The 40th anniversary of Jacksonville Towers was recently celebrated by residents, staff and local officials in Jacksonville, Arkansas. The 9-story 100-unit building opened March 31, 1979.
In attendance were many residents as well as Bob Johnson, Mayor of Jacksonville; James Reid, former Mayor of Jacksonville; Mark Perry, Jacksonville State Representative; and Fredrick Love, Little Rock State Representative. A time capsule was dedicated to commemorate the occasion.
Despite increased senior poverty the Administration continues to cut and delay funding for Affordable Senior Housing
As reported by the U.S. Administration on Aging 2017 Profile of Older Americans, over 4.6 million people age 65 and over (9.3%) were below the U.S. poverty level in 2016, and another 2.4 million were classified as “near-poor” (income between the poverty level and 125% of this level.) Even though this represents about one of every ten older persons, it underestimates the true burden of poverty since it doesn’t adjust for expenses such as health care and housing.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) shows a significantly higher number of older persons below poverty. Under the SPM poverty measurement, the number of persons age 65 and over have a poverty level of 14.5 percent, higher for women, persons living alone and minorities. Most seniors rely on Social Security for their primary source of income. The cost of housing has dramatically increased in recent years resulting in low-income seniors not being able to secure safe and decent housing even if they spend most (if not all) of their Social Security payment on rent and utilities (the 2019 average monthly Social Security is $1,300 and most of our residents receive even less) leaving little funds for food and other necessities.
Between 2006 and 2016, Social Security payments rose just 6 percent in real terms while the median rent for households age 65 and over climbed at twice that rate. As noted in the accompanying article by EHDOC Chairman Chris Sheldon, HUD classifies persons paying more than one-half of their monthly income for rent or living in severely inadequate housing as “worst case” rent burden; and confirmed that there is a growing increase in the number of older Americans with worst case housing needs. We clearly need to assist low-income older persons to quickly obtain affordable senior housing.
I commend our EHDOC residents who joined more than one thousand other seniors from around the country at the U.S. Capitol several years ago to rally for the restoration of Section 202 funds to develop affordable senior housing (Housing with a Heart Summer 2017.) Our residents and others expressed their concerns that Congress had not funded Section 202 development funds for the past few years despite the critical shortage and increasing need for affordable senior housing. It was great that their voices were heard because $105 million for Section 202 development was included in the FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill that was enacted on March 23, 2018. While the funding was not as much as the $582 million funded in FY2010 and preceding years, it was the largest funding for Section 202 development since FY2010.
We were pleased and looking forward to the Administration allocating the funds so that EHDOC and other non-profit organizations could again use Section 202 funds to develop affordable senior housing. It was more than a year later, however, including the historic 35 days government shutdown, when HUD finally announced on April 4, 2019 the Notice for Funding Availability (NOFA) for Section 202 development funds.
We were pleased that the funds were finally available, yet annoyed and deeply concerned that HUD was allocating less than half ($50 million) of the $105 million that Congress had appropriated. The Administration indicated they intend to allocate the balance of the FY2018 funds next year in 2020 (as well as the additional $51 million FY2019 funds that subsequently had been passed by Congress on February 14, 2019.) Yet again, further delays.
The Administration justified postponing these Congressionally passed Section 202 development funds to provide more time for non-profit organizations to prepare for HUD’s newly imposed “leveraging” requirement for the very competitive Section 202 funds. EHDOC and other developers of affordable senior housing have already needed to obtain additional public and private funding due to the inadequate and reduced Section 202 funding over the past few years.
While EHDOC is pleased to have positive working relationships with state and local governments regarding securing additional funds to expand, enhance, and expedite our development of affordable senior housing, the Administration’s newly imposed leveraging requirement could make it even more difficult to secure these additional funds since the Administration had also proposed (a couple weeks before the Sec. 202 NOFA) in their FY2020 budget to eliminate or severely cut many of the existing federal programs that state and local governments have used to assist with the development of affordable housing.
On March 11, 2019, the Administration released its proposed FY2020 budget that would impose a 5 percent cut for most non-defense federal programs. For HUD, there would be significantly deeper cuts of $9.6 billion. Cuts include the elimination of all funding for the HOME program, Community Development block grants, and the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Not only would the Administration’s proposed FY2020 budget impose deep cuts to affordable housing programs, including zero funding for Section 202 development; but it would also undermine the capacity of state and local governments to have the resources that non-profit organizations need for the new HUD imposed fund leveraging requirement in the Section 202 NOFA.
In addition, the GOP tax cuts enacted last year reduce incentives by corporations and others to invest in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits program that EHDOC and others have used for affordable senior housing. See my article on the impact of the tax cuts on affordable senior housing in Housing with a Heart Spring 2018. I am proud that our seniors participated in the Section 202 rally in the summer of 2017, however, we are still waiting the full allocation of the $105 million Congress passed for FY2018. This past May, our residents again participated in the “Affordable Senior Housing NOW” rally for FY2020 funding. It is vital that our voices continue to be heard to restore Section 202 development funding to at least $600 million (approximately the funding level provided in FY2011 and earlier years.)
It is especially important this year since there are nearly one hundred new members of the 116th Congress who may not be familiar with the critical need for and benefits of this vital affordable housing program. Please continue to make your voices heard on behalf of low-income seniors nationwide struggling to obtain affordable senior housing!
What is the commitment for Affordable Senior Housing in communities nationwide?
As most communities nationwide know, the cost of housing has been sharply increasing over the past few years. This escalating cost of housing has been particularly harsh for low-income older persons who rely upon Social Security as their primary source of income, including most EHDOC residents. The Census Bureau identifies housing costs in excess of 30 percent of income as an indicator of a housing affordability problem.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) classifies persons paying more than one-half of their monthly income for rent or living in severely inadequate housing as “worst case” rent burden; and confirmed in their latest annual report to Congress, HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs: 2017, that there is a growing increase in the number of older Americans with worst case housing needs. In 2015, 8.3 million households (about 40 percent) controlled by an elderly person had worst case housing needs. This represents a 2.6 percentage increase from 2013.
In its latest annual report to Congress on the shortage of affordable housing, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reported that our country has a shortage of seven million rental homes that are affordable and available to extremely low income renters representing only 37 rental homes for every 100 households. Nearly half (48 percent) of these extremely low income renters (having 30 percent of the area median income) are seniors or persons with disabilities. The federal government provides a number of programs to assist low-income seniors and other eligible families with affordable housing, including public housing (40 percent are seniors) and Section 8 rental assistance (50 percent are seniors). However, the only federal housing program that is specifically for the production of affordable housing for very low-income older persons is Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly.
EHDOC and other non-profit organizations have long used theSection 202 program to develop affordable senior housing; unfortunately, due to severe cuts in recent years, only one in three of eligible (aged 62 and 50 percent of area median income) very low-income seniors are assisted. Nationwide there are ten eligible very low-income older persons on waiting lists for each apartment that becomes available annually, resulting in long multiyear waiting lists. EHDOC and other non-profit organizations also work with state and local governments to secure land, policies and funds to expand and enhance affordable senior housing, including: Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHC), bonds, tax exemptions, HOME, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and state and local housing trust funds for seniors. Given the many critical and priority needs in local communities for each of these scarce resources, there is great competition among for-profits and non-profits for these limited resources, including affordable senior housing.
Unfortunately, despite the keen competition for limited funding, in recent years (including the FY2020 federal budget that is now under consideration by Congress,) there have been repeated efforts by the Administration and Congress to severely cut and even eliminate many of these programs that state and local governments have used for affordable housing.
In response to the affordable housing crisis, voters in many communities throughout the country are taking actions at all levels of government to increase the awareness of the critical need, as well as solutions for affordable rental housing. While the current political and funding environments are challenging, it is encouraging that effective advocacy efforts have resulted in positive actions by some state and local governments to expand the supply of affordable housing. As reported in a recent NLIHC study, Affordable Housing Wins, “in 2018, advocates and voters confronted affordable rental housing shortages and skyrocketing rents by taking action at the voting booth…The vast majority of ballot measures to expand funding for housing production and preservation (22 of the 26) passed. Of those that failed, two measures passed with considerably more than 50% of the vote but failed to gain the required two-thirds threshold. Seven obligation bond ballot measures were passed.”
While the NLIHC study is an encouraging indication of potential voters’ support to address affordable housing needs, including senior housing; there were only a few affordable housing measures that were up for
consideration by voters last year.
A key question remains: What is the commitment for affordable senior housing in your state and local community?
It is clear that much needs to be done to educate our elected officials at all levels of government of the critical shortage of affordable and suitable senior housing. The need for affordable senior housing is evident by multi-year waiting lists; increased numbers of seniors becoming homeless; projected doubling of the current 48 million elderly population within the next few decades; and the dramatic loss of existing affordable housing, as mostly for-profit owners opt out of federal contracts and convert existing assisted affordable housing to unaffordable market-rate housing (over 60 percent loss of affordable housing during the past decade.)
When one of its residents needed a helping hand, EHDOC was ready to assist. Guillermo Ramos, a resident at Hugh Carcella Apartments in Reading, Pennsylvania, is a quiet and humble man, well-liked by everyone and known for his kindness.
He drives other residents to the grocery store and medical appointments, never asking for payment. He also delivers Meals on Wheels to his neighbors and helps with the food bank. Guillermo was in disbelief the day he looked out his window and saw that his car was not parked where he had left it the evening before. It had been stolen!
He notified local police and submitted a report but wondered what he would do without his car. His monthly Social Security benefit is his only income. He could not afford to replace his car. As soon as the Hugh Carcella Apartments Residents Association heard of his loss, they immediately launched a fund raiser for Guillermo.
Community Manager Amy Rodriguez and Service Co- ordinator Sheila Rampolla shared Guillermo’s story with EHDOC President and CEO, who was so moved, he requested a check to be issued from EHDOC’s Senior Relief Fund. Guillermo was flabbergasted and appreciative when Melissa Tarrant, Vice President of Field Operations, visited Hugh Carcella and presented him with a check for $1000. Aida Alvarez, president of the residents association, presented Guillermo with an additional check for $300, which were funds donated by his fellow residents.
