Shrewsbury launches a reading, viewing and discussion program: Dancing around the Hard Topics!

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Atul Gawande (Photo: Aubrey Calo)

Shrewsbury, MA –The Shrewsbury Public Library and the Shrewsbury Council on Aging, in conjunction with a group of other agencies, businesses and town departments, is launching a community wide reading project in September 2019.

The project, entitled “Dancing around the Hard Topics”, is a reading, viewing and discussion program based on the book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. Wikipedia describes the book as “a personal meditation on how people can better live with age related frailty, serious illness, and approaching death. Pulitzer Prize winning writer Katherine Boo noted that Being Mortal is “A deeply affecting, urgently important book–one not just about dying and the limits of medicine but about living to the last with autonomy, dignity, and joy.”

The project team has planned a wide range of programs that will take place from September through November 2019. The goal is to inform, bring people together, and encourage connections and conversations. There will be informational programs on topics such as estate planning, caregiver stress, living wills and health care proxies, and end-of-life planning. But in keeping with the theme that joy can be found at all stages of life, lighter programs that show the many ways that elders embrace life despite health or other challenges will also be offered. There will be programs on tai chi, gourmet cooking, a wine tasting and vineyard tour, game events that partner teens with elders, ball room dancing demonstrations—and more. The highlight of these programs will be a free concert with the Northampton based Young@Heart Chorus, a group of singers who range in age from 73 to 91. The group includes elders with prior professional theater or music experience, amateur experience and some who had not stepped onto a stage before turning eighty. They are known for their unconventional covers of rock, punk, and other modern pop music songs. The group has performed internationally, in prison settings and has even appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

Further program details and registration information will be available online through the library website, and in person at the Shrewsbury Library and Senior Center. All but one of the programs are free, but many do require preregistration, which can be done starting September 9 at the Shrewsbury Public Library.

The project is sponsored and supported by the Shrewsbury Public Library Foundation, the Friends of the Council on Aging, The Shrewsbury Public Library, the Shrewsbury Council on Aging, the Residence at Orchard Grove, the Shrewsbury Public Schools, Shrewsbury Parks and Recreation, Shrewsbury Media Connection, the Central Massachusetts Veterans Services District, the Central Mass. Regional Public Health Alliance, Elder Services of Worcester and the Department of Public Health, Worcester.

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