In October, several members of the Gerontology Institute at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies spoke to members of the Joint Council on Elder Affairs, co-chaired by Sen. Patricia Jehlen and Rep. Denise Garlick. They discussed long-term services and supports, health care and caregiving, transportation, and income security in retirement.
Director Len Fishman explained that the Gerontology Institute is the research and policy arm of the Department of Gerontology and provides direct services through its Pension Action Center, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging.
With an expected 50% increase in the aged 65 and older population between 2010 and 2030, he noted that the area of long-term services and supports is of tremendous concern to seniors, their families and caregivers, and to the Commonwealth because spending will increase sharply in step with our aging population. “We need,” Fishman said, “innovation in this area to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness long-term services and supports, while matching the individual needs of people who depend on these services.”
Fishman testified, “We are standing on the threshold of the most dramatic demographic shift in human history. We’ve added roughly 30 years to the human life span since the turn of the last century and the full effect of that longevity bonus is being felt now.” He explained that this shift will affect every aspect of life in Massachusetts−from how long it takes elevator doors to close to the unprecedented number of older adults in the workforce, to school budget overrides.
Professors Nina Silverstein, Jan Mutchler, and Elizabeth Dugan also presented research and policy implications on topics including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, elder economic security, and transportation for older adults.