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Sunday, August 31, 2008

International Conference on Ageing in India


Jan 22nd to Jan 24th 2009- Mumbai , India

A silent revolution has been occurring in the last 100 years - unseen, unheard, and yet so close as people 65 years of age and older have been the fastest growing segment of the different countries around the world.

In a rejoinder to this dramatic demographic trend, it is important to focus on the challenges of ageing in the 21st century. To facilitate their active integration in the life of the society, it requires collaborative efforts, which involves not only the family, but also the community and the Government - Consequently it points to the important fact that different groups of people need to network. Keeping with this, S.V.T. College of Home Science has planned for this International conference on “MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO HEALTHY & PARTICIPATORY AGEING” which is also coinciding with the Golden Jubilee Celebration of S.V.T. College of Home Science.

This conference is aimed at engaging the various sectors of the rural and urban community in a process of reinvesting the concept of ageing and rethinking policy, through an intergenerational, cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary approach. The conference hopes to address the many key questions central to the ageing population by bringing together different professionals engaged in working for the elderly to share their ideas and research findings.

The specific objectives of this conference are manifold:

  • To review and address the realities and issues related to ageing in the contemporary society.
  • To create awareness about the needs of the elderly and also appreciate the contribution that older persons make to own societies,
  • To highlight the resources/facilities necessary to deal with the increasing population of the elderly
  • To identify the innovations enhancing the lives of older people to ensure independence, participation, fulfillment and dignity.
  • To deliberate on the sustainable policies of care for the elderly to ensure that the well-being of elders in need is effectively safeguarded by our society
  • To strengthen the networking of different governmental and nongovernmental professionals working in this field so that the beneficiary i.e. the elderly in a country can benefit.

Another highlight of this International conference would be an “Exhibition on different facets of the elderly” for the public to enhance their awareness of the challenges or concerns related to ageing.

Who Should Attend : Professionals from multidisciplinary backgrounds.

  • Home Scientists
  • Nutritionists
  • Psychologists
  • Social scientists
  • Social workers
  • Health/Medical professionals
  • Governmental representatives
  • Policy maker/Policy implementers
  • Volunteers/Decision makers in NGO
  • Human resource professionals
  • NGO'S
  • Senior Citizens Associations
  • Students
  • Corporate

Dates to remember :

Last date for registration: 30th December, 2008

Proposal of Oral/Poster Paper Submission :30th September, 2008

Notification & Confirmation of Acceptance : 30th October, 2008

Final Paper Submission :30th November,2008

S.V.T College of Home Science
SNDT Women’s University,
Juhu Complex

Participating Organizations
International Longevity Center - India
HelpAge India

Supporting Organizations
Silver Inning Foundation

ISKCON Auditorium
Hare Krishna Land,
Juhu, Mumbai- 400049

MAHPA 2009,
S.V.T. College of Home Science,
S.N.D.T. Women’s University,
Sir Vithaldas Vidyavihar,
Juhu Road, Santacruz (West),
Mumbai , Maharashtra, India
Pin: 400049
Tel: 022-26602504/26608179 ;
Fax: 022-26606427

Hurry take advantage of Early bird discounts:


Last date for registration: 30th December, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Organisations working for Senior Citizens in Mumbai / Maharashtra - India

HelpAge India - West zone
Mr.John Thattil / Ms. Neraja Bhatnagar
Guruchhaya Society
Manish Nagar
Andheri (West)),
Maharashtra 400058
Tel : 26370754‎ / 26370740
Email: mumbai@helpageindia.org
Website : http://www.helpageindia.org/

Silver Inning Foundation
Correspondence Address Only:
Bldg: C/22
Flat: 303,
Mira Road East,
Pin 401 107
Sailesh Mishra - Founder President
Mobile: 9819819145 / 9987104233
Email: sailesh2000@gmail.com / info@silverinnings.com
Website: www.silverinnings.com

Alzheimer’s & Related Disorders Society of India
BMC School Bldg
(II/room 127),
JJ Hospital Complex,
Tel: 23742479
Hon Secretary : Prof Parul - 9892123773
Email: people4sc@gmail.com / kibli_45@yahoo.co.in
Website : http://www.mykerala.net/alzheimer/ardsi_man_01.html

The Family Welfare Agency
Ms Swati Ingole
Urban Health Center (Chotta Sion Hospital)
Room No - 302,
3rd Floor,
60 Feet Rd,
Shahu Nagar
Mumbai - 400017
Tel : 24015150 / 9833406288 ;
Email: tfwas@yahoo.co.in

