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Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, communities in Massachusetts have come together in inspiring ways to assess emerging needs, provide credible information, expand access to services, and provide opportunities for older adults and caregivers to connect with each other and with their neighbors.FSG partnered with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, and Tufts Health Plan Foundation to create a resource that can be used to understand older adults' experiences of the pandemic; learn from community adaptations during the COVID-19 crisis response; and act on the programs, policy and funding changes, relationship-building efforts, and other steps required to reach a desired future.The piece includes practical tools for prompting reflection, making commitments, and taking action. We hope this resource will support cross-sector collaborative efforts underway in many communities.
This toolkit was developed by Generations United and the Leading Age LTSS Center @UMass Boston with funding from the RRF Foundation for Aging (formerly the Retirement Research Foundation). It was designed specifically to help senior housing organizations plan and implement high-quality intergenerational programs that will benefit residents and young people in their communities. While designed with senior housing organizations in mind, a range of organizations interested in planning and implementing intergenerational programs and activities will also find the toolkit useful. There are many ways to take an intergenerational approach to programming. The materials contained in the toolkit can help you begin developing your program and/or give you tips on deepening or expanding your intergenerational work.
Nationwide, older adults are being cautioned to keep their distance from children because of the heightened risk of infection from COVID-19. But for some families—grandfamilies—that distance is impossible.Facing a Pandemic: Families Living Together During COVID-19 and Thriving Beyond elevates the unique needs of grandfamilies amplified by the pandemic. These grandfamily caregivers are the first line of defense for children during the pandemic, having stepped in when parents cannot raise them for many reasons, including cases where children's parents have died from Coronavirus.The report contains solutions to connect grandfamilies to critical supports during this crisis and to create system that will continue to serve them well. These include:State, tribal, and local governments deploying the use of COVID response dollars with grandfamilies in mindAuthentically engaging kinship caregivers, birthparents, foster parents, and young people in the design and implementation of services that impact themInvesting in and increasing the reach of kinship navigator programs to help grandfamilies connect to resources and supportsImproving access to Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) child-only grantsLicensing more relatives as foster parentsThe 2020 State of Grandfamilies Report was made possible with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Casey Family Programs.Click "Download" to access this resource.
National Institute on Retirement Security;
While most Americans are struggling to save for retirement, women face even higher hurdles, largely stemming from the gender pay gap that eventually becomes a retirement wealth gap. Older women receive about 80 percent of the retirement income older men receive, a disparity that mirrors the gender pay gap."Still Shortchanged: An Update on Women's Retirement Preparedness" finds that median household income for women aged 65 and older in 2016 was $47,244 or 83 percent of median household income for men, which as at $57,144. The research also finds that caregiving, especially spousal caregiving, has a more detrimental economic impact on women, while divorce makes retirement more difficult for women. This report details the inequalities in retirement savings between men and women, examines the sources of income for men and women in retirement and the ways in which they differ, and considers specific factors that are more likely to negatively impact women, such as divorce and caregiving responsibilities. The analysis was developed using data from the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a household-based survey featuring a nationally representative sample interviewed over a multi-year period.Click "Download" to access this resource.
Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University;
As the overall population ages, the number of very low-income older adult households that qualify for HUD housing assistance is rising rapidly. Older adults tend to stay in subsidized housing longer than younger families. As a result, older adults make up a growing share of HUD-subsidized renter households. In the last ten years alone, the share of older adults in HUD-subsidized housing has risen five percentage points, and older adult households now make up over a third of all subsidized renters. In this paper, we examine whether the subsidized housing stock is suitable for aging in place. We ask: What physical challenges do older subsidized renters face? What difficulties do they experience with their housing environment? And, are subsidized units more equipped with accessibility features than units without rent assistance?To answer these questions, we used the 2011 American Housing Survey, the last vintage of this survey to include detailed questions about housing accessibility and household mobility difficulties. We constructed a comparison group of eligible, unsubsidized renters making up to 30 percent of area median income. We used chi-square statistics, logistic regression modeling, and propensity score matching to identify differences in housing accessibility and mobility difficulties between subsidized and unsubsidized, eligible older adults. We also compare households receiving project-based subsidies to those receiving tenant-based vouchers.The findings confirm that older subsidized renters have many vulnerabilities, but rental housing assistance provides more livable housing in terms of accessibility than private-market rentals. We also find that renters receiving project-based rental assistance typically have more accessibility features than those receiving tenant-based assistance, but the differences are not statistically significant. Ultimately, our results highlight the benefit of subsidized housing but also point to unmet needs. Livable and wheelchair accessible units are lacking for older, extremely low-income renters, whether they receive a subsidy or not. While many units are potentially modifiable, only a small share have basic accessibility features that make them currently livable for older adults.Click "Download" to access this resource.
