Archive for the ‘senior’ Tag

Senior’s Surfing

Recently my father was diagnosed with Cancer. My mother stayed with me while he underwent surgery to remove the Adeno Metastatic Cancer in his lymph node under his arm. After spending the day at the hospital my mother wanted to inform all of her friends that my father was in recovery and doing well. Mom asked if she could email her friends and use my computer. I said “sure” and passed my computer to her. In a quiet voice she indicated to me that my dad always “got her on her email”. After we informed her friends I downloaded several tools to help ……I thought. However, what was easy and commonplace for me totally confused a lady raised a time when up and down loading met helping out on the farm. I opened a facebook account and we found several of her friends and family members.

Now if you want to see the internet through entirely different eyes go surfing with your mom. I said “What do you want to see, or know and find out”. After mentioning several boring subjects I googled Beethoven’s 9th. My mother was enchanted with the YouTube videos that put into focus the New York Symphony in action. Quickly she shouted ” Magic Flute” two seconds later her eyes closed and she was in seventh heaven. After the classics I introduced mom to Susan Boyle. It was 9.00 when we started. The evening progressed into the livingroom. The scene was set with candles, wine and my laptop. We sat there side by side and the time flew. It was 1:30 when I realized how late it was.

My father is fine now. However, now when my mom comes to visit we update her facebook page and go Surfing. With the computer in our laps, and the candles lit I see my mother in an entirely different light.

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Is Retirement Bad for Your Health?

A friend told me about some pretty shocking statistics indicating that retirees experience dramatically poorer health than their working counterparts. At first I couldn’t believe it, so I did some research of my own.

Sure enough, many studies (some of which are referenced at the bottom) have shown that statistically, people who retire have not only poorer physical health, but poorer mental health as well. They were more likely to have mobility issues, serious ailments and experience depression.

However, this doesn’t mean that we should try to keep working until we’re 90. Upon closer inspection, the statistics show that it is those people in full retirement who are suffering these ailments. Retirees who take on part-time jobs or have full social calendars generally maintain much better health than those who retire and become idle.

When you think about it, these statistics makes sense. The workplace provides an automatic social network which gives people more incentive to take care of themselves physically. You don’t want to be seen as slovenly by your colleagues, and so you are more likely to eat well and exercise. Even if all the exercise you get in a day is walking up the stairs to your office, at least it means you’re moving from the couch.

It is well-established that people with healthy relationships sustain better mental health. The workplace provides a place to form those friendships and support systems. It allows you to see your friends consistently and without too much effort on your part. After retirement, it becomes a task to get together- you have to set up a lunch date instead of just stopping by a friend’s work desk. As a result, many of these relationships fall away after retirement. Unfortunately, mental health seems to be falling away with them.

All of these statistics seem to be trying to scare us away from retirement, but we need to remember is that retirement is NOT a death sentence.  It provides endless opportunities to do things that you never had time for. You could take up hiking, get a dog, take a cooking class, join a book club and the list goes on; anything to keep your life busy and fulfilling. The secret is not that we shouldn’t retire, it’s that we must learn to retire right.

http://chattahbox.com/health/2009/10/15/study-full-retirement-may-be-bad-for-your-physical-and-mental-health/

http://www.canada.com/topics/finance/story.html?id=0ae64432-f8d7-4e58-b7ad-51e8d6a16862

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8307750.stm

It’s Happening!!!

THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT HERE IN OUR OWN COUNTRY!
We Must Stop This Immediately

Have you noticed that stairs are getting steeper. Groceries are heavier.  And, everything is farther away.  Yesterday I walked to the corner and I was dumbfounded to discover how long our street had become!

And, you know, people are less considerate now, especially the young ones. They speak in whispers all the time!  If you ask them to speak up they just keep repeating themselves, endlessly mouthing the same silent message until they’re red in the face!  What do they think I am, a lip reader?

I also think they are much younger than I was at the same age.  On the other hand, people my own age are so much older than I am. I ran into an old friend the other day and she has aged so much that she didn’t even recognize me.

