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IRELAND CALLING: If you have Irish ancestors, you may in for a surprise. Thanks to the Ireland Reaching Out project, it’s just possible your Irish relatives may come looking for you.

This grassroots project was launched in 2010 to reconnect the Irish diaspora – an estimated 60 to 70 million worldwide. It is based on a simple idea: volunteers from each parish identify those who have left the area, and then they track their descendents worldwide.

Ireland Reaching Out is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs. It is the brainchild of Loughrea-based entrepreneur Mike Feerick. The inaugural event for those who can trace their roots to southeast Galway was launched in June.

The program is set to expand nationally in the coming months with each parish in Ireland holding their own gathering every year.


GROWING OLD IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: In a recent report, The Lancet, a leading medical journal, and researchers at University College London warned climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.

The report, Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change, focused on six key areas:

  • patterns of disease and mortality;
  • food security;
  • water and sanitation;
  • shelter and human settlements;
  • extreme events; and
  • population migration.

Lead author Anthony Costello said, "Apart from a small dedicated band of researchers, I think the health lobby has come late to this debate, but there’s much that we can do to protect billions of people now and in the future."

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, health professionals, climatologists and community planners met recently to examine the affects of climate change on our aging population. They gathered at Simon Fraser University in May for the 20th annual John K. Friesen Conference: Growing Old in a Changing Climate: Exploring the Interface Between Population Aging and Global Warming.

"The conference sought to raise awareness of the connection between aging and climate change and identify where research, resources, and action are most needed," said the organizers, Andrew Sixsmith of SFU’s Gerontology Research Centre (GRC) and Heather Stewart of GRC and the UBC Brain Research Centre.



MUSIC IN THE PARK: Going to concerts, watching plays or visiting museums is good for men’s health and happiness, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology analyzed the results of a population-based health study, including 50,797 adults. Participants were asked how often they went to concerts, films, church, art exhibitions or sport’s events, as well as how often they participated in club meetings, sang, danced, played a musical instrument or took part in outdoor activities.

In addition, they were asked how healthy they felt, how satisfied they were with life in general and if they felt depressed.

The results reveal cultural activities are linked with good health, life satisfaction and low depression in both men and women.

The findings were reported online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health on May 23, 2011.

Simply observing culture – such as visiting an art gallery – improved men’s physical health and well-being, according to the study. But women seemed to benefit more from taking part in artistic activities, not just watching them.

The researchers suggest physicians and policymakers promote cultural activities as a simple way to lower stress.


BUT JUST ANY OLD HEART WON’T DO: According to a new study, older women are more picky than younger women when it comes to dating. They are also willing to travel further to meet their man.

Researchers at Georgia Southern University (Statesboro, Georgia) compared Internet personal dating profiles from 100 older and 100 younger people. They found older adults, especially older women, were more selective then younger adults about who they will date.

The findings appeared in the International Journal of Aging and Human Development (Vol. 72, Issue 1, 2011).

Results showed older women were less willing to compromise about characteristics in dating partners such as:

  • age;
  • height;
  • race;
  • religion; and
  • income.

Older women preferred younger men because they were looking for partners with good health and mobility. They also favoured men with money.

The researchers concluded that older women daters wanted to meet the right person but not "just anyone".