Someone was listening: Last night’s Emmy Awards were a veritable festival of women over 40, with victories by Glenn Close (Damages) for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series; Jean Smart (Samantha Who?) for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series; and Laura Linney (John Adams) for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries. And Tina Fey, above, scored a triple: three wins for 30 Rock — in the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series, and Outstanding Comedy Series.

Sarah Warns at  also points out the bad news: the show itself was even more sexist than usual, that people of color of any age were almost entirely missing, and those awards were sort of the end of the good news for women. “Women were almost completely absent from all the directing and writing categories.” Warns then worried that the broadcast perhaps a bit too tilted toward boomers:

It’s true there aren’t many good roles for women over 40 in Hollywood, but you’d never know it from their overwhelming presence among the nominees or presenters at last night’s event: Diane Wiest, Betty White, Judy Dench, Mary Tyler Moore, Brooke Shields, Laura Linney, Candice Bergen, Carrie Fisher, Edie Falco, Polly Bergen, Elaine Stritch…the list goes on.

Close said in her acceptance speech that she and her fellow Outstanding Actress in a Drama nominees are proving “that complicated, powerful mature women are sexy and high-entertainment and can carry a show.”That’s very true, and The Closer, Damages, and Law and Order: SVU are among the best shows on television. But someone on the Emmy organizing committee is taking her words a little too literally. The only women under 30 even on stage at the event were America Ferrera, Hayden Panettiere, and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

‘Sweet 15’  becomes Sweet 45: For generations, young girls in Mexican-American communities have been honored with the quinceañera, a lavish feasr on their 15th birthday that often rivals a wedding. But what if your family can’t afford anything like that? In Northern California, at least, you can do it for yourself at another important transitional moment. “I never really thought my dream would come true,” said 45-year-old Oakley resident  Livier Reynoso last week “as 300 people gathered at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Oakley to celebrate her quinceañera. [Speaking] through a translator this week… she says [the day] was “better, much better,” than she had envisioned.

Smart decisions, better results: A decline in long-term use of hormone therapy is now directly linked to a decrease in rates of breast cancer, Australian researchers said this week:

Professor John Boyages from the New South Wales Breast Cancer Institute says both the incidence of the disease and death rates have gone down in Australia and the United States in the last few years. He says there is a link between the menopause treatment and breast cancer.

“The important thing is short term HRT is safe, but there has been a reduction in breast cancer incidence in the last couple of years,” he said. “We think that is due to two things – reduction in long-term usage of HRT, and the screening program finding cases a lot earlier.”


And it’s not just drug addicts: More worrying, especially with last week’s economic news, was news from Vancouver, which found more people over 45 in its survey of the city’s homeless population.

One demographic shift does seem clear. “It’s the boomers. That’s what we’re starting to see. Boomers are becoming seniors,” says Alice Sundberg, the co-chair of Metro Vancouver’s steering committee on homelessness. “These are people [who] had wild lives and they got themselves into drug problems early in life, and now they’re more likely to be marginalized.”

But along with those who got stuck in the bad fallout from the 1960s are other groups from the boomer generation. “We continue to see our number of homeless seniors increase for all kinds of reasons,” says Val MacDonald, who works with the New Westminster-based Seniors Services Society.

They get evicted because they have drinking problems or they can’t take care of themselves or their apartments properly. Then they can’t find anything else in the region’s shrinking pool of cheap apartments. Or they are people who fall apart if a spouse dies.

One of her group’s recent cases was a retired engineer from Ontario who ended up homeless and broke in the emergency ward of St. Paul’s Hospital. Upset and wanting a change after his wife of many years died, Ed sold his house, bought a van and started driving across Canada with just his pension to survive on. By the time he got to Vancouver a year later, he was at the end of his resources, physically and financially.

Older women are especially vulnerable to homelessness, those who work with them say. They’re less likely to have pensions or saved money than men left on their own. And they’re more likely to be taken advantage of and even abused by adult children. Most residents of the Bridge Housing for Women facility downtown are over 40, says Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society, which manages Bridge.

— Chris L.

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