SENIOR POWER: Good News from Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Vermont

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday February 03, 2012 - 10:00:00 AM


The state is proposing building two or three assisted living centers for aging prison inmates with medical problems as part of a new master plan for the Department of Correction. The 400-page Corrections Master Plan obtained by the Boston Herald also proposes barring federal prisoners from Massachusetts prisons by 2020, handing sexually dangerous inmates to the Department of Mental Health, and building regional women's jails to alleviate overcrowding at the main state women's prison in Framingham. 

New Jersey 

For years, researchers have reported that nursing home ownership status is one of the factors related to quality care. Studies show that nonprofits do a better job of caring for patients. It is also known that staff members’ feelings about their jobs can play a significant mediating role. Studies have shown that in commercially operated homes, for instance, the certified nursing assistants who provide the bulk of the hands-on care are less satisfied with their jobs than those in nonprofits. Directors of nursing in commercial homes are also less satisfied and more likely to be planning to leave. In general, such homes are associated with higher staff turnover. 

Nearly 900 Registered Nurses working in almost 300 skilled nursing facilities in New Jersey were surveyed. Several characteristics that contributed to the nurses’ job satisfaction were found: their ability to help set the facility’s policies, their sense of having supportive managers, their feeling that they had adequate resources. The study showed that R.N.’s working in nonprofit nursing homes were significantly more satisfied with their jobs. 

New York 

Seniors across New York City breathed a sigh of relief to learn that Governor Andrew Cuomo did not propose a cut to Title XX funding that would have closed 105 senior centers, depriving 10,000 seniors of their local senior center beginning in April, 2012. There would have been 2.5 million less meals provided to seniors annually. A massive letter writing campaign, led by the Council of Senior Centers and Services (CSCS) culminated in 16,642 letters from seniors - in English, Spanish and Chinese - urging Governor Cuomo not to propose cutting Title XX again. For a list of the 105 senior centers that would close, copies of the letters, Title XX fact sheet and other information, go to 


A study of older adults in Oregon identified mixtures of nutrients that seem to protect the brain, as well as other food ingredients that may worsen brain shrinkage and cognitive decline. People whose diets supplied them with an abundance of vitamins B, C, D, and E consistently scored better on tests of mental performance and showed less brain shrinkage than peers with lesser intake of those nutrients. Diets high in trans fats -- known to harm the heart and blood vessels -- stood out as posing the most significant risk for brain shrinkage and loss of mental agility. Unlike previous studies, which have relied on questionnaires to estimate nutrient intake, the Oregon researchers directly measured levels in the blood, making evidence stronger, although not as definitive as a controlled clinical trial. Researchers at Oregon Health Sciences University and Oregon State University enlisted 104 of the women and men who had volunteered for the Oregon Brain Aging Study that began in 1989. Their average age was 87. All completed a battery of tests of memory and thinking skills, and 42 volunteers also had MRI scans to measure their brain volume.

Two nutrient patterns appeared to promote brain health: The BCDE pattern high in vitamins and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, and an omega-3 pattern high in the fatty acids found in fish. But the effect of omega-3 was only significant on one of the six tests of brain function after researchers took into account differences in blood pressure and depression, big risk factors for cognitive decline. The lack of a strong effect fits with a 2010 clinical trial in which fish oil supplements failed to slow the advance of Alzheimer's disease.
The B,C,D, E diet 


Good food sources 

Thiamin (B1) 

Whole grain cereals, legumes, nuts, lean pork, yeast 

Riboflavin (B2) 

Milk, eggs, nuts, fish, chicken, broccoli, spinach 

Folate (B9) 

Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit juices, legumes 

Vitamin B12 

Shellfish, fish, lean beef, chicken, eggs, milk 

Vitamin C 

Citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, broccoli 

Vitamin D 

Salmon, sardines, mackerel, eggs, milk 

Vitamin E 

Olive and other vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, avocados 


Various alternatives to assisted living and nursing homes that allow people to age-in- place, or at least age-in-place longer have been touted-- co-housing, shared housing, villages, Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs). The approaches and the economics vary, but the goals of independence and interdependence, which are not necessarily contradictory in old age, are much the same. People want community, but they also want privacy. Most try to maintain their own households for as long as they can.  

