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.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Help The Cause: Prostate Cancer


Prostate Cancer affects one in every seven males, making  it the second most common cancer in Canada. According to a study done by the Mayo Clinic and the risk of getting prostate cancer increases with each year that you age, making senior males at a higher risk. Fortunately, if its detected early the survival rate is very high. Common symptoms of Prostate Cancer include, frequent urination, blood in urine or seamen and erectile dysfunction. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important that you schedule a visit with your healthcare provider. However, you should start having a conversation on Prostate Cancer between ages 45 and 50 to become more educated. If interested, your healthcare provider can give you a PSA test to determine your risk factor for the disease.

Many  studies have shown that men are more laid back when it comes to health issues, partially because they are not educated enough on the topic. This causes a major social divide when it comes to men’s healthcare. To help  raise awareness for Men’s health there are many awareness plays you can get involved in, such as Movember. Movember is an internationally recognized movement that supports men's health, with prostate cancer being a main focus. To get involved in this movement all you have to do is rock a moustache for the month of November. To take part all you’ll need to do is take a  sharp clean razor, apply some shaving cream and remove all your facial hair except for that moustache.

Since 2003, Movember has helped fund over 1,000 different men’s health projects around the world and are continuing to challenge the societal norm that surrounds men’s health care. This organization is looking to reduce the number of men dying prematurely from cancers and mental health conditions by 25% in the next 11 years.

This movement isn’t just limited to the men, but women can also get involved now too! Women can play their part in the movement by getting active instead of growing a ‘stache. MOVE is the campaign that they can be in. MOVE encourages women to be active for all 30 days of the month, this not only helps support the men in their lives, but it also benefits their own health!

So let's Help the Cause together by growing our moustaches and getting active!

Contributed by: Alan Johnson

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Alan Johnson is a health and lifestyle writer who enjoys all things health and bringing about awareness to others. When he’s not writing he enjoys running, meal-prepping and hiking.


Friday, 4 October 2019

GUEST POST - Winter Weather Preparation for Seniors


Whether it’s global warming or our imaginations, winter storms seem to get more intense every year, so it’s always good to take the required precautions to stay safe. Blizzards can completely disrupt cities—stopping drivers, halting emergency responders, and even causing power outages. Unfortunately, the two most vulnerable groups of people when it comes to cold weather are the elderly or very young. Many weather-related casualties are not from storms themselves, but rather from the aftermath— elderly people stranded in their homes, overexertion from shoveling snow causing heart attacks or strokes, or automobile accidents due to unsafe roads. While it is difficult to predict exactly what will be damaged by a winter storm, it is possible to know when they will occur, and that vital piece of information will hopefully give you enough time to prepare.

Many people across the country live in small towns and while this doesn’t mean total isolation during a storm, it does mean longer recovery time, so it is best to be prepared on your own. If you are lucky enough to be at home during an extreme winter storm, plan in advance to have supplies that will allow you to stay comfortable and warm. If your home has a fireplace, keep an ample supply of firewood in case the heat goes out. Canned and non-perishable foods are necessary in situations where you lose power or the roads are snowed in. Check that emergency equipment such as flashlights and electric generators are in working order. Lastly, keep bottles of clean water for drinking and cooking because your pipes may freeze.

When you are weathering the storm you will want to receive the latest weather updates. Luckily, weather updates are automatically programmed into many smart phones, but if your phone does not do this, then manually sign up for weather alerts through your mobile phone or email. The Weather Channel offers free weather alerts for any postal code on their website. Sometimes though, the internet goes out, so have a radio available as well. Be sure all of your mobile devices are charged ahead of time in case of a power outage.

Mobile and home phones are especially important for older people who live alone. A senior’s family, wherever they may be living, will want to know they are safe. If the family lives in another province, older people should designate a friend or neighbor as an emergency point of contact. If you are an older person that lives near loved ones, it could be a good idea to group together at one location.  Locate a place for everyone to meet when a winter storm warning is issued, depending on where you and your family are.

