Thursday, 19 March 2020

Phishing in a Time of Crisis


This is an unprecidented time of crisis for Canada and the world. It is a time, we should be supporting each other, helping each other and focus on health and well-being. And while we are all hearing and reading about random acts of kindness in our communities - people helping others, grocery stores opening early for seniors, neighbours offering to shop for those in isolation - there are always those who will use a time of heightened fear and anxiety, to their own benefit. And this is what I don't understand. I don't understand it at the best of times; I really don't understand it, at a time like this. There are people out there, trying to take advantage of others to either profit financially or simply to create bedlam in someone's life, without regard for the human being they are harming.

In the last 3 days I have had 3 automated phone calls, from 3 different phone numbers attempting to steal my social insurance number. I've also received a message on LinkedIN from one of my contacts, that I am certain is a virus of some sort (I'm certain her account has been hacked as I know she would not send the sort of message I got). I am aware enough to delete all of these attempts, and I have had enough calls from fake CRA agents and fake credit card companies to be more than suspicous of all unknown phone calls, emails and text messages. 

But what about our seniors who may not be tech savvy; who may be isolated and alone; who may be worried about money and health and their families? I have heard repeatedly about how people have been bilked of their savings in the past few years because of scams and phishing schemes. There are many trusting people who will follow what an unknown caller or an email tells them to do, and they will send money out of fear or worry. 

And now there are COVID-19 scams surfacing too. As if we don't have enough to worry about! Known as Phishing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing), scams that are being identified include fake notices from health organizations, phony websites or emails containing viruses that will attack computers, fake chartible appeals, and ads or spam about purchasing protective gear - all meant to exploit people and their fears. 

Ways to protect yourself from cybercriminals include: don't give personal information to unknown sources; always check an email address to see if it comes from a legitimate source; watch for spelling and grammar mistakes in emails; don't click on a weblink you don't know or any attachment from someone you don't know; don't respond to robo calls or texts; never give finanicial information to an unknown source; when in doubt - ask someone or google a phone number or website to see if other people have posted about it; if you want to donate money, ensure it's a legitimate agency; and be vigilant and aware. For information on the COVID-19, only trust legitmate government websites. If you have a senior in your life, ensure they know about scams that are surfacing and ask them to notify you if they receive a suspcious call, text or email so you can assist in investigating its legitimacy. 

These are trying times for all of us - stay aware, help your neighbour, and protect yourself and your family. 




Monday, 24 February 2020

Home Sharing and Cohousing: Emerging Models of Senior Housing

When I first started learning about housing for seniors well over 20 years ago, there were limited options. Long-term care was for those who needed substantial care and/or could not afford private options and were not safe in their own homes, retirement homes were a private sector option,  for the fairly independent or those who only needed minimal assistance and who had some private income or savings that could go toward the cost, and seniors buildings were basically rental apartments for independent seniors.  The years since have seen an emergence of many new options created out of both necessisty and a desire for seniors to have more choice. Many of these options have existed in other parts of the world for many years and it is evident that some countries are way ahead of ours in terms of both alternate housing options and dementia care.
Of late, the types of care that I find most interesting and ones that are showing great promise, involve a shared home environment with a pooling for resources, sharing of chores and care resulting in greater autonomy for individual seniors, companionship and in many cases, cost savings. There is truly 'no place like home' and any model that aims to keep a senior in their own environment for as long as possible, needs to be explored and supported. 
New to Ontario is home sharing - in a few areas, organizations match seniors who live alone and have space in their homes with either students (intergenerational cohousing), or younger seniors who are willing to share chores and some expenses in exchage for a low rent. In fact, there are even test projects with universty students and seniors which have proven very successful. I'm certain there are people who have done this on their own as well however, with an organization involved it formalizes an agreement and allows for a third party to vet candidates properly.
Another opportunity poping up in the news every now and then, is cohousing, either created by an organization who builds a structure in that model and sells units in it or, informally, as groups of friends choose to create their own 'retirement community' sharing common space and chores and care if necessary.
While both options have limitations if significant care is required, they both aim to maintain independence for as long as possible, in a home setting, limiting the need to relocate, if all you require is minimal support or companionship.
With the increasing number of seniors on the horizion, innovative housing and care options will become increasingly important. I look forward to seeing what the next decade holds as new models of housing and care for seniors emerge and old ones evolve.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

National 211 Day!

