GBO NEWS: Apply Now—Journalists in Aging Fellowships; HHS Secty. Becerra to Open Aging Conference; Prevention Editor to Lead Online Longevity Research Webinar; Ageist Media Obsession with Pres. Biden’s Age; Climate Change Heat Deaths; Alcoholism and Ageism; Post-Covid Problems; & MORE


E-News of the Journalists Network on Generations.  

June 7, 2023 — Volume 30, Number 7

EDITOR’S NOTEGBONews, e-news of the Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), publishes alerts for journalists, producers and authors covering generational issues. If you have difficulty getting to the full issue of GBONews with the links provided below, simply go to to read the latest or past editions. 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. NOTE ALSO: Some news links below hit paywalls and are inaccessible without subscriptions, although a number of those do allow free access to the first few stories.

In This Issue: Our Summer Offensive.

1. EYES ON THE PRIZE: *** Journalists in Aging Fellows Program Sets July. 14 Application Deadline for its 14th year.

2. THE STORYBOARD: New Fellowship Stories

*** “Deadly heat waves threaten older people as summer nears,” by Anita Snow, Associated Press

*** “Ageism, stigma hinders response to senior alcohol use disorder,” by Jessie Hellmann, CQ’s Roll Call

*** “‘Independence is almost a God-given right.’ Will lawmakers protect it in the budget?” by Annmarie TimminsNew Hampshire Bulletin;

*** “Seniors being treated for mental and emotional post-COVID problems,” by Mark Woolsey, Rough Draft Atlanta


*** Press Access to Live and Virtual Conferences on Aging

*** “Five Breakthroughs Changing Aging,” June 21 longevity-science webinar with author Steven Austad interviewed by Prevention Editor Sarah Smith. 

4. THE AGE BEATERS: *** “On President Biden and Others, Enough With the Age Obsession,” by Paul Rupert, Tampa Bay Times; *** GBONews Critique of “Inside the Complicated Reality of Being America’s Oldest President,” by Peter Baker and co-writers, New York Times.


*** Journalists in Aging Fellows Program Sets July. 14 Deadline: This will be the program’s 14th year, co-sponsored by GBONews’ publisher, the Journalists Network on Generations, and The Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Reporters for the “Class” of 2023-24 will receive a stipend of $1,500, plus all travel expenses to attend GSA’s Annual Scientific Meeting this coming fall. 

To date the program has included 217 reporters, who have produced more than 800 stories on aging in multiple languages for over 150 media outlets. As in previous years, half of the fellows will be selected from general-audience media and half from ethnic or other minority media outlets that publish/newscast in any language, serving communities within the United States. such as the senior press, LGBTQ or disability media. Staff and freelance reporters are eligible to apply. 

This fellowship provides selected journalists with training about prime issues in aging for a wide range of media audiences, while also enabling the reporters to cover the latest scientific findings, policy debates, innovations and evidence-based solutions. 

The program’s in-person activities will bring the fellows to GSA’s 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting, which will take place from November 8 to 12 in Tampa, Florida, with the theme of “Building Bridges > Catalyzing Research > Empowering All Ages.” Keynoting this year’s conference will be New York Times journalist Frank Bruni, author most recently of the bestseller, The Beauty of Dusk.

There, the fellows will participate in a special Fellows-only educational workshop aimed at showcasing demographic trends and research highlights. It will also include discussions with veteran journalists on how to position generations-beat stories in the current media environment.

Fellows at the conference will research their project stories among GSA’s hundreds of expert presentations by many of the 4,000 gerontologists expected to convene there from across the US and 50 other countries. Sessions and papers will span every topic under the aging sun from cellular-level findings on cancer or Alzheimer’s disease to social research in areas like family caregiving or demographic trends. 

Applications for the fellowship program will be reviewed by a selection committee of gerontologists and editorial professionals. 

The application website at Journalists in Aging Fellows Program also includes a continuously updated list of stories from the fellows. To date, we thank the Silver Century Foundation, The John A. Hartford Foundation, Archstone Foundation, and NIHCM Foundation, as well as John Migliaccio for their support.

If you have questions about the fellowships, contact the program’s Co-Directors, Liz, program coordinator, Journalists Network on Generations, or Todd, GSA’s director of communications. You may also contact me, Paul Kleyman, co-founder and senior advisor to the program,


Following are recently published and broadcast stories by our current Journalists in Aging Fellows.

*** “Deadly heat waves threaten older people as summer nears,” by Anita SnowAssociated Press (April 30, 2023): The Lede: “Paramedics summoned to an Arizona retirement community last summer found an 80-year-old woman slumped inside her mobile home. . . ,and her death was ruled environmental heat exposure aggravated by heart disease and diabetes.”

