President Biden’s Agenda for Older Americans

Administration plans to pursue a wide range of post-pandemic goals

The White House

En español | Joe Biden began his presidency in January with a promise to focus like a laser on getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control and put the economy back on track. With the coronavirus hitting older Americans the hardest, Biden’s emphasis on beating back the pandemic zeroes in on a key concern for older Americans, especially those in nursing homes.

A review of dozens of position statements made during his campaign, along with his initial wave of executive orders and early indications of his legislative agenda, reveals how he might tackle some of the other topics critical to the 50-plus population.

Biden “certainly talked about a lot of the issues hugely important to us and our constituency in the campaign,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “But job one is COVID, and job two is the economic package.” So LeaMond’s advice for those hoping that the new president acts on other issues of importance to Americans 50-plus is to “be patient” until the pandemic is under control.

a a r p membership card

Labor Day Membership Sale

Join AARP for just $9 per year when you sign up for a 5-year term. Limited time offer. Sign Up Today


Here’s a look at the president’s 50-plus agenda. Note that to execute most of his goals, Biden will need Congress to pass legislation.

Medicare/prescription drugs

  • Ask Congress to lower the age of Medicare eligibility to 60, reflecting the difficulty many older Americans face in getting jobs, even after the pandemic and economic crisis begin to ease.
  • Push Congress to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription prices so it can leverage its buying power to lower the cost of medications.
  • Create a tax penalty for drugmakers that raise prices above the general inflation rate.
  • Allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries, as long as the federal government says they are safe.

Health care access

  • Ask Congress to expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by creating a voluntary “public option” health program, patterned after Medicare.
  • Allow low-income residents of states that did not expand Medicaid under the ACA to get premium-free access to this new public-option program.
  • Ensure that no family’s medical insurance premiums would be more than 8.5 percent of their income.
  • Increase eligibility for ACA marketplace subsidies by eliminating the income cap at 400 percent of poverty income.

Social Security

  • Beneficiaries who have been collecting Social Security for at least 20 years would get a higher monthly benefit to help protect them from lapsing into poverty as their retirement savings decline.
  • Benefits for retirees who have worked for 30 years would be at least 125 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • For many couples, when one partner dies, Social Security income may be cut in half. Biden’s plan would allow the surviving spouse to keep a greater share of the benefits.

Saving for retirement

  • Encourage more workplace savings plans by giving a tax break to small businesses to offset the costs of starting such plans.
  • Remove penalties for caregivers who want to save for retirement but have paused working by allowing them to make “catch-up” contributions to their existing retirement accounts, even if they are not employed in a wage-earning job.

Age discrimination


  • Allocate $450 billion over 10 years to enable Medicaid recipients to be cared for at home or in the community, rather than in a residential facility. This plan would eliminate the waiting lists for in-home and community-based care.
  • Support family caregivers through a $5,000 tax credit.

Nursing homes

  • Require an infectious-disease specialist in every regulated long-term care facility.
  • Ensure adequate staffing levels in nursing homes.
  • Increase the oversight of nursing homes, including inspections and data collection, and restore penalties for noncompliance with quality standards.

Dena Bunis covers Medicare, health care, health policy and Congress. She also writes the Medicare Made Easy column for the AARP Bulletin. An award-winning journalist, Bunis spent decades working for metropolitan daily newspapers, including as Washington bureau chief for the Orange County Register and as a health policy and workplace writer for Newsday.


Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Retirement Communities and Independent Living Facilities (Interim Guidance)

Many people living in retirement communities and independent living facilities (ILF) are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 because they

  • Are older adults and/or
  • Have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease.

A retirement community or independent living facility is a residential or housing community that is usually age-restricted (e.g., aged 55 and older) with residents who are partially or fully retired and can generally care for themselves without regular nursing or other routine medical assistance.   Communal facilities, community activities, meals, transportation, and socialization opportunities may be provided.  Different types of independent housing with support services for older adults include:

  • Public housing for low- to-moderate income elderly
  • Assisted living homes that do not provide medical services
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities, which include a range of housing options including independent living.

Who is this guidance for?

This guidance is for owners, administrators, operators, workers, volunteers, visitors, and residents of retirement communities and ILF that are not healthcare facilities. Guidance for long-term care facilities (LTCF) that offer medical services, i.e., nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and adult day care programs to older adults can be found here.

