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.

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.