Mr.Hiren Mehta
Maker Chambers IV
Fourth Floor
222, Nariman Point
Maharashtra 400021
Office- 22785400 / 9323551650
Fax- 2-285-2217
Website : http://www.harmonyindia.org/hportal/home.jsp
Email: hiren.mehta@harmonyindia.org

Dignity Foundation
BMC School Building,
Topiwala Lane,
Opp. Lamington Road Police Station,
Mumbai 400 007.
Telephone: 23898079 / 23841845 / 23814356
Fax: 23898082
Email: dignity@vsnl.com
Website: http://www.dignityfoundation.com/index.php

Shree Manav Seva Sangh
opp M.G.Market,
Sion road,
Sion West,
Tel: 2409 2266 / 24081487/ 2407 1553
Ms.Vinita / Mr.Kamdar
Email: info@shreemanavsevasangh.org

21, Chandravijay
Lokmanya Tilak Road
Mulund (East),
Mumbai - 400 081
Mr.Viajy Aundhe - 24050075

AISCCON (All India Senior Citizens Confederation)
Dr. S.P. Kinjawadekar
B/8/602, Kaveri Safal Complex,
Sec. - 19/A, Nerul,
New Mumbai.
Tel : 9820639773 / 2771 4240/41
Website: http://www.aisccon.org/index.htm

The Chairperson / Programme Co-ordinator
Centre for Lifelong Learning
P.O. Box 8313 ,
Mumbai 400 088.
Tel : 2556 3289-96, Extn. 5252,/ 5680/5681/5682 or 25225252 (Direct)
Website: http://www.tiss.edu/

College Of Social Work Nirmala Niketan
38, New Marine Lines
Mumbai – 400 020,
Tel : +91 22 2200 2615 / 22067345
Email: colsocwk@mtnl.net.in
Website: http://www.collegeofsocialwork.in/

The International Longevity Centre- India (ILC-I)
CASP Bhavan
132/2, Plot # 3,
Pashan-Baner Link Road,
Pune 411 021
Tel : 91 (20) 65002595
Email : longevetic@gmail.com
Website: http://www.ilcindia.org/

Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA)
“YASHADA” Raj Bhavan Complex
Baner Road,
Pune – 411007
Tel – 020 – 25608000 / 25608142 Fax – 020 - 25608100
E-mail : yashada@vsnl.com
Website : http://www.yashada.org/organisation/org.htm

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

4th National Conference of Indian Association for Geriatric Mental Health (IAGMH)

4th National Conference of Indian Association for Geriatric Mental Health (IAGMH) going to be held at Hotel Jaypee Palace and convention Centre, Agra, on 5th and 6th September 2008.

With its affiliation to International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA), the newly established IAGMH has indeed enhanced its scope and activities to international horizons in a very short span of its existence. With the increasing number of geriatric people in the society, an enhanced health service sector for this segment is the need of the hour. However our country is still lacking behind in mental health services for these elderly people. To highlight these issues, the theme of the present conference has been chosen as “Better Mental Health for Older People.”

Website : http://iagmh.org/4th/invitation.htm


Conference Secretariat & Correspondence Address :
Dr S P Gupta
2A, Das MArket, Delhi Gate, Agra - 2, (UP.)

Phone :
(0562) 2521780, 9837433502

International Conference on Gerontology and Geriatrics in 2008

September 4 - 7
IFA's 9th Global Conference on Ageing Expo Ageing & Design Montréal
Montréal, Canada

September 6 - 9, 2008
Annual Conference of the British Society of Gerontology
Bristol, UK

September 8 - 10, 2008
Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine 2008 Annual Scientific Meeting
Melbourne, Australia

September 16 - 19, 2008
VII Annual Meeting of the Cuban Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Havana, Cuba

September 17 - 19, 2008
First Conference Clinical Trials on Alzheimer's Disease trials
Montpellier, France

October 3, 2008
9th National Congress of the Dutch Society of Gerontology
Ede, The Netherlands

October 17 - 18, 2008
Annual meeting of the Belgian Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Liège, Belgium

October 21 - 23, 2008
29th Annual Meeting of the French Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Paris, France

October 23 - 26, 2008
Canadian Association on Gerontology annual meeting
London, Ontario

October 23-25
XIV National Congress of the Mexican Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Mexico City, Mexico
E-mail: gemac@prodigy.net.mx

New Memory Test Cutoff May Detect College-Educated Adults With Alzheimer’s

Providing a different cutoff point on the Mini-Mental State Exam, or MMSE, a 30-question questionnaire commonly used to suggest a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, may identify more college-educated adults with early disease, a new study suggest. The findings could be important, since disease-modifying treatments, which are now under development, may be most effective early in the course of Alzheimer’s.

