GRANPA ETTO’S WEEK

Ce.R.R.Co. Centro Ricerche e Relazioni Cornaglia
Collection “I quaderni dei Grandi Adulti”.  Primer n. 388 pages  
GRANPA ETTO’S WEEK

Public parks and other part of cities have often a large concentrations of elderly people. A major issue is that many of these people still have a lot of energy to spend, both physically and mentally which in some way could be put to the service of society. The presence of elderly people is very noticeable, palpable, in the big cities AS well in the village of the country areas.

 

If we examine the problem of ageing in metropolitan regions from the point of view of the elderly, we also realise that the condition of the elderly has much improved over the last few decades. This is due not only to an improvement in their economic situation in relation to goods of first necessity (food for example) but also to the availability of medical care and the socio-economic situation that has developed in western countries, including Italy. At an older age the truly serious problems of ageing begin: more or less rapid phenomena of decline in physical and mental health and consequently in the quality of social life. The author has set himself various goals in this book, in particular the example of a grandfather, “Grandpa Etto”, who is what we could define as a “super granddad” very active and capable of not letting himself be set aside. »>enter for more information

 

Authors :

Fabrizio Astrua

Engineer, Associate Professor in Technical Architecture, Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering at the Turin Polytechnic and its branch in Vercelli. Director of studies of the post-graduate specialisation course “Planning and Architectonic Barriers”. His research work is in the field of architectonic and urban accessibility, planning buildings for residential, social or entertainment uses. He pays particular attention to aspects relating to the control and improvement of the quality of the environment, aimed at assisting aged and disabled users. He runs a professional studio where he works on integrated town planning and construction schemes. He has written and edited a number of books on the subject of accessibility.

Gianfranco Calorio

Engineer and Architect, Professor of Design for the representative area of 1st Faculty of Architecture at the Turin Polytechnic. His didactic and research activity mainly develop themes of Descriptive Geometry of Design, Project Design of architecture, urban, environmental and architectural survey. . He has written and edited a number of books on the above mentioned subjects.

 

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The Gradpa Etto’s Agenda is plenty of suggestions to all those elderly people who think they are no longer useful to society, who think they can no longer have an active social life, who let themselves go day after day resigned to the worsening of their physical, mental and, as a consequence, social condition. “Grandpa Etto” is capable of not letting himself be set aside and succeed in bringing the problems of the elderly to the attention of the general public and in particular to the public authorities; to make their needs and their potential known in order to help make them part of social and productive life and avoid their alienation. To achieve these goals, rather than the usual method based on data and too learned scientific arguments, the author has taken a different path. He has tried to take a spirited direction, which tells the story of a week in the life of this very special grandfather and of his diary, where he notes down all his engagements and which, like all diaries, also contains information, quotes and sayings. To show how the book is set out, an example of one day, a typical Monday, is reproduced here. The day’s story is told by someone “off stage”, with interventions, thoughts and opinions of the protagonist.

                                 Grandpa Etto’s Week

The week of Grandfather Ernesto, called “Etto” for short, is a typical week of an “over 75”. An elderly person like many, a widower and alone like many, a little “dented” like many, with all the problems typical of his age. His real name is Ernesto, but we prefer to call him by that affectionate nickname that his little grandson Marco, unable to say his name correctly, used as a child. Unlike many, however, Grandpa Etto is an ACTIVE elderly man, who knows he is still useful to society and to himself. He has faced up to the sad moments life has presented him with because he still has a HUGE DESIRE TO LIVE and knows he can do it well. For this reason he plans and organises his time. This is why he keeps a diary, so as not to forget the many engagements he has.

 

                                              MONDAY      

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Go for a walk before lunch

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…if the weather is nice…Go to the market

 

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…a bit of exercise is always good for you

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LECTURE

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University of Adult Education– catch bus no. 58

 

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Let’s hope it’s not boring!

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Maybe my son, Antonio, is dropping in!

 

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Saying of the day  
Love life and those dear to you, try to have ever more dreams and less regrets
and think of love, in all its forms, as important at every age.