Additionally, a checklistpdf icon is available for use by long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities to assess and improve their preparedness for responding to COVID-19. Retirement communities and ILF can adapt this checklist to meet their needs and circumstances.

Information relevant to retirement communities and ILF can also be found in guidance documents  for older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions and for community-based organizations.

Why is this guidance being issued?

COVID-19 is being increasingly reported in communities across the United States. It is likely that the novel coronavirus is circulating in most communities even if cases have not yet been reported. Residents in retirement communities and ILF are considered to be at higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes because of older age and because they may have underlying health conditions, such as chronic heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease. They also may be at higher risk of getting and spreading the virus because of community characteristics, such as frequent social activities, and shared dining facilities and communal spaces. Guidance specific to retirement and independent living communities can help the residents, and those who help serve them, slow the spread of the virus and prevent serious illness.

This guidance takes into account that residents in retirement communities generally care for themselves. Retirement communities and ILF can also consider adopting the more stringent recommendations for long-term care facilities or nursing homes, especially if they are a continuing care retirement community that includes a long-term care facility.  Either way, retirement community and ILF owners, administrators, or operators have an important role, working together with residents, workers, volunteers, and the local health departments in slowing the spread of diseases and helping ensure residents are safe.

What owners, operators, or administrators can do:

Owners, administrators, operators and can help slow the spreading of the virus and prevent severe illness within communities by following the guidance below.

Cancel all public or non-essential group activities and events.

For essential group activities that cannot be canceled, implementing the following social distancing measures can help:

  • Alter schedules to reduce mixing (e.g., stagger meal, activity, arrival/departure times)
  • Limit programs with external staff
  • Limit the number of attendees at a given time to fewer than ten people and ask participants to maintain a distance of at least six feet from one another.
  • Place chairs and tables at least 6 feet apart during communal dining or similar events.

Because canceling social interaction may increase risk of adverse mental health outcomes, particularly during a stressful event of a disease outbreak, administrators can provide information to help  support residents in managing stress and anxiety during this COVID-19 outbreak.

Clean and disinfect all common areas and shared facilities.

  • Clean and disinfect common spaces daily
  • Give special attention to high-touch surfaces, including, but not limited to, door handles, faucets, toilet handles, light switches, elevator buttons, handrails, countertops, chairs, tables, remote controls, shared electronic equipment, and shared exercise equipment.
  • Ensure staff follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, necessary personal protective equipment, etc.). A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available hereexternal iconexternal icon.

Inform residents, workers, volunteers, and visitors about COVID-19.

Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and ensuring that residents, workers, volunteers, and visitors are aware of the symptoms of COVID-19, health conditions that may put them at higher risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19, its health risks, and what to do if they become ill can make an outbreak less stressful and help prevent or slow the spread of disease.

Administrators can support residents who have no or limited access to the internet by

  • Delivering print materials to their residences. Printable materials for community-based settings are available on the CDC website.
  • Providing easy to understand handouts and high-visibility posters in high-traffic locations.
  • Ensuring educational materials and information are provided for non-English speakers and low literacy persons.

Encourage personal protective measures

Workers, contractors (such as barbers, hairdressers, sitters, and housekeepers), and volunteers providing care in multiple homes or facilities can serve as a source of coronavirus transmission between residences in these facilities. These persons should be advised to limit the number of people they interact with who are at higherrisk of serious complications from COVID-19, and retain distance of >6 feet when interacting.

Help residents establish a “buddy” system to ensure they stay connected.

Owners, administrators, and operators of retirement communities and ILF may want to identify residents who have unique medical needs (including behavioral health needs), and access and functional needs to encourage them to develop a plan if they or their primary caretaker(s) become ill.

They can assist in finding volunteers to assist residents who may need extra assistance in getting the medical help they need and train these volunteers in following personal protective measures. These volunteers should not be persons who are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Volunteers can also consider checking up on residents via electronic means if appropriate.

Consider limiting the number of non-essential visitors.

Retirement communities and ILF may want to consider limiting visitation (e.g., maximum of one visitor per resident per day, restricting visitors with recent travel and those with symptoms of COVID-19), especially in common areas, to workers, volunteers, and visitors who are essential to preserving the health, including mental health, well-being, and safety of residents. Advise persons that maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet) can help reduce coronavirus transmission.

Screen, when possible, and advise workers and essential volunteers.

