The Women Behind Their Blogs
Intimations of Mortality II

This Week in Elder News: 12 April 2008

In this regular weekend feature you will find links to news items from the preceding week related to elders and aging, along with whatever else catches my fancy that I think you might like to know. Suggestions are welcome with, however, no promises of publication.

I don’t think I could live anymore without Wikipedia. The web encyclopedia has yet to fail me no matter what obscure piece of information I’m looking for. Of course, anyone who uses Wikipedia without checking the facts with other sources is an idiot, but it is invaluable as a starting place and its breadth unprecedented.

Now comes a 45-minute documentary diatribe against Wikipedia assailing its “truth” which misses the point entirely. [via TechCrunch]

"Across the board, physicians feel that our fragmented and for-profit insurance system is obstructing good patient care,” says a researcher at Indiana University School of Medicine. A new survey reports that 59 percent of physicians now support universal healthcare.

One in three people older than 65 suffer a fall each year. It is well-known that practicing tai chi can improve balance to help prevent falls. If that’s not for you, it appears that Iyengar yoga, which is specifically designed for elders, can help too. You can find local teachers here. [Hat tip to Donna Woodka of Changing Places.]

The developers of a housing community near Boston for people 55 and older has petitioned authorities for permission to sell homes to people of any age. "A multi-generational complex is not what I bought," said one owner. "I signed a deed that said 55-plus.” I’m not sure how I feel about this. What about you?

Here’s another way corporate America is allowed to screw up government agencies along with you and me: private insurers are forcing disabled beneficiaries to file claims with Social Security even though few qualify. The practice is delaying the Social Security Administration’s ability to process legitimate claims but apparently, the practice cannot be stopped without a lawsuit.

As Jack Cafferty says, here’s the question: Is there no end to corporate greed or to the government’s ability to function?

Have you got an idea for a project about elders involved in the arts and literature? The National Endowment for the Arts is offering grants in a program titled Creativity and Aging in America. Details for application are here. [Hat tip to Jackie Jordan-Davis]

The internet and blogging software has given a whole new meaning to centuries of journals and diaries, now made of digital bits and bytes rather than paper and pen.

My friend, Sylvia Spruck Wrigley has now turned this electronic effort on its ear. She is experimenting with an online, handwritten blog which means no links, no sidebar of accoutrements and comments are handwritten too. Even Sylvia says it’s a “bizarre idea” but its simplicity has a weird attraction. She calls it Backspace – take a look.

Quote of the week:

“And maybe, just maybe, this [American dumbing-down] cycle has run its course, for the last seven years perhaps have discredited the anti-intellectualism movement. President Bush, after all, is the movement’s epitome — and its fruit.”
Nicholas Kristoff, The New York Times


Re that Boston Community changing the age specifications mid-stream. I would resent such a change had I joined the community when age limits were different, unless I agreed to the change.

That said, I prefer to be in a community with different age groups. My aged mother expressed the same attitude after she had moved to So. Cal to be nearby and located in a strictly senior community. She didn't want to be surrounded by all young children, but she said she really missed an age mix. Seems the oldsters, she thought, fixated on their own little community and world and lost sight of the big picture -- became very picky about every little thing.

Like the idea of "Backspace" -- going "back to the future" with some technical changes i.e. more black and white contrast, larger black print, more spacing.

"Backspace" is charming!

Back in 1983, age 45, in the process of moving from Panama City FL to Albuquerque NM, I needed an apartment in which to live for the three months it would take for my home building to be completed. During that time, I was scheduled to be on travel much of the time. My real estate agent was able to place me in an apartment that was supposed to be limited to an older population.

I don't know how it worked out for my elders; but, it was lovely for me! The residents were wonderful, they were quiet, they were friendly. On my part, I tried to be respectful of the fact that I was encroaching. Were my covenant state that the community was for a certain population, I'm not sure that I would "buy in". I would, for selfish reasons wish to do so, and I would want to keep the age limitation in force; but, my parents' deed on their house and land stated that property could not be sold to a person of color.