Guillermo was able to buy a reliable used car and is very happy that he can continue to help his neighbors.
“It is with a heavy heart I inform you of the recent passing of Morton Bahr. As you all know, ‘Morty’ was an exceptionally proud CWA Union leader, a relentless and passionate advocate for seniors, and humbly honored to be a part of the EHDOC Board of Directors. I ask that you join me in expressing heart-felt condolences to his wife Florence, family and friends and to say a prayer for his wonderful soul that is now enjoying the kingdom of heaven. As a dear, dear friend and colleague, Morty will be greatly missed.”
Morton Bahr was Chairman Emeritus of EHDOC, having served our organization with pride, thoughtfulness and dignity for many years. Chairman Emeritus of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Morton also served as Vice President of Union Network International (UNI) and was former president of UNI’s World Telecom sector, representing 3 million workers in 120 countries. He led the CWA to develop global alliances with counterpart unions in Latin America, Europe and Asia. He was recognized as a leading voice of the labor movement in the United States and internationally.
Looking Back: Steve Protulis Recognized with Friend of The Elderly Award
B’nai B’rith International co-hosted a rally on Capitol Hill on May 8, 2019 to call attention to the need for more affordable senior housing. About 1,000 people attended the “Senior Housing Now” rally, which featured Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine; Missouri Rep. William Clay; California Rep. Katie Hill; and Florida Rep. Donna Shalala, along with residents of affordable housing for low-income seniors.
Safe and affordable housing is a lifeline for so many older adults. Ethel Young, president of the CSI board of directors in Baltimore, said, “Sometimes I learn that a person who calls to check on where they are on the waiting list for housing where she lives is sleeping in their car… The Walker coop apartments are 88 wonderful apartments in a beautiful community but we are only 88 units. I cannot create new units or wipe away the waiting lists, however, Congress can. Members of Congress should answer the leasing office phone for a few hours a week and hear from the people I talk to.”
Evelyn Hudson, a resident of St. Mary’s Court in Washington, D.C., said, “The reason I’m here today is because senior citizens can be displaced quickly because they don’t make enough money. Some of us retired and we didn’t get the retirement we thought we would get. The American Dream seems like an illusion, and so we need affordable houses. Safe,
affordable houses where we can have food, medicine and housing without
scrimping and scraping.”
Lawmakers attending the rally said they understood how vital funding is. Shalala told the crowd, “I started my career at HUD, working on 202s as a policymaker at HUD in the Carter administration, a long time ago. I’m a senior, too. But I came to tell you that the Congress is committed; that we understand what you’ve contributed to this country. And we know what we have to do to honor that contribution. Seniors all over our country are desperate for affordable housing. And 202 and Section 8s are the best vehicles to provide first-class housing to seniors. Housing is a right in this country, and quality housing for seniors ought to be a right.”
B’nai B’rith’s long history with Section 202 housing started in 1971, when they formed a partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to sponsor housing for low-income seniors. B’nai B’rith International is the largest national Jewish sponsor of non-sectarian low-income housing for seniors in the country.
Attending the rally on behalf of the B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services were Associate Director Janel Doughten and Assistant Director for Aging Policy Evan Carmen. They noted, “It’s so exciting being at the Senior Housing Now rally on Capitol Hill. Affordable HUD senior housing is so important throughout our country, and we call on Congress to appropriate more money for the Section 202 program.
Just look to our B’nai B’rith housing communities where often waiting lists to get into our sponsored Section 202 properties can be a year or longer, or even closed. This rally was critical to highlight the importance of creating more senior housing.”
The rally was sponsored by Leading Age, an association of non-profit aging services.
Rightsizing For Seniors Doesn’t Have To Be Painful
Even though aging in place has never been more possible, some health conditions will prevent older adults from remaining at home throughout their lives.
According to a survey of North American homeowners between the ages of 55 and 75, conducted by Home Instead, Inc., 85 percent have taken time to consider the age-friendly features they will want in a new home, while 64 percent wishing to remain in their current home have thought about necessary age-friendly modifications they will need to make.
“Downsizing – or rightsizing – can be gut-wrenching,” noted Dan Bawden, founder of the national Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) program for the National Association of Home Builders. Nevertheless, that does not have to be the case if you need to leave home for a smaller place or care community. “All of us treasure and love our stuff,” Bawden added.
What are the most important memories of home? According to the Home Instead survey of older homeowners, gatherings with family and friends led the list at 65 percent, followed by celebrating holidays at 61 percent.
Home isn’t just about the physical space. When asked what it would take to build the feeling of home elsewhere, 66 percent of those in the Home Instead survey said the people in my life; 36 percent said my mementos; 35 percent said my personal décor, and 30 percent said a sense of community.
Here are ways to take home with you, according to Bawden, Danise Levine, architect and assistant director of the IDEA Center (Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access at Buffalo University), and Home Instead Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate Lakelyn Hogan:
Collect the best family photos — Add the names of the people on the photo with a label gun. Put up a bulletin board in their new place with all the names and photos of the family, so they have a family connection board.
Schedule regular visits with families and their pets — “When my mother-in-law fell so many times, she had to move to an assisted living community,” Bawden said. “She had a Bichon-poodle mix named Murphy. We would take Murphy there, and he would be passed around among the residents. The dog had a wonderful connection with home for my mother-in-law.”
Hire professionals to help you move — The National Association of Senior Move Managers assists families with this very thing. Bawden said. “They help seniors move from home to assisted living and they will do all the packing. They set up everything and handle the entire move. When you’re downsizing, it’s helpful to have someone not personally attached to your stuff.”
Personalize your space — Take a cozy blanket and/or any item that means the most with you. “I think it’s important for people to be able to personalize their own spaces so they will feel at home,” Levine said. “Regardless of where they are, there will be some sense of familiarity. Not everyone has the same needs and wants. The option to personalize a space provides comfort. Environments that allow for flexibility are really great.” One family caregiver agreed: “When we brought my mom home to live with us, we put up some of her pictures and brought her lap blankets and familiar things.”
Recreate the appearance of home — There’s a variety of ways to make your new home have the feel of what you knew to be home, Hogan noted. Take your favorite pieces of furniture and set up those pieces in a similar way to home, including the way the pictures are hung on the wall. One family caregiver concurred: “I brought in as much of my mom’s own furniture, lamps, wall pictures, curtains, bedding and books as was allowed, and set it up the best I could to look like home. I even put the name plaque and door knocker from her house on the door to her room.”
Create a photo album of the old home before you move —”Before our family left my childhood home, we took pictures of every room of the house along with the back and front yard,” Hogan explained. “To the album we added pictures of the house during each season and during holidays where people are celebrating. Photos of memories of that home can be meaningful as well.”
About the author:
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A recently awarded grant of nearly $2.1 million gets the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corp., or EHDOC, halfway to building another 40-unit apartment complex for low income elderly people in Albuquerque.
The building will be located on a vacant piece of property adjacent to its Ed Romero Terrace at Texas and Central SE, just down the block from the Albuquerque Indian Center and the site of the now-under-construction Tiny Homes Village for the homeless.
The grant for $2,096,945 from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development was part of a larger allocation of $51 million in housing assistance awarded to nonprofit organizations nationwide to help finance the construction of affordable housing, as well as provide rental and supportive services assistance for low income seniors.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic to get this grant, primarily because there have been so few dollars made available in the last several federal legislative sessions for low income housing, especially for low income senior housing,” said Les Swindle, community manager for Ed Romero Terrace, the managing entity for EHDOC.
“We’re looking to the city and other funding sources to secure the balance of what’s needed in the next 12 to 14 months, after which construction will start,” Swindle said. He estimated the cost of the project at around $4 million. The 0.62-acre property is already owned by EHDOC.
Ed Romero Terrace is named for former U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Ed Romero, who is the vice president of the EHDOC Board of Directors and a native of Albuquerque. Of 58 EHDOC facilities around the country, the four-story Ed Romero Terrace is the only EHDOC property in New Mexico.
“Our mission is ‘housing with a heart,’ so we’re obviously most interested in taking care of low-income senior citizens, which is why we partnered with HUD to make low-income facilities available across the United States,” Swindle said.
EHDOC was formed in the late 1990s, “at a time when HUD had been mandated by Congress to throw off ownership of residential properties and concentrate on administration,” as well as establish a mechanism for building and supplying new properties for seniors, he said. With the assistance of HUD and other federal funding made available from the city, EHDOC bought the property at Central and Texas SE from the city about 10 years ago and built Ed Romero Terrace.
Under provisions of the federal Housing Act, the grants target low-income people age 62 and older so they can live independently and have access to support services. To qualify they must earn less than 50% of the median income for their area.
In April 2019 HUD released a Notice of Funds Available (“NOFA”) encouraging 501(c)3 non-profit organizations across the country to apply for $50M of Section 202 Funds out of the total $251M appropriated by Congress in recent years. EHDOC submitted its application in late August 2019 for 40 additional units in Albuquerque New Mexico, Edward Romero Terrace Phase II. On Friday, February 7, 2020, HUD announced $51.5 million in awards to 18 organizations to build and operate affordable housing for very low income older adults. Of the 18, EHODC was one of them!
Congratulations to Roland Broussard for his outstanding efforts and to the EHDOC team in celebrating this victory as we continue to work tirelessly for more affordable housing. Thankfully, programs like HUD’s Section 202 program exist to provide affordable, quality housing with on-site Service Coordinators to help residents age in their community. Since the program’s revival in the fiscal year 2017 HUD appropriations bill, Congress has provided a total of $251 million for new Section 202 homes (FY17, $5 million; FY18, $105 million; FY19, $51 million; FY20, $90 million). This first $51.5 million released is expected to result in 575 new homes with Project Rental Assistance Contracts (PRAC) as their operating subsidy. Because the communities also use other funding sources, these 575 Section 202 homes will be in developments that comprise a total of 1,100 homes. HUD expects to announce the competition for the remaining Section 202 dollars in Spring 2020.
