Monday Schedule

Monday Plenary Session  12:00PM to 12:45

Keynote by Jean Accius, PhD –  “Reimagining the Future”

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Monday Session 1  1:30PM to 2:30PM


M1-1  The Top 10 Misconceptions about Medicaid Planning for Long-term Care

Presented by Michelle Beneski, Managing Partner of Surprenant & Beneski, come learn The Top 10 Misconceptions about Medicaid Planning for Long-term Care. As a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, Michelle helps families qualify for Medicaid to off-set the cost of long-term care. In doing so, she corrects a lot of misinformation. Hear the top 10 misconceptions and what the real deal is so that you can better guide those you serve!

Michelle Beneski, Esq., CELA, Managing Partner , Surprenant & Beneski, PC


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M1-2  Bricks and Clicks – Combining Traditional and Virtual Senior Center Worlds

Program delivery and consumption has changed forever. Senior Center staff have done an amazing job experimenting with different approaches to keep their participants engaged throughout the pandemic. In this presentation, we’ll highlight what programs have been most effective, both in the Center and online. Plus, we’ll offer some early data on what program consumption is like in places that have already reopened for indoor participation. We’ll share some funny stories of how Centers felt like they were becoming television studios last winter and how their AV-tech-learning-by-fire efforts positively impacted people stuck at home. We’ll wrap up the presentation talking about a new initiative for Centers to leverage each others skill sets and programming ideas to the benefit of the Seniors in your communities.

Chris Hamilton, President, MySeniorCenter

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M1-3  Ambiguous Loss and its impact on providers and older adults during the pandemic….and beyond

Ambiguous loss are non-death losses related to someone or something that changes significantly. Examples include immigration, dementia, disability, job loss, divorce, infertility, illness, etc. We will discuss the importance of first recognizing our own ambiguous losses so that we can recognize, support and validate these losses experienced by the older adults we serve.

Marjorie Sokoll, M.Ed., Director, Spirituality and Aging, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

1 Nursing CEU


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M1-4 & M2-4  Communicating with and Supporting Staff in Times of Transition

The past year and a half has brought unprecedented change to organizations.  Leaders and staff have had to reimagine many aspects how their organizations function.  Join us to explore how support for staff may need to shift as we move into life after COVID.  We will also discuss how communication between staff may be the same, or different, based on work setting and roles / responsibilities.

Alicia David, PCC, Owner/Partner, Transformative Leadership Strategies
Stacie Watson, CPC, Owner/Partner, Transformative Leadership Strategies


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M1-5  Technology is Here to Stay! Community Forum to Discuss Challenges and Wins in Bridging the Digital Divide

Communities have recognized and responded to how technology access is essential for our physical and emotional health, often acting as the gateway to our lives for connection, information, healthcare, and work during COVID-19. The importance of digital equity has grown for older adults over the past year, and access to technology devices, broadband, and technical support and training will remain critical to aging well in one’s community. Technology is a social determinant of health, opens opportunities to work from home, virtually visit a doctor, socialize with family and friends, and engage in public meetings.  During this session, attendees will hear about statewide and local efforts to address digital equity for older adults, the different ways that technology has benefited older adults and family caregivers across the Commonwealth through the aging services network. Attendees will be encouraged to share their experiences and discuss lessons learned with other communities.

Kathryn Downes, Policy Director, Executive Office of Elder Affairs
James Fuccione, Senior Director, Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative
Molly Evans, Senior Policy Manager, Executive Office of Elder Affairs
Kristine Shah, Executive Director, Arlington Council on Aging


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Cancelled – M1-6  Beyond Universal Design: What Does a Dementia-Friendly Physical Environment Look Like?

As part of the process to become a dementia-friendly community, towns and regions across the Commonwealth are asked to modify their physical environments to accommodate people who are not only living with physical impairments but also cognitive impairments. Come and learn the specifics of building a dementia-friendly environment.

Patty Sullivan, Director, Dementia-Friendly Massachusetts, MCOA
Pam MacLeod, Pam MacLeod, Senior Project Director for the MA Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and University of Massachusetts Medical School
Philippe Saad, Principal, Dimella Shaffer

1 Nursing CEU


M1-IP  Innovative Practices – Free Money: Hitting the Housing Jackpot Using Existing Community Preservation Act Funds

Massachusetts is 50th in the nation, i.e. last place, in terms of economic security for residents aged 65+, where over two thirds of single older adults live in financial instability. Furthermore, Massachusetts also ranks first place in cost required for senior renters, either single or couple, to live independently (Mutchler, Li, & Velasco Roldán, 2019). This information, taken in conjunction with the fact that the wait for a Section 8 housing voucher can be ten years, paints a bleak picture. But there is hope!

Did you know that any community that has accepted the Community Preservation Act (CPA) must by law spend, or set aside for later spending, not less than 10% of the annual revenues in the Community Preservation Fund for community housing?

Come learn from two communities (Town of Lincoln & City of Salem) that have created their own locally run affordable housing subsidy programs for renters using CPA funds. Information, guidance, trouble shooting, and even documentation for program replication in your own community will be provided.

Abigail Butt, PhD, MSc Director, Town of Lincoln Council on Aging & Human Services
Amanda Chiancola, AICP Deputy Director, City of Salem Department of Planning & Community Development


Monday Session 2  3:00PM to 4:00PM


M2-1  A Positive Psychology Approach to Navigating Change

How would you rate your overall wellbeing following this past year? Your client’s wellbeing? Many of us are feeling hopeful, yet exhausted. Patience is starting to run thin; older adults are experiencing physical and cognitive decline at staggering rates. We are here to show you this does not have to be our new reality! We will share easy-to-use Positive Psychology methodologies to help you and/or your clients shift mindsets, gain clarity, and move forward with ease and excitement. Elevate your personal and professional wellbeing alongside us!