Hot Research:  “A 2021 study estimated more than a third of U.S. heat deaths each year can be attributed to human-caused global warming. It found more than 1,100 deaths a year from climate change-caused heat in some 200 U.S. cities, many in the East and Midwest, where people often don’t have air conditioning or are not acclimated to hot weather. Another study showed that in coming decades dangerous heat will hit much of the world at least three times as hard as climate change worsens.”

* Takeaways: Snow included this sidebar — “Takeaways about heat deaths and vulnerable older people”:  Facts:“Global warming is leading to more intense and longer lasting heat waves in areas once accustomed to milder weather, with one study showing that dangerous heat in the coming years will increasingly hit many parts of the world at least three times as hard as climate change worsens. 

*** “Ageism, stigma hinders response to senior alcohol use disorder,” by Jessie Hellmann, CQ’s Roll Call (April 20, 2023): The Lede: “Older adults are increasingly drinking excessively and dying of alcohol-related deaths, and the problem has been compounded by ageism, stigma, a lack of interest from policymakers and health care providers and few age-appropriate treatment options, experts say.”

Stats: “Only 25 percent of facilities surveyed by the [federal] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have programs that specialize in older adults. And only 11 percent of the facilities have those programs and accept Medicare . . . . The problem is poised to get worse as the population ages: By 2040, some 20.5 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older.”

The Cost: “While Congress has focused in recent years on the drug overdose epidemic, which killed 107,000 people in 2021, advocates have pushed for more attention on alcohol, which contributes to the deaths of 140,000 people every year. Alcohol is the number one substance used by older adults, and costs society about $249 billion every year, according to a CDC estimate.” 

*** “‘Independence is almost a God-given right.’ Will lawmakers protect it in the budget?”  by Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin (June 5, 2023): The Lede: “Andrew Strelczyk lost his vision and both legs before he was 60, in a string of accidents that could befall anyone. Now 70, he’s eligible for a nursing home but is determined to continue living in his Nashua, NH, apartment, listening to classical music, enjoying time with his 81-year-old fiancé . . . Some independence, Strelczyk said, is ‘almost a God-given right.’ But it’s not guaranteed. Lawmakers will decide this month when they vote on the state budget whether Strelczyk and hundreds of others like him in New Hampshire will continue to have that choice.”

In a Nutshell: “Without significantly higher Medicaid payments from the state, at least two social service agencies have warned lawmakers they will leave the Choices for Independence (CFI) program, which allows people who could be in a nursing home to remain at home by helping them with basic tasks such as grocery shopping, cooking, and bathing. 

“In 2021, an average of nearly 3,300 Granite Staters received those services each month, according to an analysis by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. . . CFI services cost four to five times less than nursing home care, about $18,000 a year compared to $60,000 to $100,000. But for years, the state budget has prioritized more expensive nursing home care over CFI.”

*** “Medicare Advantage supplemental health plans draw scrutiny,” by Jessie Hellmann, CQ’s Roll Call (May 22, 2023): The Lede: “Medicare Advantage plans lure customers with television ads promising plans with dental, vision and hearing benefits that traditional Medicare doesn’t offer. But in a series of reports, experts and advocates question the actual value of those benefits to enrollees, who often find they still have to pay significant amounts out of pocket.”

Who: “Medicare Advantage, a private alternative to Medicare offered by insurance companies, now covers half of Medicare enrollees, in part because of the supplemental benefits they offer.” And, “Overall, 13 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older said they could not get dental, hearing or vision care in the past year, according to KFF, a health research organization.”

Key Quote“’They’re expecting to be able to get dentures or crowns or bridges — really expensive dental work — and they might end up in a plan that covers cleaning and an X-ray and that’s it,’ said Julie Carter, senior federal policy associate for the Medicare Rights Center.”

Research: One study published in Health Affairs (February 2023) “found that dental care decreases after people age into Medicare, regardless of whether or not they are in an Advantage plan. . .  Another study published last year in JAMA Network Open found that low-income adults in traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage faced similar challenges accessing dental care because of costs.”

And: “The Government Accountability Office has also recommended that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] (CMS) clarify guidance to Medicare Advantage plans on what kind of data must be submitted, including data about the usage of supplemental benefits. . . The Senate Finance Committee’s majority staff has recommended that CMS provide model language for Medicare Advantage plan marketing to explain the out-of-pocket costs and network limitations for extra benefits such as dental, vision and hearing.” 

*** “Seniors being treated for mental and emotional post-COVID problems,” by Mark WoolseyRough Draft Atlanta(May 17, 2023): The Lede: “A 70-year-old woman who played pickleball four times a week and is now too weak to pick up a racket. A 65-year-old man suffering anxiety attacks over recurring long-haul COVID problems. A 72-year-old with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as the result of a near-death hospital episode. 

