2005-10-28 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey

Dr. Geraldine ChapeyDr. Geraldine Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Chapey Appointed to White House Conference

Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey has been appointed as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA). This conference is held once a decade. Delegates from across the country will make aging policy recommendations to the President and Congress.

The first White House Conference on Aging was held in the 1960s. The 2005 Conference will be the fifth official White House Conference. Previous conferences have produced the following outcomes: Medicare and Medicaid; the Aging Network, specifically the Older Americans Act; Major changes in the National Housing and Transportation Acts; and Title III – E of the Older Americans Act (Caregiver Support Program).

The theme of the 2005 conference is “The Booming Dynamic of Aging: From Awareness to Action.” The conference comes at a critical period for the United State. A national debate on the future of social security is evoking passionate discussions around the country. The first baby boomers (78 million) will be reaching 60 years of age in 2006 and they are preparing for retirement. The 2005 WHCOA will focus on fostering dignity, health, independence and economic security for current and future seniors. Mini-conferences and sessions have been held around the country in preparation for the White House Conference.

The State Society on Aging in New York held its annual conference last weekend in Verona, New York. Part of the conference addressed proposed resolutions for the White House Conference.

My mother, Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey, a member of the New York State Board of Regents, and I chaired panels at the State Society on Aging meeting. The theme of the conference was “Aging Today and Tomorrow: The Community of New York State.”

I chaired a panel which addressed the following issues: “Aging in the Shadows: Combating Senior Isolation”; “The Impact of Changing Population Trends on Service Delivery and Caregiving,” and “Enhancing and Enriching Programs and Courses on Aging within New York State: A Discussion.”

A groundbreaking report on “Aging in the Shadows” was recently published by the United Neighborhood Houses, a membership organization of 35 houses and community centers throughout New York City.

The information for the report was gathered by consulting with professionals from the United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), and meeting with other experts in the field and having discussions with City officials. The results of this report were presented by Jessica Walker, a senior policy analyst with UNH. Walker emphasized that senior isolation will increase as the number of seniors in our society grow dramatically. Since most seniors want to “age in place,” we as a society will need to provide the appropriate infrastructure of social, physical and emotional support systems to allow seniors to stay in their homes and in their neighborhoods.

“The Impact of Changing Population Trends on Service Delivery and Caregiving” was discussed by Dr. Steve Sconfienza, an expert with the New York State Office for the Aging. He noted that life expectancy is getting longer. “Insufficient elderly – specific and need – appropriate infrastructure is in place.” He found that in addition to the lack of resources, other factors will adversely impact the situation. The children of the baby boomers have delayed marriage and childbearing. As a result, the grandchildren of the baby boomers will become taxpayers and caregivers when their parents and grandparents are more advanced in years.

This reduces the number of taxpayers and reduces the number of caregivers. It is therefore incumbent upon our leaders to address these important demographic shifts.

My mother, Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey, chaired a session on the following: “Spirituality and the Achievement of Vision Rehabilitation Goals,” and “A Shared Site Intergenerational Day Care Experience: Interaction and Experiences of Seniors, Children and Caregivers.”

Dr. Mark Brennan and Thalia MacMillian (MSW) from the Lighthouse International addressed “Spirituality and the Achievement of Vision Rehabilitation Goals”. Howden’s Spiritual Assessment Scale (1992) was used to assess inner-connectedness, transcendence and connections to others. These factors positively predicted goal achievement. They also improved the outcomes.

Recently there has been an increase in intergenerational activities. As these programs progress, it is essential that we evaluate their benefits. Dr. Janna Heyman and Irene A. Gutheil (DSW) surveyed participants of “Shared site intergenerational day care programs.” They found that children raised significant concerns about the loss of older family members. Older participants expressed a sense of joy and happiness in being with youngsters in a family like environment. The children felt that having a surrogate grandparent relationship was very valuable.

One of the highlights of the conference was a Tour of the Oneida Nation Ray Elm Children and Elders Center. The Oneida Nation recognizes that their elders are their link to the past and their children are the bridge to the future. This program, which brings elders and children together, began in 1999.

The program is housed in a building with a central longhouse-like meeting area. It has curved wings and offers educational activities for seniors on one side and youngsters on the other. In the central area, seniors and youngsters come together informally and in planned group activities. It’s an excellent program.

The conference was very informative and interesting. I will give further information on the State Society on Aging resolutions for the White House Conference in future articles. In addition, there is another lead-up session for the White House Conference to be held on December 1 in Albany. I will also share these deliberations with you in future columns.

Kudos to Florence and Ed Spierer. This dynamic duo succeeded again in spear heading the great BASH at the West End Temple on Sunday. It was sponsored by the West End Temple Social Club.

Florence and Ed are truly inspirational and are a class act. They had gathered so many prizes. Everyone who attended was a winner and enjoyed a great dinner. Florence and Ed Spierer are to be congratulated on all their work for the Temple and the community. They are creative, energetic, effervescent and extremely capable. Thanks to Ed and Florence Spierer, Charles and Evelyn Thau and Hal and Lynn Kramberg for making the BASH another wonderful event. They are a great example of how important positive and energetic leadership is.

The Comptroller of the City of New York addressed the Regular Democratic Club of the Rockaways on Wednesday, October 19. He spoke to a large audience about the role of his office in City government, and his work with the MTA and the Department of Education. He answered the varied questions of the audience. His presentation was very enlightening. We look forward to continuing to work closely with him.

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