Contribute! Celebrating Older Adults Who Make a Difference in Health Innovation

Every May, we observe Older Americans Month (#OAM19). This year’s theme, “Connect, Create, Contribute,” encourages older adults and their communities to:

  • Connect with friends, family and services that support participation.
  • Create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health and personal enrichment.
  • Contribute time, talent and life experience to benefit others.

The third pillar of the theme, “Contribute,” holds particular resonance for us at the Center, where we work to elevate consumer voices in health delivery reform in order to deliver better care, better value and better health for every community, particularly for vulnerable and historically underserved populations. So, we are feeling especially grateful this month to those older adult leaders who have contributed their time, talent and experience to improve the way the health care system works for other older adults:

Debbie McCarthy-Arnone – A retired attorney from western Pennsylvania, Debbie has been an integral contributor to the Pennsylvania Health Access Network’s outreach work to educate and empower consumers affected by the state’s new managed long-term services and supports program. After participating in the Center’s Lift Up Your Voice! advocacy training program, Debbie went on to train other older adults to get involved in advocacy on a wide variety of pressing health issues, including the high cost of prescription drugs. Fun Fact: Debbie is featured in the Center’s first-ever vlog (video blog), discussing the power of advocacy among older adults!

Sherman Pines – Sherman is a senior resident of Newport, Rhode Island’s Donovan Manor, retired after working many years for a local social service agency. He has become a trusted person in his apartment complex, whom residents turn to for support as they seek to navigate their health plans. Sherman works hard to involve the residents of his building in his multiple advocacy efforts on issues such as transportation, health care and pedestrian safety. Though already busy with a variety of volunteer projects, in 2018, Sherman decided to contribute in a new way by joining the advisory committee of the Age-Friendly Health Systems Initiative. As part of this committee, Sherman uses the lessons of his own experiences in the health care system in order to ensure that every older adult gets the best care possible; experiences no health care-related harms; and is satisfied with the health care they receive.

Bill Lovett – Bill, a resident of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, worked as a nurse for 20 years. Bill is a Medicare-Medicaid beneficiary who enrolled in the LIFE program (Living Independence for the Elderly, known nationally as PACE) after spending two years living under one of Pittsburgh's bridges, struggling with a substance use disorder and the breakup of his marriage. He strongly believes that the program saved his life and uses his story to help educate other older adults in his neighborhood. In November 2018, Bill traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Center’s symposium, The Dual Imperative: What’s Next for Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees, and to share his own experiences with the providers, payers, policymakers and other consumers in attendance.

The Center is enormously grateful for these consumer leaders, and all the other older adults who contribute their time, their passion and their first-hand knowledge of the health care system in order to make it work better for everyone! Thank you for your contributions, Debbie, Sherman, Bill and so many others!