Doctors commonly use the MMSE to assess thinking, learning and memory problems. The test takes only 5 to 10 minutes to perform and asks a series of 30 questions requiring math, memory and orientation skills.

Questions are fairly simple, such as what year is it? What season is this? What is the month? What state are we in? What hospital or office are we in? What floor are we on? The test can be administered over time to track the progress of mental deteriorations.

“The MMSE is used to screen patients for cognitive impairment, track changes in cognitive functioning over time and often to assess the effects of therapeutic agents on cognitive function,” the authors write. “Performance on the MMSE is moderated by demographic variables, with scores decreasing with advanced age and less education.”

Currently, a score below 24 out of 30 correct typically suggest serious memory problems that may suggest a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. But people with little formal education typically perform worse on the MMSE than those who are college educated.

In highly educated men and women with more than 16 years of formal education, the study found, a score below 27 may be a better marker of serious memory problems. The findings appeared in the July issue of The Archives of Neurology, a medical journal of the American Medical Association.

Sid E. O’Bryant, Ph.D., of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and colleagues reviewed the MMSE scores of 1,141 highly educated participants (93 percent white, average age 75.9 years) in the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer Disease Research Center and Alzheimer Disease Patient Registry. These included 307 patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia; 176 patients with mild cognitive impairment, a less serious form of memory loss that may develop into Alzheimer’s disease; and 658 control patients who were mentally normal.

With the traditional cut-off score of 24 on the MMSE, 89 percent of the participants were accurately classified in terms of dementia status. This score had a sensitivity of 66 percent, meaning that a person with a score of 23 or lower would be correctly identified as having dementia 66 percent of the time. The 24-cutoff had a specificity of 99 percent, meaning those with a score of 24 or higher would be correctly diagnosed as not having dementia 99 percent of the time.

By raising the cut-off score to 27 for college-educated seniors, the sensitivity increased to 89 percent, and the specificity rose to 78 percent, correctly classifying 90 percent of the participants overall.

“The current findings are not intended to encourage the diagnosis of cognitive impairment or dementia based on total MMSE scores alone,” the authors write. “Instead, these results provide practitioners with revised criteria for appropriate management of highly educated older white patients.

Specifically, the researchers note, older patients who present with memory complaints -- reported themselves or by family members –- should be asked about their formal education. “Those who have attained a college degree or higher level of education and who score below 27 on the MMSE are at increased risk of cognitive dysfunction and dementia,” the researchers write, “and should be referred for a comprehensive evaluation, including formal neuropsychological studies.”

The authors suggest that use of this new cut-off point may help facilitate early detection of dementia in highly educated individuals. Timely support may be particularly important in this population. When treatments that stem the course of Alzheimer’s become available they may be most beneficial early in the course of the disease. Individuals with more education tend to decline and die more quickly after they are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the authors note.

By www.ALZinfo.org, The Alzheimer's Information Site. Reviewed by William J. Netzer, Ph.D., Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation at The Rockefeller University.


Sid E.O’Bryant, Ph.D.; Joy D. Humphreys, M.A.; Glenn E. Smith, Ph.D., et al: “Detecting Dementia With the Mini-Mental State Examination in Highly Educated Individuals.” Archives of Neurology, Volume 65, Number 7, July 15, 2008, pages 963-967.

New Drugs for Alzheimer’s Work in Novel Ways

A new class of drugs called gamma-secretase modulators work to reduce the buildup of toxic proteins in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, giving doctors hope that these medications may offer effective new treatments for the devastating brain ailment. Results of advanced-stage testing of one of these drugs, called Flurizan, failed to show any benefit, though this unfortunate failure does not signal that other drugs, based on the same principle – called gamma-secretase modulation -- will fail.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic report that gamma-secretase modulators work to reduce the production of long pieces of a protein called beta-amyloid that builds up in the brains of those with the disease. These drugs also appear to promote the production of shorter forms of beta-amyloid that may inhibit the longer forms from sticking together and forming brain-damaging clumps. The findings appeared in the June 12 issue of the scientific journal Nature.