Illinois is at a turning point. While the total state population is shrinking, it continues to age and diversify. More than 34 percent of the state population of Illinois is above the age of 50 and continues to age. Of Illinoisans above the age of 50, more than a third are African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, or Asian American/Pacific Islander. In large population centers, such as suburban Cook County and Chicago, one-half to two-thirds of older adults are of color.Yet even with these changing demographics, there has been little study of the experiences and needs of African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian American/Pacific Islander older adults in Illinois and the public policy responses to the needs and challenges of these communities. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the devasting effects of the pandemic on older adults in particular, the need to focus on these older communities of color is more paramount than ever.Given these changing demographics and growing challenges, AARP, in partnership with collaborating organizations Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Chicago, Chicago Urban League and The Resurrection Project, engaged Loyola University Chicago's Center for Urban Research & Learning to conduct a literature review and analysis of the existing research and data focused on African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian American/Pacific Islander older adults in Illinois.This resulting report focuses on the issues of economic security, health and digital connectivity for older adults of color in communities. The authors have outlined first-step policy recommendations that should be taken at the state and local level to begin to address these challenges for older adults of color.Click "Download" to access this resource.
The home environment plays a critical role in adults' ability to stay in their homes and communities as they age, commonly referred to as aging in place. Yet the majority of older adults' homes lack supportive features. Home modification is the process of making changes to a home to increase independence, safety, and health. Often combined with related repairs, home modification and repair (HMR) can be minor, such as adding grab bars and removing tripping hazards, or major, such as installing roll-in showers and ramps. Although HMRs can support people as their needs change and even preclude moves to institutional settings, numerous barriers challenge the ability of older adults and caregivers to access them.In response, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) funded the University of Southern California (USC) Leonard Davis School of Gerontology to implement the project, "Promoting Aging in Place by Enhancing Access to Home Modifications." Its goal is to address the barriers to home modification access and service delivery by increasing the availability and awareness of home modification at the national, state, and local levels. A key activity of this project was to develop a knowledge base of state HMR activities and programs for older adults and persons with disabilities with a focus on the State Units on Aging (SUAs). These agencies develop and implement state plans and support services for older persons, adults with physical disabilities and their families. SUAs administer funds, including those provided through the Older Americans Act (OAA), to support HMR services through local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and other state and local entities (e.g., OAA Title VI organizations that serve older Native Americans). SUAs can play a significant role in HMR by including it in state plans, providing designated funding, raising awareness, and coordinating with other state agencies such as housing, disability, and health.In October 2019, USC and its ACL project partner ADvancing States administered an online survey of directors of the 56 SUAs (which ADvancing States represents). The 10-question closed and open-ended survey sought to ascertain SUA activities, challenges, and opportunities in HMR. With extensive follow-up through February 2020, 50 SUAs completed the survey (an 89% response rate).This report summarizes the survey results, giving a bird's eye view of SUA roles in HMR and shining a light on examples of SUA HMR activities. Its purpose is to encourage greater involvement and coordination in HMR service delivery among agencies with a stake in assuring older Americans' ability to age in place.Click "Download" to access this resource.Tags: Older Americans Act, Area Agencies on Aging, State Units on Aging, Home-and Community-Based Services
University of Massachusetts Boston;
Older Americans rely heavily on Social Security to support an independent lifestyle. Recent estimates suggest that among adults aged 65 years or older, more than half rely on Social Security for at least 50% of their family income, while nearly a quarter depend on Social Security for 90% or more of their family income.Despite this substantial reliance on Social Security among older adults, Social Security benefits fall short of what is required to cover a basic cost of living across the United States, according to new estimates based on the Elder Index, a county-by-county measure of the income older adults need to secure an independent lifestyle. Nationally, the average Social Security benefit fulfills just 70% of basic living expenses of housing, food, transportation, and health care for a single renter in 2020, and 82% for an older couple.Each September, a cost of living adjustment (COLA) is determined for Social Security benefits, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W), and incorporated into the coming year's benefit adjustment. Typically, the COLA results in a modest increase in benefits, although benefit adjustments have been set at zero three times since 2009. The COLAs used for benefit adjustment do not account for expenses that disproportionately impact older adults, such as medical care, nor do they incorporate differences in costs of living across geographic locations.In this report, the authors document spatial and temporal aspects of Social Security benefits' coverage of older Americans' cost of living by comparing average Social Security benefits to the Elder Index in 2015 and 2020. First, they briefly introduce the Elder Index and how it is calculated to measure cost of living specific to older adults. Second, they document the extent to which average Social Security benefits cover cost of living for older adults at the national and county levels in 2020. Third, they compare patterns of coverage between 2015 and 2020, identifying states where Social Security benefits' coverage of the Elder Index has increased, stayed flat, or decreased over time. The report concludes by discussing policy implications.Click 'Download' to access this resource
Rush University Medical Center;
Undocumented individuals face pervasive and structural barriers due to their immigration status that block them from the services older adults depend on to successfully age in place. Meanwhile, Illinois has among the highest populations of U.S. undocumented individuals (400,000+). The movement of the population into senior years has substantial implications for public systems of health, health care and social services throughout the state.This report explores how the undocumented population in Illinois will continue to grow by 2030, as well as discuss in depth the implications of that data.As the U.S. population ages, and the older adult population diversifies ethnically, racially, linguistically and economically, this will also include the aging of the undocumented community. This report strives to take into account the aging of the undocumented community, specifically when we discuss the future of aging and health care services.Click "Download" to access this resource.
