Social Media – Keeping Kids Safe Online

Social Media – Keeping Kids Safe Online

Social media is part of our everyday lives and there is no way around it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat – we all know these apps. But, are they safe for children and teens? Much has been reported about kids being exposed to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, trolling and privacy risks on social media. So, how can parents keep their children safe online? First, let’s examine the safeguards already in place.

Most social media apps require users to be at least 13 years old.  In fact, 20 years ago, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was created to give parents control over what information is collected from their children online. COPPA requires websites and online services to obtain consent from parents before collecting personal information from children younger than 13. Under the law, parents and guardians have the right to review their child’s information, delete it, and refuse to permit further collection of personal data.

Although legislation can help protect children, it’s important that you talk with your kids about using social media wisely. Here are some tips.

  1. Establish an age limit based on facts.  Some studies show that children younger than 11 years old who use Instagram and Snapchat are more likely to exhibit problematic behavior including having online-only friends and showing signs of anxiety and irritability.
  1. Monitor without spying. Regularly check your child’s privacy settings.  Most social media sites give you the option of making the account private and open only to those that have been “friended.” Check on what information they are viewing and responding to. Learn about new apps to make sure they are appropriate.
  2. Protect their privacy. Make sure personal information including phone numbers, location, and date of birth are not shared with anyone you and your child does know personally.  Only accept friend requests from people they know.  Make sure they understand that posting photos and videos can jeopardize their safety and character.
  3. Limit screen time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screentime to two hours a day for children.  Children need plenty of face-to-face interactions and physical activity.
  4. Talk about social media use and keep lines of communication open. Remind your child that what they share online stays there forever – even on apps that are supposed to delete content.  Before sharing they should ask themselves: Is it illegal? Harmful to me? Embarrassing to me or someone else?  You can’t monitor your child’s social media 24/7 so maintaining communication and modeling good social media habits in front of your child can help them with their own social media interactions.

Social media can be great for kids to stay connected with friends and family, volunteer or get involved in the community, meet and interact with others who share similar interests and communicate with teachers and other students. But, parents must remain vigilant in safeguarding their children in the digital age. Luckily, there are online resources to help you navigate social media and talk to your children about online safety:

  1. Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Mass.gov
  2. Online Safety for Children – City of Boston
  3. Online Community and LGBTQ+ Youth
  4. Child Welfare Information Gateway
  5. Commonsense Media
  6. Parentology
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World Elder Abuse Awareness – June 2022

Elder abuse is not a subject that is easy to discuss nor is it something that is often reported.  Yet, it is a serious and growing problem in the United States.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, commemorated every year on June 15th, brings to focus the issue of elder abuse. The purpose is to share information about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults and the resources and supports available to increase victim safety.

Elder abuse is defined as an intentional act or the failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult aged 60 or over. According to statistics from the Department of Justice, at least 10 percent of the population over age 60 have experienced some form of abuse. Usually, the abuse occurs at the hands of a family member, caregiver, or a person the older adult trusts. The trauma of elder abuse can result in premature death, the deterioration of physical and mental health, destruction of social and family ties, and devastating financial loss. Abuse most often takes place where older adults live, in the home, or in institutional settings such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Elderly women, and those over age 80, are more likely to be victimized.  

One of the most preventable forms of elder abuse is self-neglect or the diminished capacity of older adults to care for themselves. Self-neglect can include a lack of basic hygiene or food and proper nutrition, unsanitary or unsafe living conditions, the inability to pay bills, or properly manage medications. Self-neglect is a complicated issue and can be a sign of depression, grief, dementia, or other medical condition. In many cases, the older adult will refuse to seek assistance for fear of losing their independence. However, by accepting help, many older adults can become more capable of living independently and can continue to live at home. 

If you or someone you know shows signs of abuse and needs help, reach out to our Information and Referral specialists at Boston ElderINFO. Call 617-292-6211, email [email protected], or submit a referral online at by clicking here. Our Information and Referral specialists can answer your questions and guide you through your options.

