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13 May 2016
Roy Spittle's history of Gloucester
Gloucester Times, Senior Lookout

It was 1933 in Gloucester and he was 5 years old. He would put his hand in his mother’s, they’d leave by the front door of the house on Washington Street, and together walk to the corner of Commonwealth Avenue. There they would let go of each other’s hand, and she would continue her trek to work at the Tavern on the Harbor, and he’d return to the house. This is Roy Spittle’s earliest memory.

As a boy in the late 1930s, young Roy enjoyed watching the horse-drawn carriage that carried the ice being delivered from house to house. He was fascinated by the strength and precision of the horse as well as the quick, spry nature of the man who’d cut the ice, strap it to his back, and deliver it to the houses.

Roy has been drawn to and influenced by strong work ethics from a young age.

It was a few years later, that Roy began taking on odd jobs. Errands, snow-shoveling, cutting grass, weeding gardens, shucking clams, whatever was needed — “for 10 cents an hour or so, I was there,” Roy says. “We were very poor.”

Roy grew up in that house on Washington Street with his mother, his grandfather and two sisters. The house was a cold-water flat — no hot water and no heat, except for the stove in the middle of the kitchen. “We’d huddle around the stove to stay warm,” Roy says.

In the summer of 1942 at the age of 14, Roy was granted a work permit based on family hardship. His first job that summer was as an electrical apprentice at Gorton-Pew Fisheries.

In the fall, while he was attending Gloucester High School’s Vocational Program, he worked at Parks Brothers Electrical Company.

“There was a week of academics and a week of shop, mom let me work the week of shop,” recalls Roy.

Roy would get picked up from school around 2:30 p.m. and work sometimes until 8 p.m. Despite this demanding schedule, Roy was the very first Gloucester High School Vocational student who made the honor roll.

Always able to find time for fun, Roy spent a lot of his youth playing sports. He made lots of friends that way. One of the advantages of a small city is that you can find friends for life.

“When you are growing up and making friends, you don’t realize you’ll be friends for life. You meet them in school and you’re playing sports together, then you’re golfing, and the next thing you know, you’ve known them for 70 years,” he says.

Roy eventually found himself back at Gloucester High School’s Vocational School, but this time as a teacher. He was a tough teacher by his own account, but his kids must have liked it; 91 percent of all his students became involved in electrical work, one way or another.

Roy’s teaching was a second job for him. He also served Gloucester for more than 70 years as an electrician, and he was the successful owner of Roy Spittle Associates for many years.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in SeniorCare's New Blog | Link
06 May 2016
Raising your grandchild is no small feat
Gloucester Times, Senior Lookout

Frieda Collins has lived a rich and storied life. Thrown curveball after curveball, she caught each with grace and courage (a feat she may have picked up from her dad who was a semi-professional catcher on a baseball team).

Frieda grew up in Gloucester and gave birth to seven children, three girls and three boys. One of her daughters died at the age of 7 months. Frieda went on to raise six children. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994, she celebrated 21 years cancer-free on February 1, 2016. Her siblings were not as lucky; of her seven sisters, only two are living.

At 76 years of age, Frieda is holding fast to the last curveball she caught — seven and a half years ago she took custody of her granddaughter Sophia. Frieda joined the ranks of more than 2.5 million grandparents in the United States raising their grandkids.

Sophia’s parents, who both will celebrate three years clean and sober this summer, were struggling with active addiction when Sophia was born. Seeing the inherent danger, Frieda took Sophia into her home and eventually became her legal guardian.

Sophia, who just celebrated her eighth birthday, always has a smile on her face. “She’s just so lovable,” says Frieda.

Recounting a story from when Sophia was about 3, Frieda is visibly filled with joy and love. “I had to go to California for a wedding,” Frieda says. “I left Sophia with her Aunt Kathy, but I called her every day. When I returned three days later and walked in Kathy’s house, Sophia was so excited — she didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or cry.”

Sophia has her own room at her Aunt Kathy’s house. Frieda feels fortunate that her large extended family is so supportive of Sophia. On birthdays, Christmas and other holidays, Sophia receives gifts from nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. One niece in New York sends Sophia new clothing as the seasons change. “She has two boys and loves to buy little girl clothes for Sophia,” Frieda says.

Frieda, who is retired from Gorton’s, works part-time as a site manager at the Rockport Council on Aging for SeniorCare’s Nutrition Program. She believes it is important that Sophia experiences arts and culture. Not having a lot of money, they often go to local theaters. Most recently they went to see “Beauty and the Beast” presented by the Beeman Elementary School Chorus, and last summer they saw the Annisquam Village Players’ production of “Peter Pan.”

During the last school vacation, Sophia went into Boston for the day with a friend of Frieda’s. They went to a museum and Faneuil Hall. While at Faneuil Hall, Sophia was relaxing on a bench, and became engrossed in people-watching. “My friend told me Sophia was just like me when I’m around a lot of people,” says Frieda. “She definitely has picked up some of my traits,” she adds proudly.

Frieda is fortunate that she has a large extended family and that she is aware of programs, services, laws and policies that relate to grandparents raising grandchildren. Many people in Frieda’s position are often isolated and unaware of the help that is available. If you are a grandparent raising a grandchild or know of someone who is, you can get information at or at

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
02 May 2016
Older Americans Are Blazing A Trail
Celebrate Older Americans Month in May

Older adults are a growing and increasingly vital part of our country. The contributions they make to our communities are varied, deeply rooted, and include influential roles in the nation’s economy, politics, and the arts. From 69-year-old NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. to 84-year-old actress Rita Moreno to 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who took her seat as a Supreme Court Justice at age 60, older adults are blazing trails in all aspects of American life.

In 1963, we began to acknowledge the contributions of older people by using the month of May to celebrate Older Americans Month. Led by the Administration for Community Living, the annual observance offers the opportunity to learn about, support, and celebrate our nation’s older citizens. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages. 

Statistics about Older Americans Month:

  • When Older Americans’ Month was first established by President John F. Kennedy in May 1963, there were 17 million Americans age 65 or older. As of 2014, there were   44.7 million Americans age 65+, and they account for approximately 14.5% of the U.S. pop.  In the next 25 years 1 in 5 Americans will be an older adult.
  • 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day, and this year marks the first time that members of the baby boomer generation will turn 70 years of age.
  • Older Americans are more active and engaged than ever. 19% of older Americans are employed, and many of them, 4.9 million, have fulltime year-round jobs. This number has tripled since 1993. Furthermore, the number of Americans age 75 or older that are working has increased by 140%.
  • It is estimated that by 2033 the number of Americans aged 65 or older will outnumber Americans aged 18 or younger.

