Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Remember. Honour. Thank.

 11.11.2020

Today we remember and honour the sacrifice of our Veterans, the brave men and women, including those in the indigenous community, who volunteered, served, fought and in some cases, died, so that we can enjoy the freedom, peace and democracy we have today. To those who served, and continue to serve our country, we are forever grateful. #Rememberanceday #Lestweforget #CanadaRemembers

Friday, 7 August 2020

SeniorCareAccess.com - our new and improved platform!

 As some of our readers may already know, we have been working on a new website for some time. An idea that started 3 years ago, has finally come to be a reality after many revisions, changes and additions. 

A few years ago I recognized that there was a need for more than what Senioropolis.com, and other sites like it, had been providing. Clearly we needed a way to amass more information in an unbiased format, to meet the ever changing needs of Canadian seniors. My original idea was to create a unique format for retirement homes where money was not a factor in their inclusion. I recognized that a membership model would allow for more extensive information being made available to professionals and consumers as opposed to the traditional model where listing information was virtually an advertisement for properties that had budgets and an inclination to post their information on a website that was not their own. 

As my idea came to fruition, I met a person who saw things differently. A year later we became business partners and my idea was advanced to a level never before tried in the sector, as we grew the concept and the site, to have many uses and many portals. We have just relaunched the site in what is its final (for now) form  and are tremendously proud to share our concept with you. 

While the membership concept still exists, it has been expanded to include data on every possible level of care for seniors - everything from independent apartments all the way to palliative care with many different levels and options in between. Additionally, we are expanding that data across the country. Our questionnaire has over 400 fields to cover every permutation we could think of!

We have also created a resource portal which we will be starting to populate shortly . We have come up with over 160 categories of services for seniors and have the ability to add more as others come to pass. What is unique about this portal is that it is, just like the housing section of the site, based on province and then city or town. Those that we list are in areas where there is senior housing in some form or another recognizing that where there are seniors, there will be resources for them. Within each area, categories will appear as they are populated, offering a 'filtering' process for those that choose to access our information (membership for use is not required). 

Our third area is consulting services. Here too, we are locating and training professionals by area/region/city who can work with seniors on any aspect of transition. We have the ability to connect people with professionals from many backgrounds and can walk them through the process of anything related to aging and transitioning. While it is private pay, it is very client-centered, unbiased and in the control of the client. Nothing is done without client consent and approval and they can determine the budget and what they want us to do for that budget. 

Our latest addition to the site, is the amalgamation of what we know to be our Senioropolis platform into SeniorCareAccess.com. Because we know that some homes do wish to 'advertise' and consumers may not need or want a membership, we have begun the process of creating a database similar to what we have on Senioropolis.com but, very much geared to consumers and the changing landscape, as people look to 'visit' homes virtually before making a trip for a physical tour. Filled with information that a consumer wants, including photos and videos, this portal will replace Senioropolis.com as of January 1, 2021. 

For the next few months we will be working on promoting this new platform, and populating it with data, as we move toward the transition (and growth) of the old site to the new one. 

A website like this one, is never static and I suppose, because of that, never really complete. We will always be looking at new ways to do things, new things to add, and innovative ideas to serve our senior population. Our goal, as always, is to be the one-stop-shop for all things senior!

Please take some time to look around SeniorCareAccess.com; if you are a home or resource and interested in joining us, send us an email and we will be sure to get back to you ASAP. If you have thoughts or feedback, we are always open to hearing it and, what you think will make our site even better....... we encourage you to visit us often to see what's new!


Friday, 12 June 2020

June is Seniors Month - Stay Safe, Stay In Touch

This is a June like none other I have experienced. Three months of isloation has been difficult to say the least.

I can only imagine how difficult this has been for seniors; especially those without families to check in on them or, those in residences that have had to make the difficult decison to stop families from visiting their loved ones.

As the weather warms up and we yearn for life to get back to normal, given the long term restrictions in place, it clearly will not be the 'normal' we know, any time soon. We will all need to adjust to a 'new normal' and live with the possibilty of another period of isolation later in the year.

That being said, it is still Seniors' Month. A time to celebrate seniors in our communities for all of their contributions to the world we live in. In previous years there were events in different communities for seniors and their families to participate in. Group activities. Group events. This year, the hope is that communities will "demonstrate safe and innovative ways to celebrate the positive impact that older adults have on our lives" (https://www.ontario.ca/page/celebrating-seniors-ontario).

Every year the Ontario government creates a theme - this year its 'stay safe, stay in touch' - an appropriate one given the current situation. Several seniors activity centres have created virtual programs for seniors in the last few months. I'm certain that some have integrated seniors' month into their offerings. If you are looking for a seniors' program or event in your community or, want to know if a local centre has anything planned, you can look up their contact information on the government of Ontario's seniors' month webpage at https://www.ontario.ca/page/celebrating-seniors-ontario.
For other provinces, simply google "seniors month 2020 + your province or city" - there are bound to be similar provincial or city webpages or links to community centres with virtual events.