Congratulations to all the recipients:
Connecticut: New Samaritan Corporation
Georgia: National Church Residences
Maryland: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.
Maryland: CSI Support & Development Services
Massachusetts: 2Life Communities
Minnesota: Volunteers of America
New Mexico: Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation
Ohio: The McGregor Foundation
Ohio: National Church Residences
Pennsylvania: Catholic Housing and Community Services
Washington: HumanGood Affordable Housing
Is it Time to Change the Federal Budget Process for Affordable Senior Housing?
For too many years, the federal budget process has been dysfunctional for funding affordable senior housing and most other federal programs. While the annual budget process should be complete by the end of September in time for the next fiscal year that begins on October 1st, unfortunately, this rarely happens.
In recent years, the annual budget rush has resulted in either last-minute intense partisan brinkmanship threatening or actual government shutdowns, or a series of delaying tactics through Continuing Resolutions (CR), or by consolidating many (if not all) appropriations bills into an omnibus appropriations bill that risks possible vetoes. It has also resulted in presidential rescissions seeking to send the money back or shift the use of the funds for other purposes, such as recent shifts from defense and disaster aid to the construction of the southern border wall.
Rather than having routine, dependable annual federal funding that EHDOC and other non-profit organizations can rely upon to develop and operate affordable senior housing for low-income seniors, we too often experience uncertainty of when and if funds will be provided. This uncertainty with funding level and time frame also makes it difficult to align these federal funds as part of a multi-funding development process, including state time frame for tax credits. As stated in my earlier article (Housing with a Heart, Spring, 2019), this is no way to run a government.
Yet, here we go again. Prior to their August recess, the House had passed ten of its twelve FY2020 appropriations bills (including HUD that provides funding for affordable housing). Unfortunately, the Senate had not passed a single bill. The Senate strategy was not to proceed with their appropriations bills until after an agreement was reached with the White House on the overall budget caps, which was passed on August 1st. The next day, President Trump reluctantly signed the comprehensive two-year budget bill (PL 116-37) that would not only raise the budget caps that were imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), but also suspend the federal debt ceiling caps until July 31, 2021 (after the 2020 election.) The budget bill would increase military and domestic spending levels by approximately $160 billion for FY2020 and again for FY2021, significantly above the Administration’s fiscal 2020 budget request. The 2011 Budget Control Act will expire at the end of FY2021.
The House needed to reduce appropriations bills by $15 billion to reflect the budget caps agreement. Most of their appropriations bills had higher budget cap levels, including the House-passed HUD bill (part of a 5-bill omnibus appropriations) that would have provided $803 million for Section 202 senior housing, including $140 million for new development.
The Senate passed funding for HUD in October that would have provided $696 million for Section 202, but no additional funds for new development. The House and Senate resolved differences between their bills only a few days before the December 20th deadline provided by the 2nd continuing resolution. The consoli-dated FY2020 Appropriations provided $793 for Section 202, including $90 million for new construction.
After threatening another veto that would have shut down the federal government, President Trump signed the bill just before the midnight deadline. Last year, disagreement over funding border wall construction was a key factor to the veto of in the omnibus appropriations bill that led to the historic 35-day government shutdown that began shortly before last Christmas. Congress passed the Consolidated FY2020 Appropriations the same week that the House voted to impeach President Trump, and then recessed for the holidays to return only a few weeks before the Administration was scheduled to release its proposed FY2021 budget the first week of February when the annual process starts all over again.
Given these delays and disruptions, is it time to explore whether there is a better way to provide timing and steady funding for crucial federal programs such as affordable senior housing? There are several legislative efforts being considered to reform the federal budget process. One could be to revise and strengthen the use of the annual Congressional Budget Resolution that sets limits on total spending and revenue (including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – about two-thirds of the federal budget.) Under a Budget Resolution, the House and Senate Budget Committees each pass a budget resolution setting spending targets for the upcoming fiscal year. After a compromise budget resolution is reached, changes to existing laws can be made through an expedited reconciliation process to conform tax and spending levels to the levels set in the budget resolution.
Unfortunately, Congress has had difficulties adopting budget resolutions because of partisan differences between the House and Senate. The Budget Resolution was used only three times in the past nine years, and then for the sole purpose of achieving partisan GOP objectives through use of the reconciliation process: 1) attempts to repeal Obamacare in FY2016 and FY2017; and 2) tax cuts in FY2018. With the budget process broken and overdue for changes, there is an opportunity to reform and use the Budget Resolution, including multi-year budgets to address cross-cutting issues, such as affordable senior housing linked with health care and supportive services.
During this time of possible changes to the budget process, it is critical that members of Congress, especially congressional and presidential candidates, understand the need for affordable senior housing, as well as the cost-effectiveness of investing in affordable senior housing as part of a health and long-term care strategy that may be achieved through a reform budget process that includes mandatory (Medicare and Medicaid) and discretionary funding for affordable senior housing.
Excerpts from blog published by Peter Lawrence on Wednesday, December 18, 2019
On Dec. 17, the House passed H.R. 1865 and H.R. 1158, the two comprehensive fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills covering $1.3 trillion in funding for all federal agencies, including Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), averting a potential federal government shutdown that would have begun after the temporary stop-gap funding bill, the Continuing Resolution (CR) was scheduled to expire on Dec. 20. The Senate is expected to pass both FY 2020 spending bills soon and the president is expected to sign the legislation before the CR expires at the end of the week.
For HUD, H.R. 1158 provides gross appropriations of $56.5 billion, a $2.77 billion (5.1 percent) increase from FY 2019, a $12.4 billion (28.1 percent) more than the FY 2020 request, $969 million (1.7 percent) less than the FY 2020 House THUD bill passed before the budget agreement, and $482 million (0.9 percent) more than the Senate FY 2020 THUD bill. In general, the bill’s funding level rejects most of the administration’s cuts and sustains the major HUD funding increases enacted in FY 2018 and FY 2019, as well as providing a few programs with increases.
This overall funding allocation was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (BBA19), which set a cap of $622 billion for FY 2020 non defense spending, which is $25 billion (4.2 percent) more than the FY 2019 cap, but $79 billion (14.5 percent) more than the FY 2020 non defense cap prior to the BBA19. As noted above, this budget agreement was finalized after the House set its FY 2020 spending allocations for each bill, so it was not surprising that the final program funding levels were closer to the Senate bill rather than the House bill.
The final bill provides $793 million for the Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) program, $115 million (17 percent) more than FY 2019, $149 million (23.1 percent) more than the request, $10 million (1.2 percent) less than the House bill, and $97 million (13.9 percent) more than the Senate bill. The bill also provides $90 million for new capital advances or rental assistance contracts (SPRACs), which is $39 million more than FY 2019, but only the third time Congress has provided such funding since 2011.
Choice Neighborhoods Initiative
The final bill does not agree to eliminate the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which is designed to comprehensively revitalize high-poverty public and assisted housing communities, as proposed by the administration’s request. Instead, the bill provides $175 million, $25 million (16.7 percent) more than FY2019, $75 million (75 percent) more than the Senate bill, but $125 million (41.7 percent) less than the House bill.
That being said, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has expressed his intent to consider comprehensive infrastructure legislation in 2020, which could provide an opportunity to advance affordable housing and community development-related tax incentives, including a new federal infrastructure tax credit, permanence for the NMTC, and many, if not all, AHCIA provisions, through the House floor and represent the opening bid for such legislation in early 2021, when it likely would have a better chance at enactment in the first term of a new Democratic president or second term of a newly re-elected president Trump.
AASC Conference and Service Coordinator of the Year Award Recipient Cherene
The EHDOC Service Coordinators attended the annual American Association of Service Coordinators Conference in Colorado this year for training and networking.
EHDOC always holds a reception for their service coordinators during the AASC conference and chooses the Service Coordinator of the Year.
This year’s recipient was Cherene McFadden from Steelworkers Tower in Pittsburgh, PA. Cherene has been the Service Coordinator at Steelworkers for five years, providing many services and excellent programs to EHDOC residents. At the young age of 10, Cherene knew she wanted to work with seniors and started volunteering at a local nursing home where she read, wrote letters and gave companionship to the patients there.
Cherene continued to work with the elderly as an administrator of several assisted living facilities, where for more than 30 years she supervised staff, managed patients and provided direct care services.
A few weeks before the AASC conference, Cherene was also awarded the 2019 Partnerships Reaching the Organization Mission (PROM) Distinguished Community Service Award. This award was for her contributions, achievements and service to the community.
The residents of Steelworkers Towers truly appreciate all that Cherene has done for them, and EHDOC is very fortunate to have Cherene on staff. Her compassionate leadership has created an environment of care and trust that truly makes a difference in the lives of all those she touches.
Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Retirement Communities and Independent Living Facilities
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.
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.
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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.
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Clean and disinfect all common areas and shared facilities.
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.
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Inform residents, workers, volunteers, and visitors about COVID-19.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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)
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.
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.
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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.
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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:
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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.
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Follow personal protective measures found here and the recommendations set forth by the facility they are visiting.
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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.
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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.
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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:
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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.
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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.
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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:
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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).
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.
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:
Limit contact with others
Report their illness to retirement community and ILF administrators
How you can help staff streamline external communication efforts during COVID-19.
By Michael Eidsaune, CEO, Carely
It’s been more than five weeks since family members have been able to visit their loved ones in senior living facilities due to coronavirus, creating a sense of helplessness and worry among spouses, children and other loved ones.
Quality relationships are just as important as quality care, but fielding phone calls from each member of the family not only takes precious time, but also takes time away from the residents themselves. It’s a hard balance to achieve. While managing a senior living community is a demanding job, proactive communication goes a long way toward building a sense of caring and trust, especially in unknown times like these.
Luckily, advanced technology can be a force multiplier for any organization, especially in long-term healthcare. With shrinking margins and tighter CMS restrictions, technology can be a saving grace for the organizations that utilize it.
