GBO News: 20 Tapped as Reporting Fellows on Aging; Woodstock (and Altamont) at 50; Medicare4All—Doesn’t Cover Eldercare Much; Old & Alone; Aging Sick on the Streets; & MORE


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

September 13, 2019 — Volume 26, Number 11

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 IssueHarvest Moon Special on Vintage News Pairings

1. EYES ON THE PRIZE:  20 Reporters Named for 10th Journalists in Aging Fellows Program From Puerto Rico Public TV to  Slate.

2. GOOD SOURCES: *** “Fierce Urgency of Now,” Dr. Joanne Lynn’s Action Call on Lack of U.S. Eldercare; *** “Report Offers Solutions for Addressing Disparities in Life Expectancy,”Philanthropy News Digest; *** “The Ethics Of Population Aging: Precarity, Justice, And Choice,”  Health Affairs.


*** “How Not to Grow Old in America,” by Geeta Anand, New York Times (assisted living and the fantasy of ‘self-sufficient until we die’);

*** “All About Medicare,” by Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News (KHN) story and podcast

*** “Congress Watch: Why Medicare Coverage of Unmet Needs Is So Vital,” by Liz Seegert, AHCJ Covering Health;

*** “What Maine’s “Elder Boom” Means for the Rest of the Country” by Kimberly Adams, Jonaki Mehta and Rose Conlon, Marketplace Morning Report.


*** Cassie Chew Gets USC Dennis Hunt Fellowship on Older-Prisoners’ Reentry Project;

*** Woodstock: the Movie Producer Dale Bell Reflects 50 Years Later on “Jimi Hendrix, and Our Future Together”; *AND Bell also Co-Produced PBS Docu Series Our Kids: Narrowing the Opportunity with author Robert Putnam;

*** “Aging in America: Better or Worse Than 40 Years Ago?” Mark Miller’s interview with GBONews Editor Paul Kleyman.


*** A Total of 20 Reporters Were Selected for the 10th Journalists in Aging Fellows Program to attend the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Scientific Meeting, set for Austin, Texas, Sept. 13-17. They include 14 New Fellows, whose proposed in-depth projects for 2019-2020, were chosen by a panel of journalists and gerontologists. In addition, the program will bring back six past Fellows to continue their coverage of issues in aging.

The program, sponsored by GSA and the Journalists Network on Generations, has over the decade included 170 journalists, half from the general-audience press and half from ethnic or community media in the United States. In its first nine years they have generated almost 750 articles in English, with many translated from their original versions in Spanish, Chinese and other languages, on a wide span of subject areas in aging. 

The 2019-2020 “class” of New Fellows includes journalists from such widespread locations as Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, California and Ontario, Canada. They will develop long-form stories or series for print, radio, television, and online media. 

Among this year’s story topics are cultural challenges in the United States for older Arab, Indian and Latino immigrants; health issues for African American and other long-held prisoners now reentering the community; continuing struggles of low-income Puerto Rican seniors in the wake of the 2017 hurricanes; challenges to ageist stereotypes; increasing homelessness among older adults in Cape Cod; and the crisis of loneliness and isolation facing seniors in Canada’s capital city and Indian Americans in California. A continuously updated list of published fellowship stories since the program began is available at

Following is the list of this year’s New and Continuing Fellows.

Hassan Abbas, Contributor, Arab American News, Dearborn, Mich.: Project–Three-part series on intergenerational family relations in the Arab American community of Detroit and Dearborn, Mich., and socio-economic conditions affecting them. 

Mayra Acevedo, Senior Reporter/News Anchor, WIPR TV (Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting): Project–4-part, Spanish language series (captioned in English), plus a half-hour special, on how nonprofits are helping impoverished seniors, many ineligible for benefits because they own homes, many of which were damaged by 2017’s Hurricane Maria. 

Tina Antolini, freelance producer, KQED public radio’s California Report: Project–This segment of her California Report documentary series on ageism will examine how older women religious challenge stereotypical models of “successful aging.” 

Agustin Duran, News Editor, La Opinion/Impremedia, Los Angeles: Project–Three-part series on range of retirement issue facing Latinos in Southern California, such as being undocumented, lacking health insurance, being eligiblefor little or no Social Securityand homelessness. 

Cecilia Hernandez-Cromwell, News Director/Anchor, Telemundo Noticiero Oklahoma: Project–Three-part series on physical and emotional effects of undocumented immigrants’ journey to the U.S., far from home and family; impact of stress and injuries over years of heavy labor; and the toll on caregivers. 

