On “Bring Back House Calls”

October 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

Superb OP/ED in the New York Times yesterday titled “Bring Back House Calls.” A physician underlines the value of visiting patients (especially older patients) at home to really understand what matters to them. I love the part where he tells that once a patient asked him to visit her at home, and he said no, and then he realized that there was not really a good reason to say no.

Brilliant! and hopeful.


Dolce vita interrupted

September 17, 2015 § 3 Comments

porta sigillata When I think of Rome, I often think of the parties on the terraces portrayed by the movie  “The Great Beauty.” My friend Alice once reminded me that there is absolutely nothing in life like drinking an aperitif in good company in Campo dei Fiori, a square full of open-air cafes in the heart of the city. However, social isolation exists in the capital of the “dolce vita,” the Italian sweet life. Today the mummified corpse of a 62-year old woman was found two years after her death in Rome. The door was forced open only because the rent was overdue. What is stunning is that the neighbors could not make sense of the smell and they even taped the woman’s door to protect themselves, as you can see in the picture. Who knows, maybe this is a sign that they could not imagine that someone could die alone a few steps away.

The article in Italian is here: http://roma.repubblica.it/cronaca/2015/09/17/news/morta_da_due_anni_sola_in_cucina_scoperta_dai_vicini_per_il_cattivo_odore-123030289/?ref=HREC1-22


June 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

A table full of Watanabe's abandoned possessions, cigarettes and half-eaten food. The room is littered with these shrines to domestic irresponsibility.

A table full of Watanabe’s abandoned possessions, cigarettes and half-eaten food. The room is littered with these shrines to domestic irresponsibility.

Twenty years ago, in 1995, more than 500 persons died in Chicago following a 2.5 days heat wave. Most of them were old and poor, as Klinenberg documented in his book, Heat Wave. Twenty years later, older adults are still dying alone so often that they even represent a good business for some. The article below describes a day in the life of 32-year old Koremura, a Japanese man who experienced the lonely death of his gramma  and decided to be of help to persons like her in Japan with his business of cleaning their house after their death, iike the movie Sunshine Cleaning. Since these persons are often  invisible in life, as well as in death, they are easy to forget. It is great when we are reminded of their presence, see pictures, and think how to decrease their isolation.


If you really knew me…

June 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

If you ever end up in California and attend one of the many self-growth seminars so popular here, you may be asked to share with your peers what is really going on with you, beneath the surface. And you would have to start all your sentences with the words, “If you really knew me, if you would know that I am…., and if you would talk for a good five minutes, opening more and more to your audience of often perfect strangers. The goal is “to go deep fast,” as they say. Well, I feel that the link below contains the academic version of this exercise for me. It was an honor to be interviewed. It was also fun since I am usually the one who asks the questions. I hope you enjoy the link as much as I did.


Go for a ride? Awesome job Marie Jobling and all!

January 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

Great news: public transportation will be free for low and moderate income San Franciscans starting March 2015. San Francisco has a compact and strong network of advocates for older adults, and this is one of the results.  Let’s hope that more cities will follow!

Below is the email from Marie Jobling, one of the most committed advocates for the rights of older adults to live in their community.


Thanks to a year of advocacy from Senior and Disability Action (SDA) members in collaboration with Chinatown Community Development Corporation and many other community groups, low and moderate income seniors and people with disabilities will be able to ride MUNI for free!

The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) voted unanimously on Tuesday, January 20 to approve this program. We applaude Tom Nolan and the members of the MTA for their efforts to reach this historic decision.

Free MUNI will begin March 1 and to participate, you must register!

Find out more and apply online at:


or pick up an application in the SDA/CLC office at 1360 Mission Street, Suite 400.

You can also learn more at a Free Muni Kick-Off Event and Celebration:

Thursday, January 29, 1:30-3:30pm

Lady Shaw Senior Center, 1483 Mason Street

Singles now outnumber married Americans

September 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

On the radio today Klinenberg discussed this trend, and said that it is positive, since living alone can be a time to recharge and find who we are. As woman living alone, I do recharge in my tiny studio in Berkeley. Yet, I am not sure that living alone in the same studio will be as rejuvenating thirty years from now, when it will be harder to negotiate its steep steps and minuscule entrance. On a larger scale, are American social policies ready to serve an increasing number of older unmarried Americans?

Radio show here:

A whole new world

September 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

An extract from my fieldnotes on the hidden phenomenon of massive age segregation in urban America.

As I deliver food for Meals on Wheels, I discover the magnitude of urban age-segregation. I uncover a whole new world made up of buildings filled with old adults, mostly living alone. These buildings are sometimes so vast and intricate that I get lost in their corridors. Some were schools or hospitals. In one of them, a three-story building, big enough to occupy an entire block, Georgia (the driver of Meals on Wheels) and I have five meals to deliver. Georgia carries four bags: as a novice I carry only one. To open the iron gate, Georgia buzzes a client. We cross a manicured garden, and enter the edifice through a wooden door. Before disappearing in a corridor to deliver her bags, Georgia tells me, “Go right, follow the corridor. At the end of the corridor you will find an elevator. Take it, go to the second floor, go straight to wing North, room Y213.” It takes me five minutes of meandering through the shiny linoleum of corridors to find the door; a smell of mothballs and soup hits my nostrils along the way. When I knock, a tiny lady opens the door wide enough to snatch the bag and exhale a thank you. For a split second I glance at a room filled with boxes and clothes on hangers. On the way back, even though I am careful to find my way, I exit from a wrong door and wait in vain for Georgia in another garden identical to the first one. We often joke about my terrible sense of direction.

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