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The MIT AgeLab and AARP are accepting applications from high school juniors and seniors in New England for the 2017-2018 OMEGA scholarship meant for  students who are actively working to create connections between teens and older adults in your community.

The MIT AgeLab OMEGA Scholarship is due in six weeks and students are encouraged to apply.

Three $1000 OMEGA college scholarships are available to recognize and reward the efforts of students to create multigenerational connections in their communities. Each OMEGA scholarship will award a $1000 college scholarship to the winning student and $1000 to the winning student’s high school organization to support its activities to build relationships between teens and older adults.

Applications are live now! Apply here today! Completed applications are due March 31, 2018.

Questions? Send an email to omegamit@mit.edu or call 617-253-1894.

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Following up on a round of grants in Fall 2017, the Metrowest Health Foundation is once again focusing on supporting Age- and Dementia Friendly Communities in a newly released Spring 2018 Grant RFP.

The last round of grants included an award to the Framingham Board of Health to co-lead an Age- and Dementia Friendly effort in that city that will bring community partners together.

Metrowest Health Foundation is a key partner for the advancement and promotion of healthy aging best practices and is represented on the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative Executive Committee and Advisory Council.

For more information, see the Metrowest Spring 2018 RFP.

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Periodically, the Healthy Aging Collaborative will share news articles that mention state and local efforts to make cities, towns and regions in Massachusetts Age- and Dementia Friendly.

Check out the following articles from early February on the momentum of this movement building across the state.

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Governor Baker signed Executive Order 576 establishing the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts on April 12, 2017. Now, the Council has officially released their Initial Blueprint Recommendations.

According to the Order “the Council shall be responsible for advising the Governor on the development of governmental policies, community resources, best practices, and informal supports that will promote healthy aging in the Commonwealth. The Council will formulate a plan to achieve the goal of making Massachusetts the most age-friendly state for people of all ages.”

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is proud to highlight that the Council put Age-Friendly Communities front and center along with many other MHAC priorities, particularly, elevating inclusion, access, and equity.

The Council cited the following beliefs that guided the recommendations:

  • People want to age in community
  • We must leverage public-private-community partnerships
  • Massachusetts values access, equity, cultural competency and
    inclusion for all its residents
  • Our innovation and technology sectors are key strengths
  • We honor community and leverage best practices
  • Embedding aging in all policies benefits residents of all ages
  • We use community as the unit of analysis
  • We must reframe the conversation: aging is an asset and
    something that you have to plan for

See more of the Initial Blueprint Recommendations.

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Citing academic research and strong survey data, an article from the Health Affairs blog underlines the benefit and positive impact of pairing the health care sector with community-based organizations to address health-related social needs.

According to the blog, the January 2018 issue of Health Affairs highlighted research from Yale University and the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University of Ohio  finding that AAA involvement in a broad variety of cross-sector collaborations with health care and social service organizations is associated with a reduction in hospital re-admission rates.

There is much more evidence cited in the Health Affairs blog article, which can be beneficial for Age- and Dementia Friendly Communities – or any community-based organization -looking to collaborate with local health care partners to improve social determinants of health.

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After almost one year of Advisory Task Force meetings and listening sessions, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced revised Community Benefits guidelines for nonprofit hospitals and HMOs. 

Such nonprofit institutions are obligated to provide charitable and cooperative activities that reflect local health needs. The updates are meant to reflect and be considerate of updated statewide health priorities, new IRS requirements associated with the Affordable Care Act, and accelerating health care delivery system transformation.

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, through public comments to the AGO, has highlighted Age- and Dementia Friendly Communities as an opportunity area for hospitals and health plans looking to impact the health and well-being of their service areas.

As stated in the revised guidelines:

“Significant changes in health care also underscore the continued value of the Community Benefits Program and the need to update the Guidelines. In the last decade, evidence has become even more clear that the utilization of medical services is not the primary determinant of community health. Rather, the social conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age play a key role in determining health outcomes and health disparities.

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Periodically, the Healthy Aging Collaborative will share news articles from local efforts to make cities, towns and regions in Massachusetts Age- and Dementia Friendly.

Check out the following articles from late January on the momentum of this movement building across the state.

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Governor Charlie Baker appointed an 18-member group called the Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth charged with advising the Administration on future transportation needs and challenges. Transportation came up as one of the major concerns during listening session conducted by another commission appointed by Baker to address aging in Massachusetts.

The Commission members will focus on at least five key areas anticipated to have a dramatic impact on transportation in the future:

  • Climate and resiliency;
  • Transportation electrification;
  • Autonomous and connected vehicles, including ride-sharing services;
  • Transit and mobility services; and
  • Land use and demographic trends.

