CEAH Newsletter August 2021

Director’s Welcome
The coming of the Fall Semester is always a time of promise. At this time three years ago, I had just arrived in Maine from over two decades in Missouri, my family and I were settling into our home on the north side of Portland, and I was meeting new colleagues and friends at UNE. I was excited to see what I could accomplish at this newly labeled “Age Friendly University.”

If you are reading this, you know what WE have accomplished together. It has been a remarkable three years in many ways, not least the last 18 months under COVID-19. The Legacy Scholars Program is thriving both in engagement and impact, supporting applied research and intergenerational learning across the University. The pandemic didn’t stop us, but instead offered opportunities to explore new shared connections and contributions.

We welcome new contributors to our online programming for this new term. MSW students, Sarah Benesi and Katie Ryan, will lead our online peer support group. We welcome old and new friends to our coffee and conversation events online. I will give my first “State of the CEAH” presentation in October. I say first because I envision this as an annual reporting back and celebration of our work together. We have much to celebrate.

I am especially proud of the new UNE Wellness Center at Westbrook Housing (see below). Planning started just before the pandemic in January 2020 with an invitation to visit from Westbrook Housing’s innovative Executive Director, Chris LaRoche. We anticipated a September 2020 opening; little did we know what was coming. A silver lining of the pandemic – if I can call it this – was the time it allowed for deeper planning and team building. Faculty, staff, and students from across the University are engaged and committed to serving the wellness needs of this diverse community of neighbors and new friends. Sometimes I have to pinch myself… 

Tom Meuser
PhD, Director, CEAH
UNE Wellness Center @ WH
Linking Students with Residents for Wellness

Opening Wednesday, September 1, 2021, in the Larrabee Woods building. The Wellness Center is a formal partnership of the University of New England (UNE) and the Westbrook Housing Authority (WHA). The Center is open to all residents of WHA properties. We are looking into ways that Legacy Scholars can be involved. 

Intergenerational exchange and wellness promotion are at the heart of this effort. The Center will link students from health and social service professions with residents in the provision of educational and wellness-related programming, including a free or reduced cost oral health clinic through the UNE Dental Hygiene Program.

Students will learn about aging and gain practical experience by working with and for residents. Residents will serve as “elder teachers” through their participation and thereby support student learning while also benefitting, personally, from the various programs and services they will offer.

Our partnership will start small and grow over time. Early initiatives include educational offerings and related activities, an oral health clinic, brief counseling and benefits assistance, and consultation regarding functional health. Other educational and cultural capabilities of the University are also available to support this partnership (e.g., arts, history, philosophy, environmental studies).

Read about the UNE/WHA Community Wellness Festival that we held in July.
Welcoming Student Partners
Social Work Students Making a Difference

This semester we are pleased to have three new students working with our CEAH Team.Sarah Benesi, Katie Ryan and Todd Enders. 

Sarah and Katie are both first year MSW students and will be facilitating our Peer Connections online group this fall. If you haven’t already, join our Online Outreach E-List to receive the weekly schedule. 

Todd is a first year MSW student who will be completing his practicum as our Social Service liaison through our UNE Wellness Center @ WH. 

Welcome all! 
Upcoming Programming
Online Schedule

Due to the ongoing pandemic, our interpersonal outreach will continue mostly online through the coming Fall and Winter months. We expect to resume in-person events in Spring 2022. 

CEAH Online events are open to UNE Legacy Scholars and other friends, aged 55 years and older. 

If you are brand new to our online events and haven’t done so already, please Register Here so that we can keep you informed and updated when new sessions are scheduled. There is no cost or commitment to register. 

Our schedule is constantly evolving. To view the most current listing and to retrieve the Zoom links, visit our website. If you wish to dial in via telephone to these sessions, please contact Kelly Abrams, 207-221-4139. 

