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Photo: Sarah Johnson/
The Guardian 
A remote nurse oversees a virtual lunch for older people in Helsinki. “The client feels like they are a part of a bigger thing. It’s also guaranteed that they eat properly,” she says.

Because my sister’s brain cancer is so troubling and her needs for care are growing so fast, I have started to give more serious thought to my own future and the more-common problems of ageing. I may never bite the bullet about a retirement community, but I plan to look into what they offer just in case.

Meanwhile Finland, which seems to be on the cutting edge of everything from preschool to end-of-life care, has set an example of keeping people in their homes longer using technology, as costs for in-person services increase.

Sarah Johnson writes at the Guardian, “It’s 11.30 am on a midweek June morning in Helsinki, Finland. Duvi Leineberg, a remote care nurse, is doing the lunch rounds. But instead of jumping in a car and visiting each person one by one, she is sitting in an office looking at a large computer screen where she can see into seven people’s homes. Most are sitting at a table preparing to tuck into some food.

“This is a virtual lunch group, set up to make sure older people receiving home care services in the city eat regularly and at the right time. Leineberg runs the session. She starts by checking everyone has their food and that it is warmed up. Some have soup, others have pre-prepared meals that have been delivered by home care services. People also sip coffee.

“One screen shows an empty backdrop and she calls the home to check her client is all right. He walks past the screen but says he isn’t hungry and doesn’t want to eat right now. Leineberg then asks everyone if they have any plans for the afternoon. A few reply that they will go out for a walk.

“A former hospital nurse, Leineberg sees the value of such groups. ‘Firstly, the client feels like they are a part of a bigger thing. It’s also guaranteed that they eat properly. If I spot anything that seems out of the ordinary, I can call the home care nurses who will pay them a visit if necessary.’

“Her clients are also fans of the lunch group. Riitta Koskinen, 80, says through a translator: ‘I’m old and living alone and it’s nice to have the company. We eat at the same time – food tastes better when you’re with others – and I’ve really enjoyed it. It makes me eat and it’s good to see other people.’

“Finland has a rapidly ageing population and recruitment problems in health and care. By 2070, one in three Finns is expected to be over 65. At the same time there has been a huge decline in the birth rate and the number of Finns of working age is expected to fall by around 200,000 by 2050. As a result, the demand for and cost of care services are growing while tax revenues are decreasing. …

“The virtual lunch group is one aspect of Helsinki’s remote care – where clients have a tablet that links up with remote care nurses in a service centre. Remote care appointments are set up to check on clients throughout the day and to make sure they take the relevant medication. There are 800 home care clients, and nurses carry out 24,000 remote care visits a month. By the end of 2019, the service hopes to cater for 1,100 clients. …

Over the course of one shift, a remote care nurse can carry out over 50 visits – which works out almost 90% cheaper than if they had knocked on each of their client’s doors.

“Little wonder that the city’s service centre is hoping to start a remote dinner group soon as well as other sessions. They already take clients virtually to concerts and shows. Hanna Hämäläinen, who works as a planner at the service, remembers when she took 64 clients virtually to a carol concert. A screen was placed on the front row and the priest greeted them while they watched at home on their tablets. She remembers: ‘The funny thing is that even if some had memory problems, they knew all the lyrics. That is the power of music and made me see that if there’s a concert, we should be there.’ …

“Roope Leppänen, medical director of Espoo hospital, … maintains that remote care will never fully replace physical care but that, with advancing technology and future generations that are used to digital life, it will become more and more important. But he doesn’t expect it to totally replace physical care services. ‘People will need physical visits as well. It’s my belief that [remote care] can’t completely replace that, but tech will make [things] even easier in 10 years time.’

“Both the staff and patients I meet seem to like it. Tiina Kosonen, a remote care nurse, says she is able to build close relationships with her clients. ‘I like it and the patients get a lot from it. It’s really intensive this contact. We look into each other’s eyes and talk together face to face.’ ”

More at the Guardian, here.