When possible, administrators may want to consider screening workers and essential volunteers who will be interacting with residents for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. This includes actively taking each person’s temperature using a no-touch thermometer, and asking whether or not the person is experiencing shortness of breath or has a cough. They should be advised that if they develop fever or symptoms of respiratory infection while at work, they should immediately put on a facemask, inform their supervisor, and leave the workplace.

Follow guidance for businesses and employers

This guidance also can be helpful for owners, administrators, and operators of retirement communities and ILF and is found here. It includes:

  • Actively encouraging sick employees to stay home
  • Implementing flexible sick-leave policies and to the extent possible flexible attendance policies (e.g., telework, staggered shifts)
  • Emphasizing respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene
  • Ensuring hand hygiene supplies are readily available in all buildings.

What residents can do:

Residents can follow the recommendations for persons at higher-risk of COVID-19 to protect themselves and others:

Residents can follow the recommendations for persons at higher-risk of COVID-19 to protect themselves and others:

  • Clean your hands often
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place/common area.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
  • Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes.

Additionally, they can avoid close contact:

  • Stay in your homes or outdoors away from groups of people, as much as possible.
  • Limit visitors to persons essential to maintaining their health, well-being, and safety. Social interaction is important; however, in-person social interactions are associated with increased risk of infection.
  • Learn and practice alternative ways to interact, including replacing in-person group interactions with video or telephone calls.
  • Learn more about managing stress and anxiety during COVID-19.

Establish a “buddy” system to ensure they stay connected.

Residents can seek out a “buddy” who will regularly check on them (using preferably non-face-to-face communication) and help care for them if they get sick. This person cannot be a person who is at higher risk of complications if they become ill with COVID-19.

Ensure continuity of the regular care and medical services they receive.

Residents can work with their primary caretakers to identify alternative caretakers to ensure continuity of care should there be any interruptions to the regular services they receive. Telemedicine services may be available to them. They can work with their medical providers to determine if any elective procedures or non-emergent services can be delayed without negatively impacting their health. They can ask their medical providers if they have a formal “telehealth” system for their regular appointments and, if not, ask if they can still communicate by telephone (instead of visits) to reduce the number of face-to-face interactions.

Have medication and supplies on hand.

Residents may want to consult with their healthcare providers and, if possible, plan to keep an extra supply of their regular prescriptions. Mail-order medications also could be considered as an alternative for those unable to get longer supplies of medication. They can ensure that they have an adequate supply of food and everyday essentials in their homes should a disruption occur for an extended period.

Keep their homes clean and disinfected.

It is important that residents keep their homes clean and disinfected by following these instructions. If they become ill or if they are caring for someone who is ill, they can follow the guidance found here.

What volunteers and visitors can do:

There are many ways volunteer or visitors can reduce the spread of illness:

Avoid entering the facility, the premises, or private residences unless your presence is essential to preserving the health, including mental health, well-being, and safety of residents.

Follow personal protective measures found here and the recommendations set forth by the facility they are visiting.

Maintain social distance of at least six feet from residents can reduce transmission. Do not visit if you recently had contact with persons who have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you recently traveled. Most importantly, do not enter the retirement community or ILF if you are sick.

Avoid large groups and travel, especially on planes and cruise ships.

If you, as a volunteer, regularly visit the retirement community and ILF, consider taking greater precaution to protect the residents because they are higher-risk persons. These precautions include avoiding large group gatherings and crowds, delaying non-essential travel including plane trips, and avoiding embarking on cruise ships. Volunteers and visitors who have recently traveled should avoid visiting the retirement community and ILF.

Watch for symptoms of illness and follow the recommended steps if you get sick.

If you develop respiratory illness symptoms while at the retirement community or ILF, immediately put on a facemask when possible, leave if possible, self-isolate, and notify the residents you visited and administrators. If you were there with a volunteer organization, notify the organization. Additional guidance on what you can do if you get sick can be found here.

What workers can do:

As a worker, you can follow the same recommendations as for volunteers and visitors, plus:

Follow standard infection prevention and control practices, basic personal protective recommendations and any other site- and task-specific infection prevention and control measures implemented by their employer.

Maintain social distance of at least six feet from residents whenever possible. Outside of work, avoid contact with persons who have symptoms of COVID-19.

Watch for symptoms of illness and follow the recommended steps if you get sick.

