GBO NEWS: News Links on Ukrainian Seniors; Top US Aging Groups Promote Human Rights—Not Mentioning Ukraine Elders; Life Expectancy Drops for White Americans; USC Reporting Fellowships Open; Elon Musk: The Old “Asphyxiate Society”; Ageism Unmasked; & MORE


E-News of the Journalists Network on Generations – Our 29th Year.  

April 11, 2022 — Volume 29, Number 4

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. 

In This IssueOut With the Stale, in With the Seasoned.

1. SURVIVING OLD IN UKRAINE: *** “The Last One To Leave: Ukrainian Troops Evacuate Elderly Man From Abandoned Neighborhood,” by Maryan Kushnir, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

*** “Ukraine’s Elderly Struggle to Survive in War Zone as Residents Mobilize Massive Relief Effort,” by Michael WasiuraNewsweek;

*** “Ukrainian Volunteers Provide Urgent Care for Elderly,” by Abdujalil Abdurasulov, BBC News;

*** “The Race To Evacuate Ukraine’s Older Population,” by Gabe Gutierrez,  NBC Nightly News;

*** “Grassroots Groups Help Rescue Holocaust Survivors in Ukraine,” by Deepa BharathAssociated Press.

2. UKRAINE, HUMAN RIGHTS & THE US AGING NETWORK: *** Odd Absence of AARP and Most Other Organizations on Plight of Ukrainian Elders; *** At ASA’s Annual Meeting This Week, It Joins NCOA and LeadingAge on Op-Ed for UN Elder Rights Convention on COVID Impact—Oddly, Not Mentioning Ukraine.

3. EYES ON THE PRIZE: *** USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism Opens Applications for 2022 Fellowships, $2,000 to $10,000 Grants.

4. THE STORYBOARD: ***  “US Life Expectancy Falls for Second Year in a Row,” by Rob Stein, NPR All Things Considered*** “Elon Musk’s Comments Ignore Older Americans’ Value, Contributions,” by Noreen WillhelmDayton (OH) Daily News*** “Faith Ringgold, Pioneering Artist Who Pushed Boundaries in American Art World, Gets Her Due,” by Karen Michel, NPR “Here & Now; *** Time As We Know It, online exhibition by octogenarian photographer Marna Clarke; *** PBS Next Avenue’s New Managing Editor Julie Pfitzinger says Ukraine coverage “in the works”.”


*** Winter Stars: An Elderly Mother, an Aging Son and Life’s Final Journey, by Dave Iverson (Light Messages Publishing); 

*** Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End It, by Tracey Gendron (Steerforth Press/Penguin Random House).


*** The Last One To Leave: Ukrainian Troops Evacuate Elderly Man From Abandoned Neighborhood,”  by Maryan KushnirRadio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (March 31, 2022): “Valentyn seems to have been the last resident of Teterivske, a village west of Kyiv, who stayed in his old wooden house as Russian shells hit his deserted neighborhood. On March 31, Ukrainian soldiers persuaded the elderly, frail, and frightened man to let them take him to safety.”

*** Ukraine’s Elderly Struggle to Survive in War Zone as Residents Mobilize Massive Relief Effort,”  by Michael Wasiura, Newsweek (March 29, 2022) 

“The United Nations estimates that, out of a pre-war population of just over 40 million, 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes. Most of those on the move, however, are mothers with young children. Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are forbidden from leaving the country, and among the country’s elderly, the overwhelming majority seems intent on staying put. As an 84-year-old . . .  puts it, ‘You can transplant a young tree into new soil, but you cannot transplant an old tree into new soil.’ In most cases, the elderly Ukrainians living on the edge of the war have relatives nearby. For those who don’t, volunteer groups have formed to make sure that the needs of all citizens — young and old alike — are met.” 

*** “Ukrainian Volunteers Provide Urgent Care for Elderly,”  by Abdujalil Abdurasulov, BBC News (April 5, 2022, excellent 3-minute video, no transcript.)