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120218-Luna-and-Stella-rings-Knausgaard-book

I’m reading Book Six of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle. The rings with the birthstones of my grandchildren are from Luna & Stella.

It’s always nice to learn that something you do anyway is good for your health. For example, I love to read. Now an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune tells me that reading books may help older folks stave off dementia.

Doug Williams writes, “If you want to live a long, healthy life, be sure to exercise, eat your veggies, get plenty of sleep and surround yourself with family and friends.

“Oh, and read a few good books each year, too.

“Several studies in recent years indicate that reading — especially reading books — is beneficial to health, wellness and even longevity.

“In 2016, research done by a team at the Yale University School of Public Health found that of more than 3,600 men and women 50 and older in a long-term health and retirement study, book readers — reading at least 3½ hours per week — had a 20 percent lower risk of dying over the next 12 years than non-book readers.

“Books, even more than long magazine or newspaper articles, seem to enhance quality of life, the researchers said.

“ ‘You have to engage more, hold on to information longer,’ says Avni Bavishi, one of the researchers and authors of the study done while she was completing her master’s in chronic disease epidemiology at Yale. …

“Bavishi, now a medical student at Northwestern, says regular book readers can find relaxation in reading. That can be an oasis — an old-school refuge — in this era of constantly changing stimuli from the Internet and 24-hour news cycle. Lifelong readers, too, may develop better critical thinking skills, vocabulary and empathy that can improve quality of life.

“The researchers believe books promote ‘deep reading’ that is a slow, immersive process. That cognitive engagement may help a reader over his or her lifetime to develop better skills for reasoning and concentration that can improve quality of life (better schools, jobs, income, standard of living). Plus, reading books can ‘promote empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence’ that can help create what they call a ‘survival advantage.’ …

“A study published in the journal Neurology in 2013 also cited the benefits of a lifetime of reading as a barrier to ‘late-life cognitive decline.’ It found that although there is no cure for dementia, ‘reading, writing and playing games’ can slow the progress of that affliction. …

“In a 2009 study at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, researchers found reading reduced stress levels by 68 percent, better even than listening to music or taking a walk. Stress reduction was indicated by a lower heart rate and reduced muscle tension.

“Other studies show reading — especially before bedtime — promotes better sleep. It also can enhance social skills and can boost overall intelligence and academic success. …

“In 2012, Stanford researchers — using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — tracked blood flow to the brain of men and women critically reading excerpts of a Jane Austen novel. They found positive physical results, including increased blood flow to the brain in general, not just to the areas responsible for ‘executive function.’ ” More here.

FYI, I post mini reviews of all the books I read at GoodReads. You can email me at suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com about that.

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Photo: Kristen Norman/NPR
Nearly half of the people in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side (where artist Matthew Hoffman created the above installation) live below the poverty line. Seniors living there had no idea there were public services that might help them.

Many older people want to stay in their homes a long time — if not forever. But when a friend commented the other day that if you stay too long, “the only person you eventually socialize with is your caregiver,” it got me thinking about the down side.

That’s why I was curious when Ina Jaffe weighed in at National Public Radio (NPR).

From her report: “Debra Thompson is throwing a block party. She has good weather for it — never a sure thing in Chicago — a warm and sunny autumn afternoon. Music is playing, hot dogs are grilling.

“But this party isn’t just for fun. Thompson is the volunteer chairwoman of Englewood Village, an organization that connects low-income older adults on the city’s South Side with services from nutrition to job assistance to home repair. And this is how she is reaching out to potential new members. …

“The Englewood Village has been around since 2015. But its roots go back 17 years and all the way to Boston, where Susan McWhinney-Morse and her friends were grappling with anxieties about aging. They wanted to stay in their homes as long as possible. They wanted to remain in their community on Beacon Hill.