Fall 2021
17 – UNE Art Gallery Tour
21 – Sustainability is for Everyone 

22- CEAH Update for Legacy Scholars: Research, Outreach, & Other Fun Facts 

15 – Healthy Eating for the Holidays

**You can also visit our CEAH Video Archives Page at any time to view any that you may have missed.
Morocco 2023
Are you a Casablanca fan? Have you ever dreamed about visiting Morocco? Learning about the culture, eating the food, and seeing the countryside?

 *** Perhaps UNE can help make this dream come true! ***
 Did you know that UNE operates a full service campus in Tangier, Morocco? (see https://www.une.edu/morocco) The Center for Excellence in Aging & Health has a courtesy hold on two weeks in June, 2023, for a group of up to 24 Legacy Scholars to visit and enjoy all that Tangier has to offer.

 Sample Itinerary 

 ***Would you be interested in learning more? Possibly going? There’s no commitment in signing up now. We are simply attempting to gauge interest at this point. We will host a Zoom-based meeting and orientation this Fall.

 You may recall that we attempted to organize this same trip for June, 2020. The pandemic would have prevented us from going had we not cancelled sooner for other reasons. We are hopeful that 2023 will give us enough lead time to organize a wonderful experience in a post-pandemic world.

 How much will this cost per person?
It is too early to tell. Around $5-6K per person is likely. The package price will include everything – flights, transfers, tips, meals, lodging, speakers, cultural excursions. We offered an “everything but airfare” option earlier for those who might already be overseas at the time of our trip. We fly out together from Boston, otherwise. 

Are there any issues with respect to physical function?
This trip will involve a reasonable amount of walking. There will be times to rest, too, and excursions and activities will always be optional. Staying back on campus for a day of rest is always an option. The orientation event will cover these and many other questions in much greater depth.If interested in learning more or possibly going on this trip, please register by September 15th. We will offer future opportunities to register if now is not the right time for you. 

Questions – Email Tom Meuser
Legacy Scholars
Tell Your Friends

We want to thank you for being a Legacy Scholar. You are a member of an interesting and interested group of older adults, and through your volunteering and by filling out your health and wellness survey every year, you are helping us to learn more about healthful aging. Right now we have on-going studies on cognition and aging, technology and loneliness, assisted living, occupational losses due to COVID, and …we have a favor to ask.

As we emerge together from the pandemic, now is a great time to form new relationships to promote healthful aging in Maine and beyond. Our Legacy Scholars are our best ambassadors for this work. Do you have a friend, neighbor or family member who might like to join us? If so, please tell them about the Legacy Scholars program and how to get involved. Here is a link to the FLYER you can share. You can also direct them to our WEBPAGE. Thank you for spreading the word!
Bridge2AI Grant
UNE Joins with NU on NIH Research Grant

Earlier this year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new program called Bridge to Artificial Intelligence, or Bridge2AI for short. The goal was to create new ways to link data about human health and function with the analytic potential of super computers. 

You have probably heard the term “Big Data.” This refers to feeding massive datasets, like that maintained by Medicare, into super computers to identify new patterns and relationships. Might the clues to a treatment or cure be found in such patterns? While rich in depth and breadth, most such datasets were not built for this kind of analysis. This is where Bridge2AI comes in. The idea is to create biomedical and behavioral datasets that are built from the start to take advantage of the super computer’s potential. 

A researcher at Northeastern University, Dr. Gene Tunik, is leading a Bridge2AI grant application focused on quantifying human movement. His idea is that subtle changes in movement across various standardized (e.g., Get Up & Go Test) and common life tasks (e.g., tossing a ball) measured regularly over time could be identified by super computers and open new avenues for health-related research. I agree with him on this. 

One population that Dr. Tunik wants to engage in this multi-year project is adults in the second half of life. I and Dr. Katy Rudolph, Director of UNE’s Motion Analysis Lab and Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, will lead the performance site focused on aging for Dr. Tunik and his team. There are seven performance sites in the total application which goes in later this month. I hope we get funded. Even if not, however, I see this invitation as a reflection of our growth together over the past three years. We should know either way by December.