Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page
All throughout their lives, children want one thing – to be a “big kid”. They would give anything to be able to choose their own bedtime, cross the street by themselves, or select their own diet. Then, once these goals have been accomplished, kids cannot wait to become a “teenager”, and dive into its associated benefits – a driver’s license, and the thrill of first entering high school. After this, we all look forward to moving away from home, getting a full-time job, and entering the “real world”. Starting a family is a common desire following this. Why is it, that all throughout life we as humans crave “growing up”, but as soon as we hit a certain dreaded age, we loath being referred to as “senior citizens”?
There is a huge amount of stigma associated with aging. The media takes every opportunity they can to point fingers at the once “young-and-beautiful” stars who have become too wrinkly for Hollywood. To be honest, the physical signs of aging should not be fought. Sagging skin adds character, and white hair is saved only for the wise. A 2008 New York Times article entitled “Whatever You Do, Call It Work”, stated that many Americans are becoming reluctant to call themselves retirees. However, it can be argued that individuals work for years of their life to be able to enjoy not having a job, when they have finally saved up enough money to sustain themselves without a steady income. Retirement marks a time in one’s life where he or she can reap the benefits of a full-time holiday. It is a time during which citizens can enjoy various activities, travel to interesting locations, and of course – realize that for once in your life, you will not need a resume, have to wake up a certain hour, or report to that boss who is actually younger than you because of their “modern” approach.
Calling yourself a “senior” should not be something shameful. Yes, it may mean you look older, have slower reflexes, and an array of potential medical issues associated with aging. But it also means that you have paid your dues – you have worked hard through your life to enjoy an extended long-weekend. It means that you have years of experience and wisdom that young people should be scared to question. Just as teenagers are stereotyped to be reckless, irresponsible, and risky, and toddlers are commonly accused of being mischievous and sneaky, being in the senior age group has its associated stereotypical behaviour and characteristics. It is very important to understand though, that these stereotypes hardly ever apply to every single senior citizen, and are commonly blown out of proportion. C’mon now, not all of the elderly set their cruise control on 40km/h, and BINGO may be popular, but seniors have other fun and interesting hobbies as well.
Somewhere along the lines the term “senior” became associated with a negative connotation. This term is commonly linked to someone who is higher up in a hierarchy, someone with more knowledge than his or her subordinates, or someone who has worked their way up to earn this title. Going to senior kindergarten is the first step to what seems like much bigger and better things at the time – grade school. A senior in high school is the most respected; they are big fish in a small pond. The elders in Church, in Native bands, and across Asian cultures, are looked up to. The term “senior” should be associated with respect, not shame. Society is coming up with new terms to use as synonyms, because of this negativity towards using the word “senior”. For instance, the terms “boomer” and “zoomer”, although completely appropriate, are masking the main issue with being a senior – age. Old age should not be considered a burden, but a gift. Seniors today should learn to embrace this title. Like I said at the start of this piece, becoming a senior citizen is just another stage of the circle of life. It is just another step in “growing up”.
written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care
North American society places great value on independence and autonomy. These values are instilled at a young age and persist throughout life. One of the hallmarks of successful independence is the ability to remain living in one’s own home, creating a societal trend toward living in the community and not in a facility during the entire aging process.
Aging can take many forms and is a unique experience for each individual. Aging at home is preferable for many seniors, regardless of health or ability. While dementia is not an inevitable part of aging, it is an illness that does afflict some seniors and drastically influences their experience in living in the community.
The increasing trend towards independent living, combined with the rapidly aging population is focusing current research on the experience of living with dementia. Dr. Lorna DeWitt, is one such researcher whose doctoral thesis (at McMaster University) is based on qualitative research of people who live alone in the community with dementia. Her work is more detailed than a mere survey of family members; she asks probing questions of the dementia sufferers themselves. Due to the sensitive nature of the questions she asks, she struggled to find suitable and willing study participants.
Dr. DeWitt focused on individual interviews with dementia sufferers to gain a better sense of how those individuals feel. She found that her participants wanted to hold onto the “now” without thinking about the future, if possible. When asked about their plans for the future, many participants admitted that eventually they would not be able to remain alone, but they quickly focused to how they were managing to cope in the present.
They described their homes or apartments as “dead space” without the infused life of the television. For many of her participants, their connection to the outside world was predominantly through watching television or looking out the window to watch community activity.
The participants communicated their desire that others understand the importance of including the dementia sufferer in any decision making. Retaining a sense of control and independence is crucial, and is often the primary motivation behind living in the community rather than in a facility. Decisions about daily living and routine, such as bedtime, what to wear, or which program to watch on television, grant the individual a sense of control over their environment.
