Candidates should focus on older Californians

Posted: Oct 30, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Joseph Cobery
Chico Enterprise-Record
October 30, 2018

Older adults living in Northern California face amplified challenges as those living in more urban regions of California. Transportation challenges and a shortage of providers have plagued rural Californians for decades, yet the state has done virtually nothing in response, even though its aging population will nearly double by 2030. Already, the percentage of older adults living in rural Northern California exceeds 20 percent of the population.

Passages Adult Resource Center in Chico attempts to close this disparity by providing supportive services and community resources to older adults and caregivers in 10 Northern California counties. Through our work, we are reminded every day how difficult it is to successfully age in place while living in rural California.

The individuals we assist often have to choose between paying for transportation and paying for rent or food. We support older adults because they provide wisdom and experience to our communities and lead productive roles through education, training, employment, volunteering and caregiving.

I commend We Stand With Seniors … Will You? for explaining to statewide candidates why California desperately needs to prioritize older adults and develop a master plan for aging. The state’s budget is not growing as fast as the senior population and we are already underwater in terms of workforce supply, affordable housing, access to transportation and more.

Without a comprehensive master plan to account for population changes and their associated costs, and without proper policies for the integration of social workers and gerontologists into this plan, California’s senior care crisis will only get worse.

The Impact of State Elections on Aging Issues

Posted: Oct 22, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Staff
Stria News
October 22, 2018

Q&A with Bob Blancato (Part Three)

Politics and policy are top-of-mind for many of us, especially during election season. We wanted to understand the impact of today’s political happenings on the longevity market. So we reached out to aging policy expert Robert Blancato to ask a series of questions. These cover the impacts of state elections on aging issues. Read last week’s Q&A on The Politics of Caregiving and Long-Term Care.

In the current political environment, do you think the most meaningful activity around aging-related issues is most likely to happen at the federal level or the state/local level? And does that mean we should be paying more attention to gubernatorial vs. congressional races?

The answer, of course, is both, but I’ll focus on states in this response. State election outcomes can ultimately impact federal government. On the state election side, redistricting and reapportionment for future Congressional seats can be impacted by outcome.

Also, States decide how federal money is spent from the Older Americans Act and other similar programs. So who administers state agencies (generally appointed by a Governor) becomes important.

One should also not overlook Attorney General races as well, with the growing trend of their filing suits against the federal government.

At least three areas in Medicaid could be impacted by the outcome of a gubernatorial election. Waiver requests to the federal government originate out of a governor’s office. In the states that have yet to expand Medicaid, a gubernatorial race can determine if that policy remains or is changed. Also, any future decision about Medicaid, especially if it relates to block granting the program, plays into gubernatorial races.

From an advocacy standpoint, it is important to work for aging policy agenda-setting in state races for governor and legislature. In California, the We Stand With Seniors effort is an example—both the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor have signed this pledge.

Finally, more and more states are viewed as laboratories of good policy ideas, so who runs a state is important.

Bob Blancato is the President of Matz Blancato and Associates, the National Coordinator of the bipartisan 3000-member Elder Justice Coalition, and the Executive Director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs. Bob has more than 20 years of service in the US Congressional and Executive branches, including senior staff of the U.S. House Select Committee on Aging and an appointment by President Clinton to be Executive Director of the 1995 White House Conference on Aging. More recently, Bob serves as the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of the American Society on Aging and on the National Board of AARP. He also serves on the Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

Coming Together to Address California’s Senior Care Crisis

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Dr. Marcy Adelman and Dr. Karyn Skultety
San Francisco Bay Times
October 18, 2018

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.

Nearly a century ago, Helen Keller first uttered the phrase but it still holds true to this day. This sentiment was brought to life at the October 11 Advocating for LGBTQ Seniors in the Master Plan for Aging in California panel discussion co-hosted by We Stand with Seniors … Will You? and Openhouse. It was remarkable to see the wide range of attendees pour into the San Francisco LGBT Center to learn from an outstanding panel why California so desperately needs a master plan for aging, how that plan will reflect marginalized communities and how the community can support the development of such a plan.