With the right technology, staff can provide regular updates and give families peace of mind — all while doing their best work and keeping residents safe and healthy.
Ensure family concerns are received and attended to
Normally when a drop-in visit from a family member leads to a concern about a resident, too often that concern has either no one to be directed to, or it ends up on a post-it note on an executive director’s desk. With a simple technology platform, these messages are not only easier for the family to deliver, especially when they are offsite, but they are much easier to track and deliver to the appropriate staff member.
Calls are dramatically reduced
As senior living communities continue to quarantine their residents to prevent coronavirus spread, family members who have been physically cut off have become increasingly worried about their loved one’s well being. Many of them will call the facility and ask for updates. However, by adopting a social technology solution — and encouraging family members to use it — families are empowered to communicate better amongst themselves. This leads to fewer instances of multiple family members calling for the same update.
Some solutions are low cost or free
In the past, most long-term care software was complex and expensive. In many cases that is still true today (just look at your electronic medical records invoice). However, there are many solutions that have become mainstream outside of the long-term care industry that can be quickly adopted and easily implemented at negligible cost compared to the older, legacy systems.
Take Slack, for example. Many organizations have adopted this text chat solution to use with administrative staff across multiple communities. This software is intuitive and can be utilized for free.
Technology is increasingly supplementing our day-to-day communication. Zoom became a household name almost overnight since the stay-at-home orders were put in place, and the rate of smartphone adoption gets closer to 100 percent everyday. As a result, families have become more reliant on technology as a means to receive information and connect.
In long-term care settings, adoption of tech-based communication tools can have a tremendous impact, especially with most organizations on mandatory lockdowns nationwide.
Families who were once able to visit and see their loved ones in person are able to utilize video conferencing technology, like FaceTime and Google Duo, to talk to their loved ones and show support. Additionally, with CMS lifting restrictions on teleconferencing and telehealth, staff members at senior living facilities have been able to leverage personal devices to connect with families on the outside.
During this time of increased isolation, families are more dependent than ever on the collaboration of their loved one’s care team. That’s why it’s important to consider incorporating this technology now, as it will help streamline communication, save staff time and help alleviate some of the worries of family caregivers.
Michael Eidsaune is the founder and CEO of Carely, a platform of resources that helps families and seniors housing professional care providers collaborate.
White House Offers ‘Practically Nothing’ to Assisted Living, Pledges Nursing Home Aid
President Donald Trump praised his administration’s efforts in protecting older adults from Covid-19 — but LeadingAge, an association of non-profit senior service providers, believes far more must be done.
Trump announced the federal government’s newest move to aid older adults living in nursing homes during a White House event titled “Protecting America’s Seniors” Thursday. Included in those plans are the formation of a special nursing home task force, and an initiative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deliver two “care packages” consisting of one week’s worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) to 15,400 nursing homes across the country.
“We are deploying every tool, resource and power at our disposal to protect our seniors and Americans of every age and background,” Trump said during the event.
Responding to Trump’s remarks, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan’s message was clear: talk less and do more. Specifically, Sloan said that little was being done to protect older adults who live in settings other than nursing homes.
“For the millions of other older Americans being cared for outside of nursing homes—in assisted living, HUD-assisted housing for low-income older adults, life plan communities, hospices, and in our homes and communities—the government offered practically nothing today,” said Sloan.
Sloan took issue with the fact that, as state economies reopen, little is being done to prioritize older adults, “who must now compete with nail salons and gyms for life-protecting supplies on the open market.” And, older adults are not given the same priority as hospital patients when it comes to Covid-19 testing, a fact that is worrisome given the disease’s history of spreading asymptomatically, Sloan said.
With regard to PPE — which has been in short supply since the outset of the pandemic — Sloan believes that the government’s plan to send two one-week shipments of gowns, masks, and gloves is “wholly insufficient.” Some nursing homes stand to receive just eight masks per staff member under the plan. And, the equipment is only set to go to nursing homes, leaving out many other places where older adults reside, including senior living communities, she added.
“Pretending a symbolic one-week supply of PPE for select nursing homes is a meaningful solution is an insult to millions of vulnerable Americans, their families, and their caregivers,” Sloan wrote. “Life-saving equipment that was promised weeks ago has been further delayed, leaving caregivers to keep fighting and scrounging for every mask and gown they can muster.”
James Balda, President and CEO of senior living trade association Argentum, said that, while the organization is grateful for new attention on the issue, there is still much more that needs to be done for senior living communities.
“Like nursing homes, senior living communities have critical needs right now, including expanded testing, PPE and financial relief,” Balda said in a statement. “We are urging the administration not to overlook senior living communities, which are a critical part of the health care continuum and are acting right now as a critical backstop to hospitals.”
American Health Care Association (AHCA) president and CEO Mark Parkinson praised the administration’s moves as an “important step forward to ensure long term care facilities receive the vital support needed during this unprecedented public health crisis.”
Parkinson also acknowledged that the industry faces an “uphill battle” in mitigating the effects of Covid-19.
“What we need now is for everyone to rally around nursing homes and assisted living communities the same way we have around hospitals,” Parkinson said. “And that means continuing our focus on testing, PPE, staffing and funding just as health care providers have received.”
Much has been written about the retirement crisis facing Americans—how people are living longer but saving less. NCOA worked with the LeadingAge LTSS Center @ UMass Boston and Nationwide to examine both the challenge and potential solutions.
The 80%: The True Scope of Financial Insecurity in Retirement
New analysis by researchers at NCOA and the LeadingAge LTSS Center @ UMass Boston sheds a surprising new light on the full extent of this societal challenge.
To better understand the financial landscape of older Americans, NCOA and UMass researchers analyzed the latest data from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal panel study that surveys a representative sample of approximately 20,000 people in America, supported by the National Institute on Aging and Social Security Administration.
The analysis discovered that 80% of households with older adults—or 32 million—are financially struggling today or are at risk of falling into economic insecurity as they age. Moreover, this trend is worsening over time, as 90% of older households experienced decreases in income and net value of wealth between 2014 and 2016.
The 80%: Four Ways to Help Retirees Make Their Money Last
Today’s 65-year-old can expect to live another 20 years, according to the Social Security Administration. This unprecedented gift of longevity brings with it exciting opportunities—and a price tag. Unlike their parents and grandparents, today’s pre-retirees and retirees face a vastly different retirement security landscape. The traditional three pillars of retirement income are changing.
Combined together, longer lives and lower savings are fueling a retirement security crisis for millions of Americans. It is exacerbated by inflation, rising health care costs, and the fact that someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their lifetime. Long-term care is expensive and not covered by Medicare.
This white paper by NCOA and Nationwide offers four ways to help retirees make their money last in retirement.
During the current crisis, the elderly are not only the most vulnerable to the virus but could also be the most vulnerable to coronavirus related scams. Once again, an old scam has been repurposed for the global pandemic and it involves seniors’ healthcare.
According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are posing as Medicare employees offering coronavirus home testing kits. They ask their victims for personal information including seniors’ Medicare information. Tests are sent to the victims but again, no home test has been approved for use by the FDA. The BBB says that these scammers are more than likely committing Medicare fraud and are billing these tests to Medicare. If Medicare is paying the scammers for these tests, this could affect Medicare coverage for future coronavirus testing by doctors.
If you receive one of these calls or possibly an email from someone claiming to be from Medicare offering you a test kit, either hang up on the call or delete the email. Whatever you do, please do not respond to any of these offers. Keep in mind that if Medicare was actually calling you, they wouldn’t need to ask for your Medicare number.
This also goes for people on private health insurance as well. Your insurance company isn’t going to offer you an at-home test kit and won’t ask you for your ID number. If your insurance company ever does need to call you, they’ll already have that information on hand.
Both Medicare and private insurances mostly communicate with patients by postal mail. Anybody claiming to be them with some kind of offer is either an identity thief or an insurance fraudster.
And while the trials focused on in-person classes for people with formal diagnoses, there are broader implications, the researchers said.
“Definitely, if you’ve thought about trying yoga, now is a great time to take the opportunity,” said Jacinta Brinsley, lead author on the review and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Australia School of Health Sciences in Adelaide.
With yoga teachers worldwide now offering live-stream classes, she noted, people have a chance to find something that is right for them in their own homes.
“Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right type [of yoga],” Brinsley said. “Enjoyment is a really great indicator that it’s a good fit.”
In general, physical activity is a recommended part of managing mental health disorders, according to Brinsley. Yoga — which combines physical movement with breathing exercises, meditation and other “mindfulness” practices — has been the subject of many studies.
Some have found it can ease depression. That said, there are questions.
Yoga comes in many styles. Brinsley said it’s not clear whether particular ones are more or less beneficial for depression symptoms: How much depends on specifics of the physical movement: Is it vigorous or gentle? Does the practice need to include breathing exercises or meditation?
But in general, Brinsley said, there is evidence that both exercise alone, and mindfulness practices alone, can help ease depression.
“So we infer that these practices combined, as yoga, are effective,” she said.
The specifics varied, but each yoga program was at least 50% physical movement. Participants were randomly assigned to either add yoga to their usual treatment, go on a waitlist for yoga or to stick with standard care alone.
Overall, Brinsley’s team found, people practicing yoga showed a greater reduction in depression symptoms than those in the comparison groups.
Researchers said the average effect was “moderate,” not dramatic. And the studies were short-term, generally lasting a couple of months. So it’s not clear how long the benefits last, according to Brinsley.
But, she said, like other therapies, yoga is not a quick fix.
“Often, we don’t take a course of medication for 12 weeks and are cured, so we need to think about exercise and yoga and mindfulness in the same way,” Brinsley said. “It’s not necessarily a cure. To get the benefits, you’re going to have to keep doing it.”
Terri Miles is a registered yoga teacher in Culpeper, Va., who specializes in working with cancer patients and trauma survivors.
She agreed that consistency is crucial and stressed that yoga practice need not involve the “acrobatics” characteristic of some styles.
