Thursday, April 29, 2010

Great news for "When Did I Get Old"

"When Did I Get Old: Reflections on Aging Today" is a one-hour documentary that uses real life examples and panels of experts to discuss opportunities and challenges that come with aging. It was created by WFYI Productions with support from the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community and other sponsors. We've thought from the beginning that this film was a winner and now we know we were right!

Last week, Gary Harrison (producer), Diane Willis (moderator), and Chris Elberfield (videographer) took second place in the "Social Justice Reporting" category at the annual awards for the Indiana chapter of Society of Professional Journalists.

That news was quickly followed by notification that the documentary has been accepted as part of the Council on Social Work Education's 5th Annual Gero-Ed Film Festival, which feature films that address aging/intergenerational issues and show positive images of aging. The film festival will take place in Portland, Oregon from October 14-17.

To get your own copy of "When Did I Get Old," click here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Check out the Boomer Nation podcast

CAC's own Helen Dillon was interviewed last week by Terri Benincasa, host of Boomer Nation on Talk Radio 860 AM in Tampa, Florida, about Boomers on the job hunt.

You can listen to Helen's interview -- and weekly archives of each hour-long program -- via podcast by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Submit your questions about health reform today

Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, AARP President Jennie Chin Hansen, and other health experts from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will host a webchat Thursday, April 22 at 1pm at to discuss how America’s seniors will benefit from the new historic health reform law. Participants will highlight some of the immediate benefits of health insurance reform for all seniors before answering questions from the public. The webchat is the fourth in a series of discussions that are designed to help Americans understand the impact of the newly passed health insurance reform law.

Members of the public are encouraged to submit questions via email to and via twitter using handle, @HHSGOV.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Free eye care for seniors

According to the Foundation for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, by age 65, one in three Americans has some form of vision impairing eye disease. Most do not know it because there are often no warning symptoms or they assume that poor sight is a natural part of growing older. By detecting and treating eye disease early through annual, dilated eye exams, seniors can preserve their sight.

To that end, the Foundation sponsors Seniors EyeCare, a program that provides access to eye care to seniors at no out of pocket expense.

The Seniors EyeCare Program is designed for people who:

  • Are US citizens or legal residents
  • Are age 65 and older
  • Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years
  • Do not belong to an HMO or the VA
To determine if you, a family member or friend qualify for a referral through this program, call 800-222-EYES (3937) toll-free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Eyeglasses, prescription drugs, hospital services, and fees of other medical professionals are not included in this program. For more information, click here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

IndyTalks event to showcase aging documentary


On Wednesday, April 21, the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community will host a community conversation on aging as part of the IndyTalks initiative.

Taking place at 6:30pm at the Athenaeum in downtown Indianapolis, the discussion will center around the WFYI-produced documentary, "When Did I Get Old: Reflections on Aging Today." Representatives from CAC will lead participants in a conversation about minimizing the rough spots in the aging process and maximizing the opportunities unique to our older selves.

Though filmed in various locations throughout Indiana, the documentary provides a provocative look at aging for people in any locale. Copies of the DVD may be purchased from WFYI for $20. A companion discussion guide can be downloaded here.

IndyTalks is a collaboration dedicated to fostering a sense of community through respectful and creative civic dialogue. Converse. Connect. Create.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Caregiver retreat is a pitcher filler

Google the phrase "caregiver stress" and you'll get pages upon pages of returns from sources such as to AARP to the American Academy of Family Physicians and beyond. Caring for a loved one who is aging or living with an illness can be physically, emotionally and financially taxing.

When I think about caregiving, I think about the instructions that are given before every airplane ride. If you are traveling with someone who needs assistance, in the event of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first, then help your companion. Or as my good friend Birdie often says, you can't keep everyone else's glasses full if you don't refill your own pitcher from time to time.

A day away

Stopping to fill the pitcher is exactly the idea behind the A Day Away caregiver retreat hosted annually in Indianapolis by Joy's House, an adult day service. All caregivers in the community are invited to this terrific -- and FREE -- event, which takes place on Saturday, May 1 from 9am-2pm.

Attendees at A Day Away will enjoy lunch, guest speakers, music, massages and caregiver information from local resources. Complimentary adult day services are available at Joy’s House as well.

There is no charge for this event, and you don’t have to be a “client” of Joy’s House attend. To register for A Day Away, or for more information, contact Leah at Joy’s House, (317) 254-0828 or leah at joyshouse dot org.

