MURAnews Spring 2021 issue in PDF format
In this issue:
The Annual General meeting on June 23 will move MURA into a new year, with the election of new members to both the Executive and Council as one of the key pieces of business. We will meet virtually using Zoom because of the pandemic. Although we will all miss the personal social interaction of our traditional AGM luncheon meeting, Zoom will give retirees from coast to coast and around the world the opportunity to participate.
Brenda Vrkljan, Professor of Occupational Therapy in the School of Rehabilitation Science, will give a talk before the business meeting begins about her study of mobility and participation of older Hamiltonians during COVID-19.
Please see the meeting notice and registration instructions below.Among the many interesting articles in this newsletter, you can read about the activities of some of your fellow retirees during the pandemic, the cohousing movement in Hamilton, getting involved in virtual volunteering, how music can improve your health, and the benefits Mac retirees qualify for through MURA’s membership in CURAC.
Retirees receiving this newsletter by postal mail are again receiving a shortened, eight-page version. This limit was set by MURA Council for budgetary reasons. Please let us know by email if you can switch to electronic delivery. You will be able to enjoy the full online content, while helping MURA cut expenses.
As we move toward a new MURA year, I am reminded of MURA’s ongoing challenges. High among these is keeping the interests and needs of retirees in the minds of university offices and officials. MURA’s 2019 survey of its members highlighted the fact that retirees are very interested and willing to participate in helping McMaster, whether by teaching, research, or public service. MURA’s challenge is to continuously promote the retiree population as a university asset, and to encourage the university to find ways to harness this untapped service capacity. We also must remain vigilant in support of ongoing services to retirees. Retirees are often forgotten by the university when service changes are planned, and communications written. MURA’s role is to keep retirees’ interests in the minds and hearts of university leadership at all levels.MURA Council also remains aware of the organization’s need to remain meaningful, helpful, and relevant to all retirees as conditions of retirement from McMaster change. People who retire without a defined benefit pension or retiree health and dental benefits will have substantially different needs, and relationships with the university, from most current MURA members. It will be MURA’s challenge to find ways to support this broad range of retirees, and to help maintain retirees’ connections with each other and with the university community.
My best wishes to you all for health and happiness.
News from MURA
Special Presentation to the AGM
Resilience, mobility, and participation in older Hamiltonians: Navigating everyday life during COVID-19 lockdown(s)
The guest speaker will be Dr. Brenda Vrkljan, a Professor at the School of Rehabilitation Science, and a trained Occupational Therapist. Dr. Vrkljan understands that there is a lack of research in the area of automobile technology and mobility in older adults, which often leads to ageist policies that are implemented to discourage older adults from driving. She is also involved in the development of an in-vehicle camera system for tracking the driving performance of older drivers.
Dr. Vrkljan will share preliminary findings from her most recent interdisciplinary project focused on tracking mobility, participation, and other factors among older adults over the past year. The IMPACT Hamilton Study (Investigating Mobility and PArticipation among Older Hamiltonians during COVID-19: A Longitudinal Tele-Survey) is part of a larger project that aims to investigate early changes in mobility in later life. This research project is supported by AGE-WELL, the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging, and Strategic Alignment Funding from the Office of the McMaster Provost.
Business Meeting: Including reports of Officers and Council Elections. The report from the Nominating Committee follows.
Honorary President*: Alvin Lee
Past President (ex officio): Helen Barton
Betty Ann LevyNominated for office, three-year terms until 2024:
Cliff AndrewsContinuing in office until 2022:
Mary GauldContinuing in office until 2023:
In accordance with Article 8.01 Section 3 of the MURA Constitution: “Further nominations for the nominated positions will be received by the Secretary of the Association up to seven (7) days prior to the date set for the annual general meeting from nominators who are regular members of the Association together with the verbal or written acceptance of the nominee. Nominations will also be received from regular members at the annual general meeting.”
Heather Grigg (Chair)
Retirees in the News
By Mary Johnston
Before his medically assisted death, Dr. Bayne shared his story with the media and produced a compelling 12-minute video urging seniors and their families to take control of the end of their lives. “I want the vast majority of the population, and seniors in particular, to realize that they have far more control at the end than they realize they do. Every Canadian has the right to control their own bodies. There’s no question about it. You are legally entitled, should be able to control your own end of life.” Drawing on his extensive experience in health care, he reflects on death and dying, provides insight into the fear of death, and encourages planning for the final stage of life with family. He also urges seniors and their families to insist on and advocate for better long-term care.
To find out more about Dr. Bayne and this thought-provoking video, visit Professor Emeritus Has Last Words on Death and Dying.