*** The Race To Evacuate Ukraine’s Older Population,”  by Gabe Gutierrez,  NBC Nightly News (March 30, 2022): “ Volunteer organizations are racing to coordinate rescue efforts for older Ukrainian refugees in hard-hit areas, including Kharkiv and the Donbas region. In Ukraine, one in four citizens is over 60 years old, according to HelpAge International. Most don’t want to be evacuated from their homes, yet 91 percent need help getting food due to mobility issues.”

*** “Grassroots Groups Help Rescue Holocaust Survivors in Ukraine,”  by Deepa BharathAssociated Press (March 19, 2022): “Since the shelling began to intensify in Kyiv and Kharkiv about a week ago, Julia Entin has been working feverishly — thousands of miles away in Los Angeles — to evacuate Holocaust survivors in Ukraine who find themselves trapped in yet another conflict. For the last six years, the 39-year-old paralegal at Bet Tzedek Legal Services has helped connect Holocaust survivors with local services. Now, Entin is coordinating rescue efforts in Ukraine because she says she feels a personal connection to their painful predicament.” The story also links to a companion piece by Maggie RulliABC News.


Since Putin’s Pillagers blasted into Ukraine on February 24, media and international relief organizations have stressed, as shown in the news links below, that elders, those disabled and children are the most vulnerable populations groups. The 7 million older Ukrainians, plus 2.7 million people with disabilities there have endured the hardships of mass migration or, for so many, being bogged down and unable to escape the war-torn region. 

As the American government and private entities have mobilized support efforts, though, oddly, the response by major national groups in the field of aging has been mixed, at best. Today’s (April 11) opening of the American Society on Aging (ASA) annual meeting in New Orleans includes the association’s release of a joint “op-ed” with two other national groups, calling for wider attention and support for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons, similar to those that have led to social improvements for women and children. 

This commentary, however broadly informative, is titled, “COVID Deaths Demonstrate Why We Should Protect Older Adult Rights as Human Rights” (more about it below). The statement does not mention the intensifying Ukrainian tragedy. At the ASA conference itself, the only evident presence of the war is that the association invited the Honorary Counsel of Ukraine to attend a “Policy Town Hall” scheduled for this afternoon. The 90-minute session was also to address climate change, health equity, ageism and the digital divide.

As for other professional groups in aging, on March 1, 2022, The Gerontological Society of American (GSA) issued both a statement by its leadership, “Standing in Solidarity With Ukraine,” and companion release by the association’s volunteer President Peter A. Lichtenberg and CEO James Appleby, headlined, “GSA Speaks Out on Ukraine Crisis.” Both include a link to an NPR piece linking to many relief organizations accepting donations. GSA stressed that it is “an international organization with members in more than 50 countries across six continents.” (They also have a board member who is a Ukrainian immigrant to the United States.)

Meanwhile, our search for “Ukraine” on the site of ASA, which also has many international participants, and National Council on Aging websites yielded “no results,” with one exception noted below that ASA posted April 7. Along with GSA, ASA and NCOA are the big-three multidisciplinary associations representing the field of aging.

In the meantime, AARP, the huge consumer membership group, and its giant-circulation publications have only, as of April 11, only published three articles about how to donate to charities providing Ukrainian relief – and how to avoid Ukraine-related scams. (Might that have discouraged many donations from its 40+ million older members?)

An AARP staff member, who asked not to be identified, noted that the organization did provide support for the Human Rights Watch report, No One is Spared: Abuses Against Older People in Conflict, published in February, which details abuses of older adults in global conflicts, including a section on Ukraine from the 2014 conflict there. AARP, though, is not referenced in that excellent report. The persona also mentioned that AARP has assisted HelpAge International “on a variety of issues.”

On March 9, the philanthropic consortium, Grantmakers in Aging, hosted a special briefing (54-minute YouTube) on March 9, 2022, from HelpAge USA/HelpAge International on how individuals and organizations can support older people in Ukraine, “who are desperately in need of food, clean water, hygiene items, and medications.” It included Cindy Cox-Roman, CEO, HelpAge USA and Akbar Nazriev, Ukraine Country Director, HelpAge International. 

