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Celebrating women and aging

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This day has been celebrated for over a century and also marks a call to action for promoting gender equality.  

It is a time of reflection, and there is much to celebrate, in particular for older women. There are more women over 50 in this country today than at any other point in history, according to data from the United States Census Bureau. Furthermore, women are healthier, are working longer and have more income than previous generations.

This growth in the over-50 population is creating modest but real progress in the visibility and stature of older women. Historically, older women have struggled to remain relevant and feel heard and have had to combat feelings of invisibility. Women over 50 bring a unique set a skills, wisdom and informational context. Older women are embracing opportunities, desire to stay in the workplace, and aim to find their way into more leadership roles.  

Nearly a third of women aged 65 to 69 are now working, up from 15 percent in the late 1980s, according to recent analyses by the Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz. Some 18 percent of women aged 70 to 74 work, up from eight percent.  Interestingly, working longer is more common among women with higher education and savings, according to Jessica Bennett, author of “I am an Older Woman. Hear Me Roar.”

Older women are finding fulfillment in work and in all aspects of their lives.  “Contrary to the cultural scripts that say women are old and useless and in the way — diminished versions of their former selves — in reality older women are the happiest demographic in the country,” writer Mary Pipher says. In her article, “Want To Be Happy? Live Like A Woman Over 50,” she cites research from the University of California, San Diego, along with census data from the United Kingdom, suggesting not only that people become happier as they age but that “the happiest people are women aged 65-79.”

There are many theories about why women fare better than men. One is simply that women tend to be healthier and more active. Women are more likely to have close relationships with family and friends and know how to engage in intimate conversations about deeper emotions with others. 

Mary Pipher goes on to say, “Part of what allows us to deeply appreciate our lives and savor our time is our own past despair. In fact, it has great value as a springboard for growth. There is an ancient and almost universal cycle that involves trauma, despair, struggle, adaptation, and resolution. This is a deepening cycle that prepares us for whatever is to come next. It opens our hearts to others and helps us feel grateful for every small pleasure.”  

This is an exciting time in our history with the emerging strength and presence of older women in roles of prominence. Women are influencing our courts, our legislation, our media, our workplaces and our homes like never before. If you are a women over 50, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on and acknowledge your own accomplishments and the goals you still want to achieve. And, everyone, please join me in taking a moment to think about an older woman who has had influence in your life, and celebrate her for how she enriched your life and the lives of others.

Looking for answers but don’t know where to begin? The Information & Caregiver Resource Center (ICRC) at LifePath can help with any issue pertaining to elders, persons with disabilities, their caregivers, and the professionals who work with them.

ICRC photoDo you have a question about home care, caregiver support, or services for an elder or person with a disability? Resource consultants in the ICRC are waiting to take your call. Contact us at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259.Mary Johnson is the Information and Referral Supervisor in the ICRC. Mary and a team of knowledgeable Resource Consultants are just a phone call away to answer your questions about topics like:

  • in-home care services
  • pay for caregivers, caregiver grants, caregiver support and respite
  • legal questions
  • fuel assistance
  • and so much more

“I just start by listening to their concerns and from that point determining what’s the best direction to go,” says Mary.

“Frequently we do have caregivers that contact us,” she says, adding that family members who have been home for the holidays may pick up on changes that concern them. “All of a sudden they’re noticing that there are some things that are maybe not the same, whether it's mail piling up on the table or bills not being paid, or they’re opening the refrigerator door and there’s outdated food.”

Caregivers and other loved ones who have concerns don’t have to try to figure out what to do on their own. “It’s hard to navigate through all the various programs,” Mary continues. “You really need somebody to help guide you through the maze to get services in place. It’s just not something most caregivers can do without assistance.”

Whether you want to ask a quick question, learn about local, statewide or national services or programs, or find out more about getting started with one of LifePath’s many service programs, the ICRC is the first stop on the way to your solution. Tell us your specific needs so we can help in the best way possible.

“My best suggestion for anybody that has any concerns,” says Mary, “is to just call. Let us help you and your loved one figure out what’s the best fit for them. That’s our job, and I think we are pretty good at it!”

We’re here to help. Contact the Information and Caregiver Resource Center at LifePath.

Retirement isn’t for everyone - a look at reentering the job market

If you can afford to retire, being a volunteer instead of an employee offers the challenge, structure, and social connection that a job provides. A 2018 article on stated, “People who retire from a career but have regular volunteer support placements… are enjoying decreases in anxiety, depression, loneliness, and social isolation, as well as enhanced physical capacity and higher life satisfaction.”

However, today, about 30 percent of adults who reach retirement age continue to work or retire and then return to paid employment. Whether it is due to inadequate financial planning or other factors, seniors may soon become the fastest growing population of job seekers. In July 2017, Bloomberg News featured an article by Ben Steverman, “Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire,” which stated that “US seniors are employed at the highest rates in 55 years.”

