Showing posts with label Life Style. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life Style. Show all posts

November 3, 2012

INDIA : A piece of Mumbai at the UN


By Vrushali Lad 

A slight and unassuming man, Sailesh Mishra (45) comes across as soft-spoken and pliable. But then he begins to describe how he got associated with the senior citizens episode on Aamir Khan’s TV show Satyameva Jayate. “I got a call from Aamir Khan Productions in September 2011. A woman called saying that she wanted to meet me for an episode they were shooting on senior citizens for the show. Since we get many such requests (at his Mira Road-based NGO Silver Innings), I asked them to send me a letter and then we’d see.

      Sailesh Mishra talks about representing India at the UN, and refusing to do Satyameva Jayate’s senior citizens episode in its original format.
The letter was brought the very next day, while the director of the show explained the concept of the episode in detail. But I soon realised that they were planning an episode to show elderly people as sad, abused, dependent human beings. I immediately told the lady, ‘Please tell Mr Khan that if this is what you want to portray on the show, I don’t want to be a part of it.”

Sailesh has always been a champion of the “happier side of old age”, which was why he started his NGO, Silver Innings, in 2008, as a means to help create a “sustainable gerontology”. He explains, “We often berate those who we feel are not taking care of the elders in the family. But you must understand, most children are not bad, they don’t wilfully neglect their parents. It is just that there are not enough options created by the government and society when it comes to elder care. Unlike in the West, we don’t have such services as assisted help for the elderly, or a service to provide groceries, or cooked food, or do other chores. We don’t even have enough NGOs that work for the causes of the elderly.”

Sailesh’s NGO was registered with the United Nations’ Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Ageing convention held annually in New York, last year, owing to the efforts of Susan Somers of the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA). “I got the opportunity of participating in the 3rd such OEWG held this year. On the opening day, the Indian ambassador gave a rosy picture of the current scenario of health care for the elderly in India. He even had the nerve to say, ‘Why do the elderly need rights? Their development is the responsibility of the society and their families. What can the government do?’”

To Sailesh’s huge amazement, he got the chance to make a statement on the floor of the House. “Only six people got a chance to speak that day, and I was the first,” he beams. “I gently but firmly refuted what the Indian ambassador had said, and I stressed the need for the government to be more proactive in implementing several schemes for the elderly in India. I didn’t see him for three days after that!” (Read Sailesh’s statement made on the floor of the House here.)

Of the member states, Costa Rica and Argentina were the most passionate about promoting the cause of gerontology, he says. “These two would even hold a briefing for NGOs every morning. But the EU and the US were extremely against the state having a stake in elders’ care, because they do not want to spend on it.”

An interesting dimension to this issue, he says, is that the Western countries, while reducing budgets assigned to social welfare, are aggressively studying the family concepts prevalent in south Asian countries, where parents and their children live together all their lives. “But by contrast, we in India are going towards the Western concept of nuclear families and even smaller units. Where does that leave our elders?”

But what he took away from his UN outing was the “inspiration” he felt after meeting people who had been working for the cause of elder care for decades. “Meeting such dedicated people tells you that you are on the right track, and that you still have so much to learn,” Sailesh says.

His own brush with the elderly

In 2004, Sailesh was working with the Dignity Foundation, a time that he says was when he “accidentally came into this field.” He says, “Through the Foundation, I was sent to Neral to help in the building of the elders’ township. I found that getting the architecture changed to be senior citizen-friendly was an uphill task. The architect just couldn’t understand why I wanted land gradients to be gentle, why appliances and cabinets needed to be at eye level, why the fittings and fixtures had to easy to use,” he remembers.

He stayed on as a resident at the township, monitoring its daily working and putting in work at the 24-hour dementia centre there. “I had varied experiences while dealing with sufferers of dementia. Many times, we didn’t know how to deal with them. That set me thinking. Nobody discussed this issue, and there was nothing written about it.” He started writing articles about his experiences, posting them on the Internet. “I think I would have found this cause at some point in my life,” he muses. “I come from a family of 100 people, and we all stayed at a waada at Palghar. But when I was very young, my mother told me, ‘Don’t join in the family business. Do something different with your life. Everybody works for themselves, you should work for others.’”

He finally started Silver Innings and found the inner peace he had been looking for. “I give talks at several places, hold a lot of workshops, travel all over the country. But I never talk about the NGO. That was not why I started it. The focus has to be on the issue, and it is my job to plant the idea in as many people’s minds as I can.”

Engaging the young to help the old

Sailesh is a passionate user of social networking to further his cause, the rationale of which has been questioned by many. “People ask, ‘How many senior citizens use social networking? How will you reach them on the Internet?’ But I am actually targeting the youth and the middle-aged persons in industry. If I can convert them, they will go home and talk to their parents, or devise ways to reach out to the elderly,” he says.

A major problem facing India’s elderly is that their numbers are only set to rise in the coming years. “How are we, as a country, going to accommodate these huge numbers of people? It is time, and it has to be done right away, that the government actively think up ways to utilise this mass of people’s life experience, their working knowledge and their skills. What is the sense in forcing a person to retire at 60 years of age, if he or she is able to work? Also, there is an urgent need for industry to provide services to this huge untapped population. You can have small businesses that deliver cooked meals to elders living alone, or get elders in an area registered with a trusted firm that supplies domestic helps, repair mechanics and others. There is also a need to modify our architecture and infrastructure to become more elder-friendly. Most importantly, we need more old age homes (there are just six in Mumbai) and all of them should be inside the city, not banished to the outskirts.”

Sailesh Mishra can be contacted on / His NGO ' Silver Inning Foundation ' also runs an ageing centre, organises memory camps and runs an elder helpline, among other things.

© 2012 The Metrognome

Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights.
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.