If you are concerned about an older adult or have reason to believe they are a victim of elder abuse, call the Massachusetts-based Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275. You can also file a report online at https://www.mass.gov/reporting-elder-abuse-neglect.

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Living on your own terms

In May, the Administration for Community Living leads the national observance of Older Americans Month. This year’s theme, Age My Way, celebrates the strength of older adults and the many ways they stay resilient – involved, committed, and connected to their communities. At no time was this resiliency more remarkable than during the coronavirus pandemic. Evidence suggests that older adults were physically most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, and many experienced short periods of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Yet, research also shows that older adults as a group were more resilient to mental health disorders than younger people, and that maintaining friendships and connections to others helped older adults build resilience and reduce stress.   

The popular Golden Girls TV series theme song, “Thank you for being a friend,” written by Cindy Fee, may offer some insight as to why some older adults were able to stay positive amid all the stress and chaos of the pandemic. A lifetime of experience and perspective and connections to friends, old and new, helped many older adults through the most difficult periods of isolation and loneliness. It certainly helped Barbara Hillman.

At age 80, Barbara stays physically fit by working out on her treadmill three times a week.  She also works part-time for Boston Senior Home Care, which provides opportunities for her to stay active, involved, and up to date on new technology.  “During the pandemic, learning about Zoom was the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” said Barbara. “Zoom helped me to stay in regular contact with my friends and family. It was so important for me to talk with and actually see my friends as well as my children and grandchildren. It kept us all close.” 

Barbara is also active in St. Paul AME church, where she has been a member of the congregation for more than 45 years. “I serve on a committee that welcomes new members to the church and I help them learn about programs they can get involved in,” explains Barbara. “Throughout the pandemic, I stayed in touch with all new members, providing guidance and answering questions. I love meeting new people and staying active and involved in my faith community has always been important to me.”

Participation in activities, connections to others, and the wisdom and resilience of age, all played a role in Barbara’s ability to thrive in her unique way despite the pandemic’s hardships. Her resilience is truly an inspiration to us all.

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TD Charitable Foundation Supports Boston Senior Home Care

Donation to help older adults remain at home and in the community

BOSTON, MA – April 29, 2022 – The TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, recently donated $5,000 to Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC) as part of the Foundation’s commitment to giving back to the community.

BSHC’s CEO, Meg Hogan, stated, “Too many seniors are living at home, alone, isolated and with little or no supports. We thank TD Bank for supporting our work in 14 supportive housing sites in Boston to positively impact the lives of more than 1,800 Boston residents through the delivery of coordinated, supportive services and evidence-based health and wellness programs.”

BSHC provides continued onsite activities and multicultural community-based services, which provide access to essential services and resources. Resident tenant counselors at BSHC’s Supportive Housing sites act as advocates and advisors, and play a key role in connecting older residents with resources to safely age in place. This contribution supports TD’s longstanding commitment to community enrichment through its The Ready Commitment, a multi-year platform that actively promotes inclusivity, economic vitality, environmental wellbeing and health, enabling people of all backgrounds to succeed in a rapidly changing world. As part of The Ready Commitment, TD targets CAD $1 billion in total by 2030 toward community giving in four critical areas: Financial Security, a more Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health.

Through this platform, TD aspires to create a more inclusive tomorrow – helping people of all backgrounds feel more confident, not just about their finances, but about their ability to achieve their goals. For more information, visit td.com/ca/en/about-td/ready-commitment/.       

About Boston Senior Home Care

Boston Senior Home Care is a private, nonprofit human services agency dedicated to ensuring that individuals, particularly those of limited means, can remain safely in their homes with dignity and independence. Founded in 1974, the agency provides independent living resources and supports to older adults and people with disabilities, as well as caregivers and their care recipients. Boston Senior Home Care is one of Boston’s Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs), serving the neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, North End, South Boston, and the West End.

For more information, visit bshcinfo.org.

