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Changing attitudes, shifting perspectives and creation of new norms when it comes to ageing may seem like an arduous feat.  Art, as usual, has come to the rescue to help facilitate positive outcomes.

Imagine your life transformed before your eyes and knowing now what you wouldn’t for another 60, 70 years.  In Israel, the Dialogue of Time exhibition at the Israeli Children’s Museum in Holon (near Tel Aviv) brings together over 50 people between the ages of 71 and 86 to combat stereotypes. Targeting an impressionable audience, young visitors are transformed into 80-year-old people.

A video from Arutz Sheva reveals how the exhibition recreates the difficulties, fears and stigmas of ageing.

In California, USA, the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art  “When I’m 64” exhibit takes a look at the role seniors will play in culture, society, politics and the economy.  Eight artists portray vivid and moving imagery of how it feels and what it means to grow older.

The exhibit also features special events and film screenings celebrating a graying population.

If you know of other art exhibits focusing on positive ageing, please share them with us and together we can help the world population open up to growing up.

The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted in April 2002, marked a turning point in how the world looked at ageing.  The report had delineated guidelines for policy development and implementation, made suggestions for mainstreaming ageing issues into government agendas, and helped promote dialogue in the information exchange.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSDP) have been focusing on social development issues including ageing, disability, employment, social integration and social protection, as a means to implement the Madrid Plan.

After 10 years of implementation, DESA and DSDP are conducting a questionnaire to assess the need for support and servicing in order to facilitate agreement on international standards and resolutions.

With your help and experience, the Departments can strengthen their work while considering the challenges you face in your hard work and dedication to ageing care.

Organizations sometimes overlook participation in such opportunities because it is hard to feel the impact on the ground, in the every-day care giving.  However, with every bit of input and recommendations from experts in the field, the UN can help improve the use of information and communication, and fulfill their role in the international arena.

On October 1, organizations around the globe will celebrate the UN International Day of Older People, bringing countries together to share their achievements, raise awareness and support communities. For instance, HelpAge International will be running a campaign “Age Demands Action” to help celebrate this day.  October 1 will be both a celebration of Old People, and a celebration of our accomplishments over the last ten years.

To Participate:

Due: September 17, 2012

Questions: Contact Mr. Amine Lamrabat at and Ms. Nan Jiang at


[Photo Credit: *Muhammad*, Flickr]

many faces of the Hopi [Photo Credit: wikimedia commons]

In honor of the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, it’s essential to pause and consider the social fabrics that dictate our understanding and perception of the field of ageing. An article from Indian Countryon North American indigenous peoples’ reaction to dementia within their communities helps us learn from one another.

While Alzheimer’s occurs at about the same rate among older Native Americans/Alaska Natives as it does within the continental United States, the approach to treatment is unique.

David Maes, of Hopi/Apache descent, is establishing a nonprofit in Denver, Colorado called Taawa Energy Center (Taawa) – meaning “sun” in Hopi.  The center will care for elders living with dementia through an approach that seeks and uses ‘the essence of the person’ for healing.

His focus in treatment changes from management of disease to caring for the whole person. “Specialists think they are treating the whole person, but in fact they’re fragmenting the person,” says Maes.

There is something that everyone around the world can learn from the Native approach.  Native Americans do not share the stigma and ageism associated with caregiving to elders.  In fact, it is associated with normal aging in the Indian community.  The community shares their input and support, traditional healing practices and traditional medicine with the elderly.

Maes says “among aboriginal and Native people, those with dementia [of which Alzheimer’s is one form] are the spiritual people, beginning to leave this world to enter a world where everything is positive and good. There’s no judgment in that world.”

To read the full story, visit:  

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez launched a program last year called “Love for the Elderly”, a pension program which provides minimum wage subsidies to pensioners (about $360 USD per month). More than 1 million people have already registered for this program.

“Love for the Elderly” aims at recognizing the efforts of the elderly who have worked their entire lives, and those who have been wronged by employers and did not receive social security benefits.

In 2012, Venezuela accepted the inclusion of senior citizens to their pension benefits program and approved 20,000 Venezuelans each month into the mission.

The Bolivarian administration relies almost entirely on the local debt market for financing, and this month has increased its borrowing for this program.  The administration is now asking for an almost $7 billion dollar increase for “Love for the Elderly” and other welfare programs like “Children of Venezuela”.

