The "care pension" is the brainchild of Heinz Wolff, emeritus professor of bioengineering at Brunel University, London:
I see Care4Care as a form of mobilization where the community makes up its mind to do something the country desperately needs. If you put in a few hours every week over the years, lo and behold, when you get to 78 and are a bit creaky yourself you might have 5, 000 hours and get those back . . .
The 84-year-old scientist has teamed up with the Young Foundation. "We think there will always be a gap between what the government is prepared to fund and what the need is, and we need innovative solutions to bridge that gap," says Simon Tucker, the foundation’s chief executive.
By 2015, Wolff and the Young Foundation are planning to have a national network in place.
The first leg of the scheme was launched last March on the Isle of Wight in partnership with Age UK. Around 90 volunteers have been banking care hours by helping older people with a whole range of tasks from trips to the shops to changing a light bulb.
TENDER PORTRAIT OF OLDER COUPLE CAPTURES TOP PRIZE: Last May, the Austrian director Michael Haneke won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Amour. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva starred as Georges and Anne, retired music teachers in their 80s struggling to cope with the effects of dementia.
"The point of the film is how you deal with the suffering of someone you love," Haneke said in an interview.
Perhaps you might want to view other entries in the fine tradition of aging on the silver screen? Here is an international list of top picks from film buff Robert Yahnke:
- About Schmidt (United States, 2002), directed by Alexander Payne
- Antonia’s Line (Holland, 1995), directed by Marleen Gorris
- Central Station (Brazil, 1998), directed by Walter Salles
- The Dresser (United Kingdom, 1983), directed by Peter Yates
- The Grandfather (Spain, 1998), directed by José Luis Garci
- Ikiru (Japan, 1951), directed by Akiru Kurosawa
- Man on the Train (France, 2003), directed by Patrice Leconte
- Saraband (Sweden, 2003), directed by Ingmar Bergman
- Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter . . . and Spring (South Korea, 2003), directed by Ki-Duk Kim
STEPPING BOLDLY INTO THE KITCHEN: Chester Guttridge, 87, signed up for cooking classes three years ago when his wife became ill and he had to care for her.
Mike Wadge, 68, stares in awe at his perfectly risen orange and almond sponge. "I’ve baked a cake!" he says. "My wife will never believe it."
Guttridge and Wadge are two of nine men attending cookery classes at Blackwell school, about 10 miles west of Bristol, England.
"Many are widowed or caring for ailing wives," explains Jane Lewthwaite, community development officer at the charity Age UK Somerset.
The classes were launched three years ago in response to requests from older men for lessons in cooking and food shopping. Ads for classes were posted in pubs across the country.
Age UK estimates that more than 40,000 men around Britain have attended cooking sessions in the past five years.
Lewthwaite says: "These classes enable them to be self-sufficient and independent in their homes, but also get them out of the house and into the community."
Guttridge agrees: "It’s doing things like this that keeps you going," he says.
STILL PASSIONATE ABOUT ROLLER SKATING: Joyce and Arthur George glide effortlessly around Scooter’s Roller Palace in Mississauga, Ont. (Canada). Dubbed The Flyers, the former amateurs are renowned for their roller skating repertoire that once included the foxtrot, quickstep and the waltz.
She’s 89, and he’s 90.
The couple, who live in Burlington, have been teaching adults how to dance on eight wheels for over 20 years.
On Thursday evenings, Arthur still teaches budding skaters his magic moves, while Joyce works with a mostly over-70 crowd of longtime skaters. They come in droves for the exercise and camaraderie, not to mention the home-baked treats Joyce brings to the rink for skaters to enjoy with fresh-brewed coffee.
The Georges have each suffered a heart attack, but they show few signs of slowing down.
"I’m not going to sit here and wait to die. I want to get out and enjoy life. And skating is the best part of life," Arthur says.