“After a couple of years of effort, they produced the concept now known as the village. It’s a membership-run organization that provides access to services like transportation, help with household chores, even trouble-shooting computer problems, along with classes and social activities. …

“An independent organization has been founded to support the expansion of villages. It’s called the Village to Village Network, which has a map on its website showing where villages are located. …

“This fall, we traveled around the country to take a look at how villages are evolving. We found an effort in Chicago to create villages that serve low-income communities of color. We found a village in rural California where older adults don’t just receive services, they also provide them. Ultimately, what we found was that in practice, the village model isn’t so much a fixed formula, as an expression of older adults’ desires to age with dignity and independence. …

“At her Chicago block party, Debra Thompson cannot be ignored, with her dyed blond hair and a bright yellow T-shirt. She calls out to everyone, hoping they’ll fill out her survey so she can find out what they need. And Englewood seniors have a lot of needs. Nearly half of the people in this African-American neighborhood live below the poverty line. But many of them have no idea that there are public services that might help them. Thompson wants to change that.

“And she persists even when some people are reluctant to put their names on anything. …

“Thompson also passes out information on a lottery for free roof repairs and discounts on utilities and tells people about a service that can help frail older people remain in their homes. …

“[One] observer of the block party is Joyce Gallagher, and she likes what she sees. She is Chicago’s deputy commissioner for senior services. Gallagher loved the village concept from the first time she heard about it and wanted every older adult to have access to such a supportive community. The hang-up was the dues. The Chicagoans who could benefit the most from a village couldn’t fork over a few hundred bucks a year on top of paying for services.

“Then Gallagher had her lightbulb moment. What were the dues for? They paid for office space and computers and phones. But her department already had all of that in its 21 senior centers. …

“So Gallagher began to call meetings at senior centers around the city to see whether anyone was even interested in becoming part of this. She had no expectations about how she would be received. …

“In Englewood, Debra Thompson was interested. In fact, the Village has become her cause. ‘I devote every day to my seniors,’ she says. ‘I’m always looking for ways and partnerships and issues that can assist us to assist them in achieving what they need.’ ”

Read how the movement started in Boston, here. My husband’s friend, who lives on Beacon Hill, told us about it in 2000. Other forms of the concept are practiced around the country. For example, check out several groups in Vermont, here.

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A recent post at Asakiyume’s blog reminded me of Young at Heart, the senior-citizen chorus that inspired a movie I recommended to readers in 2011.

Asakiyume wrote, “One of the women I work with at the jail is in the choir there. I got permission to go in for the performance. The jail choir group is called the Majestics, and they’ve been mentored by a senior-citizen choir called Young at Heart, all of whom were wearing T-shirts that said ‘We put the “zen” in “senior citizen.'”

“Young at Heart performed as the opening act … Then the Majestics took the stage. There were six women, and they covered a great age range (three in their twenties, two in their thirties-forties, and one who was even older than me) and ethnically diverse (two Black, one Hispanic, three White). They sang well-known songs with lots of different flavors (hip-hop, pop, blues, soul), and all the choir members were featured at least once … The entire thing was a huge success; the audience was **so** supportive. …

“At the end the programs director called for an encore, and there hadn’t been a song laid by for that, but the Young At Heart choir sang “Forever Young” … Each time someone sang a solo, he or she linked arms with one of the members of the Majestics and brought them forward, and I could see tears in my student’s eyes and I had tears in mine, because–as the chaplain who was present pointed out–that song is a benediction, and it was so great to hear those words of blessing and hope and expectation directed at the audience in the jail:

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
And may you stay
Forever young”

-@-

So lovely. Such songs take on extra meaning when sung by seniors or by people who feel hopeless.

The Young at Heart movie, which I still hope you’ll see, was also full of resonance. And it exposed me to popular music like Coldplay’s “I will try to fix you.” Whenever that song comes on the radio, I see in my mind’s eye the old guy with the oxygen tank who drew tears from his audiences. He is surely gone now, but not that memory.

That the chorus has gone beyond inspiring seniors and their families to inspiring prisoners who have little to make them feel positive or hopeful — well, it’s just too amazing.