Volunteering and increased social interaction are known preventions that mean better health. A Montpelier, Vermont city program called the Reach Service Exchange Network began operation in the fall of 2010, powered by a grant of $1 million from the federal Administration on Aging. The network functions as a time bank. Montpelier residents of all ages join for $25. and get access to a site listing requests and offers: driving, pet care, reading aloud, help with grocery shopping, computer tutoring sessions, etc. All members provide services to the network. People of any age or level of ability can participate and contribute. Half of the 200 local people who have joined Reach are age 58+. The staff runs criminal background and sex-offense checks on each member and reviews the motor vehicle records of anyone who has volunteered to drive.  

As a group, Reach members currently contribute 300 hours of services each month. A member, for instance, has arranged to have another member vacuum and dust her apartment each week, which takes about 2 hours. Another lives nearby and shows up to shovel snow, often before dawn of her neighbor, who, in exchange, operates the Reach Network’s information table at the farmers’ market summer weekends and works at the guided tour desk at the restored state Capitol building Helping might earn hours used to get child care. 

But when the federal grant ends after 3 years, Montpelier keep Reach faces the same challenges as many elder care alternatives, including the much-touted village movement: It needs to raise money, if only for office space, Web site maintenance and at least a skeleton staff. And it needs to keep bringing in new members, including those who are younger and able-bodied. Its goal, in this small city of 7,500, is to attract 600 members who provide a collective 1,000 hours of service each month. 

Many of these experiments can keep older members in their homes when they need driving and dog-walking. As they age, a high proportion will eventually need help with the more basic activities of daily living — bathing, dressing, using a toilet. Few of these housing or community-building efforts are equipped to offer long-term care.  


California NEWS 

California is making sufficient headway in reducing numbers in overcrowded that the end of federal receivership "appears to be in sight.” But to get California prisons back under state control, the state will have to provide a credible plan by the end of April for tackling the other major problem in the prison system: An aging inmate population. A Human Rights Watch report issued in January, "Old Behind Bars: The Aging Prison Population in the United States" by Human Rights Watch, puts the California situation in national perspective. In 1990, California state prisoners age 55+ were a manageable 2.1 percent of the prison population. In 2009, they were 7.1 percent – taking up 38 percent of prison medical beds. By 2019, the state expects older prisoners to be 15 percent of the prison population. California either has to find a way to house frail, ill people behind bars – or review sentencing and release policies to figure out how reduce the growing population of older prisoners without risking public safety. In addition to normal prison security costs, the state has to deal with the ailments of the old – mobility impairments, hearing and vision loss, dementia, illnesses that are chronic, disabling and terminal. 

Pharmacists responsible for reviewing the medication of patients in California nursing homes routinely allowed inappropriate and potentially lethal prescriptions of antipsychotic medications, and failed to correct other potentially dangerous drug irregularities, according to recent state investigations. In 18 of 32 investigations conducted in California nursing homes between May 2010 and June 2011, pharmacists failed to red-flag cases in which residents were inappropriately prescribed powerful antipsychotic medications. They also overlooked or approved cases in which medications were prescribed at questionable levels or in unsafe combinations that could put patients at risk of seizures, accidents or even death, according to the public health department.  

Materials related to a new UC, B course, “Journalism for Social Change: Policy, Journalism & Child Welfare,” point out disparagingly that “The Federal Government currently spends $7.00 on the elderly for every $1.00 it spends on children.” 

Michael Parenti’s Page One “Free-Market Medicine—A Personal Account” (Berkeley Daily Planet, Friday, January 27, 2012) should be required reading for anyone who anticipates hospitalization and or surgery (and they can differ!), and for everyone age 65+. So few people recognize and acknowledge his experiences, that such articles should be compiled and widely distributed. \ 


MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Be sure to confirm. Readers are welcome to share by email news of future events and deadlines that may interest boomers, seniors and elders. Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred.  

