Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Elder Beat: In the News, Movies and Real Life

Ultima teaches Antonio about healing herbs
 I went to see two movies recently, both of them excellent. Amour has received a great deal of publicity because of its slow, intimate grandeur, the beautiful quality of its acting and its severity.  I did not find it oppressive, as some have, but it is an unrelenting look at physical decline and death. It portrays one old couple, artistic and cultivated. When she has a stroke, and then another, he cares for her with a great deal of devotion and love. It was very well done. 

I also saw Bless Me, Ultima a movie based on a widely read 1972 novel by Rudolfo Anaya.  Ultima, a beautiful old woman who is a curandera or healer is the main character.  What a wonderful character she is. The film describes her relationship as a teacher, mentor and protector to young Antonio Marez y Luna. His innocence and her wisdom meet in a moving spiritual connection that changes the young boy's life. In the midst of their story, we see the age-old fear of wise womens' powers among the townspeople, witness the struggle of good and evil, and experience the life of people in a small village, and the whole feast is set in a big, marvelous wide open natural landscape.

 I loved this article on Babayagas' house,  a feminist alternative to an old folks' home which just opened in Paris. The women who created this model of retirement living have been working on the project for the past 15 years. The 5-story building they finally secured is centrally located to allow residents easy access to transportation. It  houses 25 self-contained flats. 21 are adapted for the elderly and four are reserved for students. "The project cost nearly 4 million euros and funding came from no less than eight different public sources, including Montreuil city council which is accustomed to investing in innovative projects," according to the news report I read. How inspiring, and what a great model for the rest of us.

I really enjoyed this Los Angeles Times article about Fran Miller, a 90-year old yoga instructor who started doing yoga in her 50s. Miller teaches three classes a week and she remains lithe and flexible thanks to yoga. I wrote about another yoga instructor in her 90s in this blog, perhaps a year ago. Tao Porchon Lynch has a yoga center on the east coast and takes her students on pilgrimages to India to soak up yoga in its birthplace. I am glad to know that these two nonagenarians are inspiring others with their yoga practice and teaching. Yoga is an excellent way for older adults to stay well. It can improve sleep, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain and improve flexibility.  
This morning there was an  article in the New York Times about encore careers. It takes an enjoyable look at what a variety of people are doing for their second act, choosing new forms of work and engagement rather than reclining into the rocking chair model of  retirerment. 

According to the article, "Statistics from the AARP Public Policy Institute show that more and more older people are working — 18 percent of the population 65 and over last year as opposed to 10.8 percent 25 years ago. While the percentage of those working part time instead of full has increased in recent years, Ms. Setzfand said, it is difficult to say whether that is because of the sluggish economy or other reasons."

“But I get the sense that people don’t even want to use the word ‘retirement’ as much,” she said. “People will say, ‘my second act’ or ‘my what’s next’ and they aren’t just taking their pensions and riding into the sunset. That they would prepare for it before they retire from their lifetime jobs seems natural.” 

That's my news and views roundup for the moment. I will be posting soon about Carol Orsborn's new book Fierce with Age.

1 comment:

  1. Another informative post and references. You might be interested in the first new Green Houses being constructed in California which I mentioned in my current post.

    I agree with your view of the movie, Amour, which I thought presented an interesting if not somewhat unorthodox solution to select aging challenges.