GBO NEWS: AP’s “Working Longer”; GSA in New Orleans; 65+ Women


E-News of the Journalists Network on Generations

Nov. 6, 2013 — Volume 13, Number 15

Editor’s Note: The new “GBO News” marks the 20th year of the Journalists Network on Generations. Click through this table of contents to the full issue at This format is “scalable” for computer, e-pad or mobile. Let us know what you think of the new format.

IN THIS ISSUE: Spy here, NSA, you might learn something.

1. GEN BEATLES NEWS: ***University of Chicago/AP Center Survey, “Working Longer”; ***Rosenblatt Launches “Help With Age” Site

2. THE CONFERENCE BEAT: ***Geronotology Conference in New Orleans, Nov. 20-24, Has Range of Programs for Journalists – Press Briefing Lunches, Happy Reporters’ Hour and More

3. THE REPORTER’S STUDY HALL: *** “Insecure & Unequal” Study on Poverty, Women and Families; ***Query for Journalists on SSI Stories; ***Medical Records & The Folly of Presumed Precision

4. THE BOOK BEAT: ***Wasik’s 14th Book—How “Socialist” Keynes Made Money; ***Aging in America: The Years Ahead Marks Anniversary 10 Years Ahead



***Age Discrimination Has Reared Its Ugly Head for more than one of five (20%) Americans 50 or older. Among them, prejudice or discrimination gets even worse for non-whites: 28% said they personally experienced age bias on the job, compared with 17% of whites.

These are some of the finding in an extensive new poll from the University of Chicago’s Associated Press-NORC Center. Among the subheads streamed through the survey report, “Working Longer: Older Americans’ Attitudes on Work and Retirement” are:

*“Retirement Ages Have Increased Since the Beginning of the Great Recession”

*“Older Americans Express Frustration at Navigating the Job Market”

*“Many Americans Are Saving for Retirement, Though Many Lack Significant Savings Outside Social Security and Pensions”

*“Few Americans Age 50 and Older See Themselves As ‘Old.’”

The AP’s longtime age beat reporter, Matt Sedensky, a coauthor of the study, e-mailed GBO News that the study “landed on no fewer than 40 newspaper front pages on [Oct. 28], including some nice above-the-fold placement in some big markets.” He’s also filed a number of stories based on poll, such as “For jobless over 50, a challenging search for work,” on Yahoo News.

Although he’s usually based in South Florida, Sedensky moved to Old Windy in March when he won a yearlong fellowship at the center for a special “Aging in America” project to mine the university’s resources and turn out increasingly in-depth stories.

Sedensky was selected through a national competition for mid-career journalists employed by AP or the Associated Press Media Editors association news organizations. The fellowship is being funded by the Sloan Foundation, and Sedensky said he’s hoping its first success this year will prompt the foundation “to give another journalist an opportunity to learn more about aging (and the economics of it) and produce stories about.”

***Rosenblatt Launches “Help With Age” Site: Former Los Angeles Times economics correspondent Robert A. “Bob” Rosenblatt recently kicked off Help With Age, a news-you-can-use website that goes beyond many of the lose-weight-gain-hair Web offerings of recent years. He’s already providing solid, practical information for consumers. Rosenblatt, a 40-year veteran of financial reporting, covered the economics of Medicare, Social Security, pensions and so on at the LAT for three of those decades, mostly at the paper’s Washington bureau. While there, he developed the Times’ first beat on aging and wrote the “Benefits Bob” column for the Times’ health section on these issues. Rosenblatt is sort of the Bob Vila of retirement finance. (If he ever did TV would the show be called “The Old—Age?”)

Since retiring from the LAT a few years ago, he’s continued writing freelance on the issues. A Senior Fellow at the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), a bipartisan think tank, where he’s been a writer and conducted training sessions for reporters on this thing called social insurance. (You know, Social Security and such, rather than You Bet Your Life Indemnity.)

His new site,, is publishing accurate and expert information to help readers handle the finances of aging. Some recent columns are headlined “Help Your Grandkids Pay for College,” “Hospital ‘Observation’ Stays Can Hit You With a Huge Medicare Bill,” and “Tax Breaks for Caregivers: Siblings Can Share Deductions.” They can? Even reporters might learn a thing or three from the generations beat’s Benefits Bob.



