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SILVER MEMORIES: In 2008, Australia’s Radio Brisbane launched a new program dedicated to reducing social isolation and loneliness among older adults.

Station 4MBS Classic FM plays music from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Silver Memories is funded by JO & JR Wicking Trust.

A recent study published in the journal Aging & Mental Health (Vol. 15, No. 2, 2011), has revealed the new program improved the quality of life and mood of older people.

Study participants offered these tips to improve Silver Memories:

  • invite listeners to send in requests;
  • provide commentary on the music; and
  • include news items and chat shows.


SCOOTER IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR FREEDOM: Increasing numbers of older people in South Australia are using motorized scooters as a means of transportation. Most acquire a scooter as a result of declining health.

A new study by researchers at the University of South Australia discovered owners use their scooter three to five times a week to shop, to visit family and to go for rides.

Initially, some participants were reluctant to use a scooter because they saw it as telegraphing old age. Others warned of the dangers of waiting too long to get one: "Don’t leave it until you can’t drive anymore," one participant said. "Get it now. . . . I would have been far better off to have got the scooter earlier."

The study found that the scooter signified freedom and autonomy for most owners.

The findings were reported in the journal Ageing & Society (Vol. 30, No. 7, 2010).


THE ALZHEIMER CAFÉ: The first Canadian café of its kind was launched in Nova Scotia, February 25, 2011. It was organized by Dr. Elizabeth McGibbon, a nursing professor in the faculty of science at St. Frances Xavier University.

The café is the brainchild of Dr. Bere Miesen, a Dutch psychologist. He noticed that talking about dementia was often taboo, even among family members. In 1997, Miesen introduced the Alzheimer café in the Netherlands. Since then, cafés have sprung up across Europe, including the U.K., where they are often held in pubs.

The café offers a relaxed social setting for persons with Alzheimer’s, their family, care givers and other interested people.

"It’s about getting out of the house in an emancipatory way," says McGibbon. "We often have a situation where people stay home. It can be very difficult to get people with dementia to go out in public. Social interactions are very, very difficult."

The Antigonish Alzheimer Café is held at the Antigonish Education Center, the first Friday of each month. The two-hour get together includes refreshments, entertainment and a short information session.

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CHANGING DIRECTION: Meg Wainwright was a nurse for 20 years. She did a variety of jobs, ending up as a district nurse. When she hit middle age, she knew it was time for a change.

Wainwright had always loved gardening and the outdoors, but she wasn’t ready to sit in a classroom. That’s when she heard about the Women Returning to Amenity Gardening (WRAG) program. The U.K. scheme offers training opportunities for anyone interested in gardening.

The program is run by the Women’s Farm and Garden Association. A network of volunteer coordinators match potential trainees with garden owners and supervise their training. The training involves working 15 hours a week over 12 months. Individuals learn a wide range of skills and receive a modest allowance.

The WRAG program offers a unique opportunity for those looking for a fresh direction in life. Wainwright was assigned to a major garden restoration project around a small country house in Powys.

"I got to do all sorts of things, such as wading into ponds, planting yew hedges and helping to develop a design."

Wainwright completed her training and now works in a number of small and medium-sized gardens close to her home in Herefordshire.