students to really explore their interests and gain valuable experiences in their personal and professional development. So when I looked at OLLI and found it served a different student population than what I am used to working with — ages 18 to 22 — it intrigued me. The whole concept of lifelong learning is something I think we try to instill in undergraduate students, that learning never ends. I found the opportunity to help students, in this case older students, continue that exploration to be very appealing. It’s going to be a new and different challenge. Continue reading