May 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
May 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
To inaugurate a seminar on critical psychiatry, tomorrow Thursday May 16th at 6pm there will be in Berkeley at the Bancroft Hotel a reception followed at 7pm by the projection of a movie entitled “There was once upon a time the city of the crazies”. The movie documents the work of my hero Franco Basaglia, the Italian psychiatrist who closed Italian asylums and created a system to integrate the users of mental health services in their community. He also tackled the stigma attached to mental illness in very creative ways. He is the one who inspires me to think outside the box with regards to social isolation and stigma. Many psychiatrists and social scientists inspired by Basaglia will be at the event organized by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Stefana Pandolfo, and Steven Segal.
I will see you there!
March 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I am very pleased to announce that my second article from my dissertation will be published in the April issue of The Journal of Aging Studies. I love this article entitled ”The Notion of Precariousness among Older Adults Living Alone in the U.S.” for its discussion of precariousness applied to aging studies. Besides, there are not many discussions on precariousness in English, so this is a good place to start thinking about this pressing topic.
Thank you to everyone who helped me with this project, especially to the 47 San Franciscans who spent some time in my company. Grazie!!
The abstracts reads:
This paper argues that older adults living alone in the U.S. face a set of unique challenges, as they are likely to experience a sense of precariousness. The term precariousness points to an intrinsic sense of instability and insecurity stemming from a lack of, or difficulty to, access essential resources. During a two-year ethnography of 47 older solo dwellers, this term captured one of the distinctive traits of the experience of living alone in older age in the U.S.
The findings from semi-structured interviews and participant observation highlight the emergence of the notion of precariousness along three levels of analysis. First, on the micro and subjective level of analysis, older solo dwellers may struggle to perform the chores related to their household as they may deal with a failing body, faltering memory, and fixed if not shrinking income. Second, on the meso and institutional level of analysis, older adults living alone need to navigate the complex, scattered, and ever-changing landscape of services and understand their eligibility criteria, accessibility, fees, and conditions. At the same time they may have to deal with family issues. Finally, the macro level examines the pressure on older solo dwellers of a prevalent ideology that prizes independent behaviors and personal responsibility. In conclusion, the notion of precariousness illustrates the unique position of older adults living alone as they face different type of challenges on a micro, meso, and macro dimension. The paper ends with an invitation to create social policies that accommodate the needs of a growing number of older adults living alone.
And more articles are cooking! Stay tuned…
March 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
When I was living in Italy, I enjoyed receiving a bunch of mimosa, the soft and beautiful yellow flower in the picture, for March 8, the day of the woman.On that day, I spent the evening with my “amiche”, my female friends. In the United States the custom of giving each other mimosas does not exist and I do miss it. Of course, every day is the day of us women, no doubt about it. Yet, this day is a good reminder that still much is left to be done for us women to reach parity with our male counterparts. But it is not really what I want to discuss today.
Today I want to celebrate Viviana Ferrrari, an 88-year old resident of Monteverde, a town nearby Rome. Viviana was killed in her home, a robbery, three days ago. Her corpse was found by a neighbor. Family members were not alerted by her silence since Viviana was the only one left in her family. This is a small town in central Italy, not New York or Dallas or Chicago. It is important that we pay respect and attention to an increasing number of women living alone in older age.
February 20, 2013 § 2 Comments
San Francisco is a stunning and more and more expensive city to live in. The influx of well-paid Silicon Valley executives has further increased rent prices. Older tenants living alone with rent control become a liability to landlords eager to shift gear, renovate their apartments, and rent at much higher prices. Africa American solo dwellers are often disconnected from families and friends who decide to move somewhere cheaper. Another dynamic manifests in the letter below. The Gray Panthers, an organization that has been advocating for social justice for decades, cannot keep up with the rent increases.
How can we create a city where Twitter executives coexist with Gray Panthers, and older solo dwellers? It would be fantastic to think how each one of them can enrich one another. Right?
Dear Friends and Supporters,
The Gray Panthers recently received a notice of a rental increase on our office at 1182 Market. The building owners – Shorenstein-Hayes & Nederlander – are demanding as of April 1, $1,750 a month on a month-to-month agreement. We have been here for 25 years at a lower rent. Recently Green Action, Senior and Disability Action, many non-profits from 942 Market, and small independent businesses have been forced to vacate due to rent increases.
Gray Panthers believes our crisis is an example of what is taking place all over the city – seniors being thrown out of their homes from the Ellis Act, evictions, foreclosures with auctions of our homes taking place right on the steps of City Hall. We believe it is time to take action before all our organizations and the people in our communities we serve and work with are pushed out of our city.
If you feel our city is being dismantled for the rich 1%, let’s stand together and plan future actions to turn this around. Bring your stories and your ideas Come to a meeting, February 15, noon, 1182 Market Rm203.
If you can’t come to the meeting, send us your ideas. Also, let us know of any leads on a space available.
Gray Panthers of San Francisco
1182 Market Street, Rm 203
SF CA 94102
Patricia Jackson, Co-convener
Earl Gilman, Co-convener
Michael Lyon, Treasurer
Denise D’Anne, Secretary
February 15, 2013 § 1 Comment
I am surprised by my strong reaction when I read articles of experts that suggest that older adults should stop living alone at a certain point. This time, in the New York Times, Cheryl E. Woodson, a geriatrician, compared older solo dwellers with the Pope. Yes, the Pope. She used this comparison to argue that adults living alone should have the courage to admit when it is too much to make it alone.
In my comment to her article, I wrote, as nicely as I could, that it is time to STOP pointing fingers only to the individual abilities to live alone. It is time instead to consider original interventions that allow older adults to live alone in their homes, if this is what they desire (and they usually do desire that). It is the responsibility of civic societies, i.e. public and private institutions, to assist older adults living alone to remain as integrated as possible in their social network and not to end up in age-segregated ghettos.
When I read articles like that one, I become even more convinced of the value of my research.
January 10, 2013 § 2 Comments
As soon as I sit next to my friend Joanne, she says about her 80-year old mother who lives alone in the East Coast: “She fell in the kitchen, in the morning, just like that.” Then Joanne adds, “”I have to decide what to do with her”. A few days after, I sit in the car with Mario, another close friend with a 90-year-old mother who was recently found lying on the floor, alive, after she fainted. Mario was doing his best to decide what was the best solution for her. I felt uncomfortable with both of my friends. It seems to me that they were giving for granted that they knew better. I asked to both of them: “What do you think your mother desires?” Their replies were elusive. Then I read the title of this article in the Wall Street Journal: “Can Dad Still Live Alone?” Well, I asked to myself, who decides? How is the decision made? Who has more power, and why?
When I spent time with 47 San Franciscans over 75 living alone, a lack of connection with adult children often transpired from their stories.
Maybe a third party should be involved in mediating between parents living alone and adult children who know better. Maybe adult children need to make an extra effort, even in challenging situations, to understand what their parents truly wish.
Sometimes the most difficult decisions are those that bring us closer to our beloved ones. In Patrimony: A True Story, writer Philip Roth describes the pain to decide to let his father die in hospital. The writer decides to respect his father’s will rather than his wish to keep him alive longer. Yes, sometimes listening to others takes plenty of guts.