This Week’s Top Picks – 4th October

Excellent new websites, powerful reads, and moving pictures.  Here are my top picks from this week…

Moving Pictures
I love when artists give us a fresh perspective on ageing and there were some real gems this week. Andrew McConnell’s images and stories of Syria’s oldest refugees really moved me. The stunning images of 12 centenarians are accompanied by tales of love, life, loss, and a longing for home.  Life Before Death is a beautiful, but confronting, series of photographs from German photographer Walter Schels and his partner Beate Lakotta. I won’t tell you anymore, but you should definitely take a look. Danielle is a time-lapse film from Anthony Cerniello that captures the entire ageing process in just 5 minutes. A really elegant piece of short film making.

Having The Difficult Conversations
Suicide, euthanasia, and mental health problems can be hard to talk about, but three articles this week did a great job of tackling the tough topics. Claire Shaw’s article in The Guardian provided 10 practical strategies that academics can use to help students who are struggling with mental health problems or other welfare issues.  Natasha Mitchell penned a beautiful reflection on suicide and the language we use to talk about despair. And Nick Miller really captured the complexity of the debate in his article about unbearable suffering and euthanasia for convicted criminals.

Cracking Websites
I came across two great new websites this week. Now Matters Now is a new suicide prevention resource based on mindfulness and dialectical behavior therapy. The website is beautifully designed and the content is backed by one of the greats, Dr Marsha Linehan. I’m really looking forward to exploring it more over the coming weeks.

The Global AgeWatch Index 2014 ranks countries according to how well their older populations are faring. The website allows you to compare countries, gives each country a report card (with scores across a range of health, economic, and environmental domains), and produces some pretty nifty graphics to help visualise the data. This is a great resource for researchers and policy makers.

Powerful Reminders
Two powerful pieces really struck a chord with me this week. Christine Lee’s first person account of having a stroke at 33 reminded me of how fragile life is and the importance of being present. Lee writes beautifully and also captures just how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go, when it comes to medical research.

Nina Bernstein’s New York Times feature on dying at home is a long, arduous read that reflects perfectly the long, arduous battle that so many carers face when all they want is to help their loved one die with dignity. It is a powerful reminder that when it comes to care, quality of life, and quality of death, we need to do better.

Closing the Gap
This week Alzheimer’s Australia launched a report on dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Although I haven’t had a chance to read the full report yet, I think this an important and timely piece of research and I hope it will have a real impact on the way we ‘do dementia’ in Australia.

For Fun
Jill Lepore’s piece on the surprising origins of Wonder Woman is such a fascinating read – I can’t recommend it highly enough. And just because I can’t resist a story about sloths, check this out.

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