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Generations in Music

By Orion Bell | 08/29/2022

I came across a video from this year’s Newport Folk Festival of Joni Mitchell singing a duet with Brandi Carlile. It was the first time in more than a decade that Joni Mitchell had performed live. The video would have been remarkable just for that. Even more so, given that Mitchell experienced a devastating brain aneurysm in 2015, and had to relearn to walk and speak. At Newport, she sang...

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By Orion Bell | 07/20/2022

“[In 1898], Mr. Rose had the occasion to aid an aged couple whom. . . had been friends of his many years before. . .. Reverses had come and they were left in their old age without any means of support.”   Benjamin Rose shared the story above when asked about his intentions in establishing the Benjamin Rose Trust and the Institute that bears his name. A former colleague, whose business had...

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My High School Reunion

By Orion Bell | 06/22/2022

A few weeks ago, I attended an all-class reunion of my high school in Louisville. Thomas Jefferson High School graduated its first class in 1966. Changes in population led to its closure as a high school the year after I graduated, although it continues as a middle school. In its short life as a high school, Thomas Jefferson, or “TJ” for short, won state championships in cross country,...

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Grandma Never Learned to Drive

By Orion Bell | 04/27/2022

My grandmother never learned to drive. For most of her life, this was never a problem. My grandfather drove her. She lived along the bus line. She could walk to the market or the department store. In a pinch, she could take a taxi.  After Granddad passed away, Grandma was still able to find a ride when she needed one. Family lived nearby: my dad, my brother, an uncle and me. There were...

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Mental Health

By Orion Bell | 03/29/2022

I measure every Grief I meet With narrow, probing, eyes –  I wonder if It weighs like Mine –  Or has an Easier size. -- Emily Dickinson Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless? This is one of the questions used in the PHQ-2, an assessment tool that can help identify someone at risk for serious depression. Screening tools also help...

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It snowed this winter.

By Orion Bell | 02/23/2022

It really snowed. It was the sort of winter that my friends from further south talked about a lot when I said I was moving here a few years ago. “Cleveland?  Hope you like snow.”  A call home to talk to my Mom isn’t complete until she asks, “Is there still snow on the ground at your house?” Yes, Mom. There is. For someone whose understanding of Cleveland in winter is mostly based on...

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It's January, Again.

By Orion Bell | 01/18/2022

I saw a posting on Facebook about the start of the New Year. New year. But it doesn’t seem like it. Nothing about resolutions. Omicron, the latest version of COVID-19 has the new year seeming a lot like the old one. Or the one before that. Maybe you have seen the memes, too: there’s the one of Bill Murray and Groundhog Day, or the twin girls from Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining, only...

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Home for the Holidays...Again

By Orion Bell | 12/20/2021

I’ve been thinking about something my mom said.  I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. I wasn’t born there. And I haven’t lived there for years, but it is the place I think of as my hometown. Like a lot of people, my brothers and I moved away from home. School, career and other life events took us other places.  I had moved to Topeka. During the holiday break we would make the trip...

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Caregiver and...

By Orion Bell | 11/22/2021

Ann is a successful attorney practicing elder law. Her interest in this specialty grew in part from her personal experience in dealing with her mother’s rapid decline due to early onset dementia. There were other siblings. But Ann was the youngest, and so her mother moved in with her. Several years later, an aunt began to show similar signs of Alzheimer’s. Family members suggested Ann could...

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The Elder Index

By Orion Bell | 10/26/2021

Each year, the Social Security Administration updates its Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries. Beginning in January 2021, participants received a 1.3 percent increase in their monthly benefit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall inflation rate (the Consumer Price Index or CPI) was 1.4 percent. Earlier this month, the Social Security...

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All Politics is Local

By Orion Bell | 09/29/2021

Tip O’Neill, the long-serving Massachusetts Congressman and Speaker of the House is often credited for originating the phrase, “All politics is local.” He may not have been the one who said it first, but he certainly used it, as far back as 1935 when he first ran for the Massachusetts legislature. All policy, all legislation, touches the lives of people where they live at some point. This...

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By Orion Bell | 08/19/2021

Recently, I was sitting with my dad while he was waiting to be discharged following a short hospital stay. It was Friday afternoon, and while we were waiting for the nurse to go over his paperwork, the phone rang in his room. He answered the phone.After a few moments, he said, “I’m not able to help you at this time,” and hung up the phone. He looked over at me and shook his head.It was a...

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Three Wishes for Dementia Care

By Orion Bell | 07/23/2021

On Thursday, July 15, 2021, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging President and CEO Orion Bell delivered a testimony at The Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) Task Force Public Forum. This testimony highlighted three important recommendations to the Task Force to address quality of life and care concerns for individuals living with dementia and their family and friend caregivers in...

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By Orion Bell | 06/16/2021

“. . .on June 19th, 1865. . . the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863.”Growing up, I remember learning about two documents authored by Abraham...

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By Orion Bell | 05/17/2021

Last week, the swings were back up in the playground of the park near our house. I pass by them several times a day when we take our dog Ted for a walk. It was a mild afternoon and kids were out in the sun. They climbed on the play stations and slid down the slides, but most of the activity was at the swing set. Who can swing highest? Fastest? Who is brave enough to jump? One child turned...

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The Real Story About Guardianship

By Orion Bell | 04/07/2021

There is a fascinating movie on Netflix these days.  I Care A Lot tells the story of Marla Grayson, a professional guardian, played by Rosamund Pike, and the schemes she employs to deprive her clients of their money, property and access to family. The movie boasts a strong cast, including Peter Dinklage and Dianne Wiest. It is a film full of villains and their victims.So, what is...

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Social Workers are Essential

By Orion Bell | 03/08/2021

This year’s Social Work Month theme, “Social Workers Are Essential,” embodies the heroic contributions of the Social Work profession to our nation, including the work Social Workers have done to heal our nation during these times of pandemic, racial unrest, economic uncertainty and political divisiveness.  The concept of social work arose in the United States in the years following the...

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Progress is not Linear

By Orion Bell | 02/25/2021

Throughout the month of February, many organizations observe Black History Month.  It is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions, sacrifices and successes of African Americans, and the roles they have played in the history of our country. Black History Month also serves as a reminder that the people and their accomplishments are often overlooked, or discounted, or forgotten. The...

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By Orion Bell | 01/22/2021

One of the most used words in the aging network is “community”.  We advocate for “home and community-based services” (HCBS) as alternatives to institutional care.  We take part in awareness efforts, Dementia Friendly Communities or Communities for a Lifetime, that promote inclusion or accommodation in civic planning and daily life.  Assisted living facilities and planned...

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“Stay Home!!” for the Holidays?

By Orion Bell | 12/18/2020

What are you doing for the holidays this year? One of the many ways that the pandemic has altered our lives in 2020 is the impact it has on family gatherings:  birthdays, weddings, funerals and family reunions.  In addition to the conversations about what to do in planning an event, we have all asked the question, “should we?”   Is it safe to attend?  Am I putting myself or...

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