I got to thinking about the poor dear while I was combing my hair this morning, and in doing so, I glanced at my own reflection well, REALLY NOW – even mirrors are not made the way they used to be!

Another thing, everyone drives so fast these days!  You’re risking life and limb if you happen to pull onto the freeway in front of them.  All I can say is, their brakes must wear out awfully fast, the way I see them screech and swerve in my rear view mirror.

Clothing manufacturers are less civilized these days.  Why else would they suddenly start labeling a size 10 or 12 dress as 18 or 20?  Do they think no one notices? The people who make bathroom scales are pulling the same prank.  Do they think I actually ‘believe’ the number I see on that dial?  HA!  I would never let myself weigh that much!  Just who do these people think they’re fooling?

I’d like to call up someone in authority to report what’s going on — but the telephone company is in on the conspiracy too: they’ve printed the phone books in such small type that no one could ever find a number in there! All I can do is pass along this warning: WE ARE UNDER ATTACK! Unless something drastic happens, pretty soon everyone will have to suffer these awful indignities.

THINK LIKE THE 60s’ IN YOUR 60s’

By Michael Sullivan (A Rebel with a Cause)

For the past three years I have been consumed by the wonder as well as the trials and tribulations of the issues related to aging, with a particular focus on the issues for those age 60 and above.  Fostered by the influx of magazine articles, television specials, the experiences of friends, family and myself, it is a constant “in your face” issue and a personal challenge for many of us.

I will be sharing both my opinions and some facts I have gleaned from my research and interviews. I realize it is impossible to generalize about everyone, and if my views don’t apply to you, no problem just hit delete or disregard them.  If you are already satisfied with your perspective and personal realities relative to aging this article may reinforce your perspectives or may be utilized to inspire a loved one to address their issues related to aging.

I began my journey by trying to understand and control my frustration with the intellectual disconnect related to what I call the ‘HUMAN NATURE SYNDROME’ and how it keeps us from being the best that we can be, especially as we age in our 60s’ and beyond.  It is absolutely amazing to me that so many of us are not happy and healthy especially in our later years, despite the fact that everything we need to know and do to lead happy and healthy lives has been documented and published for eons

In their book “The Power Years,” Ken Dychtwald and Daniel Kadlec write:

“As we look downstream at retirement and old age, we don’t like what we see. We’re noticing that for the majority of today’s older adults, the retirement dream is proving to be an unhappy and diminished period of life that is too often characterized by social isolation, loneliness, inertia, a sense of personal diminishment, and financial dependency.”

We have all heard or read the “right things” to do to age well until we are ready to scream and yet we don’t embrace them.  For instance, we don’t: eat right, exercise enough, reduce stress, stop smoking etc, etc, etc.  I know aging brings with it physical and mental realities (I am 62) but the degree to which many of us do nothing to address them or in fact accelerate them is simply beyond belief.  What part of our own human nature allows us to not love ourselves enough to do what we know is best for us?  Best for us not based on opinion but on fact.  Think about it as it applies to you and those things you are not doing that will help you lead a better life as you age.  If anyone finds a “cure” for this ‘HUMAN NATURE SYNDROME’ they will become a billionaire.

I don’t propose to have a cure, but perhaps a perspective and context that will help you look at how you are aging and inspire you to do what is necessary for you to be the best you can be at 60 and beyond.

We all need to focus on our health and fitness regardless of our age and especially as we approach our 50s and beyond.   However, I have focused on our 60s’ because it is my belief that in general (especially in light of the current economic situation and its impact on our net worth) our 60s’ offers us the first opportunity to truly rebalance our lives between vocation, avocation, financial needs, having fun and most importantly taking care of ourselves.  Our 60s’ represent the tipping point and bridge to the rest of our lives.  I also believe that no other decade has as protracted an impact on our lives as our 60s’. The decisions we make relative to rebalancing the key components (health, financial, spiritual, vocational, etc.) of life in our 60s’ will have a profound and in some cases irreversible affect on the quality of the remainder of our lives. So, how are we to more effectively manage how we age? Well, here it is.