More at Asakiyume’s blog, here.

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A while back, I wrote about Lata, which teaches older folks around the world to create street art with spray paint. I follow Lata on Instagram and can confirm that the results of senior graffiti are a hoot.

Now Vicky Thornton writes at Arts Professional about starting a modern dance troupe for people over 60. There’s hope for us all.

She writes, “DANCE SIX-0 started in response to a visit to the Elixir Festival at Sadler’s Wells that included a performance by the Company of Elders, a contemporary dance company for people aged over 60. Judith Bossano, Meg Edgar and Philippa Heseltine were inspired to establish a similar opportunity for contemporary dance in Salisbury and sought my advice and support.

“I was overwhelmed by their effervescence in describing what they had seen, their enthusiastic response and a very clear directive that ‘we need this’. Judith spoke passionately and eloquently about why at the age of 80 she felt it absolutely necessary to keep moving and dancing and experience the joy she feels when performing. …

“Meg felt this was something needed in Salisbury, recognising that dance brings many physical, social and emotional benefits that are so important for overall wellbeing. She identified Salisbury Playhouse as an ideal venue, considering its location, facilities and audience base.

“Salisbury Playhouse enthusiastically recognised the project’s potential, offering support to trial the idea. We were keen to emphasise that it cater for anyone over 60 with varying levels of mobility. The playhouse facilitated three taster workshops with three professional dance practitioners …

“The high demand for places resulted in two open classes and we held an audition for our inaugural performance company, selecting nine women and three men. …

“At the Wiltshire Public Health Awards in April we won our category of ‘Tackling Health Inequalities in the Community’ for our work with people aged over 60. We hope this award reflects our commitment to offering opportunities but also in challenging stereotypes of what older people can and should do.”

I’m down with that. Read more at Arts Professional, here.

Photo: Adrian Harris/ArtsProfessional
DANCE SIX-0 is a contemporary dance company for the over 60s in Salisbury, UK.

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In Helsinki, Finland, where young people traditionally leave home at 18 but can no longer afford urban rents, Millennials are applying by the hundreds to live with the elderly.

According to Kae Lani Kennedy at Matador Network, “Retirement homes are serving as more than a community for the elderly. These facilities are providing affordable housing for the city’s growing population of homeless millennials.

“ ‘It’s almost like a dorm, but the people aren’t young. They’re old,’ explains Emil Bostrom, a participant in ‘A Home That Fits,’ a new housing project that allows millennials to move into retirement communities. Bostrom is a 24-year-old kindergarten teacher, and though he has a steady income, it is not enough to compete with 90,000 other renters in a city that has roughly 60,000 affordable rental properties. …

“Bostrom, along with many other young adults, can enjoy discounted rent in exchange for socializing with the seniors in their community. …

“By interacting with a younger generation, the elderly involved with ‘A Home That Fits’ have the opportunity to be engaged in an active and diverse community, instead of being left behind in a forgotten generation.” More here.

And check out a post I wrote about the same phenomenon in Cleveland, here. Both initiatives sound like fun to me.

Video: Seeker Stories

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Melita posted this link on Facebook. She was so excited about the idea of a graffiti class for older folks that she contacted the organization to see if they were planning anything for Boston. I told her I would join her if they held a class. But, alas, Boston is not on their calendar. We have to get the experience vicariously from AxaNews.net.

The Axa article is a series of photos with captions like this: “Women spray their designs on a wall during a graffiti class offered by … LATA 65 [an] initiative for the elderly in the area of urban art. Since it began in 2012, they have introduced the world of graffiti to over 100 senior citizens, giving workshops in different neighborhoods of Lisbon.”

Dovas adds more at Bored Panda, “Graffiti and street art have both often served to deepen the rift of misunderstanding between young and old, but there’s one art organization in Lisbon, Portugal that’s working to change that. LATA 65 works to destroy age stereotypes and turn senior citizens into street artists by providing them with spray paint cans, masks and gloves and finding them free spots in the city to tag up and paint!

