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Nonagenarian painter still fights for Minamata patients

Painter, 91, still fights for Minamata patients
07/20/2007, BY AYAKO TSUKIDATE, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Kikue Wakatsuki, moved by the plight of the mercury-poisoning victims, decided to bill her customers specifically for “fund-raising,” saying their “donations” would be sent to help the patients in Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture. No one complained.

Wakatsuki retired from the bar called Noa Noa long ago. She is now 91 years old and uses a wheelchair. But she continues to help Minamata disease victims.

Last month, Wakatsuki, who is also a painter, held her first private art exhibition in her hometown of Niigata, bringing her together with mercury-poisoning victims in the city for the first time….

Kikue Wakatsuki, 91, at her art exhibition in Niigata, greets former patrons of her bar in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. (AYAKO TSUKIDATE/ THE ASAHI SHIMBUN)

Sanji Watanabe, 91, a Japanese folk singer who is also a victim of industrial mercury poisoning, sang in front of Wakatsuki.

Many of Wakatsuki’s fans, including former patrons of her bar in Shinjuku, showed up and danced to the music….

Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome first discovered in 1956. It is caused by consumption of marine products tainted with methyl mercury discharged from a Chisso Corp. plant into Minamata Bay. Although certified Minamata disease patients are entitled to payments for medical treatment, the standards for certification are rigid, and many sufferers have been left out.

Hideto Hatano… is also a key figure in managing the Niigata Eya art gallery, and he said he remembered hearing about Noa Noa’s manager who continued to support Minamata disease victims. When Hatano learned that Watatsuki had never held a private showing in her hometown, he invited her–and her paintings–to Niigata. […]

See also
A Case Study of a Documentary Portrait (the article discusses the impact of the Eugene Smith photo on the family under a discussion of ethics in photography)

Editor’s Note: If you wish to view the photograph discussed in this article, it is still viewable online at www.masters-of-photography.com. Click on Smith, then click through the slides to the last one, which is “Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath.”

Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thursday, Sept. 12, 2004 THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF MINAMATA DISEASE Exploring a cautionary tale By STEPHEN HESSE

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the single patient, the self-serving hospital

Dr Crippen works under the National Health Service (we mentioned him earlier, The Crippen Diaries). What his patient writes about doesn’t sound restricted to the UK.

In the US, health care is rationed by money. But even with personal financial resources, patients need to have someone as advocate–

  • to keep asking questions until answers are understood by all and
  • to make sure that what is happening (or not happening) is supposed to.
  • We all really need a decent health system.


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    Conversando con su médico—Free Publication to Improve Doctor/Patient Communication

    May 18, 2006
    Free Publication Helps Older Hispanics Improve Doctor/Patient Communication

    How well patients and doctors talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. As we get older, it becomes even more important to talk often and comfortably with the doctor. Unfortunately, talking to the doctor isn’t always easy. It takes time and effort. A new publication from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) can help older adults learn to communicate more effectively with their doctors.

    Conversando con su médico is a 38-page Spanish-language publication. To order a free copy, please call the NIA Information Center toll free at 1-800-222-2225 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    # Choosing a doctor,
    # Communicating effectively with the doctor and other health care providers,
    # Working with an interpreter,
    # Discussing sensitive issues such as incontinence or sexuality, and
    # Finding additional health information in Spanish.

    NIA Web site at http://www.nia.nih.gov

    http://medlib.med.utah.edu/blogs/BHIC/ archives/cat_minority_health_concerns.html#001560

    The BHIC blog tracks all sorts of interesting stuff, and it is available by RSS feed.
    http://medlib.med.utah.edu/blogs/BHIC/
    Bringing Health Information to the Community (BHIC) By Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, Community Outreach Liaison, MidContinental Region, National Network of Libraries of Medicine

    Non-invasive detection of hypoglycaemia using a novel, fully biocompatible and patient friendly alarm system

    Over a third of dogs living with diabetic people have been reported to show various behavioural changes during their owners’ hypoglycaemic episodes.6 The three dogs reported here take canine glucose sensing to a new level of sophistication. All were clearly able to sense hypoglycaemia accurately under circumstances when the patients themselves were initially unaware of falling glucose levels. Formal calculations of sensitivity and specificity are not possible, but each dog showed her specific behaviours only when the patient had documented hypoglycaemia. Susie and Natt deserve special mention because they were able to detect nocturnal episodes in their owners and then undertook further corrective action by waking them to eat—thus going further than any available glucose sensor.