Many moons ago, when I was a new social worker in the days before the internet put everything at our finger tips, we had something called the Blue Book. The Blue Book was a social workers bible. It was a giant encyclopedia of every resource possible for everyone possible. You could find anything you needed if you had the time and patience to search for it. Every year a new shiny book came out and we all wanted to get our hands on a copy.
Well, I hesitate to say how many years ago that was. Let's just say it was many. As the internet became our route of choice for locating resources, something called 211 came into being. Like the Blue Book but with even more information, growing by community every year, we now have both a phone and an online resource, that is easy to remember and accessible to all.
And so, today is National 211 Day! A day to "recognize the value of 2-1-1 in our communities and spread awareness about the 2-1-1 service" (source: Find Help Email Feb 7, 2020). 211 is a free services that can be accessed through either a phone (dial 211) or online (211.ca) and contains vaulable information on goverment, health and community services. So, if you need to find information about a service in your community, try calling 211 from your phone or look online at 211.ca. You might be amazed at what is available.
Congratulations from Senioropolis, 211. Keep doing what you are doing to make resource information universally accessible to all who require it.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Senioropolis Inc News - Introducing SeniorCareAccess.com!

As some of our followers may know, Senioropolis Inc., in its ongoing goal to be the site for 'all things senior' embarked on creating a second website for professionals a couple of years ago. It's goal was to be innovative by providing unbiased housing data through a membership based site, different to all exisiting models in Canada. To this end, we partnered with another company, Pivotal Aging Innovations, Inc. and spent endless hours creating something unique to the industry focused on providing information, support and resources for professionals and consumers alike. The result is SeniorCareAccess.com and we will be unveiling it in a webinar next week. 

If you work with seniors, care for an aging parent or offer services and care to the older adult community, you will want to know about this site.

Join us for an introductory Webinar on Thursday January 30th @ 11am EST.
If you cannot attend this one but would like to know when we host another, just drop me an email at esther@senioropolis.com and we will ensure you are notified of the next one. 

If you can attend, please register at https://lp.constantcontact.com/su/Ke3xIAb - you will be sent log on information once your registration is received. There is no cost to this event and all who are interested are welcome to attend. 


SeniorCareAccess.com offers:
Canada's largest UNBIASED Senior Housing Database for Professional use.
Families and Service Providers can benefit from our Consulting/Navigation program.
Service Providers have the focused opportunity to market their services and network with other providers.

Who is it for?
Accredited Senior Agents™, Financial Services, Home Care, Age in Place, Social Workers, Estate Planners, Executor Services, Estate Lawyers, Accessibility Services, Realtors, Retirement Home/Services, LHIN, Researchers, NFP, Government Agencies, Mental Health and families in transition.

By Canadians For Canadians

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

New Year, New Book!

Hi all - happy new year! I can hardly believe it's 2020. The end of 2019 flew by as we were busy getting our latest book completed. It is officially up on our site for all to see and download at no charge. To download your free copy, please visit https://www.senioropolis.com/BookInfo.asp. Our 23rd edition, covers Ontario and includes some homes in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. In addition to the homes we detail, there is a wonderful section on all sorts of housing and care options for seniors and questions to ask when touring both long-term care and retirement homes. For those starting from square one, who don't know anything about what exisits and what the different models of senior care are, it's truly a must have book. 

It's over 240 pages, in full colour with links and bookmarks throughout. Using any PDF reader, one can open up the bookmarks bar and go directly to a page or article of interest. Clicking on a weblink takes users directly a specific website and the email links take you straight to your computer's email composer where you can send a quick email to any home or resource listed in the Guide. There is a ton of great information for seniors, families, consumers and professionals that can really help navigate the realm of senior housing and care.

Do keep in mind that homes that are listed with us, choose to be there. Not everyone wants to be in a publication or on a 3rd party website so we need to respect that and only print information of those that want to be with us. So, as much as we would like our information to be all-encompassing, that is simply not possible. However, for professionals, we do have another site www.seniorcareaccess.com, that is membership-based and as such, has very extensive unbiased information on all homes throughout Ontario.