With a growing number of adults choosing to work beyond retirement age, organizations and websites geared to help seniors are growing rapidly. Don’t forget that volunteering can prepare retirees to reenter the job market.

Some search sites for employment and volunteering are:

  • AARP Foundation’s Back to Work 50+: for a free copy of the 7 Smart Strategies for 50+ Jobseekers guide, call toll-free 1-855-850-2525
  • AARP Job Board: Find help with job searches, resume writing, interviewing skills, and more
  • EARN, Northampton Senior Center: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Job search engines:,,,, and
  • Massachusetts Department of Labor
  • Veterans Employment and Trainings Services (VETS)
  • Recruitment and staffing agencies offer temporary positions with on-the-job experience and may help with interview skills and computer skills
  • Volunteering: RSVP of the Pioneer Valley and VolunteerMatch

Whether you retire or continue to work, keep active and engaged for your health and well-being.

Volunteer Spring Training 2019 begins in April

Lorraine York Edberg headshotLorraine York-EdbergIf you’re interested in healthcare and looking for a volunteer opportunity, consider signing up to become a SHINE counselor with LifePath. The 2019 Spring Training is coming up in a few weeks, and there is no better time to get started.

SHINE, Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone, is a program that provides free, confidential and unbiased health insurance counseling for all Medicare beneficiaries. Volunteers in the LifePath SHINE program serve communities in all of Franklin County as well as the North Quabbin region of Worcester County and parts of Hampden and Hampshire counties.

SHINE counselors work one-on-one with individuals in their own communities providing information, counseling and assistance on Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, Public Benefits, One Care Plans, and more. Those interested in becoming counselors should be comfortable working with a population consisting primarily of elders and persons with  behavioral health challenges and physical disabilities.

SHINE Counselor Larry Bezio enjoys the volunteer work the program offers, adding that he finds “personal satisfaction to be able to help someone” and “good socialization” with other counselors.

Feb 2019 SHINE Spring Training photo WEBSHINE Program Director Lorraine York-Edberg stands with the six participants of the 2017 SHINE Spring Training: Lauren Soules, Deb Prevost, Michael Naldrett, Judy Curley, Becky White, and Lisa Harris.Counselors benefit from ongoing monthly meetings, allowing them to stay up-to-date with new healthcare policies and programs, which are always changing. This year’s training is vast and comprehensive, and will address changes that have taken place in the past year.

The 2019 Spring Training is set to take place at LifePath in Greenfield from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a break for lunch, beginning on April 2, 2019. Participants will meet weekdays for 11 sessions. A graduation celebration will take place in June.

If you are interested, want to learn more, or wish to sign up, contact me, Lorraine York-Edberg, Western Regional SHINE Program Director, at 413-773-5555 x2275 or 978-544-2259 x2275 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SHINE logo

More about the SHINE Program

The SHINE Program, Serving the Health Information Needs of Everyone, provides free, confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the regional office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555.

MOW Walkathon banner 2019

Carol Foote Headshot July 2018Carol Foote

Can you believe LifePath’s Meals on Wheels Walkathon is just two months away?

Your participation over the next couple of months securing gifts for Meals on Wheels is vital. The more broadly we all share our connection to local elders and the importance of the program in our community, the more support it will receive.

Here are 3 ways to get active for Meals on Wheels:

  1. If you’re on social media, make sure your network is aware of your passion for Meals on Wheels. Post reasons why you are compelled to support the program and take photos of yourself on your walks or with elders in your own life who motivate you. Then tag and share them with LifePath!

  2. Take the opportunity to involve people in groups where you’re already involved. Schools, social organizations, religious affiliations, etc. are all places where you will find others who want to have an impact, like you.

  3. Online donation pages make it easy for those interested to support you and the program. You may set one up through LifePath’s website, or separately (or additionally!) through your social media outlets.

Feb 2019 MOW Walkathon Get Active for Meals on Wheels photo WEBCalling all people & pups: Put a pep in your step for Meals on Wheels! You can help close the $120,000 funding gap to ensure all the local elders who need home-delivered meals and wellness checks get them.

It can be difficult to find motivation in the gray void of February, but here are some numbers to put some pep in your step:

  1. This year over last, we’ve seen a 10% increase in the average daily delivery of meals (500 last year vs. 550 this year). That means a greater need has to be met, and we need your support more than ever.

  2. There are 1137 elders in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region who receive Meals on Wheels.

  3. 52 volunteers drive more than 120,000 miles a year to make sure local elders get the nutrition they need and the wellness check to keep them safe.

I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing about your activity as April 27 draws nearer. Most walkers use the tried-and-true method of approaching friends and family face to face with their pledge forms. Please know those pledge forms may now be found on the LifePath website, or may be requested from me directly by calling 413-773-5555 x2225 or 978-544-2259, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you for your part in bridging the $120,000 gap between what federal and state funding provides and the true cost of the Meals on Wheels program.