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Posts Tagged ‘senior’

Here’s a great story from the Japan Times about a theater group for people over 60. Where do I sign up?

Nobuko Tanaka writes, “At the age of 91, Saitama resident Izumi Noguchi is speaking at his first press conference — at least as an actor anyway.

“ ‘When I saw an advert in April inviting anyone aged 60 or older to audition for a new project called 10,000 Gold Theater, I just felt like challenging myself to do something I’d never had a chance to try before,’ he says.

“Noguchi is the oldest person to join the 10,000 Gold Theater ensemble. …  ‘Gold Symphony, my dream, your dream’ [is] a staging on an unparalleled scale that features some 1,600 performers (not 10,000 as the name suggests) who are all volunteers and almost all amateurs …

“Arts promoter Taneo Kato came up with the idea [when] he was watching a performance of ‘Hamlet’ in which stage icon Yukio Ninagawa directed members of the Saitama Gold Theater and Saitama Next Theater — troupes made up of older and younger actors that he formed in 2006 and 2009, respectively, after becoming artistic director at Saitama Arts Theater in 2006.

“ ‘Out of the blue, midway through “Hamlet,” veteran enka singers the Komadori Sisters — who are actually twins — appeared and sang “I Want to be Happy One Day,” ’ Kato says, recalling how striking a moment it was to see the women, born in 1938, sing those words.” More here.

I wonder how big an issue memorization is for the performers. My friend Dorothy started a group of older amateur actors in Concord, but they do readings and don’t have to memorize. I have many memorized stories, Bible verses, and poems in my head and can trot them out at a moment’s notice. Not sure if I could acquire new ones to the same extent.

Photo: Maiko Miyagawa
Massive undertaking: Seiji Nozoe directs elderly actors during rehearsals for the play ‘Gold Symphony, my dream, your dream,’ performed in Chuo-ku, Saitama City, December 2016.

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Erik, this one’s for you. I saw a book on 100-year-olds in your kitchen, and I know you and your company aim to enable us all to be centenarians.

Sally Williams writes in the Guardian, “Three score and 10 may be the span of a man, but no one has broken the news to David Bailey who, at 76, still behaves like someone turning one score and eight.

“Last month he walked into a studio in London (not his: too many stairs) to photograph some of Britain’s oldest people. The youngest was just 100; the oldest 107. Dressed in a baggy polo shirt and a pair of old combat trousers, small but physically imposing, Bailey flirted, flattered, insulted his subjects in order to get the picture he wanted.

“ ‘We’ve been married for 62 years,’ Shirley Arkush told Bailey of her husband David, one of the centenarians waiting to be photographed. ‘Same as me,’ he replied, ‘but not to the same wife.’ And he gave a combative, high-pitched laugh. (Bailey’s marriage to his first wife, Rosemary Bramble, lasted three years, and his second, to Catherine Deneuve, two; he was married to Marie Helvin for 10 years, before marrying Catherine Dyer in 1986.) …

“He worked at an incredible pace – nine portraits in four hours, and on subjects with a collective age of 917 years. ‘I’ve always wanted to photograph old people,’ he said at one point, after pinning one centenarian in forensic close-up (he had requested no makeup, only ‘a tidy-up’ for the women).

“Not everyone was happy. Joe Britton, 103, Chelsea Pensioner and horseracing enthusiast, said he knew Bailey and had been looking forward to seeing him again. But, ‘That’s not David Bailey,’ he said with disappointment after the shoot – his David Bailey is the horse trainer.” More pictures, more story here.

Photograph: David Bailey/Guardian
Violet Butler: ‘I’m no paragon. I used to smoke and drink, but not to excess.’

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In case you missed it, there’s a new movie about using elderly people’s favorite music to call them back from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The website for Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory says the movie is an “exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music.”

The documentary follows “social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Rossato-Bennett visits family members who have witnessed the miraculous effects of personalized music on their loved ones, and offers illuminating interviews with experts including renowned neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain) and musician Bobby McFerrin (‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’).”