If you don't live in Indianapolis, but still need some ideas for handling caregiver stress, check out this article from

Amy Magan
Communications Manager

Monday, April 12, 2010

Characteristics that make "ideal" employees regardless of age

Last week, CAC Project Director Helen Dillon offered "7 mistakes that keep Baby Boomers unemployed." At least one anonymous reader took issue with Dillon's thoughts, using language too colorful for publication.

The commenter did not elaborate where the dissonance with the article rose. Perhaps he or she felt that the seven mistakes cited were simply not happening often enough to be generalized to one population.

In 2007, an expert panel convened to give input to CAC's "Gray Matters: Opportunities and Challenges for Indiana's Aging Workforce" was asked, among other things, to consider what an older worker should do to remain vital to an organization. The panel concluded that the characteristics of a vital or "ideal" employee could not be generalized to age.

“The ideal employee will be one, regardless of age, who is intellectually agile, resilient, and able to respond to change. A diverse set of core knowledge, skills and abilities will also be essential.“

The panel also determined that all workers, including older workers, who want to remain vital to an organization need to take responsibility for:

  1. Filling their own toolbox with new skills; seeking out training and other learning opportunities to keep their skills current, embracing the concept of life-long learning
  2. Remaining flexible in attitude and ability
  3. Developing the ability to move from one project to project and organization to organization
  4. Letting go of expectations for continuing to do the same thing in the same way
  5. Demonstrating a willingness to take on new challenges and being open to opportunities to do so
To read more about CAC's "Gray Matters" research, click here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Highlights of health reform & seniors webchat

This afternoon's 30-minute webchat on how health reform will affect older adults touched on several issues. Answering questions were U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Assistant Secretary for the Administration on Aging Kathy Greenlee, and Principal Deputy Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Marilyn Tavenner.

Three key things seniors should know, said Sebelius are:

  • the health reform act will strengthen Medicare over the next 10 years
  • there will be immediate help to pay prescription drug costs
  • Medicare will begin offering preventive care check ups with no co-pay or deductible
The prescription relief will begin in June 2010 and will come in the form of "donut hole" rebate checks. The donut hole is the point at which a Medicare beneficiary must pay out of pocket for prescription drugs. Once that point is reached, Medicare will issue a $250 to the beneficiary to help cover drug expenses. If you have already reached the "donut hole," your check will be sent in June. Otherwise checks will be sent as the threshhold is reached. There is no form to fill out or request to be made.

Greenlee emphasized that there will be no cuts to Medicare and said that the bill extends the Medicare trust fund. Though the bill does not go fully into effect until 2014, there are some "bridge" activities to help offer health care relief to certain populations.

Those bridge activities include high risk insurance pools to cover those who can't currently get insurance or for whom insurance is too costly due to pre-existing conditions and early retiree insurance pools for those who retire before becoming eligible for Medicare. Both of the these bridge options will be available beginning Summer 2010 and will include capped premiums to make them affordable.

Sebelius assured viewers that Medicare Advantage plans will continue and that the federal government will make no cuts to Medicare Advantage insurance providers through 2011. She did say that overpayment to these insurance companies will decrease over time and that the reimbursement to insurance companies will look more like fee for service. She also said that while no Medicare Advantage providers would be forced out of the plan, some providers may determine to no longer offer Medicare Advantage as part of their business.

In response to a viewer question, Sebelius said that retiree drug plans will continue and that the federal government would continue to offer tax breaks to employers that provide retiree drug plans.

Greenlee advised seniors to seek more information about health reform and its effect on individual situations by contacting the State Health Insurance Programs for their states. She also cautioned seniors to be careful with their Medicare cards and to use the services of the Senior Medicare Patrol to answer questions and prevent fraud.

Other resources include 1-800-MEDICARE,, and

This just in: Webchat with HHS & AoA TODAY on health reform and seniors

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Assistant Secretary for the Administration on Aging Kathy Greenlee will host a webchat today, Thursday, April 8, to discuss the benefits of the new health reform law as it relates to America's seniors. Sebelius and Greenlee will highlight some of the immediate benefits of health reform for America's seniors before answering pre-submitted questions from the public.

The chat is the second in a series of discussions that is designed to help Americans understand the benefits of the newly passed health insurance reform law.

Members of the public are encouraged to submit questions via email to HHS officials will try to answer as many questions as possible during the web chat and post questions and answers on the web site as well.

WHAT: Health Reform Weekly Webchat with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee and Principal Deputy Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Marilyn Tavenner

WHEN: Thursday April 8, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. EDT


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

7 mistakes that keep Baby Boomers unemployed

Entering the job market has been a real adventure for me and my research shows it will be for other aging Baby Boomers. According to the October 2009 MetLife Study of the New Realities of the Job Market for Aging Baby Boomers there are 7 mistakes that keep aging Boomers unemployed.