By 2030, California’s senior population will nearly double. That’s four million new seniors in a little less than 12 years. Bill Earley from the We Stand with Seniors campaign explained how this epic demographic shift has been a slow-moving avalanche for years. Currently, twenty percent of seniors in California live in poverty. In San Francisco, that number jumps to thirty percent.

So, what has the state done to address this issue, especially in light of millions more seniors in the near future? Unfortunately, not much. That’s where We Stand with Seniors comes into play. Since early this year, the campaign has been working diligently to elevate senior issues among policymakers, break through the media clutter and urge the creation of a master plan for aging so that our older adults, their caregivers and families can age successfully in place.

To hone in on how this master plan for aging will reflect marginalized communities specifically, Cecilia Chung with the Transgender Law Center, Tom Nolan with the San Francisco Department of Adult and Aging Services, Sarah Steenhausen with The SCAN Foundation and Senator Scott Wiener shared insights and experiences from their respective careers.

Not only did the audience hang on to each panelist’s every word, but the discussion also covered in-depth the many challenges faced by our LGBTQ seniors, their caregivers and family members when accessing quality, affordable health and supportive services, as well as prospective solutions.

In listening to community members share their fears and concerns associated with long-term care facilities, accessing affordable housing, dying alone, homelessness and more, it was clear that events like this don’t happen often enough. Bringing statistics to life through shared experiences helps to explain to state leaders why we need action on this issue today, and why California must prioritize all seniors in policy discussions and why—as a community—we must make our collective voice heard.

It’s unacceptable in today’s world for an LGBTQ senior to feel like they have to go back in the closet in order to access long-term care. It’s unacceptable for healthcare providers to discriminate against transgender individuals. It’s unacceptable for millions of our elders to be living on the streets. And, it’s unacceptable for the state to not step in to address these issues.

At the end of the day, the challenges faced by our aging population affect all Californians. Now is the time to come together and urge candidates, policymakers and state leaders to act on these matters.

If you want to help ensure that all Californians can age in the place they call home, surrounded by people they love, in a community where they feel they belong, take action. Pull up a chair. Get involved. Make your voice heard, because together we can do so much.

Dr. Marcy Adelman, a clinical psychologist, is a Co-founder of Openhouse. She is also a Commissioner on the California Commission on Aging, and a member of the board of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California and Northern Nevada.

Dr. Karyn Skultety is the Executive Director of Openhouse. Openhouse is a non-profit dedicated to serving and celebrating LGBTQ seniors in San Francisco and the Bay Area with housing, support and community building.

The crisis we aren’t prepared for

Posted: Oct 16, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Gary Passmore, Congress of California Seniors
The Davis Enterprise
October 16, 2018

In the days before Hurricane Florence slammed into the North Carolina coast, the media was filled with predictions of how it would be the biggest hurricane in history and how much damage the storm would cause.

At the same time, there were countless stories about the preparations that were being undertaken to deal not only with the storm itself, but more importantly the aftermath.

Power companies prepositioned equipment to restore electricity. FEMA gathered supplies and temporary housing to help those who would be displaced. State, local and federal officials worked together to execute well-thought-out plans so they could handle any and all contingencies once the storm had passed.

Unlike the detailed preparations in anticipation of Hurricane Florence — and other natural disasters as of late — there is another looming crisis that America is unprepared to handle.

It is the aging of America’s population.

Among the multitude of challenges facing the nation as a result of its rapidly aging population, first and foremost is long-term care, the cost of which is currently incalculable. That cost will dwarf other necessary societal costs, taking larger and larger portions of state, local and federal government budgets.

In California specifically, the state’s senior population is expected to grow much faster than the rest of the population. According to a 2015 Report by the Public Policy Institute of California, California’s senior population will increase by nearly 90 percent, or four million people, by 2030.

