Old Growth, a series of 11 half-hour radio shows about life after 65, began airing on Kootenay Co-op Radio (KCR) on Nov. 7.
The series was produced by writer and broadcaster Bill Metcalfe. “Several of the episodes are stories of local seniors who are highly functional and on the move, and what we can learn from them,” he said.
“Others are about harsh realities that come with getting older. I have tried to balance those two sides.”
In the “on the move” category, there is a round-table discussion with four local senior athletes (Wilma Turner, Barb Saunders, Michael Pratt, Lex Baas).
“These people were amazing,” said Metcalfe. “They were really upbeat about their lives.”
And there’s another group discussion with four senior artists (John Cooper, John McKinnon, Tsuneko Kolubo, and Verna Relkoff).
“It was a good one,” Metcalfe said, “because of the importance of the arts in Nelson. What’s it like for a veteran artist to get old?”
In another episode, veteran yoga teacher Karuna Erickson speaks frankly about how age is slowing her down, but there’s a up-side to that: she can now pay more careful attention to the subtleties and the details of the workings of her body and mind.
And there are some episodes that are clearly about decline and loss. Senior advocate Joan Reichardt talks about the lives of women over 80 who are single and poor.
Linda Hoskin of the Alzheimer’s Society shares the microphone with local residents Cal and Loree Renwick, and together they tell the story of Cal’s father’s Alzheimer’s. KCR broadcaster Mike Chapman awakens us to the impact of seniors losing their drivers licences.
The series was funded by a New Horizons for Seniors grant from the Federal Government.
"We’re really excited to be doing this series,” said Kootenay Co-op Radio’s Station Manager Jay Hannley. “KCR is proud of the work Bill had put into this program and is excited to share it with all of you This series is essential listening, not only for seniors but for all of us who are really just 'seniors in training'."
The series also includes episodes on seniors’ health, stereotypes, elder abuse, activist seniors, learning, relationships between old and young people, and the essential components of an age-friendly community.
Podcasts of the series will be available on the KCR website at www.cjly.net.
OLD GROWTH—A radio series about life after 65
Produced by Bill Metcalfe for Kootenay Co-Op Radio in Nelson in October, funded by a New Horizons For Seniors grant.
Air times: Mondays at 8:30 am and Thursdays at 2 pm. The next show is They can’t change, but we can, Nov. 17.Other dates listed below:
They Can’t Change, But We Can—Approaching Dementia with Compassion
- November 17
Linda Hoskin, Cal Renwick, Loree Renwick
Cal Renwick’s father died in 2007, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In this episode, Cal and Loree’s story of their journey through Maurice Renwick’s illness is accompanied by Linda Hoskin’s advice and commentary. Linda is the Caregiver Support and Education Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society B.C. in the Kootenay Boundary area.
There is a very good chance that we or someone we love will develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. This episode contains inspiring and practical advice on how to respond.
My Art is Like Coming Home—A Conversation With Four Senior Artists
- November 21 and 24
John Cooper, Tsuneko (Koko) Kokubo, John McKinnon, Verna Relkoff
Each of these artists has a significant body of work and activity extending back many decades. They live in a town known for its multiplicity of artists. What is it like for them to get old?
Their reactions vary, but they agree on some things. They can do more now with less effort than before. They are no longer edgy. They are alienated from younger artists and they think younger artists are looking for quick and easy solutions. They feel very at home in their art, and in fact the title of this episode is a quote from John Cooper, who went on to say, “it’s like a comfortable visitation to a very old place.”
Isolation at 80-Plus—The Lives of Low-Income Widowed Older Women
- November 28 and December 1
Women that were young adults during the period around the second world war may have never driven a car or written a cheque. They are unlikely to have worked outside the home or paid into Canada Pension. But, like women in general who have a longer life expectancy than men, many of them outlived their husbands and some have been left in vulnerable isolation.
Joan Reichardt is part of that generation—she is in her 80s—and she has been known for many years as an articulate and formidable advocate for seniors in the Nelson area. In this episode she tells some poignant stories of isolation, and calls for greater attention by society and government to this vulnerable group of seniors.Keeping it Moving—A Discussion With Four Senior Athletes
- December 5 and 8
Wilma Turner, Michael Pratt, Lex Baas, Barb Saunders
All but one of these athletes are over 70, and three of them participated in the recent B.C. Senior Games held in the West Kootenay in 2011.