At the Washington Post, Michael Sullivan writes, “The benefits of music to enliven and awaken the senses are not limited to those with dementia. ‘Alive Inside’ also focuses on a woman who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and on a man with multiple sclerosis. The scenes in which they and others are shown listening to music that has personal meaning are absolutely joyous, but they also might move you to tears.

“As the movie makes clear, none of these conditions are reversible. Music isn’t a cure for anything. But it does seem to be a key to unlocking long-closed doors and establishing connections with people who have become, through age or infirmity, imprisoned inside themselves.” More.

Hmmm. It seems that in addition to making wills, we should all be writing lists of the music that we have enjoyed in our lives so that people know what to play. Should I go with “Swan Lake” and “The New World Symphony” or “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “Mary’s Boychild”? Or how about the Platters and Elvis and Nina Simone and Edif Piaf or musicals like Nine and Chess. Anything in a minor key.

I haven’t even scratched the surface.

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Being in the aging-happily business, Erik is always on the lookout for stories about how seniors are putting their own stamp on their later years, after they have given up skydiving.

He sent me an article about a gentleman called Martin Bayne, who has become a bit of an expert on assisted living, having tried one facility that literally drove him crazy and having eventually found one he loves.

Writes Judith Graham in the NY Times, “Sometimes Martin Bayne speaks in little more than a whisper, like many people with advanced Parkinson’s disease. But his voice has a way of carrying.

“Many consider him the nation’s foremost advocate for people in assisted living. … Dr. William Thomas, a geriatrician and nursing home reformer, wrote in an e-mail, ‘He has been able to do what very few others have done — he has told the story of life on the inside of long-term care.’

After his first assisted-living experience, says Graham, “Mr. Bayne relocated to a facility in northeastern Pennsylvania, where he has a single room and receives several hours of help from aides every day. From this perch, Mr. Bayne blogs about assisted living at thevoiceofagingboomers.com  …

Bayne tells Graham how critical he believes it is to reach out to the others around you when they feel down, “Sometimes just a hand on someone’s shoulder is all it takes. Sometimes picking up a fork that someone drops in the dining room on the floor. Sometimes, just sitting with someone. Trying to make people more comfortable. The simplest things in the world can lead to what I call incremental victories. That’s what I go for in my life.

“I sneak in touches whenever I can. I call them sneak attacks. I just go over and touch someone’s hand or some other part of them. Men are in need of it the most. Men are never touched, at least in this culture.”

Graham asks Bayne how he would run his dream facility, and he says, “First of all, when a prospective resident came to visit, I would have him sit down with 10 other residents. And we would ask, ‘What’s your passion? What motivates you? What’s your mission in life?’ If you don’t have an answer to those questions, then we don’t accept you. Because we want a community that is alive.

“There would be a welcoming committee for every new resident. You’d be taken around and treated like royalty when you first come in. We’d show you that we care about you.

“Once you’re here, you’d get a job. No matter how seemingly insignificant, you’d have responsibilities every day. And the emphasis wouldn’t be on you, the emphasis would be on the community.” More.

Some of the article is sad, but the idea that you can keep making things work for you — over a longer period of time than you may have thought —  is something to ponder.

“Dear Sir,” below, is the first art collaboration of Rhian and Ray Ferrer. Please visit Rhian’s WordPress blog for lots more art, http://artgland.wordpress.com.

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Got to love this unemployment story on a 17-month job search by an older worker.
“Count 97-year-old Mary Poncin of Warwick (RI) among the long-term unemployed who have finally found work. Poncin has been hired as a greeter at Kent Hospital after nearly 17 months of being unemployed. She was laid off in January 2010 from a retail sales job. Her first job was as a waitress at a diner in the 1930s, earning $1 a day.” AP

If I were aged and sick and were fortunate enough to be greeted by her at the hospital, I think it would give me hope. Good for Kent Hospital to see a good thing!

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