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Rural Aging: World 

Archives  2003

Mexico: Leticia Robles Silva’s Review on Laureano Reyes Gomez’s “Aging in Chiapas. Zoque Enthnogerontology.” (2003)
(Article in Spanish)
The social status of older Zoque Indians in Chiapas has deteriorated as poverty has increased in the region. Older people who live in Chiapas, the poorest region in Mexico, make up the poorest of the poor. Due to their state of absolute poverty, others abuse them without penalty or criticism. Only the wealthy elderly need have no fear since their relatives hope to receive their wealth. Their wealth buys them social support and security. In light of this revelation, Gómez suggests that old age in the Zoque community is not a single experience for all, but rather depends on the relative wealth that elders can pass on to relatives.

Kenya: Old and Restless (December 3, 2003 )
Marisela, an elderly widow, is a victim of abuse from her two step-sons who tried to cheat her out of her land. In a recent World Health Organization survey, older persons in eight different countries reported three types of abuse, including neglect; violation of human, legal, and medical rights; and deprivation of independent choices. Often, the abusers are relatives or family members. Widows are often the first victims of abuse, since they are discriminated against for being women and for being old.

South Africa: Chronic Poverty Among Aged (October 1, 2003)

A quarter of all older people living in South Africa may be classified as chronically poor, with most living in households earning less than US $100 per month. According to a recent report commissioned by HelpAge International (HAI), South Africa has one of the most rapidly ageing populations in Africa, with a particular increase in the 64- to 74-year age category, from 25.8 percent of the total population of older people in 1996, to 26.5 percent in 1999. The report, "Chronic Poverty and Older People", noted that while the aged in South Africa continued to work well into the later stages of ageing, fulfilling an important economic role in the household, "chronic poverty reduces the options of older people to move from producer to consumer".

China: Rural Social Security Urgent (September 11, 2003)
A social security system is urgently needed in rural China so that farmers can take care of their basic needs in life. In mid August the Ministry of Labour and Social Security announced it will try to streamline the national social security system by implementing several new measures.

South Africa: Premier's Office Honours the Elderly (September 10, 2003)
A fun-day for the elderly was held at the OR Tambo hall in Zwelitsha on September 9 to restore their sense of belonging in the community. Assistant Communications Director in the Premier's office, Lynnete Skriker, said the aim of the event was to pay tribute to the lives of the elderly and facilitate their full participation in their communities.

France: A French countryside revolution (September 8, 2003)
The French rural exodus is now in reverse, a government report reveals, as the countryside increasingly attracts townsfolk - and expatriate retirees. Hugh Schofield reports. Reversing a trend going back more than a century, the French countryside is becoming increasingly populous as city-dwellers take advantage of progress in transport and telecommunications to relocate in a quieter environment, according to a government report released in September. 

United Kingdom: Elderly told to find new homes (September 2, 2003)
Nearly 30 elderly residents at a south Devon nursing home have been told they have to find somewhere else to live. The Kiniver Nursing Home in Teignmouth has told its residents they have five weeks to move out before the building is sold. The owner blames council under funding for the situation, but Devon County Council has said it would like to provide more money but cannot because of a budget crisis due to government under funding. After it is sold, the nursing home is to be knocked down and replaced by luxury flats.

United Kingdom: Teens build bridges with elderly (August 30, 2003)
A group of teenagers - sick of hearing how terrible the "youth of today" are - have come up with a refreshing way to bridge the generation gap. The view shared by many older people in their Cardiff suburb was that they just hang around street corners causing trouble.

Australia: Aged care crisis in Tassie wards (August 28, 2003)
Every day in Tasmania 117 elderly people who need to be in a nursing home are waiting in a hospital bed. Health and Human Services Minister David Llewellyn said a new study showed Tasmania was spending more than $16 million a year caring for people who should not be living in hospital. The average wait for a nursing home place was six months in a study done two years ago, with many waiting more than a year.