Meeting the needs of this large, fast-growing senior population will pose challenges. Since many have not saved enough for retirement, much of the burden to pay for their care will fall on taxpayers and younger family members, making this an intergenerational problem.

The reason I am sounding the alarm now about this looming crisis is because California does not have a plan. Although the candidates for governor have committed to address this crisis and develop a master plan for aging, neither Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom nor businessman John Cox have offered specifics as to what that master plan might entail.

2030 — when the senior population is projected to increase by 4 million — is only 12 short years away. California is already facing a workforce shortage and one in five seniors currently lives in poverty.

Rather than creating short-term fixes that fail to address the larger issue at hand, California must implement a master plan for aging that tackles a wide-range of needs. Beyond long-term care, the state’s aging population will demand improved and increased access to transportation, affordable housing, caregiver support and much more.

The state’s incoming governor must be prepared. The Legislature must be prepared. And, the media and public must be prepared to hold state leaders accountable. Otherwise, we’ll all be underwater.

— Gary Passmore is president of the Congress of California Seniors. He can be contacted at

Online Extra: Political Notes: LGBT seniors back call for CA aging master plan

Posted: Oct 15, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Matthew S. Bajko
The Bay Area Reporter
October 15, 2018

LGBT senior advocates are backing a campaign calling on California’s next governor to develop a statewide plan addressing the myriad issues confronting the state’s rapidly aging residents.

The SCAN Foundation and West Health, a San Diego-based nonprofit health care provider and advocacy group for seniors, are leading the drive to see state officials create a Master Plan For Aging. Earlier this year they launched the We Stand With Seniors … Will You? campaign to lobby lawmakers and policymakers in the Golden State on the various issues confronting older adults, their caregivers, and families.

About 50 people attended an informational session about the campaign last Thursday morning at the LGBT Community Center in San Francisco. The event was co-sponsored by Openhouse, the LGBT services agency based in the city that helps oversee an affordable housing development aimed at LGBT seniors a block away from the LGBT center.

“We can’t just talk about supporting seniors,” said gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), “we have to do it.”

Both gubernatorial candidates Democrat Gavin Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor and a former mayor of San Francisco, and Republican businessman John Cox have pledged their support. Whoever is elected in November will be pressed to follow through on their commitment to create a statewide aging master plan.

“You are going to have a champion if I can win this governor’s race,” said Newsom in a taped message. He agreed that there is a growing “aging and graying population in the state of California that needs to be celebrated, that needs to be invested in, that needs a plan to address the long-term aging needs of this state.”

Added Cox in his own videotaped statement, “Help is on the way. The seniors of this state are the backbone of our society. They deserve nothing less than our best efforts and attention.”

California has the most people age 60 and older of any state in the country with 8.22 million as of 2018. It also has the fastest-growing senior population, with an additional 2.1 million residents expected to turn 65 or older by 2026, according to projections by the state Department of Finance.

A study released in August by the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank at the UCLA School of Law, found that roughly 3.5 percent of adults in California age 50 and older identify as LGB. The study, using data from the 2015-2016 California Health Interview Survey, found there were 268,800 older adults in the state who identify as lesbian or gay and 163,000 as bisexual. (There is no statewide data for the transgender senior population.)

“We have a growing LGBT senior population,” noted Wiener. “We have not done what we need to to plan for it.”

While the UCLA researchers found that the LGB older adults were as healthy as their straight counterparts, a departure from previous studies, they did discern that bisexuals and Hispanics/Latinos exhibit poorer health and well-being than their lesbian and gay and non-Hispanic peers.

“We really need to hear from the seniors. They need to have a seat at the table,” said Cecilia Chung, a transgender woman who is a health commissioner in San Francisco, at last week’s forum.

CJ Peoples, who attended the event with his dog, Mister, is a single, 64-year-old gay man who lives alone in the city’s TenderNob area between the Tenderloin and Nob Hill neighborhoods.

