MHAC 2023 Year in Review

Jan 3, 2024

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative (MHAC) is grateful for the partnership of our communities and statewide, cross-sector network that powers the Age- and Dementia Friendly movement forward, along with the continued support of the Point32Health Foundation.

The progress of this movement was captured in a new, dynamic format in the ReiMAgine Aging podcast series. In collaboration with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and with support from Point32Health Foundation, MHAC was proud to contribute to this project that represents the latest progress report for the Massachusetts Age- and Dementia Friendly Action Plan. The six audio stories highlight the work happening in community and backed by organizational partners that supports older adults and people living with dementia.

Separately, an additional audio story highlights the “Healthy Aging with a Criminal Record” report from the Public Health Institute of Western Mass, along with a call to action to advocate for pending legislation that could help older adults that have served their time.

Digital equity issues, elevated during the pandemic, continued in 2023 to be central to MHAC’s work to convene partners and replicate best practices that connect older adults to technology. These efforts paid off with a $3 million grant from the Mass Broadband Institute via AgeSpan as the fiscal lead. The project will address digital equity among older adults with several Aging Service Access Points, Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly, Mass Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Mass Law Reform Institute and MassAccess.

As far as local and regional age- and dementia friendly efforts, a total of 11 new communities made a commitment to become more age-friendly through AARP. That brings the total to 114 age-friendly communities in Massachusetts, which pairs with 116 dementia friendly communities. Of those, 67 are both age- and dementia friendly.

The last year also saw the completion and launch of two regional action plans: One plan led by the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) covers 40 cities and towns. The other, led by LifePath and the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), encompasses another 30 communities.

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 Statewide Network. MHAC thanks its key supporters and collaborators, including Massachusetts Councils on Aging Association, Executive Office of Elder Affairs, AARP Massachusetts, Point32Health Foundation and AgeSpan.

2023 Highlights:

  • MHAC represented the voice of older adults serving on Mass Broadband Institute’s Broadband and Digital Equity Working Group, which helped inform and guide the process around the state’s Internet for All Plan.
  • MHAC relaunched its Equity in Aging initiative as a quarterly webinar and discussion series that highlights community partners, practices, and research as well as raising awareness on issues of importance.
  • MHAC began providing technical assistance on the EOEA Enhancing Digital Literacy for Older Adults Grant Program that supports 24 councils on aging covering 65 municipalities.
  • MHAC began collaborating with eight community partners working through the Healthy Aging for All Guide to promote equity and inclusion among older adults. Community partners are supported through EOEA funding.
  • Organized and hosted a legislative briefing with Senator Patricia Jehlen and Representative Tom Stanley at the State House on inclusive age- and dementia friendly communities with AARP Massachusetts, Boston’s AgeStrong Commission, Mass Public Health Association, 2Life Communities, Mass Coalition for the Homeless and others.
  • MHAC continued to partner with MCOA, EOEA and the physical infrastructure committee of the Massachusetts Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s and All Other Dementias to promote a groundbreaking guide on Age/Dementia Friendly Design Considerations for Physical Infrastructure.
  • MHAC supported AARP’s 2023 Age-and Dementia Friendly Summit in Worcester.
  • Promote a range of Age- and Dementia Friendly funding opportunities along with resources, data and other important healthy aging news on the MHAC blog.
  • MHAC began work with local communities and partners to promote the MassReconnect program among older adults.
  • MHAC helped host Dr. Alexandre Kalache for a special presentation on inclusive age-friendly environments, with support from Point32Health Foundation.
  • MHAC continues its service on or advises several commissions and workgroups, including the Massachusetts Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Board, Dementia Friendly Massachusetts leadership team, Rural Policy Advisory Commission, Alliance for Digital Equity, 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.

We look forward to continuing our work alongside our partners and communities in 2024!