The guests in this episode displayed a really cheerful and energetic attitude in our round-table discussion. They all agreed that as an older athlete they are more willing to push harder in their sport, more likely to “go for it” than when they were younger. Why? They have the maturity to recognize when their brain is trying to limit them, and to push past it.
They say they receive huge support for their athletic feats from their families, friends, and neighbours—and from each other.
Betrayal of Trust—Elder Abuse and Neglect
- December 12 and 15
Christie Heuston, Gail Russell
When Christie Heuston and Gail Russell talk to groups, whether it be student nurses or groups of seniors, they say most people in the group are aware of at least one instance of the financial or physical abuse/neglect of a senior. It’s a more common problem than we would like to think.
Financial abuse is the inappropriate use of a senior’s money or property, often by a family member caregiver. Physical abuse often stems from frustration and exhaustion. Neglect of a vulnerable person can be a form of abuse.
Christie and Gail explain how caregivers’ feelings of entitlement and resentment are often the driving force behind abuse or neglect. And they tell us about their work bringing education and awareness to the community through their work with the Elder Abuse Prevention Program at the Seniors Coordinating Society in Nelson.
My Life is Getting Bigger—Conversations with Three Senior Humanitarian Activists
- December 19 and 22
Marie-Paul Brisson, Sebastien DeMarre, Cynthia Quinn-Young
Marie-Paul and Sebastien were in Haiti doing humanitarian work when the earthquake struck. But they didn’t come home. They stayed for months, living in the street, helping people. They came back to Canada, stayed a while, and then went back, not sponsored by any organization and with very little money. There’s a call, they say, a call to help children and people who have to struggle, despite the fact that they are past retirement age and could be taking life easy.
Cynthia Quinn-Young is involved locally with Grans to Grans, the international organization of grandmothers supporting the multitudes of grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa looking after their grandchildren whose parents have died of AIDS.
Too Old to Drive—Seniors and Their Drivers Licences
- January 2 and 5
In 2006, Kootenay Co-op Radio broadcaster Mike Chapman did a special hour-long edition of the public affairs show Nelson Before Nine about seniors and driving. Some questions were bothering him. When should seniors stop driving? Who decides that? How do they decide? And how does no longer being able to drive affect a senior’s life?
Mike interviewed two elderly drivers, one of whom is still driving, and another who didn’t renew his licence because he was didn’t want the indignity of failing the test—and he’s heartbroken every time he looks out and sees his empty driveway. And Mike spoke with Dr. Paul Walker, who kindly and humorously explained the process by which a senior’s driving rights are reviewed and decided.
In this episode we hear excerpts from those interviews and current commentary from Mike.The Sweetness of the Small Things—An Elder Yoga Teacher Talks About Aging
- January 9 and 12
There are extraordinary numbers of yoga teachers, studios, and students in Nelson. Karuna Erickson was teaching yoga long before it became fashionable. She’s been studying yoga for 45 years, teaching it for 30, and teaching other teachers for almost as long. She is in her 60s now, and just as active as ever. But she says aging is creating some changes in her practice and her life.
Most people whose body is their work—athletes, dancers—retire long before 60. So what does it take for a yoga teacher to keep going? And how does yoga itself help her do that? How’s her relationship to younger students and teachers? What issues are her aging students facing? In this episode we hear Karuna’s frank discussion of all these issues.
Keep Learning, Keep Connecting—The Learning in Retirement Group
- January 16 and 19
Judy Biggin, Marilyn Pollard, Roger Oliver, Phyllis Dale
Two of the possible pitfalls of getting older and retiring, in our society, are social isolation and intellectual stagnation. The Learning in Retirement group in Nelson is one response to this. They are a part of a worldwide network of groups known as Elder Colleges.
The group offers informal, non-credit learning to people over 55, and a very important social component goes with it. The group members decide what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it, and they find teachers or experts to learn from, often from within the group.
The guests on this episode talk about the group and the impact it has made on their lives.
Creating an Age-Friendly Community
- January 23 and 26
Janice Murphy, Elisabeth Antifeau
The World Health Organization has created a set of criteria for age-friendly communities, covering such things as outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social and civic participation, and social inclusion. Locally, the Osprey Foundation has taken that on. It recently commissioned the consultant and researcher Janice Murphy to write a report on the needs of our local area.
Elisabeth Antifeau is the Practice Lead for Special Populations with the Interior Health Authority and has 30 years of experience as a nurse working with seniors.
In this episode, Elisabeth and Janice talk about the findings of Janice’s report and discuss how age-friendly the Nelson area really is. They have some advice for Nelson City Council and some suggestions for the Official Community Plan.