Gerontology Institute Research Team Completes Report on Healthy Aging in New Hampshire

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 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.

The first-ever New Hampshire Healthy Aging Data Report was prepared by researchers at the McCormack Graduate School’s Gerontology Institute, led by associate professor Beth Dugan. The report, funded by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, was released April 2 at a legislative breakfast at the New Hampshire statehouse.

“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

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

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

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

The Age-Friendly Movement: How it Grew and What Plans for an Older Future Could Achieve

The age-friendly movement is being embraced in small towns, cities and even states across the country. All of them see populations growing older and recognize that they must adapt. They are assessing needs and creating plans so their communities will be great places for residents of all ages to live in the future. The Gerontology Institute Blog invited three of the leading age-friendly voices in Massachusetts to discuss the movement — what it has achieved and where it is going.

Michael Festa is the Massachusetts state director of AARP, the leader in developing age-friendly community networks across the country.  Nora Moreno Cargie is president of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, a leading supporter of work in healthy living with an emphasis on older adults. Jan Mutchler is director of the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her center works directly with communities across the state to assess age-friendly needs and develop action plans to address them. The following is an edited version of their conversation.

Q: Mike, AARP recently designated Massachusetts the nation’s second age-friendly state. How did that happen and what does it mean?

Michael Festa: It means Massachusetts is in a place where all departments of state government – not just public health and human services, but in all aspects – are committing to a process in which an age-friendly lens is applied. But the application also asks what you are doing already that is reflective of that commitment. There are a lot of things going on in communities with the age-friendly initiative. You already have a coordination of professional associations like planning councils and other groups. AARP asks, is this state in a place where we can acknowledge it is age-friendly or in the process of achieving all it is aspiring to do? The reality of what is happening in Massachusetts made it quite easy for AARP to say yes.

Nora Moreno Cargie: I would add just to that the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts. There’s this statewide body, to Gov. Baker’s credit. We talk to ourselves about ourselves — here you have three people who are involved in age-friendly stuff. What the governor recognized is that we had to talk to people in transportation and housing and those other areas, so that they could also become aware of what was necessary to achieve this age-friendly work.

Q: Local age-friendly planning is taking place all over the state. How did it become so popular on the municipal level?

Jan Mutchler: This whole initiative took off because there was an interest in doing something innovative, but there hadn’t been a name for it or models for it. It’s been so successful here because there were early adopters and the publicity about this being an initiative that had a name and a framework attached to it. People are excited and moving ahead because it’s been where they wanted to go all along. Communities approach all of this with very different capacities. We’re seeing a huge range needs for guidance and support. Continue reading

Grad Research Assistant Wendy Wang to Present Report at China Conference

A new report prepared by UMass Boston Gerontology Institute researchers on resources for elders and those living with dementia in Massachusetts will no doubt be read far and wide.

How far? Wendy Wang, the lead graduate research assistant on the report prepared for the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, will present the findings at the Chinese Congress and Exposition on Gerontology and Health Industry in Suzhou, China, next month. Continue reading

Report Focuses on Services, Needs For Elders and Those Living With Dementia

Tufts Health Plan Foundation has released a new report prepared by UMass Boston Gerontology Institute researchers that provides a comprehensive look at current activities and resources in place to support Massachusetts populations over age 65 as well as those living with dementia and their caregivers.

Researchers led by associate professor Elizabeth Dugan prepared the Report on Demographics, Programs, and Services for an Age- and Dementia-Friendly Commonwealth: What We Have and What We Need. It offers recommendations for building age- and dementia-friendly communities, identifies gaps in resources for this growing population and includes strategies to increase those supports. Continue reading

UMass Boston Research Team Wins Grant for New Healthy Aging Reports

The Tufts Health Plan Foundation has commissioned a UMass Boston gerontology research team to produce 2018 Healthy Aging Data Reports for Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The reports are designed to help residents, agencies, providers and governments understand the older adults who live in their cities and towns – their ages, living arrangements, health status, strengths and vulnerabilities. Research and preparation of the reports will be funded by a two-year grant of $459,000 from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. Continue reading