Stay home if you are sick and notify your supervisors if you become sick outside of work hours. If you become sick while at the facility or on the premises, put on a facemask, leave immediately, and notify your supervisor. Additional guidance on what you can do if you get sick can be found here.

When a case has been confirmed in the retirement facility or ILF

If a person with COVID-19 resides in or recently has been to a retirement community or ILF, CDC recommends the following additional measures:

Owners, administrators and operators can take the following additional measures to help prevent or slow further spread of COVID-19:

Coordinate with local health officials.

  • Upon learning that a resident, worker, volunteer, or visitor of the retirement community or the ILF has COVID-19, ask the person to self-isolate and contact local health officials.
  • Notify the local health department about any clusters of residents or workers with respiratory illness (e.g., 3 or more persons with onset of respiratory symptoms within 72 hours).

Local health officials will help determine the appropriate course of action for risk assessment and public health management in the facility or community.

Communicate with residents, workers, volunteers, and visitors.

In coordination with local health officials, communicate the possible COVID-19 exposure to all residents and workers, volunteers, and visitors. This can be done by placing signage in common areas and entrances/exists and by letter to all residents. Residents could be advised to inform their recent personal visitors of potential exposure.

  • Maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA.
  • Messages should attempt to counter potential stigma and discrimination

Ask residents to self-monitor for 14 days and take action, if sick.

Self-monitoring means a person takes his/her temperature twice a day and pays attention to cough or difficulty breathing. If a resident feels feverish or their temperature is 100.4°F/38°C or higher, they have a cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, the following actions will help prevent spreading further illness:

Clean and disinfect thoroughly. Additional information on cleaning and disinfection of community facilities can be found on CDC’s website.

Interactions with pets advantageous for aging adults

Though interactions with animals, in general, can impact a senior, if choosing to keep one in the home or senior facility, Besser said seniors should consider what kind of animal would be best suited to their lifestyle.

“There are several factors to consider when deciding what type of pet or animal companion to choose for a senior. One should take into account a senior’s personality and physical ability,” she stated. “Cats are more independent and relaxed, while dogs are more social and can be physically demanding. It’s hard when you like and can handle both. So, it’s best to research what animal would best suit a senior’s needs, lifestyle and commitment level. The same would apply when choosing a family pet.”

But if a senior isn’t in a situation where they can keep a full-time pet, the professionals said they could always connect with therapy pet programs. Seniors can also get their pets certified as therapy animals, which can teach them skills to sense if something is wrong with their owner.

“Pet therapy is an opportunity for specially trained animals to become certified as therapy pets,” Lookabill noted. “They are used to being petted by a lot of people, getting their ears pulled and knowing what to do to help someone feel calm and comfortable.”

Besser said when trying to certify a family pet as a therapy animal, depending on the association, the pet will go through compatibility testing and training to be certified. Pets have to be at least a year old, and the process takes about six to 12 months to complete.

Lookabill added therapy pets can be a multitude of species, especially if they are in an established program.

“They can include pigs, horses, llamas and large birds,” she explained. “Communities have to be diligent in helping ensure that therapy pets are certified, up to dates with shots and insured.”

Rent spike of 43 percent prompts low-income seniors to sue San Diego

Residents of City Heights subsidized complex say they can no longer afford basic necessities

Eight low-income senior citizens are suing San Diego for allowing the rent to increase last September by more than 43 percent at their subsidized apartment complex in City Heights.

The seniors, who receive the bulk of their income from Social Security, say in the lawsuit that the new rents are so excessive that they can no longer pay for necessities such as food, utilities and transportation.

While only eight of the tenants in the Olivewood Gardens are listed as plaintiffs, the outcome of the litigation could affect every tenant in the 60-unit complex in the Oak Park neighborhood of City Heights.

The rent increases were triggered by a decision in May by the city’s Housing Commission that the operators could charge up to $1,229 per month for the complex’s one-bedroom apartments.

The operators, Olivewood Housing Partners, chose to raise the monthly rents from $575 to $825 on Sept. 1, a spike of more than 43 percent, after many years with no increases.

The tenants, who each live in 438-square-foot units, initially protested the increases. But the lawsuit says they eventually decided to pay the higher rents to avoid eviction and homelessness.

Last month, downtown San Diego attorney Catherine Rodman filed the lawsuit on behalf of the eight tenants. Rodman has a long history of advocating for low-income tenants and subsidized housing.