 MONDAY MORNING

Grandpa Etto’s week starts with a light engagement. After having breakfast and tidying the house, Grandpa Etto has planned a nice walk and given the weather is nice he has decided to go as far as the market. “…You buy better things and it’s cheaper…even though with the Euro you can’t save much…”   Grandpa Etto is a provident and meticulous old man and when he decides to go out he knows he must remember a few important rules:

  1. Plan the walking route.
  2. Identify the architectonic barriers on route.
  3. Be aware of other people.
  4. Study the public transport routes.

1. PLAN THE WALKING ROUTE. Every time you decide to go out for a walk, it’s a good idea to plan the route and the places where you want or have to go. This is useful and necessary because sometimes the trip is too long and you get home tired, or sometimes there are too many obstacles (slopes, traffic lights, slippery or uneven sections of road etc.) in short, architectonic barriers that turn the trip into a war zone and “…Thank God, I’ve been through that once already in my time”

Grandpa Etto knows what road to take and he knows that café Sport, where he can stop and have a coffee and a rest, is close to the local market. “…Well, why not! A cup of coffee now and again can’t hurt anyone…maybe a decaffeinated one or perhaps a barley coffee…” He’ll decide when the time comes. “…Of course, there’s not a bench to be had for love nor money along the way…. what is the council waiting for to put one in…they never think of us elderly people…and to think we’ve paid enough taxes in our times…” “…They say they’re going to put in a public toilet at the market …one of those automatic ones…about time!…it’s all very well that café Sport is nearby…but if you have to go to the café every two or three hours just to pee …your pension goes up in smoke!”

 

2. IDENTIFY ARCHITECTONIC BARRIERS. What are the architectonic barriers that could obstruct Grandpa Etto on his walk today? Let’s look at some examples, underlining the fact that often a little sensitivity and good will on the part of the local authorities would be enough to sort out the trouble spots and to make life easier for the elderly. Without mentioning that it would be enough to apply the law to overcome the existing architectonic barriers. With regards to footpaths and pedestrian walkways the law states, amongst other things, that:

…The pedestrian path must have a minimum width of 90cm and a widening of the path on level ground every 10 linear metres in order to allow an about turn for someone in a wheelchair…” “…The longitudinal gradient, as a rule, must not exceed 5%…”  “…For gradients of 5% there must be a level resting area of at least 1.50m for every 10m length of path…” “…The maximum allowable transversal gradient is 1%…” “…The optimum height difference between the pathway and the ground or the adjacent roadway is 2.5cm…”  “…Where the pathway connects with the street level or is interrupted by a carriageway, short ramps of gradients not exceeding 15% with a maximum height difference of 15cm are allowed…” “…Any obstructions, such as overhanging signs or objects protruding from buildings, which could cause injury to a person in movement, must be at least 2.10m above the level of the path…”

3. BE AWARE OF OTHER PEOPLE

Generally, it’s important to be aware of other people, those around us, at any age. This is particularly true for the elderly, who are more likely to be alone and less ready to cope with an emergency. Elderly people are generally more vulnerable than other people and easy prey for bag snatchers. So, you shouldn’t go out with too much money and don’t trust other people too much. Especially those people who pass themselves off as being from the gas or telephone company and who wait for the elderly outside their homes to deliver a refund on an overpaid bill! Always distrust anyone who wants to give you something for free. Usually no one does something for nothing. Being aware of the people around you can also be of help in an emergency, for example with your health.

MONDAY AFTERNOON

Grandpa Etto has marked in his diary for Monday afternoon a lecture at the University of Adult Education on Ancient Egyptian civilisation and in particular on the life of Nefertiti. It’s a subject that has always interested and intrigued him, but he had never had the time to dedicate to it, what with his job as a manager at Fiat which kept him busy all day and often till late. On top of that, two sons to bring up and put through school and university, with the problems that brings. As a child, Marco, the younger and more restless one, was always getting into trouble and being called to the Headmaster’s office.

