'Assisted living' - other options "No longer home alone: The assisted living option" (Feb. 10) could have been more informative and accurate on the "living alone" topic than it was.

I am writing from a retirement community. I have lived here almost 12 years. There are approximately 175 independent living residents and an additional 70 in the health- care unit.

Many of the comments in the article about attitudes of a family as well as of the retirement center resident are true, but I feel the author misses a key option increasingly present in retirement communities nationwide. That is the concept of "life care."

Too often, I fear, "assisted living" merely means assisted care so long as the person is able to care for himself or herself.

Lifetime care means that when a person reaches a stage when care for oneself is no longer possible, it is not necessary to be moved to a hospital or other facility. The person is kept in the health-care unit at the same facility, midst familiar surroundings with known nursing staff, for as long as life shall last.

Also, people considering a move to such a place should not wait but move while they are young and active enough to enjoy the new setting, new friends, and new kind of freedom. Life can indeed be beautiful if one is in the right place.

Elizabeth S. Michaels, Winchester, Va.

Software industry standards overdue Regarding your commentary, "Software users of the world, unite!" (Feb. 25): The time for industry standards is long past due. One of those standards should be a requirement for a "fire wall" between computer programs and operating systems to ensure that no program damages another.

E. F. Kofoed, St. Marys, Ga.

Rating movie reviews The recent letter from a reader who applauded David Sterritt's movie reviews (Readers Write, Feb. 23) caused enough consternation for me to finally make my case. In my humble opinion, Mr. Sterritt's reviews are almost unfailingly off the mark, at least for my tastes.

Recent movies that I have especially liked include "Shakespeare in Love" (given two stars by Sterritt), now nominated for several Oscars, and "You've Got Mail" (also two stars), which has such a creative, refreshing, and delightful quality but might not be considered particularly "sophisticated."

I have no wish to stifle dissenting views, but please let us have more Monitor panel movie reviews that others of us may depend on - and which, perhaps, give more of a feel of the Monitor's essence.

Candis Williams, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

It is heartening to know there are still reviewers out there who can call trash simply what it is - trash ("Repulsive '8MM': big-studio trash," Feb. 26, by David Sterritt).

What is especially sickening is the number of families who will take their 10-year-olds to see a movie to avoid paying for a baby sitter. The most worrisome is the video market for sordid films.

Jacqueline S. Arnold, Boulder, Colo.

Truer image of war

The front page photo on the Feb. 24 Monitor of an ethnic Albanian family fleeing its village is superb! In my opinion, it ranks with the best war photos of all time.

It surely portrays the horrors of the senseless conflict simply in terms of human suffering; no war machines, just a family fleeing with only themselves and few possessions.

Dave Yeaton, Deerfield, N.Y.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail, only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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