Although GBONews has not checked in with the dozens of other nonprofit members of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, Ukrainian elders is not mentioned among the many policy statements on LCOA’s site.

*** Human Rights Statement on Aging 

Others may question this spotty presence of US professional and public leadership on aging regarding the most dramatic and literally explosive event impacting their purported focus. This editor finds it baffling, at best a missed opportunity to amplify the vulnerability of the global aging population to the American public.

Friends have suggested to this editor that perhaps some groups wish to remain politically neutral. That seems improbable, though, given that Switzerland set its historic neutrality aside in the face of such abject brutality. That said, though, this week’s release on human rights and aging in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is significant in spotlighting the wider concerns of systematic ageism in its dire effects.

The statement is by the Presidents and CEOs of ASA, Peter Kaldes, NCOA, Ramsey Alwin, and the long-term care advocacy and research nonprofit LeadingAge, Katie Smith Sloan, who is also executive director of the Global Ageing Network. (LeadingAge, the non-profit long-term care research and advocacy group, has member notices, such as “How We Support Older Adults in the Ukraine,” with a donations link to HelpAge International.)

The trio states, “We know the statistics: In the US, 75% of COVID-19 deaths have been people older than age 65, a group that makes up only 16.5% of our population. The impact of the pandemic continues to be a shock to our healthcare system, our long-term care system, and our economic system and will have long-lasting physical and mental health ramifications. Social isolation was one of the most dire consequences.”

They sharply continue, “The response to the pandemic and the unnecessary losses, mainly among older adults, was a blunt illustration of how Americans tend to dismiss the value of life in old age. Early mandates to stay at home and directives related to how infections were addressed appeared to condone state-sanctioned age discrimination. Never mind the medical crisis standards of care, which though not often used, would have shunted older adults to the back of the line for treatment.”

The authors ask, “Why do some cultures, particularly ours, think of older adults as others? As less worthy? Simple answer: Ageism.” They call for support  of “the legally binding United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons. Twelve years ago, the U.N. convened the Open- Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWGA) to explore the need for such a convention. This April 11–14 (during ASA’s On Aging Conference), the OEWGA meets again and nowis the time to move it forward. If ever there was a need, it is now.” 

How the UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons would work: “It will combat ageism by stating that it is morally and legally unacceptable and ratifying nation’s (or member states in U.N. parlance) must adopt laws to fight such discrimination, as well as foster independence and equity. . . Some specific ways would be through economic empowerment by mandating the right to an adequate standard of living, right to work, right to education. And, the right to access health and long-term care . . . The convention will mandate the right to accessibility, right to information, right to judicial protection, . . . a right to healthcare and mental health care, a right to vital medications, and a right to social services. . . Subgroups such as LGBTQ+ elders, older adults with disabilities and Indigenous elders will be covered and guaranteed the same rights.”

The op-ed goes on to note that other UN conventions on the rights of children have, for instance, contributed to “increased rates of inoculation and brought better education to millions of children.” 

The commentary concludes, “Will it draw positive attention to eradicating ageism and bring about more rights specific to older adults? Will it prevent such a lopsided impact upon elders during the next pandemic? Will older adults enjoy more rights than if such a treaty or convention had not been ratified? We’re certain the answer to those questions is yes.”

To be sure, a tyrant like the aging Vladimir Putin, who turns 70 this coming October, has little use for human rights conventions. Yet, of these three national organizations, I ask why they didn’t, at this time of such human devastation, also ask: Will the UN’s enhanced commitment to the rights of elders also prompt those who do care to respect and protect elders in times of uncivil war? 

The editorial provided these links for more information on the Convention on the Human Rights Older Persons: and

ASA also published a related commentary April 7, in its “Generations Now” e-news, “Older Persons’ Rights Are Human Rights,”  by one of its former board chairs, Cynthia Stuen, now a representative to the UN for the International Federation on Ageing. She is scheduled to speak on the issue at the ASA conference.


*** USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism has declared: “Our call for applications for the 2022 National Fellowship is now open. ” Their reporting grants range between $2,000 and $10,000 and include a week of intensive training and workshops, followed by five months of professional mentorship from a veteran journalist. Their site states, “You don’t need to be a health journalist to be considered. Instead, many of our best Fellows wanted to explore how to cover their beats through a health or social welfare  equity lens.”

They continue, “The annual Fellowship, to be held July 10-14, will provide interactive workshops and inspiring discussions by policy experts, practitioners, community innovators and leading journalists to  help you explore  how community health, child and youth welfare, educational, economic and racial inequities – and access to health care – influence health and life outcomes.” Go to head to our website and to clickhere to connect with Maye Primera for more information or to discuss your project idea.


***  “US Life Expectancy Falls for Second Year in a Row,”  by Rob Stein, NPR All Things Considered (April 7, 2022, 3-minute audio with transcript): 

The Lede: “You might remember that in 2020, U.S. life expectancy plummeted because so many people died from COVID-19. Life expectancy tumbled almost two years, . . . the biggest fall since at least World War II. So researchers wanted to find out if that happened again in 2021 after the vaccines arrived. . . Steven Woolf at Virginia Commonwealth University says his team analyzed the latest provisional government statistics.”

The Quote: Woolf stated, “We had a horrible loss of life in 2021 that actually drove the life expectancy even lower than it was in 2020.” Stein added, “Many of the deaths occurred in people in the prime of their lives driving the overall U.S. life expectancy to fall to 76.6 years. That’s the lowest in at least 25 years.”

Some Facts: Although the 2020 drop in life expectancy hit Black and Latinx people hardest, Stein reported, “That wasn’t the case in 2021, according to this analysis. Life expectancy among Hispanics stayed flat between 2020 and 2021. And life expectancy among Blacks actually inched up a bit by a little less than half a year. In contrast, the life expectancy of Whites continued to fall mostly among White men. Here’s Dr. Woolf again: ‘So what that tells us is that this continued decline in life expectancy that we’ve seen in the second year has been carried mainly by deaths in the white population.’ 

What’s More: Stein explains, “It’s unclear why this happened, but Woolf thinks it may be due in part to Whites being more likely to live in states with fewer COVID restrictions. So they let down their guard more while often refusing to get vaccinated. But remember, because the 2020 drop hit Blacks and Latinos so much harder, they still lost more ground overall since the pandemic began. Hispanics lost almost four years, Blacks almost three compared to less than two for whites.”

Compared to What: “Life expectancy actually increased by about a third of a year in 2021 in countries like England and France and Germany. So the gap between the U.S. and those countries grew even wider to more than five years in 2021. And the researchers say a big part of that is fewer restrictions and vaccine hesitancy in the U.S., which resulted in lower vaccination rates, as well as higher rates of other health problems like diabetes and obesity.” 

*** “Elon Musk’s Comments Ignore Older Americans’ Value, Contributions,”  by Noreen Willhelm, Dayton (OH) Daily News (April 5, 2022):

The Lede: Willhelm, a former journalist and current Senior Fellow with The Dayton Foundation’s Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative, writes in this op-ed, “What a shockingly ignorant, ageist, narrow-minded proclamation by one of the titans of 21st century American industry. In an interview with Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, Business Insider’s parent company, Elon Musk, 50, talks about his own loneliness, how dying will ‘come as a relief,’ as well as what he sees as the risks of an aging population. But for someone who thinks of themselves as one of the most valuable creative minds on the planet, he exhibits a stunning lack of imagination — and information.”

What Musk Said: In the Business Insider interview, the rocket man who founded Tesla, asserted, “I don’t think we should try to have people live for a really long time. That it would cause asphyxiation of society because the truth is, most people don’t change their mind. They just die. So if they don’t die, we will be stuck with old ideas and society wouldn’t advance. I think we already have quite a serious issue with gerontocracy, where the leaders of so many countries are extremely old. In the US, it’s a very, very ancient leadership.”

