Resource Library

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The John T. Gorman Foundation strives to be data-driven and results based and seeks to promote information and ideas that advance greater understanding of issues related to our mission and priorities. In our effort to promote these values, we offer these research and best practice resources collected from reputable sources across the country. The library also includes briefs and reports the Foundation has commissioned or supported, a listing of which can be found here.


Older workers leave labor force in pandemic, but maybe not for good

December 21, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Workforce

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has published a new brief tracking changes in older adults’ labor force participation in the context of COVID-19. The authors report that the pandemic triggered labor force exits among older workers, with 15 percent of the pre-pandemic group exiting the workforce by the one-year mark. However, the brief also shows that there has been no increase in people specifically reporting being “retired” nor in Social Security benefit applications, suggesting that at least some of these workers may be planning an eventual workforce return.

Creative blends of funding bring supportive and affordable housing to rural markets

November 29, 2021 – Families, SeniorsCOVID-19, Housing, Rural

As the pandemic continues to put pressure on the housing market and limit available shelter space, some rural communities are seeing homelessness become more visible. Community leaders note the “hidden” nature of rural homelessness, often manifesting in households “doubling up,” and say the perennial rural challenges of sparse funding and low population density complicate relief efforts. An overview from Affordable Housing Finance Magazine describes developer efforts in California, Maryland, and Florida to close those housing gaps by bringing affordable and supportive housing to rural spaces.

Pandemic impact on Social Security and Medicare programs not as grave as feared

August 31, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19

Despite fears, the 2021 Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ reports show that the pandemic and related recession have only had a moderate impact on these programs. The latest projections are the same or just slightly worse than the previous year’s projections. Instead of being depleted in 2035, Social Security trust funds are now projected to be exhausted by 2034. The projection for Medicare’s Hospital Insurance trust fund remains the same (depleted by 2026). Further, even if depleted, Social Security would still be able to pay 75 percent of scheduled benefits via its annual tax income and Medicare would be able to cover about 90 percent. It is also likely that legislative action will be taken to ensure the programs can continue to provide full benefits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) assures that Social Security and Medicare are not bankrupt or in financial peril.

Census Bureau reports that children were more likely than adults to experience episodic poverty, chronic poverty between 2013-2016

August 30, 2021 – Young Children, Families, SeniorsPoverty

An analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) found that 44 percent of children under age 18 experienced episodic poverty—poverty lasting at least two consecutive months—between 2013 and 2016. Seniors aged 65 and older had the lowest rate of episodic poverty at 15.8 percent, with working-age adults (18-64) falling in between at 33.6 percent. Over the 2013-2016 period, the median number of consecutive months that children experienced poverty was 11.8 months. Children under 18 years old were also most likely to experience chronic poverty—that is, living in poverty every month of the 2013-2016 period. An estimated 4.6 percent of children were in chronic poverty, as compared to 2.4 percent of working-age adults and 1.5 percent of seniors.

Telemedicine use among Medicare beneficiaries has decreased in 2021 following May 2020 spike

August 30, 2021 – SeniorsHealth

The use of telemedicine among Medicare beneficiaries exploded at the beginning of the pandemic, particularly following the mid-March 2020 announcement that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would reimburse providers for telemedicine services. Interested in understanding older adults’ use of telehealth during the pandemic, researchers from the Health Data Analytics Institute and Harvard Medical School analyzed medical claims for 30 million Medicare beneficiaries from January 2020 through May 2021. They find that although Medicare beneficiaries’ telemedicine use spiked in March 2020 and peaked in May 2020 (at over 2 million visits per week), the number of weekly telemedicine visits has since fallen considerably, down to 800,000 by May 2021. This is still considerably more than pre-pandemic—around 125,000-200,000 per week in early 2020—though not quite the sustained ‘boom’ that some anticipated. Importantly, around 10 percent of Medicare beneficiaries received telehealth care only via telephone. Additional research is needed to explore who does and does not have access to video visits as well as patient preferences regarding visit type. While researchers have been concerned about disparities in telemedicine, authors found no substantial variation in use by race-ethnicity in 2020.

