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FESTIVAL OF ELDERS STRENGTHENS TIES: More than 3,000 First Nations elders from across British Columbia, Canada, attended the 38th annual elder’s gathering in Penticton between July 7 and 9.

The Penticton Indian Band hosted the gathering, which featured a wide range of activities including workshops, guest speakers, a traditional powwow, elder’s dance and social.

Strengthening bonds between the generations was the goal of this year’s event.

The annual elder’s gathering, which is unique to B.C. will be hosted by the Tsawout nation from Vancouver Island in 2015.

Source: Penticton Western News



MUSIC HELPS PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA: A new Finnish study has found that musical activities, such as singing and listening to familiar songs, can be cognitively, emotionally and socially beneficial for those with mild or moderate dementia.

In addition, singing enhances the psychological well-being of family caregivers.

Researchers used randomized controlled trials to determine the efficacy of musical leisure as part of everyday care

Here’s how it worked: Caregivers of people with dementia received 10 weeks of musical coaching in either singing or music listening.

In all, 89 people with cognitive dementia and their family caregivers took part in weekly coaching sessions held at day activity centers in Helsinski, Finland.

Coaching sessions were led by a trained music teacher or a trained therapist.

Singing sessions: The sessions consisted of singing familiar songs in a group accompanied by the music teacher on the piano or guitar. The groups were designed for people with no musical background. The emphasis was to make singing fun.

Music listening groups: Participants listened to songs from CDs and discussed memories of events, people and places they evoked. Album covers were also used to stimulate reminiscence and spark conversations.

Musical exercises: Participants were given homework, which involved either singing or listening to music. The aim was to encourage family caregivers to make musical leisure part of caregiving in the home.

Teppo Särkämö and colleagues reported details of their study in The Gerontologist (August 2014).



NEW JOB SERVICES FOR MATURE ADULTS: The recent recession left large numbers of older adults without work at a time when many still have mortgages and dependent children.

But over-50 workers face a tough job market. For example, researchers have found employers assume these workers cannot keep up with the times or may cost a company more in benefits.

On the upside, there are emerging signs of a counter-narrative. Take Third Quarter, a new Canadian initiative that helps mature workers find employment with companies and organizations across the country.

And in the United Kingdom, Trading Times is an exciting new job service, which matches employers with experienced and skilled local over-50s and family carers.

Meanwhile in Japan, the human resources firm Koureisha helps businesses fill temporary staff positions with older workers including in the gas business and in the electronics sector.



INADEQUATE TREATMENT FOR CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITIONS: According to Statistics Canada, most older Canadians live with one chronic health condition. And the average number of chronic conditions increases with age.

Recently, Laura Hurd Clarke and colleagues at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) conducted in-depth interviews with 35 adults (16 men and 19 women), aged 73 and over. The participants had an average of six chronic conditions including arthritis, back problems and heart disease.

According to the findings published in the Canadian Journal on Aging (March 2014), 66 per cent of participants felt they were not receiving effective treatment for their chronic health issues.

Here’s why:

1. Lack of thoroughness: Over 40 per cent of older adults said medical examinations lacked thoroughness. For example, one 88-year-old woman talked about what she described as "superficial" medicine. Specifically, medicine concerned only with filling prescriptions, administering blood work tests and writing specialist referrals. Participants wanted full examinations and a more person-centred approach to care.

2. Lack of time: Forty-three per cent of participants said overly short medical appointments meant little time to discuss multiple health conditions. Consequently, 28 per cent described having to make difficult choices about which concerns to raise with their doctor during appointments.

As one 75-year-old man explained:

I usually have multiple complaints so I have to decide what to talk to him about because he’s busy and he can’t accommodate all of my complaints . . . I think the things that have the greatest priority for me are the things that are potentially life-threatening such as coronary artery disease, MSA [multiple system atrophy] or Parkinson’s. The arthritis in my knee and my shoulder – these things are not life-threatening, I can live with that. So, I sort of put that aside when I’m talking to the GP.

3. Ageism: Twenty-six percent of older adults blamed a culture of ageism for their inadequate care.

Females felt especially marginalized. Four women in the study maintained that their doctors perceived them to be nuisances who were complaining for nothing.

Others described feeling uncomfortable discussing certain issues with their physician.

Said one 77-year-old woman:

I find it difficult to start any kind of a subject that’s to do with sexuality or mental illness with [my doctor]. I don’t know why there’s some kind of barrier there . . . it seems as if he doesn’t want to hear it. At least that’s how I interpret his body language . . . I think there is a bias that seems to be ingrained in our society.

What to do? The study found 34 per cent of participants regularly turned to alternative sources of information about their health concerns, including:

  • the Internet
  • library books
  • other health care professionals, and
  • pharmacists.