MY PREMISE:

  1. Apply the attitude of the 1960s’ to your 60s’
  2. Make Your Physical Fitness/Health a daily priority
  3. Identify and address the real core reason(s) why physical fitness is not a priority to you

THE 60s’ IN YOUR 60s’

We need to apply the “attitude of the 1960s” when we challenged everything and challenge all the current myths and misplaced beliefs related to aging especially from one’s 60s’ and beyond. For example, challenge the following:

  • That it is normal to have aches and pains;
  • Sex and intimacy is not as important anymore;
  • A pill is necessary to perform (allowing exceptions that apply for medical reasons);
  • Exercising 30 minutes a day will get you fit;
  • Can’t participate in more adventurous activities;
  • Guaranteed loss of energy

In many cases these myths and beliefs are “sold” to us by pundits and companies with profit motives. These myths and misplaced beliefs become a reality only if we allow them to do so.

Some of us believe the manner in which we age and the issues we face are predetermined by our genes.  However according to Dr. Steven Cherniskie, PhD, only 35% or our longevity is determined by our genetic makeup.  So, two-thirds of our life span is under our control.  And if you are at genetic risk, isn’t that all the more reason to prioritize addressing your health related issues? How we age and how we feel about aging, therefore, is up to us.

MAKE YOUR PHYSICAL FITNESS A DAILY PRIORITY

I know what you are thinking —If one more person tells me to exercise, two things are going to happen—-first, I am going to scream and second, I’m going to shoot them.  Well get ready and hold your thoughts of shooting me until you finish the article.  And as I stated earlier, if you don’t agree with me—no problem, just ignore me and you won’t have a felony conviction on your record.

What do I mean by physical fitness? I mean, that through a minimum of one hour of daily exercise and good nutrition you achieve a balance between endurance, strength, flexibility, energy level, balance and body weight.   It is different for everyone but you will know what is right for you—you will simply ‘feel’ the impact of your choices; you will feel great!  There are thousands of educational and fitness resources available to you to determine your needs and the best plan to address them.  I know we also need to have mental, spiritual, emotional, and sexual health, for they are all interrelated, but I believe physical fitness is the linchpin.  So, unless you are the best multi-tasker in the world, fitness is the best initial place to focus our time and energy as we rebalance our lives in our 60s’ and beyond.  Jack LaLane in a recent interview in the Men’s Journal said it well—“Exercise is king.  Nutrition is queen. Put them together, and you’ve got a kingdom.”

When you ask people what is most important to them, a great majority say their health.  From that point on it gets very complicated, especially when one tries to keep the approach for staying healthy simple, realistic, implementable and relative to the ‘Human Nature Syndrome’, that I mentioned earlier, sustainable.  To most of the folks I speak with, health to them means freedom from major illnesses such as Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes and Dementia in their later years.  But why not feel as healthy as you can, all the time, by being fit; and, in so doing, help prevent the possible onslaught of one or all of these diseases?  While it sounds reasonable, logical, practical and achievable, most of us don’t make it our priority.

Let’s talk some more about why we should make physical fitness a daily priority.  I’ll throw in some hard data (add the quote noted above by Dychtwald and Kadlec), and, hopefully, put my perspective in a context that, not only makes sense to you, but will inspire you to act accordingly.

As I visited various retirement communities I reviewed the questionnaires they gave to prospects to determine their lifestyle needs and priorities.  The following are the areas that were identified:

Personal Health                                            Social Companionship

Staying Physically Active                            Opportunities to do new Things

Cost and Access of Health Care                   Finances

Wellness Programs                                       Driving

Remaining Independent                                Travel

Security                                                         Healthy Energy Level

As I studied them, I pondered what common thread connects them. And from my evaluation, it is clearly Physical Fitness.  Physical Fitness has a direct and significant impact on every one of the needs noted.  It poses a different context in which one could view the critical importance of our physical fitness and hopefully outweigh, in our minds, the reason(s) we don’t address our fitness needs.

There are numerous daily reports relative to healthcare and physical fitness that share the projected negative impact of not engaging in physical activity on all of us, but with profound emphasis for those of us in our later years.  Here are just a significant few, what I call “Macro” factors, relative to the importance of physical fitness and good health.