While Executive Office of Elder Affairs promotes the independence, empowerment, and well-being of older adults, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers adults year-round, we see Older Americans Month as a way to focus on how older adults in our community are leading and inspiring others, how we can support and learn from them, and how we might follow their examples to blaze trails of our own.

According to Secretary of EOEA, Alice Bonner, PhD, RN, “At Executive Office of Elder Affairs we share a vision where all adults and individuals with disabilities will have access to the resources they need to live well and thrive in every community in the Commonwealth.  We encourage you to get involved by engaging in your community, participating in the dialogue about Older Americans month, and by blazing your own trail! “

For more information about connecting with elder services, contact SeniorCare Inc. at 978-281-1750 or go to

About SeniorCare

SeniorCare Inc. serves an area that represents more than 27,000 residents aged 60 and over.  We provide services to adults with disabilities and elders in nine communities. Established in 1972, SeniorCare has approximately 100 employees and nearly 400 volunteers. The volunteers and staff work to fulfill its mission as a consumer-centered organization which provides and coordinates services to elders and others. This allows them to live independently at home or in a setting of their choice, while remaining part of their community.

Posted by senior care blog at 9:06 AM in Older Americans Act | Link
29 April 2016
Celebrating baby-boom generation
Gloucester Times, Senior Lookout

May is Older American Month — a nationally celebrated month to honor the contributions people ages 65 and over have made and continue to make in our community. Older adults are a growing and increasingly vital part of our community. We are all aware that the baby-boom generation has begun to turn 65 and will continue to do so for the next 13 years. Cape Ann has seen a 17 percent increase in people age 65 and older since 2010, and that percentage increases daily.

What exactly is the “baby boomer” generation and why is there so much hype around it?

The hype stems from the sheer numbers: In 1946, 3.4 million — 20 percent more than in 1945 — babies were born. This was the beginning of the so-called “baby boom.” In 1947, another 3.8 million babies were born; 3.9 million were born in 1952; and more than 4 million were born every year from 1954 until 1964, when the boom finally tapered off. By then, there were 76.4 million “baby boomers” in the United States. They made up almost 40 percent of the population. A generation of that size demands a lot of attention, and certainly garners a certain level of cultural and political power.

It is a generation that never thought they would grow old, but alas, it happens to us all. Boomers began turning 65 in 2011. It is estimated that 20 percent of Americans will be over the age of 65 by 2030.

The baby-boom generation benefited greatly from the post-war’s remarkable economic boom. It is the generation that came of age in the 1960s. With high ideals and tremendous moxie, this generation set out to change the world, and they did. One example of this change is the number of nonprofits in America.

Nonprofit organizations are formed for a greater purpose, generally with the intent to improve neighborhoods, communities, and/or the world at large. In the mid-1960s there were less than 400,000 nonprofit organizations in America. In 2016, it is estimated that there are more than 1.5 million registered nonprofit organizations.

Sal Zerilli, who started Awesome Gloucester, says that 12 out of the organization’s 20 trustees are baby boomers. Greg Bover, one of the baby boomer trustees, ties part of his commitment to the community to his coming of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“The whole anti-war thing, we saw that as a group we could effect change,” said Bover. With an instilled belief that he could make a difference by working with others, Bover is involved with many nonprofits in Gloucester.

With a motivation to improve life for themselves and their children, the baby-boom generation has bred many community-minded individuals. Cape Ann is bursting with baby boomers, and others, who are dedicated to creating change, providing support for others and serving the larger community.

Throughout the month of May, I will highlight an older person each Friday who has had a significant impact in helping to create a positive, fun and welcoming community on Cape Ann. I hope you will join me in getting to know a few of Cape Ann’s community-minded seniors.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Older Americans Act | Link
22 April 2016
Learning new skills in the company of others
Gloucester Times, Senior Lookout

Computerized brain training is becoming a booming business. There are numerous websites that tout the benefits of brain games for the aging population. There is,, and others. I’ve been using for a couple of years now. It’s great fun. You compete against yourself and you can see how you compare to others that play the games. The website claims that the 50-plus cognitive games they offer were created by scientists and game designers. I started playing because I wanted to strengthen my cognitive muscles and get ahead of the cognitive decline that can come with aging. I was having fun every morning playing the online games, but I began to wonder, do brain games actually improve cognitive function?

What I discovered is, no, there is no scientifically grounded proof that brain games improve your cognition. In October 2014 a group of leading cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists came together to examine brain games and programs. They concluded that the brain game industry’s claims that these computerized games will improve memory and cognition and stave off dementia are not scientifically based.

The problem is, most brain games are not skill-based, and studies show that it is the learning of new skills that improves your memory and cognitive abilities. I’ll keep playing the Lumosity games, because it’s fun and I enjoy watching my scores improve. But I’ve also begun to explore developing new skills.

I’ve begun to knit. A 2011 study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that those who engage in crafts, such as knitting and crocheting, had a diminished chance of developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss.

In support of that, a 2014 study out of the University of Texas at Dallas showed that learning to quilt or do digital photography enhanced memory function in older adults. It is through continuous and prolonged mental challenges that cognition is strengthened.

Studies also show that learning to play a musical instrument improves brain function.

So you want to learn to knit, practice digital photography or play an instrument, but you don’t know where to start. A great place to start is online. A friend of mine showed me the basics of knitting. When I was home alone and forgot how to cast-on — that is, creating the first stitches of a project — I found multitudes of YouTube tutorials that teach the basics of knitting to the more complex patterns. Simply go to and search for “knitting basics” and you’ll be on your way.

You can also learn the basics of digital photography online. There are free and paid courses available The top paid courses range between $20 and $30.

And you guessed it, you can learn the basics of playing a musical instrument online as well. Whether you are starting new or refreshing your memory, there are numerous sites that can help. Pick your favorite search engine and type in “free piano lessons online” (substitute piano for the instrument of choice).

Learning at home on your own is beneficial, but if you invite others to join you as you pursue new skills, there is an added cognitive bonus. There have been numerous studies over the last couple decades that show maintaining rich and meaningful relationships is key to maintaining a sharp mind.

Learning new skills in the company of others is a great place to begin new friendships or strengthen old ones. 

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
20 April 2016

On April 14, 2016, the $15.4 billion MassHealth program announced a major “restructuring” campaign designed to create “a sustainable, robust” health care program for its 1.8 million members. This process is the culmination of roughly a year of “intensive design and stakeholder engagement,” according to state officials.