Chavez announced that Venezuela has enough resources to continue investing in the country’s development and ensures resources for social missions – a win for pensioners, who will likely have a livable income, and better funded programs such as “Housing Venezuela”.  Venezuela has also been struggling with an affordable housing crisis for more than a year, where thousands of Venezuelans have been living in disaster shelters, waiting for government homes.

What would this mean for the elderly of Venezuela?  According to one pensioner, Luis Araque from Caracas, “This is the first time that senior citizens are receiving help, and in my case I need it, because I have always been self-employed and I don’t have a pension.”  There are estimated to be 400,000 elderly in dire need in the country.
Venezuela Ecléctica (50 de 52 y 1/2)

[Credit: Flickr, NeoGaboX (Gabriel S. Delgado)]

It seems everywhere around the world, drastic changes in aged care reform and funding are culminating this summer.  As the United States awaits a Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act and Patient Protection Act this Thursday, the American people are on the edge of their seats waiting to hear what will happen to their future in health care. 

In Australia, the residents are already dealing with a crisis. Aged & Community Services Association, a member of IAHSA, is following the cut-backs of the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) and its impact on aged care services to begin around July 1, 2012. The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) will be cutting back about $50 million in the next year, which can seriously impact the staffing and care of vulnerable residents. The impact on the industry would result in a $500 million loss as a result of the funding cuts.

Nursing homes around Australia say they will have to cut staff within two months, at this rate of financial loss.

Providers in Australia are speaking out by forming monitoring groups to ensure that adequate funding is available to support elders’ needs.

Gerard Mansour of Leading Age Services, Australia, points out “how can we tell the sons and daughters of the frail aged that their mum or dad will get less care support than someone of the same care needs admitted prior to 1 July 2012?”  

Let’s ask what we can do to help the aged get the services they need, and how we can join forces around the world to prevent the vulnerable from suffering.  As the great Gandhi had said “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

Last station nursing home

[Credit: ulrichkarljoho]

“Victims of elder abuse are parents and grandparents, neighbors and friends.  Elder abuse cuts across race, gender, culture, and circumstance, and whether physical, emotional, or financial. On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we call attention to this global public health issue, and we rededicate ourselves to providing our elders the care and protection they deserve.” President Barack Obama proclaimed yesterday at the White House in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

Around the world, providers, carers, families and friends are coming together to promote a unified message.  It starts with wearing the color purple today, to bring the world together in solidarity against abuse. 

In the England, Age UK is organizing 10K runs in honor of WEAAD and even parachute jumps nationwide!  In British Columbia, a special awards ceremony is being held to recognize special media contributions and initiatives that address the issue.

HelpAge International, a partner of IAHSA, offers us great examples to follow in Thailand, Nepal, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, and more!

Larry Minnix, President and CEO of Leading Age, shares a message on WEAAD with “A Few Minutes with Larry Minnix”.

Recently, a law professor in Iowa has been encouraging nursing homes in the U.S. to extend their policies to allow residents to have pets. She has also been pushing for state legislation that would ease the ability for elders to move into their new homes with their furry friends.  The professor points to several studies that indicate the benefit of pets on the aging.

Feeding the dog

[Credit: Ed Yourdon]

According to such studies, pets have a very positive effect on the elderly:

1) Pets lower blood pressure and pulse rate
2) Patients with pets have 21% fewer visits to the doctor
3) Pets decrease depression and feelings of loneliness
4) They enhance social opportunities
5) Allow seniors to become more active
6) Pets offer affection and love
7) Pets ease bereavement of a loved one
8) Allow seniors to take better care of themselves
9) Provide a sense of security

Though a majority of aging care facilities still prohibit pets to make the transition with their owners, and reasonably so – some elders are too frail to take care of the pets, residents may have allergies that caregivers want to avoid, pets can carry illnesses, and facilities may not want to be burdened by the extra expense pets bring – the effects of these studies are touching hearts and catching on.

There are many options out there for promoting the use of pets in nursing-home care while maintaining the balance of your aging care community, and countries around the world are seeing the benefits:

Therapy Dogs International, a volunteer-based organization offers dogs as therapy by visiting nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities as needed.

In Scotland, an experimental program by Alzheimer’s Scotland and Dogs for the Disabled has been training dogs to help people with dementia.  The program will take affect this September with the aim of helping dementia patients maintain their routine and provide social benefits.

In Australia, the Center for Companion Health at The University of Queensland has been conducting research through clinical studies by bringing pets into hospitals and clinics.

In Japan, pets are quickly starting to outnumber people. Birth rates have been on a decline in Japan for several decades, and the aging community has found relief from loneliness in the companionship of pets.  Previously considered outdoor creatures, the Japanese are starting to welcome pets as one of the family, indoors.