Kate Ferguson, Editor-in-Chief, Real Health Magazine, New York, N.Y.: Project–“Aging in Place: Today’s Prison Population,” a two-part series in print and online on health and mental health issues for older prisoners reentering communities with a focus on model approaches by progressive law-enforcement agencies. 

Katherine Ellen Foley, Science and Health Reporter, QuartzProject–Meeting the needs of ethnic elders, groups historically excluded from clinical dementia research despite their high rates of dementia. 

Judith (Judi) L. Kanne, RN, Contributor, Atlanta Senior LifeProject–Two-part series on elder abuse prevention in Georgia. 

Jon Kelvey, Reporter and Photographer, The Carroll County (Maryland) TimesProject–An investigation of how the true cost of living, both for prime-age wage earners and those working in long-term care, calls for a more realistic living wage reflecting what people need to ensure their later-life independence.

Joanne Laucius, Senior Reporter, Ottawa Citizen/Ottawa SunProject–Story package with video interviews on the increasing elder loneliness in Canada and its potential health risks. 

Cynthia McCormick, Reporter on Aging, Cape Cod Times: Project–Two-part print series package, plus public radio podcast on the disproportionate numbers of homeless people on Cape Cod and how officials are addressing the emerging statewide crisis of housing insecurity for seniors.

Jaya Padmanabhan, Contributor, India Currents Magazine: Project– “Loneliness and its Linkage to Food for Aging Indian American Immigrants,” underscoring the need for health care services to account for how access to traditional foods affects the emotional wellness of older people in Indian subcultures.

Joelle Renstrom, Contributor, Slate magazine’s “Future Tense” section: Project–A three-part series on the science, practical considerations, and social/ethical implications of radical life extension discoveries, such as emerging “rejuvenation technologies” and how they might promote widening social and cultural rifts.

Luanne Rife, Reporter, The Roanoke (Virginia) TimesProject–An investigation of whether Virginia elders with mental illness or dementia who lack family and funds are receiving appropriate services or are being warehoused in psychiatric hospitals, despite legal requirements that they be placed in the least-restrictive settings.

In addition to these New Fellows, this year’s group will include six Continuing Fellows selected to return to the program. They include:

Rich Eisenberg, Managing Editor, PBS Next Avenue, a 2018-19 New Fellow, who previously published a three-part fellowship series, “Blue Zones How the World’s Oldest People Make Their Money Last.”

JoAnn Mar, KALW Public Radio (San Francisco), a 2017-18 fellow, who produced “Palliative Care:  The Search for Comfort and Healing In The Face of Death,” a one-hour documentary culminating Mar’s two-year End of Life Radio Project.

Rhonda J. Miller, WKU Western Kentucky Public Radio, a 2018-19 Fellow, reported a three-part series, “Elder Refugees in the Bluegrass State.”

Brad PomeranceJewish Life Television (JLTV), a 2018-19 Fellow, created a one-hour video documentary program, “Mental Health in Older Jewish Americans.”

Peter WhiteThe Tennessee Tribune, a 2018-19 Fellow, wrote the four-part series on the impact of gentrification on Nashville’s African American elders and others. Immediately following publication, the city’s mayor released $77 million in affordable housing funds the articles had shown had been bureaucratically stalled.

Tibisay ZeaEl Planeta (“Boston’s Latino Newspaper,” also in El Dario, New York), a 2017-18 Fellow, who investigation appeared in Spanish headlined,“Envejecer en las sombras: el futuro que espera a los adultos mayores indocumentados.” It appeared in English as “Undocumented Latinos Aging in New England’s Shadows,”on the Diverse Elders Coalition website

Funding for this year’s Journalists in Aging Fellows Program was provided by The Silver Century Foundation, The Retirement Research Foundation; The Commonwealth Fund and The John A. Hartford Foundation.


*** “The Fierce Urgency of Now — Geriatrics Professionals Speaking up for Eldercare in the U.S.,” editorial by Joanne Lynn, MDJournal of the American Geriatrics Society (online, Sept. 12, 2019): Lynn, among the most respected physicians in geriatric medicine, directs the nonprofit  Altarum Institute, Program to Improve Eldercare. She titled this editorial after a phrase Martin Luther King, Jr.  used in his “I Have a Dream Speech,” because the dream she imagines is an impressively footnoted nightmare that will grow increasingly frightful unless leaders and politicians take action.

Lynn stresses the under-reported fact that today’s family caregiver “often must manage complicated technologies and risky medications. These volunteer caregivers now provide most of the personal care  to elders, losing an average of $300,000 in lifetime income and retirement security.”