August 8, 2012

INDIA : Senior Citizens to benefit from 'Celebrating Age' EXPO

Countdown begins for India’s biggest ever active-ageing carnival, the ultimate Retirement Lifestyle Expo 'Celebrating Age' is presented by MetLife India Insurance Company Limited, Associate Sponsor: State Bank Of India (Reverse Mortgage), in association with  International Longevity Centre India ILC-I India’s premier Institute in ageing as Patrons and produced by Vision India, a niche consulting and market analytic firm specializing in show management.  The event will be staged across 8 cites in India for two days each to propagate products, services   opportunities and activities that the elderly can participate to enrich their retirement lives.

“Celebrating Age”! Retirement Expo an active ageing series is being organized from Sept 1 to 21 Oct 2012 (two days in each city) at Bangalore ,Pune, Mumbai, Ahemedabad,  Goa, Chennai, Hyderabad , Delhi. It will be perfect platform for the industry to flourish, to enhance the retirement lifestyle of senior citizens. The challenge is to ensure that the elderly are able to lead a healthy & dignified life ahead. They should have every opportunity to pursue the activities of their choice and be treated with respect and dignity. The elderly form a rich repository of knowledge and experience. 

'Celebrating Age', an active ageing retirement expo is being organised by Vision India in association with the International Longevity Centre India Chapter and supported by the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), the Silver Inning Foundation (SIF) and the Association of Senior Living India (ASLI).

Event Composition includes Grand Inauguration followed by workshop on Qualitative and Healthy Ageing by panel of experts. Two day Exhibition featuring Banking, Insurance and Housing companies. Recruitment Desks. Health & Wellness Counters. Activity Zone, fun and frolic like Tambola, musical chair, live performances, Jaaz Band, Magic, Yoga, and Aerobics. Closing Celebrations on second day.

“Celebrating Age”! India Expo 2012, an active ageing series on Retirement is crafted with an objective of setting the tone where the 21st century ageing populations make useful networks. Profile includes assemblage of lifestyle products and services for those who are looking forward to enjoy the years of retirement in full style and grandeur. The newest products and services will be on showcase for discerning buyers.2012 Retirement expo will be perfect platform for the industry to flourish, to enhance the retirement lifestyle of senior citizens.

Focus: Worldwide ageing populations are recognizing that active ageing marks the emergence of new markets, requires adherence to innovation and inclusive practices. It is expected that the Private sectors and Governments would play an increasingly specific and supportive role to encourage qualitative ageing & productive human talent.

An opportunity exists to tap into the imagination of this potentially significant market given that the 55 + aged may spend 25 to 30 years in retirement. A burst of innovation is expected. Serving this market profitably may require fresh ideas, inclusive approach and new ways of doing business.

The senior community in India presents a tremendous opportunity to service providers and entrepreneurs to innovate on their housing needs and addressing their various lifestyle service and product needs. Seniors are evolving as a mature and serious consumer segment that have needs and wants, which are specific. A significant section of seniors today are independent, financially stable, well-travelled, socially connected, and as a result have well developed thoughts of how they want to spend time after retirement. There is, today, a larger percentage of educated seniors than ever before in India. This demographic, dubbed the active ageing 50+ generation has more wealth to spend and a greater desire for new experiences. 

The challenge is to ensure that the elderly are able to lead a healthy & dignified life ahead. They should have every opportunity to pursue the activities of their choice and be treated with respect and dignity. The elderly form a rich repository of knowledge and experience. 

Unique showcase of an unexplored market poised for growth, addressing trends and tipping points that are accelerating change in consumer attitudes of those aged 50 Plus. This market segment has only touched the tip of the iceberg. 

This Mega event is a pioneering initiative on qualitative ageing and productive human talent. This joint initiative aims to unfold the way forward and take retirement to the next level, thereby setting the tone for the forum, where emerging trends and challenges of the 21st century could reach out through an international network of exhibitions, conferences & entertainment .

You can Join 'Celebrating Age' at  Facebook: 

You can Follow 'Celebrating Age' at Twitter :

About : Vision India
Vision India is a fifteen year old organization founded by Janaki Raman. A niche consulting and market analytic firm, with an excellent track record of  designing and developing many National and International projects of high impact to match the needs of technocrats and policy makers on socially relevant subjects. Vision India specializes in educationally focused Trade Fairs and Conferences and creating live forums.

Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights.
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.

April 15, 2012

INDIA: A fragile India, handled with care

MUMBAI, Maharashtra / Daily News & Analysis / Lifestyle / April 15, 2012

By Shreevatsa Nevatia

Shraddha Bhargava/DNA

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be cared for, and not everyone witnesses the manifestations of this truth quite as often as Mona Mishra. Mishra is an administrative officer with Silver Innings, an initiative to help improve the lives of senior citizens by providing care and advocacy, by facilitating workshops and through services such as dementia management. Mishra also works as a counsellor in the organisation, and in some cases, a care-giver.

For reasons of confidentiality, she chooses not to disclose the name of a successful writer who has now settled in the West, but starts by talking about his mother who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago. “When I went in, all I found was a woman with a single question — ‘I had spent most of my life looking after him, where is he when I need him most?’ For four months, we just made either eye or hand contact, and then came a day when I had to perform an enema on her. She was embarrassed, but that broke the ice.” In the years that have followed, Mishra’s relationship with the 80-year-old have deepened to an extent that she is keenly aware of its implications.

“There are, of course, times when she considers me to be a substitute for her son.” And then with a wide grin, she adds, “Do you know what makes me really happy though? Taking this lady from her old-age home to a beauty parlour. You should see her face after a manicure and pedicure. It’s priceless.”