Sue Baptiste and Sheila Sammon
To celebrate, the Institute is putting together a collection of articles submitted by McMaster alumni, students, staff, and faculty: Reflections on Teaching and Learning at McMaster: 50 Years of Stories. The book will identify important milestones, trends, developments, and achievements in teaching and learning at McMaster. 50 Years of Stories will be edited by Post-doctoral Fellow Alise de Bie, Professor Emerita Sue Baptiste, Associate Professor Cathy Grisé and Professor Emerita Sheila Sammon. To find out more, go to The Daily News.
Welcome new members
compiled by Kathy Overholt
Raymond Bayliss, Central Animal Facility
Lianna Butler, Education Services
Angela Frechette, Medicine
Dawnelle Hawes, Education Services
Danny Jang, Pediatrics
Catherine Kiernan, Medicine
Cheryl Levitt, Family Medicine
Marcia Macaulay, HS Human Resources
Alison Magi, Medicine
Jane Mah, Biomedical Engineering
Robin Southall, Campus Stores
Elizabeth Zelek, Financial Services
compiled by Kathy Overholt
Ronald Bayne, Medicine, Feb 26/21
By Elaine McKinnon Riehm
During the past few months, three odd words have crept into my ken: paraprosdokian, factoid, and coffle. If you customarily use these words, gentle reader, please turn the page.
By Helen Ayre
We asked our members what they were doing to pass the time during the pandemic, and got some very interesting responses …
Joan Crook, formerly of the School of Nursing has sent us a photograph of her Pandemic project. She is knitting the very colourful “Safe at Home” throw designed by Margaret Holzman. The throw, upon completion, will comprise 81 houses and will be a reminder of our current reality: we are safest when at home. The “Safe at Home” pattern is available at ravelry.com.
Bob Hodgson, formerly of the DeGroote School of Business, now living in Alberta, has reverted to Lego kits. According to Bob, Lego makes some very intriguing and complex kits that challenge one’s dexterity and brain. For him, it’s a great way to pass some time and have something really neat to pass on to a grandson. Bob has just completed his largest project yet at 58.2 x 48 x 17 centimeters, with 4018 pieces. The Liebherr 9800 Excavator had 1000 steps and is powered by seven motors and two hubs controlled from an iPhone.
When building a Lego kit, you can go as fast or as slowly as you wish, though Bob cautions that If you make a mistake on something like this, it is brutally difficult to fix.
They recorded three pieces (Genitori genitoque, The Honie-suckle, and Earle of Salisbury: Pavan).
Members overcame the challenges of learning new technology and then recording their individual parts separately at home. Stephane Potvin put all the parts together along with the photos, and the members are thrilled with the result.
Please click here for the YouTube video. Helen particularly likes the photo of a sculpture with masks to illustrate what we are going through.
Ellen Ryan, a name familiar to many MURA members and a former member of Psychiatry, enjoys writing poetry and has shared with us a recent piece that was published in the Hamilton-based, internationally known journal Tower Poetry:
Over the course of the previous year, Glen has plotted the shadow cast from his home's hydro entry post onto the grass in his backyard on sunny days at local noon (12:00). In the photo Glen provided, an orange flag at the analemma peak marks winter solstice. This photo was snapped on February 07, 12:00. Watching the sun's progression through the seasons helped Glen realize "spring is coming". We all feel so much better when we can see this first signs of spring and Glen certainly has a unique way of keeping track of the seasons.
A big “Thank you!” to everyone who responded. Please keep your contributions coming!
Don’t want to volunteer alone? Sign up with a friend.
Are you looking for an opportunity to volunteer remotely? Visit the Hamilton Public Library’s volunteer opportunity page to learn about GritLIT and Newcomer Learning Centre Online Tutoring.
GritLIT is looking for volunteers to read to residents of Hamilton long-term care facilities via Zoom, for 40-50 minutes per visit. See the GritLIT website for more information, qualifications, and to register.
Newcomer Learning Centre Online Tutoring
Your Money/Your Health
Dental Care for Seniors
By John Horsman
It seems as if every month, every day even, is dedicated to some event, cause, person, or organization of various and sundry descriptions. Pick a day, pick a month and likely as not it is designated as “National whatever Day”. April is no exception. Apart from singling out fools for a day, April is National Oral Health month and oral health is nothing to fool around with.
courtesy of Meanwhile in Canada
There are many inspirational quotes about music and the benefits to all people whatever their stage of life and circumstance might be. Poets, musicians, scholars, philosophers down through the ages have waxed lyrical about music. Most of us know of at least one quote about music. How about Shakespeare’s “If music be the food of love, play on”? There are others expressed throughout history from Plato “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything”; Lao-Tzu “Music in the soul can be heard by the universe”; and E. Bulwer-Lytton “Music once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit and never dies”.It would seem that most people have some connection with music and have so since our first human ancestors beat upon a hollow log with a stick or blew into a bone flute. The oldest known musical instrument in the world is a flute, fashioned by a Neanderthal from the thighbone of a bear over 60,000 years ago in what is now Slovenia. Its discovery and description are hailed as a confirmation of our spirituality and sophisticated artistic expression. It is this deep connection with music and musical expression that influences researchers around the world to investigate music’s therapeutic benefits. “Music is powerful. As people listen to it, they can be affected. They respond” – Ray Charles. Musical notations were etched into one of the first space exploration ships launched into interstellar space on the chance that extraterrestrial intelligence intercepts it. It is part of humankind’s attempt to define ourselves. “Music is the universal language of mankind” – H. W. Longfellow.