Norway: Adult children may be paid to care for elderly parents (August 28, 2003)
Parents of small children in Norway already can receive special welfare payments if they opt to keep their toddlers at home instead of sending them to day-care centers. Now the concept may be extended to grown children who keep their elderly parents at home. The program, called kontantstoette, or literally "cash support," is meant to compensate families that don't use state-supported facilities. It also transfers responsibility for family members to the families themselves. And is it women taking on this family caregiving?

Will declining birthrate hurt Japan? (August 19, 2003)
An increasing number of people are seeing the bright side of the hitherto pessimistic dispute over the declining birthrate. The shrinking and graying population is bound to adversely affect the nation's economy. First, the aging of the population will make it difficult to ensure that a sufficient number of young people enter the labor force to maintain its adaptability and creativity. Second, a decline in the population means that the domestic market will continue to shrink. This will serve to curtail investment opportunities, thus depleting a primary source of economic growth. Third, the graying of the population amounts, effectively, to a lower savings ratio.

Ageing Europe is unprepared (August 2, 2003)
Across Italy the average number of children a woman can expect to bear in her lifetime is now down to 1.2. Yes Catholic Italy, the fabled land of the "Mama," now has the lowest birth rate in Europe. Demographers calculate that by 2050 the current population of 56 million could have dwindled to 40 million. Towns and cities will be left with thousands of unwanted apartments, schools may well be half empty and whole swathes of the countryside could be depopulated. And, naturally the proportion of old people within the population will continue to rise. 

Marked improvement in health, life expectancy among the elderly (August 15, 2003)
The ratio of the elderly to children also increased from 8.5 in 1984 to 12.8 in 2000, which indicates ageing of the population. Speaking to The Chronicle in Accra, the executive director of HelpAge Ghana, Mr. Eben Adjetey Sorsey, said the fact that the population is ageing, also reflects an increase of the median age from 18.1 years in 1984 to 19.4 years in 2000. The increase is more pronounced among female, which also indicates that females have benefited from improvement in health and life expectancy more than males. Stay tuned!

Older people feel safer in retirement villages: study (August 6, 2003)
Queensland University of Technology senior lecturer Robert Thornton has conducted a research focusing on how older people view their lives and surroundings. "The older people in my study perceived that there was declining community standards in the areas they were currently living in, that they were unable to access the community services they wanted, that ... from a personal point of view, they felt insecure, and there were also some health related issues," says Mr. Thornton.

World: Global Overcrowding -- Earth To Face Challenge Of Aging, More Urbanized Population (August 1, 2003)
The UN Population Division says that people on this earth are becoming increasingly more urbanized. They also are becoming more numerous, more mobile, older on average, and -- like sardines in a can -- more crammed together. The Population Division reports that in the countries of Western Europe, women on average are having fewer than the two-plus children needed to maintain populations at current levels. This means that fewer and fewer producers are in the work force to pay the taxes and provide the pensions for more and more retirees.

Italy: North-East At a Turning Point Disappointing 2002 (July 10, 2003)
Italy - Authorities of Venice have decided to resolve problem of elderly population by constant arrivals of immigrants in the area. "The working population (20-49 years of age) will decrease by one million in twenty years, and the number of eighty year olds will double in 24 years. Thus, 5000 new immigrant workers will be needed every year."

Population shows signs of aging, Penghu oldest (July 16, 2003)
".The graying of the population in rural areas and the offshore islands has brought about new social problems", stated Taiwanese Government Official. The ratio of people aged 65 or over to the nation's total population has reached 9.1 percent this year. "The government must overhaul the medical and welfare service systems," he said.

UK: MPs' fears over rural transport (July 4, 2003)

In U.K., rural communities like Norfolk were under-funded by government grants, and services that help some of the most vulnerable people including the elderly in rural areas are in jeopardy. Award-winning schemes in Norfolk that provide a lifeline for elderly and disabled could have to shut down because of "criminal neglect," "mismanagement" and "under-funding".