About the TD Charitable Foundation

The TD Charitable Foundation is the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, one of the 10 largest commercial banking organizations in the United States. Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has distributed over $200 million and more than 19,400 grants through donations to local nonprofits from Maine to Florida. More information on the TD Charitable Foundation, including the online grant application, is available at TDBank.com

About TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than nine million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,200 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, NJ.  To learn more, visit www.tdbank.com.

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol “TD”. To learn more, visit www.td.com.

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Boston Senior Home Care receives funding from Charles H. Farnsworth Trust to support older adults in supportive housing

Grant will support low-income older adults and people with disabilities most impacted by COVID-19

BOSTON, MA – April 29, 2022 – The Charles H. Farnsworth Trust, managed by Bank of America Charitable Foundation headquartered in Boston, MA, recently awarded Boston Senior Home Care a $20,000 grant. Funds will provide low-income older adults in Boston Senior Home Care’s Supportive Housing program with a variety of services and supports to reduce social isolation and provide access to health and wellness programs that can improve their overall health and wellbeing. 

“We are extremely grateful to Charles H. Farnsworth Trust for their support of our Supportive Housing Program, which operates in 14 publicly subsidized residential buildings throughout Greater Boston,” said Margaret Hogan, Chief Executive Officer. “The program continues to fill a critical role as a “safety net provider” in the delivery of social services and supports to residents during an unprecedented disruption in all facets of their daily lives. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of having community-based agencies focus on keeping older adults healthy and socially engaged. We understand the challenges that social distancing and isolation have created among residents, and we continue to offer new and meaningful ways to help them remain active and support their individual needs.”

About Boston Senior Home Care

Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC) is a private, nonprofit human services agency dedicated to ensuring that older adults and individuals with disabilities, particularly those of limited means, can remain safely in their homes with dignity and independence. Founded in 1974, BSHC provides older adults with affordable in-home care and community-based services. The organization also offers long-term services and supports for people with disabilities, education to help individuals maintain a healthy lifestyle and manage their chronic diseases, as well as resources and supports for caregivers. BSHC is one of Boston’s Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) serving Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, North End, South Boston, and West End. For more information, visit bshcinfo.org.

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Good news is on the horizon. Pandemic restrictions are easing, masks are coming off and people are feeling more comfortable getting out and being with friends again. If you have spent too much time sitting at home and need to get out and stretch, perhaps it’s time to try yoga.

Yoga is an ancient practice that involves movement, meditation, and breathing techniques to promote mental and physical wellbeing. The traditional practice of yoga was quite rigorous. But, many schools of yoga have now simplified the techniques and made it easy for people of all ages and abilities to do.

For years, I’ve worked with Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC) to offer wellness and fall prevention programs, including yoga, for older adults and people with disabilities in their Supportive Housing program. During the pandemic, that practice continued but, like most health and wellness programs, we turned to virtual programming to keep residents safe. Two yoga programs that were converted to an online, virtual format were mindfulness and laughter yoga. BSHC’s tenant resource coordinators were invited to join the virtual sessions along with residents. Those virtual classes proved to be time well spent for all involved.

While mindfulness and laughter yoga are vastly different, they both provided a practical and accessible way of helping older residents cope with social isolation. For eight weeks, residents learned about mindfulness and its benefits to their health, wellbeing and resilience. Each week, I taught new mindfulness techniques and then work done with residents in the prior week’s class were reviewed and performed to help participants deepen their mindfulness practices. At the conclusion of the mindfulness program, laughter yoga was then introduced.

The eight weeks of mindfulness yoga training were spent in relative silence by practicing calming breathing exercises, listening to sounds to increase focus, and scanning the body for tension. But, the laughter yoga program that followed was the complete opposite. With laughter yoga comes chanting, “Ho Ho, Ha Ha Ha” and “Yay!” Happiness was in the air! Attendees learned about the many health benefits of laughter yoga, and they experienced an aerobic exercise that helped them reduce stress, boost their immune systems, burn calories, and lifted their spirits.

During the challenges of the pandemic, came peace of mind and laughter. Both of these qualities are foundational to becoming healthier and happier people – today and beyond. Perhaps it’s time for you to give it a try!