MassHealth accounts for almost 40% of the Commonwealth’s budget. The Administration of Governor Charles Baker has made overt moves to swap out the current fee-for-service payment model, which they says results in “fragmented, siloed care,” and replace it with a managed care delivery system experiment which places large hospital and physician networks, known as “Accountable Care Organizations,” in control of funding.

The instrument to make this change is a large federal 1115 waiver to support MassHealth restructuring. Financing for the current waiver ends June 30, 2017 with $1 billion in federal support. State law (Chapter 224) requires MassHealth to adopt alternative payment methodologies for promotion of more coordinated and efficient care. ACOs would represent for MassHealth a more “integrated” model of care. In ACO models, the health care providers are accountable for the cost and quality of care. MassHealth also has a number of existing managed care organizations (MCOs) already providing care for the low-income population. In most cases, these MCOs will remain the insurer, pay claims and will work with ACO providers to improve care delivery. Integrated care means bringing behavioral health (BH) and long term services and support (LTSS) under the control of the ACO, and strengthening links with social services.

MassHealth is finishing up work on a 5-year Delivery System Reform Investment Program (DSRIP) funding request to the federal government. To access the DSRIP funding, the Feds require the state to come up with matching funds for the new DSRIP investment, which will be financed through a $250 million increase in the existing assessments on hospitals. The hospitals will receive a $250 million annual increase in MassHealth payments, resulting in no net impact to hospitals as a class.

The DSRIP proposal will include investments to support providers who sign on for ACO model; funding for BH and LTSS Community Partner (CP) organizations; formal partnerships between ACOs and CPs; funds for more flexible services; investments in health care workforce development, improved accommodations for members with disabilities; and a major expansion of the treatment for Substance Use Disorder for addressing the opioid crisis

At the center of the “restructuring” plan are the ACOs. To be an ACO, providers must show they can coordinate care and partner with Community Partners, including primary, specialty, behavioral, acute, and community-based care. The ACO must have relationships with other providers to coordinate/ integrate care effectively. ACOs will be able to choose to create an integrated ACO/MCO entity or enter into ACO contracts with other MCOs; some ACOs may choose to contract directly with MassHealth.

MassHealth has also been working to improve program integrity, especially for LTSS, like home health service. Home health spending grew last year by $170M, or 41%, and over 80% of growth was driven by providers new to the Commonwealth since 2013. As part of its increased oversight of the home health industry, MassHealth has referred 12 home health providers to the Attorney General’s office for fraud, and imposed a moratorium on new home health providers, and added clinical prior authorizations for home health services.

In addition, MassHealth is attempting to “passively enroll” its members into managed and accountable care models. In its FY 17 budget, the Baker Administration sought authority to involuntarily enroll seniors in FFS into Senior Care Options (SCO) plans. But the House thus far refused to grant this power. The SCO plan by statute must provide for voluntary enrollment.

MassHealth’s timeline calls for pilot ACOs to launch by the end of calendar 2016, with a full roll out of ACOs, BH/LTSS Community Partners and DSRIP by October 2017.

In the LTSS field, the focus is on the relationships between the new ACOs and the new “Community Partners.” (CPs). The ACO plan calls for increased LTSS integration and linkages to social services in ACO models through “explicit requirements for partnering with LTSS Community Partners.” The state will encourage ACOs to “buy” LTSS care management expertise from existing community-based organizations, like the 26 statewide Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) vs. “building” their own assessment and care coordination capacity. MassHealth plans to invest in infrastructure and capacity to overcome fragmentation amongst community-based organizations.

The State will certify who becomes a LTSS CP. The ACOs will refer to BH, LTSS and social service providers, to help assess “social determinants of health,” ranging from housing stabilization, income supports, nutrition and utility assistance. These new certified CP will have to demonstrate expertise in care coordination and assessments and infrastructure/ capacity. MassHealth says that the CPs “can be providers but self-referrals monitored.” This process is not defined yet, but the goal is presumably to mitigate any conflict of interest between the assessment process and the direct service providers. ACOs themselves will not be allowed to have any direct or indirect financial ownership interest in a CP. In addition, LTSS CPs must demonstrate expertise across multiple populations with disabilities, such as those with physical disabilities, developmental or intellectual disabilities, brain injuries, the elderly, etc.

Certified CPs and ACOs will both be able to get direct DSRIP funding. Social service providers will receive DSRIP funding from funds given to ACO designated for flexible services to address social determinants of health. The funding for both is contingent on ACOs and CPs formalizing arrangements for how they work together. MassHealth is not requiring ACOs to partner with CPs, but instead trying to use financial incentives to make this happen. But advocates for LTSS have pushed for a formal requirement that ACOs use LTSS CPs to provide an “independent agent” for members as a consumer protection against health providers self-referring to the services they own. Such a formal relationship has been available for years by statute in the Senior Care Options (SCO) plan, and the One Care plan—the state’s first two integrated managed care experiments.

The stated goals of the Community Partners initiative are as follows:

  • Create explicit opportunity for ACOs and MCOs to leverage existing community-based expertise and capabilities to best serve consumers with LTSS and BH
  • Break down existing silos in the care delivery system across BH, LTSS and physical health
  • Ensure care is person-centered, and avoid over-medicalization of care for LTSS
  • Preserve conflict-free principles including consideration of care options for consumers and limitations on self-referrals
  • Make explicit and scalable investments in community-based infrastructure within an overall framework of performance accountability
  • Create a certification process for BH and LTSS Community Partners
  • Encourage ACOs/MCOs and Community Partners to formalize how they work together, especially for care coordination and performance management

A CP must be a community-based organization with extensive and broad expertise in BH and/or LTSS in a geographic region. A CP can be a direct service provider but will have a limit on self-referrals. A LTSS CP must have competencies to work with at least 3 subpopulations with disabilities, and meet other criteria, such as strong relationships with social service organizations, IT infrastructure for data capture and maintenance, quality measurement and reporting, electronic encounter/billing capacity. MassHealth will encouraging formation of new entities and partnerships to be CPs, with the explicit goal of overcoming fragmentation and siloes that hinder care integration. The state will promotes entities to come together to serve the continuum of members, such as elders, adults and children with physical disabilities, and members with brain injury, ID/DD, mental illness, and SUD. LTSS CPs may receive DSRIP funding for MCO members if formal arrangements in place.

Certified Community Partners (CPs) must be certified by EOHHS, will be expected to develop infrastructure and meet performance requirements, and a  portion of their DSRIP funding will be contingent on meeting quality/process metrics and ACO/MCO review of performance. At the consumer level, the “Certified” LTSS Community Partners will offer LTSS expertise across multiple populations, conduct independent assessments, advise members on their care options, provide LTSS care coordination, and offer linkages to social services. The CPs will refer to/partner with Adult Foster Care, Personal Care Attendant, Adult Day Health, and other providers, as well as social service providers.