“It all begins with workshops, where the students learn about the history of street art and get to create their own stencils. They then find run-down parts of the city to jazz up with colorful tags and stencil art.

“According to the organization’s Facebook, their goal is to connect older and younger generations through art, to help the elderly engage in new forms of contemporary art and, most importantly, to let them have fun.”

This is a whole different level from the knitting groups Di organized with old folks and young girls at church back in the day. Suzanne and Joanna were regulars when they were about 7.

See the seniors’ graffiti artwork here.

Photo: Rafael Marchante/Reuters
Women spray their designs on a wall during a graffiti class offered by the LATA 65 organization in Lisbon, Portugal, May 14, 2015.

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If I ever get tired of tai chi, I’m going to hunt down a ballet class like the one described at Newsday by Donna Kutt Nahas.

“Older adults,” she writes, “are taking their places along the ballet barre and living out their childhood fantasies. Once the province of the young, ballet is drawing late-life ballerinas and, to a lesser extent, male ballet dancers, who are returning to the art after a decades-long absence. Some, with no previous experiences, are attempting pliés and pirouettes for the first time.

“There is no statistical data on how many in the over-50 set are skipping yoga or the gym for ballet, but experts say the physically strenuous and mentally challenging pastime can improve vitality and provide a social outlet for older adults.

” ‘Ballet is low-impact, aerobic, weight-bearing, great core training and great for joint mobility, because you work the muscle in numerous positions,’ says Chris Freytag, an emeritus member of the board of directors of the San Diego-based American Council on Exercise. ‘And it’s great for brain fitness, because you have to connect your brain to doing a number of steps or sequences.’ “More at Newsday, behind the firewall.

On second thought, I think tai chi is more my speed. I took a lot of ballet as a child and even as a young adult. But I think I better just watch the ballerinas do it. And before long, it’s likely that one of the grandchildren will be taking it up.

Photos in the longer article: John Williams, Steve Pfost and Jeremy Bales
People are taking up ballet in their 50s, 60s, and beyond.

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Research highlighted at Pacific Standard sometimes strikes me as a little lightweight, but I am happy to endorse a study that Tom Jacobs covered recently, because I have some personal experience. It’s about the benefits of both cultural activities and Internet usage for older people.

Jacobs writes, “A new British study of people age 50 and older finds a link between health literacy — defined as ‘the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information’ — and two specific behaviors: Regular use of the Internet, and participation in cultural activities.

“ ‘Loss of health literacy skills during aging is not inevitable, a research team led by Lindsay Kobayashi of University College London writes in the Journal of Epidemiology and Health. ‘Internet use and engagement in various social activities, in particular cultural activities, appear to help older adults maintain the literary skills required to self-manage health.’

“The study used data on 4,368 men and women age 50 or older who participated in the English Longitudinal Study on Aging. Their health literacy was measured two years after they joined the project, and again five years later, by having them read a fictitious medicine-bottle label and then answer four reading-comprehension questions.”

I am over 50, enjoy cultural events and the Internet, and understand most medicine bottle labels. So there you go. It’s all true.

Get the key details at Pacific Standard.

Photo: Popova Valeriya/Shutterstock 

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Photo: Mark Andrew Boyer
Norm Burns, member of the U.S. CanAm Oldtimers 70-B team.

Trust Bill Littlefield at WBUR’s “Only a Game” to come up with the quirky sports stories.

In July, reporter Dan Brekke checked out the unusual legacy of a cartoonist who loved ice hockey and didn’t see why anyone should quit playing just because they got old.

Brekke writes, “Less than a year ago, 69-year-old Gary Powdrill was having a quintuple bypass open-heart surgery. But right now, he’s focused on a tight game between his hockey squad, the Central Massachusetts Rusty Blades, and the hometown Woodstock Flyers. And things aren’t going so well.