Doctors have long known that beta-amyloid builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. But scientists still don’t know exactly why or how this occurs, and how it may lead to the onset of memory loss and dementia.

Beta-amyloid by itself it not necessarily bad. It is formed from a larger protein called amyloid precursor protein, or APP, that can be snipped into shorter segments by proteins called enzymes. One of these enzymes is called gamma secretase.

Gamma secretase acts on a fragment of APP, shearing it like a pair of molecular scissors into smaller fragments of beta-amyloid of varying length.

One resulting form of beta-amyloid, consisting of 42 protein building blocks called amino acids, appears to be particularly toxic to the brain. This 42-amino acid form of beta-amyloid is the main form that builds up in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease to form plaques. A hallmark of Alzheimer's is the formation of these plaques, which are believed to damage neurons in complex ways that are not yet fully understood.

But beta-amyloid also exists in shorter forms, like the 38- and 40-amino acid segments that appear to be less harmful. These shorter segments may even be beneficial, helping to prevent the longer, and toxic, 42-amino acid form from sticking together to form plaques.

How the New Drugs Work

The new drugs, the gamma secretase modulators, are believed to act on APP, rather than the gamma secretase enzyme directly. As a result, when gamma secretase shears the larger APP protein, it tends to form shorter snippets of nontoxic beta-amyloid. At the same time, less of the toxic form of beta-amyloid is produced.

"So, as these compounds lower the amount of the bad, longer sticky beta-amyloid peptides in the brain, they increase the quantity of shorter beta-amyloid peptides that may protect against development of Alzheimer's disease," said the study’s senior author, Todd Golde, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

"In a very general sense the action of these gamma secretase modulators on beta-amyloid might be analogous to some cholesterol-lowering drugs that can lower LDL, the bad cholesterol that sticks to your arteries, and can raise HDL, the good cholesterol," Dr. Golde said.

There is also some evidence that the gamma secretase modulators actually stick to the toxic beta-amyloid already in the brain, keeping it from clumping together.

"Surprisingly, this means that these compounds may do three things that may be beneficial with respect to Alzheimer's disease: they inhibit production of long beta-amyloid, may block aggregation of beta-amyloid, and increase production of shorter beta-amyloid peptides that may in turn inhibit beta-amyloid aggregation," said the study's lead investigator, Thomas Kukar, Ph.D.

Because these experimental drugs lower levels of toxic beta-amyloid, they are sometimes also referred to as selective amyloid lowering agents, or SALAs.

Read more: http://www.alzinfo.org/newsarticle/templates/newstemplate.asp?articleid=297&zoneid=10

Monday, August 25, 2008

Silver Innings Newsletter August 2008

You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing

-- Michael Pritchard

Dear Friends,

It's our pleasure to bring to you the update of your website Silver Innings. Below are new articles recently posted on various sections in August 2008, to read more you need to visit particular menu on the website www.silverinnings.com .Hope you enjoy this and send us your feedback at info@silverinnings.com . Sorry for delay in posting this News letter.

We also invite articles of interest, inspiring short stories, jokes, reviews, etc. Please note publication is sole decision of web master and as per rules laid down by Silver Innings.


Mansukhlal .V. Ruparelia – ''Retired'' but "Not Tired"



Age and security

MDGs must target poorest say older people


Facing the challenge of an ageing population in India: Read an Article by Hendi Lingiah

Facts and Issues

Equal treatment, equal rights

Guidebook for developing and supporting older persons' organisations


Health/ Fitness


Ageing and Disability

Eight Steps to Prevent Osteoporosis


Memory Loss with Aging: What's Normal, What's Not

Dementia & Alzheimer's

Diverse Approaches to Alzheimer's Therapies

Dementia Information Booklet: Read in Hind


Elders Reveal Keys to Healthy Aging

Poor Memory Tied to Sleep Woes in Aging Women


Access to pain relief – A Human Right

Milestone Medical Tests in your 50s

Elder Law


Social security in developing nations and the role of the state

Other Laws

The Paramedical and Physiotherapy Central Councils Bill, 2007

Women Reservation Bill 2008

Salient features of 2007 housing policy


Parents and Grandparents


End of lifestyle

Supporting Friends and Family Who Have Mental Illnesses

Ten Reasons Why Your Parent May Not Be Eating Properly

The ABCs of Grand parenting

When elders get depressed: it's not just "old age"