“This is a very ambitious restructuring,” said Dan O’Leary, President of Mass Home Care. “The key for us will be the role of the ‘conflict free agent’ in conducting assessments and care planning. Since this is a program being managed by large health care providers, we need to ensure that the consumer’s long term supports needs are fully recognized and addressed , and that they have an independent agent on their team to preserve open choice of services and providers.”

“Ensuring the consumer’s needs are met with the right care and services in the right place will be a major challenge,” O’Leary said.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Legistlation | Link
15 April 2016
Bobbi Gibb can do it, so can you
Gloucester Times, Senior Lookout

Cape Ann has a special connection to the Boston Marathon. Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon, lives in Rockport. Gibb will be the Marathon’s grand marshal this year as she celebrates 50 years since her first Boston Marathon run in 1966.

According to the Gloucester Daily Times, Gibb, who is now 73, continues to run. She ran the Boston Marathon in 1966, 1967 and 1968 as a young person, and then again later in her life. She was going to run this year but bronchitis got in the way of her training schedule.  

According to the Boston Athletic Association, there will be 842 participants who are 65 or older running Monday’s marathon in Boston, which is almost 3 percent of the 30,000 expected participants. But none of the 842 runners 65 or older are from the Cape Ann area. 

Gibb discovered the joys of running at a young age and continues to enjoy it as she grows older. But what if you are 65 or older and running is new to you? The good news is that it is possible and quite healthy to begin running at age 65 or older. But proceed with caution as there are some age-related concerns.

■ Talk with your doctor before you begin

■ Ease into running, and if you haven’t been active, start with brisk walking

■ Warm up before your run and cool down afterward

■ Older adults have decreased muscular adaptation and elasticity, so stretching is especially important

■ Sense of thirst declines with age, so make it a habit to drink water every 15 minutes

■ Run with a group, it increases your motivation and helps you stay social

A 2015 article in the Atlantic highlights older runners. A growing number of seniors have begun competing in marathons. Years ago the mass majority of marathoners fell below the age of 40. In more recent years, runners known as “masters,” over the age of 40, represent more than 50 percent of those who complete marathons.

According to a 2014 article on aging and exercise published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, much of the physical deterioration seen in older people is related to a sedentary lifestyle, as opposed to aging itself. Physical demise and chronic diseases are substantially reduced or absent in older people who train and compete in athletic competitions.

Some loss of strength is inevitable as we age. But according to a 2011 study published in the journal The Physician and Sports Medicine, you can slow the process if you consistently participate in an exercise program.

If you are new to running, remember: going from a sedentary place to marathon training takes time, thought, patience and planning. Do some research, talk with your doctor and get moving. If you already have an exercise routine and are thinking of preparing for the next Boston Marathon, discuss it with your doctor, and increase your training program. It’s important to note, too, that any exercise is better than none at all •you don’t have to run a marathon to be healthy.

If you are interested in training for the 2017 or 2018 Boston Marathon, email me If I get enough interested Cape Ann folks age 60 or over, I’ll apply for the Boston Marathon Official Charity Program and see if SeniorCare can participate in the 2017 Boston Marathon as an official charity.

Happy running!

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
07 April 2016
April is Volunteer Month
Gloucester Times, Senior Lookout

A friend of mine is in the midst of planning her retirement. She has spent her adult life passionately working to make the world a better place. She is highly educated, has amassed significant skills, and her experience is diverse. Although she will be leaving her paid position, she has no intention of giving up her passion.

“I see myself volunteering because my commitment to how I want the world to be goes beyond whether I get paid or not, so I will continue to exercise those parts of my spirit. I just won’t get paid for it,” she says.

My friend’s retirement plans are similar to others in the baby boomer generation. People are retiring in record numbers and they have higher levels of skill and experience, and a passion to make a difference. Adults will turn 60 at an average rate of 10,000 per day for the next 16 years.

Are you one of the thousands of people entering the realm of retirement? Are you looking for an opportunity to stay active and engaged while making a difference in your community and/or the world at large? My friend is familiar with the nonprofit sector and has connections that will make transitioning into a volunteer position that matches her interests and passions less difficult than someone new to the nonprofit field. If you are retired or planning to retire and would like to learn more about what opportunities exist, SeniorCare Inc.’s RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) can help.

April is volunteer month. In recognition and celebration of the many volunteers and those who aspire to volunteer, SeniorCare is hosting the North Shore Volunteer Fair on Thursday, April 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Cruiseport Gloucester, 6 Rowe Square. You will have the opportunity to speak with folks from more than 30 nonprofit agencies from Cape Ann and the North Shore that are seeking volunteers.

The ideal match is when your volunteer experience is equally meaningful and rewarding for you as for the organization you are helping. Visit the Volunteer Fair to see which opportunity you might want to pursue. You will find many ways to:

Make your community a better place to live

Meet new people

Try something new

Fill up your spare time

Do something you are good at

Learn new skills

To determine what you would enjoy, here are a few questions you might ask yourself:

— Would I like to work with adults, children or animals?

— Do I prefer to work alone or as part of a team?

— How much time am I willing to commit?

— What level of responsibility am I looking for?

— What skills can I bring to a volunteer job?

— What causes am I passionate about?

The North Shore Volunteer Fair at Cruiseport will also be a collection point for our local food pantries. Please consider bringing a nonperishable food item with you.

If you are unable to attend the event and you would like to explore volunteer opportunities on Cape Ann and the North Shore, you can call Ruth Lindsay, director of RSVP, at 978-281-1750.

With a little soul searching and some help from RSVP’s Volunteer Fair, I am sure you will find the perfect volunteer opportunity. With your help the world will be a better place.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Volunteer | Link
31 March 2016
Purposeful community benefits one's health
Gloucester Times, Senior Lookout

Healthy community can breed joy, peace and contentment. Community helps eradicate loneliness and combat social isolation — two conditions that a recent study found increases the risk of death. The study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science found that those who felt lonely had a 26 percent increased risk of death, and those who lived alone and were socially isolated had a 29 percent increase.

Supportive senior housing communities can offer great opportunities for connecting with others in a healthy and helpful way. Supportive communities make available a contact person who is able to help set a tone of trust and mutual respect among residents, creating an environment where healthy community can thrive.

“The best volunteers are neighbors,” says Diane Gordon, supportive housing coordinator at SeniorCare.

