WBFO Older Adults News Desk

The WBFO Older Adults News Desk is funded by the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York and Elderwood.

Gareth Rhodes/New York State Department of Financial Services

Nursing home residents and staff account for nearly 40% of the United States’ COVID-19 deaths. That’s why they’re among the first Americans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. WBFO’s Tom Dinki spoke with New York state nursing home residents, operators and advocates about vaccination, which began this week.


C-Span

Hospice facilities are less regulated than nursing homes and hospitals, and government investigations have shown many are mistreating the terminally ill patients they’re tasked with comforting. A new bill passed by the House of Representatives could help change that.

Gage Skidmore

President-elect Joe Biden recently celebrated his 78th birthday. He’ll be the oldest-ever American president when he’s sworn into office in January. But what will his administration actually do for older adults? Biden has a fairly favorable agenda for older adults, but some worry whether the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession will hamper those efforts.


Flickr user The Javorac

Polypharmacy in older adults has been increasing, as about four in 10 Americans 65 and older take at least five medications, according to a 2015 study from Harvard University. Now research from the University at Buffalo has discovered that all this overprescribing is leading to more hospitalizations and out-of-pocket costs.


Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

The Erie County Department of the Health has begun notifying the county Legislature about COVID-19 outbreaks in local nursing homes, but it is still not notifying the general public.


Bob Wiltshire / WNY Alzheimer's Association

For those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, having access to social activities is crucial. COVID-19 has presented a few challenges for the WNY Alzheimer’s Association, but it hasn’t stopped them from finding socially safe ways to gather an at risk population on a weekly basis. This includes art related Zoom activities with local partners like the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

City of Detriot/Flickr

With COVID-19 cases rising across the country, health officials are warning of a compounding flu season and urging Americans to get their flu vaccination. So while you may not need another reason to get your shot this year, some new research has found it may also lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. 

 


 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The Erie County Legislature on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution demanding the county Department of Health be more transparent about COVID-19 outbreaks at local nursing homes. 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Older adults historically turn out to the polls at high rates. That appears to be the case again this year both locally and nationally, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

New York state nursing homes were permitted to reopen for visitation in July, and since then, many have limited visits to outdoors, keeping families on lawns and patios while taking advantage of the warm summer and early fall weather. 

 

But now, in mid-October, many question what will happen as the temperature drops.

 


Karen DeWitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

A small band of protesters gathered Wednesday outside the state capital to demand that Gov. Andrew Cuomo loosen restrictions for visiting residents at nursing homes. But so far, the governor shows no sign of changing the rules.

Office of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

New York lawmakers may try to reform the state’s nursing home industry in light of thousands of COVID-19 deaths, and they don’t have to look far to find an example in another state. 

 

 


Jacquie Prenatt

Every September, thousands of people march through downtown Buffalo wearing purple shirts to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease research and care. Like so many other large fundraisers, COVID-19 has made this impossible. 

 

Instead, those impacted by the cognitive disorder will walk in small, socially-distanced groups in their own communities Saturday morning. 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

Blocher Homes assisted living facility will officially become a mixed-income apartment complex, as the Williamsville Planning Board approved the controversial project with the minimum number of votes needed.

 


Left: Courtesy of Ondrea Pate; Right: Courtesy of Victoria D'Angelo

More than 40% of the country’s now more than 180,000 COVID-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes, according to a New York Times database. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki has been covering the impact on local nursing homes throughout the pandemic. In this week's story from “The Toll,” he spoke to family members who lost loved ones in two local long-term care facilities.

 

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Republicans are celebrating a possible U.S. Department of Justice inquiry into the COVID-19 crisis in New York state nursing homes, while others are concerned that the action is politically motivated.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

New York state nursing homes have long been plagued by understaffing, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. Despite this, the state Department of Health opposes a bill that would mandate minimum staffing level standards in nursing homes. 

Community Action Organization of Western New York

The Community Action Organization of Western New York has a new program to assist low-income seniors in the city of Buffalo, thanks to funding from the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus bill.

 

New York State Legislature

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker declined to testify at Monday’s public hearing on the COVID-19 crisis in upstate nursing homes, leaving lawmakers to instead question nursing home stakeholders about issues like shortages of testing and personal protective equipment, as well as restrictions on visitation.

 

 


New York State Legislature

Monday’s public hearing on the COVID-19 crisis in upstate New York nursing homes will likely feature talk about reforming visitation policies and a lack of personal protective equipment, but don’t expect to hear from who some consider the state’s most important nursing home witness, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

 


Office of the Governor

The New York State Legislature on Monday held the first of two hearings on the thousands of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents. Questions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, focused on a controversial March 25 directive that required nursing homes to take back COVID-19 patients from hospitals.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

New York state finally gave nursing homes permission to allow visitation July 15, but more than two weeks later, the overwhelming majority of nursing homes remain closed off to visitors. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki examines the slow reopening, which some blame on nursing homes not planning ahead and others blame on what they say are overly strict state guidelines. 


WBFO/Michael Mroziak

Organizers of what was called the Strike for Black Lives say Monday's nationwide event was a call to governments and corporations to confront systemic racism in society and in the economy. In the Buffalo area, 1199SEIU members also used the occasion to raise awareness of working conditions in local nursing homes.

NYS to allow limited visitation at nursing homes

Jul 11, 2020
Office of the Governor

New York State will now allow limited and regulated visitation at nursing homes that have been free of COVID-19 for at least 28 days, the state Department of Health said Friday.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

A New York state report released this week found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial executive order, which placed COVID-19 hospital patients into nursing homes, was not to blame for the state’s more than 6,000 nursing home deaths. But, as WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki found, many, including Republican lawmakers, watchdog groups and medical professionals, still have questions about what impact the order had.

 

 


New York state has been criticized for previously mandating that nursing homes take in COVID-19 patients from hospitals. But on Monday the state Department of Health issued a report saying the policy was not the major driver of nursing home deaths, and that it was instead nursing home workers unknowingly bringing the virus into facilities. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki spoke with Dr. Nancy Nielsen from the University at Buffalo to discuss the report and what it does — and does not — confirm about the state’s more than 6,000 nursing home deaths.

 


Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker issued a report Monday on the likely cause of deaths from COVID-19 in New York’s nursing homes that he says shows the virus came in through infected staff, not through hospital readmissions. 

 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Older adults are most vulnerable to become seriously ill from COVID-19, so even as Western New York and other areas of the country begin to reopen, public health officials warn those over 65 should continue to limit their exposure. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki explores what local nonprofit organizations are doing to help seniors get their essentials without risking their health. 


WBFO file photo

The Erie County Legislature has joined the call for an independent investigation into how New York state has handled the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes.


The McGuire Group

The McGuire Group announced Thursday that Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Williamsville is now exclusively taking care of residents sick with COVID-19.

 

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