    Read more here

    In alarm state

    alarm, alert status

    In take action state–

    alarm, activated status

    The research was conducted in part by
    wilg3839.f2.jpeg


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    Bath falls common among older adults, but can be prevented

    This isn’t new news but the use of videotape for actual “ethology” (observation of behavior) is a good idea. It is most worthwhile to remind everyone that ordinary bathroom fixtures are not suitable for those needing assistance and are not appropriate for older people; frequently not even appropriate for anyone, tall or short, lithe or lazy. See the Bethel Senior Center for what should be banned in public facilities (When you visit the senior center). Emphasis added.

    Public release date: 13-Sep-2006,

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-09/uomh-bfc091306.php

    Installation of proper equipment essential

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Getting in and out of the bathtub or shower can be a perilous journey for older adults, even when they have bathrooms already equipped with safety features, according to research by the University of Michigan Health System.

    Researchers videotaped people ages 60 and older who demonstrated (while fully clothed) how they normally climbed in and out of the shower or tub. One-third of the 89 participants in the study had difficulty, such as plopping onto a tub seat or hitting the side of the tub or the shower threshold with their legs.

    “We found that there are a lot of independently bathing older adults who have trouble or are unsafe getting into and out of the tub or shower stall,” says lead author Susan L. Murphy, ScD, OTR, an occupational therapist and research assistant professor with the University of Michigan Medical School’s Division of Geriatric Medicine, part of the Department of Internal Medicine. The study appears in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

    “For older adults, losing the ability to bathe is associated with having falls, fracturing bones, and even being admitted to a nursing home. It is important that we take steps to help to prevent bathing disability before it occurs,” Murphy says.

    One of the major problem areas the researchers found involved sliding glass doors in showers. Three-quarters of participants who used shower stalls with sliding glass doors tried to utilize the door for stability or balance.

    “This is extremely unsafe because shower doors were not designed to support a person’s weight,” Murphy says. “This problem could be easily remedied by educating older adults not to use the door as a support or possibly replacing it with a shower curtain, which was used only rarely by older adults in this study.”

    Participants in the study were residents of two congregate housing facilities and had no cognitive impairment. They were videotaped as they demonstrated how they used their environment while getting into and out of the shower or tub – that is, whether they used grab-bars, towel bars, shower curtains, glass doors, tub seats, and other parts of the tub to assist themselves.

    The videotapes were also evaluated for the participants’ fluidity of movement and whether they had difficulty negotiating the environment. While the majority of people using both tubs and shower stalls used safe environmental features such as grab bars, many used unsafe features in addition to the safe ones. Nineteen percent of participants using a tub were evaluated as using unsafe features, and more than 70 percent of those with shower stalls used unsafe features, such as the glass door, towel bar or a tub seat. One participant had a plastic lawn chair as a tub seat, a particularly dangerous device given curved shape of the tub floor.

    Some safety problems researchers observed can be fixed easily such as the installation of a shower curtain in place of a door, and proper instruction about built-in bathroom safety features (such as grab bars designed for weight-bearing) for new residents of senior housing facilities. A focus on better designs of bathrooms in senior housing facilities was also suggested by the researchers.

    “We think the results from this study demonstrate the need for healthcare professionals to become involved in helping to prevent bathing disability, instead of just treating people in the hospital after they have had a fall in the bathroom,” she says. “While bathrooms in senior housing facilities are designed to be safe, we have found that older adults often do not know the difference between a grab bar and a towel bar. They also have unsafe strategies of getting into and out of their shower or tub. Occupational therapists often see older adults for bathing problems and would be ideal to intervene with older adults before they start to lose the ability to bathe.”

    ###

    In addition to Murphy, the authors on the paper were Neil B. Alexander, M.D., professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, and director of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, VA Ann Arbor Health Care System; Linda V. Nyquist, Ph.D., senior research associate-social sciences, Institute of Gerontology; and Debra M. Strasburg, M.S., P.T., research physical therapist, VA Ann Arbor Health Care System.

    The research was supported in part by grants from the AARP Andrus Foundation, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research & Development, and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Claude Pepper Older Adults Independence Center. Murphy is a recipient of a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, and Alexander is a recipient of a K24 Mid-Career Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research from NIA.

    Citation: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Aug. 2006, “Bath Transfers in Older Adult Congregate Housing Residents: Assessing the Person-Environment Interaction.”

    Contact: Katie Gazella, kgazella AT umich DOT edu
    734-764-2220
    University of Michigan Health System


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