Massachusetts Gerontology Association seeks to turn ideas into practice


By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer

Gerontology [jer-uh n-TOL-uh-jee] noun 1. the branch of science that deals with aging and the problems of aged persons.

The mission of Massachusetts Gerontology Association (MGA) is to convene researchers, practitioners and public policymakers in Massachusetts to create a dialogue on critical issues related to aging and to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from academic research to day-to-day practice.

The MGA was founded in 1974 by a group of gerontologists headed by the late Professor Louis Lowy of Boston University. These charter members emphasized the need for an ongoing exchange of information and practice within the commonwealth.

“We have about 200 members and about 100 attend each semi-annual conference,” explained MGA President Joan Hyde, Ph. D., UMass Boston Department of Gerontology. “It’s a wholly volunteer ‘aging network,’ involving people in biomedical and aging research. We work with town councils on aging as well as the White House Council on Aging in conjunction with service and product providers.”

The MGA Board of Directors includes vice presidents Emily Judd (Boston Senior Home Care) and Kathy Burnes (Jewish Family & Children’s Service); Treasurer Lisa Gurgone (Home Care Aide Council); and secretaries and communications liaisons Joann Montepare (Lasell College), Julie Norstrand (Boston College), Arnaa Alcon (Bridgewater State University), Jayne Colino (Newton Senior Services), and Guillermo Ernest Gonzales (Boston University).

Hyde comes from New York City although she has been Massachusetts resident since 1973. Both her grandmother and her husband’s grandmother suffered from dementia, which spurred her to become executive director of the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Association. At that time she had been working with adolescents in substance abuse programs. Her personal experience kindled a realization that older people suffering from the negative aspects of aging needed a specific support network providing physical, mental, and lifestyle help. Her position at UMass Boston involves teaching a master’s degree-level program on aging services.

The fall conference was scheduled to be held Oct. 23 at Lasell College in Newton, in cooperation with Boston Bridge.

“The October conference will be concerned in part with a ‘changing of the guard’ as the association seeks to attract newer members to leadership positions,” noted Hyde. “We’re not AARP. We’re a group of academics and service providers working together to support an aging population.”

MGA is affiliated with the Organization of Gerontology Societies of America which works to bring academics and practitioners together to provide services for older Americans. It is also affiliated with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

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