Monthly Scoop: October 2021

Thank you to Julie Watt Faqir, Executive Director of the Home Care Aide Council, and Timothy Burgers, Associate Director of the Home Care Alliance of MA, for their insightful – and somewhat frightening –picture of the home care crisis in Massachusetts – and the country. Prior to the pandemic, there was already a need for more home care providers, but now it is worse. While the American Rescue Plan provided much-needed funds for reimbursement rates and gave workers greater credibility by recognizing them as essential workers, recruitment remains a huge problem.
On their wish list to help: allowing benefits to taper off slowly if needed rather than the “benefit cliff” which keeps people in poverty, and professionalizing home care aides’ work by allowing them to administer medications, which also increases their wage-earning ability. Check out the Call to Action to see how you can help this crisis! Become a Boston Bridge Member

Announcements

  • For those seeking employment, remember to check out the Boston Bridge Job Board. It changes often.
  • At any time, any Boston Bridge participant can email us to suggest a topic for our monthly meeting, provide feedback on any of our speakers, and share your wishes concerning in-person, virtual, or a hybrid model for future meetings. We’d love to hear from you!

Articles

Ageism

  • The rate of growth of older people in America far outweighs the rate of the growth of geriatricians coming out of medical schools. And too often, practitioners simply treat all adults equally when, in fact, older adults react differently to medical procedures. Dr. Ely, from Vanderbilt Medical School, has written a book showing that the dehumanization of older adults and ageism itself has real consequences for older adults. Healthcare providers must become age-friendly.

Home Care and Caregiving

  • Reinforcing what our speakers shared this month, this article provides three personal stories and further helps us understand the issue of home care and invisibility.
  • While most home care workers are people of color, a report from PHI (formerly Paraprofessional Homecare Institute, now known only as PHI) points to the discrepancy in long-term care leadershipLeading Age is addressing this DEI leadership discrepancy.

Maintaining Healthy Aging

  • The United Nations International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP) was held on October 1, and its theme was “Digital Equity for All Ages.” Here are six insights from the UN World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Healthy Ageing and Longevity on how we can ensure digital inclusion for older adults in order to maintain healthy aging.
  • In addition to digital equity in the above article, the tech industry has recognized the need for new user-friendly, artificial intelligence devices that keep older adults connected and healthy. This growing market of technology includes ElliQ – an iPad and Alexa for older adults.

Social and Medical Innovations and Issues

  • Boston University has created a Master of Management in Hospitality with a Senior Living Concentration. Why did they do this? How might it affect the field of aging? Listen to one student’s reasoning here, and for those who might be interested, check it out here.
  • Government cannot end social isolation, but a new bill introduced in the US Congress is designed to help by funding local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). The bill is a good start in addressing elder loneliness. But this Health Affairs blog believes greater impact would result if it addressed feelings of isolation among other cohorts as well. Read about the bill and suggested improvement.

Mixed Media

  • Witness a magical intergenerational collaboration: Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett have recorded three albums together. The most recent was following a miraculous Spring 2021 concert in NYC. Why was it miraculous? Because Tony Bennett is 95, has advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, displays a vacant affect, and is almost totally unaware of his surroundings or the people he has known for years – including Lady Gaga. But at that concert, on a stage with Lady Gaga, he not only remembered her name and the words to every song, but his affect completely changed. Perhaps one day we will know the brain’s secret about how that happens…but for now, enjoy this 6-minute story about their collaboration from NPR. (Click the “6-minute Listen” at the top of the story.)
  • Two students from a Gifted and Talented high school in Texas have developed an app for those experiencing Alzheimer’s disease. The app is called AlzBuddy and is an example of intergenerational caring and connectedness. Listen to this report from a Texas TV station.

Take Action

  • A virtual workplace is clearly a new, convenient reality. But it doesn’t have to feel as isolating as a Pew Research Poll indicated: 65% of the population felt out of touch with colleagues. Presented here are four specific suggestions to feeling more connected at work.
  • In keeping with Boston Bridge’s commitment to inclusion and diversity in our membership and for leaders in the field of aging, we alert you to a new initiative from the American Society on Aging called ASA Rise. This ten-week program begins January 2022 and scholarships are available. Please check it out and spread the word about this opportunity.
  • In order to advance the home care agenda, our October speakers Julie and Timothy both agree that advocacy is essential. They urged Boston Bridge members to call their state legislators, educate them about the crisis in the home care industry, and ask them to advocate on behalf of our older adults.