“Just the simple act of breathing properly can bring a change. You see it in people’s faces,” said Miles, a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
Even a series of simple poses, she said, can be powerful, partly because it “distracts the mind from whatever was bothering it,” and also because of the movement itself.
“If I cue someone to ‘feel the stability of your feet,’ and they feel it, that sends a message to the brain, ‘Hey, you’re OK. You’re grounded,'” Miles said.
She agreed that now could be a good time to find online opportunities for yoga — with some classes being offered for free. Miles urged prospective students to check out teachers’ credentials and find out if their yoga style is what you’re looking for.
She also encouraged people to keep an open mind.
“If you try a class and it works for you, fantastic,” Miles said. “If it doesn’t, it might be the style, or the teacher. Or you might not have been ready that day because you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. So try again tomorrow.”
Want to give your brain a boost? Go for a swim, take a walk, or spin your partner on the living room floor.
A new study finds that aerobic exercise can improve older adults’ thinking and memory, even if they’re longtime couch potatoes.
This type of exercise increases blood flow to the brain and counters the effects of normal aging, according to the study published online May 13 in the journal Neurology.
“As we all find out eventually, we lose a bit mentally and physically as we age. But even if you start an exercise program later in life, the benefit to your brain may be immense,” said study author Marc Poulin, of the University of Calgary School of Medicine in Canada.
“Sure, aerobic exercise gets blood moving through your body. As our study found, it may also get blood moving to your brain, particularly in areas responsible for verbal fluency and executive functions. Our finding may be important, especially for older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias and brain disease,” Poulin said in a journal news release.
The study included 206 adults, average age 66, with no history of memory or heart problems.
For six months, they took part in supervised exercise program three times a week. As they progressed, their workout increased from an average 20 minutes a day to least 40 minutes. They were also asked to work out on their own once a week.
At the end of the exercise program, participants had a 5.7% improvement on tests of executive function, which includes mental abilities used to focus, plan, recall instructions and multi-task. They also had 2.4% increase in verbal fluency, a measure of how quickly a person can retrieve information.
“This change in verbal fluency is what you’d expect to see in someone five years younger,” Poulin said.
On average, blood flow to their brain increased 2.8% — a gain tied to a number of improvements in types of thinking that typically decline with age.
“Our study showed that six months’ worth of vigorous exercise may pump blood to regions of the brain that specifically improve your verbal skills as well as memory and mental sharpness,” Poulin said.
“At a time when these results would be expected to be decreasing due to normal aging, to have these types of increases is exciting,” he said.
Critically needed COVID-19 relief funds provided by the CARES Act for affordable senior housing are long overdue to ensure the safety of at-risk populations and staff, according to LeadingAge.
Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, took the Department of Housing and Urban Development to task on Tuesday for not effectively distributing Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to assist providers of low-income, older adult housing.
“HUD-assisted communities for older adults living on low incomes serve a population at high risk for falling ill and dying during this pandemic,” Sloan said in a statement. “For months, starting in early March, LeadingAge has been advocating for congressional action to avert a COVID-elated disaster from reaching the more than one million older adults who reside in these homes nationwide.”
Although Congress allocated funding through the CARES Act in March for these providers, HUD has yet to deliver those funds. LeadingAge called on HUD to release $50 million from the CARES Act for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program as well as the remaining $200 million of Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance funds.
“These communities operate on lean budgets and generally do not set aside money for infectious disease control,” Sloan said. “As HUD dithers, providers are spending thousands a month on COVID-19 costs, using funds that are earmarked for fixing the roof and the air conditioning, just so that they can support residents and staff with extra cleaning and disinfecting, personal protective equipment and services like security and meals, and extra staffing support.”
In a June 4 letter to Carson, Sloan stated that more than 1.1 million older adults live in HUD-subsidized apartment buildings and face “triple jeopardy during this public health crisis” — they are older, they have low incomes and they experience health disparities.
In testimony Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, HUD Secretary Benjamin S. Carson Sr. said in the coming weeks that HUD will continue to expedite getting funding provided by the CARES Act into the hands of communities.
HUD announces allocation of $2.96 billion in emergency grant funding
Carson also announced on Tuesday the allocation of $4 billion total in Emergency Solutions Grants targeted toward communities with high homeless populations or individuals at risk of becoming homeless, including low-income older adults.
The announcement includes an additional $2.96 billion in funding to support homeless Americans and individuals at risk of becoming homeless due to job loss, wage reductions or illness due to COVID-19. This funding is in addition to $1 billion in ESG grants announced within a week of President Trump signing the CARES Act.
The $2.96 billion in funding will be used to make more emergency shelters available, operate emergency shelters, provide hotel/motel vouchers, provide essential services to the homeless and prevent homelessness by rapidly rehousing homeless individuals.
“Homelessness was a major issue in some cities across our nation long before this pandemic occurred, and unfortunately the dire living conditions of our most vulnerable Americans left many without a home to isolate in or proper medical and healthcare resources to defend themselves against this invisible enemy,” Carson said.
By: Armando Trull, Media Relations Manager, NCOA.org
Winners chosen for their artistic and dignified portraits of older adults
Arlington, VA, June 16, 2020 — For its 2020 Age+Action Virtual Conference, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) invited photographers and artists from around the country to submit work exploring the artistic expression of Aging Well for All—how older adults are making the most of their longevity.
“The winning entries beautifully showcase the richness of aging well in America,” said Ken Bracht, NCOA Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer. “The judges were amazed by the quality of all submissions—totaling more than 1,000 images—from both award-winning professionals and self-taught photographers.”
The winning photographs and artists were announced at NCOA’s 2020 Age+Action Virtual Conference, June 8-11, the first national gathering of aging services professionals in the COVID-19 era. The 4-day online event featured 150+ speakers and 100+ sessions designed to help community-based organizations better serve older adults.
First Place went to A Loving Touch, submitted by Allan Mestel of Longboat Key, FL. The black-and-white photo features an older interracial couple in an intimate moment.
“The judges chose this photo because of its artistry, poignancy, sensitivity, and dignity,” Bracht said. “I’m stunned I won first place,” Mestel said.
Second Place was awarded to Grandma Quality Time from Michael Paras of Maplewood, NJ. It’s a Norman Rockwell scene of a wide-eyed toddler and her grandmother enjoying a chocolate shake and each other.
The Merit and Honorable Mention awards include photos of older adults of all races and backgrounds.
Merit: On The Bench, Mark Coggins; Bread Baker, Michael Paras; Pay Attention, Susan Sidebottom; and Work Out #3, Maria Trunk
Honorable Mention:Diane Bernard, Tom Atwood; Time To Go Home, Edward Boches; Hands On Chest, Marna Clarke; At The Park, Judi Iranyi; Memory, Charlotte Niel; One Day Like The Next, Charlotte Niel; Grandmom, Nickolas Nikolic; Ben, Leroy Skalstad; Red Door, John Tiedje; and Portraits Of Dementia, Joe Wallace
Two Honorable Mention artists have created photographic series that spotlight important issues in aging. Tom Atwood’s series Kings & Queens in Their Castles portrays the LGBTQ experience in the U.S. Portraits of Dementia by Joe Wallace features images of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease.
Cities and counties across the country are beginning to ease or even end the regulations that closed stores, restaurants, businesses, services, and schools back in March 2020. But adults 65 years and older and those with chronic health conditions are still at high risk for contracting COVID-19 and facing its most serious complications, including death.
People who are immunocompromised have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases. Many things can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.
Severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
Chronic kidney disease and undergoing dialysis
You can’t reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19 to zero. But if you understand the risks and use proven prevention measures, you may be able to help reduce the spread of the virus.
KEEP IN MIND: If you have COVID-19, have COVID-19 symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you must stay home and away from other people. Talk to your healthcare provider about your specific precautions. When you can leave home and see others depends on different factors for different situations. Follow the CDC’s recommendations for your circumstances.
Here is the CDC’s science-based guidance for the best way to protect yourself as you begin to resume daily activities:
Before you venture out, ask yourself: Will my activity put me in close contact with others?
When you do have to shop in person, go during the early morning or later at night when fewer people will be there.
If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
Disinfect the shopping cart. Use disinfecting wipes if available.
Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.
Use hand sanitizer.
After leaving a store or completing an activity or task outside, use hand sanitizer.
Exercise caution when using public bathrooms
Bathrooms have a lot of high touch surfaces, including door handles, faucets, and stall doors. Viral transfer risk in this environment can be high. A recent report in the New York Times suggested that the virus can be transferred when the toilet is flushed. If possible, close the lid before flushing a public toilet. Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not possible. Avoid using automatic hand dryers. Keep your cloth face covering on when in the restroom.
Wash hands at home
When you get home from being outside or around others, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Be smart about deliveries & takeout.
Use delivery services when possible and limit in-person contact if possible.
If possible, pay online or on the phone when you order.
Accept deliveries without in-person contact whenever possible. Ask for deliveries to be left in a safe spot outside your house (such as your front porch or lobby), with no person-to-person interaction. Otherwise, stay at least 6 feet away from the delivery person.
Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after accepting deliveries or collecting mail.
After receiving deliveries or bringing home takeout food, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
After collecting mail from a post office or home mailbox, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Adjust how you do your banking.
Ask about telephone or virtual options for banking services.
Bank online whenever possible.
Use drive-thru banking services, automated teller machines (ATMs), or mobile banking apps for routine transactions that do not require face-to-face assistance as much as possible.
Look for any extra prevention practices being implemented by the bank, such as plexiglass barriers for tellers or bankers, staff wearing cloth face coverings, or physical distancing signs in the lobby.
Wear a cloth face covering when making any in-person transactions where you are unable to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people. Make sure that bank employees and other people inside the bank are also wearing cloth face coverings.
Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol after any deposit, withdrawal, exchange, drive-thru visit, or use of an ATM.
Wash your hands thoroughly when you return.
Play it safe when getting gas.
If available, use disinfecting wipes on handles and buttons before you touch them.
