For Professor Emeritus Frank Caro, Retirement Includes More Time for Research and Community Service
August 31, 2012
McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies
“Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity... even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”” Leonardo da Vinci
A dedicated leader and academic in McCormack Graduate School’s Gerontology Department and Gerontology Institute, Professor Emeritus Frank Caro has devoted his career to study the importance of active engagement in all aspects and in every stage of life for more graceful and productive aging. And since retiring in 2008, this septuagenarian has embodied the very essence of productive aging as he remains active in research and community service.
Caro’s devotion to understand the challenges and rewards of aging have translated into his involvement in the formation and continuing growth of the Brookline Community Aging Network (Brookline CAN). A driving force in establishing Brookline CAN as a vehicle to improve the dynamics of the Brookline community and to provide vigorous advocacy effort on behalf of its older residents, he continues to be a steadfast advocate for elders.
Under the Brookline CAN umbrella, Frank Caro founded and is chair of the livable community advocacy committee. The committee’s purpose is to assist in planning for Brookline’s aging population; however, the committee also advocates for improvements that benefit people of all ages. For example, Caro moderated a public forum regarding the impact of recent Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s proposed changes in fares and services, which would especially affect older people and those with disabilities. The committee also lobbied town government to reenact temporary, unlimited street parking for caregivers, which is a major problem in Brookline because no overnight or daytime parking beyond two hours is allowed. Finally, under his leadership, the committee also took on the issue of rising water rates for low-income homeowners. For these and a number of other efforts, the Brookline Community Foundation recognized Frank Caro’s leadership with the Unsung Hero award last year.
Caro also remains an active member of the McCormack Graduate School’s Osher Life Learning Institute (OLLI), a part of the Gerontology Institute he directed for many years. This fall, he will be holding video-conference sessions to discuss the strengths and limitations of the Brookline village model. Currently, the Brookline model features a strong senior center, low membership fees, heavy reliance on volunteers, and civic improvement under the banner of “Livable Community.”” Through discussions of this model, he hopes to provide insights on how to establish similar community-based programs to help members live and age successfully. With participants’ involvement in sharing the existing senior services available in their own community, Caro is keen on helping to develop community-specific models to expand the services available to elders.
Colleague Jeff Burr, professor of gerontology, praises Caro’s ongoing research as well. “Since ‘retiring’ four years ago, Frank has produced 11 publications, including 8 in peer-reviewed journals. During this period he also received funding from the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making to study the effectiveness of internet-based vignettes in patient decisions about their care. In this study, Frank is overseeing a multi-university research effort. This creative work promises to help health care professionals understand better how and why patients choose among treatment options.””
His academic contributions continue at the Gerontology Institute; Caro still provides editorial leadership for the Journal of Aging & Social Policy, a peer reviewed, quarterly journal published by Taylor & Francis. “”He’s a true inspiration to us all,”” said Robert Geary, his editorial assistant. “I admire his dedication to keep his mind sharp, all while contributing to important research and community service in the field of aging. Furthermore, he’s a man with many interests outside his professional life, and he finds time to pursue all of them.” ”
Caro received a PhD in Sociology from the University of Minnesota. He has held numerous teaching positions and applied research positions at nonprofit organizations. His 40-plus year career in gerontology began with the Midwest Council for Social Research on Aging in Kansas City, followed by a position at Brandeis University’s Levinson Gerontological Policy Institute, and later, directorship of the Community Service Society of New York for 14 years before coming to UMass Boston.
Frank Caro turns 76 in September and it appears that “rest and relaxation” are often taking a back seat to research and community service. More power to him.