Meanwhile, Lynn explains, “Between 2015 and 2050, the number of frail and disabled older adults needing long-term supports and services (LTSS) will more than double, with the largest increases in the 2030s.”

The stark reality, Lynn writes, is, “Old age looks to become grim for most Americans. Fewer family caregivers, a low supply of healthcare workers, inadequate personal savings, shortsighted policies, and declines in pension plans will weaken both the availability of supportive care and the ability to pay out of pocket for the costs of disability in old age. Geriatricians in the 2030s may be able to prescribe very costly medications for older Medicare  beneficiaries who cannot get supper.”

She continues, “Most older Americans who live with disabilities will not be able to pay for adequate housing, food, medicine and personal care. All who serve older adults must shoulder the responsibility to help avert this oncoming suffering and social disruption. The window of opportunity for effective change is narrow already; procrastinating for a decade will be too late.”

Lynn’s call to action for the geriatric profession includes several policy recommendations.

*** “Report Offers Solutions for Addressing Disparities in Life Expectancy”  Philanthropy News Digest (Sept 9, 2019): “To address disparities in healthy life expectancy by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, the healthcare sector, government, business, and philanthropy need to take bold action to ensure that all Americans have access to safe environments, quality health care, nutritious food, and stable housing, a report from the Urban Institute argues. . . . Part of the institute’s Urban Next50 initiative, the report, What Would It Take to Reduce Inequities in Healthy Life Expectancy? (64 pages, PDF), found that racial and socioeconomic inequities in the social determinants of health — including hunger, housing instability, social isolation, and exposure to violence and trauma — exist at every stage of life, accumulate over time, and affect both the length and quality of people’s lives.

“As of 2017, the average life expectancy of African American men was 4.5 years shorter than for white men and that of African American women was 2.7 years shorter than for white women. The report also found that the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor Americans has been widening since the early 1980s. To close the gap, the report’s authors propose five mutually reinforcing “solution sets” involving action, investment, and innovation.”

*** The Ethics Of Population Aging: Precarity, Justice, And Choice,” in Health Affairs (June 27, 2019), by Nancy Berlinger, a research scholar and Mildred Z. Solomon, both of the respected bioethics think tank, The Hastings Center, where Solomon is president and also a professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. 

Berlinger and Solomon write, “Ethical challenges near life’s end are not limited to bedside decision making. As humans live longer than ever before, longevity introduces a decades-long process of chronic progressive illness, age-associated frailty, and cognitive decline. Bioethics has contributed greatly to enhancing the rights of patients to guide treatment decisions, but it has fallen short in addressing population-level concerns that aging societies now face.”

The piece focuses on “identifying structural factors affecting population-level concerns around access to needed care for older adults. In 2013, they published The Hastings Center Guidelines for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life. Subsequently, they convened experts from a wide range of field and last October published a peer-reviewed, open-access special report, co-edited with social gerontologist Kate de Medeiros. The essays examined “cultural ideas and social policies capable of mitigating—or worsening—age-related disadvantages in late life.” For example, experts analyzed the mismatch between elders’ housing needs of and the way housing is currently planned and built in the U.S. 

Also, “Social gerontologists (Amanda Grenier and Christopher Phillipson) draw on the economic concept of “precarity” (the idea that contemporary economic conditions create precarious situations for some groups, and that social policy should aim to mitigate this disadvantage) to articulate a critical gerontology of precarity. They argued that policies and philanthropic initiatives focused on ‘healthy,’ ‘successful,’ or ‘active’ aging obscure the foreseeable physical and socioeconomic precarity experienced by many older adults. Because age-associated illness is part of aging, and people often grow poorer with age because of structural factors, such as lack of access to jobs with pensions, rather than a personal ‘failure’ to plan, social policies in aging societies should realistically reflect and compensate for age-associated precarity.”


*** “How Not to Grow Old in America,”  by Geeta AnandNew York Times (Aug. 29, 2019): The assisted living industry is booming, by tapping into the fantasy that we can all be self-sufficient until we die.”

In this op-ed, Anand, a former NYT reporter and current professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism, writes, “Assisted living seems like the solution to everyone’s worries about old age. It’s built on the dream that we can grow old while being self-reliant and live that way until we die . . . . The problem is that for most of us, it’s a lie. And we are all complicit in keeping it alive. . . . The irony of assisted living is, it’s great if you don’t need too much assistance. . . . But if it is to be a long-term solution for seniors who need substantial care, then it needs serious reform, including requirements for higher staffing levels and substantial training.”