  1. “I’ll just do what I was doing before.” Too many Boomers assume they can simply continue on their previous career path without consideration of the changing work environment and needed skills.

  2. “My experience speaks for itself. Lots of employers would be lucky to have me.” Older job seekers cannot assume hiring manager will recognize their value and match it with today’s jobs. According to Charlotte Tenney, director of a federally funded elder job training program in San Diego, “You’ve got to be able to explain to the employer how you are going to make them a success.”

  3. “I have always been successful, so why should things be different now?” Behaving as if the past is an indicator of today and tomorrow draws on denial that can lead older job seekers to make poor decisions.

  4. “I just need a job. I don’t have time for this touchy-feely stuff about what work means to me.” Lots of older job seekers do not take the time to recognize how their skills could be more clearly linked to things they really care about to create a more productive and satisfying job.

  5. “I’ll just use a recruiter or some career coaching to get another job.” Getting feedback and a fresh perspective is the right thing to do, but the job seeker – not the recruiter or the career coach -- still has to secure the job.

  6. “I know the correct answer! I’ll become a consultant…or maybe a security guard.”
    Many job seekers make false assumptions and jump into jobs that are overwhelming or a poor fit.

  7. “Of course I am good with computers. I have been working with Windows 98 for years!” Aging Boomers who do not continually bring their technology skills up to date create barriers for themselves in the job market.
This is just a glimpse of what is discussed in this study. To read the full study go to :

Tune in next time to learn what the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community found can help Boomers who want to remain part of the workforce.

Helen Dillon
Helen Dillon
Project Director

Monday, April 5, 2010

Health care reform invites "relish for confusion"

In the words of the late Molly Ivins, Texas muckraker and journalist, “the thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion.” Well, beloveds, we’ve certainly had our share of confusion during the 13 months leading to what is now known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

So much has been said on this subject that I’m hesitant to add to the endless mumbling. But I’m also old enough, perhaps, to put some of this craziness in perspective. Students in my current public policy course have recently reviewed the history of Social Security, what Alice Hoffman recently wrote of as “a dream sustained.” In doing so, they have seen the 75-years of ponderous, incremental policy changes adding protections for more and more of the vulnerable. They have noted the efforts to hold fast on the promise of a base of support, however, small, for every individual. At each phase of expansion, whether adding women, children, the disabled, or cost of living raises to our public supports for the elderly and disabled, some politician or pundit railed “the end of life as we know it is near.”

Yet, each and every time, the changes seeped into our collective responsibility and were implemented without radical shifts in our overall system of economy or governance. Even when seriously flawed, almost complex beyond understanding, and still basically run by the private sector, e.g., Medicare drug coverage, the changes have brought some small bit of help for a few Americans.

The health care reform effort, now touted as the biggest shift in policy since Social Security, may well fall short of that description. But, the reform has elicited this same fear of system collapse. Yet as with previous reforms, the full effect is yet to be seen and will likely creep into our collective expectations in much the same way. If only the small, incremental improvements that prevent denial of insurance coverage and provide for more children and young adults are met, then again, we have brought help to some number of Americans.

For older adults, there is much potential in these reforms, from enhanced community-based care and improved coordination of services for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries at the state level, to the waiver of co-payments for preventive screenings for seniors on Medicare. A re-insurance program for employers that offer health insurance to early retirees would provide savings for every family enrolled, a boon to those baby boomers leaving the workforce. These and other provisions of the act are, at this point, potential. The implementation phase of legislation will be fraught with politics, although less public, as was the passage of the bill. What we gain is yet to be seen, it won’t be orderly or quiet, but surely entail more confusion to be relished.

Sharon Baggett, PhD
Adjunct Professor, Applied Public Policy
University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Aging strong? What's your secret?

The annual observance of Older Americans Month is held each May as an opportunity to recognize the contributions of older Americans. This year, the U.S. Administration on Aging wants to hear from older adults who are "aging strong, living long."

As part of this year’s activities and events to honor older Americans, AoA is inviting individuals to share their “recipe for strength” in a national contest. Entries should creatively promote the Older Americans Month 2010 theme “Age Strong! Live Long!” and may be submitted as a video, photograph, poem, or essay.

Whether it’s an exercise routine, a healthy diet, a tradition with friends, or remembering to look on the bright side of life, AoA wants to find out what you’ve done to age strong and live long! Entries must be submitted by April 30, 2010.

To find out more or to enter the contest visit and please leave a comment here telling us your recipe for aging strong.