  • Research has shown that seniors can expect Medicare to cover only about half of their medical expenses, on average.  According to Fidelity Investments, the average senior retiring at age 65 this year will need $240,000 to pay the out-of-pocket costs of healthcare for the rest of his or her life.
  • Thirty states currently have laws making adult children responsible for their parents, if their parents can’t afford to take care of themselves.  While these laws are rarely enforced, there has been speculation that states may begin dusting them off, as a way to save on Medicaid expenses, according to SeniorJournal.com.
  • According to Dr. Andrew Weil, less than 5% of the US population will be born with a defective gene. That means over 95% of us have some say in how we age.  Most diseases can be attributable to lifestyle choices, not old age.
  • According to the department of Health & Human Services 50% of all medical costs are attributable to preventable illnesses.
  • The financial health of Medicare is in dire straits and the projected overall cost for health care could bankrupt our country. We simply cannot rely solely on our government to provide for us. If we do we could literally wind up dead before our time.
  • New technology that will effectively treat the major diseases will continue to evolve but if you are not in good physical condition you may not be around to utilize them, or be a suitable candidate.  And depending upon the “system” that the current Administration implements, you may have to wait months before getting access to major medical treatments.

So, when you combine both the individual and personal needs, with the more “Macro” factors (and there are more) noted above, why would you not do what is best for you and focus on your fitness and health?  Perhaps this information and perspective will inspire you to do so.

IDENTIFY AND ADDRESS THE REAL CORE REASONS WHY PHYSICAL FITNESS IS NOT A PRIORITY TO YOU.

This topic is too complex for the scope of this article but I will share some salient thoughts with you based on my readings and discussions with older folks.

Whether it is from a medical, psychological, or uniquely personal perspective, I know there are numerous reasons why we don’t do what is best for us. However, that doesn’t justify the degree to which many of us do nothing, or not enough for our well-being, knowing the profound effect it has on us and those that love us.

I hear people say, “I don’t like to exercise”.  Well, I am not here to sell you on why you should, but rather to provide a perspective that may help you view exercise and fitness differently.  Many of us don’t like our jobs and can come up with a lot of reasons why we don’t.  But we face and manage REALITY.  We need to work to survive and give ourselves a chance to be the best we can be.  Some of us need to approach fitness and our overall health in the same context—that it is simply not an option.

The reasons we don’t exercise and maximize our health are many and often are related to issues deep within us.  But whatever they are, and however many you have– view them as WEEDS, in your garden of life. PULL YOUR WEEDS AND WATER YOUR SEEDS. The weeds block the sun, hinder your happiness, cloud your perspective, rob you of growth, and steal your energy.  Some even have thorns that deter us from even considering the task of pulling them.  Water your seeds of growth by exercising and focusing on what we all say is our number one concern—our health.

It all gets back to my earlier statement that ‘we need to love ourselves enough to do what we need to do, to be the best we can be’ My colleague and fellow Rebel with a Cause, Charly (no e) Heavenrich, in his book Dancing on the Edge, addresses this issue eloquently through the teachings of an Indian medicine women named Spirit Dancer.  Spirit Dancer guides him (as he runs the rapids in the Grand Canyon) on his path to introspection, awareness and the willingness to “jump off the edge” in order to address the difficult issues we all face in life, including our fitness and health.  This book has had a profound effect on me and my attitude towards fitness, health, life and aging—it may do the same for you. (No, I do not get a sales commission)

My goal when I started this article was to share some of my opinions and hard facts with the intention of creating a perspective and context that would help you view exercise and fitness in a manner that would inspire you to make them a daily priority as you age in your 60s’ and beyond.  And in summary, here is my final shot—

  • Many of us say our Health is our number one concern—we need to act accordingly.
  • Fitness is the common thread between the personal needs noted above, by seniors as they continue to age.
  • The current and future impact of the “Macro” issues and ongoing medical and political trends, demand that we take more control and accountability for our own health and fitness.
  • Money! By being fit we reduce the chances that we will need procedures that increase the cost of our insurance, cost of medications, deductibles and co-pays.  Money is usually a great motivator– make it one of yours.
  • No one can do it for us—only we can exercise and stay fit.
  • If you don’t exercise, seek the root cause (s) and remove it as an obstacle (s)
  • The need for fitness and exercise is as much a reality as the need for work and food.
  • Do it because you love yourself.