Is this a growing trend in nursing homes and living facilities around the world or is it losing speed? Please share your experiences and stories of therapy pets in your region.

Eden Alternative (a member of IAHSA) and The Lifespan Network’s Wellspring Program announced that The Eden Alternative will take ownership of Wellspring to provide the most comprehensive offering of culture change resources and education services.  Their fused efforts can reach a larger audience for greater impact and fill the growing need for clinical and cultural demands of person-directed care.

Eden Alternative, established in 1992, has trained over 27,000 caregivers and has implemented practice in more than 200 nursing homes across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.  Wellspring (1994) boasts higher immunization, fewer bedfast residents, lower restraint usage, more preventive skin care, fewer psychoactive medications, less resident incontinence, fewer tube feedings and more altered diets than comparable facilities with the same staffing ratios.

The combined offerings of Eden Alternative and Wellspring will bring together for the first time a comprehensive approach to culture change, leveraging their respective strengths.

Christine (Christa) Monkhouse, Regional Coordinator for Eden Alternative Europe, shares the excitement with IAHSA:

“I am very happy about this announcement. In the past, a few culture change movements and initiatives have started and developed their own values, strategies and actions for change. Now that the time has come that our societies acknowledge the need for culture change slowly but definitely, all movements have matured and progressed, grown and not given up.

The ten Eden Principles constitute an integrated, holistic philosophy, based on humanistic values, which are flexible enough to be adapted to all cultures and belief system. These values are now more and more supported by research from neurobiology, positive emotions and many others.

The Eden-Alternative has the potential to become the umbrella philosophy for all culture change movements until the old culture is really gone. So, given this very clear vision, the Eden-Wellspring merger is only the beginning of a profound change on how we provide long term care.”

The Majestic

Credit: Alex E. Proimos

It is not surprising that the land of the crescent moon is drawing many of Europe’s elderly to health tourism.  A land of mysticism, ancient history and beautiful landscape has much to offer in retirement services. 

According to the Anatolia News Agency, Turkey is leading an industry growth generating 130,000 visitors per year in the areas of rehabilitation, retirement homes and elderly care treatment at affordable rates for high quality of services.  Not far behind the leaders in Asia, it averages approximately $100 billion in global health tourism per year.

Credit: Dennis Jarvis

Turkey Health Tourism.Org gives the world a look into why Turkey is a leader in global health travel:

–  The country has the highest number of JCI accredited healthcare institutions in the world

–  It houses many regional headquarters of major international pharmaceutical companies

–  Nearly 60 internationally competitive medical faculties train thousands of Turkish and foreign medical students

Dr. Filiz Cevirme, General Coordinator of Private Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations Association (OHSAD) in Turkey says that people travel because of “exorbitant costs of healthcare in industrialized nations, ease and affordability of international travel, favorable currency exchange rates in the global economy, and rapidly improving technology and standards of care”.


Happy birthday to GERATEC (Gerontological Research Training Education and Caring), a member of IAHSA, which just turned “sweet 16”!

Under the direction of Margaret Van Zyl, Director of Strategic Partnerships at GERATEC and board member of IAHSA, the organization is well on its way to re-model long-term care in South Africa. Using values of integrity, innovation and “person-centered care”, they are transforming under-resourced homes in isolated rural areas, in a land with few resources but a huge heart. 

Margie Van Zyl getting to know the residents at Emseni Old Age Home in rural KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Van Zyl is now working on the formation of the South African Care Forum, a not-for-profit, that will build a reputation for quality and best practice in long-term care.  It will influence policy making; be involved in advocacy and lobbying; become a clearinghouse for information, research and best practice; focus on networking and partnerships; and be involved in encouraging research and product development.

A recent success was the transformation of Ekuphumleni Old Age Home in Gugulethu which went from complete lack of maintenance and absence of progress to organized leadership, community involvement and a functional facility.  With the help of the Department of Social Development, GERATEC created a garden, an Eku Boutique, an interactive lounge and personalized living quarters for the residents.

We are very excited about GERATEC’s latest projects: 

  • The establishment of the Eden Alternative South Africa at the end of last year, with Rayne Stroebel, the Eden Alternative SA Coordinator
  • The development of Huis Ina Rens, the first small Green House in South Africa for people living with dementia
  • The ongoing administration and running of Ekuphumleni that was struggling with exploitation, corruption and lack of care.

Residents at the Emseni old age home at Rorkes Drift in KwaZulu Natal

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at


Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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