There have been times when Mishra has said ‘enough’. She remembers calling a son after his mother had passed away, asking if he’d return for her last rites. “He asked me to do the needful and inform him of the expenses. I came very close to depression around then.” Unlike much of the West, where the social services are now an accepted interventionist tool and where carers are a professionalised workforce unto themselves, the issues surrounding care, more specifically care-givers in India, are little known.
Mishra talks about the different roles she has to play in her varied capacities. “The senior citizens who I meet ... I have to mail their children every week. In some cases, its emotional support that I need to provide, but in other cases its things like looking after diet charts and hygiene. And when I goto the slums, it’s even more basic ... getting them to use toothpaste and getting them to keep their homes clean.”
It is perhaps difficult to find a better representation of care being administered amongst the disadvantaged than in the offices of Jeevan Aadhar Seva Sanstha (JASS) in Khar. The organisation works with the destitute and the homeless in Mumbai. Sandip P Purab, JASS’ secretary, says, “We started with wanting to care for those who were in desperate need of life support. We find people on the streets, bathe them, take them to a hospital, and rehabilitate them.
” Working on the street, adds Purab, is not that easy a task. “You don’t get that much support from the police and you get no support from the people.” With this, Purab begins to play some video clips of the work JASS has done. He can be seen hunched over a man’s leg on a pavement, cleaning an open gash of a wound swarmed with maggots. The question seems obvious. What compels him to do what he does? “Just want to sleep well at night,” he quips.
The JASS office is a rented mezzanine with a tin roof. On the other side of green curtains are three beds that together double as a makeshift ward. Michael D’Souza is 65, and was between drug habits when he ended up near Victoria Terminus. After being brought in by JASS and nursed back to health, he says, “I survived.
That’s why this institution works.” Ever since JASS was founded in 2007, it has largely been provided for by the fund-raising capacities of Sandip Purab. “We never went to the government,” he says. But Purab does confess that models of self-sufficiency do come with their limitations and that he himself has had to feel the pinch.
Dr Leena Gangolli, a family physician and a public health consultant, has found herself associated with varied aspects of care. First through home and health care for the elderly, and then with projects that deal with palliative care, situations where patients and their families have to cope with the ramifications of a life-limiting diagnosis.
Making the case that the government’s responsibility must exceed beyond its budgetary allocations and extend to providing palliative care for children and the youth, she refers to the Constitution and points to the safeguarded rights to equality (article 14) and life (article 21). She says,"The government needs to understand that unlike building infrastructure like highways and sea-links which require raw materials and equipment, delivery of care requires people as the main raw material. Human resource is our biggest advantage ... there is no dearth of people in India who could be trained to deliver such care."
A need for a greater strengthening of care in the palliative sector was also reiterated at the Tata Memorial Centre, where associate professor Dr Manjiri Dighe works in the Department of Palliative Medicine. According to her, “There is a large demand coming from the families of patients who are dying, and from doctors like oncologists. But have a look at the number of specialised physicians in the state. There are maybe 10 or 15, just these small islands of care. And that is far from optimal. Far from what you’d get to see in places like the UK.”
Most of the patients that come to the Tata Memorial are impoverished. Fifty-year-old Priya Ubale is a housekeeper and waste activist who has now been volunteering with the hospital for the last four years. After all this time, she says, “You stop believing in God when you begin to realise that the blight isn’t cancer, it’s poverty.” Questions of faith often surface at the Bhakti Vedanta hospital, where Dr Vineeta Sharma has been part of the Department of Palliative Care since 2008.
Though the hospital was formed and runs on the principles of the Krishna-worshipping ISCKON community, religiosity is never an essential component of care, informs Dr Sharma. She says, “It is patient-oriented. There are those who don’t want to talk about God. Then there are those who do.” Narayan Shetty, 75, seems to belong to the latter category. Suffering from liver cancer, he says he only feels fear when the pain in his body becomes 
excessive. It is at points like those, he says, while pointing to devotional literature he has borrowed from Dr Sharma, “do the doctor and these books help in forgetting.”
Niranjan Parikh and Narayan Shetty are both of the same age. For a large part of the last twenty-five years, however, Parikh has dedicated an early retirement to working with children, cancer patients, those with brain tumours and those in need of palliative care. There are several stories that the counsellor at Tata Memorial can recount. A girl being as dismissive of an amputation as she would have been of a lost plaything. A terminally ill teenager drawing a girl with a balloon and writing ‘life is an ice-cream’ below it. Doesn’t any of this rattle Parikh himself into feeling a certain fear? He comes closer and says, “Not for a minute. It is absolutely inevitable. What will I tell the people I counsel, if I’m scared of death myself.” If there’s one thing that Parikh says he wants to prove about care-giving in India, it’s simply this — “it’s never too late to start”.
©2012 Diligent Media Corporation Ltd.
Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights. 
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.

March 6, 2012

UK: Smoking deaths will not fall without political action, doctors warn

LONDON, England / The Guardian / Society / Life & Style / March 6, 2012

Fifty years after public first warned about cigarettes, doctors call for price rises, plain packaging and anti-smoking campaign