Don’t give into the Human Nature Syndrome.  Give good health and fitness to yourself and to those you love and who love you.  Others have done it and you can do it as well or better.  Join me—Be a Rebel with a Cause—the best cause of all— YOU.

The “By Us For Us” Guides

Written by Laura Bramly

For quite some time now I’ve been meaning to pass along information
about the “By Us For Us” Guides, a set of inspirational and
informative booklets put together FOR people with dementia BY people
with dementia. A group of talented and passionate people got together
and created guides for people with dementia to pass along what they
have learned about strategies for coping and living their lives to the
fullest.

There are currently five booklets available for order for a cost of $1
each on the Murray Alzheimer’s Research and Education Program (MAREP)
Web site at http://www.marep.uwaterloo.ca/products/bufu.html. Detailed
descriptions of each booklet are provided on this Web site.

The five booklets cover the following topics:

Memory Workout: An exercise guide for your mind based on activities
that the authors found helped them to improve or maintain their memory
and quality of life.

Managing Triggers: Triggers that people have experienced and
strategies for gaining back control after becoming agitated.

Enhancing Communication: Different ways of communicating, hidden
meanings, tips on communicating with loved ones and for expressing
emotion.

Enhancing Wellness: Helpful tips for eating well, taking care of your
body, being physically active, staying centered and connected with
others, and living in peace.

Tips & Strategies: Ideas and suggestions for daily living with
dementia, provided BY people living with dementia based on their own
experiences.

Each booklet is full of helpful tips and strategies, all based on real
life experiences of those with dementia and therefore tried and
tested. The booklets are clearly laid out and easy to navigate, and
are between 12 and 16 pages each.

Eco Travel: Go Green and Get Away!

Seniors are notorious travelers. They’ve put in their years of work, now its time to relax. Unfortunately, the perfect getaway often has a major cost for the environment. A return plane flight from New York to Hawaii can create the same carbon emissions as a car does in an entire year. Many hotels guzzle energy at much higher rate than individuals would use in an eco-friendly home. Luckily for environmentally conscious seniors, eco friendly travel is becoming increasingly available and widespread.
Air travel is a huge, and often unnoticed, contributor to carbon emissions. Mile for mile, airplanes use as much fuel as cars, but because of the shorter travelling time people often don’t think about it. Many companies and nonprofit organizations are now offering carbon offsetting programs which help travelers go “carbon-neutral”. A traveler can purchase carbon offsets and reductions to neutralize the environmental cost of their flight. As a matter of fact, this method can be used to offset emissions from cars and homes too.
Okay, you’ve offset the environmental cost of getting to your destination, but now what? Whether you’re travelling close to home or in a faraway destination, there are sure to be eco-friendly vacation options. From California to Costa Rica, resorts have been bitten by the green travel bug. Websites like The Ethical Traveler (http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/) and The International Ecotourism Society (http://www.ecotourism.org/) help travelers to make smart decisions about where they stay and what industries they support while they’re there.
Eco tourism is a growing trend, and this is the one time when its good to follow the crowd. Next time you are looking to take a relaxing retirement vacation, keep Mother Nature in mind!

RX for Savings

When I started to think about my parents’ retirement, I was overwhelmed by the thoughts of all the “things that needed to be done should something go wrong”.  I was a single mom working full-time and I thought “time is not my friend in this” and set up a company to help my parents.  My parents oblivious to my obvious concern for their life and health and the piles of stuff accumulated proceeded to act as any snowbirds do and purchased a place in the sun.  Their annual trek to Lah-Lah land, as my mom puts it, was one of no worries, and be “happys”.  They were healthy and financially able to finance their simple needs and even could satisfy their wants occasionally.