After fueling, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you are able to access soap and water.
Policy solutions would make access to benefits easier for low-income individuals
Arlington, VA, June 22, 2020 — Today, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well, issued a study analyzing the systemic obstacles that keep nearly 3 million eligible older adults and people with disabilities from accessing programs designed to help pay for their health care and medicine. The issue brief also offers policy solutions to ensure that all eligible low-income individuals receive this critical assistance.
Millions of financially vulnerable older adults and people with disabilities who have trouble affording prescription drugs and health care qualify for Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs), which help pay for Medicare premiums and cost sharing, and the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) (also known as Extra Help), which helps pay for prescription drugs. However, almost 3 million of these eligible individuals are not enrolled in the programs.
The issue brief estimates eligibility, enrollment, and take-up rates in MSPs and LIS among the age 65 and older non-institutionalized population for even years between 2008 and 2014.
“About two-thirds of people eligible for MSPs are enrolled, but another 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries are missing out on the benefits of this program,” said Dr. Susan Silberman, NCOA Senior Director, Research and Evaluation. “While some of these individuals may be making an informed decision to not apply, many are unaware that they are eligible or have found the enrollment process too intimidating to attempt or too difficult to complete.”
NCOA recommends a range of policy solutions that would improve access to these important Medicare low-income assistance programs. They include:
Loosening eligibility standards, which can have the dual effect of making more people eligible and making enrollment easier
Aligning eligibility standards more closely across programs, particularly between MSP and Part D LIS
Simplifying the enrollment process to make signing up as automatic as possible
Allocating more resources for benefits outreach and enrollment to find and assist eligible individuals in applying for the programs
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, our mission has not changed: Improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. NCOA empowers people with the best solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and we strengthen government programs that we all depend on as we age. Every year, millions of people use our signature programs BenefitsCheckUp®, My Medicare Matters®, and the Aging Mastery Program® to age well. By offering online tools and collaborating with a nationwide network of partners, NCOA is working to improve the lives of 40 million older adults by 2030. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.
SATURDAY, June 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — If you’re older and you want to prolong your life, try volunteering, new research suggests.
“Humans are social creatures by nature. Perhaps this is why our minds and bodies are rewarded when we give to others,” said lead investigator Eric Kim. He is from the department of social and behavioral sciences and the Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Boston.
For the study, Kim’s team looked at nearly 13,000 people older than 50 who took part in the U.S. Health and Retirement Study and were tracked for four years between 2010 and 2016.
Compared to those who didn’t volunteer, those who volunteered at least 100 hours a year (about two hours per week) had a substantially reduced risk of death and of developing physical limitations during the study period, and higher levels of physical activity and improved sense of well-being.
The study was published online June 11 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“Our results show that volunteerism among older adults doesn’t just strengthen communities, but enriches our own lives by strengthening our bonds to others, helping us feel a sense of purpose and well-being, and protecting us from feelings of loneliness, depression and hopelessness,” Kim said in a journal news release.
“Regular altruistic activity reduces our risk of death, even though our study didn’t show any direct impact on a wide array of chronic conditions,” Kim added.
The study was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting need for social distancing, the researchers noted.
However, “now might be a particular moment in history when society needs your service the most. If you are able to do so while abiding by health guidelines, you not only can help to heal and repair the world, but you can help yourself as well,” Kim said.
“When the COVID-19 crisis finally subsides, we have a chance to create policies and civic structures that enable more giving in society,” he said. “Some cities were already pioneering this idea before the pandemic and quarantine, and I hope we have the willingness and resolve to do so in a post-COVID-19 society as well.”
Urgent Need for Food, Home Care, Employment, and Digital Health Supports are Ignored
Arlington, VA (July 28, 2020) – The National Council on Aging (NCOA), a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well, released a statement regarding the Republican Senate COVID-19 proposal put forth this week:
“NCOA is deeply disappointed by the Senate Republican’s most recent attempt to address the grave and ever-growing COVID-19 pandemic affecting our country because it fails to support and protect older Americans,” said NCOA Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy Howard Bedlin. “Older adults are among the most vulnerable Americans in this pandemic because they are facing not just potentially deadly health complications but also catastrophic financial insecurity.”
NCOA urges Senators to include the following important priorities in the bill:
Increased federal assistance is needed to improve access to home care services so that frail seniors can get help to remain with their families and out of nursing homes and other institutions, and states can to meet increasing Medicaid demands arising from high unemployment rates.
Low-income older workers are facing unique employment barriers and additional investments in job training and placement are urgently needed.
The vast majority of older adults have one or more chronic conditions that put them at particular risk, and resources must be increased to support access to digital health promotion and disease prevention programs that help manage existing chronic illness, prevent the occurrence of new conditions, and mitigate social isolation and loneliness.
Access to food continues to be a serious problem for millions of older adults and more must be done to keep them from going hungry.
Many of these concerns are addressed in the House Heroes Act. “NCOA, on behalf of millions of older adults, urges Senators to reflect upon the unique challenges this population is facing during this pandemic, and take steps to better respond to the serious threats impacting our nation’s aging population,” added Bedlin.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, our mission has not changed: Improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. NCOA empowers people with the best solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and we strengthen government programs that we all depend on as we age. Every year, millions of people use our signature programs BenefitsCheckUp®, My Medicare Matters®, and the Aging Mastery Program® to age well. By offering online tools and collaborating with a nationwide network of partners, NCOA is working to improve the lives of 40 million older adults by 2030. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.
Nursing homes were the focus at an April 30 event at the White House that was attended by AHCA/NCAL CEO Mark Parkinson, Argentum CEO James Balda and LeadingAge CEO Katie Smith Sloan.
Senior living operators require “substantial and immediate financial relief” from expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders of four major associations representing operators of independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities tell President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), with other House and Senate leaders copied, in new letters.
Congress and the administration should “prioritize the needs of the senior living industry, residents and front-line staff in the next federal legislative response package,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan, National Center for Assisted Living Executive Director Scott Tittle, and American Seniors Housing Association President David Schless wrote in letters dated Thursday and Friday and shared with the media on Monday.
“Senior living operators are proud to be playing a critical role in helping to ‘flatten the curve’ and avoid further burdening our nation’s hospitals during this crisis,” they said. “However, these extraordinary efforts are leading to significant financial stress, largely due to enhanced infection control measures, acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) and related supplies, COVID-19 testing, additional staffing and incentives, and loss of revenue associated with halting new residents moving into the communities.”
Members of Congress returned to work Monday with a goal of working on another coronavirus-related aid package. Other than some funds to eligible state Medicaid providers, which would include a small percentage of assisted living operators, announced in June, assisted living hasn’t been allocated any federal funding to fight COVID-19.
The senior living leaders had six requests:
Increased funding for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (Provider Relief Fund). The financial impact on the industry is expected to be $45 billion to $57 billion over 12 months, Balda, Schless, Sloan and Tittle said.
Priority access to PPE, such as masks, gowns and gloves, for senior living communities. “Many parts of the country have not had full access to meet all of their PPE needs,” they wrote. “The impending second wave will bring an even greater shortage, placing residents and staff at risk.”
Access to and reimbursement for diagnostic and non-diagnostic testing of employees and residents. “While diagnostic testing costs may be covered by Medicare for residents and private insurance for employees, recurring non diagnostic testing conducted to screen employees and residents is not covered,” the leaders said. “These costs are simply unsustainable, especially when testing residents and staff with any meaningful frequency are required under federal guidelines.”
Priority access to the vaccine, when one is ready.
Small business loans through Paycheck Protection Program expansion. “The program is currently limited to businesses that employ less than 500 employees, with exceptions that allow that limit to be applied on a per-location basis for businesses that are assigned a North American Industry Classification System code beginning with 72,” they wrote. “We urge similar treatment for senior living by authorizing a waiver of the affiliation rules for NAIC codes beginning with 62, Health Care and Social Assistance. This exemption should also include coverage of senior independent living communities, classified under codes beginning with 52, specifically 531110 and 531311.”
Inclusion of all senior living employees in “hero pay” proposals that would provide an additional $13 per hour wage increase and recruitment incentives to attract insecure the workforce.
“[O]ur communities and the millions of seniors under our care must be prioritized to ensure that senior living remains a viable option for the foreseeable future,” Balda, Scless, Sloan and Tittle said, calling COVID-19-related costs “unsustainable.”
AHCA / NCAL makes additional requests
In separate action on Monday, the American Health Care Association / NCAL shared the results of public opinion research the organizations conducted among 600 women voters aged 35 to 64 to better understand their views about government support for long-term care facilities.
The research, AHCA / NCAL said, found that:
62% said they believed that the government did not make long-term care facilities a top priority and, as a result, did not help protect the health and lives of older adults.
71% said that long term care facilities need more support from the government so they can save lives and take care of loved ones.
Echoing some of the priorities enumerated in the letters to the federal government, AHCA / NCAL also made several requests of Congress for the next round of stimulus funding, among them:
Create a $5 billion fundto which assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities and labs can apply to cover the cost of any testing ordered by a government entity,
Ensure that assisted living and skilled nursing facility residents and staff members are “the first and highest priority for vaccine distribution since they are the most vulnerable and at risk” for COVID-19.
Provide access to funding for small, independent special needs plans (I-SNPs) focused on assisted living and nursing home residents to offset losses associated with COVID-19.
Offer limited immunity from liability for COVID-related activities. “This is an unprecedented public health crisis, and caregivers are doing everything they can with limited resources and information,” AHCA / NCAL said. “Providers or individual staff members who are following government guidance should not be held responsible for their good faith efforts during this once-in-a-generation pandemic.”
“Long term care facilities cannot fight COVID-19 alone. We urge Congress to make long term care a priority for funding, critical resources, and protections that will enable us to keep residents and staff safe,” the organizations said.
Article originally appeared on McKnight’s Senior Living here.