Sarah Boseley, health editor

George Peppard and Martin Balsam offer to light Audrey Hepburn's cigarette in
Breakfast At Tiffany's. Doctors called on the government to curb smoking in films.
Photograph: Paramount/Getty Images
Fifty years after its groundbreaking report in which doctors first tried to talk directly to the public about the catastrophic dangers of smoking, the Royal College of Physicians warns today that the death toll from cigarettes will not fall unless the government takes decisive action.
On the anniversary of its celebrated 1962 report on smoking and health that started to turn the tide, the RCP says more than six million people have lost their lives to tobacco and more than a fifth of the population still uses cigarettes.
Although the price of a packet of cigarettes has steadily increased, it is now 50% more affordable than in 1965, said Professor John Britton, chair of its tobacco advisory group. Prices are further cut through discounting and illicit supply.
"The real failure is political leadership," he said. "Some of our governments in the past have been extremely close to the tobacco industry. Margaret Thatcher left office and took up a three-year role with Philip Morris, and Kenneth Clarke, who had been a health secretary, became a director of British American Tobacco."
Tony Blair's government later delayed enforcing a ban on tobacco sponsorship in Formula One after a controversial £1m donation to the Labour party by Bernie Ecclestone.
On Tuesday Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, will face calls for price rises, plain packaging, prime-time TV campaigns and curbs on smoking in films at a one-day conference at the college, called to examine progress over the 50 years. The government is to announce onTuesday a campaign highlighting the damaging effects of secondhand smoke
The college says that the 20% of people now smoking stand to lose 100m years of life between them. Even though smoking rates have fallen substantially and smoking is now something of a pariah sport since it was banned in bars and restaurants, around 10 million people in the UK still have the habit. Half of those will die because of it.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, agrees that plain packaging should be introduced – a measure the industry is fighting hard against.
"We need to do more to discourage children and young people starting smoking in the first place," he said. "The evidence shows young people are influenced, and sometimes misled, by glitzy cigarette packaging, so stripping packs of their attractive colours and logos by introducing plain, standardised packaging will help lessen the lure of smoking to a new generation."
Although the ban on smoking in enclosed public places, which took effect in 2007, has changed perceptions, Knapton said tobacco "remains the UK's biggest cause of avoidable early death, so it's right that the focus is now shifting to the effect of smoking in the home and confined spaces such as cars, especially where children are present".
Britton also wants action against smoking in films and on TV. "There is a terrific amount of smoking imagery in films passed suitable for 12-year-olds," he said. "In Gavin & Stacey's Christmas special they were sharing a cigarette from a branded pack of Marlboro outside the house."
Smoking chart

The 1962 RCP report was a significant milestone in the relationship between doctor and patient, marking the moment when physicians began to promote public health more seriously.
Richard Doll and Austin Bradford Hill provided the definitive study in the 1950s that demonstrated the lethal nature of tobacco by following a cohort of smoking and non-smoking doctors. But the study had an ambivalent and even hostile response in some quarters of the government, media and society.
With social barriers coming down in the 1960s, doctors at the RCP felt it was time to speak out to the public they would otherwise encounter in their consulting rooms with lung disease.
The public responded, and the ministry of health was inundated with anti-smoking ideas in the following years.
In an article on the influence of the 1962 report in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Virginia Berridge, professor of history at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, cited a letter – now in the national archives – to the ministry of health from a D Kelly the following year. "A rhyming poster might work … 'THE MODERN BLOKE—DOESN'T SMOKE'," he wrote. "The ladies are less of a problem–but a growing one. What about 'CONTEMPORARY HAGS ABHOR FAGS' with a similar illustration of modern witches refusing temptation."
In the foreword to a booklet launched today, the RCP president, Sir Richard Thompson, looks back to a world 50 years ago "suffocated by the swirling clouds of tobacco smoke, in pubs, cinemas, trains, buses on the streets and even in hospitals and schools. Around 70% of men and 40% of women smoked. Smoking was omnipresent, accepted, established".
In 2012, we live in a world in which smoking is no longer the norm, he said. "I hope that in another 50 years smoking, like slavery, will have passed into history."
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited
Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights. 
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.

UK: The new ages of man

LONDON, England / The Independent / Life & Style / Health & Families / March 6, 2012

By TimWalker
Adolescence is ever longer, while 'middle age' gets more elastic. Now those in between must grapple with 'emerging adulthood'. It's time to redefine our life stages, says Tim Walker

One thing that can be said of "Middle Age" is that it's moving further from the middle. The annual British Social Attitudes Survey suggests just a third of people in their 40s regard themselves as middle-aged, while almost a third of those in their 70s are still clinging to the label, arthritic fingers notwithstanding. In A Shed of One's Own, his very funny new memoir of male midlife crisis and its avoidance, Marcus Berkmann reaches for a number of definitions for his time of life: "Middle age is comedy, and also tragedy," he says. "Other people's middle age is self-evidently ridiculous, while our own represents the collapse of all our hopes and dreams."

He cites the late Denis Norden, who said: "Middle age is when, wherever you go on holiday, you pack a sweater." And the fictional Frasier Crane, who maintains that the middle-aged "go 'oof' when [they] sit down on a sofa". Shakespeare's famous Seven Ages of Man speech, delivered by the melancholy Jacques in As You Like It, delineated the phases of human development by occupation: the schoolboy, the adolescent lover, the soldier, and the – presumably, middle-aged – legal professional. We have long defined ourselves compulsively by our stages in life; we yearn for maturity, then mourn the passing of youth. But to what extent are these stages socio-cultural (holidays/sweaters) and to what extent are they biological (sofas/"oof")?

Patricia Cohen, New York Times reporter and author of another new study of ageing, In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age, might not be overly sympathetic to Berkmann's plight. The mid-life crisis, she suggests, is a marketing trick designed to sell cosmetics, cars and expensive foreign holidays; people in their 20s and 30s are far more vulnerable to such a crisis than their parents. Cohen finds little evidence for so-called "empty nest syndrome", or for the widespread stereotype of the rich man with the young "trophy wife".

She even claims that middle age itself is a "cultural fiction", and that Americans only became neurotic about entering their 40s at the turn of the 20th century, when they started lying to census-takers about their age. Before then, "age was not an essential ingredient of one's identity". Rather, people were classified according to "marker events": marriage, parenthood and so on. In 1800 the average American woman had seven children; by 1900 she had three. They were out of her hair by her early 40s and, thanks to modern medicine, she could look forward to a further 20 years or more of active life.

As Berkmann laments, "one of the most tangible symptoms of middle age is the sensation that you're being cast adrift from mainstream culture." Then again, the baby boomers, and the more mature members of "Generation X", are the most powerful of economic blocs. The over-50s spend far more on consumer goods than their younger counterparts, making them particularly valuable to advertisers – and perpetuating the idea of the middle-aged as a discernible demographic.

David Bainbridge, a vet and evolutionary zoologist, also weighs in on the topic in his latest book, Middle Age: A Natural History. Middle age is an exclusively human phenomenon, Bainbridge explains, and doesn't exist elsewhere in the animal kingdom, where infirmity often follows hot on the heels of parenthood. It is, he argues, "largely the product of millions of years of human evolution... not a 20th-century cultural invention." He urges readers to embrace middle age as "flux, not crisis" – which is probably what he said to his wife, when he bought himself a blue vintage Lotus soon after turning 40.

