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April 2010
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Haiti’s Mental Health System in Collapse
The New York Times reports that in a country where mental health has never been a priority, a natural disaster has brought the system to the brink.

Higher Mental, Physical Health Risks in Children With Sickle Cell Anemia
According to the Los Angeles Times, a CDC study finds that black children with sickle cell disease are at high risk for intellectual disabilities and visual and hearing deficits and are twice as likely to have seen a mental health professional.

Recession’s Psychological Toll
The Wall Street Journal reports a high increase in the number and urgency of calls to company employee assistance programs over the past couple years.

Laughter Best Medicine for Comedian in Recovery
The Denver Post
interviews a comedian who share his thoughts, wisdom, and laughter about life in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

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Editor’s E-Note

Social workers in the field of aging know a quiet revolution has been going on for some time. Pioneers such as the late Gene Cohen, MD, PhD, author of The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, and Robert Butler, MD, president and CEO of The International Longevity Center, are two of the seminal figures in the positive aging movement. It was only 30 years ago that aging was defined by the “D” words: decline, disability, dependency, and so on. Encouraged in the last few decades by the work of Cohen and Butler, both laypeople and professionals have discovered that for many reasons, aging does not have to be what it used to be. Older adults now have greater ability and opportunity to discover untapped potential in later years, whether through encore careers, lifelong learning, volunteerism, civic engagement, or intergenerational learning.

Our exclusive this month is about intergenerational programming, which, says the article’s author, “increases opportunities for social interaction, reduces the risk of social isolation, and promotes well-being in older adults. … When old and young people come together in situations that recognize the contributions of each, it can foster positive attitudes and reduce negative stereotypes.”

Old and young both benefit from intergenerational learning, and that “is a good thing” to quote a well-known lifestyle maven and boomer entrepreneur who, at the age of 68, hasn’t slowed down one bit, except for her brief incarceration!

Enjoy the article!

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— Marianne Mallon, editor

E-News Exclusive

Intergenerational Programming: A Path to Positive Aging
By Aaron Weintraub, MS
With reason to expect a longer and healthier life span, more older adults are looking for ways to stay active. One exciting way for older adults to stay meaningfully engaged is by participating in intergenerational programming, activities for which older adults and children come together for mutual beneficial interaction. The potential benefits of the intergenerational programming paradigm have been recognized as having global significance. The United Nations’ Second World Assembly on Aging recognized “the need to strengthen solidarity between generations and intergenerational partnerships, keeping in mind the needs of both older and younger ones, and encourage mutually responsive relationships between generations.” Intergenerational programming has been used to strengthen the capacity of communities, families, and individuals in diverse areas such as cultural transmission, HIV prevention, literacy, dementia care, social engagement, emotional development, service learning, and human rights.

How Do Intergenerational Programs Work?
Programs specifically designed to bring together older adults and children can take a variety of forms and target many different outcomes. Planned intergenerational activities range in intensity from one-time visits for a specific purpose such as community service to a shared-site program offering concurrent child care and adult day services. Shared-site programs give elders and children frequent and sustained contact that allows relationships to develop.

Full Story »

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