AARP Public Policy Institute;
Medicaid is the primary funder of long-term services and supports (LTSS) in the United States. It provides those services and supports either through institutional care (i.e., nursing home care) or home- and community-based services (HCBS). This report explains that one cost-effective HCBS option with multiple advantages is to pay family members to provide care for older people and adults with physical disabilities.Pandemic Phenomenon: Long-Term Care Concerns MagnifiedThe COVID-19 outbreak has intensified longstanding problems in long-term care. Nursing homes were among the first COVID-19 "hotspots" in the United States, with their residents' death rates far exceeding the general population. Meanwhile, the pandemic has only exacerbated nursing homes' challenges related to social isolation, and the physical and mental harms from isolation are well documented. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the ongoing nationwide shortage of direct care workers and high turnover within the industry.What Gets in the Way of Enabling a Promising ResourceIn spite of the advantages of providing pay for family caregivers, the concept has met certain barriers. One of the most common restrictions states impose is that a person may not hire his or her spouse as a paid caregiver, with the rationale that caring for one another is a responsibility inherent in the spousal relationship. In a pandemic environment, of course, this restriction can force spousal caregivers to work outside the house and bring in an outside caregiver, both of which raise the risk of infection. Concerns about family members committing fraud by billing for hours not worked has also motivated restrictions even as fraud is, in fact, extremely rare.Paying Family Caregivers Benefits Families and TaxpayersFamily caregiving already serves a critical role in mitigating the growing strain on the LTSS system, in part by expanding the caregiver pool. As Americans continue to live longer, family members are providing ever more complex care at home, often for longer periods of time. A family caregiver's responsibility to provide that high level of care can make it difficult or even impossible for them to maintain another job. Therefore, paid family caregiving answers multiple needs:The person who needs care can age at home, which is the preference for the vast majority of people who need LTSS.The family caregiver earns modest income, mitigating the impact of lost job hours.It is a lifeline to families who cannot otherwise afford to care for their family member.Costs are kept lower. One analysis found the average monthly cost for self-directed care was $1,774 in 2019, compared to $6,175 for a semi-private nursing home room.Costly institutionalization is delayed or avoided entirely.ConclusionWhen COVID-19 cases began mounting during the spring of 2020, state Medicaid agencies lifted some restrictions and allowed more family members to be hired and paid as caregivers. States should now consider implementing permanent policies that encourage and facilitate paid family caregiving, and invest in support services for caregivers. Current Medicaid reimbursement rates are not sufficient to attract enough direct care workers into the professional home care workforce, and COVID-19-related budget shortfalls and balanced budget requirements mean reimbursement rates will not be raised any time soon.Click "Download" to access this resource.
Justice in Aging;
Older adults are at the center of the nation's housing affordability and homelessness crisis. Older adult renters are more likely to pay a large proportion of their income for rent than the population as a whole, and this extreme rental cost burden places them at increased risk of housing instability and homelessness. In many parts of the U.S., low-income older adults are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. Due to discrimination and higher rates of poverty, Black and Latinx older renter households are more likely than white older renters to face severe rent burdens. The pandemic has made the situation worse. Justice in Aging and the National Low-Income Housing Coalition co-authored a new issue brief, Low-Income Older Adults Face Unaffordable Rents, Driving Housing Instability and Homelessness, that dives into the data behind what's driving this crisis and offers policy solutions that will help ensure no older adult is pushed into homelessness. Solutions include investing in more affordable, accessible housing for seniors; increasing income supports for lower-income seniors; and making health care more affordable and accessible. These investments, combined with integrating affordable housing with community-based health and social supports, will go a long way toward solving the problem. Click "Download" to access this resource.
Spending in retirement is an increasingly important area of focus of the retirement industry, plan sponsors, and policymakers as more individuals enter retirement. Indeed, in the third quarter of 2020, about 28.6 million Baby Boomers - those born between 1946 and 1964 - reported that they were out of the labor force due to retirement. Yet not enough is understood about how retirees spend their money and, just as importantly, why they spend the way they do.In its Issue Brief, "Why Do People Spend the Way They Do in Retirement? Findings From EBRI's Spending in Retirement Survey," the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) reported the spending habits and situation of 2,000 individuals ages 62 to 75 at and during retirement. Three types of retirees in particular stood out: (1) highly indebted retirees who described their debt as unmanageable or even crushing; (2) long-term secure retirees, or those retirees who reported they had long-term care insurance; and (3) full-nester retirees, or those reporting that they had at least one child at home with them. These three groups are highly distinct from one another and paint a portrait of starkly different retirement lifestyles depending on these circumstances.EBRI was able to fund development of this research thanks to a generous grant from RRF Foundation for Aging.Click "Download" to read the summary of EBRI's research.