Monthly Scoop: March 2021

The Monthly ScoopThank you to Rebecca Gutman . . .
. . . for a very important talk at our March 17 meeting. Rebecca is the VP of Homecare Service Employees International Union 1199 in Massachusetts. She formed a union for local homecare workers when she herself was treated unfairly and has since become a strong advocate. The accomplishments in workplace conditions and in individual rights have been many, including higher wages, overtime pay, improved access to healthcare, health and safety training, funding for personal care attendant programs, and paid family medical leave. But she says there is more to be done and suggested ways Boston Bridge can help. See the Call to Action section of the Scoop to see how you, too, can help these valued employees.

Request a Mentor
March means Mentor Madness at Boston Bridge, where we offer members the ability to learn from an established professional in the field of aging. Here’s the list of mentors; if you are interested, send us an email!
 Become a Boston Bridge Member

Announcements:
A reminder that older adults seeking assistance with booking an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine can call 311.The Memory Cafes specifically for Black and Spanish-speaking communities continue. Visit this website for information about Memory Cafes, or to locate one near you.

Articles
We know living through the pandemic has been difficult for all, but for those living with dementia, and their caregivers, life is more than difficult. This NY Times opinion piece provides insight into the utter devastation the pandemic has wrought for those experiencing dementia.

Ageism in the workplace has often been reported. But many companies are beginning to see the value in retaining older workers and are subsequently changing their programs. Three companies cited here have initiated programs worthy of replication.

Helping the brain function as people age is not achieved with a magic pill, a computerized game, special diets, or even supplements advertised as improving memory or brain function. The Washington Post reports on these and other efforts, as well as better solutions, to prevent cognitive decline.

An innovative and important intergenerational program aims to help save a language UNESCO listed as “definitely endangered” spoken across Canada and the United States. Initiated by students, involving older adults, and now being executed over Zoom, this intergenerational program attempts to contribute to second language learning and the revitalization of languages.

Boston, like many US cities, has been actively involved in making us an age-friendly environment. But urban planning should include “smart data” that older adults (and actually every age!) can use to more easily navigate a city. How about a map of parks that have shaded areas with benches? Or a map of public restrooms? Other ideas?

It has been reported that as the population of the US ages, the number of trained geriatricians is not only not increasing, but is actually falling behind. Now it seems that a new initiative, the geriatric emergency department (GED), within hospital settings is successfully keeping older adults from being admitted to hospitals and is significantly lowering medicare costs. Yet there are only 200 in the US. The Association of Health Care Journalists explains why.

Technology can keep older adults socially engaged, aware of new changes and opportunities in the workplace, and can assist them in remaining at home as they age. But not all the new technologies are welcomed and accepted. In Australia, researchers placed technology devices in homes to determine the extent of their use and the acceptance level of each. This article in the Guardian describes this federally-funded program.

The Alzheimer’s Association has released its annual report on the facts and figures of Alzheimer’s Disease. But for the first time, there is an additional report entitled, “Race, Ethnicity and Alzheimer’s”. Due to the pandemic, and the systemic racism in health care, this report is a must-read.

Mixed Media
How we approach long-term care in this country was the focus of a recent “On Point” discussion. “On Point”, a regular WBUR Boston program, gathered a panel of experts to address this crisis, which predated the pandemic and concerns the future of home care, nursing home care, and older adult housing facilities.

Films and podcasts that are available on streaming networks reveal what living with dementia and what caregiving for those living with dementia actually experience. While some films exploring this topic fall prey to stereotypes, the ones depicted here provide realistic portrayals.BlackDoctor.org has created a town hall event to explore COVID vaccines for the people who work in aging services. Called ”Making it Plain”, it was held to dispel any hesitancies among people of color and can be viewed in its entirety here.

Take Action
Next Avenue, a non-profit organization, reports on issues that inform everyone about the field of aging. This newsletter supports Next Avenue and many of the articles come from this online publication. Next Avenue is embarking on a new initiative – to cover The Future of Elder Care – and based on the above “On Point” discussion, the issue has become a crisis. If you live, work, or have a family member who lives at a long-term care facility, Next Avenue needs your help. Get involved here.

Are you interested in finding out your own life expectancy and/or that of your loved ones? Dr. Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, has developed a longevity calculator that you can access. You can also sign up to receive ongoing health news concerning life expectancy if interested. For some background information, this article from the NY Times explains why even those in their 30s need to consider this.

Homecare Service Employees International Union 1199 has set their legislative agenda for this year, and Rebecca Gutman, Boston Bridge March speaker, has urged those in the aging field to help advocate for it. You can call your state elected officials and urge passage of both the Senate Documents (SD) and the House Documents (HD). Below are some of the proposed bills, but for a full list of their legislative agenda, go to their website.
SD 2013 and HD1892 – An Act to Create Safe Environments for Home Care Workers and Consumers
SD 1130 and HD 3403 – An Act to Strengthen Emergency Preparedness for Home Care Workers
SD SD1060 and HD1664 – Resolve to Improve Employer Standards for Massachusetts Nursing Homes
SD 2382 and HD 3804 – An Act to Provide Retirement Security to Care Workers
SD973 and HD 1439 – An Act to Provide Pathways for Certified Nursing Assistants