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.

Intergenerational living is nothing new, but a relatively recent phenomenon has emerged as life expectancy continues to climb. Over the course of the year, professor Kathrin Boerner delved into the relationships between seniors and their living parents. Boerner’s work as lead researcher in the Aging Together Study was the focus of a detailed story published by NextAvenue.  The study was also the basis for front-page Mother’s Day story in the Globe about those relationships and how parents still want to keep tabs on their children no matter how old they become. The work of recruiting and interviewing parent-child seniors was also highlighted in a story by the Patriot Ledger in Quincy.

Deborah Imondi, a pension beneficiary from Rhode Island and PAC client

A pension is a critical financial resource for most retirees who are fortunate enough to have one. But some people run into difficulty trying to collect their benefit or, in some cases, even locate the pensions. This year, the Pension Action Center (PAC) has helped hundreds of clients claim pension benefits that had been lost or previously denied to them. Deborah Imondi, a pension beneficiary from Rhode Island, was one of those clients. Imondi and the PAC’s work were featured prominently in an in-depth article published by WGBH in Boston on the problem of missing or lost pensions. The center’s work was also the basis of a Chicago Tribune article focused on the same pension challenges.  The PAC serves retirees and their families in the six New England states and Illinois.

Gerontology involves many social and community issues. Institute Director Len Fishman offered commentary on two of them in prominent Globe stories in 2018. One covered the changing role of the community senior center in cities and towns serving growing numbers of active and engaged older residents. Fishman discussed the importance of revamping these community hallmarks and why their resources shouldn’t be limited to seniors.  Fishman also appeared in Globe story describing the difficult decision of when people should consider moving from their homes to senior living arrangements and how timing was a crucial factor. His comment became the story’s headline: “There’s a window and, once it closes, it closes forever.”

Seniors take Karate class at the Center for Active Living in Plymouth, Mass.

The year got off to a high-profile start with a feature article in Forbes, describing a novel public-private funding concept for long-term services and supports advanced by Marc Cohen, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston.  Cohen and Judy Feder of Georgetown University developed the plan that would involve private insurance covering some LTSS expenses but include public catastrophic protection.