“The Rusty Blades are one of 68 teams playing in ‘Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament,’ an event created by ‘Peanuts’ cartoonist Charles Schulz – ‘Sparky’ to his family and hockey buddies – at the beautifully eccentric arena he and his first wife built.

“The tournament is for players from age 40 and up, with divisions set aside for 50, 60 and 70-year-olds.

“Steve Lang, one of the thousand or so players who has suited up this year, is skating for the Woodstock Flyers – the name refers to Charles Schulz’s little yellow bird character. The Flyers and Rusty Blades are fighting for third place in a division for players 60 and up. But unfortunately, according to Lang, the Flyers ‘don’t fly like the bird.’ …

“ ‘We’ve got ages from 76 down to 62,’ Lang said. ‘I’m 75. You know, we think like rabbits, skate like turtles.’ ”

New Yorker Bob Santini, 82, says, ” ‘I try to do the best I can, but the most important thing about a tournament like this is the camaraderie.’ …

“Jean Schulz, Sparky’s widow, says that’s just the way her husband wanted it.” More here.

Photo: Dan Brekke
Jean Schulz, widow of cartoonist Charles “Sparky” Schulz

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Kathy was telling me on the commuter train about an article on Littleton’s Life Care Center, which uses llamas and other critters to engage the residents.

I said, “Send me a link!”

Today I received the article in the Lowell Sun. Samantha Allen writes, “At the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley, it’s not uncommon to see patients asleep in their wheelchairs by the saltwater-fish tank, or out for a stroll around a pasture filled with grass-grazing animals like goats and llamas.

“Director Ellen Levinson said while the merits of ‘pet therapy’ have been adopted and used at various skilled nursing facilities across the country, it’s rare to find chickens and alpacas at a site.

“At the 120-bed nursing home, which houses a specialized memory-support unit for those with severe dementia and other conditions that affect the memory, staff members make time to ensure their patients interact with the animals whenever possible.

” ‘This is my philosophy: A lot of places say, “We have pet therapy,” and what they have is someone who brings a dog in on a leash once a week,’ she said. ‘If I were living here, that would make me more miserable. It’s not like real life. It’s not like having a dog, and then you’re just tempted with what you could have all the time.’ …

“This spring, the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley was awarded a perfect score by the [Massachusetts] Department of Public Health in a survey of nursing homes and senior-care providers.” According to Kathy, the Center is also friendly to outsiders, welcoming the public in for the llama shearing and other events.

Read more about the approach Levinson devised, here.

Photo: Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley 

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Suzanne sent along a cute story by Steven Kurutz in the NY Times. It’s about a Valley Stream, NY, couple in their 90s who have become popular performing in a television commercial.

“ ‘I was retired for 30 years, until at the age of 90 I got swept up in this commercial bit,’ Morty Kaufman said.

“He was referring to the popular TV spots for Swiffer, the maker of household cleaning products, which he stars in with his wife, Lee. In a series of unscripted 30-second ads, the couple discuss their blissful 44-year union and their division of household labor. …

“In one spot, Mr. Kaufman addresses the camera, saying: ‘There’s only two of us. How much dirt can we manufacture?’ He and Mrs. Kaufman answer in unison — ‘Very little’ and ‘More than you think.’ …

“He remains mystified by their popularity. ‘I look at commercials very casually,’ he said. ‘It’s very hard to let it sink in that people are interested. My reaction was, “Why?” ‘

“For her part, Mrs. Kaufman found it strange to be recognized when she and her husband would go to Woodro Kosher deli and other local spots. ‘I didn’t understand why people would be looking at me, I really didn’t,’ she said. ‘I looked down. I thought my pants fell off.’ “

Their daughter, Myra Allen, had a friendship with a casting director, says Kurutz, and that “led to the couple’s unlikely late-life career as pitchmen. …

“Ms. Allen … said she has observed the way they readily compromise. ‘Each one at any given moment is willing to let the other one take the day,’ she said. ‘I don’t think anyone has a vested interest in standing their ground.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Robert Wright for the New York Times
The Kaufmans in their living room in Valley Stream, NY.