“…Now I can finally find a bit of spare time to get to know this devil of a Nefertiti better. They say that besides being really intelligent, she must have also been a very beautiful woman…”

The plan is to catch bus n. 58, which luckily goes right by the baroque building of the University. Once again, Grandpa Etto has organised himself with the help of the local guide “About Town” and has studied the public transport route first.

 

4.STUDY THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT ROUTES.

“…Luckily bus n.58 is one with a lowered entrance platform, so I can get on easily…There aren’t many of this type around though and the platforms at the bus stops are too low as well, so the difference in height is a bit much…oh well!…let’s hope they put some more into service…”

There are cities like Turin, however, where many buses and trams with lowered entrance platforms have been put into service. Also many access platforms at bus and tram stops have been modified and equipped with raised platforms, access ramps, shelters, benches and seat rests. This means more convenience for all travellers. These adjustments, which are actually very important, are not enough on their own to allow someone on a wheelchair full mobility. To achieve this you need the correct gradient on the access ramps, no height difference between the access and bus/tram platforms and, above all, connecting platforms between the access and bus/tram platforms. The main architectonic barriers one meets when catching public transport are, in fact:

  • The height difference between the platform at the bus/tram stop and that of the vehicle.
  • Access to the platforms at the stops.
  • The absence of benches or seat rests.
  • The absence of shelters to protect from bad weather.

THE LECTURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ADULT EDUCATION

The lecture takes place at the university premises in a baroque building that is very beautiful but that has many access problems. The appointment is at 3 o’clock with his friend Tony, who is unfortunately confined to a wheelchair and has many problems getting into the lecture theatre. The worst of which are the ten steps at the entrance of the building.   

“…Well, OK,…the technical office has given us use of a wooden board, but it’s too steep and every time we push Tony up the ramp we all risk coming a tumble…they should install an elevator platform in a safe place …I understand one can’t ruin the looks of a historic building, but there must be some solution to allow my friend Tony, who by the way is an ex high school teacher and a very cultured person, to participate like everyone else!”

This particular type of architectonic barrier at the entrance is only one of many that you can encounter in a building open to the public, such as a conference hall. The main trouble spots are in fact:

  • Accessibility at the entrance to all the floors of the building;
  • Accessibility to the public conveniences;
  • Accessibility to the lecture theatres;
  • Generally speaking, accessibility to any place open to the public.

With regards to the accessibility of lecture theatres, the law states:

…In meeting rooms and entertainment halls of public buildings at least one hall must be accessible to people with physical disabilities or hearing impairment in order to allow the greatest participation in social, recreational and cultural life…”  “…Such areas must comply with the following:

be easily reached via an uninterrupted pathway with ramps or via an elevator rather than a stairway…”  “…have a suitable number of easily accessible spaces amongst the rows reserved for people on wheelchairs…»  “… the number of spaces reserved for people on wheelchairs must be at least one per four hundred seats or fraction thereof…”  “…the reserved space must comply with the following: length between 1.20m and 1.40m; width 1.10m; unimpeded access area at front or rear of the same width and at least 1m in length; the floor of the area must be level…”

…Luckily the public conveniences are located in a large area of the building that faces the courtyard and so the wheelchair can be manoeuvred easily into them… shame that with all the space available they didn’t think of leaving enough room for a sideways approach to the toilet, which is, what’s more, required by the current law…”

 

A LITTLE LAUGHTER

Interview

A television journalist concludes his interview with a ninety-nine-year-old by saying: “I hope I can come back next year to celebrate your one-hundredth birthday”…“Why are you worried? “, asks the old man, “Aren’t you feeling well?”

 

Illustrations: the book is illustrated by a famous designer prof. Gianfranco Calorio

 

Quotes:
Man dies the first time when he loses his enthusiasm.” (Honorè de Balzac) 
“Time is the most precious thing that man can spend.” (Teofrasto)
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Many people simply exist.” (Oscar Wilde)

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