We love to hear feedback from our users, so please feel free to drop us a line once you have downloaded our 2020 Guide from www.senioropolis.com. Keep it on your desktop for easy access and share with friends and family looking for housing, resources and care information for themselves or a senior in their lives.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Holiday Concerns

As the holidays approach I am reminded of the many calls we get from families in the early part of January after they visit with their loved ones. Often, holidays are the time when families notice that an elder loved one is not doing as well as they hoped, is perhpas having difficulty with simple tasks, or has declined since a previous visit. Especially in families where caregivers/children/loved ones live far away, what one anticipates as a pleasant visit after many months or longer, can turn into one fraught with concern and worry.
If you are faced with this situation, or anticipate that you may find yourself scrambling to figure out care and/or supports for an elder loved one over the hoidays, it's important to begin a conversation with the person about your concerns sooner rather than later. It's never easy. And there is no perfect time. Ideally, a conversation about planning ahead should happen well in advance of a crisis - especially if all family live out of town. However, realistically, such a conversation may not occur until something happens to instigate it. In this situation, the priority is ensuring safety while you organize next steps.
Keep in mind, when talking to your loved one, that this can be a very frightening experience and you need to be supportive and listen. Consider their requests and understand that as long as they are mentally competent, they have the right to decide what they want to do. If there are other family members, ensure they are part of the conversation. Prior to sitting down with your loved one, you may want to investigate some care options in their area so you have some solutions to offer. Try not to overwhlem and stay focused on the senior and what they need, not what the family wants. Be open and honest and try to problem solve together. Teamwork can help and no one person should be expected to take on all of the responsibility alone especially if there are other family members. Do what you can to keep the person at home for as long as possible, with adequate support, as long as they can be safe in their own envirionment.
For those of you that consider your role to be a long distance caregiver, it's important to create a group of helpers who can keep an eye on your loved one through regular physical contact. It's much easier to hide concerns or issues on the phone than in person so, someone who visits often is an important component of keeping your loved one safe. When you are in the home, make sure you check it for safety issues and familiarize yourself with finaincial and medical information. Do what you can to organize paperwork, caregivers and any necessary documents. Consider creating an emergency file or download one from  https://www.senioropolis.com/BookInfo.asp or https://www.seniorcareaccess.com/publications.php. As well, once you are home, you may want to consider technology based  tools to assist you in monitoring your loved one from a distance. For more information on caregiving, care options, and/or having a difficult conversation about care needs with a loved one, download a free copy of our Guide at www.senioropolis.com. 

Friday, 15 November 2019

Elder Orphans

Do you know what an Elder Orphan or Senior Orphan is? Apparently, its a senior who does not have any immediate family or family that they have contact with  or are in close proximity to - no spouse, children,  grandchildren, parents or siblings - so if there is an emergency or crisis, there is no one to assist with care or decision making. Perhaps a nicer term I have seen used is a 'solo-ager' or 'solo-senior' but all seem to lead to a more negative than positive connotation. Being unattached, does not always mean being lonely and for some, it is a preferable choice. That being said, for those who are elderly and live alone, if they are not socially connected, there is a higher risk of mental health, cognitive and medical issues.
The earliest mention of elder orphans that I can find online, from a quick google search, is 2016. From the definition above, there have always been 'elder orphans' who we did not need to label as anything but 'single', so why label them now? I suspect there is a sudden concern now because our senior population is increasing. In the US, the prediction is that up to 20%  of current seniors are potential elder orphans. That's based on current figures; 30 years from now, it's predicted that the number could be double that. So, for those who have no next of kin, there are many reasonable questions that have arisen.  Who will make decisions for people who don't have family to help them? Who will provide unpaid care to supplement paid care or goverment-funded homecare?  Will there be enough resources and enough housing? Do we have the resources to accommodate potentially tens of thousands of people or more, who do not have a power of attorney and for whom a a life-threatening illness occurs? While the general population may not realize how much informal caregiving happens from family, those of us who work in the senior sector see it day after day.
All of these questions are concering but, in many situations, people who are in this predicament have already thought about this and have planned ahead. For those that haven't, but see their future selves when reading this article, having some foresight by planning, will provide much of the solution.
You may want to reach out to close friends you trust with either your finances, health care decisions or both, to ask if they would be your Power of Attorney should you require one in the future. If this is not possible, enquire with your bank - some trust companies may have the availability of people who can manage your finanical power of attorney. This option though, would still leave you with no one to make health care decisions for you. It is preferable to have someone take on this task who knows you or who you can specify your wishes to when you are well; if you don't do this, and you become unable to make finacial or medical decisions, the Public Guardian steps in and makes those decisions for you.
There are senior agencies in every area that you can contact in order to find out services available and the costs involved. Contact your local LHIN to enquire about their offerings and assistance. While you are well and mobile, you may want to look into housing options with care (or graduated care options) in your area so you can plan ahead. Or you may want to look into innovative options like home-sharing or co-housing which will afford you companionship and perhaps shared expenses which can help with care costs.
As long as you are able to plan ahead, do your best to stay healthy, socially connected and reach out when you need assistance, being a solo senior can be something to look forward to rather than something to fear.