This page offers interesting news items on social and legal issues affecting older adults. Our thanks to Global Action on Aging* for granting permission to use many of the news articles.
* You can find out more about Global Action on Aging at: http://www.globalaging.org/
Aging Inmates Adding to State's Prison Strain, Costing More (July 7, 2007)
Older inmates cost the California government a huge amount of money. Many have received life sentences, some due to crimes such as repeated theft. Today, prisons face problems, such as overcrowding and lack of facilities. Incarceration facilities nationwide confront similar problems. J. Clark Kelso, overseer for prison health care, wants $7 billion to build a 10,000 bed facility for the aging prison population. Legislators, on the other hand, are considering compassionate-release laws to free older inmates who have committed non-violent crimes.
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Doctors Say Medication Is Overused in Dementia (June 23, 2008)
"My mother was screaming and out of it, drooling on herself and twitching," said Ms. Lamascola, describing her mother's reaction to treatment with antipsychotic drugs. The sales for antipsychotic drugs aimed to tamp down agitation and combative behavior in dementia patients have soared in the US. However, instead of prescribing these drugs as a last resort, doctors often overuse them. Read the story of Ms. Lamascola, who believed "she was losing her 88-year old mother to dementia. Instead, she was losing her to overmedication."
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B.C. court rules against 67-year-old Vancouver lawyer who wants to keep working (July 19, 2012) Vancouver Sun.
A 67-year-old Vancouver lawyer could be forced to retire as an equity partner with his law firm after the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned a human rights decision that had supported his bid to keep working, despite a partnership agreement.
Switzerland: Swiss Banks Refuse to Loan to the Elderly (August 22, 2008)
(Article in Arabic) The paper Dajins Nahayter reported that Swiss banks have a policy of refusing to give loans or issue credit cards to older people. This policy has pushed Swiss elders to accuse the banks of discrimination. The age limit is 72 years and the bank says this limit is necessary because the debtor must pay back the loan before his death.
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What's the Deadliest State for Elderly Drivers? You're in It (July 11, 2008) The AAA Foundation has called for all states to enhance awareness about elder traffic fatalities nationwide. A report indicates that older persons in Florida are more at risk from such incidents than anywhere else in the US. As 15% of the nation's drivers are 65 or older, citizens need a new approach to safe road practice for older people. Up to Top
Russia: 70-year Old Pensioner to Enter the University (August 20, 2008) (Article in Russian) Yuri Kupriyanov, 70, will enter the Medical University after completing studies at the medical college this year in Tomsk, Russia. He thinks that medical knowledge is essential at an older age and it will help him to live for another 50 years. The article reports about Yuri and other people around the world who decide to pursue higher education at an older age.
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Canada: Critical News from the East Side of Montreal ( June 30, 2008) (Article in French)
This account spotlights three aged persons sitting in a park in Montreal absorbed in their own lives. Old and unemployed, they feel empty and deprived of any pleasures in life. These three homeless and unemployed older persons reveal the effect of unemployment in Canada.
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Mexico: Euthanasia Tourists Snap Up Pet Shop Drug in Mexico (July 2, 2008)
With $35-$50, older tourists to Mexico can purchase drugs in pet shops that are used to euthanize animals. The drug pentobarbital provides a painless method for suicide. '... I don't want to die with a total loss of dignity..." said Bron Norman, a 65 year old Australian tourist. Aging has sparked interest in euthanasia. Anti-euthanasia advocates stress economics as the reason behind euthanasia. "...It is cheaper to get rid of someone than to treat them well until the day they die," said Lori Kehoe of the National Right to Life movement. However, many persons with terminally ill diseases want the choice of ending their lives painlessly. Up to Top
Germany: A Debate on Assisting a Suicide Surfaces (July 3, 2008) (Article in French)
A "profiteer of death" and a "moral swindler" are the charges leveled against a former Hamburg politician. Roger Kusch, former minister of Justice of Hamburg, has admitted without any remorse or pain that he helped a 79-year-old woman commit suicide. Mr. Kusch filmed the old woman while she was swallowing a tranquilizer and then a high dose of anti-malaria drug. Many organizations are working for the abolition of "suicide help" and recommending laws that will bring charges against those who assist those who take their own lives.
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Gays and Lesbians
Pension Argentina: Argentine Gay Couples May Claim Widow's Pension (August 18, 2008) Argentina's government has extended gay couples' pension rights. The government has granted same sex couples the right to claim a deceased partner's pension. This now gives same sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
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Long Term Care
Canada: Philosophy on Elderly Care Needs Overhaul: Expert (July 5, 2008)
Geriatric experts are calling for an overhaul of Ontario's long-term care system. Currently, long-term care institutions in Ontario are understaffed, leading to poor quality of care. Inspectors have revealed gross negligence, including restrained and over-medicated residents as well as failure to maintain the hygiene of residents. The government of Ontario to consider seriously the inspection reports of its nursing homes and find effective remedies to the problems in these institutions that are endangering the livelihoods and lives of elder residents.
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New Zealand: Rest home abuse 'saddest thing in world' (July 1, 2008)
"She told me that she felt as if she was a prisoner in a prisoner of war camp," said Emsie Walters, Age Concern's elder abuse coordinator for Auckland, New Zealand. Ms Walters was speaking about a lady who was told to get into the shower and was washed, including her genitals, despite being able to clean herself. "There aren't enough of us and there are times when the law does not protect old people because they are so vulnerable. They're often isolated," Ms. Walters added. A study undertaken by the Families Commission showed that older people who understood their rights, have a strong sense of self-worth and close family ties were less likely to be abused.
