Friday, 15 March 2019

Fraud Prevention Month

Did you know that March is Fraud Prevention Month? The more I read about people, especially seniors, who are duped but people who seem to think there is nothing wrong with tricking people out of their hard earned money, the more I think that every month should be Fraud Prevention Month.
We have all heard or received email scams telling us we inherited money; I've also received ones using someone's stolen email identity letting me know that they need money to get out a bad situation. And, everyone I know gets phone calls from fake CRA telling us we will go to jail unless we pay taxes that we supposedly owe. And it seems, these are all the tip of the iceberg. The list goes on... there is credit card fraud, debit card fraud, identity theft, etc.  
I do wonder if social media has resulted in an increased number of fraudsters because people put so much online that anyone searching up 'opportunity'  is able to garner a boat load of information on people just by looking at their profiles. For years there have been warnings not to post online that you are on vacation because you are setting yourself up for a house break in. Yet, we all know people who still love posting their vacation pictures all over Facebook. People let down their guard by thinking that 'only my friends' can see what I post.
I would hope that with all of the publicity out there about fraud and scams, most people are aware that this is happening and are wary of opening and responding to emails that do not sound quite right. And the same goes for those pesky CRA calls. But what about a senior who is unaware of the depth of the problem or are trusting enough to believe what they are told? 
This week in the news, there was a story of an older lady, who was tricked into sending someone thousands of dollars simply because she was under tremendous stress and didn't pay attention to the little things that would have tipped her off had she been stress-free. She had used UPS to send the money and when she realized she had been tricked, with the quick action of the staff at her local UPS depot who were able to stop the package in transit, she was able to recover the money in its entirety. She was lucky. But how many people, are not as fortunate? How many seniors are duped out of their savings by crooks who are able to find out enough details about a person to trick them into believing help is needed for someone they know and care about? 
From the plethora of articles online, it is clear that there are many people who have no problem tricking others and stealing their money. All we can do, is educate ourselves and others around us, about what is happening. If you hear of a new scam, let your network know. Let the seniors in your life know. Check out and Report fraud and scams if you know of someone who has been victimized. The only way to stop fraudsters, is to educate ourselves and others so no one falls prey to them. 

Friday, 1 March 2019

Fall Prevention in Seniors

          To say we've had a bad winter is an understatement. There have been days where going outside is treacherous and I am certain that the emergency rooms in every hospital are filled with people who have fallen on the ice. For a senior, the prospect of a fall can be disastrous, especially if a broken bone is the result. We all know a story of someone elderly who broke a hip and ended up with severely compromised mobility and/or permanent disability/dependence.
          And weather isn't always the culprit. Not all falls happen outside. Often a senior can fall inside their home as a result of a slippery floor, an unsteady gait, or tripping hazards like area rugs. I know of people who refuse to use a cane or walker; and others who only use them outside even though they need them indoors as well. Few think they will fall; and most think that if they do, they can get up without a problem and without broken bones.
          So what's the solution? I suppose prevention is always the ideal and to that end there are Fall Prevention classes that could help. However, as with most 'bad' things that 'may' happen, we are all in denial that we could be subject to a debilitating fall and, attending prevention classes means acknowledging that something could happen..... I would venture to guess that most people wouldn't attend such a class unless they or someone they know has taken a nasty spill and suffered as a result.
         If you know a senior who you are concerned about, be proactive and ask them if you can have an OT come to visit who can assess their home for hazards. At the very least, ensure there are no tripping hazards in the home; loose area rugs, wires, etc. Bathroom safety is a big issue too - install bath bars if they will allow you to, so they have some support if the floor or tub is slippery. Speak to their family doctor about your concerns and arrange for a referral to the local LHIN where they can send in an OT to do a safety assessment. Sometimes a doctor the senior trusts will have better luck getting them to accept an assessment than you might!
        In one area in Southern Ontario, when an EMT gets a call about someone who has fallen, an OT goes along to assess the situation and discuss prevention. What a great concept! And one that should be rolled out across the province. With advancing technology, I have read stories of all sorts of devices that can detect falls or provide hip padding so falling doesn't result in breaks. We can only hope that in time, prevention with be the norm rather than anecdotal stories we read in the news. 
        For seniors living alone, encourage them to get an emergency button they wear that they can press if they do fall, so help will come quickly. Encourage them to exercise - many local community or seniors centres have exercise programs for seniors. Exercise has been shown to be good for your bones, balance and fall prevention.
       The key to preventing unnecessary falls and injuries is to encourage safety and be proactive about prevention.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Eating Alone

I wonder if anyone has ever researched how many people actually make healthy, tasty, well-presented meals, when they  live alone and are only preparing food for themselves. I would venture to guess that cooking a gourmet meal for oneself when eating alone, doesn't happen very often, regardless of the age group we are talking about. I know when I lived alone, I would usually grab something quick and easy rather than taking the time to prepare and present a meal as I do for my family. And so, it comes as no surprise, that seniors living alone, may not eat very well; in some cases, they may even be malnourished.  