“The one thing that scares me is being alone when I die,” said Peoples, who is retired. “What is this grand plan going to do for me?”

Roma Guy, a lesbian who formerly served on the city’s health commission and now advocates for prison reform, pointed out that many aging services are only eligible to people 62 or older when the age limit needs to be lowered to 50 or 55 years of age. Many people of color and LGBT people who have experienced discrimination or trauma in their lives confront aging issues earlier than others, noted Guy.

“If we do another strategic plan and the age eligibility for services is 65, those people will not come because they know they are not a part of it,” she said.

The U.S. Administration on Aging requires that the California Department of Aging every four years create a new State Plan on Aging. The latest report, which covers 2017 through 2021, mentions LGBT seniors 11 times within its 104 pages.

“Lifelong fears or experiences of discrimination have caused some of these older adults to remain invisible, preferring to go without much-needed social, health, and mental health services,” states the report.

Noting how difficult it is to accurately count LGBTQI older adults, the report nonetheless estimated there are approximately 380,282 to 760,565 older LGBTQI Californians. And it predicted that, by 2030, that number would nearly double.

The plan promised that the state aging department would “better serve” LGBTQI older adults “through more culturally competent outreach and services.”

A more comprehensive plan, however, is needed that addresses the varied issues seniors in California are struggling with, said Sarah S. Steenhausen, the SCAN Foundation’s senior policy adviser.

“We are hopeful a master plan can start to address these needs but only if it is done comprehensively,” she said at last week’s forum. “Many reports have been written in the past but there has been no action to follow it up. They just sit on shelves.”

Clair Farley, a transgender woman who is the director of San Francisco’s Office of Transgender Initiatives, echoed other panelists at the forum in suggesting the aging master plan be modeled after the report the city’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force issued four years ago. It was completed within two years and set out a list of policies that city leaders could implement in order to address the needs of San Francisco’s aging LGBT residents.

All but two of the recommendations in the report have since been enacted, with city leaders working to address the remaining suggestions ahead of the five-year anniversary of the report next spring.

State leaders have taken a number of steps already to address the needs of LGBT seniors as well as straight older adults. In 2014 the state Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care created a one-inch thick report detailing the needs of the state’s minority senior populations, including LGBT older adults.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story — — about the report, called “Faces of Aging,” it did not call for any specific legislation. Instead, it was meant to serve as a resource for lawmakers interested in pursuing bills aimed at addressing senior needs.

Since its release, state lawmakers enacted legislation that went into effect this summer requiring a number of state agencies to collect sexual orientation and gender identity, or SOGI for short, demographic data on the LGBT people they serve. It mirrored local legislation passed by San Francisco leaders that also requires city agencies, as well as providers of aging services funded by the city, to ask SOGI questions of the people they serve.

The state also enacted a law that required continuing medical education curriculum to include a discussion of LGBT-specific issues. More recently, Wiener pushed through a “senior’s bill of rights” for those LGBT people and others living in assisted living facilities to ensure they were not discriminated against due to their being LGBT. Again, it was modeled after a law he helped pass while on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

But much more needs to be done, contend senior advocates, particularly to assist those seniors who want to age in place at home. The issues they want to see included in a statewide aging master plan run the gamut from affordable housing and assisting homeless seniors to ensuring access to affordable health care and better pay for home health care workers.

One step Wiener said voters could take to assist seniors and others who are struggling to remain housed is to support Proposition 1, the $4 billion bond for affordable housing on the November ballot.

What is driving the campaign for the comprehensive aging plan is “we really want our seniors to successfully age in place,” said Bill Earley, the chief operating officer and general counsel of West Health who is a member of the California Commission on Aging. “How can we build the coalitions we need to go to Sacramento so the new administration hears us and hears us clearly?”

Because, noted Earley, “senior issues have not been at the forefront of our political debate, with a few exceptions.”