A similar clash of cultural and biological factors occurs at the other end of adulthood. "Teenager" is a self-defining cultural term, but its corollary, adolescence, is an occasionally painful psychological and physiological process. In Teenagers: A Natural History (2009), Bainbridge explained that we homo sapiens take more time to mature, and are reliant on our parents for longer, than almost any other species. In fact, he argues, the evolutionary insertion of adolescence into the life cycle – 300,000 years ago, give or take – is what helped our brains to make the "great leap forward" into humanity. With adulthood afflicting us only in our second decade, we have more time to learn important skills, to acquire analytic and creative abilities – and to optimise ourselves for reproduction.

In a recent essay for the Wall Street Journal, Alison Gopnik – Professor of psychology at Berkeley, and an expert in the development of infant minds – argued the teenage brain is moulded by the differing circumstances of each generation. Twenty-first-century teenagers are hitting puberty inexplicably early, yet the responsibilities of adulthood are conferred on them far later than their forebears. Shakespeare's Juliet falls for and marries Romeo aged 13. "Our Juliets," writes Gopnik, "may experience the tumult of love for 20 years before they settle down into motherhood."

This puts two crucial neural and psychological stages out of sync: in puberty, chemical changes in the body turn teenagers into intense, restless rebels without a cause. At the same time, they would traditionally take on the skills and experience required for adult life, controlling emotional impulses and focusing them on learning. "For most of our history," Gopnik argues, "children have started their internships when they were seven, not 27." The adolescent brain is perceptibly altered by the delay to such lessons – be it in cooking, driving or machete-wielding.

Teenagers (and their behaviour) might be biologically explicable, but they're also a product of social change. The term "teenager" entered the vernacular in the postwar years, when youth culture and its commercial manifestations began to dominate all popular culture. But, as Jon Savage argued in his 2007 book Teenage, its roots stretch deeper, to the street gangs of the 19th century and the Industrial Revolution, when they were removed from their families and brought together in workhouses and factories. Later, with the advent of child labour laws and universal education, mere adolescents metamorphosed into the modern teenager.

Even childhood is widely considered to be a cultural construct, invented as part of Rousseau's philosophy of education, and popularised by the works of Charles Dickens, before whom the under-12s were thought of simply as small adults. And in the past decade, a whole new developmental category has been identified: twentysomethings, increasingly unstable in their careers and relationships, are now said to be in a distinct life stage labelled "emerging adulthood". In America in 1960, according to the US Census Bureau, 77 per cent of women and 65 per cent of men had completed their educations, left home, achieved financial independence, married and had children by the age of 30. In 2000, fewer than half of 30-year-old women and one-third of men had passed all five markers.

Plainly, this is symptomatic of fluctuating jobs markets and modern medical advances, but some psychologists also see it as a measurable developmental period. The term "emerging adulthood" was coined in the journal American Psychologist in 2000, by Professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, who in 2010 told the New York Times that it was "analogous to what happened a century ago, when social and economic changes helped create adolescence – a stage we take for granted but one that had to be recognised by psychologists, accepted by society and accommodated by institutions that served the young".

Meanwhile, those who've survived their middle years may not be allowed to relax and enjoy straightforward "Old Age" just yet. The two decades between 55 and 75, writes Cohen, have started to acquire their own academic titles, which may or may not achieve cultural traction: "the encore generation", "midcourse" and "the third age". Oof, indeed.

'A Shed of One's Own – Midlife Without the Crisis', by Marcus Berkmann (Little, Brown, £12.99); 'In Our Prime', by Patricia Cohen (Scribner, £16); 'Middle Age: A Natural History', by David Bainbridge, will be published by Portobello Books on 8 March, £14.99

Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights. 
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.

March 4, 2012

USA: Farewell to Youth, but Not Beauty

NEW YORK, NY / The New York Times / Fashion & Style / March 4, 2012

The Mirror
By Maria Russo
Iris Apfel is the inspiration for a new 
MAC line. Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