Anand continues, “We need to let go of the ideal of being self-sufficient until death . . . . Unless we face up to the reality of the needs of our aging population, the longevity we as a society have gained is going to be lived out miserably.”

*** “All About Medicare,” by Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News (KHN) story and podcast (42 mins.) Aug. 22, 2019: Crucial among her points: “As Americans age, many fondly look forward to Medicare, imagining it will pay all their health bills. But the program has hefty cost-sharing requirements and doesn’t cover many expenses, including long-term nursing home care, dental care and most vision care.”

The article offers a helpful crib sheet of bullet points for reporters to refer to in posing questions to officials or candidates. Rovner’s podcast includes her interview with Tricia Neuman, a senior vice president in charge of Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) Then she discusses the issues with Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post, Joanne Kenen of Politicoand Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner. 

*** “Congress Watch: Why Medicare Coverage of Unmet Needs Is So Vital,”  by Liz SeegertAHCJ Covering Health (Sept. 9, 2019): Congress returns from its summer recess with a full agenda. It’s probably not high on their to-do list, but many advocates of older Americans hope they’ll address several pieces of legislation introduced this year that could help many seniors better afford and access dental care, eyeglasses and hearing aids. These are items that traditional Medicare doesn’t pay for but would make a world of difference in the health and well-being of older adults.” She updates congressional activityon a number of relevant bills on the drawing board.

In particular, though, she focuses on the “Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act” (HR 576) and a related bill by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, HR 1393, “The Medicare Dental, Vision, and Hearing Benefit Act of 2019,” which phases in the coverage over eight years with includes limitations. 

Seegert also cites a 2018 Commonwealth Fund report, which concludes, “Older adults who do not get the dental, vision, and hearing services they need, or who have to delay needed treatment because of cost, are at greater risk for avoidable emergency department visits, hospitalizations, skilled nursing facility visits, falls, isolation, depression and greater dependence on family caregivers.” 

In addition, she notes, “Older Americans on modest or low fixed incomes often cannot afford to pay for these services, according to a policy paper from the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare. They found more than half of all beneficiaries have incomes of less than $2,200 per month; those on Social Security disability receive less than $1,400 monthly. The Commonwealth Fund report said lack of access was particularly acute for poor beneficiaries.” 

*** “What Maine’s “Elder Boom” Means for the Rest of the Country”  by Kimberly Adams, Jonaki Mehta and Rose ConlonMarketplace Morning Report  (Aug. 20, 2019): “It’s no secret that the U.S. population is aging. As baby boomers reach retirement, some elder care resources are beginning to feel stretched thin. Maine, which has the oldest population in the country, is experiencing a dire shortage of workers that can provide care to the state’s elderly residents. What’s happening in Maine might be a taste of what’s to come for the rest of the country, says Jeff Stein, economic policy reporter for the Washington Post. He spoke with Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams about Maine’s “elder boom” and the economic consequences of a caregiver shortage.”


*** Older Prisoners Project Gets USC National Journalism Fellowship: Congratulations to Chicago-based freelancer, Cassie Chew, for receiving a 2019 Dennis A. Hunt National Reporting Fellowship by USC’s Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. She proposed a“data-driven multimedia project exploring how Chicago’s disadvantaged neighborhoods are prepared for the influx of former inmates ages 50 or older, expected to be released within the next few years as a result of the 2018 First Step Act.”

Chew’s new project will extend her initial reporting on reentry of older inmates that appeared this past May in The Crime Report. That new feature explains how current administration policies weakening Medicaid expansion to childless adults with work requirements “could lead to fewer options for these returning citizens to receive health care services upon leaving prison.”

The article also describes Affordable Care Act-authorized “demonstration projects in several states that opened Medicaid enrollment to former inmates, with some states collaborating with correctional agencies to enroll inmates prior to their prison release date,” Chew explains on the USC website. She developed that story supported by a Journalists in Aging Fellowship last year, sponsored by the Gerontological Society on Aging (GSA) and the Journalists Network on Generations, publisher of

*** Woodstock: the Movie, Jimi Hendrix, and Our Future Together,”  by Dale Bell: When boomer memories get old, they’re likely to be rocking. In the case of TV documentary producer Dale Bell, his nonprofit Media Policy Center in LA, with production partner, Harry Wiland, has created PBS programs, such as 2002’s And Thou Shalt Honor, about caregiving in America, and 2015’s Homes on the Range, about the struggle to build one of Dr. Bill Thomas’ innovative Green House eldercare facilities in Sheridan, Wyo. But dial back a half century to a muddy weekend up the Hudson Valley and you’d see Bell scurrying around with the likes of the Aretha FranklinJanis Joplin, Country Joe & the Fish (“Give me an F, Give me a U …”) and, especially, Jimi Hendrix. Bell was a co-producer of Woodstock: The Movie, which would win the 1971 documentary feature Oscar. (Also on the crew was an assistant director named Marty Scorsese.) 

