GBO NEWS: Deadline for 10th Journalists in Aging Fellowships; NBC/Latino on Latinas; Vietnamese Dementia FM Doc; KQED’s Graying California; Elderhood; Dr. Verghese on MD/MBAs; & MORE


E-News of the Journalists Network on Generations – Celebrating 26 Years.  

June 13, 2019 — Volume 26, Number 8

EDITOR’S NOTEGBONews, e-news of the Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), publishes alerts for journalists, producers and authors covering generational issues. Send your news of important stories or books (by you and others), fellowships, awards or pertinent kvetches to GBO News Editor Paul Kleyman. To subscribe to at no charge, simply sending a request to Paul with your name, address, phone number and editorial affiliation or note that you freelance. For each issue, you’ll receive the table of contents in an e-mail, so just click through to the full issue at GBONews does not provide its list to other entities.

In This Issue: Summertime, and the Tweetin’ Is (Too) Easy.

1. EYES ON THE PRIZE: 10th Journalists in Aging Fellows Program

2. THE STORYBOARD: *** “Latina Longevity Is Real, But Can Bring Health, Financial Challenges,” by Laura Castañeda, NBCNews/Latino

*** “Vietnamese Immigrants Care for Parents With Dementia, Amidst Stigma,” by Christine Nguyen, MD, KALW Public Radio half-hour documentary;

*** “New Group Aims To Address Isolation Among LGBTQ Older Adults,” by Lisa Gillespie, WFPL Louisville Public Radio; 

*** “Honey–A Story of Defeating PTSD,” by Chunxiang Jin, World Journal in Chinese and Diverse Elders Coalition in English;

*** KQED-FM “Forum’s” 2-Hour Statewide Call-In on Aging.

3. AGING OUT OF THE MEDICAL MODEL: *** Elderhood:Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, by Louise Aronson, MD, is published; *** AuthorAbraham Verghese, MD on Krista Tippett’s On Being, About Why His Med Students Are Getting MBAs, Too. (Not the obvious.)

4. GEN BEATLES NEWS: *** Plink, Plunk, Plinkin’ in the Free World: Gen Beat Reporter Tommy Goldsmith’s Book Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Breakdown; *** New York Columnist Bette Dewing Honored by State Senate as Woman of Distinction; *** Aging A to Z Author Carroll L. Estes Tapped by National Academy for Social Insurance for 2019 Robert M. Ball Award.

1. EYES ON THE PRIZE: 10th Journalists in Aging Fellows Program

*** Applications Open — 10th Journalists in Aging Fellowship Deadline, July 19: Applications are now being accepted online for the 10thannual Fellowships. A collaboration of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and the Journalists Network on Generations (JNA, publisher of, the competition will select 14 New Fellows selected from both mainstream and ethnic/special population media based on their proposals for a major article, story package or series on any aspect of aging in America. Chosen Fellows will each receive a stipend of $1,500, plus all expenses paid to attend GSA’s Annual Scientific Meeting, to be held in Austin, Texas, Nov. 13-17. (Call it Age by Southwest—AxSW.)

Year 10 of the Fellowships will bring the total to 170 working reporters, who to date have generated over 700 articles on aging published or broadcast in English, with many translated from the original stories in Spanish, Chinese, Korean and other languages. This year’s funding brings the decade’s foundation grant support to nearly $1.2 million. Recent stories (see details on some with links below) have examined seniors’ hunger in Louisville, end-of-life care for Vietnamese elders in Silicon Valley, health and retirement challenges for Latinas, centenarian “Blue Zones” around the globe, and the potential health care barriers that released older prisoners may face if proposed Trump administration limits go into effect. 

The GSA meeting really is the premier academic conference in gerontology. It will convene over 4,000 professionals and researchers from more than 30 countries. Hundreds of symposia, papers and posters will be presented on the latest research about nearly every topic under the aging sun. Attending reporters will find ideas for new stories and fresh angles on existing topics from dementia studies to Social Security and Medicare to work opportunities and age discrimination to the latest biological discoveries. Besides new scientific findings, presentations will include technology innovations, policy debates and comparisons of evidence-based solutions being tested and applied nationwide. 

By 2030—the year Generation X will start turning 65 — fully one-fifth of the United States population will have reached that age with a growing percentage of them representing ethnic minorities. The effects of this demographic shift permeate every aspect of life in the country. While America’s mainstream media have largely ignored this emerging story, most communities are poorly informed about the significant challenges and opportunities of the longevity revolution. Story headlines from the past nine years, with a some still coming in for 2019, are linked at GSA’s media site.

