A housing crisis for seniors

According to this informative article that appeared in the New York times, we are into a housing crisis for seniors. This should not be a suprise to any of us who have or will confront the challenge of finding quality, affordable housing for our elderly parents when they need it.

Read it here:  https://nyti.ms/2jBSNHu

 

 

How can we look after our aging brains?

How can we look after our aging brains? If you're interested, the following article from the January 4th issues of the Los Angeles Times is a must read. 

The aging brain is a shrinking brain, and a shrinking brain is, generally speaking, a brain whose performance and reaction time are declining: That is a harsh reality of growing older.

But new research shows that brain shrinkage is less pronounced in older folks whose diets hew closely to the traditional diet of Mediterranean peoples — including lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and olive oil, little red meat and poultry, and regular, moderate consumption of fish and red wine.

In a group of 562 Scots in their 70s, those whose consumption patterns more closely followed the Mediterranean diet experienced, on average, half the brain shrinkage that was normal for the group as a whole over a three-year period.

To glean how diet might influence brain aging, researchers tapped into a large group of Scottish people who were all born in 1936 and had many measures of health status and lifestyle tracked from an early age.

Around the time they reached age 70, 843 members of the “Lothian Birth Cohort” filled out a dietary frequency form that gave researchers a broad look at what foods they ate, which they avoided, and how often they consumed them. At about age 73 and again around age 76, their brains were scanned to gauge the volume of the overall organ and a few of its key components.

The researchers used the food-frequency surveys to divide the group into two — those who at least approximated a Mediterranean-style diet and those who came nowhere close. Even though many in the Med-diet group were far from perfect in their adherence, the average brain-volume loss differed significantly between the two groups.

Findings on the impact of Mediterranean diet on healthy aging have been pretty strong — this is generally a good way to eat. Studies large and small have established that following a Mediterranean diet is effective at driving down heart attack, stroke and premature death risks, and improving the health conditions — including hypertension, worrisome cholesterol levels and metabolic problems — that raise those risks.

But researchers are less sure of the particulars of how the diet promotes better health.

In recent years, studies have sought to tease out not only how great the benefits are, but how they work: whether healthier brain-aging is a function of better vascular health or preserved brain volume, and whether the diet’s advantages lie in its dearth of red meat, the positive effects of the fatty acids in fish or olive oil, or the combined benefits of its plant-based foods.

Researchers also must demonstrate that, in their measurements of dietary intake and health, they’re not actually capturing well-understood relationships between intelligence, education and long-term health: People with certain cognitive strengths do better and stay longer in school and earn more; yes, the better educated and paid may consume healthier diets, but they are generally healthier anyway, so maybe the healthier diet is incidental.

The newest study, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, helps untangle many of those mysteries. But it also leaves many questions unanswered.

Contrary to some research findings on the Mediterranean diet, the findings suggest that reduced brain shrinkage is not specifically linked to low intake of meat and high intake of fish. Maybe, the authors suggest (and many researchers believe this), the magic in the Mediterranean diet is all those plant-based foods, acting collectively to improve subjects’ cognitive health.

The study also finds that subjects across the spectrum of intellect and educational attainment reaped the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in reducing brain shrinkage (or, alternatively, suffered the effects of diets that departed sharply from that diet’s emphasis on plants, fish and polyunsaturated fats). That suggests the researchers are not wrongly crediting subjects’ dietary choices for advantages that may actually stem from higher intelligence and educational attainment.

Finally, the researchers wrote, the study’s design helps establish that the brain-shrinkage rates seen are likely to be the result of dietary patterns, and not just an association. That’s because the subjects’ dietary patterns were measured first, about the time that participants reached 70 years old. Their brain volumes were then measured by imaging scans three and six years later.

Assuming that people did not dramatically change their dietary patterns — a shift that is considered unlikely for folks in their 70s — researchers believe that the dietary habits that Scots reported as they entered older age played some role in the brain changes they detected further down the road.

Left unexplored here is whether a midlife shift toward the Mediterranean diet could have the same effects, or whether the group differences in brain volume are the rewards or penalties for a lifetime of dietary choices.

There’s good evidence that, when it comes to making better dietary choices, earlier is better. In a 2013 study of more than 10,000 women, researchers found that those who followed a Mediterranean-style diet in their 50s and 60s were about 40% more likely to live past the age of 70 without chronic illness and without physical or mental problems than were those with less-healthy diets. 

Falling down: Accept your fate and roll with it

Falling down: Accept your fate and roll with it is a very timely and helpful piece that appeared in
The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) on January 26, written by KATE MURPHY
KATHY OSBORN of the New York Times. It's a good 'heads up' for aging boomers and our elderly parents and other loved ones.


