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Gold or cold old age?

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

The image of last week from the Guardian comes with the sketch made by Van Gogh of Adrianus Jacobus Zuyderland in 1882 – the sketch has been hidden from public view since 1910 – kept safe by a private collector. It is now to be seen in The Amsterdam Museum. It depicts a balding old man, head bowed and hunched – his face hidden but what can be seen speaks of pained distressed at his own condition. Pencil drawing of old man identified as Van Gogh work | Vincent van Gogh | The Guardian

Was it really so bad? Is this not a pose to fit the needs of the artist? We read that Van Gogh used the residents of alms houses run by the Dutch Reform Church as models – they did not receive much payment – but some company and coffee. The image fits with Pat Thane’s report on the conditions of old people in England at that time in her wonderful. ‘Old age in English History.’ Best to be reminded. Fascinating to read the stories of life as such a struggle with barely enough flesh to cover the bones, let alone move them. Cold, wet, the only purpose being survival against all this.

It makes us glad to reflect that life for old people is so much better despite all the threats and hazards which we face.

This week’s Dementia Conversations brought Barbara Lewis back to see us – Zoom does make it easier for contacts even a few miles away. She oozes compassion, care and determined practical optimism. In the beginning she found solutions to the embarrassment which can stem from the need for help with toileting when dementia comes advanced. Beautiful cloth arranged in a sort of reversed cloak does the trick. She still makes and shares these. But mostly she was wanting to tell us about Empowered Conversations: and here is a specific link about Moving Beyond Words 

If anyone would like to know more about Come & Sing on Fridays it is probably best to email Emma Smith – our project leader They could contact me but it’s probably better to keep things central.

This little clip explains Empowered Conversations in song – it might amuse list=PL8te5nndtk7nmuuuoedWW8hrk2mtht9Bt

 Empowered Conversations has been holding webinars throughout the pandemic with academics, carers, people with dementia etc. They have been very popular and people have found them useful. They can all be found on youtube and in particular there are two by Maggie Ellis in which she explains Adaptive interaction. You will find them all on here

Barbara’s website is

So Barbara’s mission is expanded from the bathroom in Tameside to a wider world of joyful communication, despite the presence of dementia – She and her colleagues – retired GP, Speech and Language Therapist, Academic Psychologist and others – use rhythm and song to break through the barriers which make ordinary speech so difficult to make and to comprehend. It is a beautiful learning – ‘Golden’ as we might say in some parts of the Midlands/Black Country.

We are better off for the social economic advantages of these time, but also for the thoughtful application of learning to complement what medicine can do

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