How COVID relief funds continue to feed one California county’s seniors

August 11, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Food Security

In response to the uptick in pandemic-related food insecurity, California Governor Gavin Newsom supported the “Great Plates” program in Spring 2020, which used federal funding to purchase and deliver local restaurant meals to seniors facing food insecurity. With the recent expiration of funds for that program, San Mateo County has decided to leverage its own COVID relief funds to continue a variation on the program through the next two fiscal years. #covid-19 #foodsecurity

Social Security narrows wealth gap between high- and low-income households

August 10, 2021 – SeniorsWealth and Assets

A working paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston presents a new conceptualization of household wealth that accounts for the patterned availability of wealth components across the population. Specifically, the authors extend the definition of wealth beyond market-based assets to also include estimated pension and Social Security distributions, which are critical elements of retirement-financing savings for many seniors. The paper finds that by including these resources in wealth calculations, the gap in wealth between the highest-income and lowest-income households, which is well documented with traditional measures, appears smaller when also including pensions and Social Security. Findings indicate that reductions in Social Security benefits would have significant implications for wealth distribution and for the economic wellbeing of the lowest-earning households in particular. #weath&assets

COVID-era remote patient monitoring supports at-home care for rural residents

July 14, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Health, Mental Health, Rural

In response to the pandemic, a Midwestern health system created a remote patient monitoring program that allows health care providers to monitor and advise patients without requiring an emergency room visit. The program includes vital-sign-monitoring equipment and a tablet equipped with video communication software, which only requires a cell signal and not internet access. Although the program was created to reduce hospital crowding and in-person exposures in the pandemic, providers find that not only do patients appreciate home-based care, providers are also able to more quickly identify changes in patient status given the ongoing monitoring. The additional benefit of easy check-ins also eases anxiety and loneliness among older adults living alone. #covid-19 #rural #mentalhealth #health

Evidence-based program strengthens multiple dimensions of senior wellbeing

July 8, 2021 – SeniorsHealth, Rural

The Rural Health Information Hub presents a summary of the StrongPeople™ programs, which have been under evaluation since 1994. The affiliated programs equip community-based health educators to lead classes on exercise, dietary skills, and civic activity to expand options for healthy living activities among older adults, particularly in rural places. Each element of the program has a substantial evidence base, with measurable improvements in physical activity, weight, strength, physical function, pain, depression, and other indicators among older adult participants. Companionship among group members is cited as a particularly favored element among participants. Interested community leaders can purchase training materials, then offer the programming to community members at typically low costs. #health #rural

Covid infections and deaths drop to lowest rates in a year

June 8, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Rural, Vaccination

New COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining in rural counties, and in all Maine counties except Somerset, cases are under 100 per 100,000 residents – the lowest they have been since the pandemic started. These numbers continue to decline with vaccination uptake and more people spending time outside, where the virus is less likely to infect others. While rural COVID-19-related death rates are declining, they still remain disproportionately higher than in urban counties. This is in part due to rural places’ greater shares of older adults and people with chronic illnesses, along with lower vaccination rates in rural counties. #covid-19 #vaccinations #rural

Providing more rural transit for isolated older adults can be cost-effective

May 21, 2021 – SeniorsMental Health, Rural Transportation

Researchers at North Dakota State University have published their U.S. Department of Transportation-sponsored cost-benefits analysis on public transportation for older adults. Specifically, researchers weighed the costs of expanding public transportation to increase mobility options with the benefits of reducing social isolation among older adults living in small urban and rural areas. Across 10 study states, they found that it was cost-effective to provide between 3-10 public transportation trips per month per isolated older adult; that is, the costs of providing this transportation were lower than the extra Medicare costs associated with isolation. #mentalhealth #rural #transportation

Rural seniors trail urban counterparts in vaccinations

April 20, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Rural, Vaccination

National Public Radio has analyzed county-level vaccine data from the CDC to examine rural-urban disparities. Analysis shows that the share of adults vaccinated in rural and urban counties is generally similar; however, among people age 65 or older, most states have higher vaccination rates in urban counties than in rural. In Maine, the vaccination rate for urban seniors is 4.5 percentage points higher than rural seniors. In only seven states are rural seniors more likely to be vaccinated: New Hampshire leads this trend with rural senior vaccination rates 5.8 percentage points higher than among urban seniors. This pattern of rural lags is especially troubling given the age structure of rural places: with older populations, and therefore greater shares of the population eligible for vaccination earlier on, rural counties should have higher vaccination rates overall. The article highlights the successes of certain rural places in the Southwest that have focused on collaborative, community-based networks to dispense vaccines, and encourages other rural places to utilize those models for outreach. #covid-19 #vaccination #rural