The lawsuit says the increases mean that rent and utilities amount to 90 percent of the income of many of the tenants, which is triple the ratio of 30 percent required by city regulations.

For example, tenant Jacquelyn Blake now pays out $880 — $825 rent plus $55 utilities — of her monthly Social Security check of $972. That means nearly 91 percent of her income is being spent on rent and utilities.

Tenant Bonnie Breckenridge gets $1,565 a month from Social Security, so she is spending about 56 percent of that on rent and utilities.

The lawsuit says city regulations require that rents in the complex, combined with utilities, be a maximum of 30 percent of a tenant’s income. For such calculations, the city estimates each tenant pays $55 for utilities instead of using the actual amount they pay.

The complex was built in 1980 as part of an agreement with the city. The 55-year deal required the tenants to make no more than 60 percent of the San Diego region’s median income and that the operator charge low rents based on income.

In 2015, the lease was extended 21 years, from 2035 to 2056, and a new owner agreed to renovate the complex in return for changes to some of the regulations.

City officials have expressed increasing concern in recent years that rent restrictions on many complexes across San Diego will soon expire, potentially increasing homelessness by forcing tenants in those complexes onto the streets.

That’s why the city is typically enthusiastic about opportunities to extend such lease agreements.

Despite the amended lease, the lawsuit says, last fall’s rent spike was still illegal. Income forms submitted by the developer to the Housing Commission contain errors, the suit says.

“The forms show mathematical errors and methodological inconsistencies in the calculation of incomes,” the suit says.

In addition to a rent rollback, the suit seeks a temporary injunction to prevent further rent increases while the litigation is handled by the courts.

The case has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn. No hearings have been scheduled.

Colin Rice, an official with Olivewood Housing Partners, did not return a phone call seeking comment on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for City Attorney Mara Elliott declined to comment on the case, other than to say Elliott’s staff is reviewing the lawsuit and will confer with other city officials.

Senior Citizens Center receives $10,000 grant from Dallas Mavericks Foundation

By Daily Light Report
Posted at 8:15 AM
Updated at 8:15 AM

The city-owned Waxahachie Senior Citizens Center is set to take the construction of its STEM Garden to the next level after receiving a generous gift from the Dallas Mavericks Foundation.

The $10,000 special project grant will further develop the Technology Teaching area of the “Living Today for Tomorrow” Next Generation Education STEM Garden and fund an outdoor touchscreen panel computer.

“The STEM Education Garden will strengthen the Ellis County and surrounding communities through intergenerational learning by providing STEM awareness education for K-12 students and meaningful volunteer opportunities for senior citizens,” noted the city in a Nov. 22 Facebook post. “Rural and underprivileged students will have access to a positive, fun outdoor learning lab which will foster an appreciation for our natural environment and increase STEM knowledge so they will have better career opportunities for the future.”

“Senior citizens also benefit from the program by participating as mentors and teaching assistants by sharing their knowledge and experiences in order to strengthen the bonds between generations,” the city added.

The innovative inter-generational learning environment will help students develop a variety of integrated skills in science, technology, engineering and math through its focus on earth and life sciences, alternative energy, water and soil conservation, and sustainability.

“The Senior Center is so blessed with not only this generous donation from the Dallas Mavericks Foundation but with the amazing support from our community,” Center Director Jeanee Carol Smiles posted. “Come out and tour the project or volunteer for a field trip. Amazing for all ages.”

The Center received a $50,000 check from the DART Foundation in 2017 to help develop the Technology Teaching area.

To learn more, visit or call (469) 309-4280 for more information.

Baby boomers are less likely than previous generations to retire

Not that the world needs more fuel for the recent string of intergenerational feuds, but a new report suggests that young professionals are having a harder time moving up in the workplace due to fewer people retiring.

With more Americans choosing to work longer, the traditional workforce model is being upended, according to a new survey from TD Ameritrade.

The survey, based on responses from 2,000 adults, found that the majority of Americans now plan to work beyond a traditional retirement age and 1 in 3 respondents said they plan to work at least a part time job in retirement.

About 40% of respondents in their 40s and 50s said they will continue working in retirement even if there isn’t a financial need to do so, the survey found.

“Gone are the days of retirement being seen as an essential, defined life stage, where an employee could expect to work for a company long-term and be taken care of after retiring,” said Christine Russell, senior manager of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade.

