Women Our Age Takes to the Streets….This week, many Americans first became aware of anti-government protests in Thailand. TV clips showed police using tear gas against the protesters who’d occupied government buildings since June, demanding the resignation  of the prime minister. But no TV station has yet showed the faces of who’s behind this mass movement: middle-aged women, seasoned by a 15-year-old protest tradition,  who see the current administration’s alleged corruption as a question of morality:

Somchit
Suwanasay, 64,  runs a small travel business. [She also] spent two nights in the
compound of the prime minister’s office, which has been overrun by
thousands of supporters of the anti-government movement, the People’s
Alliance for Democracy (PAD), since Tuesday, Aug. 26. The siege on
Government House has crippled the elected coalition government led by
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. ‘’I am here because I am a good citizen and we have to do the right
thing for our country,’’ Somchit said as dawn broke on Wednesday. ‘’If
the PAD’s voice is heard, we will finally get a good government; not
one that supports corruption.’’

In fact this army of middle-aged women, who come dressed in yellow
as a mark of loyalty to the colour identified with the country’s
monarch, whom the PAD claims it is defending, are not recent
participants
. They have been the mainstay of the PAD’s street protests
that began in late May, when it took over a street near a United
Nations building here, and have run non-stop, round-the-clock rallies,
infused with rants against the government and music.

Why should my second adulthood mean I stay married to the same person as in the first? A lot of boomers may be asking that question — at least in Britain, where divorce rates have tumbled among most age groups but not among the over-45 crowd:

Office for National Statistics research found that while the figure is the lowest since 1981, the number of twice-married men and women divorcing in 2007 had doubled over nearly 30 years. In 1980 one in 10 men and women divorcing had been divorced before, while the figure for last year was one in five. The research also showed more people aged 60 and over, and couples in their mid to late 40s, split up. In 2007 there were 2.3 divorces for every 1,000 men aged 60 and over and 1.6 for every 1,000 women. The 2006 figures were 2.2 divorces for every 1,000 men and 1.4 for women.

Divorces in the 45 to 49 age group also increased, with more women than men getting divorced. In 2006 there were 14.9 divorces for every 1,000 married women aged 45 to 49, rising to 15.3 by 2007. For every 1,000 45 to 49-year-old married men in 2006 and 2007, 17.3 got divorced.


Marilyn Stowe, of Stowe Family Law, said the rise in “silver-haired divorce” may be linked to longer and healthier life. “People now have more energy in their later years and realise there is nothing left in their marriage once they have had their career and the children have left home.”

Sometimes you also need a fresh start: A new study from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project shows a troubling number of personal bankruptcies among people over 55:

“Older Americans are hit by a one-two punch of jobs and medical
problems and the two are often intertwined,” said Elizabeth Warren, a
Harvard Law School professor who was one of the authors of the study.
“They discover that they must work to keep some form of economic
balance and when they can’t, they’re lost…”

In 1991, the 55-plus age group accounted for about 8 percent of
bankruptcy filers, according to the study, which looked at more than
6,000 cases filed in 1991, 2001 or 2007. By last year, filers 55 and
over accounted for 22 percent.. The filing rate per thousand people ages 55-64
was up 40 percent; among 65- to 74-year-olds it increased 125 percent;
and among the 75-to-84-year-old set, it was up 433 percent.

A number of factors are contributing to the increase. Higher prices
for ordinary consumer goods have hit seniors on fixed budgets. For
older Americans living below the poverty level, or not far above, a
safety net likely doesn’t exist for economic setbacks such as medical
problems. And some fall prey to scams that cripple their finances.

Warren noted increasing numbers of Americans are entering their
retirement years with significant debt and are still paying off
mortgages. She said it was wrong to assume that lives of luxury are
bankrupting seniors; rather, they’re incurring debts to meet needs such
as medical treatment. “There’s no evidence that the problem is consumerism,” the professor said.

Not all workouts created equal: Exercise may
help avert depression, weight gain and even dementia, but British
orthopedist Robert Marston warns that for some women, it can also lead to an earlier need for hip replacements:

Mr Marston, of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in northwest
London, said that he now treats at least five times more patients in
their 40s and 50s than he did ten or 15 years ago. The number of hip
replacements has been increasing steadily since 2002 with 89,000
carried out last year, according to statistics from the NHS information
centre.

Mr Marston said that the trend would place the cash-strapped NHS
under greater strain. He added: ‘Ten years ago it was unusual to do hip
replacements on anyone under the age of 55 but now it is commonplace in
people in their forties and fifties.

‘We are seeing a lot of people in early middle age with significant
arthritis and worn-out joints and in many cases it is down to the gym
craze. People are crippling themselves with impact exercise. It is
particularly problematic for overweight people who go to the
gym.’..[He] added: ‘The best exercise is a 30-minute brisk walk three
times a week, but walking doesn’t make gyms any money. Exercise is
being taken in a very forced, unnatural way. As your body ages, you
should be taking brisk walks, playing a gentle game of tennis or doing
some gardening, not be being thrashed in a gym.’

But Gary O’Donovan, an exercise physiologist at Exeter University,
said it was a ‘myth’ that exercise is bad for the joints. ‘The fitter
you are, the better,’ he said. ‘We have evolved to be active.”

Tracy Oppenheim, a keen cyclist and gym regular, had a double hip
replacement in her early 40s….She said: ‘I was embarrassed when I was
told my hips had worn down. I assumed it was something that happened
when you are older. I was fit, I was a gym regular, did spinning
classes and was an extremely active cyclist, but I had a slight
misalignment in my hips and was putting strain on an already weakened
area.”

—Chris L.


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