Its a simple fact that eating is more enjoyable when the experience is shared with others. Mealtime for many is a social event - a time to catch up with others, share conversation and enjoy company.  For a senior who is either used to preparing a meal to share with another or used to having a spouse prepare their meals for them, having to eat alone, especially if they have spent a lifetime sharing a meal with someone else, can impact nutrition in a significant, negative way. 

The perception by many is that as we get older and less active we eat less - which may be true - but it's important to still ensure that what we do eat is nutritious and a balanced diet. 

So what can we do to encourage seniors we know, who live alone, to eat well? As a first step, invite them to eat with you regularly. If you can, have a set day of the week where you see them over lunch or dinner. Look into local community agencies or seniors centres that have occasional communal dining. Suggest they create a friend group that visits over meals and perhaps rotates hosting a meal or does a weekly potluck dinner so everyone shares in the preparation. Even if there is only one other person they know in a similar situation, it would benefit both of them to share a meal once a week whether it's out in a restaurant or in one of their homes. Failing all of that, find out about their local meals on wheels agency where hot inexpensive meals are delivered daily or ,look into frozen meal delivery services (many are online allowing for easy ordering and delivery). While these last two options can ensure healthy eating for one, don't underestimate the importance of eating with others for one's social, mental and emotional health. In fact, many housing options for seniors also include a component of communal dining for this very purpose; new and innovative seniors housing solutions that are in their infancy like the co-housing model, also include a shared dining and kitchen space so no one eats alone. As housing options grow and change, I'm sure we will see even more acknowledgement of the importance of not eating alone. 

Friday, 18 January 2019

Multi-generational Living

Whenever I talk about senior housing options, I will often raise the topic of living with family. It's wonderful when families are willing to take in elder relatives but often there can be issues with the arrangement as one would expect when you amalgamate households and different living styles. As well, since many families have two working people, its often difficult to incorporate care for an elderly loved one into the mix of responsiblities. The North American lifestyle for many has forced us to move away from multi-generations living under one roof, even for those who culturally have expectations on them.
As we are seeing though,  private companies and organizations are coming up with innovative and alternate housing options as more and more people reach that 'senior' age cohort. I read recently about a builder who is designing homes specifically for multi-generational living allowing for the amalgamation of homes as two separate side-by-side private residences - one as a bugalow structure and the other as a two-storey family dwelling. Called a FlexHouz, it is a far better solution than moving loved ones into your basement or an upstairs bedroom if they are still independent and want their privacy. Keeping in mind that climbing stairs can become an issue for an older person, this allows for the senior to be all on one level and to have regular contact with family when they want or need it. As well, it does allow for aging in place if a caregiver is eventually required. It seems to be a better solution than renovating a home to accomodate two households especially if both parties currently own a property that they are willing to sell to move in together. While it appears that only one builder in Ontario is testing this concept out right now, if it catches on, I can see more and more homes being built like this as we need to consider different ways to retire and to care for our elderly. The article indicated that the builder had offered up 7 lots with this design and they sold out within 6 minutes! I'll be watching this concept with anticipation, anxious to see how many other builders pick up on the idea and how widespread it becomes.

Information for this article obtained from: 

Thursday, 3 January 2019

New Year, New Edition!

Happy New Year!
This year we are trying something new. As our regulars know, for the past 22 years we have done an annual publication on retirement residences and resources for seniors that is released every January (called the Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living® ). This year we decided to move away from print in an effort to save a few trees and allow for a mass FREE online distribution of The Guide which is sure to get it in the hands of even more people than ever before. The Guide can be downloaded directly to any computer without restriction or cost. The link to download your very own copy of our 2019 Guide is

The content of our well-known publication is the same as before, though it’s expanded across Canada and has a revised colour resource layout. Because it’s digital, it has the benefit of having bookmarks and live links throughout, making it easier to find what you need quickly. It is full colour with full size pages and larger print that can be expanded as needed through any PDF reader. There are links at the bottom of every page of, that will lead users to the download. continues to work towards becoming the #1 resource for ‘all things senior’. We are always looking for new ways to better meet the changing needs of our users, homes and resources.
Please keep in mind that all homes in Canada are offered the opportunity to be part of our publication. For various reasons, some choose not to be in it – this is not a reflection of the quality of the home or any decision on our part to exclude them.

Please pass on our web address ( ) to anyone you know who may have use for our publication or online information. We continue to add new features to the site and, homes have access to update information as often as they wish as well as add various extras like photos, virtual tours, videos, and social media feeds. We encourage you to visit us often to view our resources, articles, and information on housing options for seniors.

