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Monday, June 11, 2018 - 1:15pm

Helping people live happier, healthier lives  especially those age 55 and over  was the focus of a conference held on the Mercy Campus on June 6. The program, titled “Living Longer/Staying Stronger” was presented and supported by the Office of the Westchester County Executive, George Latimer.


The free conference included a keynote address given by Donna M. Butts, Executive Director of Generations United, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit with a mission to improve the lives of people of all ages by collaboratively addressing public policies and programs. Dr. Butts’ talk was titled, “Reaching Across Generations: Building a Longer, Stronger Life.”


Among the participants were Commissioner Mae Carpenter, Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services, and Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins. Workshops and breakout sessions covered topics such as meditation, effective communication with healthcare providers, sexual health at any age, and family caregiving.


The full-day program was conceived and organized by Viviana DeCohen, a recent graduate of Mercy’s master’s degree program in public administration. DeCohen is also a Military and Veterans PACT Counselor, and has a B.S. in behavioral science from Mercy. She was assisted by volunteers from various administrative departments at the Dobbs Ferry and Bronx Campuses, student workers, and veterans.


DeCohen says the idea originated through a mentor who heads the County Department of Senior Programs and Services. After DeCohen presented a workshop on relieving caregiver stress there, she was invited to develop a new health initiative that would cover some of the same areas but with a greater focus on generations working together.


While the program is not new, it was the first time for Mercy to host, and the event drew more than 200 participants. “I’m thrilled that the topic seemed to resonate with the community,” DeCohen says, adding her appreciation to President Hall for providing campus facilities for the event and for Mercy faculty members who led breakout sessions and helped with the planning.


Viviana DeCohen

(Viviana DeCohen, right, with professor Ann Visconti, R.N., who served on the steering committee.)