More and more seniors have grown comfortable being online and having a presence on social media. This is a great way for them to stay connected to friends and family and aware of what’s going on in the world. If they do not know how to safely navigate online, this could lead to several avoidable mishaps. Here are a few online safety tips for older adults.
Use a Password Generator
Depending on the browser, there could be a free password generator available that creates a unique, strong password. Even better is that the software memorizes the password, giving older users one less thing to worry about. This tip is great for anyone and everyone who’s online, not just the elderly. This is because so many people use the same password for all their online accounts. This creates a vulnerability if hackers should get hold of a single password. They then gain access to several different accounts.
Maintain Antivirus Software
Keeping up-to-date on the latest online threats can be rather exhausting. That’s where antivirus software comes in handy. They should have a reliable antivirus program installed on their computer. They then don’t have to worry as much about unknown vulnerabilities hackers can take advantage of. Such software should be downloaded on a tablet, computer and smartphone, just to ensure all bases are covered. Also, senior citizens should be sure the software is set up so it periodically searches for updates. These are then downloaded as they become available.
Learn How To Google
For their health, seniors should turn to a medical expert like Dr. Rohit Varma for questions about glaucoma and cataracts, since these are common in the elderly community. In a similar way, senior citizens need to get into the habit of googling websites and email solicitations they aren’t familiar with. Specifically, it’s best to type in the website or solicitation in the browser followed by “+ scam.” That way, Google will search for connections related to whether the email or site is malicious.
Use Two-Step Authentication When the Option Presents Itself
There’s no such thing as going too far when it comes to online security. Hackers have become more sophisticated than ever. This makes it paramount that users take every precaution to lock down their information and keep themselves safe. Two-step authentication adds an extra layer of protection to passwords. This makes it that much harder for online criminals to access them. The main goal of this level of authentication is so websites, apps, and other services know the right person is accessing an account and all the information in it. Two-step authentication adds another layer of peace of mind for seniors and their loved ones.
Second Guess Urgent Emails
Scammers rely on fear to get their victims to click on malware links and give up sensitive information. Any emails seniors receive that require immediate action or have a lot of exclamation points require scrutiny. This is where a bit of googling and calling the company personally can get to the bottom of what’s going on. Usually, it’s best to reach out to companies that send emails like this first rather than take a call from them at face value.
Senior citizens should do what they can to keep from becoming online victims. These tips, and a bit of vigilance go a long way.
These Difficult Times Require Effective Communication to Support Safe and Affordable Senior Housing
by Christopher M. Shelton, EHDOC Board Chairman
While some older persons are very fortunate to live in safe and affordable senior housing, it has been revealed during these difficult times with coronavirus that a high unemployment rate and homelessness has had a dire impact on the elderly and their families, causing more of a critical shortage of affordable senior housing. It is vital that we effectively communicate with our elected officials and candidates to educate them on the cost-effective health and housing benefits of senior housing; and the critical need to promptly expand the supply, particularly more funding for the Section 202 elderly housing program.
What is effective communication and how do we achieve it? Some of you may recall that last year the Administration had also proposed to cut federal funding for affordable housing, including zero funds for construction under the Section 202 program. Yet, through active participation with others, EHDOC residents, their families, our Board members, partners and others took a number of decisive actions, including letter writing, meetings, social networking, and rallies, that resulted in Congress funding these vital programs, including $90 million for Section 202 construction of affordable senior housing.
As EHDOC Chair and as President of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), I have a keen interest in how EHDOC effectively communicates our mission and public policy priorities to assist our senior residents and others seeking affordable senior housing and services.
While there are some variations, many of us are familiar with the basic “5 W’s” of effective communication and journalism: who, what, where, why and when; as well as the often accompanying how. In Politics, these 5 W’s were modified and popularized by Harold Lasswell’s book: “Politics: Who Gets What, When, How.” Therefore, how do we apply these basic aspects of effective communication for the Administration’s proposed FY2021 federal budget for affordable senior housing?
What’s our message? What do we want: to increase federal funding for affordable senior housing, particularly Section 202 Supportive Elderly Housing construction funds. While we are pleased that the Administration is seeking $100 million for Section 202 construction funds, this vital program should be funded at a minimum of $600 million, as it was a decade ago ($582 million in FY2010) and preceding years.
Why do we want this increased funding? Steve’s article in this issue (and preceding issues) of Housing with a Heart provides background on the critical need for increased funding including: critical shortage of affordable housing, multi-year waiting lists for EHDOC residences; increased homelessness and vulnerability to become homeless; as well as taxpayers benefits with this cost-effective program’s impact on health and long-term care costs.
Who do we want to communicate/educate on the need to increase funding? We want to educate our current Congressional members especially where EHDOC has facilities (their constituents), particularly a member of Congressional leadership, including key committees or subcommittees, such as Housing Appropriations (Transportation and Housing and Urban Development). In addition, we want to communicate/educate candidates seeking national (White House, Congress), state (Governor, state legislators), and local offices (Mayors and city council).
When do we want to communicate our concerns to increase the supply of affordable senior housing? ASAP. The proposed budget was introduced in early February. The key Congressional commit tees have already begun hearings and other actions to gather background information prior to voting this Spring. The fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget is supposed to begin October 1st, 2020. It is anticipated that Congressional action will be accelerated this year because of the elections.
Where is the most effective place to communicate with our elected officials (and candidates)? Every opportunity that you have to be with an elected official or candidates, as well as their key staff members who are responsible for affordable housing, services and health care for the elderly. While their national office is an important place to meet with Congressional members (and key staff), it may be easier to meet at their district or state office. However, the most effective place to communicate with elected officials or candidates is to invite them to EHDOC communities so they can learn first-hand about our residents (their constituents) and how an investment of federal funds (including the Section 202 program) benefits older persons, the state and local community, and taxpayers.
How is the remaining question. EHDOC, our residents, and others have many options and can use their best judgement on how to effectively communicate these “who, what, where, when and how” actions. As cited earlier, residents and others supporting affordable senior housing can write letters (text, emails and other written communications), make calls, meet with elected and key public officials, candidates, and their staff; attend or conduct rallies and public forums; write articles, conduct interviews, testify, make videos as well as the use of other media to increase public awareness; run for office, volunteer and contribute to candidates and so forth.
Each of you reading this article can be an effective advocate for EHDOC’s mission and with collective actions to increase federal funding (particularly the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program). In closing, I’d like to reference two motivational speakers regarding effective communications: Jim Rohn – “Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.” and Zig Ziglar – “You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life”….particularly a vulnerable older person seeking affordable housing with services.
Harsh Impact of Coronavirus Exposes the Critical Shortage of Safe and Affordable Housing and Services for the Elderly
These past few months have been particularly hard with the high rate of infections amongst seniors. Please read the article, “Living Safely in the Age of Coronavirus” (Pg. 9) and stay safe. COVID-19 has also crippled our economy, spiked homelessness, and exposed the critical shortage of safe and affordable housing. While Congress passed in March the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), its funds are rapidly running out. As our Chairman Christopher Shelton urges in his accompanying article, we need to educate Congress to expand the supply of affordable senior housing. So, what is the Administration proposing in its FY2021 budget to develop affordable senior housing?
When the Administration released its proposed FY2021 budget in early February, I had very mixed feelings. While I was pleasantly surprised that the Administration had requested, for the first time in many years, a slight increase in funding for the construction of Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, I was also very disappointed and concerned that simultaneously the Administration was proposing very harsh cuts for other affordable housing, health care, and services for the elderly.
This is good news and a step in the right direction since it is the first time since FY2013 that any funds have been requested by the Administration for the Section 202 Capital Advance construction program that EHDOC and other non-profit organizations have long relied upon to develop affordable senior housing. However, despite the increase, it is also woefully inadequate compared to the $825 million that had been funded for Section 202 affordable senior housing in FY2010, including $582 million for new construction.
During recent years when zero funds were neither requested nor funded, the elderly population has significantly increased by several millions (AARP documents that 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day); as a result the costs for housing has skyrocketed; and the number of homeless has tragically increased throughout America (over a half million homeless people nightly).
It is difficult to understand and accept these funding cuts when the Administration clearly recognizes the critical shortage of affordable senior housing as documented in their Congressional justification statement that accompanied their FY2021 budget request. Key points cited in the Administration’s proposed FY2021 budget justification for HUD included:
The Section 202 program is the only federally funded program that expressly addresses the need for affordable elderly housing (and) its impact is amplified through the leverage of other housing.
The average annual household income for Section 202 PRAC (accompanying Project Rental Assistance Contract) households is approximately $12,000.
HUD is only able to provide assisted housing to one in three seniors who qualify. The demand for such programs is likely to increase as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age into retirement.
In addition to demand outpacing investments in elderly housing, there is a growing increase in the number of older Americans with worst-case housing needs. HUD’s Worst-Case Housing Needs: 2017 Report to Congress found that 1.85 million households headed by an elderly person had worst-case housing needs in 2015.
The proportion of elderly, very low-income renters with worst-case needs was 39.8 percent in 2015, representing a 2.6 percentage point increase since 2013. Low-income elderly households that rely on fixed incomes may be less likely than households with wage income to benefit from positive economic trends, but elderly households are affected by rising market rents, nonetheless.
The Section 202 program helps to reduce the number of vulnerable seniors experiencing worst-case housing needs or homelessness.
With the assistance of service coordinators, many of these residents can access community-based services that are designed to help them stay longer in their housing, age in the community, and avoid more expensive institutional settings.
Unfortunately, despite slight increases in the Section 202 elderly housing program, the overall proposed FY2021 budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would be drastically cut by 15% to $47.9 billion compared to $56.5 billion in FY2020. This harsh cut of $8.6 billion for HUD is much higher than the average 5 to 6 percent proposed cuts for other federal nondefense programs (although proposed increase of over $800 million for defense budget).
As stated in EHDOC Board Chairman Chris Shelton’s article, “What is the commitment for Affordable Senior Housing in communities nationwide?” (see Summer , 2019 Housing with a Heart), with recent year funding cut s for the Section 202 program, EHDOC and others have needed to seek alternative funding for the development of affordable senior housing , including HOME , the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and other funding through state and local governments.