Rare is the individual who hasn’t tripped over a pet or uneven pavement, tumbled off a bike, slipped on ice or maybe wiped out skiing or skating.


Some get injured while others go unhurt – often claiming it’s because they knew how to fall.

Continue reading “Falling down: Accept your fate and roll with it”

We must protect the elderly and aging when crossing streets

The Mayor of the City of Toronto recently called to safety islands to be created for the elderly and aging to use when crossing busy and large intersections. This is has been an issue on my mind for a long time. The piece below I wrote last year precisely about this all too common threat. 

Bottom line: We must protect the elderly and aging when crossing streets.


Watching the ribbon of news on roll across the bottom of my television is often very disturbing. 

Continue reading “We must protect the elderly and aging when crossing streets”

Our annual eldercare advice for the holidays

This seems to be a big favourite year over year:

Suggestions of how to bet support aging parents and loved ones through family events.

Please take a look, and share with your friends, too.

Here it is:  http://www.parentingyourparents.ca/plan-good-holida…derly-loved-ones/ ‎

Caring for a parent afflicted with Alzheimers

Caring for a parent afflicated with Alzheimers is challenging.

Listen here https://soundcloud.com/680cjob/parenting-our-parents​ as Dr. Michael Gordan discusses key considerations in a CJOB 680 interivew with host Jeff Currier in Winnipeg.

Elderly need to beware of identity theft efforts

Identity theft has become a major issue for us all. 

And the elderly need to beware of identiy theft efforts that are expanding at a huge rate.

This site we're recommending is really more US focused. But it also offers a lot of good advice for our Canadian followers who should be especially beware of Canada Revenue Agency knock offs!

It's worth checking out. Especially since identiy theft is so prevelent. For your aging loved ones, and even for yourself.

Check it out here: 

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/best-identity-theft-protection-services/

Free course about understanding dementia

We tripped across this multi-week free course offered online by the University of Tasmania in Australia. We did not sign up, but we did poke around and it looks interesting, engaging, and helpful. 

It's worth checkng out. 

Go here: https://mooc.utas.edu.au/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Landing%20Page&utm_campaign=UDMOOC

End of life health care wishes: be precise!


The issue of medically assisted dying should be in your estate
planning in the event you can’t make decisions on your own, or that your aging loved ones can't! Michael Gordon has often wirtten ane spoken on this. Here is another piece to consider.


Some people leave this earth with a sense of humour. I think of
Canadian lawyer and successful businessman Charles Vance Miller, who
died in 1926 and held a contest in his last will and testament where a
portion of his estate would be left to the Toronto woman who, in the
10 years following his death, gave birth to the most children. It
became known as the “Great Stork Derby.” Turns out that four women
shared the bequest (each receiving the equivalent in today’s dollars
of $2.1-million), each giving birth to nine children in 10 years.


While dying with humour is not often talked about, the more serious
and controversial issue of “dying with dignity” has been hot in the
press. The whole issue of medically assisted death is one that many
would like to ignore. The fact is, however, the issue should work its
way into your estate planning, particularly in the event you can’t
make decisions on your own. It brings to mind the story of a family
and a court decision from just four years ago.

The story
Mrs. F was a widow who gradually developed dementia. She was visiting
Florida in 2012 when she apparently inhaled some food that required
emergency help. By the time help arrived, she had experienced brain
anoxia and didn’t recover significant consciousness. A feeding tube
was inserted at the hospital in Florida before she was transferred
back to Toronto to a hospital there.


Soon after she arrived in Toronto, her family produced a power of
attorney for personal care prepared 10 years earlier, that included
the following wording: “I hereby instruct that if there is no
reasonable expectation of my recovery from physical or mental
disability, I be allowed to die and not be kept alive by artificial or
heroic measures. I do, however, instruct that medication be mercifully
administered to me to alleviate suffering even though this may shorten
my remaining life.”

It went on to read: “I authorize and direct my
attorneys for personal care to make on my behalf all decisions with
respect to my personal care if I am mentally incapable of making such
decisions myself.” Her attorneys for personal care were her three
children.


Given the wording of the power of attorney, Mrs. F’s doctor, on behalf
of the hospital, requested that they allow her to die. The matter was
taken to the Consent and Capacity Board (CCB), an independent body in
Ontario created under the Health Care Consent Act. On June 14, 2012,
the CCB supported the doctor’s request to end Mrs. F’s life because
they took her words in the power of attorney for personal care to be
directive, and not just precatory. But her children wanted differently
and took the matter to court. (As an aside, I have a problem with
others even trying to force a decision like this without simply
acquiescing to the wishes of the substitute decision makers – the
children who held power of attorney in this case – but I digress.)

The decision
On April 3, 2013, the Ontario Superior Court sided with the children.


