MHAC 2022 Year in Review

Thanks to our statewide, cross-sector network of partners and support from Point32 Health Foundation, the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative continues to work to address the unique age- and dementia friendly needs, context and opportunities within communities, regions and Massachusetts as a state.

In 2022, MHAC joined state and organizational partners in celebrating a nation-leading Year Three Progress Report of ReiMAgine Aging – the statewide age- and dementia friendly plan for the Commonwealth. The process was initiated by the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, which celebrated five years of progress.

The age- and dementia friendly movement continues to grow with a 40-community region led by the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission embedding healthy aging themes into its long-range regional plan. In addition, the City of Worcester joined the movement to become age- and dementia friendly along with a handful of smaller communities. Increasingly, communities and regions realize that advancing both age and dementia friendly strengthens what stakeholders and coalitions are able to accomplish.

MHAC promoted a range of resources, research and millions of dollars in age-and dementia friendly funding opportunities in more than 210 blog posts this year. In working to match these opportunities with local initiatives, MHAC helped lay the groundwork for what will become a downtown Wi-Fi network in Pittsfield, technology training and devices for Ludlow, and support for digital literacy for the Lynn Senior Center. MHAC also highlighted another $640,000 in MassDOT Shared Streets and Spaces Grants to age-friendly infrastructure projects five communities. The Shared Streets program awards bonus points to communities that include considerations for older adults as part of their applications.

After being piloted in Framingham, Lowell and the Pioneer Valley, the Healthy Aging for All Guide – intended to help age- and dementia friendly communities embed equity in local initiatives – is being revised and prepped for a new round of communities in 2023.

With some additional highlights listed below, MHAC remains grateful for the leadership and guidance of its Executive Committee as well as the involvement, input and partnership of its Advisory Council and Statewide Network. MHAC thanks its key supporters and collaborators, including Massachusetts Councils on Aging Association, Executive Office of Elder Affairs, AARP Massachusetts, Point32 Health Foundation and AgeSpan.

2022 Highlights:

  • MHAC worked to address digital equity and older adults:
    • Convened the Technology Learning Collaborative for Healthy Aging with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to highlight resources and best practices in addressing digital equity among older adults. Members of this group joined an application to the Mass Broadband Institute (MBI) to gain funding support for strengthening and measuring some of the programs that were presented.
    • MHAC was invited to represent the voice of age- and dementia friendly communities and join MBI’s statewide workgroup to establish a Digital Equity Plan for Massachusetts.
    • MHAC advised a report by MassINC and MACP called “Connecting Communities Through Digital Equity.
    • Presented a training with local partners on “Technology as a Social Determinant of Health” to Age-Friendly Public Health System stakeholders.
    • Supports and advises the Alliance for Digital Equity.
  • MHAC supported MassDOT’s “Beyond Mobility” community engagement process to build a statewide mobility plan for Massachusetts and co-hosted a listening session to help include the voice of older adults.
  • MHAC partnered with MCOA, EOEA and the physical infrastructure committee of the Massachusetts Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s and All Other Dementias¬†to create a guide on Age/Dementia Friendly Design Considerations for Physical Infrastructure. A one-pager from the guide was included in MassDOT’s Shared Street and Spaces resource library.
  • MHAC was recognized as an Age-Friendly Public Health Systems Champion by Trust for America’s Health.
  • MHAC compiled a list of policies, programs and practices for a letter to the incoming Healey-Driscoll Administration to encourage support of healthy aging in all policies.
  • MHAC serves on or advises several commissions and workgroups, including the Massachusetts Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Board, Dementia Friendly Massachusetts leadership team, Rural Policy Advisory Commission, Task Force to End Loneliness and Build Community (led by AARP, UMass-Boston), Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition, Housing Quality and Health Task Force (led by MACDC), the Elder Identity Theft Task Force and others.
  • Supported and presented at the 2022 AARP Age- and Dementia Friendly Summit
  • Convene a cross-sector Advisory Council and Statewide Network to raise awareness of topical issues in healthy aging and make connections between potential stakeholders.
  • Informed a report from Boston Indicators called “Care Work in Massachusetts: A Call for Racial and Economic Justice for a Neglected Sector.”
  • Gained support from the Massachusetts Association of Regional Planning Agencies (MARPA).
  • Supports and advises age- and dementia friendly initiatives across the country.

We look forward to working with our partners and communities in 2023!