Current-March 30, 2012. “Berkeley Women Vote: Celebrating California Suffrage 1911-2011.” An Exhibit at the Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center Street. 510-848-0181. 

Thursday, Feb. 2. 10 A.M. Computers for Beginners. Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. Also Feb. 9, 16 and 23, and March 1. 

Thursday, Feb. 2. 1:30-2:30 P.M. Fred Setterberg will discuss his book, Lunch Bucket Paradise, a true-life novel about growing up in blue-collar suburbia in 1950s and 60s East Bay. Albany Library, 1247 Martin Avenue. Free. 510-526-3720. This is a program in the Alameda County Library’s Older Adults Services series; for dates and branches throughout the county, call 510-745-1491. 

Thursday, Feb. 2. 7 P.M. Behind the Music of Bustan & Ben Goldberg. Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut, Berkeley. Come hear two of the movers and shakers behind the world-class music to be heard at this year’s Jewish Music Festival. Free. 510-848-0237. Also March 22.  

Friday, February 3. 3-4:30 P.M. UC,B 125 Morrison Hall. Free. Composition Colloquia: Kronos and Composers. The weekly Composer Colloquium at the Department of Music welcomes members of the Kronos Quartet (David Harrington, thers to be announced) for a moderated session about commissioned works. 510-642-4864. 

Monday, Feb. 6. 6 P.M. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. Also Feb. 13 and 27. 

Tuesday, Feb. 7. 1 P.M. Mastick Book Club. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Book Club members will review Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson. 510-747-7506. See also March 6. 

Tuesday, Feb. 7. 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Join Marilyn Ababio and Dorothy Ridley, representatives, for a presentation on POLST. POLST is a form that spells out the medical treatment you desire during the end of your life. Topics to be addressed include: What does POLST do?; Who should have POLST?; Is POLST different from an Advance Health Care Directive?; Who can help me fill out a POLST form?; What do I do with my POLST form?; What if I want to change my POLST form?; as well as a question and answer period. 510-747-7506.  

Tuesdays, Feb. 8-April 25. 9 – 10:30 A.M. and Wednesdays, Feb. 8-April 25. 9-10:30 A.M. . Yoga. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Benefits include stress reduction and relaxation. Each 12-week session is $48. Preregistration and payment is required. Contact the Mastick Office. 

Wednesday, Feb. 8. 12:15-1 P.M. Michael Tan, cello; Miles Graber, piano. Andrea Wu, solo piano. Free Noon Concert Series. UC,B Music Dept. Hertz Concert Hall. Rachmaninoff: Vocalise Faure: Après un rêve Shostakovich: Cello Sonata, mvts. 2 and 4 Schumann: Sonata, op. 22 Prokofiev: Toccata, op. 11. 510-642-4864 

Thursday, Feb. 9. 10:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. New Member Orientation & YOU! is a must if you are new to Alameda, recently retired, or expecting your parents for an extended visit! This A gided-tour to introduce you to the Center, an information packet outlining the various activities, programs, and services, and a coupon to enjoy a complimentary lunch provided by Bay Area Community Services (BACS)! Make a reservation. 510-747-7506. 

Thursday, Feb. 9. 6 PM. Lawyers in the Library. South branch, Berkeley Public Library, 1901 Russell. 981-6100. 

Saturday, Feb. 11. 12 Noon. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Letter “L” for Love, Luck, or Lucky @ Love! Celebrate Valentine’s Day and try your luck at Mastick’s weekly fundraising Bingo game. Bingo participants will play a special game, the “Letter L” with the opportunity to win $50. Participants are encouraged to take part in the Valentine’s Day Table Decorating Contest. This program is sponsored by the Mastick Senior Center Advisory Board and Bingo Committee. 510-747-7506. 