However, baby boomers staying in the workforce longer may mean that younger generations may have fewer opportunities to climb the ladder and acquire the financial gains that tend to come with that.

About 15% of baby boomers, ages 54-74, still work full time, while they are joined in the workforce by the three generations that succeed them: Gen X, millennials and Gen Z, according to USA Today.

“This is the first time ever that five different generations are in America’s workforce at the same time, from Gen Zers up to baby boomers. It’s no surprise that there are some growing pains,” LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele told the newspaper.

According to the new report, not retiring has more to do with financial concerns — although that is certainly part of it. Lifespans have gotten longer, which means it costs more to be retired.

But the unretired trend also has to do with a sense of purpose, preventing boredom and avoiding depression.

Among those surveyed who had retired, about 30% said they felt like they lost their identity after they were done working.

“The concept of retirement is evolving,” Russell said. “It’s not just about finances. The value of work is also driving folks to continue working past retirement.”

New resource for dementia and firearm safety to prevent injuries


Today, faculty members at the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus announced the Safety in Dementia website, the first comprehensive online resource to help caregivers navigate issues related to firearm access and dementia. Before now, there’s been a lack of public resources available on steps to take when someone has dementia and firearms are in the home.

In the U.S., the number of Alzheimer’s cases is projected to triple by 2050, according to U.S. Census data, and studies suggest somewhere between 40% and 60% of households that have someone with  also have a firearm.

“This issue is a big deal for the families and caregivers trying to navigate the best solution for their loved one or patient,” said Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of the project.

The Safety in Dementia website addresses the issue of firearms as well as two other important issues facing caregivers: driving and general home safety.

  • For firearms, the  walks caregivers through things to consider in deciding how to limit firearm access for the person with dementia. It also provides them with a series of common solutions for safe  storage, including at-home and out-of-home options.
  • For driving access, the tool provides strategies and solutions for guiding conversations and decisions that are difficult for those who have dementia.
  • The site also provides general home safety tips and guidance into what caregivers can do in the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and other sections of the house to create a safer and more accessible home for those with dementia.

The materials, language and design of the firearms section of the website was created through a series of structured interviews with various stakeholder groups. Clinicians, psychiatrists, caregivers, assisted living facility managers, and more were all interviewed to develop an accurate, compelling, and effective tool.

“Speaking with the groups impacted by firearms and dementia enabled us to create a tool that we believe will be effective in assisting caregivers making  about home safety,” said Daniel Matlock, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and geriatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who worked on the web resource. “By developing a public resource, we hope that families and caregivers can have discussions and make decisions before potentially dangerous events occur.”

Sara Gilloth, PsyD, geropsychologist at a private practice in Lakewood, CO, who works with people with dementia and family caregivers, said, “This is a great resource that is easy to use and provides several practical solutions that can be immediately implemented to increase safety. The tool can help guide difficult family discussions and decision making and can be accessed by the person with dementia in the earlier stages and also by family members across the progression of illness.”

Gilloth adds, “The format of the website allows the user to quickly access information that is most relevant to the current safety concern, while also encouraging the user to think about other potential  issues and respond proactively.”

App to improve lives of older adults is set for first major user tests

OCT 07, 2019 | Jim Steele Original Article

A new app that aims to improve the functional lives of older adults is about to get its first major user tests.

Developed at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) through a collaboration that began in 2015 between the College of Nursing, the Department of Psychology and the Department of Art, Art History & Design, the app is called mPACT, for mobile Physical Activity Training.

It integrates low impact physical activity in the form of chair exercises with colorful brain training games that have been proven to improve cognitive function and mind-body coordination. Participants win gold star rewards for their successes and improvements.

“Research has shown that physical activity and brain training will improve cognition,” says Dr. Lenora Smith, an assistant professor of nursing and distinguished educator in gerontological nursing. The new app is the first time anyone has combined the two in a single venue, she says.

Testing will begin under a grant from the American Nurses Foundation, says Dr. Smith, the project’s principal investigator. The 50 test participants will wear Fitbit devices to assess their heart rates as they use the app.

“This will be a one-year study to assess the usability, or ease of use, of the mPACT app and provide feedback for revisions and improvements,” Dr. Smith says. “We want to see whether they reach their target heart rate while using it for aerobic exercise, with the end goal of improving cognition in people with mild cognitive impairment.”

The study will also assess the amount of low-impact exercise necessary for someone to reach target heart range, Dr. Smith says.