You should also make sure your house is fortified for the winter. Make sure the home’s walls and attic are properly insulated to avoid losing heat. To avoid pipes bursting, keep faucets dripping. It is also important to know how to locate and stop your home’s water valves in case a pipe does burst. Set up emergency heating equipment, such as a fireplace with wood or a portable stove with plenty of fuel. If electricity does not go out, space heaters can be very helpful when used correctly. Space heaters should remain at least three feet away from all furniture, flammable items, or drapes. Once everyone leaves the room, turn off the heater. Never place any objects directly on a heater.

If, for some reason, you do need to travel in extreme conditions, or if you are stuck in the middle of a storm in your car, make sure the car is properly fitted for the winter. Before the season, have your car’s radiator system serviced, check the antifreeze level, and be certain the windshield wipers are in good condition. If your tires have worn-down tread, replace them. It is also a good idea to keep jumper cables and chains in the trunk. These basic steps will hopefully prevent an emergency from occurring and keep you safe during the winter months.

Contributed by: Jacob Edward
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Author Bio: Jacob Edward is the founder of Senior Planning, a free service dedicated to helping Seniors find care. He is also the founder of Prime Medical Alert.


Friday, 6 September 2019

Preserving Memories

Downsizing. Relocation. Moving. These words easily create anxiety - especially for someone who is elderly and may have lived in the same home for decades. Besides the practical tasks of figuring out what you can take with you, what will fit, what you need and don't need, comes an often unspoken worry of letting go of and/or finding a new home for, things that are special to you. Your memories. Photos. Memorabilia. That vase you got as a wedding gift. That music box you were given when your first baby was born. The pencil marks on the wall from when you measured your kids growing. And so, the more difficult task than figuring out the practical 'stuff', is how to preserve those memories.

Recognizing that moving will not erase your memories that are connected to your home (or for some adult children, their parents' home) or its contents is a good first step. Once you figure out the items that are hardest to part with, set aside a few that will fit in your new place that you can take with you. For other items, that you simply cannot take with you, consider doing the following: write down the stories behind your treasures which you can then give to your loved ones with those items. Alternately, when you give special items away, use it as an opportunity to share the story behind them verbally with the person you are gifting them to. It is far nicer to share items that are important to you with others when you can see them being enjoyed and it will make you feel good knowing that things you have loved, are being enjoyed by others who will treasure them as much as you did. 

Keep in mind that some items you treasure, may not hold the same meaning to your loved ones or things you don't care much about may be special to someone else because of a memory for them that's tied to it. If possible, allow the loved ones you have chosen to share your valuables with,  to choose what they want keep.

While gifting things to close family or friends may make it easy for you to 'visit' them when you feel a bit nostalgic, you may want to also, consider creating a 'memory book' of photos of your special items that you can take with you and look through whenever you want. Having a child or grandchild help you do this gives them an opportunity to learn more about you and perhaps the family.

When it comes to family photos & mementos, do make every effort to preserve them. Even though everyone is not sentimental, photos denote our history and I know of many grandchildren that would be more than happy to help organize shoe boxes of photos and be the family memory keeper.

Friday, 23 August 2019

GUEST POST - Common Misconceptions of Retirement


We all might have an idea in mind as to what retirement will look like, but for those of us with retirement on the horizon it can be beneficial to align that imagined vision with the reality.

This article will uncover the three of the biggest myths associated with retirement and reinforce some important truths to set you on the right course for your retirement needs and goals.


Myth #1: I’ll Save for ______ Before I Save for Retirement


There is always the potential for big expenses to arise over the course of your adult life. Whether it’s your dream home coming on the market, major renovations to your place of business, or helping to pay for your child’s college education, it can be very easy to say “let me cover this expense now and save for retirement later.” The danger of this strategy is that “later” might come too late.

Saving for retirement can be accomplished through the long-term saving of small amounts of money. This means that you can often afford to both spend and save, with those small increments adding up over time into a healthy retirement account. 