Although dementia sufferers may not be able to weigh the pros and cons of more serious decisions, they still need to be included in the process. The feeling of involvement often results in a more receptive response to change whereas imposed change without warning can result in resentment and hostility.
The participants responded that one of their greatest challenges is hiding the disease of dementia. Admitting the diagnosis of dementia to others makes one quite vulnerable, and asking for help can be overwhelming. Sadly, this can isolate dementia sufferers who reduce their social connections in an attempt to keep their illness unknown. Fear of the unknown intensifies as one worries about others discovering their illness and further removing any independence that the individual has retained.
The societal value of independence does not disappear when one is diagnosed with dementia; instead, it alters the form of independence that one may experience. Retaining independence and a sense of control over environment is still vital to one’s happiness and well-being.
Written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elderly Care
You’re sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, watching the clock, waiting for your mother’s medical tests to finally be over. Mentally you’re calculating whether you have enough time to drive your mother home, pick up some groceries, and cook dinner for your teens…or will you be ordering pizza yet again tonight?
If this scene feels at all familiar to you, then you’re likely one of the 712,000 Canadians who fit into the infamous “sandwich generation”. The sandwich generation generally applies to those in their 40’s to 60’s who are simultaneously caring for their aging parents as well as their growing children. The term “sandwich generation” was coined in 1981 by the demographer Dorothy Miller, but it has really only come to the forefront in recent years as increasing portions of the population are affected by the crunch of multi-generational caregiving.
Advances in healthcare are allowing people to live longer lives, though not necessarily healthier lives. The end of one’s life may include more intensive care years, further demanding the time and energy of the sandwich generation who is caught between their parents and children. The increased life expectancy has led to another possibility—the club sandwich generation (or double-decker sandwich). The club sandwich refers to people who are assisting their aging parents, while also being involved in their children’s, and grandchildren’s lives. Four living generations is no longer a rare scenario.
It is now possible for families to have two generations who are both in their senior years at the same time! The club sandwich can also apply to someone who is in her 40’s who has teenagers at home, while also assisting her 68 year old parents and her 89 and 92 year old grandparents. A woman in this situation is caring for two senior generations simultaneously, while also raising her own family.
Add to this the pressures of work, marriage, personal life, volunteer commitments, and personal health—no wonder there is concern about the sandwich generation suffering burn-out! Often people feel that they should be able to manage all of the simultaneous caregiving because previous generations managed to do so. In reality, previous generations did not experience the sandwich generation phenomenon to the same degree, and they certainly did not have club sandwiches! Recognizing the unique challenges faced by today’s sandwich generation will help to alleviate guilt and replace the sense of “I should be able to do this” with “where can I find meaningful assistance?”.
Acknowledging that you cannot do it all alone and that you deserve assistance is the first step. Caring for your own health and well-being is crucial, or you risk injury and illness to yourself. Managing to eat healthy meals, and getting exercise needs to be a personal priority, not just something to do if you have time left over—because there is never time left over. Accept enough assistance so that you are able to lead a balanced lifestyle that cares for both you and your loved ones.
Then, with support systems set in place, you can avoid being toasted, and enjoy as many of your “sandwich” years as possible!
Written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care
How is your vascular health? That’s probably not a question that you’re frequently asked, and yet the impact of your vascular health is enormous. Did you know that caring for your vascular health could prevent dementia?
Dementia is a broad term that is comprised of many sub-types of dementias, one of which is Alzheimer’s Disease. Less well-known than Alzheimer’s is Vascular Dementia (VaD). VaD is a disease of the small blood vessels of the brain.
If the large blood vessels in the brain become blocked, the patient suffers a recognizable stroke. The small blood vessels in the brain are also crucial, though a blockage may not result in a visible stroke. Instead, the patient may suffer a series of transient ischemic attacks (TIA), which are like “mini strokes”. These strokes may go entirely unnoticed, especially if they occur at the front of the brain. Even an initial CT scan often does not show any evidence of a stroke within the first 24 hours—only an MRI can show the results of a stroke within minutes of it occurring.
These mini-strokes may be silent, but they are still causing irreparable damage to the brain, increasing the risk for dementia. In a study conducted by the Neuropathology Group MRC, 78% of dementia cases showed evidence of small vessel disease. Every minute in North America an overt stroke is occurring, and there are an estimated 10-20x more silent mini-strokes than there are overt strokes. Vascular Dementia tends to affect men more than women, though the disparity between men and women is closing in as increasing numbers of women are being affected by heart disease and stroke.