About the author, Debbie Lyn Toomey MSN, RN, is the owner of Ultimate Healing Journey, LLC. She is a keynote speaker, mindfulness practitioner, laughter yoga leader, and corporate trainer. Debbie authored the book, The Happiness Result – More time, More health, More love, More success.

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How to save money and eat right

Higher prices for gas, prescription drugs, utilities and food have everyone worried these days. For those on a fixed income, particularly older adults, finding ways to stretch their monthly household budget is made even more challenging by rising inflation. But, one way we can reduce costs is at the grocery store. You can stay on track with your weekly grocery budget while making sure you’re buying food that you like to eat and is good for you by planning ahead. So, before heading to the store, check your local market for sale items and then make a shopping list for the week – and, stick to it! When possible, buy in bulk for items frequently used and choose fresh produce that is in season.

Here are some other ways to help you save money on healthy food:

  • Shop at farmer’s markets. The Mayor’s Office of Food Access oversees a variety of farmer’s markets across the City of Boston that are affordable and accessible.  A full list of local farmer’s markets can be found here.
  • Take advantage of mobile markets. These free markets provide high-quality, nutritious food to low-income residents.  For more information on organizations offering mobile markets near you, contact 617-427-5200 or visit the Greater Boston Food Bank.
  • Get fresh fruits and vegetables from the $2 Bag Program at Fair Foods. Each bag contains over 12 pounds of mixed fresh produce such as fresh spinach, mangos, potatoes, and more. The program operates five days a week distributing food at churches, schools, housing sites, and senior centers. There are no eligibility requirements. For more information and a list of sites, visit Fair Foods.
  • Find out if you qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP provides a set amount of money each month on an EBT or debit card that is used to buy a variety of food items from a regular grocery store. Money is automatically added to your card each month. For more information and help with enrolling in SNAP, visit Boston ElderINFO or call 617-292-6211.
  • Consider Meals on Wheels. Older adults who are homebound may qualify for Meals on Wheels, which offers a variety of cuisines, including Caribbean, Asian, Vietnamese, Italian and traditional American fare, as well as vegetarian, kosher, and therapeutic dishes. For more information, visit Boston ElderINFO or call 617-292-6211.

For more information on fuel and housing assistance, nutritional resources for low-income families and more, visit our Community Resources page or call 617-292-6211.

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One of the many special days celebrated in February is National Caregivers Day, observed every year on the third Friday of the month – this year, it’s February 18th. The day honors the more than 53 million people in the United States who provide care to a spouse, parent, friend, or loved one.

But caregiving is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Many caregivers feel a sense of satisfaction and purpose knowing they are helping to keep their loved one safe and well, while others face common challenges that can leave them feeling overwhelmed. And, the COVID-19 pandemic has made caregiving even more challenging.

A recent community impact survey conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shined a spotlight on the many issues caregivers continue to face. For example, along with being significantly worried about contracting the virus and infecting those they care for, caregivers are:

  • Twice as likely to lose their job, creating financial hardship and heightened concerns about housing costs and the ability to pay for food and other household supplies
  • More likely to have unmet technology needs, leading to increased social isolation, particularly for low-income, non-English speakers, and LGBTQIA caregivers
  • More likely to report post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, such as nightmares, feeling numb, and being easily startled

Fortunately, there are many caregiving resources available to help. Specifically, Boston Senior Home Care’s Caregiver Solutions program offers services and supports tailored to meet each caregiver’s unique needs. Our Caregiver Advisors carefully evaluate each person’s caregiving journey and develop a plan to help alleviate caregiver stress and provide the resources needed to care for their loved ones.

Services and supports include:

  • In-home support, such as light housekeeping and meal preparation
  • Respite care, Adult Day Health, and companion services
  • Counseling, education, and caregiver training
  • Support groups to connect with other caregivers
  • Specialized support for older adults with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s Disease
  • User-friendly technology to keep everyone connected and engaged
  • Assistance in applying for the SNAP food assistance program

There is no charge and enrolling is fast and easy. If you or someone you know is struggling to provide care to an older adult or person with disabilities, please call our Information Specialists at 617-292-6211 or submit an online referral.