Unfortunately, the Administration’s proposed FY2021 budget would eliminate funding for many of these federal programs that have been used to develop affordable housing that assists low-income older persons.
Compounding the proposed funding cuts for affordable housing, the Administration is also seeking harsh cuts to other health and services that assist EHDOC residents and other older persons, including Older Americans Act programs, food stamps (now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-SNAP); fuel assistance, caregiver programs, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, etc. with indications that additional cuts could be forthcoming (most likely after the election).
Overall, the Administration seeks $4.4 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, including $2 trillion in non- defense discretionary programs (Congressional annual appropriations, including HUD) and $2 trillion from mandatory programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid). The Administration imposes a cap of $590 billion for non-defense programs despite the bi-partisan budget agreement last year of $626.5 billion for FY2021.
Once again, it is vital that each of us who support affordable senior housing must educate our members of Congress; candidates for elected offices at federal, state, and local offices; as well as other key Administration officials, on the critical need and benefits (to older persons, communities and taxpayers) of the cost-effectiveness of the Section 202 and other affordable housing programs that assist low income seniors. Our earlier efforts with letter writing, meetings, media, rallies, and other communications have been helpful, but we have a long and tough fight ahead. See EHDOC Board Chairman Christopher Shelton’s accompanying article on effective communication needed for affordable senior housing.
EHDOC Secures $30 Million Construction Loan for Redevelopment of Council Towers Senior Apartment Homes in Miami Beach, FL.
NEW YORK, NY – Greystone, a leading national commercial real estate finance firm, has provided a $30 million construction loan under the HUD 221(d)(4) program for the $78 million redevelopment of Council Towers Senior Apartment Homes, an age-restricted affordable housing community located in Miami Beach, FL. The transaction was originated by Jon Morales, Senior Vice President at Greystone on behalf of EHDOC Council Towers Limited Partnership.
Council Towers comprises two, 12-story buildings located on Collins Avenue (at 5th and 10th Streets) in Miami Beach, with a total of 250 one-bedroom units with rental subsidy provided by HUD under a Project-Based Section 8 contract. The substantial rehabilitation of the property, which was originally constructed under HUD’s Section 202 program 40 years ago, will upgrade, preserve and continue to provide quality affordable housing for low-income seniors (below 60% AMI) over age 62.
Sources of funding for this transformative project include the $30 million HUD-insured 221(d)4 loan from Greystone as well as Low-Income Tax Credit Equity, a Sellers’ Note, and Reserve Transfer. The non-recourse HUD-insured loan carries a 40-year term at a fixed, low interest rate.
“Preserving and providing high-quality affordable housing for seniors in Miami Beach is a priority for us, and orchestrating a Section 202 rehabilitation into a stunning community with unparalleled ocean views will deliver a needed respite for our residents,” said Steve Protulis, President and CEO, Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation (EHDOC). “We are grateful for all of our partners who made this transaction possible, including Stratford Capital for critical tax credit equity. We hope that the 4% LIHTC program continues to be a viable platform for preserving and creating affordable housing.”
The re-development team will be led by Roland J. Broussard, Vice President of Development for EHDOC, and Jason B. Duguay, Vice President of Stratford Capital Group Development (SCG), along with Larry Hecky, Chief Architect of The Hecky Group and Tom Morrissey, President of T. Morrissey Construction. The planned timeline for tenant-in-place renovation is projected to take up to 20 months. In addition to exterior façade and common area renovations, individual units will have new kitchens installed with energy-efficient appliances, new bathrooms, decorative lighting, new flooring, new windows and sliders, new roof, complete elevator modernizations, and paint, resulting in a complete refresh for the existing 250 homes.
“Frankly, transformations such as this are hard to come by, but working with a team like Stratford Capital and Greystone having expertise in affordable housing, tax credits, and HUD-insured financing created an opportunity to provide incredible residences for a community that truly deserves it,” added Mr. Broussard.
“Working with sponsors such as EHDOC is such a pleasure because their mission to deliver affordable housing is what drives them,” added Mr. Morales. “This transaction was highly complex, but the end result will be such a treasure to the community, and we are thrilled to have played a part in it. Greystone would also like to congratulate Melanie A. Ribeiro, the Interim President / CEO of EHDOC, who assumes her new role in September 2020. We look forward to working with her and her team on future affordable housing development opportunities”
About Greystone: Greystone is a private national commercial real estate finance company with an established reputation as a leader in multifamily and healthcare finance, having ranked as a top FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac lender in these sectors. Our range of services includes commercial lending across a variety of platforms such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, CMBS, FHA, USDA, bridge and proprietary loan products. Loans are offered through Greystone Servicing Company LLC, Greystone Funding Company LLC and/or other Greystone affiliates.
By Brian Bandell – Senior Reporter, South Florida Business Journal
An affordable apartment complex will soon be developed in the Allapattah neighborhood of Miami thanks to a $45.5 million construction loan.
Allapattah Residential, a joint venture between nonprofit Elderly Housing Development Operations Corp. (EHDOC) and Miami-based Integra, obtained the tax-exempt bond through the Housing Finance Authority of Miami-Dade County. It covers the 1.07-acre site at 1362, 1370, 1392, 1396 N.W. 36th St., plus 1373 and 1385 N.W. 35th St.
Mosaico would total 284,805 square feet in 13 stories with 267 apartments. Amenities on the first floor would include a computer room, a community room, an event room, a library, and a fitness room. There would be a laundry room on the second floor. The project would have a community garden as well.
The developer would provide 172 spaces in the parking garage. The parking requirement was reduced because the units will be affordable housing and it’s near the Allapattah Metrorail Station.
Mosaico was designed by C.C. Hodgson Architectural.
There’s recently been a move of development in Allapattah, with both affordable and market-rate apartments. The neighborhood is between the major employment centers of downtown Miami and the Health District.
There’s evidence that low blood levels of the “sunshine vitamin” — vitamin D — may increase a person’s risk of infection with the new coronavirus, researchers say.
“Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system and vitamin Dsupplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections,” said study lead author Dr. David Meltzer. He’s chief of hospital medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine.
For the new study, Meltzer’s team tracked coronavirus infections among 489 patients whose vitamin D levels were measured within a year before they were tested for the new coronavirus.
While the study couldn’t determine cause and effect, patients with an untreated vitamin D deficiency (blood levels of less than 20 ng/mL) were nearly two times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus than patients with sufficient vitamin D levels, the researchers said.
“Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection,” Meltzer said in a medical center news release.
Half of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, with much higher rates among Black and Hispanic Americans and people who live in areas like Chicago, where it’s difficult to get enough sun exposure in winter.
The body produces vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun.
“Understanding whether treating vitamin D deficiency changes COVID-19 risk could be of great importance locally, nationally and globally,” Meltzer said. “Vitamin D is inexpensive, generally very safe to take, and can be widely scaled,” he noted.
Further research is needed to determine whether vitamin D supplements might reduce the risk of infection with the new coronavirus and even the severity of COVID-19, the study authors said.
Dr. Len Horovitz is a pulmonologist and internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Reading over the new findings, he said that research has “suggested that [vitamin] D plays an essential role in the immune system. This current study underscores this: D appears to reduce the risk of being infected with COVID, and other studies have suggested that patients with D deficiency fare worse with COVID.”
Horovitz suggested that the pandemic might even be raising levels of vitamin D deficiency.
“Because of city living and especially with ‘lockdowns,’ there has been less sun exposure and therefore more finding of D deficiency in my practice,” he noted.
Luckily, an easy remedy is at hand, since vitamin D supplements are available. “The proper dose depends on patient size and their sunlight exposure, and can be easily measured with a simple blood test,” Horovitz said.
Meltzer’s group believes there’s a need for studies to identify strategies for vitamin D supplementation that may be most effective in specific groups of people. The Chicago researchers said they’ve already launched several such clinical trials.
The study was published online Sept. 3 in JAMA Network Open.
Key differences in immune system function may help determine why severe, life-threatening COVID-19 tends to target older men, scientists say.
A new study found that among elderly people and in men, especially, certain factors may lead to a weaker immune system response against infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
That could help explain high rates of intensive care unit admission and death among these patients.
“Host responses to SARS-CoV-2 are dependent on viral load and infection time, with observed differences due to age and sex that may contribute to disease severity,” said a team led by Nicole Lieberman and Alexander Greninger, both of the University of Washington School of Medicine, in Seattle.
In the study, the investigators looked at bits of genetic material (RNA) collected from the nasal swabs of 430 people who tested positive for COVID-19, and another 54 who did not.
The researchers used that material to conduct a deep-dive investigation into the immune system responses of each patient following contact with the new coronavirus.
The findings showed that immune cell responses typically weren’t activated until three days after infection began. Also, the strength and makeup of the immune cell response was dependent on the amount of viral load — and responses also differed by age and sex.
For example, compared to young patients, older patients tended to have “reduced expression” of key immune system agents, which in turn may have triggered “deficiencies” in the activity of T-cells and “natural killer” (NK) cells. Both of those immune system cells are crucial in mounting a good defense against oncoming pathogens.
In addition, men seemed to show reductions in the activity of NK cells and another type of immune system cell, B-cells, compared to what was seen in women, the research team said.
Men infected with SARS-CoV-2 also showed an increase in another immunological pathway that might end in “inappropriately throttling antiviral responses,” the study authors reported.
The report was published online Sept. 8 in PLOS Biology.
Reading over the new findings, infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja noted that “the clinical course of every infectious disease is a combination of viral factors, such as viral load and host immune response.” Adalja is a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.
“This new study provides more evidence that the reason behind the elderly and males being more susceptible to severe disease from COVID has to do with differences in the host immune response,” he said.
The findings might even point the way to improved treatments, Adalja added.
“By understanding the intricacies of how this dysregulated response occurs, it may become possible to modulate it with precisely targeted therapies, as well as to predict who is more likely to have a severe case,” he said.