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Posts Tagged ‘old age’

Photo: Cycling Without Age.

Thinking a lot about ageing these days. For one thing, hiding from Covid all the time makes me feel old, and then there are the inevitable health issues.

How does anyone make a plan? There is no way to predict exactly what will happen next. So far my husband and I do everything we always did, but I have felt a need to start looking at “Places,” to use the word of humorist Roz Chast.

Some Places boast activities that look interesting. Today’s story is about an activity that would make a good addition.

Jessica Coulon reports at Bicycling magazine on a clever nonprofit initiative. “Ole Kassow, of Copenhagen, Denmark, was riding his bike to work one morning in 2012 when he noticed an old, disabled man sitting on a bench outside a local nursing home. The man reminded him of his father, who uses a wheelchair.

“Knowing the challenges that come with limited mobility in old age, and thinking about how deeply ingrained bicycling is in Copenhagen culture, a thought occurred to him: The man likely hadn’t ridden a bike in a long time and, Kassow thought, he probably missed it.

‘I couldn’t get that thought out of my head, that I needed to get this man back on a bike,’ Kassow told Bicycling.

“Kassow acted on his idea the very next day by renting a rickshaw and offering rides to seniors at the retirement home. He ended up piloting a woman, who began telling him stories about living in Copenhagen as they rode around. When they returned, the facility’s staff were amazed at the woman’s energizing reaction to the ride.

“These volunteer rides grew into what is now the nonprofit Cycling Without Age. The organization partners with nursing homes and senior care facilities around the world to offer bike rides to the people who live there. Volunteers who sign up can pilot rickshaws, also known as trishaws, which can carry up to two passengers. There are also bikes that can accommodate wheelchairs.

“The primary goal of the program is to improve the lives of seniors by getting them outside and back into the community and bringing them joy through riding a bike. According to Kassow, the program gives its participants a greater ‘sense of belonging.’ It’s also a way for the younger generations who volunteer to connect with and learn from older generations.

“ ‘It quickly became something that the other care homes wanted to do in Copenhagen,’ Pernille Bussone, the global community captain for Cycling Without Age, told Bicycling. From there the program began to spread into neighboring countries, like Sweden and Norway. Now, the organization boasts chapters in more than 45 countries. …

“Their evidence of this was anecdotal at first. But after conducting an impact study in their Singapore chapter, they discovered that these rides have the potential to improve participants’ reported mood and outlook on life by up to 80 percent.

“While the shorter, one-day outings are perhaps the most common type of ride that volunteers offer, some of their volunteers have gotten creative. One chapter in Sweden, for example, began offering ice-fishing trips using the trishaws. …

“They’ve also introduced bike touring in certain chapters, which consist of three or four day outings in large groups, that include family members of the elderly passengers and staff from their nursing homes. They stay at hotels and often have picnics outside. Some of the bike tours have had more than 100 people take part. …

“The organization is now gaining ground in the U.S. where there are currently 418 chapters. ‘I’ve personally witnessed the joy and effects getting seniors back outside brings to their quality of life,’ Shelly Sabourin told Bicycling. Sabourin was the director of nursing at a care facility in Madison, Wisconsin, when she found out about the program in 2016.”

Andrea Morris at CBN News has more.

” ‘I see CWA as a catalyst for better lives by helping socially isolated elders and people with limited mobility gain access to their local communities,’ Kassow told CBN News. ‘We all know that exercise and fresh air is good for us, but not many people know that happiness and longevity are mainly the result of both a few close relationships and access to interact with several people in our daily lives. I see Cycling Without Age play(ing) a key role in making relationships a human right for all elders in all societies.’ “

More at Bicycling, here, and at CBN News, here. No firewalls. And be sure to check out the organization’s website, here.

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William Wegman is known for photographs of his weimaraners dressed as humans and posing like humans. (See funny video.) Sacha Goldberger, a 44-year-old French photographer, has his own unique subject: his 93-year-old grandmother, dressed as a superhuman and demonstrating how to be one.

Judith Graham writes about the dynamic duo in a New York Times blog post, “The New Old Age: Caregiving, Laced with Humor.”

“Their unusual collaboration began after Frederika retired from her career as a textile consultant at age 80 and fell into a funk.

“ ‘I was very depressed because I lived for working,’ she told me in our Skype conversation.

“Sacha had long dreamed of creating what he calls a ‘Woody Allen-like Web site with a French Jewish humor,’ and he had an inspiration. What if he took one of the pillars of that type of humor, a French man’s relationship with his mother and grandmother, and asked Frederika to play along with some oddball ideas? …

“ ‘It was like a game for us, deciding what crazy thing we were going to do next, how we were going to keep people from being bored,’ said Sacha, who traces his close relationship with his grandmother to age 14, when she taught him how to drive and often picked him up at school. ‘Making pictures was a very good excuse to spend time together.’ …

“People responded enthusiastically, and before long Sacha had cooked up what ended up becoming the most popular character role for Frederika: Super Mamika, outfitted in a body-hugging costume, tights, a motorcycle helmet and a flowing cape.” More.

One of Goldberger’s books is Mamika: My Mighty Little Grandmother. I features a broad array of Mamika’s personae.

Note this Frederika quote: “I like everything that my grandson does.”

That’s how I feel about my grandchildren.

Photograph: Sacha Goldberger

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