Gordon, who works at many of the senior housing complexes on the North Shore, says she encourages residents to connect with their neighbors. She helps facilitate this through group meetings and various events, such as yard sales, summer cookouts, movie nights and holiday parties. These activities help foster a caring community and neighbors begin to look out for each other.

Gordon keeps a regular schedule at each complex and makes sure that new residents receive a welcome packet that encourages engagement with the community. Gordon is also a great resource that residents can turn to when in need. Gordon is able to connect folks with programs and services that supports long-term community living, such as Meals on Wheels, Home Care, Money Management and others.

“Community is about interacting with your neighbors in a manner that promotes a feeling of safety,” says Gordon.

Andrew DeFranza, Executive Director of Harborlight Community Partners, is passionate about the importance of supportive, affordable housing for seniors.

“Supportive, affordable housing for seniors is a critical part of our public infrastructure as a community. This is one of the key ways we can care well and smart for our parent, our neighbors, and our retired employees,” says DeFranza

Harborlight Community Partners owns and manages two elderly housing complexes in Rockport.

“Settings like Pigeon Cove Ledges and Rockport High School Apartments provide dignified and safe places to live, which enhance the quality of life for those who call these places home. Supportive senior housing provides comfort to adult children and security to their parents. It is a great model that is both cost-effective and humane. We are doing this across the North Shore and we need to do more of it,” he says.

Senior housing complexes are geographically conducive to creating an engaged community. If you live in your own home and not in close proximity to your peers, it may take a little more work as you will have to be your own advocate, but it is possible to create healthy, supportive community. You can participate in your local senior center, in communities online such as, where you can find peers who have similar interests, or call friends and start a coffee club.

Regardless of how or where community is created, if you are purposeful about creating a safe space for people to engage, you may live a more fulfilling and joyful life.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
17 March 2016
Natural ways to combat seasonal allergies
Gloucester Times, Senior Lookout

This morning while getting ready for work I used the last tissue of a box I just bought. As I sit writing this, I’ve a runny nose, some sinus pressure, and a bit of brain fog. I realize this is how it is every spring. And so it goes — spring has sprung. It’s a little early. Officially, spring doesn’t start until Sunday.

This time of year provides relief for the many who live with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The increase in daylight hours and the warmer weather helps alleviate winter depression and can add a little bounce to your step. But spring brings health concerns of its own.

Allergies, like I am experiencing, generally are the first seasonal health concerns that cross the mind. As flowers and trees start to bloom, pollen is born and released into the atmosphere. Sniffling and sneezing commence, causing general sinus discomfort laying the groundwork for some rough days.

What is pollen good for anyway? Actually, the tiny, almost invisible grains released by trees, grasses and weeds are meant to fertilize other plants, which helps to create the natural beauty that spring offers. Being able to enjoy nature in spring, despite allergies, is the quest of many.

It is estimated that 58 million people experience springtime allergies. That is a lot of people and they certainly help the drug companies that make and sell allergy medication. But there are natural ways to combat seasonal allergies as well.

Wait before you go outside. Enjoy the joys and beauty of spring, but wait until after 10 a.m. to do so. Pollen is at its worse between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Keep informed as to the pollen count each day; go to, click on forecast, enter your zip code. If the pollen count is high and you want to minimize your reaction, close the doors and windows and do an inside project — maybe start your spring cleaning.

Have you heard of butterbur? Butterbur is a European herb that has shown some promising results in recent clinical trials. One trial says it is as effective as an antihistamine drug, but without the drowsiness.

Wash yourself and your clothes. After a spring outing — be it a walk around town (one of my favorite pastimes), a walk in Ravenswood, or a daylong hike in the White Mountains — once you’re home, take a quick shower or bath and wash your clothes. After being outdoors, your clothes, shoes, hair and skin are covered with pollen.

Groom your yard. Your lawn needs to be mowed and the bushes and trees trimmed, but you are dreading the allergic reaction: wear a mask while you do your outside chores. An N-95 respirator mask will keep 95 percent of the pollen from getting into your nasal passages.

Eat a healthy diet. Some studies show a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and legumes reduce allergy symptoms.

Use a nasal rinse. Use a neti pot, a nasal bulb, or buy a rinse kit at a local drug store. Rinsing your nasal cavity with ½ teaspoon salt, a pinch of baking soda, and 8 ounces of warm distilled water will rinse away bacteria and help decrease nasal drip.

Drink more fluids. Fluids help thin the mucus in your nasal passages and may give you some relief. Hot liquids add the benefit of steam.

Keep your home and office clean. Clean with ordinary products like vinegar or baking soda to avoid reactions to harsh chemicals often found in cleaning products.

Enjoy the warmer weather, and hopefully you can keep allergy symptoms from dampening your springtime plans.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
11 March 2016
Program helps combat senior hunger, isolation issues
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Food insecurity is on the rise in Eastern Massachusetts. According to the Greater Boston Food Bank, one in nine people in Eastern Massachusetts do not know where their next meal will come from.

Hunger issues disproportionately affect people age 60 and over as one in five of this age group experience food insecurity.

Researchers who study senior hunger say the causes are complex and compounded. Many seniors can no longer drive due to safety concerns or they can no longer afford the expense of owning a vehicle. Rides on public transportation may be difficult due to illness, disability, and dementia. These illnesses alone can deprive a person of the ability to feed themselves.

Even the most independent among us may experience a decline in mobility or health that can erode independence and diminish the quality of life. Advances in medicine have extended the average life expectancy to almost 79 years. Living longer means more years spent coping with the struggles that accompany old age. And it’s not just hunger that seniors with mobility issues face. Not being able to easily leave home can cause isolation and loneliness.

“No person age 60 or older should have to go without a meal because they lack the means to provide one for themselves, the SeniorCare Nutrition Department is here to ensure that,” said Linnea Hagberg, director of community programs and planning.

SeniorCare’s Meals on Wheels Program helps combat hunger and isolation issues faced by seniors.

SeniorCare will be participating in the 14th annual March for Meals, which is a monthlong, nationwide celebration of Meals on Wheels and the homebound and vulnerable seniors who rely on its vital safety net. During the week of March 21-25, community leaders and politicians will accompany SeniorCare drivers as they deliver meals.

Rep. Brad Hill, who has participated in the past, will return this year to help deliver meals to homebound and vulnerable elders in Ipswich.

“What I experience the most is being able to connect with residents that either I or my parents have known for years,” he says. 

Rep. Jerry Parisella has also delivered meals in previous years, and is looking forward to participating this year.

“I really enjoy the opportunity to participate in the March for Meals campaign and visit with those who receive meals on wheels,” says Parisella. “It is wonderful to see how much of a positive impact this program has on area seniors, some of whom may not receive a nutritious meal if not for Meals on Wheels. Participating in this program also helps me understand why funding this program in the state budget is so important.”