New Orleans Meeting to Offer Full Age Range to Reporters: The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) 66th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, Nov. 20-24, will offer attending reporters a packed program, access to 4,000 gerontologists from around the world, three press lunch briefings and a journalists reception, not to mention hundreds of sessions and papers on every aspect of aging from biomedical developments to the politics of aging.

Not able to get to the Big Easy? There’s still plenty of source material on new research that reporters can tap anywhere (more about this below). For those able to attend, the complimentary media registration allows access to all sessions and the Exhibit Hall. Badges and printed program materials can be picked up in the Press Room, which will be located in Salon 821 at the Sheraton New Orleans. Register at

This year’s complement of journalists looks to exceed record levels for GSA with over 40 signed up from around the nation so far. That includes reporters arriving for the MetLife Foundation Journalists in Aging Fellows program, GSA’s collaboration with New America Media (and in cooperation with GBO News’ parent group, the Journalists Network on Generations).

Whether or not you plan to be on hand, you can search the conference program online for ideas and sources related to stories you’re working on or plan to do. Just scanning over the titles of and speakers at presentations can give reporters a quick idea about new research in areas you cover. If you got the searchable online program, you’ll initially see a dialogue box asking if you want to log in to create an itinerary, but you can skip that and go right to the search page.

The search function does not seem to recognize more than one word at a time. It also doesn’t offer near equivalents, you need to be a bit clever. For instance, search for Hispanic and Latino separately, or palliative and hospice, or African and black. You can also find a lot of people from your state or city, but also try a university name.

What’s more, the full program book PDF  is now online, too. (Think of its 228 pages as a thud-Pad.) Actually, it can be well worth scanning over to spot session titles (possible story ideas) you might miss with a narrower search. If you have trouble Googling speakers you’d like to reach, GSA Communications Director Todd Kluss can send you their information.

***PRESS LUNCH SESSIONS: Press events this year include three media lunches on new studies and developments in the field of aging and a press reception.

     *Thurs., Nov. 21, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.—“Hot Topics for Healthy Aging: Adult Vaccinations, Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medication Behaviors, and OTC Sleep Aid Use/Sleep Health.” This briefing will provide insights on findings from three major GSA initiatives: the National Adult Vaccination Program, OTC Medication Behaviors of Older Adults, and OTC Sleep Aids and Sleep Health in Older Adults. Five experts will speak from universities across the country.

     *Fri., Nov. 22, 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. – “The Longevity Dividend: Geroscience Meets Geropolitics.” Cosponsored with the American Federation for Aging Research, this session will examine the scientific means to extend the period of healthy life by slowing aging in people (The Longevity Dividend Initiative) and some of the obstacles in the way of what many consider the most exciting breakthroughs in the history of science and public health. Speakers will represent such key centers and initiatives as the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in California; the Mayo Clinic; Alliance for Aging Research; MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on an Aging Society; and National Institute on Aging.

     *Sat., Nov. 23, 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.—The Commission on Long-Term Care’s (LTC) Final Report: A Discussion with Committee Members.” Will LTC go over America’s fiscal cliff? The LTC Commission was created by the American Taxpayer Relief Act — the so-called “fiscal cliff” law — to advise Congress on how the country can provide and finance LTC better for older adults and people with disabilities. Its recent report to Congress, though, was a controversy missed by most media due to a dissent by five of the commission’s distinguished members. Speakers will include both those in the majority and commissioners who offered the alternative plan.

***FRIDAY’S HAPPY REPORTERS HOUR – On Friday, Nov. 22, at 5:30-7 p.m., reporters are invited to converge on the Press Room for a schmooze and cup of cheer. At the meet-up, we’ll circle the room with quick introductions to find out who is there.

After the gathering, those who’d like to can join a group trek for a Dutch Treat (with compliments to our frugal friends from Holland) to a nearby eatery to continue the conversation. (Be sure to let GBO News editor Paul Kleyman know you’d like to be included in the count to give the restaurant.)