“Counseling and treating seniors with mental and emotional post-COVID problems is an evolving challenge, say mental health professionals. Call it a new frontier. . . Other challenges include doctors who are dismissive of long COVID’s mental health consequences on older adults and a stigma surrounding medication and various treatment options among some elderly.”


*** The National Council on Aging (NCOA) Enters the 21st Century, unlike many professional organizations, by mounting its national conference in two modes, Live and Virtual. Reporters can register online for complimentary press access for either or both programs. Use the code PRESS2023 if for some reason the link doesn’t work. Each program will include dozens of expert sessions, which journalists can review now on the event website. Simply click on “Select Agenda” to open and scroll down through the many session titles. Clicking on them will reveal a more detailed description and bio or the speakers. 

* The in-person conference will be held June 12-13, in Arlington, Va., just outside of DC, and open with a keynote address by Xavier Becerra U.S. Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Health and Human Services. The opening session for both programs will include former US Administration on Aging head and current NCOA Board Chair, Kathy Greenlee, and the organization’s President and CEO, Ramsey Alwin, who is a recognized expert on issues of the aging workforce and market forces in aging. (NCOA says that these sessions will be recorded with videos to be available on June 26 at:

NCOA’s virtual conference will follow a week later, June 20-21. Among the numerous session topics that may catch reporters’ interest are:

* “The Rise of High-Risk Debt Among Older Adults”;  * “Creating Home for All: Advocating for Transgender and Non-Binary Elders”; 

* “Undocumented and Aging: Addressing the Needs of a Growing Population”;  

* “Reaching Older Hispanic/Latino Adults Before They Fall Through the Cracks”; 

* “Building the Modern Senior Center; 

* And “Addressing Senior Hunger, Nutrition, and Well-Being: Insights & Resources for the Aging Network.”

What’s the “Aging Network”? People new to the field of aging often hear this term loosely tossed around, but it specifically refers to the US system of government funded services for older Americans. Beginning with federal, state and local agencies authorized by the Older American Act, the aging network also includes many nonprofits, such as Meals on Wheels, which contract with or otherwise work with government entities.

NCOA, located in Washington, DC, is one of the three national multidisciplinary associations in the field and is generally structured around aging-network agencies. The American Society on Aging, based in San Francisco, includes a wide range of organizational and business members aiming to served elders. The Gerontological Society of America, our partner organization for the Journalists in Aging Fellows Program, focuses on academic research in aging and publishes peer reviewed journals. 

For NCOA’s upcoming meetings, Public Relations Manager Simona Combi is available to answer reporters’ questions and assist in contacting speakers for interviews: office 571-527-3982 (0ffice); 703-248-9647 (cell);

 *** “Five Breakthroughs Changing Aging” will be the latest hourlong free webinar, June 21, at 3-4 p.m. Easter/12-1 p.m. Pacific) presented by AFAR (the American Federation for Aging Research). Prevention Magazine Editor-in-Chief Sarah Smith will be in conversation with AFAR Senior Scientific Director Steven N. Austad, PhD, to discuss the five most exciting science-backed innovations that are poised to help us all live healthier, longer. 

Austad, chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), is the author of Methuselah’s Zoo: What Nature Can Teach Us About Living Healthier, Longer Lives (MIT Press, 2022). He’s also co-principal investigator, National Institute on Aging’s Nathan Shock Centers Coordinating Center .

According to the AFAR announcement, the program will provide an overview of how “a range of promising breakthroughs are changing the way we age—for the better. There are drugs that target the damaged cells that can poison healthy tissues, technology that aims to reprogram cells, new understandings about healthy diets, and ways to identify biomarkers to reliably reveal biological (rather than chronological) age.” 

You may register at the link above. For additional assistance, contact


*** “On President Biden and Others, Enough With the Age Obsession,” commentary by Paul Rupert, Tampa Bay Times (June 1, 2023): The Lede: “Panic and palaver about age and age discrimination are all over the media, polls and political chatter. Joe Biden’s age is Topic #1. Recently, marginal Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley stooped to a new low, predicting Biden’s death before completion of his second term.”

Fact Check: According to the Social Security Administration, American men who reach 80 on average will live nearly eight more years. Experts stress that affluent, healthy “Super Agers,” like Joe Biden, likely will live beyond the average. 

The Upshot: “As longtime anti-ageism advocates, perhaps we should relish this teachable moment. But so universal is the noise that little can be taught or learned. The simple truth that cuts through this uproar is what countless geriatricians and anti-age bias activists have said so simply and for so long: ‘If you’ve seen one octogenarian, you’ve seen one octogenarian.’ Gross generalizations are just that. In the political realm, no matter how pressing issues of age might seem, they pale in comparison to major threats to our democracy, communities, families and self-images. . .  inflation, misogyny, racism, crime, gun violence, immigration and reproductive choice, among others.”