For the 2019-2020 fellowships, we are grateful for the continued support of the following foundations: The Silver Century Foundation, which also posts news links and original reporting on its website; The Retirement Research Foundation; The Commonwealth Fund and The John A. Hartford Foundation.

For further details about how to submit an application, contact Program Co-Director and GSA Director of Communications Todd Kluss  at or (202) 587-2839. For further details about fellowship requirements and potential stories, contact Program Co-Director and Journalists Network on Generations National Coordinator Paul Kleyman, (415) 821-2801;


Speaking of the Journalists in Aging Fellows Program, following are the latest postings by some of the current Fellows:

*** “Latina Longevity Is Real, But Can Bring Health, Financial Challenges,” by Laura Castañeda, NBCNews/Latino (June 11, 2019): Statistically, U.S. Latinas can expect a long life. At 84 years, Latina life expectancy is second only to Asian American women (85.8 years) . . . But experts point out that a longer life can bring health and financial challenges, and Latinas tend to be poorer and rely heavily on Social Security for their retirement income. Moreover, Latinas, like Hispanics as a whole, have much higher rates of diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s. ‘Latinas and the Latino community are facing a perfect storm in terms of social and demographic trends,’ said Fernando Torres-Gil, a professor and director of the Luskin Center for Policy Research on Aging at the University of California, Los Angeles.”

The story quotes University of Texas, Austin, sociologist Jacqueline Angel, who asked, “Will the United States be prepared by 2050, when its older population doubles and we become a majority-minority society?” The article adds, “The financial challenges facing Latinas are striking. Twenty-five percent of Latinas over the age of 65 live in poverty, and without Social Security, the number would jump to 60 percent, according to the League of United American Citizens (LULAC).” She and Torres-Gil co-authored the 2018 book, The Politics of a Majority-Minority Nation: Aging, Diversity, and Immigration

*** “Vietnamese Immigrants Care for Parents With Dementia, Amidst Stigma,” by Christine Nguyen, MD, KALW Public Radio (May 28, 2019): The station presented this ambitious report as a half-hour documentary episode of its daily “Crosscurrents” news magazine. Nguyen, a Stanford pediatrician, describes how her father’s decline in Houston, Texas, promoted her to delve into geriatrics and how Vietnamese and other Asian families deal with advancing dementia. The story’s introduction explains, “Many people don’t recognize dementia, and not recognizing it can lead to death. Most caregivers are unprepared to manage dementia in their own family. And, for many ethnic minorities, such as Vietnamese, there is little support.” 

*** “New Group Aims To Address Isolation Among LGBTQ Older Adults” by Lisa Gillespie, WFPL Louisville Public Radio (click here to read or hear her report): New preliminary survey research from the University of Kentucky (UK) shows that many older LGBTQ adults feel isolated and aren’t tapped into senior services. And that research is shaping programming of a new group geared toward these adults out of Lexington and Louisville.” UK researcher Aaron Guest surveyed 700 LGBTQ adults over age 50 in the state. He found, “’There may not be many family units to provide care, or friendship networks may have shrunk, so there’s not individuals to step into the caregiver status,’ Guest said. ‘There’s also a fear of going into long-term care because of this idea that when you go into a nursing home or assisted living facility, you have to go back into the closet.’” A local group is working with other Louisville-area leaders to start a chapter of SAGE, a national advocacy and services group for LGBTQ older adults. 

*** “Honey–A Story of Defeating PTSD,” by Chunxiang JinWorld Journal: “‘Honey’ has multiple identities. She is a strong woman, a Native American paratrooper, and an Iraq war and Afghanistan war veteran who constantly suffers from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) . . .. PTSD traumatizes people in different ways. For Native American veterans in particular, the trauma they deal with is often multiplied because of the PTSD their community has experienced across generations, both within Indian country and from serving in the U.S. wars abroad. . . . Honey was diagnosed with PTSD after her Afghanistan deployment in 2007, and as a Native American distrustful of mainstream medicine, she eventually found effective treatment through traditional Chinese medicine.” Read in English: Diverse Elders Coalition (June 11, 2019); and Chinese:

Also of note on the generations beat (unrelated to the fellowships) is this California-wide public radio program:

*** KQED-FM Ran a Statewide Public Radio Call-In on Aging, June 11.  The 2-Hour “Forum” program with the show’s popular host Michael Krasny was part of the “Graying California Series,” which is profiling some of those leading the way for the Golden State’s 6 million older adults, as well as theCalifornia Dream collaborative, including CALmatters, KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio. 