*** “Insecure & Unequal: Poverty and Income Among Women and Families, 2000-2012” is a report released in September showing, “Poverty rates for women were once again higher than for men, and were especially high for women of color, women who head families, foreign-born women, and women 65 and older living alone.”

The study from the National Woman’s Law Center found that although the overall poverty rate for women 65 and older declined slightly to 11 percent over those 12 years, “the extreme poverty rate for women 65 and older increased to 3.1 percent in 2012 from 2.5 percent in 2000.”

The findings examined individuals and families across different ages revealing that

17.8 million women lived in poverty in 2012, 7.8 million in extreme poverty, with incomes below half of the federal poverty level (FPL).

Of those 65 or older, 2.6 million women were in poverty, double the 1.3 million older men.

Poverty rates for black, Hispanic, and Native American women were more than triple that for white non-Hispanic men. And poverty rates were also higher for Asian, foreign-born and white non-Hispanic women than for white men.

“Among women 65 and older, poverty rates were particularly high for women who lived alone and black, Hispanic, Native American, and foreign-born women,” the report says.

However, the study noted, “Poverty among white, non-Hispanic women 65 and older declined to 8.6 percent in 2012 from 10.1 percent in 2000.”

There was no reduction, though, for older women 65 or older living on their own because 18.9 percent were impoverished in 2012, compared to 11.9 percent for men 65 and older living alone. While the data analysis revealed that 3.1% of all older women lived in extreme poverty last year, the percentage jumped to 4.7% for women elders living alone—and that rose sharply from 3.6% in 2011.

“Poverty rates were particularly high for foreign-born (16.9 percent), black (21.2 percent), Hispanic (21.8 percent), and Native American (27.1 percent) women 65 and older,” the study reports.

*** Query for Journalists on SSI Stories: If the poorest of America’s poor are able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in their state, their meager federal income support is currently $710 per month for individuals. Some states supplement this with a small additional sum and also provide Medicaid benefits to recipients. But the 2 million people receiving SSI cannot have more than $2,000 in resources or be penalized, usually with having to pay back any overpayments the agency determines. In most states, someone must have less than $730 in monthly income to be eligible. Officials can also reduce SSI benefits if someone receives in-kind food or housing, even from a family member.

Have you done (or seen) stories in people struggling to get by on SSI? The National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) is advocating for fixes or updates to the SSI program. The group, long a leading nonprofit advocate for lower-income seniors, is especially looking for compelling stories of older adults with SSI who have lost income running afoul of such rules or who are simply struggling to make ends meet. NSCLC Communications Director Scott Parkin would like to hear from you about stories you’ve done, plan to do or have seen by colleagues. He can also help reporters with background and experts on the legal and legislative issues around SSI. Contact Parkin at To read more about SSI and the fixes that are needed, click here.

*** Medical Records & The Folly of Presumed Precision: “Why Electronic Medical Records [EMRs] Are Dangerous to Older Adults” is a cautionary tale by the blogger, Michael Wasserman, MD. (It was forwarded to GBO News by Jennie Chin Hansen, who heads the American Geriatrics Society. Wasserman says the piece was precipitated by a physician who mishandled treatment of his elderly father-in-law.

Wasserman writes, “While EMRs have some benefits for older adults, on balance I believe that they portend more dangers . . . . The doctor who reviewed my father-in-law’s EMR prior to seeing him made the first cardinal sin, he believed everything that he read in the record. The second error was in not directly getting the history from my father-in-law and myself as I sat at the bedside. The final mistake was in doing a cursory examination and forgetting the most important tool a physician has, his own eyes, nose and ears.”

Wasserman stresses, “EMRs have the distinct disadvantage that they are often singularly focused on specific diseases.” Because geriatricians are trained to care for frail elders, he continues, “We are trained to look at patterns and the big picture. Keeping a 90-year-old’s blood sugar or blood pressure too low might create problems rather than solve them. The focus on maximized function and quality of life may not mesh with achieving certain laboratory based numerical goals.”

And here’s his point for reporters: “Policy makers continue to believe that EMRs will lower costs and improve care. In the realm of the frail older adult, I believe it will do neither, at least not until we develop artificial intelligence software that thinks like a geriatrician.”

