Living solo in later life: What does it take for elders older than 80 to remain at home, alone?

January 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

The article that I wrote with my mentor Robert L.Rubinstein has been published by Aging Today. A copy is available here: Aging Today

Thank you Bob for inviting me to write with you!

Thank you also to Tom Broom, the financial consultant who helped me with the section on long term care insurance.  Tom has all the answers on that complex and elusive topic and can be reached at 650-314-1600.


December 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

How are you doing? I am blessed. This was the standard  reply of Lionel Sandiford, one of the older San Franciscans living alone who helped me with my research. Since he signed a disclaimer, I can reveal his identity.

This morning I attended the memorial for Lionel at the Canon Kip Center of the Episcopal Community downtown San Francisco. Lionel suffered a a stroke after having ridden a bus with pneumonia from Florida because he wanted to die in San Francisco, in his community. He literally left the hospital and jumped on a Greyhound to arrive in San Francisco and then die. I cannot imagine what thoughts went on his mind during the long ride.

Lionel was an inspiration for me and many others. A great and elegant  singer, a fine carpenter, Lionel fought for the rights of other seniors like him. He told me how much he wanted to leave his hotel room in the Tenderloin to have a kitchen where he would invite all his friends. He unwrapped  the fancy china he wanted to use to enjoy the meals with his friends.

ImageHe did not manage to move though. Yet, he created a community of friends that replaced the family. His family does not even know that he died since his body has remained unclaimed. Canon Kip did claim his body  and organized a touching memorial where we all sang with full lungs “Oh when the saints, go marching in, oh when Lionel marches in..” It was deeply moving. Other African American men and James Chionsini and I reiterated the importance to use the effort of Lionel as a springboard for claiming the rights of low-income older adults that do not have the luxury of an apartment in a city with very little affordable housing.


Dear Lionel, your immense spirit and wonderful voice will always be with us.  We are blessed that we met you.

Article on him:

Too Good!

September 20, 2013 § 1 Comment

Yes, living alone can be heaven indeed, as the piece on “The 10 Best Things About Living Alone” indicates. Let’s indulge on the perks of flying solo and forget, at least for a few minutes, its challenges.  So, before you do move in with someone, read this!


Isolation, anyone?

June 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Image A British social worker, Pam Stopforth, tried to document how it feels to age alone in isolation.  Locked  in an apartment, with special gloves, glasses, and other paraphernalia that mimic the effects of old age, she just spent time being there, and recording her emotions.

“How many ways can you say you feel emotional and weary??” she wrote on day 5. Her diaries would have been more telling if she had to also deal with little money, as well as understanding how to get benefits, purchase food and meds, deal with ageism, eviction, fear of nursing home – the whole enchilada. Still, a very good effort.

Check her diaries and videos here

Time to shift the focus on real estate and City Hall

May 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

SF  San Francisco is becoming a city for the very affluent – those who can afford astronomic rents ranging on $2,000 for one-bedroom. As a result, older solo dwellers paying less thanks to rent control are often the target of landlors who try to evict them in many ways. “I hope to die before my landlady dies” said James, a lanky Black veteran who indeed died a few months after I met him. James fought eviction, and won the battle. Yet he knew that once his aged landlady died he would have had to face yet another battle. The excellent article below shifts the attention from blaming high-paid Google or Twitter executives to the real estate industry which is driving the prices up, as well as politicians who allow this toxic dynamic to happen through their complacency. Time to change tune. I will keep you posted.

Click here for the article Keep the focus on real estate – Page 2 | SF Bay Guardian.


Zany Indeed ==> Psichiatria Democratica in Berkeley

May 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Zany Indeed ==> Psichiatria Democratica in Berkeley.

Zany Indeed ==> Psichiatria Democratica in Berkeley

May 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

ImageTo 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!

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