Here’s a fascinating look at social isolation from two perspectives. What makes it possible for one man to live in a cave all alone and another to crave being around others?
“A tale of two isolations
“More than 1,000 km apart, a filmmaker and the subject of his film contend with the methods and meanings of solitude.”
“We miss too much when we treat all seniors as helpless.” (Unsplash/@unitednations/Lélie Lesage)”
by Sally Chivers
“‘Unprecedented’ might be the word of the COVID-19 pandemic. But for many, especially older adults, life has taken many abrupt turns. Maybe it’s their first pandemic, but it’s not the first time they’ve pivoted without calling it that and created a new normal.
“Yet, we persist in treating people over 70 as an undifferentiated blob of neediness and vulnerability. When we do, we once again miss what older adults contribute.
“As an aging studies scholar, my focus is on the portrayal and treatment of older adults in literature, film and popular culture. During COVID-19, dire fictional portraits of nursing homes as places to avoid and escape appear to be coming alive. We hear a lot about them, but less attention lands on older adults living and making do at home. Public health issues reminders to check on what they call “elderly neighbours.” Those reminders ignore what older people in and out of nursing homes offer to the rest of us.”
by Bruce Horowitz
“Imagine this scenario, perhaps a year or two in the future: An effective COVID-19 vaccine is routinely available and the world is moving forward. Life, however, will likely never be the same — particularly for people over 60.
That is the conclusion of geriatric medical doctors, aging experts, futurists and industry specialists. Experts say that in the aftermath of the pandemic, everything will change, from the way older folks receive health care to how they travel and shop. Also overturned: their work life and relationships with one another.
“’In the past few months, the entire world has had a near-death experience,’ said Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a think tank on aging around the world. ‘We’ve been forced to stop and think: I could die or someone I love could die. When those events happen, people think about what matters and what they will do differently.’
“Older adults are uniquely vulnerable because their immune systems tend to deteriorate with age, making it so much harder for them to battle not just COVID-19 but all infectious diseases. They are also more likely to suffer other health conditions, like heart and respiratory diseases, that make it tougher to fight or recover from illness. So it’s no surprise that even in the future, when a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available — and widely used — most seniors will be taking additional precautions.”
“By shifting the focus of social innovation from actions to the thinking behind those actions, social sector leaders can create a better world—a world different than the past.”
Illustration by iStock/MHJ)
by Hildy Gottlieb
“The world has changed, seemingly overnight. In the United States, against the backdrop of systemic racism, school boards and city councils are rethinking the role of police in their communities, confederate symbols are coming down, and businesses are using their marketing dollars to declare their support for Black Lives Matter. Around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing widespread suffering, and in many ways defining what humans and the planet are—and aren’t—capable of.
“As people in the social change arena are feeling called to step into this moment, many are wondering: How do we move forward? How can we create a future significantly different from our past?
“A Framework for Creating the Future We Want
“’You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.'” — Buckminster Fuller
On the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act | “Disability Pride: The High Expectations of a New Generation” – The New York Times
“Credit … National Museum of American History”
“Millions of young people grew up knowing the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act as a birthright. They now demand its guarantees — and even more.”
by Joseph Shapiro
“To get to her job as the communications director of a legal office in Philadelphia, Imani Barbarin gets in her car — when the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t require working from home — and drives to a train station 20 minutes away.
“There’s a station closer to her house, just a two-minute drive. But Ms. Barbarin, who has cerebral palsy, walks with crutches; the nearby station doesn’t have an elevator, and the steep steps are too hard to climb.
“Ms. Barbarin was born four months before the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act became law in July 1990. She belongs to the A.D.A. generation — at least 20 million people with disabilities, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — that grew up knowing the transformative civil rights law as a birthright. They expect the law to guarantee, not just promise, that they will get access to transportation, jobs, schools and other public places and to the same opportunities as anyone else.”
Keep reading this New York Times article, click here.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990.
Click on the graphic or here to read more about the ADA anniversary and first person sories.
People who show low social engagement over long periods of time often show reductions in cognitive function. Studies of the brain may provide clues about this correlation.
by Catherine Offord
“Studies of animals and people experiencing isolation have identified several brain structures that appear to be affected by a lack of social interaction. Although these studies can’t identify causal relationships—and don’t always agree with one another—they shine a light on some of the mechanisms by which physical isolation, or feelings of loneliness, could impair brain function and cognition.
“Daisy Fancourt was at her home in Surrey in southeast England when the UK government formally announced a nationwide lockdown. Speaking in a televised address on March 23, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out a suite of measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, including closing public spaces and requiring people to stay home except for exercise and essential tasks. For Fancourt, an epidemiologist at University College London (UCL), the announcement meant more than just a change to her daily life. It was the starting gun for a huge study, weeks in the planning, that would investigate the effects of enforced isolation and other pandemic-associated changes on the British public.”
Click here to read this article a The Scientist in its entirety.
“John: Helping a 34-year-old with TBI Keep His Personal Assistance Services – Pennsylvania Health Law Project
“PHLP agreed to represent John to prove that the insurer was wrong; that his PAS remains medically necessary and should not have been reduced.’
“34-year-old John has a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He’s been able to live at home for the past 11 years because of the services and supports he receives through his Medicaid Waiver. One of those essential services is receiving 131 hours per week of Personal Assistance Services (PAS), a service that ensures his personal care needs are met including assistance with activities of daily living (e.g., dressing, bathing, eating).
“John and his mother contacted PHLP after his Community HealthChoices (CHC) insurance plan, which is responsible for the amount of in-home services, reduced his PAS by one-third to just 84 hours per week. This reduction happened even though there had been no change in John’s condition or need for care. His mother was truly scared and unsure of how she would continue caring for John at home, which both wanted. Their greatest fear — his placement in nursing home (institutional) care — seemed on the horizon.”
Click here to read the column in its entirety.
“When will the Americans with Disabilities Act evolve to the digital age?” – Accessibility in Pittsburgh
First-person essay by Catherine Getchell
“Catherine Getchell and her guide dog in her backyard in Squirrel Hill. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)”
“I was 9 years old when the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] was passed in July 1990. It did not have an immediate impact on my life because, as a totally blind child, I already had access to a ‘free and appropriate’ public K-12 education through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was passed before the ADA, in 1973. But in 1998 when I went away to college, I counted on the ADA to allow me access to accommodations like exams in Braille and permission to have my brand-new guide dog come to class with me.
“Because of the ADA, and probably a whole lot of luck, I have never had difficulty getting or keeping a job. But one barrier that a future amendment to the ADA could address is accessibility to the digital world.
“Employers are increasingly aware of their obligations related to the ADA and, slowly but surely, the benefits of employing people with disabilities.
“We tend to be loyal, hardworking employees who perform at least as well as our peers. And in 99% of cases, if we need any accommodations at work at all, they are minimal and low cost. Agencies such as the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, where I worked for 12 wonderful years, can help employers cover the cost of accommodations and provide technical assistance to help an employee with a disability be successful on the job.”