In addition, this week we are re-launching our new, second site,, a member-only professional site allowing for comparative and competitive searches of all seniors housing options across Canada. With this new site we have expanded our reach to different kinds of housing, are beta testing a vacancy program, have added consultation services and  a well-defined resource section to make it the first of its kind in Canada. Feel free to take a look and view the various options available to seniors and professionals who work with them. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks and months.

We value input from all our users and take it into account when preparing the next edition so, please take some time to email any comments, questions, or requests to  in the coming months.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Senior Isolation During the Holiday Season

As the holidays fast approach, and we busy ourselves with the activity of the season, I wonder about those seniors that are shut ins, frail, disabled or don't have family and friends to connect with. Sometimes we get so caught up in the holidays, shopping, cooking and family time that we forget that there are so many who don't have the opportunity to experience or enjoy these things we take for granted simply becuase of circumstance. for many seniors, the holidays can bring isolation, depression and related health issues. It can be a time when you feel your losses the most as we all tend to think back to happier times with those we have lost.

So what can we do to help? If you know a senior in your community or network, stop by and ask what they are doing for the holidays. If it seems that they are alone and isloated, invite them to share in your own celebrations or those happening in your/their community. If they can't leave their home, offer to provide a meal for the holidays. If you have a senior relative that lives far away, see if you can use technology to connect with them. Do they have a computer that you can skype them on? If not, a phone call will suffice. It's feeling that sense of connection and caring that they may yearn for most.  Even if you dont know a senior or are not close to anyone that is alone and isolated, you can still make a difference in someone's life. Visit your local retirement home or nursing home during the holidays and spend some time visiting with people who do not have family. With the major focus on commercialism and the physical act of 'gift giving' we often lose sight fo the fact that the gift of companionship and friendship is the most valuable thing you can give someone else.

Monday, 3 December 2018

The Retirement Cruiser

As our regulars know, I often write about different and innovative retirement living options. I'm always interested in what's current and where things seem to be going when it comes to seniors housing. The other day I read about a man who has taken something that until now, I considered a 'chain email' concept, and turned it into his reality. I'm certain many of our readers have received that email that talks about how its cheaper to live on a cruise ship than in a retirement home .... it shows up in my inbox at least once a year .... well, there is a fellow who decided to make a cruise ship home more than a dozen years ago. He is mentally alert, fairly healthy, in his 90's, widowed and almost fully blind. He has a home in Florida which he uses to store his belongings but rarely goes there. He spends his days cruising around and staying on the ship with staff who know him well and cater to all of his needs. The article didn't indicate the cost involved or how the cruise company agreed to this arrangement (or if there is a 'out-clause' if his needs exceed what they are able to do) but it did get me thinking about the viability of such an arrangement.
Clearly, it only works because he is independent. Like most retirement homes, he gets his meals, housekeeping services and entertainment. He mostly interacts with staff who attend to him as required. But beyond them, he has no lasting relationships. His kids visit when he docks in their city's port but he doesn't have an opportunity to socialize with people of his age and stage. If he gets too sick to be looked after by the crew, he will have to be relocated. I do wonder how that scenario would play out.
As someone who loves cruising, I understand the desire to vacation on a cruise ship. However, after a week on board, maximum 10 days, I am anxious for land, and home. I cannot understand, wanting to retire full-time on a boat, cut off from everyone but the crew. From a practical perspective, or maybe its a social work perspective, I see red flags everywhere in a situation like this and I remain convinced that a retirement home is a far better setting for someone in their 90's who needs a bit of assistance. And as a family member, I would not want an elderly loved one, at sea for years. I wonder what led him to make this choice and why he considers it preferable to living in a retirement setting with the potential for more amenities and care and in close proximity to his friends and family. I suspect there is more to this story than the brief interview I read and am left with more questions than answers to this retirement option.
As our readers know, there are many different housing opportunities for seniors  - and many new and innovative ones coming soon - but I hope living on a cruise ship is one that will not become popular anytime soon. I think, in retirement, one needs to consider several things when making decisions around relocation including proximity to health care and hospitals, family and friends and amenities and care required, now and in the future. And I know that there are many retirement settings that can provide a much better quality of life than living on a ship. In fact, there are many people I have talked to who have described a retirement home as a 'cruise ship on land'.
So, if you are an avid cruiser and are considering this option when you get that chain email in your inbox, before really considering it, check out a retirement home; go for a visit, try a meal, stay for a week and see if you like it. Consider your proximity to family and friends, the care you will get now and what you can get in the future if your needs change. I hope you will look at the many options out there in your community and beyond before making a cruise ship your permanent retirement destination..........