Erin DiCarlo, Founder & President, Dovetail Companies
Lauren Watts, Vice President & Director of Operations, Dovetail Companies

1SW CEU, 1 LMHC CE, 1 Nursing CEU


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M2-2  Recent Research: The Good News About Aging Today

Aging today is not what our grandparents experienced. Most people still have not caught up with the new research on aging. Katharine Esty, 86, a practicing psychotherapist and author will talk about the findings from her own research with 128 people in their eighties and she also talk about how studies on happiness and the aging brain. She offers a new vision for what old age is and can be.

Dr. Katharine Esty, PhD, author of Eightysomethings: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well and Finding Unexpected Happiness

1SW CEU, 1 LMHC CE, 1 Nursing CEU


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M2-3  Supporting Family Caregivers at Home and in Residential Care

This workshop will provide the participant with an understanding of the crucial role of family caregivers in dementia care in both the home and residential care settings.  The psychosocial impact of caregiving on the individual as well as the societal impact of caregiving will be discussed with special attention to signs of caregiver stress.  A range of effective interventions including education, skill-building, care management, support, self-care and community resources will be presented.  The focus will be on identification of the best interventions to improve outcomes for both the caregiver and the person living with dementia by use of case examples.

Nicole McGurin, Programs & Services Director, Alzheimer’s Association MA/NH Chapter
Lisa Sobhian,Director of Dementia Care Services, D’Youville Life and Wellness Community

1SW CEU, 1 LMHC CE, 1 Nursing CEU


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M2-5 The Chatham Elder Working Group: Communication, Collaboration and Coordination

The Chatham Elder Working Group (CHEWG) was formed in January 2015 with the goal of identifying “at-risk” older adults and coordinating communication between Chatham municipal departments and community stakeholders.   Meeting monthly, these cross-sector partnerships include Chatham Fire/EMS, Chatham PD, Chatham Health Department along with the VNA of Cape Cod Public Health Nurse and the Chatham Housing Authority.  The work done by this group serves the community, saves the Town money through faster identification of at-risk older adults and provides our older residents with comprehensive resources to ensure the opportunity to age in place safely.  CHEWG continually works toward sustainable collaboration, communication, and coordination through the creation of programs, policy and procedures.

Mandi Speakman, Director, Chatham Council on Aging
Eva M. Orman, Outreach Coordinator, Chatham Council on Aging
Mark Heller, EMS Coordinator, Chatham Fire Department
Mike Anderson, Deputy Chief of Police, Chatham Police Department
Judith Giorgio, R.S., MPH, Health Agent, Town of Chatham


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M2-6  Cannabis and Cannabidiol (CBD) Use for Seniors

Patients are using and asking about cannabis and CBD products with greater frequency, especially as cannabis has been legalized by an increasing number of states. There has been a tenfold increase in cannabis use in those over 65, as many older adults are turning to cannabis to treat health issues. This presentation will provide a historical perspective on cannabis use and an overview of the endocannabinoid system. Janice will discuss the conditions cannabis/CBD it may be helpful for, as well as proper administration methods, dosing, and potential side effects and drug interactions. Janice will dive into the research, evidence base, pros and cons of CBD/cannabis, and appropriate medical use of cannabis and CBD, with particular focus on the use of cannabis/CBD in seniors and end-of-life situations.

Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN, FAND, , Founder, Jannabis Wellness

1SW CEU, 1 LMHC CE, 1 Nursing CEU


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M2-7  How to Make Student Internships Work at Your COA

Many COAs understand the benefits of student internships but do not know how to recruit, onboard, and oversee interns. MCOA and Massachusetts Gerontology Association (MGA) have created a partnership around bridging education and practice in the service of expanding careers in aging as part of MGA’s Age-Friendly University (AFU) efforts.  Join us for a nuts-and-bolts discussion of what you need to know to create an internship experience that works for everyone. Find out about academic requirements, creative ways to ensure that the student intern gets the right kind of supervision, and the kinds of internship work that make a difference. Learn about work that can take place virtually as well as in person. The focus will be on undergraduate and graduate internships.

Joann M. Montepare, Ph.D., Director, Rose Mary B. Fuss Center for Research on Aging and Intergenerational Studies, Professor of Psychology, Lasell University
Charlotte Frazier, Associate Professor of Psychology, Lasell University
Emily Williams, M.S., Director, Bridgewater COA
Hemali Shah, M.A, LSW, Senior Services Director, Lexington, COA


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M2-IP  Innovative Practices – Community Organic Farm provides Senior Sized CSA Program  – NCOA/NISC Programs of Excellence Award Winner!

The Natick Community Organic Farm in partnership with the Natick Council on Aging and a local foundation launched a “Senior Sized” CSA program in June 2020. Ten seniors were provided 20 weeks of delivered, subsidized “senior sized” shares of certified organic vegetables. Capitalizing on the strengths of each partner organization, the project yielded a “bumper crop” of benefits including new volunteer opportunities, improved health, social connections, and support for our local farm.

Susan Ramsey, Senior Center & Community Services Director, Town of Natick
Karen Edwards, Program Manager Volunteer Services, Natick Council on Aging
Trish Wesley Umbrell, Assistant Director Internal Operations, Natick Community Organic Farm