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In the UK, retirees are taking up ballet.

Emma Ailes writes for BBC Scotland, “In a locker room at Scottish Ballet, a group of dancers are lacing up their ballet shoes. Only one thing marks them out from the other dancers here. These dancers are all in their 60s and 70s.

“Today, they are rehearsing ‘Swan Lake.’

“Among them is Alicia Steele. She danced when she was young. Now, nearly 80, she’s back.

” ‘I went to keep-fit classes, but I found them a bit boring,’ she says. ‘And I love the music with the piano. I just love it and it makes you feel a bit young again. It doesn’t make you look young, but it makes you feel young inside.’

“There’s been a 70% jump in the number of adult dancers signing up for classes in recent years, according to the Royal Academy of Dance. Some, like Alicia, danced when they were young. Others are complete beginners.

“Their oldest ballerina is 102.” More.

I took ballet both as a child and as an adult. But for now, I am sticking with tai chi chuan. Today the teacher had me learning complicated new moves with the advanced students. “You deserve it,” he said to me.

I’m not sure how to take that.

Photo: BBC Scotland

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My husband heard that the Kiev subway is a popular place for older Russians and Ukrainians to go dancing. So I Googled around a bit and found stories at Odd Stuff Magazine, here, and the Daily Mail, here. And a video at YouTube. In today’s world, you can’t keep a good story down.

At the Daily Mail (which seems to favor bullet points) Helen Lawson writes, “Saturday night fever: The subway where Kiev’s pensioners dance and find love.

  •     The dancers cannot afford to pay for a venue so they use a metro subway
  •     The group meets every Saturday at 7 pm to socialise and dance
  •     About 20 couples are known to have met thanks to the meet-ups
  •     Reuters photographer Gleb Garanich documented the weekly gatherings

At Odd Stuff, photographer Garanichev Hleb (is that the same Reuters guy?) asks the subjects of his photos about the dance scene. “Milevsky Nicholas was born in 1938 and Natalia Stolyarchuk born in 1955 met at these dances and has since moved in together. This is one of the 20 couples who met at these clubs. ..

“Despite his age, both retired and still work together earn about 4,000 hryvnia per month. …

“These people do not communicate in social networks, but still remember all the holidays of childhood and youth, when put on the table, to visit friends and neighbors come, everywhere sounded cheerful sounds of accordion.” More.

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My husband, who has made a lot of business trips to Japan (and also has been reading my posts about 100-year-old workers), pointed me to something interesting at the Japan Times.

Jiji writes, “A business project focused on selling decorative leaves for use in Japanese cuisine is attracting overseas attention to Kamikatsu, a mountain town in Tokushima Prefecture. …

“The [Irodori, or bright colors] project, which succeeded in commercializing colored leaves grown in local mountains and fields and now claims members from nearly 200 farms, has become a vital industry in Kamikatsu, which has a population of less than 2,000. …

“The average age of the farmers involved in the project is 70, and many are women. Some earn more than 10 million [yen, more than $100,000] a year from the business.

“Irodori members use tablet computers to check for updated information on orders. The leaves are grown in their own mountains and fields, then distributed to markets across Japan via an agricultural cooperative. …

“According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which promotes international visits to Kamikatsu, the response to its English DVD on the Irodori project was huge. It has been translated into Bengali, Spanish and French.

“Tomoji Yokoishi, 54, who came up with the Irodori idea and is president of the managing company, said perceptional shifts are responsible for its success.

“The project turned regular leaves into a valuable resource and turned its elderly into a workforce, Yokoishi explained.”

I’m guessing that the phrase “for use in Japanese cuisine” doesn’t mean anyone eats the leaves. They are probably used to decorate tables where Japanese cuisine is served. Do you think?

Read the Japan Times article, here.

Art: Elaine Richards, 1994 7″ X 10″ Watercolor Collection B. Riff

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