KCET's SoCal Connected has a new episode this Friday that takes a look at the effect Medi-Cal cuts has on senior citizens, specifically, those in adult day care.
"Taking Care of Dad" is the show's second segment, following a report on how noninsured Angelenos cope without access to medical services. In the first piece of an on-going initiative about taking care of the elderly, SoCal Connected looks at the possible closures of adult day care health centers as a result of the proposed cuts in Medi-Cal in the 2011/2012 state budget. Dealing with Medi-Cal admission regulations was a nightmare for my parents during my father's final illness. I can't imagine how hard it must be for those struggling with the idea of losing these benefits in the wake of the state's financial retrenchment. Catch a preview of Friday's episode here. The first airing occurs at 8:30 PM on KCET.
Watch and weep.
Sly Stone has always been a trendsetter. Perhaps his choice to live in his Winnebago in the Crenshaw District is the right idea.
He's not alone. Trendwatchers are spreading the news about the nation's first assisted-living RV park. As reported in the August 29, 2011 issue of the New York Times, nomadic seniors reluctant to sell their RVs can pull into Escapees Care in Livingston, TX, the country's first RV park with assisted living. For $824 a month, or $1,236 a couple, residents get access to the Care Center, where registered nurses are on call to help with routine care and schedule doctors' appointments.
My friends and I have cobbled together a plan for our own semi-golden years. We are going to keep our jobs but all move into one SRO and fill up all the vacancies on one floor. That way, we can be a unit together and order food in bulk from Vons.com delivery and coordinate social services and nurse-visits.
But this RV-idea intrigues me so perhaps we should crowd-source the purchase of a big-ass RV.
How are you going to spend your golden years?
Well, it was inevitable that we'd get an application called "Agnes the Aging Suit," which stimulates the effects of aging in order to engender sympathy for our elders. I wonder what took scientists so long to come up with this since the marketplace already has the Empathy Belly Pregnancy Stimulator for non-gestating humans and Empathy Lungs to encourage smoking cessation.
Unfortunately, I don't need a souped-up spacesuit to teach me to slow down and enjoy being in a relatively-healthy body. I just have to spend time with my seventy-something mother who faces knee replacement surgery this fall. Her every step makes me wince, knowing that she has no cartilage left in her right knee. She refuses to use a cane or pain meds, despite the fact that her knee joints are reduced to rubbing bone on bone.
Oh these stubborn seniors. But we live in an age of miracles. In addition to surgery, we are exploring stem cell replacement therapy. My mother had her initial cell replacement shot two weeks ago and we're hoping the cells can regenerate her cartilage.
As James Crabtree explains in the above-linked article "Agnes the Aging Suit," more innovative tech to alleviate the frailties of aging will follow. Joseph Coughlin, founder of the AgeLab at MIT, articulates the best perspective on the effects of longevity I've heard so far:
"We need a vision that says ageing is not just about the frail. Ageing is about all of us, and how we keep people productive for as long as possible; " Coughlin tells me. "What we're left with is a crisis, where we're using yesterday's social and policy models to address today's new ageing population. It is a fundamental disconnect."
I guess we all need to take urgent steps into the future.
I am sorry for the blog silence. It has been a trying month, filled with memorial services and medical appointments involving my mother. Onwards.
Cullen Gallagher reviews several new collections of pulp fiction stories for the "Los Angeles Review of Books," including a collection called Damn Near Dead 2: Live Noir or Die Trying that bills itself as "Geezer Noir."
Standout tales include "Joe R. Lansdale's pithy 'The Old Man in the Motorized Chair,' about a grumpy, retired detective who solves crimes between commercial breaks..."
NPR reports that retailers are making stores more senior-friendly. That's great news. Perhaps restaurateurs will adopt this trend and end their obsession with over-dim dining rooms coupled with menus printed in microscopic type. A restaurant is not a lounge. I'm tired of paying big bucks for dinner ordered with the aid of a flashlight. I can do that for free while camping.
L.A. based filmmaker Angela Garcia Combs has turned to the private funding platform, Kickstarter, to raise the funds necessary to release her latest film, "Noting Special," which tells the story of two older women committed to sharing their wisdom with the younger generation.
The project stars Karen Black and Barbara Bain. Who doesn't love Karen Black? She populated all those great 70s movies made by "maverick" filmmakers. Black was a maverick, too, who acted like a loopy old lady even when she was a hot chick in her 20s. I also adore Barbara Bain, who starred in the original "Mission:Impossible" TV series and lent gravitas to that 70's British TV import, "Space: 1999."
The funding description details the filmmaker's struggles to obtain financing from indie outfits who just don't see the appeal of 60 something characters who haven't had work done to their faces or spend the movie engaging in raunchy behavior that's beneath their dignity.
I'm sickened by this BusinessWeek report "Cougars Inc.: The Lady Predator Lifestyle" on the growth in commerce focused on the "Lady Predator Lifestyle." When did the term "Cougar" become synonymous with "chicken-hawk"? Are middle aged, sexually active single women who date younger men becoming a stereotype akin to the one projected by the media on older, gay men: moneyed individuals with voracious sexual appetites. If so, does that mean all middle-aged women have to defend themselves from a perception that if they are over 40 and single, they must be easy sexual conquests? Ever since Chaucer conjured up the Wife of Bath, middle aged women have struggled against the perception that they are automatically lascivious so the cougar meme isn't really new; however, must there be unreconstructed sexism encoded in the "cougar lifestyle" marketing message than is necessary to get the point across?
In other words, is all this cougar business good for the crones?
Iconoculture, the demography trends website, just posted an interesting graphic demonstrating the high number of seniors who volunteer their time in seven European countries.
After 5 PM, I turn into an old man. I usually watch documentaries about WWII on the Military Channel and Channel 35, LA City View.
While watching Channel 35, I caught Connie Martinson Talks Books interview with L.A. author, Sonya Sones, whose current book is a local bestseller called The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus. At first I was startled to see a book show discussing fiction at all; that's a rarity.
As the interview progressed, I became intrigued by the subject matter. Sones has written a novel in verse about facing menopause in LA, combating empty-nest syndrome and coping with the pressures of caring for an ailing parent from a long distance. There's so much fiction about the travails of young women that it's nice to find new work that acknowledges life after 50.
Martinson's show is based in Southern California and this interview had a lovely local flavor to it. Sones even name-checked legendary UCLA poetry teacher, Myra Cohn Livingston, as a mentor. Martinson and Sones charmed me most when both women reached for their reading glasses to read passages from the novel. You never see that on TV. I wonder why Martinson didn't ask Sones why she was wearing a hat in the interview. What's up with that?
After watching the program, I'm looking forward to reading the book.
I leave you with Sones's advice for aging in LA, as shared during an interview with Elina Fuhrman in "Angeleno Magazine":
Three secrets for aging with grace in Los Angeles:
1. Keep your sense of humor.
2. Never look at yourself in the bathroom mirror with your reading glasses on.
3. Install dimmer switches in all your lamps.
Yesterday, KTLA News reporter, Dave Malkoff, dropped in on L.A.'s very own OGs, "The OGs --short for The Old Grandparents--videoblog run by Cutie AKA Barbara Cooper and her grandchildren. Watch as Cutie flirts with Dave and answers his questions.
Cutie offers free advice live on Facebook every Thursday for her "Ask Grandma Anything" segment on the blog.
I love her big glasses. I plan to get a pair when I'm 65.