Music is not only enjoyable to listen to (despite what our parents may have said about Rock ‘n Roll or what we may have said about Heavy Metal), but it can also help improve our daily lives. It has been shown to increase walking speed, reduce anxiety, improve overall behavioural issues in people with dementia.
Research suggests that listening to music while you walk improves the pattern and manner of walking leading to a healthier and more active lifestyle. “Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music” – George Eliot. Hospital stays can be traumatic for young and old alike. Music as therapy has been found to lower anxiety, pain, depression, and fatigue. It is a non-invasive, inexpensive complement to modern medical treatments. “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without” – Confucius. It has been found that music can improve the social and mental well-being in older adults with dementia and also in their caregivers. Listening to music allows older adults with dementia to be calmer and this helps reduce caregiver stress levels. Group music therapy can help reduce caregiver anxiety and music has been shown to enhance the relationship between a caregiver and an older adult with dementia, allowing both to enjoy a common activity that is pleasant. “Without music, life would be a mistake” – Friedrich Nietzsche.
Adapted from the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal, 3 ways music is beneficial to your health.
Staying Social during the Pandemic
By Helen Ayre
We are all hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that we will soon be able to see each other in person. Until then, however, the Hamilton Council on Aging suggests participating in some or all of these activities to keep in touch with friends and family:
Get involved in some of these local programs:
McMaster Phone a Friend program (MacPFP) - connect by phone with a trained volunteer – taking referrals for seniors at risk of social isolation.
Flamborough Connects is offering talks on Brain Health and Finances. Call or email to register.
The City of Hamilton Recreation Centre has a Seniors’ Centre Without Walls – Join by phone! Hours vary by program. It’s FREE. A program that provides free group recreational activities for older adults over the phone. No special equipment needed – any phone will do! Each phone session averages 8-10 people on the call. You are able to hear each other, talk to one another, learn, and/or just have fun!
The Hamilton YWCA offers classes Monday thru Saturday by Zoom. Call or visit their website for details.
The Hamilton Public Library
Dundas Community Services and Ancaster Community Services are continuing to operate during the pandemic: Meals on Wheels, Frozen Meal Program, and other services for seniors are available.
Hamilton Jewish Family Services- Kibbutz Corner - Seniors Centre Without Walls
Hamilton Jewish Family Services is providing a phone-in program called Kibbutz Corner which is open to everyone!
Cyber Seniors – connecting generations
This organization links seniors to one-on-one telephone support for help with computer and online use for up to 45 minutes at a time. They also have daily webinars, which offer training on different topics, as well as past webinars on record.
Free help for older adults with technology problems. Simply fill out a form or call and selected, trained volunteers will help you promptly.
courtesy of Meanwhile in Canada
A Reminder for Your End-of-Life Planning
Make things easier for the executor of your will and your family by putting a note with your will and other important papers, instructing that Human Resources should be informed of your death as soon as possible. The Human Resources Services Centre can be contacted by phone at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Without timely notification, your estate will be required to pay back any pension payments received after your death. Also, you should keep a copy of your McMaster life insurance documents with your important papers. The Human Resources Service Centre will be pleased to provide you with a copy if you need it.
Courtesy of BBC Good Food
Cohousing Coming to Hamilton
Contributed by Ellen Ryan and the Cohousing Hamilton Communications Circle
As the COVID-19 cases soar in Ontario, we are also seeing housing prices soar, and there is no way to tell when and how either of these trajectories will crest. We know that vaccines are the antidote to rising COVID-19 cases. There is no vaccine, however, for the feverish housing market, but there are alternatives to traditional housing. One of the emerging alternatives is cohousing.
Cohousing has existed in various forms in Europe and other parts of the world, but the concept is relatively new to North America in that it was introduced in the 1980s from Denmark. Now it is coming to Hamilton.
For those unfamiliar with cohousing, picture a cluster of small homes surrounding a garden and footpaths, with a larger communal building as the focal point. But upon a closer look, you will see seniors and families living in their private residences, sitting on their porches, puttering in the garden, or sharing a communal meal in the common house. What is less visible but equally noticeable is the spirit of a community with intention. A community in which people share not only the spaces, but also the care, decision making, labour and pride in that space. This is what seniors and families can look forward to, a lifestyle of vitality, community care and pride of ownership.