“It’s not just the meal, it’s reassurance,” says Gloucester’s Mayor Safatia Romeo Theken, who delivered meals last year during the March for Meals campaign and will do so again this year.

Meals on Wheels was recently acknowledged in a report to Congress by the National Commission on Hunger, Freedom from Hunger: An Achievable Goal for the United States of America. In the report, Meals on Wheels was recognized as a proven public-private partnership that addresses the growing problems of senior hunger and isolation and is an integral component of our nation’s healthcare system.

SeniorCare currently delivers Meals on Wheels to more than 550 elders each day. Annually, this means 136,216 home-delivered meals and 39,250 meals served at dining sites in Beverly, Gloucester, Essex, Manchester, Rockport, Ipswich, Hamilton, Topsfield and Wenham.

Infographic on Meals on Wheels.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
03 March 2016
Concerned with gambling? Ask yourself these questions
Gloucester Times, Senior Lookout

It can be a fun, social day out. A group of friends gets on a bus and heads to a casino in Rhode Island or Connecticut. In 2018, in 40 minutes or less, you’ll be able to get to the casino in Everett. With a few dollars in your pocket you walk into the casino and — win or lose — you have a blast.

If you are vulnerable to addictive behavior though, the innocence of a day of joy and friendship can easily take a turn toward disaster.

In 2013 the story of Maureen O’Connor became national news. O’Connor, once the mayor of San Diego and widow to the Jack-in-the-Box fast food restaurant founder Robert O. Peterson, is said to have gambled more than $1 billion at casinos across the country. In a nine-year gambling spree, O’Connor gambled away her fortune, and stole an additional $2 million from her late husband’s charity, leaving it bankrupt.

Most of us don’t have the kind of money to gamble with that O’Connor had. Many of us, however, are susceptible to losing what we do have, especially when we experience the loss of a loved one. O’Connor is said to have engaged in what is known as “grief gambling.” When we experience the loss of a loved one, as O’Connor did when her husband passed away, gambling can become a way of avoiding the emotional pain associated with loss.

It is inevitable that as we age, we will experience more loss. Some of this loss is due to the deaths of family members and friends. Other, not so obvious losses, such as reduction in mobility, cognitive functioning, and onset of disease, can lead to addictive gambling.

According to recent studies, seniors are the fastest growing group of gamblers, and gambling has been identified as the most frequently identified social activity among people 65 and over. People 60 and over are a key marketing demographic for casinos and online gambling. With discounted bus transportation, free meals, special rewards and other prizes, older people are lured into casinos. Through email and sometimes even personal phone calls, online casinos reach out to older people offering free gambling credits.

If you are concerned about your own gambling, you can ask yourself a few questions (if you answer ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, you may be developing a gambling problem):

— Do you gamble alone — either at home on the computer or at the casino?

— Do you spend more time than you intend gambling?

— Have you lost interest in previous hobbies and activities?

— Have you spent more money than you have set aside?

— Do you think about gambling every day?

— Have you tried to win back the money you have lost?

— Have you lied to or kept secret from friends and family concerning your gambling habits?

— Do you ever find yourself gambling even when you no longer enjoy it?

— Do you have trouble sleeping?

— Do you feel that gambling is having a negative effect on any area of your life?

If you think you or a loved one may have a problem with gambling, you may want to seek help. Two good places to start are and the National Council on Problem Gambling at

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Safety | Link
19 February 2016
Journal, writing can help ease difficulties

We all have thoughts and feelings that inform our personal stories. It’s the narrative of those stories that can make difficult times more or less bearable. How we see life, the perceptive lens we choose, will ultimately determine the level of contentment we experience. Journal and creative writing can help ease the difficulties that often cross our paths.

“I find my journal to be a companion,” said Ruthanne “Rufus” Collinson, former Gloucester poet laureate. “If I am having a difficult day or struggling with an ongoing issue, I find that I learn from myself through my writing.”

Collinson found refuge through writing at a young age. She wrote her first poem when she was 8.

“Writing is a way of being present. It is a different way of experiencing moments, especially if you know you are going to record them,” she said.

Studies show that writing about difficulties, particularly those that arise due to traumatic, stressful or emotional events, have a positive impact on your health. A 2005 study shows that, in the long-term, writing about thoughts and feelings in relation to stressful events reduces blood pressure, decreases depressive symptoms, and improves overall mood.

The same study suggests that the act of creating a rational narrative around difficult and painful experiences helps to reorganize memories in a way that is easier to live with.

Tracy Arabian, communications officer at SeniorCare, does not keep a journal, but she writes when she is bothered by something. “When I’m upset, I sit at my computer and pound the keys. I let every thought and feeling I’m having come out. Once I feel better, I delete it,” she said.

“Writing gives me a focus; it’s almost meditation for me,” said Beth Walsh, a driver for SeniorCare’s Meals on Wheels Program. “Writing gets my thoughts in order and my feelings out.”

About three years ago, Walsh attended a one-day creative writing class at the Beverly Public Library. She and her classmates enjoyed what they learned so much that they formed the Winter Street Writers group (you can find their group on Facebook or at “About half the group are seniors, some have written memoirs and are looking into getting their work published,” Walsh said. “Writing is a great way to relive experiences and to share those stories with family members,” she added.

If you are interested in writing a memoir, Ellen Szabo will be teaching a class at the Gloucester Writers Center. “Writing a memoir is a way to figure out who you used to be and how you got to be who you are,” the description for the class said.

The class will meet Monday afternoons, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., March 14 through April 18 at the Gloucester Writers Center. The cost of this six-week course is $150. To register, email

Writing can be a wonderful ritual and you can start any time. Grab a notebook, a pen, and perhaps a cup of tea. You will benefit whether you write for yourself only or choose to share it with others.

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
16 February 2016

By Craig Sandler

Alice Bonner emphasizes: while her agency may be the only one with "Elder" in its title, it's hardly the only one with elders in its mission.

Across Massachusetts, hundreds of thousands of elderly citizens depend on services like Meals on Wheels, home care and job training. Each elder is at the center of an invisible web of agencies, and each agency needs a leader. In June, Bonner became the new leader of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs itself.

Bonner said the collaboration required for the job suits her leadership style. She is a listener.

A series of occasional articles on the leaders of Massachusetts agencies and how they approach their missions.

What she hears depends on where she goes. "When I go up to Gloucester, they say it's transportation. When I go out to Worcester, it's housing. In Northampton, they say we wish had more in terms of Meals on Wheels."

