“I’ve watched public policy affecting the nation’s older population wax and wane, but generally move in a progressive direction, often painfully incrementally but sometimes in a dramatic fashion,” says Bill Benson, a nationally known consultant on aging and health issues. “Now, with a new Administration under the leadership of President-elect Donald Trump, and a Republican-controlled Congress, there is great nervousness, if not downright terror, that many of the policy gains will be not only slowed but even entirely undone. While much of the attention will be focused on what may or may not happen with Medicare and Social Security, the giants of aging social policy, there is much, much more on the policy ‘table’ that is at risk and that will may affect millions of older Americans, today and in the future. Examples include Medicaid, the single most important source of long-term care services and supports financing, SSI, the Older Americans Act, the Elder Justice Act, the Social Services Block Grant, low-income senior housing, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and much more,” he says.
Bill Benson has served as the National Policy Advisor for the National Adult Protective Services Association since 1999. He is Managing Principal for Health Benefits ABCs (HBABCs), which offers health and aging policy, educational and strategic planning consulting services. Benson has worked on these issues for four decades, including in leadership positions in the U.S. Congress. He served in senior appointee positions at the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA), including as Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging. Earlier in his career he spent 10 years as California’s State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. For more than a decade, he has been a consultant to CDC’s Healthy Aging Program and worked on preventive services with SPARC and its Vote & Vax Initiative. HBABCs consults with three AoA resource centers, including the State Health Insurance Program, Senior Medicare Patrol, and Adult Protective Services. HBABCs provides qualitative measurement, strategic planning, facilitation services, and technical writing and conducts evaluations for national, state and local organizations.
“Singing is a lifelong activity that is nurturing to one’s well-being and is a positive influence on community life,” Marilyn says. “The principles that I follow as a presenter in Music that Makes Community involve teaching songs without printed music, sharing authority and believing that there are natural musicians and formally trained musicians, all of which bring a different skill set to singing which is positive and creative. I will combine these principles with my traditional training when I lead the Collington Singers.”
Marilyn Haskel retired recently as a professional organist, choir director and composer at Trinity Church Wall Street, an Episcopal Church in New York City, and St. Paul’s Chapel, part of Trinity; and Music that Makes Community. Music that Makes Community is a not-for-profit organization, connects a worldwide network of practitioners and leaders who share a practice of paperless song leading. Marilyn now is resident of Collington, a Kendal community in metro Washington, D.C.
“As a co-operative, we are owned by our community,” says Jon Roesser, General Manager of Weavers Way Cooperative Grocery located in the Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods of Philadelphia. “A co-op exists to meet the needs of the people who own the place. Whatever a neighborhood lacks, the neighborhood can address that lack of whatever through cooperation,” he says.
“The money that you pay to become a member actually is your portion of the ownership of the organization. So it remains your money and it goes into your equity account,” Jon says. “In a cooperatively owned business, no one person can own any more of the business than anybody else. In a co-op, we all have equal ownership. We’re putting our money in to support the organization, but we’re not looking for a return on our investment.”
“We are in the midst of a monumental change in direction in care and services for seniors, probably more than any other time certainly since the passage of the Medicare-Medicaid act in the mid-’60s,” says Steve Maag, Director of Residential Communities for LeadingAge, a national association of more than 6,000 not-for-profit senior services providers. “The boomers will slowly be trickling into the system [and] they are going to want what they want when they want it. So we are going to have to reinvent ourselves and how we think, because it is not going to be business as usual.” In addition, payments for health services are changing and technology may dramatically impact everything, he says.
At LeadingAge, Steve helps establish and implement the organization’s policy and programmatic priorities in the areas of assisted living, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and housing for older adults. In addition, Steve monitors federal and state policy, and advises the association on policy issues. He represents LeadingAge to the general public, congressional representatives, administrative agencies and financial industries.
“There have always been single-parent families. There have always been same-sex parents, whether they were out or visible, and whether they were permitted to adopt—that’s certainly changed. And there have always been interracial families, both before and after that was legal. I think what’s different now is that so many more forms of family are becoming more visible,” says writer, teacher and author Anndee Hochman.