“Sounds lovely,” you say, “Where will this place be?” The answer is “Somewhere in Hamilton.”
Cohousing Hamilton was established in early 2020 with the intention of creating such a community within the City of Hamilton boundaries. A core group of approximately 10 people has come together and shared the work of creating a membership policy, a mission, vision and values statement and a plan to seek out a consultant, an architect, and a developer to help us move through the next phases of finding property and building our new home. Each person in the group is involved, and decisions are based on consent using compassionate communication. That alone has been an inspiring experience and will continue to be the form of decision making used within the community.
We have set our sights on 2024 as a move-in date but are not beholden to it. There are so many factors that can and will influence this. Finding the site (and possibly rezoning) is key to getting the ball rolling. One thing we’ve learned in our combined effort is that it truly is about the journey and not just the destination. Our community exists, it just needs to find a home, and it will.
Hamilton is an ideal place to launch such a housing project. The city is reinventing itself, and housing solutions such as cohousing are bound to succeed. There are wonderful walkable neighbourhoods with access to nature. Seniors in Hamilton do not have to leave the city to find supportive care if they choose to live in a cohousing community. Cohousing Hamilton will be seniors led, but open to younger adults and families, with a village-like vibe to it. We are aiming for a community of 20-35 units.
Sustainability is a key component of cohousing, and Cohousing Hamilton will be working with professionals who adhere to best practices of environmentally friendly design and construction.
The true benefit of our cohousing community will be in the sharing. Not only will we be sharing the carrying costs at a fraction of what individual homes pay (taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc.), but also some meals, the workload, our time and our experience and expertise. We will be sharing common space and grounds, and also organizing to share items such as bicycles and power tools. Car sharing and offering rides will build our interdependence and help us participate in the wider community.
Cohousing members purchase their units, but cohousing can accommodate individuals with varying incomes. One option will be for an owner to share their home with another person. In this way, home sharing can extend the benefits of living in community.
With a balance of privacy and community, cohousing offers a housing model for seniors not usually seen in more traditional seniors’ housing, where residents remain active and engaged and contribute to the community any way they can. The sense of belonging and camaraderie from the inherent rich social network creates a nurturing environment where mutual support, co-care at some level and reciprocity are the norm.
Resources about Cohousing
Resources on Seniors’ Housing
A Place to Thrive: Options and Possibilities for Seniors’ Housing - (YouTube Video, March 2021)
The Period Promise Campaign
Donations Accepted until May 28
Contributed by Rosemary Viola,
For the past few years in March, United Way Halton & Hamilton has led a local “Tampon Tuesday” initiative, a drive to collect and distribute donated menstrual products for people in need. Now operating locally as Period Promise, organizers and supporters continue to collect and distribute donations, while advocating for free menstrual products in common spaces. Periods are a fact of life: Menstruation products are a basic necessity, but if you’re living in poverty – or vulnerable in other ways – access to tampons, pads, cups, or menstrual underwear, can be challenging. Periods don’t stop for pandemics. The pandemic has worsened period poverty for vulnerable populations with more people having to choose between menstrual hygiene products and other essentials, like food. Lack of access to public washrooms, school closures and other pandemic-related barriers make it even more difficult for people who menstruate to access the products they need. The Period Promise campaign by United Way mobilizes local citizens to be a part of the solution. Community members, like you, can make a contribution to the Period Promise campaign through the United Way website. In the note section you can indicate the contribution is to go towards the Period Promise Campaign. The Campaign runs until Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28.
Parking on Campus
Retiree parking permits are issued on a 12-month basis and must be renewed annually. Renew prior to your expiry date by email. Your transponder number is on the front of your transponder. If you have questions or have not made a note of your expiry date, please contact McMaster Parking Services by email at email@example.com or at 905-525-9140 ext. 24232.
A note to retirees without parking transponders
Free parking on campus is available to retirees. To take advantage of this perk, and to view retiree parking access, go to the McMaster Parking Services retiree web page. Due to COVID-19, the Parking Office is accepting permit applications by email only. For further information, please contact Parking Services.
Are you moving? Please don't forget to update your address on file at McMaster University to ensure you receive any correspondence, including your T4A, at the correct address. The Human Resources Service Centre provides McMaster retirees with one point of contact to update their new addresses. Upon receiving your address change, the HR Service Centre will update the following as applicable on your behalf:
Address changes can be forwarded to the HR Service Centre using any of the following methods:
Please do not hesitate to contact your HR Advisor with any questions.
Remember also to let MURA know if you have a new email address. You can send this information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|MURAnews is produced by MURA members Denise Anderson (Production Editor), Helen Ayre (News Editor), Helen Barton, Nora Gaskin, John Horsman, and Mary Johnston. We welcome submissions from MURA members.|
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