SHE startled me the other day, walking down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills: a middle-aged beauty with long, blown-out hair in a shade somewhere between butter and margarine, her body narrow and svelte but large-breasted. She perfectly hit a certain look: gently tanned face as smooth and puffy as the moon in a children’s book, a delicate shine to the skin. Nose small, lips pumped up. The space between arched eyebrows a smooth plateau. Her age could have been 40, but then again it could have been 60.
At the beginning of the millennium, this look was all over moneyed New York and the Westside of L.A. Then in 2005 arrived “The Real Housewives of Orange County” to take it downmarket, exaggerating its many details until it conveyed not carefree, extended youthfulness but rather a ferocious middle age, a grim determination to throw money at the problem of getting older, via regular trips to dermatologists’ offices, hair salons and cosmetic surgeons’ operating tables.
Then came the financial crisis, and even in the high-end ZIP codes the look began to fray. That day in Beverly Hills I realized I hadn’t seen a woman sporting this level of the look in quite a while. Granted, I’d moved to proudly unglamorous Pasadena. But still, I wondered, could the type be in its final iteration?
There are other versions of middle-aged beauty visible now: While the Housewives TV franchise was hauling its Botox needles and gallons of filler to more workaday places like Atlanta and New Jersey, the beauty industry — the beauty industry! — was broadening the range of middle-aged looks. By 2008 we had Diane “La-Di-Da” Keaton and Ellen DeGeneres as faces of L’Oréal and Cover Girl. Once a middle-aged woman could sell cosmetics only if she was an ex-model, an official Aging Beauty like Isabella Rossellini or Andie MacDowell, and even they were airbrushed liberally. But Ellen and Diane are both average-looking people who look their ages. In the ads their makeup looks nice, but what makes them beautiful is just that we love them.
The actress Diane Keaton is a face of L’Oréal.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Imagesl .
And then on PBS’s “Downton Abbey” arrived Elizabeth McGovern at 50: If her creased visage peers out at us a little sheepishly, that’s because her character is a fish out of water, not because she is apologizing for her lack of access to collagen. With its even more bewitching Dowager Countess, played by Maggie Smith, this is a show that put to rest the idea that women should hold tight to a particular age, a particular look, rather than giving their faces permission to move through the life cycle.
For me this stuff is not just theoretical, because at 45 I’m the advance guard of Gen-X middle age. As our youth peels away, my peers and I are just beginning to admit that we aren’t sure how we’ll keep looking good. How will we age? We are often called “quirky.” My own approach to beauty products no doubt qualifies.
In flusher times, I would buy Dr. Hauschka lotion, because just looking at the old-fashioned minimalist bottle relaxed me, making me think friendly but no-nonsense German people were in charge of my skin care. Surely they knew better than I did what was good for me. When I used their products, I could discern a kind of toned freshness to my skin that, along with the outdoorsy but studiously nonflowery scent, would call to mind a walk in the Alps, or maybe the Black Forest. I also liked Yonka, because the company was French but not in your face, as it were, about its Frenchness. There was a mystery there that drew me in: Why would someone French name a skin-care line so unalluringly?
In my late 30s I decided I needed to use something “anti-aging” for the new “fine lines” I saw. I looked into the futuristic department store lines whose aqua-green ads coolly promised breathtaking results, but the prices only furrowed my brow further. I wished I could try Retin-A, which I remembered a smooth-skinned 40-year-old woman I worked with in my late 20s swore by, but which you can get only with a prescription from a dermatologist; I avoid doctors besides my OB-GYN religiously. But then I had the idea of using Roc antiwrinkle cream from the drugstore because it has Retinol in it, which sounded appropriately medical. I stuck with that for years, and it seemed to be working O.K., though I periodically wondered if the real, forbidden Retin-A would have packed a much more satisfying punch.
As for makeup, a similar feeling of resignation crept into my routine. At 35 I discovered the Nars Multiple in a rosy brown, a chubby flat-topped obelisk, a combination product that was hands down the best lipstick and the best blush for me. It felt like falling in love, a euphoric thrill followed by a slight backdraft of ennui, because I knew my lipstick and blush explorations were effectively over. Continued
© 2012 The New York Times Company

Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights.
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.

March 3, 2012

UK: Elderly react to lifestyle downturn with generosity

LONDON, England / The Telegraph / News / March 3, 2012

Older people feel poorer, less happy and less well than they did a year ago as the effects of the economic downturn take their toll, research shows.

By John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor

Elderly react to downturn in lifestyle with generosity Photo: ALAMY
The study involving more than 10,000 people over the age of 50 found a marked deterioration in the quality of life of older people in the last year. 

But despite the steady "corrosion" of living conditions, the survey found that people in their 70s were more likely to be optimistic than those in their 50s and 60s. The survey also showed that many older people have reacted to tough times by finding ways to help their children and grandchildren out financially.

The company carries out a wide-ranging poll of thousands of older people every three months asking detailed questions about everything from their finances to their sex lives.

A third (32%) of those polled in the first three months of this year reported poorer living standards than at the start of 2011. The finding translates into an overall rating of -14 of Saga’s quality of life barometer, which balances negative answers against positive responses.

The measure for happiness was also negative at -2.5, meaning that more people said they felt less happy than at the same time last year, and the measure for health produced a reading of -9.3 for the first part of this year.

But Saga noted that older people appeared to display more of a “grin and bear it” attitude than those immediately younger.

When asked about how worthwhile they felt what they did in their daily life were, those in their early 50s were 66 per cent satisfied but those in their late 60s and early 70s rated their feelings of worth at 70 per cent.

While Money worries came far ahead of crime or health in older people’s minds, many reacted to tough economic times with generosity.

When asked what they were doing in response to the rising cost of living, the second most popular response – cited by 32 per cent – was helping their children or grandchildren out financially.

The biggest response to hardship – cited by 45 per cent – was cutting back on non-essential spending.

Dr Ros Altmann, director general of Saga said: “Our findings show that these are generations that all of society can learn from, despite their economic difficulties they feel more positive with age.

“We are still a long way from reporting a ‘positive’ quality of life for the over 50s. Although there seems to have been a minor improvement over the last quarter, it’s too early to say whether this marks the start of a new trend towards true quality of life.”

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012
Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights. 
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.

February 28, 2012

JAPAN: Japanese are creatures of emotion and instinct, feels Gregory Clark

TOKYO, Japan / The Japan Times / Life in Japan / February 28, 2012

Educator, writer, farmer Gregory Clark


Gregory Clark, 75, is the Honorary President of Tama University and Trustee of Akita International University in Japan. A prolific writer, with a background in economics and international politics, his opinionated investigative pieces often spark intensive debates. His 1978 book "The Japanese Tribe: Origins of a Nation's Uniqueness" explored what he saw as the differences between the rationalistic, ideological societies of the West and China, and the emotional/practical Japanese. The book stirred strong feelings from both sides of the argument.

News photo
Clark's personal story reads like a brilliant novel: Born in Britain as the son of a famous economist, Colin Grant Clark, Gregory moved to Australia with his family as a boy. He entered the Australian foreign service and from 1959 was stationed in Hong Kong and later in Moscow. Fluent in Chinese and Russian (and now also Japanese and Spanish), he abruptly left the Australian foreign service in 1965 due to his strong opposition to the Vietnam War. He turned to academia, with a spell in journalism, and has been living in Japan on and off since 1969. Although education and writing are his fortes, Clark's passion is more grounded: He is also a farmer and land developer in Chiba Prefecture's Boso Peninsula, where he prefers to play with dirt rather than with politics.