Anndee’s essays, articles, and reviews have been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post, Newsworks.org, Literary Mama, and Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers. She writes frequently about community, spirituality, art, health, lesbian/gay/transgender issues, and the permutations of the American family. She is the author of two books: Anatomies: A Novella and Stories (Picador USA) and Everyday Acts & Small Subversions: Women Reinventing Family, Community and Home (The Eighth Mountain Press), named one of the 100 most important feminist books of the 20th century by Sojourner magazine. Anndee has received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Leeway Foundation. For 20 years, she has taught poetry and creative nonfiction to children, teens, and adults in a variety of settings including schools, senior centers, programs for at-risk youth, and a fishing village on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Kendal at Oberlin residents Judy and Dennis Cook are retired, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at their travel schedule. “We’re on the road about 1/3 of the time,” Dennis says. “We travel around the Northeast presenting historically themed, multimedia programs—songs, spoken word and images—for libraries, historic societies and museums. We also travel to the United Kingdom every year presenting folk concerts for British folk clubs.”
Judy and Dennis Cook
When they’re not touring the U.S. and the U.K., Judy and Dennis host the “Glad4Trad Folk Radio Program” from 3–4 p.m., Wednesdays, on WOBC-91.5 FM, Oberlin College and Community Radio. “We present music from our collection and the station’s collection of Anglo-American folk music, with a bit of mild erudition,” Dennis says. “Joe Hickerson, retired Folk Archivist at the Library of Congress, complimented our program for being ‘exactly what a folk show ought to be.’” The program is streamed live at wobc.org. “We find have listeners in about 15 states and five counties of England and Scotland.” To get a taste of Judy Cook’s music, go to JudyCook.net, where you can download individual songs and buy CDs.
Barbara Walvoord, Ph.D., is a resident of the Lathrop Communities in Massachusetts and is Chair of Lathrop’s Land Conservation Committee. She discusses “reinvesting one’s energy and passion after retirement” and on how retirees can make a difference in the environmental crisis that faces Boomers and their children and grandchildren.
“After retiring as a college English teacher, I moved at age 71 to the Lathrop retirement community and found a new passion—land conservation and native habitat restoration,” Barbara says. “I founded and am leading what is now a 23-member resident Land Conservation Committee at Lathrop, which has a long list of successful actions to protect our environment.”
Callie Janoff is Director of the Aging Resources Consultation and Help (ARCH) program of the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). “The ARCH program is an innovative approach to faith-based pastoral care for aging members of our communities,” Callie says. “We train volunteer Visitors in weekend retreats that focus on identifying aging-related concerns and needs and those of caregivers, active listening, aging and disability-related community and government resources and programs, healthy boundaries, self-care, end-of-life planning, and grief and loss.
“These Visitors return to their communities to provide friendly visits, organize workshops and learning opportunities, facilitate caregiver support groups, vigil with the dying, organize care teams, and provide many many other small and large acts of pastoral care for our oldest community members. Visitors are supported by a small professional staff who engage in ongoing additional training, assistance with complex issues or concerns, referrals to further services, and community building workshops that further deepen the capacity of the whole community to feel safe enough with each other to ask for and receive the help of others.”
“When parents are too focused on motivating their kids to perform, it can actually be demotivating for the young adult, making it harder, rather than easier, for them to ‘get their life together,’” says Richard S. Stern, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology. “If parents learn the tools they need to understand and enjoy (rather than trying to control or worrying about) their adult children, the young adults can gain an emerging understanding of themselves and a greater ability to enjoy themselves.”
Clinical Psychologist Richard S. Stern
With more than 25 years of experience serving children, adolescents, young adults and families, Dr. Stern has extensive experience developing a therapeutic bond and fostering change with even the most resistant, angry or withdrawn individuals. Using clinically proven family and individual therapy modalities, he treats a wide variety of child, young adult and family problems, including depression, anxiety, aggression and defiance.
“I was so absorbed in my life in theater and found it so rewarding and challenging that I assumed that I would never retire,” says scenic designer and set designer Robert Cothran, a resident of Kendal at Oberlin in Ohio. Now a professor emeritus, Bob taught set design, drawing and scenic painting for 30 years as a faculty member of the theater department at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. When Bob and his wife were in their early 70s, though, they decided it was time to retire when they learned his wife had Alzheimer’s disease. Since moving to Kendal at Oberlin, Bob says he has seen his drawing and painting projects there “turn into utterly unexpected and absorbing new versions of and approaches to what I have been doing for so many years in the theatre.” Below is a photo of Bob with a large-scale mural he created for the outer part of the main dining room at Kendal at Oberlin.
Bob served as resident scene designer for the Clarence Brown Company, a league of resident theaters at the University of Tennessee for over 25 years. He also has worked as a stage designer for regional professional theaters on the East Coast. His lithographs are included in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Ammon Carter Museum of the University of Tennessee and in many public and private collections.