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Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, it’s time to return to familiar routines and the coziness of the winter season. For many, this holiday may have included visiting with aging parents after missing out on cherished holiday time together last year due the COVID-19 pandemic. After a long physical separation, many used their visits to view and assess their parents’ living situation to determine how well they were functioning independently at home. Often this assessment indicated safety issues or the need for other assistance to keep them safe.

Talking with an aging parent or other family member about getting help at home can be a difficult conversation for both of you. But, talking about the need for support at home doesn’t have to be one long conversation. Instead, when the moment is right, think about addressing the issue into everyday conversation. Then suggest small changes that will keep them safe, comfortable, and able to maintain their independence. And, Boston Senior Home Care can help. We offer a variety of programs and services designed to help older adults remain safe and independent in their place of choice. For example:

  • If you or someone you care for needs help at home, we can help you with personal care services, home-delivered meals, home safety modifications and more. Learn more.
  • Do you or does your loved one need help paying for groceries? We can help determine if you qualify for SNAP food benefits. Learn more.
  • Perhaps now is the time to look into long-term services and supports to keep your parent or family member safe and healthy at home. Learn more.

We also offer a variety of services and supports for caregivers and people with disabilities. Take a few minutes to explore our website to learn about all we can offer.

You can also contact us at 617-292-6211 or submit a referral online or email us [email protected].

All of us at Boston Senior Home Care wish you and your loved ones a safe and healthy new year!

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Sean Rogers Named Managing Director of Care Coordinate, LLC

BOSTON, December 14, 2021 – Care Coordinate, a statewide network that provides access to high-quality and cost-effective home and community-based services, has named Sean Rogers as its Managing Director. 

A senior-level executive with extensive home care and community-based experience, Rogers most recently served as Vice President of Strategy and Development at Amedisys, a leading provider of in-home healthcare for older adults. Additionally, he has held state government leadership positions at the Executive Office of Elder Affairs where he served as Director of Operations, and with the Department of Mental Health as Director of Budget and Core Services for the metro- suburban region.

In this new position, Rogers will leverage the strength of Care Coordinate’s network of Aging Services Access Points (ASAP) to offer a single, statewide entity for insurance plans, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), and other providers and payors to manage and administer long-term services and supports that drive quality care and improved outcomes for its partners. Services offered include in-home case management, care transitions, provider network management, third-party billing and claim operations, and consultative solutions.

“Sean has the technical, operational, and programmatic expertise to lead this newly formed LLC,” said Allan Ouimet, Executive Director of Highland Valley Elder Services, Inc., and President of Care Coordinate’s Board of Directors. “I am confident that his extensive knowledge of healthcare and home care will aid in the development of strategic alliances and contractual efficiencies to better serve the medical and insurance industry in Massachusetts. This will ultimately lead to better care and quality outcomes for older adults who wish to remain in their own home and community.”

“I am excited to work with the exceptional leadership team of Care Coordinate’s Board of Directors and to lead the organization in the delivery of efficient, effective, and high-quality community-based care,” said Rogers. “I am looking forward to leveraging the decades-long expertise of the ASAP network and will work to further expand the value it has brought to the long-term services and supports community.”

Rogers received his education and training in Human Resource Management, Financial Systems, Administration, and Leadership from the United States Coast Guard. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Home Care Aide Council and serves as President of the Board of the Home Care Aide Foundation.

Read more about Care Coordinate at carecoordinate.com.

About Care Coordinate

Care Coordinate, LLC is a limited liability corporation that serves as a single-point-of-entry for healthcare providers to access a robust network of nonprofit agencies and community-based services providers that facilitate integrated care to older adults and individuals with disabilities. As an organization, Care Coordinate’s mission is to simplify the administrative processes and address the operational challenges often experienced by home- and community-based services payors and providers. Care Coordinate’s services include case management, care transitions, provider network management, and consultative solutions that drive quality care and improved outcomes for our partners.

Sean Rogers, Managing Director, Care Coordinate, LLC

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