To learn more about the campaign for the master aging plan, visit its website at

10-year-old San Francisco boy finishes 50 5K runs in 50 days for charity

Posted: Oct 15, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Michael Cabanatuan
San Francisco Chronicle
October 14, 2018

Photo: Michael Short / Special To The Chronicle.

Photo: Michael Short / Special To The Chronicle.

Many 10-year-olds spend their days playing, riding bikes or sneaking as much screen time as possible. Niall McDermott spent part of his past 50 days running.

Sunday at San Francisco’s Crissy Field, Niall completed his 50th 5-kilometer run in 50 days, a challenge he used to raise more than $4,000 to research lung cancer, which his grandfather in Maryland is battling.

Niall has a mild-mannered nature and appearance. He wears glasses with black frames, has a full head of wavy brown hair and speaks in short, direct sentences. He seemed neither awed nor impressed with his accomplishment, spoke very matter-of-factly and smiled politely when people applauded him.

Niall’s 50th run took place as part of Splash and Dash, a combination 2-kilometer bay swim and 5-kilometer run. Niall skipped the swim but joined the race near the Golden Gate Bridge at the Warming Hut, starting out at a trot with a friend. He ran to Fort Point, turned around and ran back to the Wave Organ, then west again, finishing near East Beach.

As he approached the finish line, Niall displayed a burst of speed, ran between two billowing flags and stopped. As a small crowd cheered, Niall raised his right hand in the air slightly and briefly. Several of the run-and-swim athletes gave him fist bumps.

Niall said he was happy to be done with the challenge.

“It was pretty tiring,” he said, “and I was nervous for a lot of it. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish.”

The nerves disappeared about halfway through the 50 days, he said, and he was partly inspired by the thought that he might get a trophy for his achievement. He was awarded a gift card to Sports Basement and his dad, Ryan McDermott, said a trophy will be forthcoming.

Maggie McDermott, Niall’s mother, said her son was inspired by a documentary she had him watch about the Iron Cowboy, a Utah man who completed 50 Ironman triathlons in 50 days in 50 states. His mom wasn’t sure Niall would like the video, but when it was done he told her: “I want to run 50 5K’s in 50 days.”

Niall had occasionally run with his dad but not regularly, she said. But the family set out to help him fulfill his challenge.

Ryan found scheduled 5K races, mostly on weekends. Maggie took him to the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park and to Crissy Field, both near their Richmond District home, on weekdays and he would run until his watch told him he had gone 3.1 miles (5 kilometers).

The challenge, Maggie McDermott said, was “completely self-directed,” and his parents supported it but suspected he would tire of the effort, mentally or physically, after 10 or 15 days. They also worried about injuries, but his pediatrician said that he would be OK as long as he didn’t push too hard.

“He’s been feeling great the whole time,” his mother said. “No running type injuries.”

Niall did, however, endure a few bouts of sideaches or stomach cramps, a common malady for runners. He went to see a doctor, who said he was OK and gave him permission to continue his quest.

Once it became clear that Niall was serious about making it to 50 days, the family found a charity — the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, based in San Carlos — and set up a website to raise money for the research-funding organization. Niall’s grandfather, John Eng, of Rockville, Md., is fighting the disease.

“It was important to me because my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and I wanted to help,” Niall said. “I think he should be proud of me because I raised $4,000 for cancer research.”

Maggie McDermott said Eng, her father, “is touched and amazed Niall has the gumption to do this. He knows Niall loves him and that this is his way of showing it.”

Bonnie Addario, lung cancer survivor, namesake and founder of the foundation, said in a statement that she was also impressed.

“Niall is an exceptional young man and the money he is raising will help us in our efforts to end lung cancer,” she said.

Niall, in addition to a trophy, was hoping for his favorite food, cheese pizza, and a respite from running. His dad said he was going go-karting Sunday afternoon.

“I’m probably going to take a few days off,” Niall said.

My turn: How the next governor can help aging Californians

Posted: Oct 11, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Cheryl Brown, Special to CALmatters 
October 11, 2018

California’s next governor will face an issue that has the potential to wreak havoc on the state budget: California is aging. We may not think about it, but every day, 1,000 people turn 65.