UN Secy Genl Urges Aid To Alleviate World Rural Poverty (June 30, 2003)

Some 900 million people in rural areas live on less than $1 a day. Kofi Annan told the opening session of the U.N. Economic and Social Council that more investment in agricultural research, increasing employment and sustainable farming practices are needed. The international community must become more involved. UNAIDS and the Food and Agriculture Organization said practical measures are needed to help farming families who have lost their main provider, such as the development of lighter farming tools that can be used by older children, women and the elderly.


Ireland: Pensioners and elderly being 'taken for a ride' by Minister (June 18, 2003)

Minister for Social and Family Affairs in Ireland refused to consider a voucher system for rural areas, where public transportation does not exist. The spokesman on Social and Family affairs for Fine Gael believed that "there is blatant discrimination being practiced by the Minister against the elderly and disabled people who live off the public transport routes" and that vouchers can "enable people get transport to an area where they can continue by public transport.


"Longevity Village" in China (June 16, 2003) (in Chinese)

Jin Tu Village in Zhanjiang city, Guangdong province is known as the "longevity village" with over 150 people 80 years or older, 95 people 90 years or older, and 7 people 100 years or older. Most of these very older people are very active. They do farming, play flute, perform traditional Chinese lion-dancing, and do housework. The village is planning to build a senior center to take better care of these elderly. (The text is in Chinese. To read the Chinese article, please install the Internet Explorer Chinese language pack or NJ star communicator.)

China: 77-year Old Wins Portrait Lawsuit (June 13, 2003)

A 77-year old farmer from northwest China's Shaanxi Province has won a lawsuit against a Beijing-based magazine for the illegal use of his portrait on the cover without his prior approval. The photo was entitled "Happiness" to indicate the happy life of villagers in present-day China. However, the plaintiff took it as an insult. He said it is traditional in China's rural areas that elderly people do not enjoy being photographed.


New Zealand: Board keeps quiet on Pharmac submission (June 11, 2003)

The Southland District Health Board is keeping secret its submission to Pharmac about a controversial proposal to change to three-month prescriptions. According to many Southland pharmacists, the switch from one-month dispensing could see up to eight pharmacies or depots close, most of them in rural areas. The switch is also likely to cause confusion among vulnerable patients such as the elderly and those on multiple medicines' regimens, instead of offering greater convenience.


China expands "Elderly Homes" program (June 10, 2003) (in Chinese)

To improve lives of the elderly in rural China, the government will expand its "Elderly Homes" program from cities to the rural area. The program, established in July 2001, has built over 20,000 centers in cities around China, which provide the elderly with services ranging from health advices to leisure entertainment. (The text is in Chinese. To read the Chinese article, please install the Internet Explorer Chinese language pack or NJ star communicator.)


Australia: Rural hospitals share strain (June 9, 2003)

Rural hospitals in the Hunter region of Australia feel pressures on the health system due to the decline in the number of doctors and the lack of nursing home and hostel accommodation. The report reveals that there were about 30 elderly people in the acute hospital beds because there were not enough nursing home beds, which could create another treatment access block.


China: Two men, dressed like monks, cheated elderly out of money (May 30, 2003) (in Chinese)

Two men, wearing monk robes, pretended to be able to treat illness for the elderly with Qi Kung, one particular kind of Chinese Kung Fu, and charged RMB 20,000 (US$ 2,400) to over 100 older persons in Zhuang Zi Village, China. According to an elderly person in that village, these two men wiped out most of their savings in the name of treating illness.  (The text is in Chinese. Pleas install Internet Explorer Chinese language pack or NJ star communicator.)


Elderly villager joins digital era (May 27, 2003)

A 55-year-old Indian woman has changed lives in rural India thanks to information technology. A school dropout, Norti Bai, who can hardly speak English, successfully learnt to use computers and maintains a database of wells, tube wells and ponds in 11 villages.


Turkish Population Aging But Still Youngest in Europe (May 19, 2003)
Turkey continues to have the youngest population among EU Members and candidates. The percentage of aging citizens jumps to approximately 18.1 percent in Italy, 17.6 percent in Greece and 17.4 percent in Sweden. Even in Ireland, which is second to Turkey in terms of a youthful citizenry, the elderly population rate is approaching 11.3 percent.