Mondays, Feb. 13 and 27. 9:30-11:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. FREE—U.S. Foreign Policy. Roger Baer, Volunteer Instructor, will review the United State’srelationship with other nations of the world. Topics include:isolation, involvement, containment, nation building and humanitarian intervention, and more. Sign up. Call 510-747-7506. 

Monday, Feb. 13. 7 P.M. Author talk. Songwriter poet Marisa Handler will speak about her writing, songs and poetry. Her memoir, Loyal to the Sky: Notes from an Activist won a 2008 Nautilus Gold Award for world-changing books. Born in apartheid South Africa, Handler immigrated to Southern California when she was twelve. Her gradual realization that injustice existed even in this more open, democratic society spurred a commitment to activism that would take her to Israel, India, Nepal, Ecuador, Peru, and throughout the United States. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. Free. 510-524-3043.  

Tuesday, Feb. 14. 1-2:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Multimedia Art Exhibit refreshments and Reception for artists exhibiting their works created in Mastick Senior Center classes (e.g., stained glass, creative writing, drawing, painting, ceramics, beaded jewelry design, graphic arts, etc.). In the Mastick Lobby through May 1. 510-747-7506. 

Wednesday, Feb. 15. 12:15-1 P.M. Free Noon Concert Series. Hertz Concert Hall. Recital: Jeffrey Syles, piano, with Axel Strauss, violin, and Jean-Michel Fontenau, cello. Mendelssohn: Piano Trio in C Minor Piazzola: two movements from Grand Tango. 510-642-4864 

Wednesday, Feb. 15. 1 P.M. . Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Travel Opportunities Abound…Learn More., preview upcoming Extended Travel opportunities. At this time, we will also be gathering YOUR input for 2013 travel destinations. 510-747-7506. 

Wednesday, Feb. 15. 7-8 P.M. Adult evening book group: E. L. Doctorow’s World’s Fair. Albany Branch, Alameda Country Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Free. 510-526-3720 

Thursday, Feb. 16. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. West branch, Berkeley Public Library, 1125 University. 510-981-6270. 

Friday, Feb. 17. 9:30-11:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Creating Your Personal Learning Network. Join Mike McMahon, Volunteer, Learn to use the Internet and tools like Twitter. With the rise of social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, individuals can now create virtual learning classes on any topic of their choosing. Sign up. 510-747-7506. 

Tuesday, Feb. 21. 9:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Mastick Non-Fiction Book Club. Members will review Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin and/or Paul Newman: A Life by Shawn Levy. 510-747-7510. 

Tuesday, Feb. 21. 12:30 P.M. San Francisco Gray Panthers General Meeting. Fireside Room, Unitarian Center, 1187 Franklin St. (at Geary). # 38 (not 38L) bus. 

Tuesday, Feb. 21. 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Overview of Medicare Coverage and Options. A representative from the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program (HICAP) will provide an overview of Medicare coverage and options including the Medicare Program (eligibility, costs, benefits, and recent changes); Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap), Medical Advantage Plans and Medi-Cal; and provide information on Medicare’s Prescription Drug benefit. To attend this presentation, sign up in the office or call 510-747-7506. See also Feb. 28. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22. 12:15 – 1 P.M. Jazz x 2: Free Noon Concert Series. UC,B Music Dept. Hertz Concert Hall. UC Jazz All-stars, Ted Moore, Director. Berkeley Nu Jazz Collective, Myra Melford, Director. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22. 12:30-1:30 P.M. Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker’s Forum. Albany Branch, Alameda Country Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Free. 510-526-3720 x 16. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22. 1:30 P.M. Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. 510-981-5190. Note: Gray Panthers Berkeley office is now located in the Center for Independent Living (CIL) building on Telegraph (between Dwight and Parker), 2539 Telegraph Ave, Suite B, Berkeley, CA 94704. Phone: 510-548-9696. 

Thursday, Feb. 23. 1:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Music Appreciation Class. Join William Sturm, Volunteer Instructor, for a piano recital and discussion about “The Classical Romantic: Johannes Brahms.” Register in the Mastick Office or call 747-7506. Free. 