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Saudi Arabia: Older Saudis Resort to "Winasa" Marriages to Obtain Care (June 15, 2008) (Article in Arabic)
In recent years a new form of marriage, the "Winasa," has spread in Saudi Arabia. The "Winasa" is a marriage in which a senior man marries a much younger woman. The marriage resembles a traditional marriage except that the woman renounces her right (as mandated by Islamic law) to marital relations. These marriages are intended for the man to have a woman to take care of him as he ages. The article also discusses other non-traditional forms of marriage that have spread in Saudi Arabia such as "Traveling Marriage," "Childbirth Marriage," "Summer Marriage," "Maharim Marriage," and "Friend Marriage."
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India: Woman in India Has Twins at 70 (July 4, 2008) (Article also in Russian)
A 70-year-old Indian woman has become the world's oldest mother giving birth to twins, a boy and a girl. The babies' father, 77, sold off his buffalo and burned through his life savings to pay for the fertilization treatments that allowed his wife to become pregnant. The couple had dreamt about having a son for all their lives. "My daughters have got a little brother, my husband and I have got an heir - that is all we ever wanted," says the mother. And what about the twin who is female? Apparently she will not inherit anything from her parents. Perhaps one day her case will figure in an Indian report to the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
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(July 11, 2008) Bridget Sleap, the Rights Policy Advisor at HelpAge International (HAI) in London submitted a report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women about violations of older women's rights in Tanzania and how the Government of Tanzania can improve its human rights for older women. Read the report .
Ireland: Nursing Home Abuse Continues (August 22, 2008)
Age Action has reported that nursing home abuse in Ireland remains unresolved, despite the Irish government's promise for change. After an undercover journalist exposed grave abuse and mistreatment at the Leas Cross nursing home in 2005, the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) was assigned to devise new quality standards for nursing homes. Abuse complaints, however, have not stopped; at least 50 have been reported and were investigated by the Health Services Executive
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Uganda: Old and Neglected (August 20, 2008)
"I fear that when I die, it is only the terrible smell that will alert the community," says Imelda Nampiima of Mityana, an old woman living in Uganda. According to the newly published study on the elderly in Uganda, over a million older people lack food, money, clean water and health services, and have no family support due to the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the country.
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US: Survey Assesses Elderly Mistreatment in America (August 19, 2008)
Is there anyone who hits, kicks, slaps or throws things at you? Is there anyone who insults you or puts you down? Writers included these questions in a comprehensive survey to assess mistreatment of older people in the US. It found that 13 percent of the US older persons are mistreated--verbally, financially or physically. The survey is the first comprehensive attempt to look at this serious human rights issue in the US.
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Canada: Give Them Shelters (July 29, 2008) For many older adults, living at home is a challenge because of abuse by their own immediate family. Bernice Sewell has set up two apartments in secret locations for old people fleeing this situation in Toronto, Canada. The victims may stay in the apartment for 60 days and receive counseling and support. The idea has already been around for ten years, but it is only becoming popular today. At a time when it is estimated that 10 percent of the elderly are experiencing abuse, homes such as these are truly making a difference.
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Burkina Faso: Call to End the Abuse of Older Women in Burkina Faso (July 18, 2008)
In Burkina Faso, older women are often used as scapegoats to explain crop failure or illness. They are labeled as witches. Accusations lead to intimidation, banishment, violence and, in many cases, murder. Customary laws in Burkina Faso make it difficult for the state to introduce legislation to protect older women from accusations of witchcraft and the consequences of the accusation. HelpAge International has urged the Government of Burkina Faso to review existing policy and make witchcraft accusations illegal.
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France: Good Treatment of the Elderly, the Boulonnaises Initiatives (June 15, 2008) (Article in French)
Sunday, June 15, 2008, was the third day against "the abuse of elderly people." Regine Delbanque, head of the nursing facilities at the CHU of Boulogne, explained the importance of elder care, in addition to the various social and institutional matters concerning the lives of the elderly. Moreover, Regine used five sub-titles to organize the presentation, such as, the abuse and the lifestyle of elders in Boulogne and older patients living with Alzheimer's disease. Up to top
Elder Rights Peru: Elderly Mistreatment Generally Caused by Families (June 22, 2008) (Article in Spanish)
In 2005, the Ministry of Women and Social Issues (MWSI) presented a report on "Domestic Violence in the Elderly in Peru." Following the report the government started the National Program against Domestic and Sexual Violence. MWSI identifies two types of elderly violence: domestic violence and sexual violence. Domestic violence includes both physical and psychological issues. Between January 2002 and May 2008, 7,449 elders have been treated throughout the country. During 2002-2007, some 6,738 cases of general mistreatment were treated in the country. Up to top
Sex and Sexuality
Does an Elderly Couple Have a Right to a Sex Life? (June 14, 2008)
What would you think if you found out that your 95-year-old father who suffers with dementia is still sexually active? When this man's son discovered what was going on, he demanded that the care facility end the relationship with his partner. The result was that the woman lost a lot of weight and now suffers from depression. Even though the elderly man had heart problems, a doctor emphasized that, rather than killing him, having sex might prolong his life. The conclusion: Yes, older couples have a right to sex.
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Global: The Swedish Septuagenarians Are More Active Than Ever (July 8, 2008) (Article in French)
The British Medical Journal published a study claiming that Swedish septuagenarians were found to be more sexually active in 2000-2001 than their counterparts in 1971-1972. Study Director Nils Beckman states that this fact can be generalized to the entire Occidental world and North America: The numbers of older sexually active persons have profoundly increased since the 70's. Single older men account for most of the increase.
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