Bell, who also published a book on the making of the film 10 years ago, posted a reminiscence about the events of August 15-17, 1969. He recalled, “Very near the end of the movie, Jimi Hendrix, dressed in white fringe, stands alone with a pick-up band, searching for meaning from the almost empty fields, the barren stage, the cast-off remains of the most spontaneous gathering of humankind ever recorded. But when he does find his groove, nothing can prevent his ‘Call to Action’ mingled with “Taps” from being embedded in the hard drive of our nation’s consciousness, capturing screams from the original sin of slavery in 1619 to the assassination of HOPE, symbolized by President John F. KennedyMalcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, and beyond, to this day. This is no idle 4-minute rift piercing our soul. The end of an era, it haunts us today.” And we’ve never heard the “Star Spangled Banner” quite the same ever since.

For those still in Dale Bell’s Woodstock 50-year afterglow, or maybe that’s more from the 1969 moon landing, your editor is not necessarily looking forward to December’s 50thof the Rolling Stone’s concert disaster at the Altamont Raceway across the bay from San Francisco. Yeah, I was there. Spent the afternoon up on the hillside away from the hell pit below us sitting with Berkeley Barb Editor Max Scherr. Anyone remember the underground press?

As for today, Bell reports, the ardor of The Sixties will be reprised this month. He explains, “We can engage locally with our community, as A. J. Ali—who heard Jimi Hendrix’s call years ago—would have us do. On September 17, in all 50 states, beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern and 3 p.m. Pacific, for a 3-hour event.  Ali has inaugurated The National Day of Reconciliation, patterned after a similar event in South Africa, to foster reconciliation and national unity for our country, particularly to improve relations between police and people of color . . . . Ali has organized law enforcement agencies, schools, colleges, ministries, community centers, theaters, libraries and other locations.” Bell adds, “By remembering Hendrix’s Call, we can bring this country of ours closer together. Our time is now. Go to, share and join.” You can bet John Bolton’s mustache on it.

*** Meanwhile, Bell and Wiland Saw PBS Airings of Our Kids: Narrowing the Opportunity earlier this year. It’s their intergenerational four-part series, hosted by Harvard Professor Robert Putnam. Their documentary model doesn’t stop with a program’s national screening, but continues with local showings around the country paired with regional discussions on related issues. In fact, New Hampshire Public TV has been running the programs this very week.

*** “Aging in America: Better or Worse Than 40 Years Ago?” by Mark   (Sept. 5, 2019): Miller’s latest interview is with Paul Kleyman. (Hey, that’s me.) GBONews’ editor was honored to have author and columnist Miller (Reuters, NY Times, Morningstar and others) invite me to be a guest on his podcast, “” It includes a very nice summary writeup and two audio edits, one about 15 mins and me at unfettered length (39 mins).

As Miller’s written introduction notes, we talked about GBONews; how the media covers aging, such as the lack of diverse, often marginalized voices; the Journalists in Aging Fellows Program we co-sponsor with the Gerontological Society of America; and the Legacy Film Festival on Aging, where I’m on the board. It’s “a really outstanding event,” Miller said. It will take place in San Francisco, Sept. 20-22. Even if you can’t get to the festival, some of these films are worth checking out, and many are available from the usual streaming media sources.” 

*** “Aging and Loneliness: Disconnected From Other Folks,’ Seniors Grapple with a Loneliness Epidemic” by Rob Weisman, Boston Globe (Aug. 3, 2019): After noting the rise in elder suicides (with “loneliness is definitely a factor,” according to one source), the story underscores the high level of deaths among middle-age men not being due to smoking or obesity, but, “It’s loneliness.” 

Weisman quotes Elizabeth Chen, the new Massachusetts secretary of elder affairs, “Loneliness leads to a lot of calls to 911.” The story goes on, “Only a small fraction of older people contemplate suicide, but a growing number worldwide suffer from stress and depression, according to private and government studies . . .  Cigna’s survey of more than 20,000 American adults showed that nearly half reported sometimes or always feeling alone, while two in five said their relationships are not meaningful. Lack of meaningful interactions can affect both physical and mental health.”

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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