Last year 2 things happened that brought home the reality of living 6 months in a different country than your own …both of them had medical issues.  Mom, who is 77 and a nurse, knew she had an infection and needed medication. They when to a clinic and $400.00 dollars later had the diagnosis “infection” and a prescription in hand and needed to shell out a further $385.00 for the medication.  She asked me to mail her prescription. I did it cost 10.00 to mail and their health plan covered the cost of the medication.  She saved $375.00.

Later that same year, Dad who is 80 and still the only handyman that my mom trusts, replaced the white broadloom throughout the Florida home and put in laminate.  It looked beautiful ….but Dad’s health paid the price.  In severe pain from being on his knees all day, he discovered that his medical insurance had run out.  Painfully, he got into his car and drove the two days back to Canada in the dead of winter to reapply for his insurance and to see his doctor about the problem that he was having. The doctor immediately diagnosed the problem, but said the medication that works the best was only available in the states.  He could give him a sample but he would have to fill the prescription in the states, as it hadn’t been approved by the Canadian Health Protection Branch yet.  That medication brought relief for the first time in several weeks.

So, owning a business to help seniors find the help they needed, I saw a real opportunity to make a difference.  My thoughts were to find a company that could fill prescriptions in Canada, and could also provide medication that was only available in the states.  I began my search and being for my own parents I did my due diligence in finding a safe alternative to the high cost of buying medication in the states.

The FDA encourages online prescriptions purchases and published their tips to finding a good online source which is:

  • Make sure the site requires a prescription and has a pharmacist available for questions.
  • Buy only from licensed pharmacies.
  • Don’t provide personal information such as credit card numbers unless you are sure the site will protect them. That they will not sell contact information

It was with those tips in mind I began a search for a licensed pharmacy that complied with those guidelines. For my Dad’s situation I found a US pharmacy that is licensed and provides US Brands and US Generics located in Lakeland Florida.  They partnered with a Canadian pharmacy which is located in Alberta, Canada called Extended Care Pharmacy license no. #1636. This pharmacy is owned by a pharmacist, Andy Troszok, the first president of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, who is a pioneer and advocate for low cost importations of prescription drugs to US Citizens.  I told my parents that by faxing their prescription to Extendicare Pharmacy they would be ordering the drugs directly from Canada.  They would pay only the shipping and pharmacy fee but their medication would be covered by OHIP. Any medication that is only available in the states would be provided by their US counterpart in Lakeland Florida and that wouldn’t be covered but would be available to them with a prescription. They loved the idea and told me I should include this information on my website, knowing that I would never sell contact information as I set the company up to protect seniors.  They were wondering if their American friends in Florida could take advantage of the link that I created.  I researched the process online and realized that the American Drug Companies were protecting their huge profit margins by scaring the general public into believing medication from Canada was “fake” and they continued their propaganda campaign by painting all foreign pharmacies with the same brush.

I was at a party in Florida to celebrate my friend’s victory over Cancer and spoke to her about her medication. She had already done a lot of online searching to discover a pharmacy that could provide her with her medication. That said, her friends were warning her of medications from Canadian pharmacies.  Canada is not a third world country, but protected by more restrictive rules about medication then in the states.  However, because of our public health insurance, it is simply a country that legislated that Pharmaceutical companies were only allowed to charge so much. Lipitor is Lipitor period.  A licensed pharmacy would lose their license if they tried to pass off “fake” drugs.  This would be evident quickly from complaints.

My thoughts were confirmed when the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty visited Canada and established a website providing information to Americans on how to import safety.  I decided to create a link on my website so that Americans can exercise their rights as free citizens to make their own choices. It’s up to you now. However, the following state Governments are using Canadian Pharmacies to lower the cost of running their states, why shouldn’t you? What do they know that you should too?

MINNESOTA, NEVADA, ILLINOIS, KANSAS, MISSOURI, VERMONT, RHODE ISLAND, WISCOUSIN, MAINE.

Why ‘Senior’ is NOT a Bad Word

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.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/21/business/retirement/21social.html?_r=4&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

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”.

Dementia Research

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.

Toasted or Plain?

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!