Bonner's sitting in a conference room of Elder Affairs' offices on the fifth floor of the McCormack Building, but "this morning I was out in Marlborough, with Baypath Elder Services" - listening.

In Marlborough it was housing, a shortage of elderly-care workers, and the creation of "dementia positive" communities.

"Dementia positive" means places where memory issues are expected, accepted, and treated as part of everyday life. "It means if I'm cognitively impaired and I have memory problems, you don't have people coming up to me saying, 'What the heck is wrong with you?' "

The idea can be extended to aging itself, Bonner said: "Aging positive." "Older workers have greater productivity. They have a greater on-time percentage. They have more dedication. They deliver on their deliverables."

Bonner's own mom has dementia - she is 85. Bonner described the simple pleasure her mother can take from shopping, experiencing repeated pleasures from experiences she's had recently, and forgotten. That odd happiness, felt by both parent and child, is an aspect of dementia-positive living familiar to anyone who's been around someone with memory deterioration.

Elder Affairs is something of an odd duck. It is the only "Executive Office" under an Executive Office on the state government org chart - under Health and Human Services. Bonner is one of the two secretaries who don't attend the governor's weekly cabinet meetings though they carry a title more prestigious than "commissioner" or "director." She reports to Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.

But the Elder Affairs mission is one of the most visible and politically fraught around - elders follow elections and the agency has to do its job right - not just for the suffering seniors and families go through if they don't get the right services at the right time, but because elders vote and families are watching.

The number of people 65 and older is in the process of passing one million in Massachusetts, if it hasn't already. There were 902,000 people in that age group in 2010; it's projected to be 1.2 million in 2020.

Bonner says she spent much of her first six months redefining and getting clarity on that mission. It's defined now:

  • Empower healthy aging
  • Prepare for evolving demographic trends, including increased numbers of individuals with dementia; increase the number of dementia-friendly communities in the Commonwealth
  • Support aging in community (affordable, accessible housing and preventing elder homelessness)
  • Strengthen "no wrong door" access to aging and disability services
  •  Prevent injury, violence, and exploitation
  • Ensure quality, value, and person-centered care.

The mission named, Bonner turned to implementation, though she reminds a visitor that improving any agency is a matter of "changing the tire while you're driving down the highway at 55."

"You've got to fix everything that needs fixing, but at the same time you're driving, which is the day-to-day stuff, and you don't want to break anything that's working well." Smiling, she says her leadership philosophy is grounded in the simple goal so keenly felt by public-sector executives in the civic spotlight: "Don't screw it up."

At the danger of drawing generalizations, Bonner, who's far from elderly - she's 58 - reminds one of the type of senior many people like best: small, but fierce. Not mean fierce - friendly fierce. Obviously compassionate-fierce - she describes herself as a nursing leader first, and prides herself on her time as a direct-care giver. But there's an edge.

"I'm a little type A," she concedes. "When I got here, I met with every person. I don't mean I met with every leader or manager - I met with every person for 20 minutes, sat down, every business owner, every program director, and I said, 'what do you do, what do you love about the place, what gets you excited, what makes you want to come to work in the morning, and what do you need from me?' I told them that my job is to support them. That's my job as secretary. As well as my other job, which is to set policy that benefits older folks across the Commonwealth, but here my managerial role is support them, to listen to them, to be sure I am in close touch with them.

"The other thing I did is I put some time in my schedule every day to get out in the field."

"The field" means Southbridge. There are 350 other definitions of "the field" in Massachusetts, and Bonner's been to many, but on a particular recent Thursday "the field" was Southbridge, a weatherbeaten southern-central light-industry town most notable these days for having its schools put into state receivership.

That sounds grim, but grim is the last word to use for the collection of 30 or so Latina elders who listened to the secretary at the Thursday meeting of Jovenes del Ayer ("Young Yesterday") at the Southbridge community center.

Along with their knitting and a couple oversized crocheted Rosaires, they brought a cheerfulness into the well-worn cinder-block decor of the center, and went wild when Bonner told them "muchas gracias" for having her.

The secretary got her points across - stressing healthy aging, and reminding the seniors that getting out to places like Jovenes is part of good health.

But she emphasizes she's there to listen to them, and that's what she spends most of her time at the community center doing. "You are important," she tells the room through an interpreter. "You are the reason we are here...You have the wisdom and the experience to help us solve problems."

The ladies (actually, there's one man) mainly want to talk about how much they need the socialization the group offers, and how they revere Roxana Gomez, coordinator of the Latin Elders program. But some, like Julia Alvardo and Andrea Ortiz, have tales to tell of issues with housing and health care. Bonner encourages them to be in touch.

The Southbridge excursion, and the dozens like it, are about making sure her own understanding of what her agency says it should do for elders aligns with what they say they need, and their communities say they need.

Like other agencies, Elder Affairs has long since gotten away from a "regional office" model, if it ever had one. Bonner and her team supervise a "distributed network" - a collection of local agencies, government-run or private, devoted to tending the needs of the old. There's 26 Aging Services Access Points, and they get (and ask for) direction and help from Boston, but not direct control. In Southbridge, it's the Central Mass. Agency on Aging, a private non-profit.

Bonner's not kidding about the "healthy aging" thing. It's the first thing she mentions as she engages the ladies of Jovenes del Ayer. It's the first bullet point in her agency's mission.

But it may not be her department's biggest imperative. Like all the human services agencies, Bonner's top priority can feel like - everything. Housing; health care; mental health; abuse; memory care; poverty. How to choose? But at the top of her list, Bonner puts healthy aging, dementia care, and "aging in community."

"The idea that people can be cared for outside of institutions has been something that I've worked on actually for a long time," she says. "People want to age in their communities. They want to get old in the place they call home. They don't want to all of a sudden up and move when they turn 80."

But a lot of them are in homes in the process of disintegrating, or on the top floor of a triple decker that was an easy walkup in 1986, but not today. Housing quality - a problem for Bonner's agency. And many of those people need help with their home care or health care, and that care is in very short supply. Another problem. "We have some potentially based on some reports up to a 50 percent - we're missing up to 50 percent of the workforce we need. We need 50 percent more people providing that care."

Answering the needs of the burgeoning population with memory loss is perhaps the keenest imperative now facing Bonner's organization - and it demands she be a good distributed-network manager. The E.O.E.A won a $600,000 grant last year to deploy a knowledge base on dementia issues and treatment for use by the 10,000 workers helping dementia clients in the Bay State.