“We hope with this grant to do more gamification of this app and exploit those features to encourage users to do the exercises,” says Vinny Argentina, an assistant professor of art, amination and game design who teamed up with Dr. Smith on the project along with Chuck O’Brien, a lecturer in art, amination and game design, and Dr. Jodi Price, chair of the Department of Psychology, who is an expert in cognitive aging.

Exercise is crucial to seniors’ mobility and “the brain games are also a psychological necessity to cognition,” O’Brien says.

With input from Dr. Smith and Dr. Price, the pair are responsible for the current look and feel of the app, which initially targets people who have mild cognitive impairment that may be improved by a combination of physical and cognitive exercise. Its future scope could broaden to people in their 40s and 50s, as a preventative measure.

Argentina and O’Brien will use study results to answer questions about the intuitive operability of the app and how appealing it is for users over protracted periods of use. Dr. Smith says information about the user experience of the study participants will be critical.

“What’s their take on the usability of the app and how much exercise are they doing?” she asks.

Past study has already assessed how older adults relate to various commercial apps, informing the design of mPACT, which features larger type and other features catering to older users. Future versions will incorporate a social media function and cumulative gold star scoring, so that users can communicate and compete.

Developers To Break Ground This Month on $75M Kensington Senior Living Facility

Mayor calls project largest the town has had ‘in over 40 years’


Developers plan to break ground this month on a $75 million senior living facility in Kensington


Developers plan to break ground this month on a $75 million senior living facility in Kensington in a project the town’s mayor called “the largest project the town has had in over 40 years.”

The 167,000-square-foot project at the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and St. Paul Street will include 135 senior living apartments and a cafe, according to the developer, Virginia-based McCaffery.

The project received final Planning Board approval in December. It includes a five-story building with 63 independent-living units, 43 assisted-living units for residents who need help with basic functions like dressing and bathing, and 29 memory-care units that will cater to residents with conditions such as dementia.

A fitness center and ground-level kitchen, dining room, wine bar and game room are also in the plans.

There will also be a courtyard that will have seating areas, walking paths and a water feature. The project will provide about 103 parking spaces, according to development plans.

Construction is expected to be completed by early 2021 and is expected to generate 90 new jobs.

The Kensington project is McCaffery’s first senior housing project, according to a news release from the company.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at

New affordable senior living apartments are coming to Palmetto

Seniors will soon have access to more affordable housing in Palmetto.

A project referred to in city documents as Dominimum Senior Living was approved Monday for the west side of Haben Boulevard just south of U.S. 301, across from Manatee School for the Arts.

Dominium, a Minneapolis-based company, owns River Trace, 2710 River Trace Circle, in Bradenton. However, the Palmetto project is slated to be similar to a facility that recently opened on 14th Street West in Bradenton.

The five-story “u-shaped” senior apartment building will have 225 units, a pool, courtyard and recreational area, along with age and income restrictions, according to the proposal to the city of Palmetto. The age restriction will be limited to a head of household aged 62 or older. Every apartment will be affordable housing for those who make at or below 60 percent of the area median income. Monthly rent will be between $800 and $1,100 depending on the number of bedrooms.

There will be one-, two- and three-bedroom units in the five-story building coming to the 6.28-acre property.

The age restriction was selected because developers will be seeking a property tax exemption that requires it.

In the larger apartments, the third bedroom will have some style differences from the others including French doors and different light fixtures, Dominium’s Devon Quist noted.

The independent living apartment complex will be built in part of the city that already has a nursing home and an assisted living facility.

The site was initially slated for a project known as the Riviera Walk West. Plans were approved for the same site in 2016, but they never came to fruition. The approvals expired, making way for Dominimum Senior Living.

During the presentation to city commissioners Monday, developers acknowledged concerns commissioners and the city’s Planning and Zoning board expressed about the number of parking spaces. Developers agreed to a total 257 spaces while presenting evidence that those living in similar types of apartment complexes often had more parking than they needed.

“We’re going to be a little more stubborn than we’d like to be because of how marginal the economics of the projects are overall. It’s a very small site so we really had to push density to get the project to work,” Quist said.

The affordable senior living apartments project was approved by commissioners in a 4-1 vote.

Commissioner Brian Williams cast the lone dissenting vote, due to concerns over whether there would be enough parking.

The project, according to Quist, will use non-competitive funding through available federal resources.