Grandparents and Grandchildren's



The Golden Age of Sex

Hobbies and Activities

Amusement: Book

The Alzheimer's Action Plan: The Experts' Guide to the Best Diagnosis and Treatment for Memory Problems

News and Event


Vedic Way of Life By M.V.Ruparelia

Elderly population boom, AIDS death slowdown by 2050: UN

What can Senior Citizens do for the Society: By M.V.Ruparelia

Why are we, as we are? : By M.V.Ruparelia

Profile of an Indian MP

To guard public health in emergency, Centre plans to change the law

Designs for all – July 2008 Newsletter

Meals for Elderly Summer 2008 Newsletter

Thanks for giving your valuable time, see you soon with next update.

Did you join Silver Innings, Ask your friends to Join
– its Free: http://silverinnings.com/primary%20individual%20form.asp

Silver Inning Foundation is NGO registered under Society Registration Act of 1860 vide registration number 1300/2008/GBBSD dated 14/07/2008.

Team Silver Innings


Do visit Blog: http://peopleforsocialcause.blogspot.com/ ; http://silverinnings.blogspot.com/

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Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

GERONTOLOGY Course in India : An initiative by Silver Inning Foundation in association with Ramnarain Ruia College

First time in India a short term course in Gerontology


With decline in fertility and mortality rates accompanied by an improvement in child survival and better health care and increased life expectancy, a significant feature of demographic change is the progressive increase in the number of elderly persons in India.

According to census 2001 population of people above age 60 years and above was 7.5% of Total population. According to UN by 2050, nearly 20% of India’s population will comprise of people over the age of 60 years. So there is urgent need to address the issues of Elderly and to empower Elderly and the society on whole with various aspects of Ageing.

Department of Psychology at Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai in Association with Silver Inning Foundation announces CERTIFICATE COURSE IN GERONTOLOGY (A course to work with Elder people).


· To prepare trained cadre of people to work with Elderly and to provide support system for their families

· To learn about basic skills, knowledge and attitudes for working with elderly

  • To strengthen intergenerational relations through knowledge and understanding
  • To Improve Quality of Life of Elderly

Methodology: Theory and Field visits

Duration: 4 months

Days: 2 days a week

Time: Evening Batch

Eligibility: Minimum H.S.C / X11

Total course Fees: Rs.4000/-

Tentative date of start: Monday 1st September 2008

Venue of Course:

Department of Psychology

3rd Floor

Ramnarain Ruia College

L. Nappo Road,


Mumbai 400 019,


Hurry and apply soon only 30 seats.


Prof. Sangeeta Rao (Clinical Psychologist) -HOD Department of Psychology R.Ruia College


Mobile: 9323390259

Amruta Lovekar - Director Programme and Services, Silver Inning Foundation

Email : amruta76@yahoo.com

Mobile: 9833136536

Silver Innings: info@silverinnings.com

Help Desk: 9987104233

Forms Available:

Monday to Friday – 10am to 12 noon

Department of Psychology

Ramnarain Ruia College

About Ramnarain College

The Ramnarain Ruia College of Arts & Science was established in June 1937.This College is affiliated to University of Mumbai and conducts courses at Undergraduate and Graduate (Postgraduate) level. Today, Ruia College enjoys the reputation of being one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the country.

About Silver Innings Foundation

Silver Inning Foundation is NGO registered under Society Registration Act of 1860 vide registration number 1300/2008/GBBSD dated 14/07/2008.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Simulating Age 85, With Lessons on Offering Care

What does it feel like to be old in America? At the Westminster Thurber Retirement Community here, Heather Ramirez summed it up in two words. “Painful,” she said. “Frustrating.”

Mrs. Ramirez is only 33, but on a recent morning she was taking part in a three-hour training program called Xtreme Aging, designed to simulate the diminished abilities associated with old age.

Along with 15 colleagues and a reporter, Mrs. Ramirez, a social worker at the facility, put on distorting glasses to blur her vision; stuffed cotton balls in her ears to reduce her hearing, and in her nose to dampen her sense of smell; and put on latex gloves with adhesive bands around the knuckles to impede her manual dexterity. Everyone put kernels of corn in their shoes to approximate the aches that come from losing fatty tissue.

They had become, in other words, virtual members of the 5.3 million Americans age 85 and older, the nation’s fastest-growing age group — the people the staff at the facility work with every day.

What a drag it is getting old, even if it’s just make-believe.

