Retirement Homes: A Final Bow for Aging Stars; in the Retiro Dos Artistas Is a Place Where Brazil's Aged Thespians Can Kick Back. It's Become a Symbol for Elderly Rights

By Margolis, Mac | Newsweek International, December 6, 2004 | Go to article overview

Retirement Homes: A Final Bow for Aging Stars; in the Retiro Dos Artistas Is a Place Where Brazil's Aged Thespians Can Kick Back. It's Become a Symbol for Elderly Rights


Margolis, Mac, Newsweek International


Byline: Mac Margolis

Tucked away on the scruffy outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, the Retiro dos Artistas, or Artists Retreat, is hardly Golden Pond. The concrete walkways are uneven and cracked, the boxlike homes are cramped and often the budget barely covers operating expenses. Yet this modest retirement village is almost revolutionary in Brazil, where the elderly are generally treated as a nuisance or an afterthought. Since it was founded in 1918, the Retiro dos Artistas has provided shelter for performing artists who have taken their final bows. From circus clowns to cabaret temptresses, anyone who made their living on the stage is eligible for a small chalet, three daily meals, physiotherapy, resident hairdressers and community soirees held under the spreading mango tree. "It's quiet here, and life is good," says Rosalina de Sa, a former television soap-opera actress. "I'm aging very well, thank you."

The rest of the country soon will be, too--if the social rebels who put the Retiro on the Brazilian political map have their way. Brazil's elderly population soared from 10 million over 60 years old in 1991 to 14.5 million a decade later, with 30 million projected by 2025. But in this relentlessly youthful land, age discrimination is rampant--and practiced with impunity. Bus drivers routinely bypass elderly passengers, who ride for free and therefore don't benefit the transport companies. Institutions like banks and theaters often do not give preferential treatment to older customers. The aging "lack health care, affordable medicine, basic hygiene and at times even the attention and affection of their families," says Brazilian senator and former president Jose Sarney, 74, a champion of the elderly.

Retiro dos Artistas is set to change that. …

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