Lexi Balmuth and Taylor Patskanick Present at 2022 GSA, APHA Meetings

by Adam Felts

AgeLab researchers Lexi Balmuth and Taylor Patskanick gave paper and poster presentations at the 2022 Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting and the 2022 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Boston, MA. Ms. Patskanick’s presentation at the APHA Annual Meeting received Honorable Mention for the Betty J. Cleckley Minority Issues Research Award presented by the Aging & Public Health Section.

At the GSA Scientific Meeting, Lexi Balmuth presented a poster that summarized findings from AgeLab research on family caregiving and financial advice – including how equipped financial advisors are to provide resources and information to family caregivers and what caregivers are looking for from their advisors. Data from two surveys, one of financial advisors and another of caregivers who were clients of an advisor, were paired together for comparative purposes. A majority of clients said that they had rarely or never discussed caregiving with their advisor; yet 74 percent of clients said that they were wanting or willing to discuss caregiving with their advisor, suggesting an unrealized opportunity for advisors to engage with caregiving clients.

Taylor Patskanick gave two paper presentations, one on findings from a 85+ Lifestyle Leaders survey and panel discussion on financial fraud, and the second on results of a series of focus groups that examined older adults’ attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination.

Lifestyle Leaders who participated in the study on financial fraud reported high levels of exposure to scams perpetuated online and via phone. The majority of respondents reported knowing someone who was a victim of fraud or a scam, and about a third of respondents in both the survey and focus groups had been victims of fraud themselves.

The panelists observed that negative stereotypes about older adults made them likelier targets of fraudsters and scammers. Their status as digital non-natives, they said, may also make them vulnerable. Cognitive decline and misplaced trust in others were also cited as vulnerabilities. On the other hand, the participants said that keeping open communication with others – overcoming the shame and stigma of being a potential victim – was a way of keeping themselves protected from risky situations.

Ms. Patskanick’s second presentation, on older adult vaccination behaviors, looked at how groups of Black and white-identifying adults ages 65+ in the southeastern U.S. described what contributed to their decision to receive or not receive a primary COVID-19 vaccination series. The study leveraged a public health critical race praxis lens and community-based participatory research methods – groups were organized in terms of COVID-19 vaccination status, racial identity and whether participants possessed shared community ties.

Contrary to some possible assumptions about the formation of beliefs about medical harm and discrimination, participants who identified as Black or African-American only minimally referred to historical examples of race-based medical discrimination as informing their COVID-19 vaccination anxieties, suggesting that a historical lens alone is not enough to explain present-day discrepancies in COVID-19 vaccination among Black and white older adults. Generational experiences, community embeddedness and technology-savviness emerged from the study as potentially as influential as other social identity characteristics in affecting the COVID-19 vaccination and similar preventive health decisions.

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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