A personal note: GBO News’ editor dropped a doctor (and his managed-care system) three years ago after seeing him, one again, rush through an examination with his face mostly on screen and his hands palpitating a keyboard.



***Wasik to Austerity Hawks: Keynes Made Money: Retirement-finance journalist John Wasik’s 14th book, Keynes’s Way to Wealth (McGraw-Hill), while not explicitly on retirement might offer an unusual answer to the continuing drone of austerity hawks of both parties who insist the U.S. needs to cut entitlements to “save our children’s future.”

Refresher: The “Keynesian” theories of 20th century economist John Maynard Keynes continue to be dismissed by U.S. politicians and other struggling nations, despite ample historical evidence that he was right. Keynes understood that government needs to spend lots more in bad economic times because markets snap their purses shut (anyone try to get a loan lately?). His insight that government is the only operative source of substantial economic stimulus continues to hold true. Meanwhile, austerity measures have placed drags on economic recovery, and proposals to cut back on safety-net supports like Social Security and Medicare grown increasingly unpopular among groups across the political spectrum.

The likes of Paul Krugman and Ross Douthat may volley the merits of these arguments from one side of the New York Times op-ed page to the other. But Wasik offers something completely different. Keynes’s Way to Wealth, says Wasik, “delves into how Keynes managed to make money during some of the worst markets in history and influenced Warren Buffett, George Soros, David Swensen and many others.” Vanguard founder John C. Bogle wrote the foreword. And Yale’s Robert Shiller, newly minted 2013 Nobel Laureate in economics, blurbed, “Intelligent investing ultimately depends on having an intelligent theory of the economy. This story of Keynes’s life as an investor illustrates this beautifully.”

Over the last two decades Wasik, who hopes the book will help “bury the myth that Keynes was this rabid socialist who wanted government to take over everything,” has been an investment writer for Reuters, Bloomberg, the New York Times, Forbes and Journalists can request a review copy from Lydia Rinaldi. And check out his website at

*** Aging in America: The Years Ahead Is Now 10 Years Ahead: It is now 10 years since photojournalist Ed Kashi and his partner/wife, the writer-videographer Julie Winokur, released their benchmark book, public TV video and touring exhibition, Aging in America: The Years Ahead. The more than seven-year project culminated with broadcast of Winokur’s hour-long documentary and publication of the stunning book of black-and-white photographs by PowerHouse Books, one of the top photo publishers. What’s so striking is that Kashi’s photos, including some that were published along the way in the New York Times Magazine and elsewhere, and Winokur’s incisive text are as relevant now as they were a decade ago. In some ways, of course, that’s sad, because so little has changed. But also the vibrant stories of caregiving or of elders undaunted by mere age continue to exude the message that getting old is about living life to the hilt.

The couple went on to produce other projects on aging, even as Kashi globetrotted the planet documenting stories, such as the tragic exploitation of oil resources in developing countries. But aging has remained a continuing topic for them.

Take a look at the project’s section on the couple’s nonprofit website, They are now offering the remaining books—fine enough that I’d hesitate to associate them with the word “remaindered”—at nominal or in some case no cost to interested nonprofits in aging. Individuals can request copies for $10 (they retailed at $40 in 2003) plus shipping/handling. Full disclosure: I’m nicely credited in the book as an early information source. However, I’ve done a lot of that for writers and producers over the past 30 years or so, and I wouldn’t recommend many of those books or projects years later. This one’s exceptional.) If you know of a nonprofit in aging that may be interested, or if you’d like a copy yourself, contact Kashi’s studio in Montclair, N.J., at 973-746-9096, or Ask for Marjorie Steffe.


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The Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), founded in 1993, publishes Generations Beat Online with in-kind support from New America Media (NAM). JNG provides information and networking opportunities for journalists covering generational issues, but not those representing services, products or lobbying agendas. NAM is an online, nonprofit news service reaching 3,000 ethnic media outlets in the United States. GBO News readers are invited to visit the NAM website, and click on the Ethnic Elders section logo on the right side. Opinions expressed in GBO do not represent those of NAM. Copyright 2013, JNG. For more information contact GBO Editor Paul Kleyman.

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