Witnesses came forward, including rabbis, attesting to Mrs. F’s
Orthodox Jewish faith and life practices. Removing the feeding tube
would have been contrary to the tenets of Judaism that they believe
would have been important to her and which she embodied in all aspects
of her life.


After examining all the evidence, the court found that Mrs. F likely
did not understand or appreciate the words “artificial and heroic
measures” in her power of attorney for personal care. She likely did
not understand all the implications of what she signed. Her life-long
faith was accepted as an important factor that was not sufficiently
taken into account by the CCB. There was no evidence that she
requested an end-of-life clause (her lawyer had no notes of specific
discussions and simply discussed general issues related to powers of
attorney).

The learning
The issue of medically assisted dying should be in your estate
planning in the event you can’t make decisions on your own
 


Tim Cestnick, FCPA, FCA,
CPA(IL), CFP, TEP, is an author and founder of WaterStreet Family
Offices.

© Copyright The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved

Informal caregivers to the aging is a huge challenge

This is an article from the Globe & Mail, Canada's national newspaper, that appeared on Labour Day, 2014. I just found it filed among old emails. It was meant to be used long ago, but I forgot about it. However, MIchael and I believe this is a very important concept that is worth reading today, just as much as two years ago. 

Fact is, informal caregivers to the aging is a huge challenge. It's a daily growing challenge across Canada, North Americal and around the world.


Labour Day typically comes with a barrage of reports on the status of
work in Canada. How many Canadians are employed and how many are
looking for work. What they are paid and how these earnings compare to
last year. Whether the numbers are better or worse than our American
counterparts.
Of course, this is crucial information and we need it to understand
both current and future prospects for Canadian workers. But there is
another group of essential workers about whom little will have been
written.
These are the 8.1 million informal caregivers who provide some form of
care to elderly parents or individuals with severe and prolonged
disabilities. Statistics Canada reported that in 2012, 28 per cent of
Canadians aged 15 and older cared for a family member or friend with a
long-term health condition, disability or aging needs.
Age-related needs topped the list, with 28 per cent of caregivers
providing assistance to elderly parents. Cancer was next at 11 per
cent, followed by cardiovascular disease at 9 per cent and mental
illness at 7 per cent.
While informal caregivers deliver essential services, they perform
these tasks at no pay. They basically make up a vast but largely
unrecognized and hidden work force in the country.
In fact, unpaid caregivers provide more than 80 per cent of care
required by individuals with long-term conditions. These informal
workers contribute an estimated $5-billion of unpaid labour a year to
the health-care system. One report pegged this figure at closer to an
annual $25-billion if all the wide-ranging tasks performed by
caregivers are included in the calculation.
Whether their economic value is $5-billion or $25-billion is largely
irrelevant in the grand scheme. Caregiver contributions, both
individually and collectively, are incalculable and invaluable because
they add profoundly to the quality of life of the individuals for whom
care is provided.
But the fact that caregivers are unpaid has meant that both their
contributions and their concerns have gone ignored. Their
“invisibility” also results from women still providing the bulk of
unpaid care. They are simply expected to pick up these
responsibilities as part of the caregiving role women typically assume
in society.
In a recent keynote address, a financial planning guru was asked by a
retiring audience member about the best steps to take in order to
secure one’s future. His answer: “Get yourself a daughter.”
The reply was only partly in jest. Caregiving used to be the exclusive
domain of women. But this societal expectation is changing,
fortunately. Data from Statistics Canada’s 2012 General Social Survey
showed that women now account for a slight majority of caregivers, at
54 per cent.
The survey also found that caregiving responsibilities typically fall
to those ages 45 to 64, with 44 per cent of caregivers in this
category. Most informal caregivers of this age also likely participate
in the paid labour market – unless they have to withdraw because of
their caregiving demands.
The demographics mean that employers must come to terms with
caregiving realities, which only will grow with Canada’s aging
population. Businesses will have to allow more time and work
flexibility. This need is particularly true for the care of persons
with episodic conditions, who have remissions with periods of good
functioning and recurrences that may require intensive assistance −
all unpredictable.
For their part, governments can provide more assistance with expensive
health-related costs. They can also modify income security policies to
allow some time off for caregiving. Employment insurance has taken
baby steps in this regard but needs a more generous approach.
Neither should workers, who must take some time for caregiving, be
penalized in their pension vesting. Several countries, including
Australia and Britain, have special pensions intended specifically for
caregivers. Others make pension contributions on behalf of caregivers
to avoid later penalty for lost employment time during working years.
No individual should be driven into poverty, either in present or
future, because of caregiving responsibilities.
On Labour Day, we need to pay attention to this huge group of
essential workers: the millions of informal caregivers who show up
nowhere in the employment numbers, but figure so prominently in real
life.