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Roundup

 

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE 100? When researchers put the question to 16 centenarians living in the United Kingdom, the findings revealed six themes. Here they are in brief:

1. Engagement: All 11 women and five men were meaningfully engaged in the world around them. For example, "Alex," was honorary president of the bowling club and an active member of the Masons. "Hetty," a strong believer in world peace, marched against the war in Iraq in the streets of London.

2. Happiness and a good life: When asked what she would wish for had she one wish, "Alison" said: "I’m perfectly happy to go on as I am. I’m not wishing for anything and I’m glad I’ve got good health. That’s an enormous thing."

And "Albert" told researchers: "I’ve had a good life. I’m the oldest in a line of five generations. I’m a great-great granddad. I don’t think of the bad times, you’ve got to think of the good times . . . "

3. Stoicism: Centenarians recalled their memories of two world wars. Scenes of bombing, air raid shelters and food shortages. "Phyllis" said: "We just took it in our stride, I suppose. You have to don’t you . . . I’m afraid I am one of those resilient people. I don’t just sit down and cry when it comes. I’ve just got to get on with it."

4. Sources of support: Seven of the 16 were still living independently in their own homes. Their children, who themselves were in their 70s and 80s, provided support. Many said that their spirituality was a major source of strength. Others received support from their church community. And "Nita" touted the crew at her local swimming pool: "Everybody knew me, yes, everybody, all the swimmers."

5. Sources of frustration: Participants mentioned mainly physical frustrations such as the loss of sight and mobility. "Olive," who was wheel chair-bound wished to regain the use of her legs. Phyllis still played bridge at the bridge club that she started but her fingers cannot spread the cards.

6. Talking about death: Sixty years after her beloved husband’s death, Alison still feels the warmth of his presence. Alex and "Bob" said that they would like to have their wives back, if it were possible. Many talked of the death of parents and siblings, but only Nita mentioned her own impending death. "I say ‘Thank God’ for every day that I wake up . . . because when’s it’s my time, I want to go without knowing I’m gone."

Nimmi Hutnik and colleagues reported their findings in Aging & Mental Health (September 2012).

 

GREY DIVORCE ON THE RISE IN CANADA: As baby boomers hit retirement age, divorces among couples 65 years and older are becoming more and more common, according to Statistics Canada (2011 Census). The numbers have been steadily growing among those 55 and over, with rates expected to increase as more people continue to age.

In the United States, some are turning to divorce coaches to help ease the split. Coaches offer pre-legal advice and draw up the legal documents needed for divorce. But perhaps more important, they act as guides creating a safe, patient and nonjudgmental environment during divorce proceedings that may drag on.

Many people use coaches to minimize the cost of lawyers, but coaching fees can add up. According to Randall Cooper, co-founder of CDC College for Divorce Coaching in Tampa, Florida, the average hourly fee for a divorce coach is $100 to $150 U.S.

In Canada, Ontario residents who have questions about divorce can download What You Should Know About Family Law in Ontario, in any one of nine languages from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General website. The free guide covers many aspects of separation and divorce including mediation, division of property and your rights and obligations.

Source: With notes from globeandmail.com.

 

FASHION MEETS OLD AGE: Fashion is finally waking up to the power of the older woman.

Advanced Style, a blog by Ari Seth Cohen, focuses on stylish older adults on the streets of New York. This hugely successful blog is the basis of a book with the same title. The new volume features women over 60 moving to the beat of their own drummer with dazzling grace and panache. It will be made into a film in 2013.

In 2009, fashion designer Fanny Karst launched her niche label The Old Ladies’ Rebellion in a small Parisian gallery. The 20-something designer set out to revolutionize the stylish options available to women her grandmother’s age. The garments are straight, bold and modeled by silver-haired women.

And two years ago, Leni Goggins launched GranPaparazzi, a website dedicated to showcasing stylish women and men on the streets of Vancouver.

All of which prompts the question: why now? Ari Seth Cohen says the answer is simple: "In the U.S. alone there are a reported 78 million baby boomers, aged 60-something and above, who control 70 per cent of the domestic income. That’s a lot of purchasing power."

Source: With notes from FT.com.

 

THE MAYTREES: RAVISHING MEDITATION ON LIFE, NATURE AND LOVE: The Maytrees (HarperCollins) by Annie Dillard, follows Toby and Lou across their long lives as they marry, divorce and live together again.

Toby is a poet. Lou takes up painting. The couple live a bohemian life among artists and writers at the tip of Cape Cod after World War II. Their lives are nourished by books, the sea, the turning of the seasons and the miracle that is their son, Pete.

After 14 years, the relationship comes to an abrupt end. Just as unexpectedly, it picks up again 20 years later.

This poetic novel is about the search for what is essential in life and how we view life over the long stretch of a lifetime. Dillard’s prose is profoundly imaginative, weaving scenes of old age of rare beauty and insight.