Formerly IGSW News | VOLUME 22 | WINTER 2015 |

From the Director

Obama Budget Initiatives Promise to
Strengthen Aging and Disability Services

By Scott Miyake Geron

Addressing the barriers that older adults and younger people with disabilities face in gaining access to health and long-term care should be the norm in public policy, not the exception. For this reason, President Obama's recent budget initiatives to strengthen aging and disability services are a welcome sign that the Administration remains committed to expanding opportunities for the most vulnerable in our society.

One budget proposal has the potential to have a monumental influence in ending the strong built-in incentives toward nursing homes.... Read more

Boston University photo of Scott Miyake Geron

Issues and Views

The medium and the message

What Online Learners Say About Their Experience

By Susan M. Kryczka

With more and more people now taking courses online (at the college level, estimated to be over 7 million in 2012), debates about the relative merits of online learning versus learning face-to-face persist. What do course participants themselves say about the experience?

Enlightening and surprising. My recent research examined the learning experience of doctoral students taking courses online, face to-face, and in a hybrid setting. In in-depth interviews, the students' responses were enlightening and, in some cases, surprising. For example, most had expected that communication would be better in the onsite environment but found that this was not necessarily true, as an onsite course can lack opportunities for writing and discussion and group-work online.... Read more

Photo of Susan M. Kryczka courtesy Excelsior College

With customized staff training

Senior Centers Can Be Gateways
To Mental Health Services for Older Adults

By Kathy Kuhn

Among the highest priorities of the New Year for many aging services organizations is mental health. The number of older adults with mental health concerns has increased exponentially in the U.S. (more than doubled over the past 45 years), while the care system has not kept pace. Many do not receive the help they need. Lack of access to services and too few trained providers are the big issues.

One new effort to address this situation shows how senior centers and state Councils on Aging—core community service organizations for older adults that are found in many localities—can be gateways to mental health services for older adults and a source of quality onsite mental health training for center staff. Read more about the Mental Health and Aging Project, a collaboration between the Center for Aging & Disability Education & Research at Boston University (CADER) and the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging and Senior Center Directors (MCOA).

Boston University photo of Kathy Kuhn

Are you prepared?

CADER Mental Health Certificate

With CADER's Mental Health Certificate Program, social workers and other health and social service providers develop the skills they need to identify and respond to older adults who have cognitive and behavioral health concerns. The program features online and face-to-face courses. Topics include dementia, depression, suicide prevention, and substance use and abuse. Focus is on the role of the practitioner, from screening and engagement to resources and referral. Participants receive a certificate and CEUs upon completion. For more information or to sign up (use code ENEWS2015 for a 10 percent discount).

News to Note

Don't know much about long-term care

Study Shows 'Disconnect' Between Expectations &
Reality of Future Need for Supports & Services

A new study confirms that most people don't know much about long-term services and supports and are unrealistic in their views of how likely they are to need them in the future. Researchers from the University of Minnesota examined data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey and found that only 40 percent of survey respondents ages 40 to 65 believed that they would need these services, while a body of research shows that almost 70 percent of older adults will in fact need them at some point.... Read more

Feds and states use it to determine funding

The American Community Survey: The Only Source
Of Current Population Data on Localities Across U.S.

Nearly 40 percent of those age 65 and older in the United States—15.7 million people—have at least one disability, according to a new U.S. Census report. That's interesting information, but for local agencies trying to plan and pay for services for the older adults and people with disabilities in their own communities, national statistics are not enough. Rates of disability, for example, vary widely across counties and states.

The good news is that U.S. Census reports like this one are now based on data collected during the American Community Survey (ACS), the only source of yearly information on the social and demographic characteristics of the U.S. population broken down into "small areas," including counties and localities. The Census Bureau says that ACS generates data that help determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed annually. That is definitely information local agencies could use. Read more