The Public Policy Institute of California did the math and found that California’s senior population will increase by nearly 90 percent, or 4 million people, by 2030. That’s only twelve years away. If we are to be even remotely prepared for the expected 4 million new seniors that will need services, we need to start today.

This increase will put more stress on our health care system and long-term care programs.

Let me focus on the long-term care part of the issue. I became very familiar with it during my tenure as the chair of the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee.

I dedicated countless hours addressing this issue, authoring the resolution that created the California Task Force on Family Caregiving that is now housed at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California.

Here are three issues for the next governor to consider:

  • As the population of low-income older adults swells in the next 15 years, the Medi-Cal budget will explode with increased payments to hospitals, nursing homes and physicians unless the state adopts innovative and cost-effective programs to provide services, like home-based primary care, expanded Denti-Cal and telemedicine.
  • There are nearly 4.5 million unpaid caregivers in California. The next governor must support and professionalize paid and unpaid caregivers because we are witnessing an escalation in generational poverty as family caregivers must opt out of the workforce.
  • The governor must appoint one agency to coordinate aging services and simplify the process so consumers can find services with a single 1-800 number and website. The labyrinth of departments, agencies, programs and regulatory structures across the Health and Human Services Agency creates confusion for consumers and their families and affects access to care.

When we discuss long-term care for seniors, we are not discussing placing people in nursing homes when they need help taking care of themselves. Long-term care is so much more than that. While it is important that California has enough facilities to provide nursing homes—if wanted by the person—it is only part of the equation.

A larger portion of the long-term care discussion involves in-home care services that enable seniors to age in place with dignity and independence. This topic has gained attention as our nation focuses on an invisible workforce: unpaid family caregivers, saving the system some $87 billion dollars.

This topic hits home for me. I have been a caregiver to my older loved ones throughout my life.

At 12 years old, I cared for my maternal grandmother every day after school, relieving my aunts so they could go to work. And that was just the beginning. Since then, I’ve served as a caregiver to my paternal grandmother, my great aunt, my mother and now my husband.

As California’s senior population grows, we are in dire need for more caregivers. What’s more, we will need to find ways to support their efforts and ensure there are services available to assist them.

Enhanced support for caregivers will, in turn, reduce the burden on our healthcare system as our older adults will be able to age in place while utilizing quality support services.

As I can attest, it is not easy work and the hours are long. But without these selfless people, who would care for our moms, grandmas, aunts, and friends? Especially when taking into note California’s massive workforce shortage.

I can’t think of a better way to honor our family caregivers than if our two candidates for governor make this a priority issue in the remaining days of the election.

Once the confetti is swept up from the victory celebration, the challenge of addressing our looming senior care crisis will not fade. It will be front and center, not next week, not next month and not next year, but now.

Cheryl Brown, a former Democratic Assemblywoman from Rialto, is a member of the California Commission on Aging, She wrote this commentary for CALmatters.

Gubernatorial Candidates #StandWithSeniors and Commit to Developing a Statewide Master Plan on Aging

Posted: Oct 1, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

(SACRAMENTO) – With 36 days left until the election, both candidates for California governor have committed to addressing the looming senior care crisis and creating a California master plan on aging. Currently, one in five older adults lives in poverty and, in just a decade, the state will see an increase of four million more seniors needing healthcare and support services. The public infrastructure cannot address these needs without significant public policy changes.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and businessman John Cox voiced their support and commitment to work on this critical issue should they be elected governor in video messages unveiled at The SCAN Foundation’s “California Summit on Long-Term Services and Supports: Strengthening Voices; Driving Change” conference in Sacramento. Below are excerpts:

“The work you do is so important. The seniors of this state are the backbone of society. They have contributed to the growth and success of the state of California and they deserve nothing less than our full attention and our best efforts… We need to work together to work on a master plan for aging in the 21st century. We’ve got to make sure that our senior population, as well as all Californians, have the ability to lead an affordable and livable lifestyle.”
–  John Cox, Candidate for Governor