The risk factors for VaD are the same as the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, so by reducing or eliminating your heart disease risk factors, you may also be preventing Vascular Dementia. The most prevalent risk factor for both VaD and stroke is hypertension—a silent disease that affects the majority of our aging population. Hypertension initially appears unimportant, but it flourishes on unhealthy lifestyles that tend to include too much sugar, fat, salt, and not enough exercise.
Hypertension, paired with elevated cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, age, and history of stroke/TIA are all serious risk factors. People do not have control over some risk factors, such as age—we only wish we could control that factor! Other risk factors can be eliminated entirely—such as smoking. While hypertension and diabetes may not be entirely eliminated in all cases, they can be reduced and managed effectively. Increasing physical activity to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times weekly has a positive influence on the brain and can assist in countering other risk factors for both dementia and heart disease.
Since you personally are capable of controlling most of your risk factors, you have the power to prevent VaD. How is your vascular health now?
Written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care
After years of waiting rooms, tests, and false diagnoses, your doctor has given you the final verdict: you have Parkinson’s disease. You’ve suspected it for a while. It was pretty subtle at the beginning, but the fatigue and stiffness are becoming more pronounced. Your signature no longer resembles the one on the back of your driver’s license, and people are always saying “pardon me?” since your voice has dropped. So here you are, sitting on the table in the examining room, hearing the final diagnosis, “you have Parkinson’s Disease”.
You’re not sure how to feel. Part of you is just relieved that you finally have an answer. No more tests, no more uncertainty. You know what it is, and now you can move forward. The other part of you is completely crushed. You had still been holding out hope that your illness was something curable, something that would be treated and go away. Not a degenerative disease with symptoms that could be “managed” at best.
The real question burning on your mind is: “now what?” Where do you go for more information? What questions should you be asking? What happens next? Instead, you’re quietly ushered out of the office. Going home alone that day can feel quite alienating, because the more you think about it, the more you realize that you now have more questions than you did before seeing the doctor.
The important thing to know is that you are most certainly not alone. There are between 80,000 and 100,000 Canadians who have Parkinson’s disease. One of the best places to get preliminary information is from the Parkinson’s Society of Canada. You can browse their website at: www.parkinson.ca or call them at 1-888-851-7376. There are local support groups available in most communities where people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) can come together and discuss issues and solutions. The support groups will not only provide you with information and social support, but will also help you to figure out which questions you need to be asking your doctor to maximize the treatment you receive.
You will discover that the course of PD is unique to each individual person with PD. You may experience different symptoms than someone else in your support group, and your symptoms will fluctuate over time. As PD progresses, you may experience some of the following symptoms: tremors, rigidity, slowness, impaired balance, lack of facial expression, lowered voice, fatigue, stooped posture, constipation, and sleep disturbance. There is currently no cure for PD, but there are medications and therapies which can alleviate symptoms.
Therapies which help to manage symptoms may include: physical therapy for mobility, flexibility, and balance; occupational therapy for daily activities of living; speech therapy for voice control; and exercise programs to help muscle and joint strength while also improving overall health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential and is one of the most proactive options you have to help PD. You may also choose to participate in a research study through the local Movement Disorders Clinic at the Wilfred Laurier University.
Maintaining your social connection is also a vital element of wellness. You need support systems in place that will be able to accommodate you as your needs may change. It is important to plan ahead of time how you will receive assistance, and to make your wishes known. Remember, you are not alone, and there are others who can support you along your journey with PD, so be sure to tap into the local resources that are available to you and your family.
Scams and frauds are the number one crime against seniors. Education is your best protection against unscrupulous scam artists and fraudsters. These are some of the most commonly perpetrated scams and frauds against seniors. Don’t fall prey.
Door-to Door Scams: Scam artists will use high pressure tactics and try to get you to sign quickly – too quickly. Making a purchase from a door-to-door sales person is not your best option. If you ask a salesperson to leave your home and they refuse, call the police. Don’t sign anything in haste even if it is a product or service that you are interested in and seems to be a great deal.
Home Improvement Offers: A favourite ploy of fraudsters is to offer you any number of home improvements, saying that they are working in the area and have excess material so that they can offer you a great price. Never hire a contractor unless you have estimates and quotes in writing from at least three different companies. Ask for references and call them. Never buy from someone that gives you just a first name and cell phone number. Or that asks for money up front.
You Are a Winner: If you have really won a contest it will not cost you any money to retrieve your prize. NEVER send money for shipping, handling, or processing. Further it doesn’t matter how old you are, What is the family income in order to claim a prize. You never have to pick up a prize it will be sent to you.
Bank Inspector Needs Your Help: A phony bank inspector contacts you and asks for your help in catching a dishonest bank employee. These scams all involve you withdrawing money from your bank account that you will never see again.