In Rural China , Health Care Grows Expensive and Elusive (May 19, 2003)

In contrast to dramatic improvement in other parts of everyday life over the past 20 years, health care in China's new profit-oriented economy has been declining sharply. And now as China struggles to combat the SARS epidemic, the Chinese are relying on a crippled health-care system that covers far fewer people than it did decades ago. The decline is hitting hardest in China's rural areas, heightening the danger of faster transmission of SARS in vast parts of the country.


Southern Africa: New approaches needed to food security (May 7, 2003)
With numbers of orphan- and grandparent-headed households rising, "the whole gender and age bias of policy in general needs to be addressed," said Marsland, the regional food security adviser for Save the Children UK. Marsland said a welfare state model could be the kind of direction that government and development agencies would need to consider for vulnerable households, whose numbers will continue to increase as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Transport project to benefit rural communities (May 6, 2003)

Rural communities across Down (UK) are to benefit from a new transport scheme. An investment of £500, 000 was allocated to nine areas in Northern Ireland for projects which will provide "accessible and affordable public transport options in rural communities"."The rural community has as much right to access vital services as anyone else in Northern Ireland.


Rural China lacks caring older persons (April 12, 2003) (in Chinese)

For decades, older people in rural China have mainly depended on families for old age care and income support. However, as more and more rural people go to cities for jobs, older people in rural areas are often left home alone, lacking proper care. Without their children to take care of them, these older people often feel lonely and insecure. (The text is in Chinese. To read the Chinese article, please install the Internet Explorer Chinese language pack or NJ star communicator.)


Minister appeals to Mayo people to help elderly Irish abroad (April 2, 2003)
Startling facts about the conditions of the ageing Irish Community in Coventry City were revealed by the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon O Cuiv in Castlebar. A study, the minister said, indicated that fifteen percent of the Irish in the City were living with long term illness; thirty-three percent were pensioners; fifty percent of the Irish households had no car, and of all the elderly living alone in Coventry, 25 percent were Irish.

Europe Faces Crisis of Aging (March 28, 2003)

When U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently disparaged France and Germany as "Old Europe," was he speaking demographically?  According to a new study of the European Union's 15 member nations, governments face an age challenge. Will the EU recognize and mobilize the talents and resources of its older population or wring its hands over this great human achievement?


Why Mexico's Small Corn Farmers Go Hungry (March 3, 2003)
Tina Rosenberg examines the economic bankruptcy of Mexico's small corn farmers after Mexico liberalized its market for agricultural products. Rosenberg also criticizes the Mexican government's neglect of its small-scale agricultural sector.


Once Secure, Argentines Now Lack Food and Hope (March 1, 2003)
This report illustrates how the recent financial crisis has hurt Argentina's public, including widespread hunger, malnutrition and a public health crisis. As GAA readers know, the financial crisis impacted older persons very hard.


EU Backs Poor Farmers' Seed Use (February 3, 2003)
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) submitted a recent report to the World Trade Organization exposing poor labor rights protections in El Salvador, particularly in Export Processing Zones. Ignoring the report altogether, the WTO praised El Salvador for its efforts to open its economy to trade and investment. Most farmers in developing countries are old or soon to be old; often children have left for better jobs in cities.


Lula Launches War on Hunger - Both Causes and Effects (January 30, 2003)
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's "Zero Hunger" plan takes a multifaceted approach to addressing the causes, not just the symptoms, of hunger. The plan aims to create jobs, improve access to education, and expand land reform in addition to providing immediate hunger relief.


No-Fee Plan Floods Kenya Schools (January 20, 2003)
Shortly after being elected as president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki made good on his pledge to eliminate fees for public primary school. Thousands of children are taking advantage of the opportunity to learn, overwhelming the school system, but government officials are hopeful that "there is a lot of goodwill to make it work." This investment in children will make a good old age more likely.

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