"I have had to learn a lot about, what are the services that Elder Affairs covers, because it covers so much. We do a lot of work with the Department of Veterans Services, you know, older veterans. We do a lot of work with the Department of Mental Health, and we have opportunities - this is an administration that really wants us to streamline, and not duplicate services. So if the Department of Mental Health is working on something and Elder Services is working on something, we have to be sure we're covering everything, but not duplicating services. There's a lot going on around that."

Being in charge of a government agency was not what Bonner had in mind as a young woman. She grew up on Long Island ("My parents were just amazing and supportive") and attended Cornell, where she studied - French. Elder care "was never in my plans at all," Bonner says.

"In college as a sophomore I was running out of 'play money,' and I got a job as a nursing assistant" at a nursing home near Cornell. "I absolutely fell in love with the environment...the (elderly) people I was working with were interesting and funny and smart, and I loved being with them. This was 1978 and the nurses ran the show. There were no doctors, there were no nurse practitioners," unlike today, where nurse-client interaction is diluted somewhat by multiple caregivers.

"So I called my parents and said, 'I know I'm finishing at this expensive four-year college, but I have to go to nursing school. So I got my nursing degree after my undergraduate degree, which is not how it's usually done, and how I got started."

Bonner expresses her fondness for caregiver-client relationships the way only a policy researcher would: "I love the longitudinal relationships with people." She means, of course, she enjoys bonding over the long term the way nurse practitioners do. "You create a community, you become family, you understand what they want more than anything in the world . . . it's incredibly fulfilling."

From nursing home to the federal government, nursing school to PhD (UMass/Worcester) "I've had incredible mentors along the way," Bonner says. One was Thomas Hamilton from the Center for Medicaid Services. "He was so knowledgable, knew so much about federal statute and regulation and how they affected what we were to trying to do to make sure our elder population received the care we wanted them to receive."

Bonner came to public management by - well, by chance you could say. "I had started noticing the effect that both state and federal policies, regulations, have on what we do in communities and in my work." Over lunch one day, while she was director of the Mass. Senior Care Foundation, a colleague mentioned the Department of Public Health had an opening at the director's position in Health Care Quality, and said Bonner would be good at it. "It was a very offhanded thing," but it got her thinking, and she went for the job. She got it.

She went from DPH to the federal government, first as director of the Division of Nursing Homes in the federal H.H.S, then promoted to regional director of nursing home certification. In 2013, she took a professor's post at Northeastern in the School of Nursing. It was there she caught the eye of the Baker transition team.

Why'd she get the job? "I think I have a reputation for working hard and being very dogged about the value older adults have in our society and the need of older adults for aging well and the need to ensure that older adults are able to age well in their community."

Her role model - who she's trying to be - is Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging in the federal H.H.S. "She's dynamic, she's a terrific speaker, she's eloquent, she's passionate, she's smart, and she gets things done - she's a great implementer."

"She is however a Democrat, so I'm not sure I'm allowed to talk about her," Bonner joked.

"And I have to say, I've always just had tremendous teams," from whom she's learned more as an executive than any individual, Bonner said.

Bonner convenes the team now closest to her every week to review what's on their agenda, what should be, and how they're doing accomplishing their goals. In the room for those weeklies are Chief of Staff Robin Lipson, C.F.O. Peter Tiernan, Assistant Secretary Carole Malone, and General Counsel Matt Casey.

"General Counsel, unlike being an attorney, is not really about being an attorney so much as being an expert in regulation and statute," Bonner said. She and, it would seem, most agency leaders, keep their general counsel close at hand - to set good policy, not to wrangle with court cases. They know what's allowed and what will work. "They understand the federal statutes, the state statutes, how they fit into what we are hoping to accomplish," is how Bonner puts it.

Every other week, the leadership meeting is widened, and attended by Bonner's communications director Martha Waldron and the leaders of program areas: Home Care, Protective Services, and so on. Bonner just hired a director of policy, Patricia Wu, and a director of housing.

"Nobody's who's in any of the roles we're playing in government or a secretary or in any leadership can do this job alone..." she says. "It is really with humility that you do anything in these jobs. Humility and amazing teams."

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Legistlation | Link
12 February 2016
Older Adults are At Risk for Social Isolation
Gloucester Times "Senior Lookout"

Remaining social is an important aspect of healthy aging. An active, social life provides a sense of belonging, connects you to the world around you, and benefits your health in a variety of ways.

One study states that adults, ages 60 and older, consistently rank relationships with family and friends second only to health as the most important issue in life. And yet, older adults are more at risk for social isolation. It is estimated that 12 percent of those 60 and older report feeling isolated.

This is especially true of certain groups of older adults, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

According to AARP, LGBT adults age 50-95 are at greater risk of social isolation. This may be due to a number of factors:

LGBT older adults are more likely to live alone than heterosexuals. According to Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders, older LGBT people are three to four times less likely to have children, a key support network for older adults.

LGBT older adults struggle with financial insecurity at a greater degree than others. Living alone can lead to less support and entertainment options.

The LGBT community has a history of being discriminated against and victimized. This can cause concern when reaching out to make new connections and friendships.

According to a 2013 study published in the Psychological Bulletin, the older you get, the fewer friends you probably have. Researchers found that the drop in friendships is often due to marriage and a desire to focus on closer relationships. A close-knit community can feel safe and comforting as we age through our 40s and 50s, especially for LGBT people who may feel more comforted by a small, intimate circle of friends because of discrimination and lack of acceptance of their LGBT identity.

With one study estimating that we lose half of our close relationships every seven years and another stating that making new connections and developing new friendships becomes more difficult as we age, it’s no wonder that older adults are facing isolation and loneliness. With the added burden of connecting with LGBT-friendly people, it makes sense that older LGBT people experience greater isolation.

More and more avenues are opening up for LGBT people to connect with communities that will embrace and accept them for who they are. There are faith communities that openly welcome LGBT individuals, you can find accepting local LGBT communities at, and here on the North Shore there is North Shore Pride.

Hope Watt-Bucci, president of NSP, understands that isolation has a great impact on health. “North Shore Pride is a way for people to come and connect and validate self-worth,” she said.

NSP holds events throughout the year for the LGBT community and friends. Next Thursday, Feb. 18, from 5 to 8 p.m., NSP will be hosting a free networking event at the Danversport Yacht Club. Maura Healy will address the crowd at 6 p.m. and will speak about the state of business in Massachusetts with a focus on LGBT-owned businesses. The evening will include complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, entertainment and plenty of opportunities to network with business owners and community members. It is an opportunity to meet new friends and to find local LGBT-friendly businesses, such as home care agencies, legal services, financial planner, chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, and many others. SeniorCare will have a table at the event.

To learn more about this event and other local events, visit NSP at

Posted by senior care blog at 12:00 AM in Health | Link
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