Online Scams: Beware of emails that appear to be from your financial institution wanting to verify your account information. Financial institutions NEVER ask to verify your information via email. If you are making purchases online make sure that the websites are reputable.
How can you protect yourself?
FINDHELP4SENIORS has created the senior-friendly logo to protect you from unscrupulous scam artists. Look for it, if you don’t see it ask why not!
If you want Find Help 4 seniors to poll for consumer reviews please contact them online.
Never give out your credit card number, social insurance number, PIN number, or bank account numbers to anyone that you do not know.
When using an ABM or your debit card, protect your PIN number.
Never sign a contract until you and your lawyer, or other expert has thoroughly read it.
Never buy anything over the phone.
Never send cash.
Don’t give out personal information.
Don’t tell anyone that you live alone.
If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is.
Shred bank statements, credit card statements, and utility statements.
Report suspicious offers to the police.
Check the caller id and Google the number if it is a scam Google will have a record of it.
Register to the Do Not Call list. If they call tell them you are registered and please take you off their list. If they call again threaten legal action. The threat alone is enough of a scare tactic
Written By: Jennifer Rallis
Co-Author of Ugly Resumes Get Jobs and Other Fishing Lessons (www.uglyresumes.com)
The 21st Century was supposed to usher in a wave of retiring Baby Boomers who would live off the spoils of their retirement funds traveling to sunny destinations, playing golf and enjoying time with their grandchildren. The reality of 2009 has many Baby Boomers reconsidering this vision of their future! Some Baby Boomers who feel that they are in the prime of their careers and too young retire, have postponed leaving the labor force for several more years. While other retiree-wanna be’s are forced to continue working because current economic circumstances have depleted their retirement savings, depreciated their home value and raised the cost of living, leaving them without the necessary funds to retire.
Whatever their reason for staying in the labor market, many Baby Boomers claim age discrimination when it comes time to look for a new job. This is a difficult claim to refute when you look at the results of a recent US Labor Statistics Report. Although the rate of unemployment for Baby Boomers is lower than the national average of 8.9%, when unemployment hits this group it lasts longer than any other demographic; 22 weeks on average. And as the recession deepens it is predicted that this time period will be even longer.
The good news for Baby Boomers is that there are simple things that they can do to ward off age discrimination and land their next great job. No plastic surgery or hair dye required!
If you believe that your age is an issue, then it will be issue! Focus your energy on selling your skills and experience to potential employers, not on defending your age.
The only time you should divulge health conditions during an interview is if good physical health is a requirement for a job. If you have had previous health problems, heart attack, diabetes, cancer, etc, do not volunteer this information to a potential employer.
Have a technology friendly Ugly Resume
In a sea of thousands of other applicants, you must have a technology friendly resume that can be found and entices hiring managers to call you. Younger applicants would never mail a typed resume to a potential employer, nor should you.
Make your Ugly Resume Ageless
Do not include your birth date, graduation date or more than 15 years of experience on your resume. Do not list out-dated software, hardware or systems experience. Listing out-dated technical skills paints a picture of an out-dated job seeker.
Only apply for jobs that you are qualified for. Do not apply for jobs that you are either over-qualified or under-qualified for. You will set yourself up for rejection and disappointment.
When applying for a job, apply online or email the potential employer directly. These simple actions indicate to a potential employer that you have the basic technical aptitude needed to do most jobs.
Have an Ageless Interview
During an interview, sell the benefits of “you” to a potential employer. Do not spend the interview defending your age or trying to convince the interviewer that you have the health and stamina to do the job! Younger job seekers would never mention these points, nor should you.
Build a Bridge
When interviewing with a younger hiring manager, do not intimidate him or her with your age and experience. Do not make statements such as: “when you were in diapers, I was managing a team of 30 people” or “the work ethic from my generation is much better than your generation”. You need to make this person comfortable with you and make them feel that they can manage you without any problems.
Don’t answer any direct questions about your age.
It is illegal for employers to ask direct questions about your age during an interview. If a potential employer asks you how old you are, don’t answer the question; rather answer the intent behind the question.
Sell Your Lifestyle
Older job seekers offer employers many benefits over their younger counter-parts such as: years of proven experience, expertise, seasoned judgment and lack of family responsibilities (small children) that may interfere with job performance. Sell these features of you during an interview!
If you have experienced age discrimination during an interview, don’t get discourage! Find another opening, apply and move on. There are plenty of employers who value older workers. Remember, you have worked too hard in your life to end up in a job where you are not valued.
For more tips on how to successfully land your next great job, see Ugly Resumes Get Jobs and Other Fishing Lessons (www.uglyresumes.com).