“I want to just express my appreciation to The SCAN Foundation for everything you are doing to raise the bar, the expectation, and awareness around an aging and graying population in the state of California that needs to be celebrated, that needs to be invested in, that needs a plan to address the long-term aging needs of this state… I want to extend to you my commitment – not just my interest – my commitment – to lead that charge.”
–  Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Candidate for Governor

“Both candidates understand we must more fully and effectively address the serious issues facing California seniors,” said Shelley Lyford, president and CEO of West Health. “We look forward to working with the next governor to turn promises into policies, to spur transformational change for seniors and their families, and to ensure a better future for generations to come.”

“Having bipartisan support on developing a master plan for aging from both California gubernatorial candidates is historic,” said Bruce Chernof, president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation. “Regardless of who wins in November, we have the commitment of the future governor to implement long-term solutions for aging with independence.”

About We Stand With Seniors
West Health and The SCAN Foundation’s We Stand With Seniors… Will You? nonpartisan, public awareness and education campaign focuses on the specific challenges seniors and their families face in accessing high-quality, affordable healthcare, dental care and supportive services and the cost to the state if these challenges are not addressed. Keep up with #StandWithSeniors by visiting and following on Facebook @WeStandWithSeniors and Twitter @WeStandWSeniors.

Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and ALK-Positive Patient Group Partner to Encourage Members to Join Lung Cancer Registry

Posted: Sep 20, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

(SAN CARLOS, CA)—The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) is partnering with ALK Positive, an online community of over 1,200 members worldwide dealing with ALK-positive lung cancer, to encourage Lung Cancer Registry membership. ALCF, along with partners, the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), developed the Lung Cancer Registry to provide researchers and clinicians with a data repository of information on all types of lung cancer, including ALK-positive lung cancer patients, as well as other genetic subpopulations, that they can use to further research.

“The cure for cancer lies within the patient,” said Bonnie J. Addario, 14-year lung cancer survivor and founder of ALCF. “The work that the ALK Positive lung cancer group is doing to advance research for this oncogene, and all lung cancer patients, is critical to creating a paradigm shift. Nearly a quarter million Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and this patient-driven resource where patients share their information about living with lung cancer allows scientists and researchers the opportunity to learn from patients firsthand.”

ALK-positive lung cancer is rare, representing only four to seven percent of non-small cell lung cancer cases. Because the number of patients who have this form of lung cancer is relatively small, doctors and researchers have a hard time gathering information about the disease and treatments from the patient perspective. The registry provides a critical path to information about this important subpopulation.

“The Lung Cancer Registry is a game changer,” said Tom Carroll, who co-founded ALK Positive with his wife, Merita, before she died from lung cancer in April 2018. “The registry links patients and their data to doctors and researchers searching for better treatments. We strongly believe patient data provides the key to solving the puzzle of ALK-positive lung cancer. The more patients who take part in the registry, the faster we can move towards a cure.”

ALCF and ALK Positive have partnered to create awareness of and increase participation in ALK-positive lung cancer research – ultimately to advance treatment of the disease. With participation in the registry, patients gain access to aggregated data gathered from the community and can learn about the experiences of other lung cancer patients. Additionally ALCF has provided a registry resource guide for ALK members to reference in community outreach and fundraising. The guide also answers patient and caregiver questions about privacy, including how the organizations will use the collected information.