Real Values: “All the leading global authoritarians — from Russia to China to Turkey et al — can claim to be younger than Biden. Should we join that vicious club in valuing age above values? Should that standard corrode our own politics?”

Paul Rupert is CEO of Respectful Exits, which combats “age bias in the workplace” and promotes  widespread use of phased retirement for older workers.”

*** “Inside the Complicated Reality of Being America’s Oldest President,”  by Peter Baker, Michael D. Shear, Katie Rogers andZolan Kanno-YoungsNew York Times (June 4, 2023): The Dek– “President Biden is asking voters to keep him in the White House until age 86, renewing attention to an issue that polls show troubles most Americans.”

The Latest Case in Point: The same weekend when Paul Rupert’s above commentary on media ageism ran in the Tampa Bay Times, the New York Times obliged on its front page with yet another example of the lugubrious briefs transparently claiming to praise Caesar while burying him.

As with the Times, numerous other major media outlets in the past year (NPR News, New York Magazine, Politico, The Insider) have published stories about the graying of Washington, especially President Joe Biden’s having turned 80. As with others, the NYT article first touts the president’s significant accomplishments—before undermining the documented accounts of his capability by then sinking into the speculative prejudice of ageism: He might be decrepit or worse by 86 when he’d end a second term. 

To be clear, detailed reporting on a president’s mental and physical functionality is a primary task of a free press. So, noting the affective image projected by a president or would-be candidate for the office is fair game, insofar as the goal is to confirm or disprove any genuine cause of concern. Today, though, much of the fretting is about whether a savvy leader might soon dim with years. Such conjectural bias is nothing new.

Only 40 years ago major media ran “expert” interviews questioning whether a woman’s byline or high broadcast voice could ever convey the gravitas necessary for her reporting to be taken seriously. (Look up the Christine Craft case, or recent obituaries for Barbara Walters about her early battles over newsroom sexism.)

What the NYT has done, yet again–this time with team coverage–is to foment a false sense of journalistic balance by contrasting accurate reporting of President Biden’s considerable attainments, so far, with worrisome suppositions about what vicissitudes of old age may visit his mental health were he to run for a second term.

Serious decline at any age is surely troubling for a national decision leader, yet at what point does reporting amount to mere nitpicking that, when piled on, tends to sow unfounded doubt on the subject’s future ability, beyond substantive documentation? 

The Times article belies its purpose in declaring, “The two Joe Bidens coexist in the same octogenarian president: Sharp and wise at critical moments, the product of decades of seasoning, able to rise to the occasion even in the dead of night to confront a dangerous world. Yet a little slower, a little softer, a little harder of hearing, a little more tentative in his walk, a little more prone to occasional lapses of memory in ways that feel familiar to anyone who has reached their ninth decade or has a parent who has.” Maybe, instead, two journalisms?

The writers demonstrate that the president is a man of  skill and know-how, and yet, to paraphrase the late Sen. Everett Dirksen, a little here, a little there, and pretty soon you have some real decrepitude. The very framing of “two Joe Bidens,” a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Old, is nothing but under-the-breath ageism under cover of journalism.

Every instance that Peter Baker and his coauthors cites of Biden’s difficult moments falls within what decades of gerontology research has shown to be normal aging. That includes as momentarily forgetting a name or committing the sin of walking stiffly while old, as opposed to signs of actual pathology, such as disconcerting incidents of early dementia. 

This NYT piece exposes not twin presidential personalities, but schizophrenic reporting by political reporters beside themselves with worry that voters’ age bias will take the country back six years to an authoritarian future. 

This and other stories about Biden have first been peppered with accounts of his achievements, are then salted with a combination of inconsequential incidents and references to political polls and comments from focus group comments, such as those conducted by the NY Times. Is it any wonder that members of the public express concern over Biden’s age with constant, brow-furrowed reminders that he’s the oldest or the old throughout media reports. Gee, where did they get that idea? With media “balance” like that, who needs Fox? 

Did the reporters also ask about the president’s integrity and experience, say, in contrast to the behavior of his opponents? What about maturity, prudence—qualities voters desperately wanted in 2020 and which, according to much reporting, the country seems to have now. And why aren’t those qualities applied so regularly to those other declared candidates, such as hate mongers like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Well, Mickey Mouse knows better and. of course, he’s 93. 

As I’ve stress previously, this sort of conjectural doting on a politician’s potential geriatric debility, short of substantial evidence for genuine concern, distracts from deep reporting the public needs about actual policy successes–and some substantial flaws–by the Biden administration. 

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 2023 JNG. For more information contact GBO Editor Paul Kleyman. 

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