Stories from the Field

Explore these profiles to learn how others are addressing challenges and making strides to advance health aging.
Do you have a story idea? Let us know!

Walking in the middle of the street—Community Design and Healthy Aging

older man walking down street

By Dillon Sussman, Senior Planner, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

One of the joys of being a land planner is that what I learn at work helps me understand how communities function and why people act the way they do. Here’s an example. A year ago I moved from one neighborhood to another in the same city. One of the first things that struck me was the difference in pedestrian behavior. In my old neighborhood, we walked on the sidewalk. In the new one, people usually walk in the street. Continue reading →

Improving Walkability in Fall River

By Jaime Corliss and Ben Wood, MDPH and Julie Kelly, Fall River Mass in Motion

Public health people love to talk about Policy, Systems and Environmental change (PSE for short). You probably have an understanding of what this concept means (and you may be sick of hearing about it; or if you are like us you live and love it!) but it is important to note how much this way of thinking is driving public health priority selection and resource allocation. Continue reading →

“It’s My Fault and I Just Need to Get Over it”: The Story of Ms. McKay’s Depression

By Kathy Kuhn, Center for Aging and Disability Resource (CADER), BU School of Social Work

154076562I’d like to share with you a story from my days as a social worker at Kit Clark Senior Services (KCSS).

Ms. McKay is an 82-year-old African American woman living in Dorchester. She was single, with significant hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. Although she had a prosthetic leg, she was mobile. She had been active in her church but was recently spending more and more time alone in her apartment and not even collecting her mail. Her apartment was getting increasingly cluttered, bordering on hoarding. Continue reading →

How You Can Fight Elder Abuse in Massachusetts

By Betsey Crimmins, Senior Attorney, Greater Boston Legal Services, Inc.

elder abuse post2

An elderly parent is neglected and isolated by his adult child; a 92 year old woman is at risk for eviction after being fleeced by scammers and does not have enough money to pay her rent; an elderly couple in their nineties begin to physically abuse each other; a 71 year old woman with limited education and sensory disabilities is duped by her son into transferring her home to him;  a proud 86 year old veteran finds himself standing outside his home in his bathrobe clutching money and very disoriented.  These are just some examples of how elder abuse affects our families, friends, and neighbors every day in our communities. Elder abuse is a complex and multi-faceted problem which must be addressed by everyone who works with or cares about older adults. 

Continue reading →

How to Identify Depression, and the Strength Behind the Pain

By Kathy Kuhn, Center for Aging and Disability Resource (CADER), BU School of Social Work

Marianne_Gontarz_How_to_Identify_Depression_BlogIn my last blog post on mental health and aging, I described Ms. McKay, an older woman who was coping with multiple losses. She had significant hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. She had been active in her church but was spending more and more time alone in her apartment and not even collecting her mail. Her closest relative had recently moved away. She felt that nobody really cared if she even showed up. Despite the clear signs of depression, Ms. McKay’s provider did not notice them during her last doctor’s visit. Continue reading →