If there is a senior in your life, reach out either virutally or on the phone. Let them know you are thinking of them and appreciate all they have done to contribute postively to your life and the world we all live in. As restrictions lighten, ensure you make the time for a visit even if its is one with 6 feet between you! While we should celebrate seniors and their contribution to their families and society every day, with all that has preoccupied us in last few months, acknowledging and celebrating seniors' month is a good reminder to appreciate the elders who enrich our lives every day. Stay safe.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Staying Sane During Social-Distancing


With social-distancing orders in place, it can be easy to feel disconnected not only from those we love most but from our usual daily routines too. Luckily, there are many creative ways and resources to help bring back some normalcy. From writing old fashioned letters to utilizing video chatting tools, today’s technology allows for frequent socialization even when stuck inside. Keep reading to find out how to stay sane by staying connected!


Check-In with Your Family


It’s important to keep your family members up to date on how you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Since it’s encouraged not to see one another right now, it’s easy to feel left out of the loop. This is avoidable by interacting with your loved ones through video chat, text messaging, or social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. There are even devices available that allow voice-commanded communication to occur. Talk with your family about getting you set up with one of these tools for safe face-to-face communication through a screen. Alternatively, old fashioned letter writing is a great way to stay connected and is a great activity to bond with grandchildren, if you have any.


Stick to a Routine


Although it may seem tempting to spend every day in your pajamas and just lounge on the couch, there can be serious consequences if too many days start to unfold like this. Make it a habit to rise each morning with a grateful heart and a positive mindset. Start your day with something that brings you joy and take care of yourself. Whether that be enjoying a cup of coffee with your partner or reading a book, sticking to a routine will give you something to look forward to every morning. Carry on with your day by practicing your favourite hobbies or learning a new skill. Start a project that you’ve been meaning to get done or find new outdoor places to explore at a safe distance. Get some daily exercise by going for a walk or taking an online video class. Make sure that you fill each day with activities that bring you happiness and make you smile during this stress-inducing time.


Communicate with Your Doctor


As we age, we tend to experience more medical issues, so it is a given that we’ll have to go to more routine doctor visits. In a time where physical contact is discouraged, it may seem difficult to continue with these visits. However, many physicians have shifted to online medical care, also known as telehealth. Check with your primary care doctor to see if they are offering visits through phone calls or video chatting. There are also telemedicine companies available that deliver prescription medication right to your door, so you don’t have to go anywhere to pick up daily medications that you may rely on. With the increase of telemedicine companies in Canada, there’s easier than ever access to healthcare from your own home. Be sure to take advantage of it during this time to minimize travel. 


Use Delivery Services


There are numerous delivery services available so that we can avoid leaving the house and coming in contact with potential carriers of the virus. Just like how you can get medication delivered, it’s also just as easy to get essential items like groceries delivered to your home. Be sure to sanitize anything delivered to you before using it with disinfecting spray or wipes just to be safe. You can also get takeout delivered, arts and crafts supplies, and other items to make this time inside go by before we know it.


Give Back to Others


Most importantly, take this time to support healthcare workers and essential employees on the frontlines by completing little acts of kindness. If you are skilled in sewing, consider making fabric face masks to donate to those who need them. Make monetary donations to local charities that help fund food banks if you can spare any change or give educational resources to underprivileged students. Create thank you cards to send to those that you know who are helping your community. Showing your appreciation will not only make those working hard to feel noticed, but it will also bring you happiness by knowing that you’re making others smile! Above all, stay at home to protect yourself and others. We will get through this together and in the meantime, enjoy this excuse to talk to your family every day and get some projects done. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Musings from Isolation

What a difference a few weeks can make! As with most people I know, the last month has been spent at home with my family as we self-isolate; our living space has become a workplace and school. We hope daily, like the rest of the world, for a return to normalcy, to routine, and to everything else we took for granted. Our weekdays and weekends have melded into one and weariness has set in. We miss human contact. We miss family and friends. We miss our freedom to come and go without thought, planning or a set of gloves in our pockets. We miss being able to go to a grocery store and not wait in line. We miss being able to walk next to someone without a mutual fear of catching a virus. There are days I feel like we are in the midst of an apocolypse. It is as if we are at war but our enemy is something we cannot see. And we worry. We worry about who we know who will fall ill. We worry about businesses that will not survive. We worry about the long term economic impact. How long will it take us to recover, as individuals and as a nation?

There is more uncertainty than I care to acknowledge right now, but I've come to realize that if we hope to function in this 'temporary new normal', we need to remove what we can't control from the equation.

We need to focus on what we can control and what we are grateful for. Each day, find one thing to be thankful for. Write it down. Say it out loud. Be grateful for the health of your loved ones, having people who love and care for and about you, the roof over your head and the food on your table. When it comes down to it, those are the only things that really matter.

Create a routine. Whatever that might be; something to give you a reason to get up in the morning and begin a new day different from the one before. Reach out to family and friends virtually. It's not quite the same as in person, but it does provide human interaction. Reach out to those in need. Look after your neighbour who needs help or groceries or a meal. Reach out to seniors in your life who are especially feeling isolated right now. Exercise. Read that book you have been wanting to read but never had time to. Try a new recipe or ten. Enjoy the outdoors when the weather is good. Spend time with those who are home with you; when this is over and everyone gets back to work and school and friends, you may long for that time when everyone ate a meal together. And remember, this too shall pass; one day, this experience will simply be a distant memory.

Stay safe, and stay home. #flattenthecurve.

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.