The June 11 program was broadcast live from the Whistlestop senior center in San Rafael, north of San Francisco. The first hour, titled “How to Make Aging in Place Work,” focused on aging in place, with topical whistle stops at the lack of long-term care, senior-friendly transportation, caregivers, hospice care, unaffordable housing – lots for an hour. 

Hour two, “Wither Retirement? Why More Seniors Are Working,” delved into prospects for the 900,000 California seniors 65 and older working or trying to get a job. (Can anyone spell ageism?) Excellent overview of retirement finance limits, poverty, Social Security, and alternative solutions, such as California’s opt-in pension program for small businesses. 

The California Dream project editors are Adriene Hilland Bob Nishizaki. Supporting the series on range of issues have been the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, James Irvine Foundation and the College Futures Foundation.


***  Elderhood:Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, by Louise Aronson, MD, Bloomsbury, just released, is one of the most significant books on aging and ageism in America, Aronson’s powerfully written 400-page tome presents an exhaustive indictment of the U.S. health care system for its systematic, embedded elder abuse and neglect. 

This hefty book provides a substantial update to Dr. Robert N. Butler’s1975 Pulitzer Prize winner, Why Survive? Being Old in America.Aronson documents through her extensive research, analysis and personal experience, the medicalization and damaging effects of the profit-driven structures of U.S. health care. She shows how entrenched systems have derailed the very essence of healing as we grow older. Further, she argues, it has increasingly frustrated and burned out physicians by sidetracking their ability to provide appropriate care in favor of more high-tech medicalization; rigid and ineffective electronic medical records; and fragmented approaches to long-term care. 

Eloquently, Aronson writes, “Old age is partly defined by illness, but it is also a normal, natural part of life. If we want to understand  and optimize it, we must look not only at medicine but to all other realms of human thought and experience.” 

Elsewhere, she states, “If we feel the need to use catchphrases like ‘patient-centered care,’ what exactly is medicine? Shouldn’t patients always be the focus of health care? Something is missing in the current system and its underlying paradigm. Something important.” 

Elderhood should be required reading, alongside Dr. Atul Gawande’s bestselling Being Mortal, by journalists covering the generations beat. Aronson’s is a book reporters are apt to return to as a desk resource for facts, figures and contextual background.

A professor of geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, Aronson has published articles in media ranging from the New England Journal of Medicineto the New York Times and Washington Post. As GBONews noted a couple of issues back, journalists can request a review copy from, phone (212) 419-5371.

*** Abraham Verghese, MD, bestselling author and professor, Stanford University Medical School, commented on Krista Tippett’s NPR show, On Being (May 23, 2019):

“In medicine solutions to what ails us are pretty straightforward, and we all know what they are. Patients are very clear on what they want from us; we’re very clear on how we’d like to see it. But I think we’re recognizing that all of us have to leave our disciplines and be more engaged in societal change as a whole, because the problem isn’t residing in medicine.

“The problem is, if we don’t get engaged beyond medicine, we will suffer the consequences. And certainly in medicine that is true. I ask my medical students, ‘Look around.’ Our biggest need in this country is care for the elderly; the biggest needs is for chronic disease. Instead you look around and see freestanding short-stay surgery centers, freestanding cardiology centers, freestanding cancer centers. Have you ever seen a freestanding geriatric center where they [have] a piano that plays in the lobby and valet parking? That’s [geriatric care] our need. And it’s all driven by reimbursement and how its set up, and we can’t reform medicine unless we’re willing to tackle those things. 

“To me the most exciting thing in medicine is the phenomenon of my medical students getting their MDs and MBAs. And I thought, ‘What for–why do you need an MBA? I thought, maybe they want to make a lot of money. Everyone of them went into primary care. . . They did that because they want to change medicine; they want to reform this thing, and they know they need a knowledge of finance. And one of them, I just found out, dropped out because he’s running for office in Colorado. Well, that is the kind of change our generation needs to encourage.” 


*** Plink, Plunk, Plinkin’ in the Free World: Shall we call it “Banjo Journalism”? Former (and unretired) Charlotte Observer reporter on the generations-beat, Tommy Goldsmith, will see publication this coming fall of his bluegrass treatise Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain BreakdownThe Making of an American Classic by University of Illinois Press. The musicological book documents how Scruggs’1949 recording of Foggy Mountain Breakdown“ changed the face of American music.”

