Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Innovative Seniors' Housing

Every now and then, there is an article about the anticipated 'senior tsunami' that will be upon us in less than 20 years. Recently there was an article in the paper that anticipated that before long, 25% of our population will be senior. The first question that comes to mind when I read things like this is - how are we going to look after our elderly in the future? How will we manage care? And how will many afford care?  Keeping in mind that with medical advances people will live longer, and hopefully healthier for longer, there may be less of an anticipated need for homes that provide care, and more of a need for 'ageing in place'. This, coupled with varying degrees of financial independence may indeed push the seniors industry as a whole, to look more at innovation in current settings and less at constructing buildings.

Lessons and ideas for Canada, can be learned by looking at other countries and what they are doing that works and doesn't work. In the Netherlands 'Apartments for Life' with mixed levels of care is commonplace. In Scandinavia there are smaller scale seniors communities that work well for their population. In the US there are things like congregate housing /seniors communities, neighbourhood based retirement programs, naturally occurring retirement communities and senior co-housing (which is starting to occur a bit in Canada as well). There are things like Campuses of Care popping up in various areas where there is a range of care levels all in one setting. And there are a few universities that are building retirement settings on their campuses for seniors who wish to continue learning. We are hearing about new kinds of memory care which offer innovative ways to care for people with memory problems. And lately I have read several articles about advances in technology which allow for people to stay in their homes with the assistance of technology that alerts people off site if there are problems. Clearly there will be more research and technology aimed at seniors in the future which looks at maximizing independence in a cost effective way.  We are also seeing new fields of training - in the US there are now 'Geriatric Care Managers' and 'Certified Ageing in Place Specialists'. Active Ageing is becoming a common term and even the World Health Organization has created a definition for it.

The next 20 years will be a time of substantial growth for the 'senior care industry' as it is forced to look at different ways to provide care to our elderly. It may also be a time in which our governments are forced to look at pension and health care reform as it learns to cope with the ageing population and limited resources. Gaps in service will need to be addressed as will changes to the infrastructure of of communities to accommodate the growing number of seniors. Without doubt we are entering a time of change and challenge. The seniors of tomorrow will be the ones who will  inspire us to be innovative and creative.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Senior-Friendly Communities

Is your community senior-friendly? Do you know what that means & how to achieve it?

Several years ago I was visiting a new retirement home. On taking a private tour with the marketing person, we stopped in a lounge with a large window over looking a traffic light. I watched for a few minutes to see how long the traffic lights stayed on green and red. As I watched cars whip by and pedestrians run across the road to catch the green light, it occurred to me that anyone with a physical impairment or with an inability to 'run' would not make the light. I asked the person touring me if she had notified the city of this and in fact, she had not even noticed the issue. That factor aside, the city was well aware that a seniors home was going up close to a very busy intersection. One would wonder why the lights were not adjusted the moment that home opened to ensure that no one got injured crossing the street. I suppose the argument could be made that the responsibility rested with the home but I wonder if we don't have a collective responsibility to keep our vulnerable residents safe?

We all know our population is ageing. And many cities were built at a time when 'senior safety' was not a priority and even if it was way back when, many areas have infrastructures that are older and need updating shortly. So what can we do to look after our current and future seniors? In the first place, things like traffic lights need to be looked at - as do increasing the number of cross walks in areas where there is a large space between lights - especially in an area where there are many seniors that frequent. Other important changes to look at include: making public transportation more accessible and even expanding it in certain areas, creating more spaces to sit and to walk safely, fixing side walk issues, increasing disabled parking spots, increasing areas in and outside that are wheelchair/walker accessible and allow for easy movement from road to side walk if you do use a wheelchair.

Beyond this though, we also need to look at how we care for our seniors - moving forward innovation will be the key... but more on this in a future blog.........

Friday, 13 June 2014

Happy Father's Day!!!

On Sunday June 15, 2014 all of North America will celebrate Father's Day. The very first Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910. In Canada and the US it is celebrated on on the 3rd Sunday in June but many other countries celebrate it on other days in the year.

As much as many identify Father's Day, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day as Hallmark Card days, the reality is, it is nice to have at least one day a year to stop to recognize our parents and the sacrifices they have made for us over the years.

Parenthood is probably the hardest 'job' in the world. Something that comes without an instruction book and leads to a lifetime of worry but also, a lifetime of joy. I think few people actually realize how difficult parenting another human being is until they have a helpless baby in their arms. Few children realize the sacrifices their parents made for them until they have children of their own.

On some level, it is unfortunate that we need to denote one day a year as special for a parent however, in our fast paced world, for those who take a parent for granted every other day of the year, its nice that there is one day that we can actually devote to them (and in some cases, that they let their kids 'spoil' them).

If you ask most dads they would say that spending time with their kids is far more important than any 'gift' they can get. Often that is all most of us want. The gift of 'time' is one of the most precious things you can give someone any day of the year. We are often so busy worrying about what to 'buy' someone, that we often forget that the best gifts don't have a dollar value attached to them.

So do acknowledge your dad this weekend - be it your real father, stepfather or grandfather. Let them know how much you value them and all they do for you all year long.

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Happy Seniors' Month!!

Every June Canada celebrates Seniors' Month. 2014 is the 30th Anniversary of this celebration in Ontario with the theme for this year being "Aging Without Boundaries: 30 Years of Celebrating Seniors". There are events throughout the province, and indeed Canada as a whole, that recognize seniors and their ongoing contribution to society. It really is quite wonderful that we denote a month to recognize seniors and to encourage events and opportunities to do this. Seniors who are involved in activity programs or with seniors agencies will likely know about many events taking place throughout this month however, if a senior is not connected in that way, they may not be aware of this.
If you have seniors in your life, you may want to let them know that they can easily find out events through their local seniors agency, the website for the senior secretariat, or simply doing a search online for seniors events in June in their region.
While group celebrations are great, the personal touch is far more important. So if you do have a senior in your life, take some time to let them know you appreciate all they have done - a small gesture often goes a long way!