In Fact: Willhelm counter, “Business benefits from having multiple generations of workers. According to Forbes, “Leveraging the unique strengths of each generation and enabling them to learn from each other creates a more collaborative, engaged environment.” The Harvard Business Review notes, ‘Age-diverse teams are valuable because they bring together people with complementary abilities, skills, information, and networks.’”

What’s More: Willhelm writes, “Instead of decrying the aging of the world, Musk and other business and government leaders would do well to examine how to harness the wisdom and experience of older people. After all, it’s the only natural resource that continues to increase.”

*** “Faith Ringgold, pioneering artist who pushed boundaries in the American art world, gets her due,” by Karen Michel, NPR “Here & Now (March 9, 2022): This 5-minute audio piece visits with artist Faith Ringgold, 91, on the occasion of her  retrospective exhibition at the New Museum in New York. According to Michel, Reingold “redefined the history of American art by carving a space for Black women artists.” The website illustrates the story with several of her canvasses.

*** Time As We Know It, by documentary photographer Marna Clarke, 81, is her exhibition of 28 photos available in person or online chronicling the past decade of living with her partner, Igor, now 92. The color photographs, unsentimental, yet often poignant, charts the figural transformation of the aging human body, while also documenting the tender relationship between partners who found each other late in life,” according to SF Camerawork Executive Director Olivia Lahs-Gonzales. The exhibit runs until May 31. Clarke will participate in an online artist talk on May 24, 2022, 6-7 p.m. Pacific Time. (Thanks to Harry “Rick” Moody for noting this in his monthly Human Values in Aging Newsletter.)

*** The PBS Next Avenue has a Ukrainian elders story “in the works” on, says Julie Pfitzinger, who was appointed as the news site’s managing editor, following the recent retirement of Rich Eisenberg there. GBONews queried her after noticing no pieces on the invasion. She emailed, “One of our contributors, who is based in the Twin Cities, has been working on a piece on this important topic and interviewing elders from both the Russian and Ukrainian local communities. It’s taking longer than we anticipated, but we hope to publish it this month.” GBONews hopes to link to their story soon.

Meanwhile, replacing the irrepressible Eisenberg, who held multiple positions at Next Avenue, has been slow. The site also saw VP of Digital Publishing Colleen Wilson move on last fall. As NA  rebuilds, Pfitzinger added, “We have hired a Money & Work section editor, who will be starting with us soon, and are currently interviewing for a Health & Caregiving editor. Next Avenue will also be hiring a new editorial director this summer.”


*** Winter Stars: An Elderly Mother, an Aging Son and Life’s Final Journey, by Dave Iverson (Light Messages Publishing) is among the latest spring media blooms on aging, and it’s a particularly affecting title amidst the many personal accounts of family caregiving. 

At age 56, Iverson, a veteran public media broadcaster, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In 2007, after three years of managing his condition while continuing work on his  projects, he found himself having to decide on a previously unthinkable option: He moved home to care for his nonagenarian mother, Adelaide. As Iverson wrote last month in PBS Next Avenue, “I learned and experienced more than I imagined I would caring for my mother for 10 years until her death at 105.”

He explained, “My mom and I had always been close. I knew I could hire enough help to be there while I was at work, and I figured covering nights and weekends wouldn’t be that tough. It all seemed pretty straightforward.” 

What Iverson learned, however, was that “caregiving means you’re on a journey where the currents are always shifting. You can’t be wed to your own carefully crafted route. You don’t really know where you’re going or how long the trip will last. The weather is always unpredictable — rough patches are followed by smooth, and then you’re surprised all over again when the next storm emerges. You find that no matter what you’ve learned, it doesn’t necessarily predict what lies ahead.”

