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cover for Thursdays in the Park
“GRAN-LIT” TOPS BEST SELLER CHARTS IN UK: In Thursdays in the Park (Quercus), Jeanie, a 60-something grandmother encounters the man of her dreams. She meets Ray by the swings in the park while she looks after her grandchildren. Jeanie must decide whether to leave a safe but sexless marriage for the possibilities of life with a new partner.

This first novel by British writer Hilary Boyd sold fewer than 1,000 copies in 2011. In August 2012, the publishers reissued the book in a mass-market edition, and Quercus launched Thursdays in the Park as an e-book. Not long after, Boyd got an email telling her she was number 18 in the Amazon U.K. bestseller charts. Stunned, she watched it slowly climb to 10, to five, and then to . . . number one.

But it didn’t stop there. That November, Thursdays in the Park achieved an e-book sale of more than 100,000 copies, and the foreign rights were snapped up in France, Germany, Sweden and Finland.

So what’s going on?

“Old people falling in love and having passionate relationships is not a story that’s had much exposure before,” said the 62-year-old author and grandmother. “But I’m in no doubt that the market’s out there.”

Source: guardian.co.uk.

GRANDCHILD INSPIRES CLIMATE CHANGE BOOK: The birth of James Hansen’s first grandchild, Sophia, compelled the leading climate scientist to publish his first book in 2009.

More than 30 years ago, the author created Model Zero, an early climate model used to make a series of accurate predictions about climate change. And two decades ago, Hansen testified before the United States Congress about global warming.

Hansen wrote Storms of My Grandchildren (Bloomsbury) because he said he was haunted by the thought that his grandchildren might one day say, “Opa understood what was happening, but he did not make it clear.”

Today, Hansen says things are heating up even faster than the figures in Storms of My Grandchildren stated. Extreme weather events that were once unusual are now becoming more common.

In a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (July 30, 2012), Hansen and his colleagues wrote: “We can project with a high degree of confidence that the area covered by extremely hot anomalies will continue to increase during the next few years and even greater extremes will occur.”

He says current generations have a moral duty to their children and grandchildren to take immediate action. “The situation we’re creating for young people and future generations is that we’re handing them a climate system which is potentially out of their control.”

Source: With notes from guardian.co.uk.

robot
ROBOT A HIT WITH JAPANESE ELDERS: Nodding Kabochan is a communication robot with a winsome smile. The 28-centimetres-tall robot is already a hit among the women who attend Day Service Mirai, a day facility for older adults in Toyonaka, Osaka.

“You are so cute,” one 91-year-old woman said. “I wish I could take you home.”

The interactive robot speaks 400 conversational phrases, and it can address its owner as grandma and grandpa. Kabochan was developed by Pip Co. Ltd and Wiz Corporation.

Modeled after a three-year-old boy, the robot has audio, light and motion sensors in its mouth, head, hands, feet and body. The sensors allow it to talk, sing and move in response to its owners touch and spoken words.

Researchers asked 34 older women, who lived alone, to live with Kabochan for two months. Results showed improvements in cognitive functions such as memory and judgment.

According to Yasuyoski Watanabe, a professor of brain science at Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, Kabochan also improves the quality of sleep and enhances emotional health of old people living in rural areas.

Source: AARP International with notes from online edition of The Asahi Shimbun.

THIRD-AGE COMPUTER FUN IN EDINBURGH: When NESTA (an independent U.K. charity) launched Age Unlimited Scotland to inspire people in their 50s and 60s to create innovative community programs, the ideas flooded in from people across the country.

Among those inspired was Mamie Donald, 73. The self-professed computer addict, wanted to show older adults how IT could change their lives. But where to start?

Age Unlimited Scotland provided training for Donald and 26 other novice entrepreneurs across Scotland. Training included:

  • group workshops;
  • peer mentoring;
  • micro financing on a competitive basis; and
  • after-care support to ensure program longevity

In 2010, Donald launched Third Age Computer Fun, which offers the following activities:

Clubs: The program runs computer clubs for over-50s in Edinburgh with assistance from a host of volunteers, who include out-of-work IT professionals. Most participants are over 60 and some over 90 years of age. Sessions run for two hours weekly with an annual membership and drop-in fee.

Home tuition: Volunteers show adults, who are confined to their homes, how to use the Internet to shop, get library books, follow interests such as photography, and even order repeat medical prescriptions online. They learn to use Skype and play games with their grandchildren.

Classes for non-English speaking caregivers: Tutors offer sessions for older caregivers in Chinese and various South Asian languages.

Intergenerational groups: Plans are underway to team up older adults and teenagers during the school holidays.

Finally, we at Aging Horizons Bulletin want to wish all our wonderful readers many blessings in 2013! — Ruth Dempsey