Myth #2: I Can Live on Less Money Once I Retire


This myth is a tough one because technically, you can get by on less money when you retire. That being said, there are several factors that might arise to keep your costs high, including:


Unexpected Healthcare Costs


Even with great retirement options to support you, a major medical emergency or chronic condition can still result in a major cut from your retirement savings.


Lingering Children


An ever-increasing number of adult children choosing to return home after college or during the early years of their professional lives to save money, but this can end up costing you.

From higher associated daily living costs to a larger mortgage payment for a house you had hoped to downsize out of but now must keep to accommodate your “youngsters,” it can wreak havoc on your retirement planning.


Inflation and Taxes


The pressures of the overall economy can also impact your savings. Inflation can increase the cost of living. Meanwhile, some tax rates, like property taxes, can fluctuate as well. This can be particularly true if the area where you live experiences a sudden boost in demand.


Expectations


Some might say that preparing to cover 70% to 80% of what you made before retirement will be adequate. Really, though, this number needs to be adjusted for your individual needs and plans for retirement.

Are you, for example, planning on working part-time in your retirement? Then perhaps you don’t need to save as much. However, if your plan is to adopt a lifestyle with less work but with more luxury that your pre-retirement days, than you will need to develop a savings to support it.

In short, there is no set amount to have on hand; it is unique to each person’s situation.


Myth #3: I Can Always Keep Working


Often people rationalize their lackluster retirement savings by saying: “well, if it’s not enough, I can always keep working.” In theory that might sound like a solution, but it fails in practice on several levels.

First, it has been shown that many retirees don’t work for as many years as they might plan to.

Second, you cannot count on extra years of work to provide you the finances that years of incremental saving would.

Retirement is supposed to be a time where you can relax and enjoy your golden years, so don’t let it become mired in myths that might derail that dream. Take the steps to plan your savings with these truths in mind, and you can be on your way to well-supported retirement.


Contributed by: Christian Worstell
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Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.

Friday, 9 August 2019

GUEST POST - Five Fantastic Ways to Stay on Top of Your Health and Take Better Care of Yourself


We all want to live our best lives, but with all that you juggle on a daily basis, it can be easy to lose track of your health. This article highlights five ways to take better control of your health through personal care.


1. Hydrate and Fuel


One of the best ways to stay on the road to good health is to make sure that you hydrate and eat healthy.

Hydration is essential because it can help your entire body recharge and refresh by flushing your system. A large glass of water can also help you feel fuller so you can deter yourself from taking in more calories than you need.

Speaking of calories, alongside a good hydration regimen is the need for a balanced, healthy diet. Try to work in a wide array of colorful vegetables, and keep your fiber level high to keep your body working at its best.


2. Exercise


Adding exercise to your lifestyle can also boost your health. This doesn’t mean a five-mile run every morning or hours-long exercise sessions at the gym.

In fact, studies have shown that short bursts of physical activity throughout the day can be just as beneficial. These brief intervals can also make for a great way to break up an otherwise sedentary day.

Think of these exercise breaks as a time to both raise your heart rate and elevate your spirits as you recharge and re-energize for the remainder of the day.

Just always make sure to keep track of your heart rate so that you don’t run the risk of over-exerting yourself.


3. Listen to Your Body & Look For Signs


While it’s not advisable to diagnose your own conditions, it is important to keep in mind that your body can tell you when something might be going wrong. Given this, you can benefit from listening to its cues.

It might not be the most pleasant, but checking your urine color can tell you whether you are adequately hydrating or if any other issue arises.

You can also check in with your hairbrush. Are there more hair strands trapped within its teeth than normal? Losing hair can be a symptom of mineral deficiencies and more, so it is a symptom for which you should look.


4. Check-In Regularly With Your Primary Care Physician


Just like we take our cars in for tune-ups, check-ups with your physician can ensure that you are staying healthy. The value of these periodic check-ins can be that they can catch any issues that are beginning to emerge. They also provide you with a consistent baseline for your health statistics, which can be beneficial if you begin to notice any concerning fluctuations of symptoms. Check with your insurance provider to see how many check-ups are covered. If you are eligible for Medicare, you may even qualify for an annual wellness exam.