About ALK Positive 
ALK Positive is an online community where non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients and caregivers afflicted with the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene mutation/rearrangement can join with like patients to share support, empathy, and information. NSCLC ALK Positive patients make up only about five percent of all lung cancer diagnoses each year. Since its founding as a Facebook support group in 2015, ALK Positive has grown to more than 1,200 members worldwide. For more information about ALK Positive please visit or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

About the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation 
The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) is one of the largest international philanthropies (patient-founded, patient-focused and patient-driven) devoted exclusively to eradicating lung cancer through research, early detection, education and treatment. The foundation’s goal is to work with a diverse group of physicians, organizations, industry partners, individuals, patients, survivors and their families to identify solutions and make timely and meaningful change and turn lung cancer into a chronically managed disease. The ALCF was established on March 1, 2006, as a 501c(3) nonprofit organization and has raised more than $30 million for lung cancer research and related programs. The foundation has received four stars from Charity Navigator and has earned the platinum GuideStar nonprofit seal of transparency. For more information about ALCF please visit or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

About the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization dedicated to the study of lung cancer. Founded in 1974, the association’s membership includes more than 6,500 lung cancer specialists in over 100 countries. IASLC members work to enhance the understanding of lung cancer among scientists, members of the medical community and the public. IASLC publishes the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, a valuable resource for medical specialists and scientists who focus on the detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. Visit for more information and follow us on Twitter @IASLC.         

About the American Lung Association 
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

State and Local Organizations #StandWithSeniors and Urge Gubernatorial Candidates to Participate in Statewide Televised Debate

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 | Posted by Kassy Perry

(SACRAMENTO) – As a fiscal and humanitarian crisis among California’s senior population looms, prominent stakeholders have called on the state’s gubernatorial candidates—businessman John H. Cox and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom—to participate in a debate focused on the issues that impact all Californians. The statewide, televised debate slated for the fall is co-hosted by We Stand With Seniors… Will You? and KGTV ABC10 (San Diego), in partnership with the California Broadcasters Association and The San Diego Union-Tribune.

More than 20 stakeholders and organizations have sent letters urging participation of one or both of the candidates, including the Aging Services Collaborative of Santa Clara, Alzheimer’s Association, California Association of Area Agencies on Aging, California Commission on Aging, California Health Advocates, California Senior Legislature, Choice in Aging, Congress of California Seniors, Justice in Aging, Kern County LTSS Coalition, LeadingAge California, Los Angeles Aging Advocacy Coalition, Orange County Aging Services Collaborative, Santa Barbara County Adult & Aging Network, Senior Coalition of Stanislaus County, Serving Seniors, The Seniors Council of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties and Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance, with many others in the works.

“Despite California’s rapidly growing aging population—by 2030 nearly one-fifth of the state’s population will be over the age of 65—and the fact that older adults make up more than half of likely voters, seniors have historically, and surprisingly, taken a back seat in state policy discussions and platforms,” said Shelley Lyford, president and chief executive of West Health. “With the support of such prominent organizations, we are that much closer to a time where all Californians are able to age safely and with dignity.

The SCAN Foundation and West Health, senior-focused nonprofits, founded We Stand With Seniors in early 2018 to draw attention to and seek solutions for the current and future challenges facing California older adults, families and caregivers.

“This debate will bring California’s critical issues to the forefront, allowing voters the opportunity to hear the candidates’ ideas and proposed solutions,” said Bruce Chernof, MD, president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation. “The fact that organizations within the aging, healthcare and business industries have all come together to #StandWithSeniors proves this issue transcends party lines and demographics. It’s time for the candidates to pay attention.”

Recent statewide surveys show that likely voters of all ages and backgrounds see and understand the widespread implications of the state’s senior crisis—nearly 84 percent of California voters saying they are more likely to support a candidate for governor who has a vision and long-term master plan to address the state’s increasing need for senior services.

Republican candidate John Cox recently agreed to participate in the debate and organizers await Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s acceptance as well.

About We Stand With Seniors
West Health and The SCAN Foundation’s We Stand With Seniors… Will You? nonpartisan, public awareness and education campaign focuses on the specific challenges seniors and their families face in accessing high-quality, affordable healthcare, dental care and supportive services and the cost to the state if these challenges are not addressed. Keep up with #StandWithSeniors by visiting and following on Facebook @WeStandWithSeniors and Twitter @WeStandWSeniors.