Now age 74, Iverson, has been as a special correspondent to the PBS NewsHour and has produced over 20 PBS documentary specials for Frontline and others was also a long-time producer/host on San Francisco’s KQED public radio and TV. He was the guest on the station’s radio call-in program, “Forum,” for which he served as a weekend host for many years. 

On the March 25 segment, one listener, Clare, called to say, “I’m a nurse working with patients going home with hospice care. I also cared for my own mother until her death last year. The cost of caregiving here in the Bay Area is overwhelming for most families, and in this post-COVID period, hard to find. Most families are not prepared and do not know that Medicare does not cover at home caregiving costs.” 

Concurring with her, Iverson said, “We don’t have a plan for caregiving in this country. We do not have a plan! Atal Gwande says in his book Being Mortal, ‘Hope is not a plan.”

He added, “I had it about as good as one could have it. I had caregivers coming in, I could still work. But that was largely because my mom had a decent retirement. And then we had this golden goose-egg of a house that we could draw upon and bring in care, because it is extremely expensive. And you end up paying – early days we were paying $3-4,000 a month for care. By the end of my Mom’s life, when we needed care constantly, it was $12-14,000 a month. So, what’s our national plan for that? It needs to be better than, ‘Make sure your parents buy a house in Menlo Park in 1950, then you’ll be fine.’ 

Women of Color: Iverson stressed, “The bulk of that care was from women of color, Pacific Islanders, mostly. We don’t honor that. When we debate immigration in this country, we think about wanting people who are highly skilled, meaning like Silicon Valley-type skills. My response to that is: Yes, we do want people coming in to be highly skilled, but what skills are those? How about the skills to take care of someone we love, how about the skill it takes to make sure someone doesn’t get a bedsore. Those are incredibly valuable skills. That needs to be honored and supported. We need to make sure in this country that we care for those people because – otherwise what kind of country are we?”

What of Iverson’s own well-being over the years. In a blurb for the book, Parkinson’s advocate and actor Michael J. Fox, wrote “Dave walked this path while himself living with neurological illness is remarkable, but his story will resonate with everyone who has grappled up close with a parent or loved one’s end of life.”

*** Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End It, by Tracey Gendron (Steerforth Press/ Penguin Random House). GBO’s editor often begins talks or interview with the quip the everyone wants to grow old, but nobody wants to age in our culture. My one-liner usually evokes a nervous chuckle and perks up the listener’s attention enough to learn where I’m going with that, usually with a discussion of ageism and the media. Yet, my gloss always begs the questions of what, exactly, is ageism? Is it a real prejudice beyond casual humor about having enough candles to burn down the cake – and what possible impacts might there be? 

Once listeners new to the subject and get past the OLM jests – Old Lives Matter — the underlying questions linger of why ageism so permeates American culture and social systems, what’s the scholarship on it, and what could be done to reverse its sometimes devastating consequences for so many people?

With Ageism Unmasked Gendron, a developmental psychologist who chairs the Department of Gerontology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, provides as thorough an account as one might find of the state of ageism today in its historical roots, wide manifestations, implications both individual and societal, and pathways for positive change.

Both scholarly and well written, the book embellishes its point with the expected quotient of wisdom. One quotation toward the end especially stood out for this editors as epitomizing a principal intention of Gendron’s book. She quotes Madeleine L’Engle, author of the children’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time

“I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be . . . This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages . . . the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide.” 

Gendron asserts, “Ageism locks us into fear of our future selves and prevents us from living fully at all stages of life. Ageism poses limitations because it diminishes our sense of personhood and takes away our power, motivation, autonomy, and agency. Ableism keeps us rooted in unrealistic expectations that are impossible to achieve. We can learn, listen, reflect, and practice. And then we can be free.” 

Emphasizing L’Engle’s perspective, Gendron comments, “As we age, we are the culmination of all the ages we have ever been. This allows us to experience all of our ages at once. You will forever be the sixteen-year-old, the thirty-five-year- old, and the current version of you.” To request a review copy, either digital or a hard copy, and a release, contact

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 2022 JNG. For more information contact GBO Editor Paul Kleyman.

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