Contribution and Reciprocity in Society can be Done in many Forms

Contribution and Reciprocity in Society can be Done in many Forms

Both Tom and I talk a lot about the contribution to society. With our friends. In our blog posts. In our Facebook posts. In my Facebook lives. Most of the time this is about volunteering in some way or another. But there are many other ways.

Reciprocity in society is a common gesture. A neighbor smiles at us and next time when they are not at home, we collect their delivered goods from the courier.

Society is built on written and unwritten laws. Some are evident. You do not enter another person’s house without an invitation. Others are less obvious. For example, when you borrow your neighbors’ chainsaw, they might expect you to be extra careful when you use it.

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Independent Living Senior Housing Initiatives are Valued and Cherished

Independent Living Senior Housing Initiatives are Valued and Cherished

Independent living senior housing is a common practice around the world. Senior citizens decide to join hands, together hire or buy a house and appreciate each other’s company. For them it’s also a way to economize. When required they together hire care or other services.

Examples of such practices are the Village-to-Village-Network in the USA and Trabensol near Madrid in Spain. The Seniorengenossenschaften in Germany are also an excellent example of intense collaboration between senior citizens.

It is good to take a closer look at the discussion to better understand the complexities of independent living senior housing initiatives. From a recent example in Belgium I explain the discussion. This example shows how important it is to timely start such an initiative and pay close attention to the rules.

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How to organize neighborhood care?

How to organize neighborhood care - shopping together

Neighborhood care is booming in The Netherlands and Germany. More and more citizens participate in social networks in their neighborhoods to ensure care support. Such shared support compensates for the rise of social, physical, psychological and cognitive shortcomings when aging. Neighborhood care is a clever choice when aging.

With this type of self-organization citizens compensate for the shortcomings of aging and for the shortcomings of public and commercial care services. Particularly given the current health crisis, these initiatives are more than welcome. However, how do you organize neighborhood care?

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Does vaccination protect the herd in case of infections?

Does vaccination protect

Does vaccination protect the herd in case of infectious deceases? This is open for debate. We, for instance dodge vaccination against seasonal influenza. This can lead to hilarious situations. 

At some point our GP’s system failed and we were called by mistake for the yearly flu jab. When I asked the assistant ‘How come?’, she responded: “Oh, that’s right. You’re flu refusers”. And yes, that’s how it is, we dodge the flu. 

Protect yourself with a healthy lifestyle

We advocate a healthy lifestyle as the best protection against the flu. The reasons for people to dodge vaccination are always profiled negatively. Does this mean that we are dummies or just plain stupid?

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Hearing impairments. Everybody’s concern.

Hearing impairments. Everybody’s concern.

A couple of days ago I wrote on Facebook that a hearing impairment can affect anyone. I introduced some common courtesy suggestions when you participate with people who suffer such impairments.

Hearing impairments primarily seem to be physical problems. However, for the ones suffering, these impairments are a social problem as well. The risk of social isolation is substantial. This signifies that the responsibility of ‘fixing’ hearing impairments rests on everybody’s shoulders.

However, these shoulders must be broad and strong, because they will also have to support the responsibility for the prevention of these impairments. One of the best precautionary measures is to respect the silence and behave accordingly. 

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Japan, a country at Old Age

Japan, a country at Old Age - Kishie Yoshida
This is Kishie Yoshida (1912). She worked in a velveteen factory from age 12 through 25. Married at 25 and got 4 children. In her married life she worked with her husband, buying and selling produce from the countryside. She is in 2013 still strong enough to weed the garden and sweep the floor.

What can we learn from a country at old age such as Japan? Japan is a very encouraging and inspiring example. It’s the country with the highest life expectancy rate in the world. Moreover, in 2033 a third of the Japanese will be 65 and over.

Already in 1980 Japan was ‘an aged society’. In 2005 Japan surpassed Italy and became the country with the highest amount of people aged 65 and over. Japan really is at old age. Which means that Japan has a lot of experience with aging. How does it cope and what can we learn?

Old Age Demographics

To be able to learn from Japan as a nation at Old Age, some background information is relevant. In Japan live just over 126 million people. This is 334 people per square kilometer (Netherlands: 417,8; UK: 270,7; China: 145; USA: 33,6). Life expectancy between men and women differs substantially, respectively 79,4 to 85,9 years. As a result, in the age group 75 and over, for every 10 men there are 16 women.

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Co-housing, revival of the village sentiment

Co-housing in Amsterdam

In Amsterdam there are at least 20 co-housing projects. Most of these projects are established by older people. But what is co-housing and how do you start and maintain a co-housing project? 

From the outset any co-housing project involves a community of people. These people deliberately choose to invest in each other. Moreover, most co-housing projects contribute to the local community, education, and the environment.

To live up to these ideals they organize all sorts of activities, for those that live in the project as well as for outsiders. 

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My mother enjoyed her Life Album immensely

Life Album

My mother was on a closed ward in a nursing home. She suffered from Vascular Dementia. In 2011 the Home asked me to make her a Life Album, a biography of my mother’s life with pictures and text. 

I had made several scrapbooks in the past so the idea appealed to me. And they made the task easy for me by giving me a printed binder, so it was basically a ‘fill in the blanks’ exercise.

I took good care of my mum from the time my father died. But there is one thing I deeply regret: that I didn’t make her a Life Album when she was still okay. I could have asked her so much more details. 

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How we prevent the ‘oatmeal porridge catastrophe’

oatmeal porridge catastrophe

Will we all and only eat oatmeal porridge in 2050?
The answer is yes if we are to believe a recent article in the German newspaper Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung. In 2050 10 billion people will inhabit the earth. The challenge is to stretch our agricultural capacities within the limits of our environmental capacities. If we can’t, we will all have to eat oatmeal porridge in 30 years.

Personally I am not a fan of porridge, let alone oatmeal porridge. Besides I am not sure that’s a healthy food. That’s why, in my personal view, it’s an obvious but also astoundingly interesting challenge to prevent the ‘oatmeal porridge catastrophe’.

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