Friday, Feb. 24. 9 A.M.-4 P.M. Annual convention. United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County. 510-729-0852. 

Friday, Feb. 24. 12:15 – 1 P.M. Chamber Music in C Major. Noon concert. Music Dept. event. Hertz Concert Hall: Mozart: String Quintet No. 3 in C major, K.515. Michael Hwang, Michaela Nachtigall, violins. Sally Jang, Melissa Panlasigui, violas. Cindy Hickox, cello. Beethoven: String Quartet in C major, op. 59 no. 3. Vivian Hou, Jason Wu, violins. Marissa Sakoda, viola. Michael Tan, cello. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Tuesday, Feb. 28. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Low Income Assistance. A representative from the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program (HICAP) will provide an overview on getting help with health care costs including the Medicare program, Medi-Cal, SSI, Medicare Savings Programs, and Low Income Subsidy (extra help) for prescription drugs. The eligibility and application process will be reviewed. To attend this presentation, sign up in the office or call 510-747-7506. 

Wednesday, Feb. 29. 12:15-1 P.M. Gospel Chorus, Old Made New: Free Noon Concert Series. UC, B Music Dept. Highlights - University Gospel Chorus, D. Mark Wilson, director. Old Songs in New Clothes: Old hymns given new life and meaning in contemporary compositions by African American composers. 510-642-4864 

Wednesday, Feb. 29. 7:00 PM. Kensington Library Book Club. 61 Arlington Av. 

February's book is The Trial by Franz Kafka. The book group alternates classic and contemporary literature on a monthly basis. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member. 510-524-3043.  


Thursday, March 1. 10 A.M. Computers for Beginners. Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. 

Tuesday, March 6. 1 P.M. Mastick Book Club. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave. , Alameda. Book Club members will review House Rules by Jodi Picoult. 510-747-7506. 

Wednesday, March 7. 12:15-1 P.M. University Wind Ensemble: 59th Annual Free Noon Concert Series. Hertz Concert Hall. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesdays, March 7 and 14. 9 A.M. – 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave. , Alameda. AARP Driver Safety Program. Specifically designed for individuals 50 and older, this eight-hour course is taught in two, four-hour sessions over a two-day period. Preregistration required; cst is $12 per person for AARP members and $14 per person for non-AARP members. Registration is payable by check ONLY made payable to AARP. Sign up in the Mastick Office. 510-747-7506. 

Tuesday, March 13. 1:30 P.M. . Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. The America’s Cup: Racing the Wind. Douglas Borchert, J.D., SBC, underwriting counsel, columnist, will present “The America’s Cup: Racing the Wind.” The story of the America's Cup begins in the mid-19th century with the family of Colonel John Stevens and an invitation to the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. Mr. Borchert will pick up the story from there and outline the fascinating history of the event. The San Francisco Bay will serve as the beautiful amphitheater for the 2013 pursuit of the Cup. Sign up in the Mastick Office or call 510-747-7506. This program is sponsored by the Mastick Senior Center Advisory Board. 

Wednesday, March 14. 12:15-1 P.M. University Baroque Ensemble: 59th Annual Free Noon Concert Series. Hertz Concert Hall. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, March 21. 12:15 – 1 P.M. Noon concert, UC, B. Music Department. Hertz Concert Hall. UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, David Milnes, director. Weber: Bassoon Concerto, Drew Gascon, soloist. Debussy: Nocturnes. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Friday, March 23. 12:15-1 P.M. Bustan Quartet. Free Noon Concert Series. Lecture/demonstration: Co-sponsored event: Highlights: Hertz Concert Hall. Visiting Israeli group demonstrates their work in crafting new means of musical expression from diverse resources. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864.  

Monday, March 26. 7 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. Book Club. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Current-March 30. “Berkeley Women Vote: Celebrating California Suffrage 1911-2011.” An Exhibit at the Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center Street. 510-848-0181.