5. Treat Yourself Well


So you’ve changed your diet, you’re drinking multiple glasses of water each day, and you’re keeping track of any signs your body might give that something is out of balance. What else can you do to stay in top form? This one is easy: take time for you.

Take time to de-stress, make sure you treat your body to an ample amount of sleep and don’t be afraid to splurge every once in a while. Whether that means a healthy chunk of dark chocolate after dinner or a weekly massage, treating yourself to these little moments of decadence can help you make healthy choices later on.

Life moves pretty fast, but the good news is that incorporating these healthy practices into your daily life can be immediate and easy.

Before your day gets away from you, commit to adopting some of these care practices to keep your health on track for a long and fruitful future.

Contributed by: Christian Worstell
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Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.


Friday, 26 July 2019

GUEST POST - Staying Cool: Why Seniors are at a Higher Risk for Heatstroke and How to Prevent it


For most people, the summertime season means trips to the beach, pool parties, barbecues and long summer nights. For others, particularly older adults, summer can be a much tougher time.

As we grow older, regulating our body temperature becomes more difficult and we fail to adjust well to changes in temperature. The result is an increased risk for heatstroke among seniors.

Heatstroke is a type of heat injury that occurs when your body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit and is unable to regulate itself. Heatstroke is a medical emergency that can be fatal when not properly treated.

Below is some information about why seniors are more vulnerable to heatstroke and some steps that can be taken to prevent it.

Why Seniors Get Heatstroke

There are a few different reasons why an older adult may be more susceptible to heatstroke. 

Lack of sweating

Sweating is a heat-regulating mechanism, and if we’re not sweating, we’re not regulating heat. We don’t sweat as much in old age, which leaves seniors more prone to heat stress in the summer.

Dehydration

Dehydration hits older adults harder than younger individuals. And if your body is dehydrated, it can’t regulate your core temperature as effectively and heatstroke can set in.

Health Factors & Lifestyle Choices

There are also certain health factors and lifestyle choices that can increase the likelihood of developing heatstroke, and these factors are more common in adults over the age of 65. These include:

      Chronic illnesses like heart, lung and kidney diseases
      High blood pressure
      Medications that reduce sweating
      Low-sodium diets
      Overdressing
      Lack of access to air-conditioning
      Living or visiting hot climates
      Dehydration
      Poor blood circulation
      Obesity

Heat Stroke Warning Signs

It's important to know the warning signs of heatstroke in seniors so you can seek medical attention immediately.

Some early warning signs include:

       Fatigue
       Muscle cramps
       Excessive sweating
       Dizziness
       Headaches
       Muscle cramps
       Dry skin
       Flushed skin
       Rapid pulse

The early signs of heatstroke may lead to a more severe case, so it's important to take action as soon as you notice any signs. More serious symptoms include confusion, nausea, fainting, vomiting, seizures and even coma.

Preventing Heat Stroke

Perhaps the biggest problem with heat stroke is that many older adults may not even notice their body is overheating until they start feeling ill. The good news is that there are a few ways to reduce your chances of heat stroke.

       Pay close attention to your body if you’re out in the heat. If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above, immediately lie down in a cool place. Drink cold fluids, take a cool bath, or use cold towels to lower your body temperature.

       When you feel thirsty, your body's ability to regulate heat begins to lessen. Drinking plenty of water or beverages with electrolytes is an excellent way to help prevent dehydration and heatstroke, and be sure to avoid alcohol in the hot summer months.

       Wear loose clothes and don't overdress. When choosing what to wear in the summer, go with light and breathable clothes.

       Keep the house cool and on a regulated temperature or keep a fan running nearby.

Summer should be a season to enjoy, not one that puts you in danger. So take the proper steps and soak up that warm, summer sun in a healthy manner. 

Contributed by: Christian Worstell
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Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.