Eventually, my parents' neighborhood became predominately black. Obviously, the new anti-discrimination laws trumped the old deed. The neighborhood was none-the-worse, in the long run, for the change. I truly don't know what I would do about the age restriction. It's a fine line.

Hi! Thank you Ronni for the kind words - I'm glad you are intrigued.

Joared, I'm not sure if I understand your comment - am I writing too small for it to be legible? It's a black pen although I'm hinting hard that I'd like a new fountain pen with a broader nib just for the journal!

Thank you Nikki!

So private insurers are forcing people to sign up for Medicaid, huh?
This is just one more example of why we need a single payer system to help simplify our messed up health boondoggle.

I love Nicholas Kristoff's editorial and the comment you selected from it. Sadly, it's right on the money.

I never planned to live in a gated community let alone an Over 55 gated community and yet here I am and loving it. People are friendly, there are lots of activities and the age range is from 43 to people well in their 90s. So we have a spread of age of over 50 years.

Children visit and are welcome. So we are not without some contact with the younger generations.

One good way to be in touch with youth is to teach religious education in your faith community. Most need volunteers to do so and you can get to know the children pretty well.

Ronni, I don't believe I ever told you how much I like this new Saturday round-up feature. Well there! I guess I just did. Thanks.

Several people have already commented about housing for elders. I agree that if you have chosen to live in a complex designed specifically for the over 50's or whatever, then you have every right to be upset if the authorities want to move the goalposts and introduce a younger age-group into the housing scheme.

For myself, I enjoy hearing the children playing outside, and I think it's probably unhealthy for ourselves and our communities to remove ourselves from the mix. On the other hand I can see where, if you bought into a segregated community, you might be unhappy when it became desegregated.
The hunt for healthcare reimbursement is a sick game the whole industry gets sucked into, and it speaks volumes about the need for a single payer system. Even between government payers, you see Medicaid referring patients to Crippled Children Services,immunization programs, etc.; and it's a game the providers participate in because the special programs pay better for specific services than the primary insurance would.
They're trying to get the insurance companies' skim down to 15% and the medical management companies' skim down to 15% and so on until, if everything is working perfectly, maybe half of every healthcare dollar is going to provide healthcare.

I like having all generations around. I think kids need elders in their neighborhoods to help them gain perspective on the world, and know that elders are just interesting people, too. I don't like gated communities. I find them very limited. Limiting one's world view is just never a particularly good idea, in my opinion. And it isn't good for the community, either.

Jimmy Wales banrolled Wikipedia with the money he made pimping women on his pornography website Bomis.

I won't cite WP.

Sylvia, I really like the idea of what you're doing at your blog. :-)

I was thinking of so many elders with whom I've worked through the years and the print just seemed to show up lighter than, say the contrast I see here at TGB between this black with white background. (Frankly, my blog print is lighter than I would like and at least one reader has said it would be better for her if it was darker as probably do some other readers without blogs. In time maybe I can fix my contrast.)

Your writing's cursive lines might benefit from a bit more separation between them from my experience with many elders and regular writing -- especially so for those tracking left to right who have cataracts, glaucoma, etc.

I don't know that you want to consider this, but a pen that produced a thicker/wider line is helpful, too. I have no difficulty reading what you have, but that was just my initial reaction when I visited there the first time.

Do keep writing, however it works for you, as I really like the idea. Have a friend who prefers handwritten letters, but will, reluctantly email. When her computer works again, I'll encourage her to check your blog -- almost like an old-fashioned letter.

Joared - it's not just an elder issue, it's not as easy to read as print. And I'm trying to fit as much in as I can, which I really need to work on!

I think you are right that a pen that produces a thicker line will help a lot - or at least fix the contrast. I've stopped using blue as it just doesn't show up very well.

Thanks for the comments!

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