According to Goldsmith, “The breakneck banjo instrumental transformed the folk culture that came before it, while helping to energize bluegrass’s entry into the mainstream in the 1960s. The song has become a gateway to bluegrass for musicians and fans alike, as well as a happily inescapable track in film and television.” (Anyone out there remember Deliverance?)

His research included interviews with Scruggs, his wife Louise, disciple Bela Fleck, and sidemen like Curly SecklerMac Wiseman and Jerry Douglas, who described Scruggs’ working relationship with the great Bill Monroe.

What about Goldsmith’s gen-beat journalism? He e-mailed GBONews, “After 33 years in daily newspapers run by corporate conglomerates, I have invented a career that brings together my interest in aging, journalism, music, theater, films, folklore and scholarship. With the help of Uncle Sam and a working wife, I am enjoying work and leisure more than at any time I can remember.” And, yes, he’s been a bluegrass picker in the area for years.

“Journalism,” he said? Check out his recent piece for North Carolina Health News on a state bill struggling for life that would create a legislative Task Force on Aging. Another is on the burdensome cost of adult incontinence products. Some other pieces from this spring are on assisted living legislation, hurricane recover, and a deeply disturbing story headlined, “Selling Sex to Meet Daily Needs: Life in Assisted Living on $66 a Month,” the amount the state allows low-income people in care facilities to cover expenses from copayments to clothing. 

Otherwise, I’m in a new creative mode as an actor, having appeared in a couple of professional theater productions, also working as an arranger for a new production of Camelot in December.”Meanwhile, Tommy, how ’bout a few bars of “Give Me That New-Time Religion.”

How can we be sure he’ll never stray far from the generations beat? Well, Tommy is married to Renee Elder. No kidding.

***New York City Columnist Bette Dewing Was Honored as a 2019 Woman of Distinction by the State’s Senate in May. The award announcement from State Sen. Liz Krueger noted that her column in the Upper East Side’s Our Town weekly, has appeared since 1977. The octogenarian writer has also chaired the Older Women’s Media Committee, and produced a consciousness-raising program for the Older Women’s League. 

According to the awards announcement, “Her concern in much of her work has been that elderly people, especially the ‘old old’ and homebound, are left out of society’s mainstream even in their own apartment houses and neighborhoods. She is now pushing for the ‘elder orphans’ movement to become a worldwide force whose purpose is to assist those who do not have children to help them in old age. Ms. Dewing believes people must learn to help one another much more than they do and, along with learning communication skills, learn basic home health care skills.” 

*** Aging A to Z Author Honored: The prolific academic author and tireless source for many a reporter, Carroll L. Estes, will receive the 2019 Robert M. Ball Award from the nonpartisan National Academy for Social Insurance (NASI) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 27. The founder of the Institute of Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, Estes, 81, has written or edited 25 books, such as The Aging Enterprise (Jossey-Bass, 1979), which warned of growing commercial influences on service for elders. Just released by Routledge is her latest tome, written with Nicolas B. DiCarlo, also of the Institute, Aging A to Z: Concepts Toward Emancipatory Gerontology.

Think of it as a progressive “devil’s dictionary” with provocative entries from “Ableism” to “Zeitgeist,” with sharply written critical analysis of what’s wrong with social policies for America’s aging society and what policy corrections she’d prescribe. Journalists can request a “media review copy” and release from Dean Birkenkamp at

Also receiving the Robert M. Ball Award will be Yale emeritus professor, Theodore “Ted” Marmor, author of the classic Politics of Medicare, among his 13 books and over 200 articles, many for major news media. 

Bob Ball’s  name will pop up now and then for reporters getting into the weeds of Social Security and Medicare, and it’s worth looking him up. Ball, who died in 2008 at age 93, was the longest-serving Commissioner of Social Security, and had a major hand in the passage of Medicare. A year or so before he died, GBO’s editor was amazed to learn of how he was using his home fax machine to launch a letter-and-lobbying campaign to Congress and others that had a major influence on sinking efforts by Pres. George W. Bush to partially privatize Social Security. Ball, as well as Estes and Marmor, define the term “indefatigable.” 

The Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), founded in 1993, publishes Generations Beat Online News ( JNG provides information and networking opportunities for journalists covering generational issues, but not those representing services, products or lobbying agendas. Copyright 2019 JNG. For more information contact GBO Editor Paul Kleyman. 

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