Of those, the Healthy Aging Collaborative believes older adults may be considered a significant part of the final two, which are explained in further detail below, according to Executive Order No. 579:

  • Transit and Mobility Services: To what extent will “mobility as a service” change transportation in Massachusetts?  How will the role of public transportation evolve if on-demand and mobility-as-a-service options become more widespread in the future.
  • Land Use and Demographics: What changes in land use and demographics could either drive or be driven by the types of disruptive climate, technology and business model changes likely to occur in transportation?  What other context issues should the Commonwealth consider when planning for its transportation future?

The Commission will meet monthly and will provide a report on the analysis of members and make recommendations by December 1, 2018.

“This commission will advise our administration on the future of transportation in Massachusetts that sensibly accounts for impending disruptions due to changes in technology, climate, demographics and more,” said Governor Baker in a press release.  “Making informed transportation decisions and policy guided by the best analysis possible will be the foundation for success across the board in years to come to keep our innovation economy thriving and competitive.

The Baker-Polito Administration began a series of statewide listening sessions in September 2017 to discuss possible solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. Following the forums, state environmental and transportation leaders continue to develop the Commonwealth’s strategy to reduce transportation sector emissions, develop a comprehensive regional strategy for the deployment of zero emission vehicles, and increase the resilience of transportation infrastructure as the climate changes.

The Commission will engage with a range of non-profit groups, academic thought leaders and other stakeholders.  As needed, Commonwealth of Massachusetts knowledge experts in various secretariats will be providing information to the Commission.

For additional information on Executive Order No. 579, please click here.

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In his annual State of the Commonwealth Address, Governor Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts has joined the network of AARP Age-Friendly States and the World Health Organization Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities. 

Massachusetts is only the second state in the nation to take such action after New York enrolled with AARP to become an age friendly state in 2017.

AARP’s Age-Friendly Network asks for commitment from state elected leadership to work actively toward making the state a great place to live for people of all ages.

In a letter to AARP Massachusetts, Governor Baker wrote “Many of our older adults have the time, energy and talent available to start a second or third career, volunteer in their community, become a mentor or pursue an unfulfilled passion.  By enrolling in the network of Age-Friendly States, Massachusetts embraces the opportunity to promote and celebrate aging.”

Last year, Governor Baker established the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, which focuses on promoting healthy aging in Massachusetts and achieving the goal of making the Commonwealth the most age-friendly state for people of all ages. The Governor’s Council brings together leaders from the aging, business, government, nonprofit, technology, education, transportation, housing and health care sectors to advise the Baker Administration on innovative policies and best practices to support and engage older residents.

Adults aged 60 and over are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population and will make up 23% of the Commonwealth’s population by 2035.

“AARP’s age friendly network encourages states, counties, cities, towns and rural areas to prepare for the rapid aging of the U.S. population.  The network encourages states and communities to take action and pay increased attention to the environmental, economic and social features that encourage greater age integration and diversity and create a community that supports residents from the cradle through retirement,” said Nancy LeaMond, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer for AARP.

“AARP enthusiastically supports Governor Baker’s initiative to make Massachusetts an Age-Friendly state,” said AARP Massachusetts State Director Mike Festa. “We thank Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Elder Affairs Alice Bonner and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging for their efforts in embracing the age-friendly movement in Massachusetts. We also thank our partners James Fuccione, Senior Director of the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, Nora Moreno Cargie of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, and Dave Stevens of the Massachusetts Councils on Aging.”

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities helps participating states become great places by adopting such features as walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities. Well-designed, livable communities help sustain economic growth and make for happier, healthier residents — of all ages. The AARP Age-Friendly Network is an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities prepare for their own and the world’s growing population of older adults and the parallel trend of urbanization.

The eight Age-Friendly/Livable Community domains outlined by WHO and AARP are:

  • Outdoor spaces and buildings
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Social participation
  • Respect and social inclusion
  • Work and civic engagement
  • Communication and information, and
  • Community and health services.

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative partners with AARP and Dementia Friendly Massachusetts – administered through the Massachusetts Councils on Aging – to align Age- and Dementia Friendly efforts for local communities. The basis for this strategy comes from AARP’s policy paper titled “Better Together: A Comparative Analysis of Age- and Dementia Friendly Communities.”

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The Future City annual competition for middle school students  begins with the question: how can we make the world a better place? Each year, a theme provides competing students with more focused direction and for 2018, the theme is “The Age-Friendly City.”

The Boston Globe covered the Massachusetts regional competition, which was held at the State Transportation Building in Boston.

According to the Globe, the goal, set by the national Future City team, challenged students to prove to the judges that their cities could promote civic engagement and cater to an aging population. Judges included Sara Ting of World Unity, Inc., Jan Mutchler of the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging at University of Massachusetts Boston, and Emily Shea of Boston’s Elderly Commission.

More press coverage on this year’s Future City competition from Forbes’ Next Avenue is available here.

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