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This Week in Elder News – 11 July 2009

Posted Jul 11 2009 11:00pm

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.

Avian Moonwalk This has nothing to do with aging, but it's cool. I found the video a couple of days after the death of Michael Jackson. It's a bird that does a pretty fair imitation of Jackson's moonwalk. [1:15 minutes]

Shape Up in Six Minutes a Week There is a fascinating, new study on how much exercise we need to be doing to improve and maintain fitness. How does six minutes a week strike you? But I don't believe it. Read more here.

Nepotism 1 Okay, he's an old friend going back about 30 years, so I'm prejudiced. But 70-something Lewis Grossberger's new blog, recently renamed Grossblogger, is a satirical look the daily news. It is consistently funny and frequently more spot on than the oh-so-serious newspaper and silly television pundits. Do have a look. Also, I had previously overlooked another section of Lew's blog, My Headline Grabs. Check that out too. It's much more fun than Reuter's Oddly Enough Report.

The Elder Storytelling Place, a Reading When Pat Tomlinson's story, I Yelled at You Today, was published at TGB's companion blog on 20 May, it received a huge response in the comments. Now you can listen to it in a reading at Quirky Nomads. It's the first time anyone has done that with an Elder Storytelling Place story.

Elder Medical Crisis As I've mentioned more than once in recent weeks, there are only 11 departments of geriatrics at the 145 medical schools in the U.S. A week or so ago, Roseann M. Leipzig, a professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine (which does have a department of geriatrics), contributed an important Op-Ed piece at The New York Times in which she writes:

”...there is no requirement for [for doctors to have] any clinical training in geriatrics, even though patients 65 and older account for 32 percent of the average doctor’s workload in surgical care and 43 percent in medical specialty care, and they make up 48 percent of all inpatient hospital days.”

She also explains why you should do everything possible to stay out of a hospital during summer. Read it here.

Nepotism 2 Another old friend, 65-year-old John Brandt, performed recently with his granddaughter's ballet teacher Brenda Froelich in a ballet they choreographed, The Letter. As he titled the email telling me about it, here is “Old Man in Tights.” [8:01 minutes]

In Search of Dignity As many commenters noted on an Op-Ed at The New York Times last week, I do not generally agree with columnist David Brooks. But this time, he zeroed in on a topic I feel strongly about but have not yet written about while I work out whether it just an old fogey's complaint.

”Americans still admire dignity,” he writes. “But the word has become unmoored from any larger set of rules or ethical system.”

And he gives some damned good reasons to support his claim. Read it here.

Old and Wise You gotta love a woman who is as straightforward as this:

“I don’t remember anything until high school. I grew up in the Bronx and Washington Heights. I watched the George Washington Bridge being built. I was a pretty wild kid, running around with a lot of guys.”

“Caregivers suffer more than patients. They were getting sick, getting stressed, feeling hopeless. You have to take care of yourself as well as the patient.”

“I smoked. Seventy-something years. I just quit three months ago. Cold turkey. I quit because I got a bronchial infection. I like red wine, a glass with dinner. I used to drink Scotch. I was a Scotch maniac.”

That's gerontologist, Emma Shulman. She did some of the first research on how to care for Alzheimer's patients and she lectures on memory retention. Currently, she is consultant at New York University's Langone Medical Center, is taking a second master's degree at Hunter College in cultural anthropology, is also studying acting and writing.

Oh, and she's 96 years old. Read more about her here.

Facebook Showing Its Age As reported in Business Journal, the number of high school and college users of the social networking website has dropped 17 and 22 percent respectively while the number of 55 and older users has jumped by 514 percent to 5.67 million. More here.

Nepotism No. 3 My brother, Paul, who is a newspaper editor, and his new wife live on a houseboat in Portland, Oregon, not far from Sauvie Island (for readers who know the area). There is room to keep his sailboat tied up next to their “back porch.”


He emailed this week to tell me about his recently-acquired Captain Cat (dog lovers may want to move on to another blog now) who has six toes.

“...despite the reputation of six-toed cats as sure-footed 'ships cats'," writes Paul, "Captain Cat has now fallen into the river twice. We have never seen her fall in. We only have noticed her walking through the living room, totally soaked, taking long slow steps and, at each step, stretching out a rear leg and shaking it off.

“She really is sure-footed, so it’s hard to imagine how she ends up in the river. She is fascinated by the birds here, of which there are many - blue herons, bald eagles, ospreys, geese, cormorants and many varieties of little birds like red-winged black birds.

"She is transfixed by them and pursues them relentlessly. We suspect she gets so fixated on them and trying to capture one that she forgets that the next step is wet.

“Captain Cat has not been sailing yet, but she likes the boat very much and spends a lot of time aboard exploring all the nooks and crannies. Here, she is concerned about the afternoon wind and the following sea.”

Captain cat small

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