Think contrarian! Foreigners often assume that Japan and the Japanese are weird and we, non-Japanese, are normal. How about reversing this idea? What if the Japanese way makes more sense than ours? The answer is easy: In many practical, daily-life matters it clearly does!

The male ego is too strong. I think that children belong to the woman and they should have the same name and nationality as their mother. Our boys grew up in a bilingual home but they are Japanese as their mother Yasuko is.

Everyone should study economics. It's good training for the mind and it teaches you a lot about the world in which we live.

Japanese are creatures of emotion and instinct. They are honest: In my 38 years in Japan we have never experienced any sort of crime. Yet there is no inherent ideology or religion in Japan saying you should be honest. With us, if I find a wallet the rationalistic approach is to ask myself, "Why should I return it?" But the Japanese instinctively return the wallet to its owner.

One failure can haunt us for life. I wasted much time and energy opposing the Vietnam War. For years I would wake up every morning and feel sick when I heard about "Another successful bombing." Soldiers should be doing more useful things in life than killing. Create an army and you create a war.

Japan was more liberal than other nations. I published my book "In Fear of China" in 1968. The content was not pro-China; it simply showed that the Chinese foreign polices were not as fearful as claimed. In those days, nobody wanted to hear reasonable assessments of China. Nobody, except the Japanese. The book was translated into Japanese and it opened the door for me to make a career in Japan.

If you have ever thought of becoming a farmer one day, Japan is the place to do it. In Japan, we are very lucky as today's abandoned land was meticulously developed and beautifully managed for hundreds of years by diligent farmers. So when we buy land here, we are buying the labor of those hardworking Japanese. We should look after it, carefully.

Once prejudices are set, changing the mindset is very slow. Chiba Prefecture is next door to Tokyo and the land there is cheap. Yet Tokyo people don't think of Chiba as a place to commute from, even though it only takes one hour by train. My favorite area, the Boso Peninsula, is a treasure trove of nature — it has a warm climate, a dramatic ocean front and rolling hills with lush sub-tropical forests full of flowers and birds. It is paradise for surfers, too.

First impressions last a lifetime. I first came to Japan in 1961 with a Sony tape recorder (which showed me the excellent technology) and spent three weeks traveling around (which showed me the beauty of the nature and the kindness of the people). "This is a wonderful country, " I thought. "I will return some day."

Left and right go hand in hand. I'm what you would call leftwing when it comes to foreign policy but rightwing in domestic policy. I'm a conservative on questions like excessive welfare spending. But in foreign policy I'm bitterly anti-war: Western governments lie.

Japanese don't know how to colonize. They spent more money in the countries they invaded than they actually made. They wanted the people there to become good, faithful Japanese. We saw this in Korea. "We bring you our education, we build you railways, infrastructure and we will all be one happy family." It was similar in the western districts of Papua New Guinea, where even today the Japanese are respected. Unfortunately they were not so kind to those who did not want to be "Japanese."

When my children are well and doing well, I am at my happiest. Yasuko and I spent much of our lives creating these people, our children, so when we see the good results — their total bilingualism and biculturalism especially — we are very happy.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "journeys in japan." 

Learn more at: Twitter @judittokyo

(C) The Japan Times

February 15, 2012

ITALY: Milan banking on senior citizens

KOLKATA, India / The Statesman / February 15, 2012

By Robin Scott-Elliot

AGE Shall Not Weary Them has long seemed the unofficial motto of Milan. It is an ethos put into effective practice at the club's sheltered training ground, Milanello, in the hills some 50 kilometres outside the city, where it would be no surprise to discover a grey-haired, grizzled portrait of Paolo Maldini hidden in the basement beneath the players' lounge.

Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty 

This is, though, a very different Milan from the heyday of Maldini, Franco Baresi et al when European titles and Scudettos were returned to San Siro with enough regularity to satisfy even Silvio Berlusconi's prodigious appetite. 

The European Cup has not been seen - at least on the Rossoneri side of the stadium - for five years, and while the Serie A crown was regained last season it was a first for seven years. Memories of elimination by English clubs at the last-16 stage in their last three Champions League campaigns hang heavy. To continue reading, click here.

Copyright © 2012 The Statesman Limited.
Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights. 
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.