As the population in the developing world ages, simulation programs like Xtreme Aging have become a regular part of many nursing or medical school curriculums, and have crept into the corporate world, where knowing what it is like to be elderly increasingly means better understanding one’s customers or even employees — how to design signs or instrument panels, how to make devices more usable.

With the baby boomers edging into their 60s, engineers at Ford and other car companies have designed elaborate “age suits” that restrict movement and blur vision to approximate the effects of aging.

“I must say, you look lovely,” said Vicki Rosebrook, executive director of the Macklin Intergenerational Institute in Findlay, Ohio, which developed Xtreme Aging as a sensitivity training program for schools, churches, workplaces and other groups that have contact with the elderly.

Then Dr. Rosebrook put the group through a series of routine tasks, including buttoning a shirt, finding a number in a telephone book, dialing a cellphone and folding and unfolding a map. The result was a domestic obstacle course.

Some tasks were difficult, some impossible. The type in the telephone book appeared microscopic, the buttons on the cellphone even smaller.

And forget about refolding a map or handling coins from a zippered wallet.

Dr. Rosebrook told the group an anecdote about being in a department store behind a slow-moving older woman, when an impatient customer behind her called the woman a “Q-Tip head.”

“The next time you’re in line at the grocery store and you’re thinking, ‘You old geezer, hurry up,’ just think about how this felt,” she said.

Dr. Rosebrook, 55, said she started Xtreme Aging three years ago after a teenage clerk at a hotel joked about her husband being a member of AARP. “We all started sharing experiences and realizing things that we perceived as discrimination,” she said.

She said she hoped to provide more training in the corporate world: at hotels or theme parks, at department stores or customer service centers. “But there’s a lot of denial out there,” Dr. Rosebrook said. “They don’t see a need. We can’t even get AARP.”

The Macklin institute and Westminster Thurber both subscribe to a model of care for older people called the Eden Alternative, designed to reduce the isolation, boredom, loneliness and helplessness that plague old age. At Macklin, older residents spend days with children; at Westminster Thurber, administrators are experimenting with a small communal house for people with dementia.

Xtreme Aging is meant to foster sensitivity both inside and outside facilities, Dr. Rosebrook said. “You people already get it,” she told the group, adding that her most memorable training sessions had been with children or factory workers. “They related to it emotionally,” she said. “They said, ‘That could be my mother,’ or ‘That could be my grandma.’ ”

To approximate the state of people entering a nursing home, she asked each participant to write down five favorite possessions, five cherished freedoms and three loved ones on Post-it notes. Then one-by-one she asked members of the group to part with a possession, a freedom or a person: a car here, a husband there, freedom of travel next — until all that anyone had left were two possessions.

“You guys just aged to the point of going into a nursing home,” she said, as participants made the last hard choice, invariably giving up contact with their children. “What did you give up? All your loved ones. All your privileges. And at most nursing homes you only get to bring two possessions.”

She asked, “How did that make you feel?”

Hands went up.


“Like I want to die.”

“Like I failed.”

“Now,” Dr. Rosebrook said, “how many of you look forward to living in a typical nursing home?” No hands went up. “But this is what we do to people. If we’ve taken everything away, what have we done to the elders in society?”

Kim Hansen, 46, who works in the facility’s rehabilitation unit, said the hardest part of the exercise was giving up the people in her life. “I gave up my parents first,” she said. “Then it was between my husband and my kids. I gave up my husband. I got very emotional with that.”

Westminster Thurber runs its own aging simulations once a month. Michele Engelbach, the facility’s administrator, said she brought in the Xtreme Aging program, at a cost of $60 per participant, because “it’s really important to have as much sensitivity training as possible. We don’t know what it’s like to lose our faculties. The better we can understand, the more effective we can be with our residents.”

The simulation is not quite like the aging process. As people get older, they lose their abilities slowly, and compensate by adjusting their behavior. But Robin Eggers, the director of nursing at Westminster Thurber, said the simulation would help staff members see that the hardships of aging could be overcome.

“You can have this pain and disability at any stage; it’s not just limited to the elderly,” Ms. Eggers said. “But things don’t have to just shut down.”

Among the most difficult tasks, Dr. Rosebrook asked the participants to hold a pencil in their nondominant hand and rotate their off foot counterclockwise, then write their name, address and telephone number using their nondominant hand. “Come on, come on,” she said, “we don’t have all day.”

Groans went up. Pencils traced erratic scribbles. No one finished in the few minutes allowed.

