By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Boston Seniors Count, a weekly radio broadcast hosted by staff members of the Massachusetts Commission on Elder Affairs, presents guests and topics of interest to seniors. It is heard each week on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and Mondays at 9 a.m., streaming on web-based zumix.org/programs/zumix-radio, and is rebroadcast Sundays at 7:30 a.m. on WJIB 740 AM radio.
Seniors Count is an ongoing outreach initiative under the direction of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh (started by the late Mayor Thomas Menino) with the support of Boston’s Commissioner on Affairs of the Elderly. The program’s purpose is “to identify and reach out to those members of the city’s elderly population who live in private housing arrangements and help provide them with the information and services they [may] need.” Since the program’s inception in 1999, it has reached many thousands of Boston seniors. In turn, the mission of the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly – which operates as a part of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services – “seeks to enhance the quality of life for Boston’s senior citizens through planning, coordinating, and monitoring the delivery of services to the elderly in an efficient and effective manner.”
The Elderly Commission, as Boston’s Area Agency on Aging and Council on Aging, promotes the active involvement of seniors in the life and health of their neighborhoods. The Elderly Commission is also a partner agency in the Suffolk County Aging and Disability Resource Consortium (ADRC). The goal of the ADRC is to enhance collaborations between elder and disability service organizations, ensuring there is no “wrong door” when an elder or person with a disability is looking for assistance and services. The Aging and Disability Resource Consortium of Suffolk County sponsors the Boston Center for Independent Living, Boston Senior Home Care, and Central Boston Elder Services. Other senior service organizations are located throughout the state. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services includes the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Department of Elder Affairs, Office of Health Services, Office of Children, Youth, and Family Services, Office of Disabilities and Community Services, and Department of Veterans’ Services.
ZUMIX started in 1991 as a way to counter ever-growing youth violence in Boston. It began as a summer songwriting program with several dozen kids, several hundred dollars, and the hope that giving youth something they could be excited about could change their lives for the better. This expanded to a free outdoor Summer Concert Series and today features year-round events in East Boston. It’s broadcast of Boston Seniors Matter is an expansion into a broader market than just youth-oriented programming.
Tula Mahl, deputy commissioner of policy and communications for the city of Boston’s Commission on Affairs of the Elderly, recently spoke with The 50 Plus Advocate.
Mahl produces Boston Seniors Count, and has done so for the past six years.
“It’s a 25-minute show,” she explained, featuring seniors as guests, who provide a variety of information and entertainment. From explaining benefits and help available to seniors, the show also features the reading of memoirs, broadcast of plays and opera selections, featured singers, developments in health science (including Alzheimer’s care and research) – “anything relevant to older adults,” she noted. Mahl, originally from Texas, attended Wellesley College as an undergraduate and then Emerson College.
In addition to Zumix web radio, Boston Seniors Count is also available on Boston-only Boston Neighborhood Network TV and WJIB radio, as noted above.
Since 2002, work by The Boston Commission on Affairs of the Elderly has been regularly and favorably evaluated by the Gerontology Institute and by the College of Public and Community Service, University of Mass. Boston.
One of the topics covered by Boston Seniors Count is Assisted Living for Seniors at Commonwealth Assisted Living at South Boston. Specially trained caregivers work with residents, their families and personal physicians to create individual care plans to address the residents’ needs, while allowing them the freedom to continue to do some things for themselves. Staff is onsite and available 24-hours a day for help with bathing, dressing, medication, and to provide other services such as housekeeping, scheduled transportation and activities.
For more information on Boston Seniors Count and ZUMIX Radio, readers are encouraged to call Deputy Commissioner Tula Mahl, producer, at 617-635-1922.