February 14, 2012

USA: Love remains the mystery of life

WASHINGTON, DC / The Washington Post / Lifestyle / February 14, 2012


 The complicated emotion has been studied and dissected, but still remains the central mystery of life. Here are photos that depict the many different forms of love.
A middle-aged couple huddled under a blanket at a picnic table in the park. So adorable! The two were leaning into one another, combining body heat, talking softly on a chilly winter afternoon. Cozy. Merged for protection. And let us repeat: middle-aged. This was the perfect image of enduring love, the dream of every person, the whole “On Golden Pond” fantasy. It can happen!
But when a Post photographer approached and asked to take their picture, they declined. The photographer thought: Affair?
The photographer was about to leave when the man walked over and apologized.
The problem, he said, is that we’re breaking up.
Ouch! Didn’t see it coming.
Love is the central mystery of life. You can’t see inside the heads of other people or into their hearts, to use a metaphor that somehow has survived 400 years of medical research. You can barely know your own thoughts.
Love deceives. It confuses. It heals and it hurts. It can make you lose your mind. It should come with a warning label. Carolyn Hax, a Post advice columnist, suggests: “Don’t operate heavy machinery when you’re under the influence of this stuff.”
Yet people still are trying to explain love, to measure it, calibrate, capture it with advanced medical imaging. The science of love is in the air. Scientists are homing in on the neurochemistry of love. The love experts talk about dopamine and oxytocin and vasopressin and opioids. They study brain scans of people in various throes and permutations of love, and say things such as (we got this the other day from Helen Fisher, a pioneer in the field, and a professor at Rutgers): “We found activity in a tiny little part of the brain called the ventral tegmental area.”
Yet when you’re in love, it doesn’t feel like the ventral tegmental area is the cause.
It seems like, for example, that the eyes are more important. The hands. And other parts.
A recent study, highly publicized, suggested that women prefer the smell of men who produce a different set of disease-resistant antigens than they do. It’s like the DNA is deciding on a mate. Are we animals? No, more like robots. Human mating behavior varies from individual to individual, but collectively, we obey the commands of biology. We follow reproductive strategies of which we are barely conscious. The man possesses billions of sperm, the woman releases only about 400 of her eggs, and from the difference emerges a million romcom screenplays.
Yet when you reduce love too much, you lose the essence of it, the texture, not to mention your audience (boring!). It may be that love demonstrates the limits of empirical inquiry. “The Science of Love” flirts with being an oxymoron. Love is an emergent phenomenon, like consciousness, and thus a little bit squishy, immeasurable, enigmatic. Water is two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom, prone to joining other such molecules through bonds in the hydrogen atoms — but that tells you nothing about what it feels like to be wet.
We’re looking at a photograph of a mother, a father, a newborn. She’s kissing the baby. The baby has launched its relentless project of reeling in the parents. The two have become three, forever connected, with the child now carrying the nerve endings of the mother and father. Give it any technical name you want — this is a picture of love, abundant.
In his book “The Social Animal,” journalist David Brooks offers a tour de force examination of two fictional people falling in love, describing their interactions at the unconscious level:
“As Julia and Rob semi-embraced, they silently took in each other’s pheromones. Their cortisol levels dropped. . . . Later in their relationship, Rob and Julia would taste each other’s saliva and then collect genetic information. . . . They had decoded silent gestures — a grin, a look, a shared joke, a pregnant pause.”
It’s smart stuff, though not exactly . . . hot. It’s a bit of a buzzkill, like explaining a joke. And some jokes, such as the one about the chicken crossing the road, simply defy explanation (because what’s funny about the chicken joke is that it’s not funny — get it???).
The Greeks had a nice vocabulary of love, starting with agape, the unconditional love, and eros, that passion that may involve a flaring in the groinal region, and philia, the friendship love, and storge, which we need to Google. Modern writers find all kinds of words to describe the shadings of love, as in a pdf we got by e-mail:
“According to Sternberg (1988), for example, types of love are determined by various combinations of passion, intimacy, and commitment. Possible combinations result in romantic love, infatuation, companionate love, liking, fatuous love, empty love, and consummate love.”
Fine, but what do you call the love you feel when, after 17 rounds of “No, it’s your turn,” the spouse finally agrees (because itwas her turn, by the way) to get up at 3:45 a.m. to deal with the squawking child?
People talk about “infatuation,” but even that has degrees, ranging from a carefully controlled interest to a manic obsession, and from a theoretical (repressed, inappropriate, guilt-inducing) crush to the full-blown sensation of being as out of control as a dishrag in the washing machine.
“Be my valentine”: After all these years, no one knows what that means. It sounds like a euphemism. Probably for something dirty.
A valentine is shaped like a heart, which, oddly, is not shaped like a human heart at all. The valentine shape is symmetrical, two halves perfectly conjoined in the middle. It’s not just a metaphor: One of our accompanying photos shows two people in love. They’re both male, but that’s not what’s striking. The way they put their heads together and their arms: They form, for the viewer, a perfect valentine.
Raymond Carver wrote a story called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” The four characters, boozing it up over a kitchen table, talk about love in terms of jealousy, rage, pain, abuse, suicide and an overpowering need to connect. The ice melts in the ice bucket. The sun goes down. Finally, they sit in the dark, saying nothing. They can feel their hearts beating. Thumpa thumpa thumpa.
Maybe love should be defined as the thing about which people write songs. No one writes songs about, say, the Higgs boson. No one writes songs about Vince Lombardi. No one writes songs about the Peloponnesian War. At least not any that are very hummable.
When people have a song in their heart, it means they’re in love or an advanced state of like. Cole Porter once asked (it helps to listen to the Sinatra version, in his great Capitol Records phase):
What is this thing called love?
This funny thing called love?
Just who can solve its mystery?
Why should it make a fool of me?
Fools in love: They talk like mice, or in baby voices, and follow each other around obsessively, cooing, fussing with each other, nuzzling, gurgling, sniffing, sniveling, being completely nauseating in every way to the outside observer. In the throes of it, in that first rush of connection, no one else matters.
There are primitive elements to love. There are parts of the love instinct that predate the caveman. That caveman habit of grunting, being lewd and gross, swinging a club — that’s actually relatively civilized compared with how things used to be, back before we were technically people. This is a good line of argument for men who have to get out of a jam: “Honey, that’s nothing compared with what’s common practice among lizards.”
It’s never entirely clear where sex fits into a discussion about love. You can have love without sex, and sex without love. The experts tell us that that women fall in love and then want to have sex, and men want to have sex and then fall in love. In the long run, somehow, supposedly, it all works out, collectively, for the species. We all get along, because, through divergent evolutionary needs, we wind up co-signatories on a mortgage.
But there are outliers, exceptions, mutations, perversions, distractions, digressions, transgressions. If it weren’t for transgressions, we’d have no literature. Anna Karenina; Hester Prynne; Madame Bovary; every John Updike character.
Maryetta Andrews-Sachs, a Washington couples therapist, says modern life can be rough on romance because people work such long hours and are so thoroughly distracted by communications technologies.
“I see couples, young couples, who are so busy working, they don’t have sex. That’s crazy, right?” she says.
And then the older couples, they don’t even look at each other.
“Couples neurologically regulate each other through their eye contact,” she says. At first, early in the relationship, the eyes are key to the flirting, the fun, the connection. “Then if you get married, you get caught up in all the management part of life, and people stop having fun and stop having eye contact.”
So we like this photo of the old couple on the couch. They’re holding hands. They’re looking directly at one another. They’ve been together for 74 years. See, it really can happen — it’s not something we imagined, or projected.
This one, we dare to think, is gonna last.
© 1996-2012 The Washington Post
Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights. 
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.