“That could be what it feels like to experience a stroke,” Dr. Rosebrook said. “Your dominant side doesn’t work, you’re fearful, there’s a lot of anxiety.”

Mrs. Hansen looked at the scribble in front of her. “So is this what it’s going to look like when I get up there?” she asked.

At the end of the simulation, the effects of aging receded as quickly as they came on.

Mrs. Hansen said the program gave her a cautionary view of her future. She added that it made her feel good about working with older people.

“This gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I’m doing the right thing for the elderly,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Source: http://www.globalaging.org/elderrights/us/2008/Simulating.htm

A Retired Life

The Russian pension system, once a strictly regulated state budget affair, now offers elderly and not so elderly Russians a wide array of ways to provide for themselves in their twilight years. Besides getting a guaranteed “basic” pension, upon reaching the age of 55 (for a woman) or 60 (for a man) one is supposed to get the so called “insurance” part of the pension, made up of the 14-percent monthly deductions from the working generation’s salaries, which are transferred to the Pension Fund. Beginning from 2002 people can also profit from the “savings” part, which is accumulated at future pensioners’ individual retirement accounts (IRAs). The money accumulated in these accounts can be invested by a trust management company chosen by the future pensioner himself and thus saved from inflation—an important innovation for Russia.

“Few people understand that the hard destiny of the Russian pensioners of the 1990s was indeed sealed not by us, but by Soviet officials much earlier,” said Alexander Pochinok, Russia’s labor and social affairs minister in the late 1990s. “Their pension savings were not invested, they all went to the state budget. Even people’s savings in Sberbank were often used to finance the deficit of the state budget. So, when these people reached the retirement age in the 1990s, their money was simply not there. It was eaten by inflation or government spending.”

In order to avoid repeating the plight of the retirees of the last Soviet generation, future pensioners are also encouraged to use non-state pension funds, which are usually run by big companies mostly for their own employees. Some of these non-state pension funds are very successful. For example, the Russian railway monopoly RZhD prides itself on its retired workers’ getting pensions which are worth 42 percent of the average salary in the company. This figure, called the replacement coefficient, is much lower in other industries, where it fell dramatically in the early 1990s and never fully recovered.

According to the estimates of the Kommersant daily, the average replacement coefficient in the country is no more than 25 to 26 percent. Official statistics provide an even more worrying picture. In May 2008 the Federal Service of State Statistics estimated the amount of an average monthly pension in Russia at 4,044 rubles ($175)—less than the survival minimum in the country, which was set at 4,330 rubles ($185) at the end of 2007. This means that pensioners who do not have a job and do not get financial support from their children can barely make ends meet, having enough money only for food and clothing. Despite the state’s continued subsidizing of housing expenses for the old and the poor, having a roof over one’s head is also becoming increasingly difficult for pensioners. The utilities bill for a modest apartment in Moscow can run up to 2000-2500 rubles ($86-$107) per month. Unless you are some kind of a “special” pensioner (a World War II veteran, a Hero of Socialist Labor etc.) this bill can consume a lion’s share of your pension.

One should also bear in mind that when the generation of today’s most active workers retires, the demographic structure of society will most likely get worse, with further decreases in the number of working persons per one pensioner expected.

“If current trends persist, by the year 2025 we shall have 1.5 times more pensioners in the country,” said Anatoly Vishnevsky, director of Moscow-based Institute of Demography, speaking at the annual assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Russia’s most influential experts’ umbrella organization. “At the same time, we shall have eight million less women of childbearing age. If during the previous periods of our history high mortality sometimes brought demographic dividends—as old people died out the burden on the state budget and the pension system was lessened—now we can’t have even that. The losses which we have now because of high male mortality and mass emigration only increase the burden on the state budget.”

In this situation, the state does not seem to be able to afford to make the lives of pensioners easier. In 2010 the “basic” pension provided by the state to any citizen of pension age, irrespective of this person’s employment history and contributions to pension funds, is expected to reach just 2,280 rubles (about $100) and in 2011 it is planned to grow to 3,300 rubles ($142). Bearing in mind that prices for basic foodstuffs in Russia soar even faster than average inflation rates, the perspective for the “passive” future pensioners putting their hopes on the state alone appears to be rather gloomy. As for the Pension Fund with its “insurance” part of pensions, for many years in a row it has been unable to make good on its obligations because of a deficit in its budget, asking the federal authorities to bail it out. In 2008 alone, the government had to spend 138 billion rubles from the National Subsistence Fund to make up for the gap in the Pension Fund’s finances. Russia’s new president Dmitry Medvedev in one of his speeches this spring recognized that pensions were intolerably low, but the old way of solving the problem by just begging for more money from the state budget wouldn’t work now.

“Pensions should be high, but they should be different,” Medvedev told voters in Nizhny Novgorod. “We have had enough of equality in poverty.”

Analysts note that Medvedev prefers “pro-market” solutions to social problems, admonishing people to take more responsibility for their own future. The pension problem is no exception. Medvedev seems to be supportive of the idea that people, preferably at a young age, should be given a chance to invest at least a part of their pension savings via trust management companies or non-state pension funds. In fact, people have had this opportunity since 2002, but so far, no more than ten percent have actually chosen a trust management company. This worries the authorities, even though the transition to this system, started in 2002 with a tiny bit of people’s annual pension deductions being transferred to their individual pension accounts instead of the Pension Fund, was supposed to be gradual.

“We want our citizens to start the first year of their pension school studies now,” the Russian government’s Vice Premier on Social Issues Galina Karelova said, starting the project in 2002. “What you will be able to invest now is just three percent of your annual income. In the future, as you learn more, this share will be bigger.”

In 2002-2004, people could transfer to a trust management company only three percent of the 14 percent taken out of their salary as a pension deduction as part of the Unified Social Tax (26 percent of salaries). In 2004-2007 that figure grew to four percent. Beginning from 2008, it is six percent. However, in 2003, as the Pension Fund faced an especially high deficit, the unpopular social protection minister Mikhail Zurabov managed to exclude from the savings experiment people who were born before the year 1966, transferring their money instead of to the savings account to their regular account in the Pension Fund. So now, only people who were born after 1967 have eight percent of their salaries transferred to the Pension Fund and six percent to the savings account. Despite a massive advertising campaign, 90 percent of future pensioners are still undecided on which trust management company they would trust with handling money from their savings account. By a government order, the money of those “silent ones” was invested by the state-owned bank Vnesheconombank. The problem is, however, that as a state institution, Vnesheconombank has a very conservative investment strategy, so the future pensioners’ savings in its coffers melt gradually, eaten by Russia’s nine to 11 percent annual inflation.

The passivity of the “silent ones” irritated minister Mikhail Zurabov so much that in 2005 he suggested moving their accounts to the Pension Fund in order to help current pensioners at the expense of future ones. This idea, however, caused such an outcry that Zurabov ultimately had to back off and the floating of this unpopular idea is widely seen as one of the reasons for his resignation in 2007. However, in general Russia’s future pensioners remain remarkably quiet politically, probably preferring current expenses to pension savings.

“The situation for retired people in Russia is so bad that, for example, in my country, France, one would expect people to increase electoral pressure on the government,” said Alain Blum, director of the Center for the Study of Russian World at the Paris-based Higher School for Social Studies. “However, the Russian government so far has not been very sensitive to this sort of pressure. Besides, Russian society traditionally reveals a remarkable combination of paternalist expectations from the state with distrust for institutions, including state ones.”

In Russian reality, this attitude translates itself in a lack of enthusiasm for both protest action and non-government pension savings from the economically active part of the population. Myths about the “rogue” nature of non-government pension funds and difficulties of forming one’s own retirement plan are also very widespread (in reality, a short written statement is enough to have your savings account moved to a private company). These myths found their reflection in the results of an opinion poll conducted by the VTsIOM sociological center in 2008. Fifty-nine percent of those polled pinned their hopes on a “state pension” (in 2007—56 percent) and only 28 percent relied “on their own efforts” (in 2007—35 percent). This increase in paternalist expectations is hard to explain and could be an indirect consequence of the “propaganda of success” waged by the Russian electronic media. Reports about wage and pension increases became so widespread that they probably squeezed from public consciousness the officials’ admonitions for more responsibility in retirement plans.

Despite falling behind its authors’ expectations, the pension reform still impresses by its pace. In the first months of 2008 alone, the number of people who transferred their savings accounts to private companies was 2.6 times more than last year. According to the data of Business&Financial Markets newsletter, trust management companies in 2008 already signed 1.8 million contracts with such investors and the number is expected to grow faster until the end of 2008. Thus, some Russians are not so paternalist, after all.

Source: http://www.globalaging.org/pension/world/2008/life.htm

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