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Have You Had the Talk?

20 Aug

The best time to talk to the older people in your life about end of life matters is when they are still able to make decisions for themselves.

If the elderly people in your life haven’t had “the talk” with you and aren’t likely to do so, then you need to have the talk with them. And it’s best to do it sooner than later.  Believe me, carrying out a person’s wishes is much easier than having to decide for them.

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Are You Guilty of Ageism?

15 Aug

Ageism is the cause of age-based discrimination. It is probably the most tolerated form of social prejudice world wide and it exists in many forms.

I am willing to bet just about everyone has practiced ageism at some point in their lives whether they realize it or not.

Think about it:

  • Have you have ever made a joke about old people or laughed about how an older person was depicted on a television show or movie?
  • Have you ever assumed something about an individual solely because of their age?
  • Have you treated someone differently than you would others due to stereotypes about their age?
According to the Revera Report on Ageism, the three most common forms of age discrimination faced by Canadian seniors are:
  1. being ignored or treated as though they are invisible (41 per cent);
  2. being treated like they have nothing to contribute (38 per cent);
  3. and the assumption seniors are incompetent (27 per cent).

Let’s face it. We’ve all been guilty of ageism at one point or another in our lives. But just because it’s so prevalent doesn’t make it right.  You probably experienced ageism when you were a teenager. If  we  live long enough to see our senior years, we’re likely to experience it again. Are you willing to stem the tide of ageism? If so, how?

Watch Out for Well-Attired Caregivers

21 Jul

Sadly, elder abuse is far more common than most of us realize. It’s certainly not an unfamiliar concept to me. Both my mother and my late uncle were victimized by paid caregivers.

A few years ago,  my brother and I were given three hours notice that my mother was to be released from hospital but would require around-the-clock care for several months. We didn’t have a clue how to hire a care giver. All we knew was my mother really wanted to go home and the hospital wanted its bed back.  Lorna was the only applicant I spoke with and I hired her immediately. She seemed trustworthy and competent. And she was immediately available.

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Tribute to an Excellent Caregiver: Yes They Really Do Exist

18 Jul

Having written about Lorna, one of two caregivers I had to fire for cause, I think it’s only fair I devote time to Lea, the best PSW I hired. In case you’re curious, between my uncle and my mother, there were nine.

Lea was my Uncle Benny’s caregiver during the last years of his life. She was hired after I let four others go when he moved into Cummer Lodge, a long-term care home.  I didn’t think he would need private caregivers in a nursing home, but I was very wrong.  After two weeks of daily calls about frequent falls and aggressive behavior, it was  becoming clear my uncle wasn’t getting as much care as he needed. But by then the people I let go had all found new jobs.

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Women Are More Likely Than Men to Reach Age 100

18 Jul

Single or widowed men who live to be over 100 will have lots of ladies to choose from if Canada’s 2011 Census is any indication.

Our most recent national census counted 4,870 women and just 955 men aged 100 and over. The numbers aren’t really a surprise when you take into account the corresponding sex ratio of approximately 500 women for every 100 men, the highest of all age groups.

Among the Canadian population, there were slightly more men than women up to age 26, after which there were more women than men. By age 65, there were about 125 women for 100 men and by age 80, 170 women per 100 men.

More women than men reach the age of 100 because women experience lower probabilities of dying at all ages than men. In 2008, life expectancy at birth was 78.5 years for men and 83.1 years for women.

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My Little Black Book

17 Jul

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If someone you love is living in a long term care home, chances are you have a version of my little black book. I have another one for my mother, but I kept this one next to my bedside phone so I could scribble down notes for the many calls I took relating to my uncle.

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Your Chances of Living to 100 are Significantly Better than Winning the Lottery

17 Jul

More people than ever before are living to age 100 or beyond. Whether living that long is a good thing or a bad thing depends on one’s perspective and an individual’s quality of life.

When the 2011 Census was taken there were over 5,800 people in Canada aged 100 years and older.  Most of these centenarians lived in either Ontario (2,030), Quebec (1,345), or British Columbia (875).  These statistics compare to 4,600 centenarians in 2006 and 3,000 in 2001.

It is also worth noting that recent Statistics Canada’s population projections show the number of centenarians will likely continue to rise.  In fact, by 2031, there could be more than 17,000 people age 100 or over in this country.  And by 2061, close to 80,000. By that time, most cohorts of baby boomers will have reached 100.

In the United States, the rate of centenarians was slightly lower than in Canada. Life expectancy in the United States, at 75.6 years for men and 80.8 years for women in 2007, was also slightly lower than in Canada.

The highest number of centenarians in the world can be found in Japan.It has nearly 37 centenarians per 100,000 population, more than twice Canada’s rate. Life expectancy in Japan is also the highest, at 79.6 years for men and 86.4 years for women in 2009.  As for other G20 nations, France, Italy and the United Kingdom also had higher centenarian rates than Canada. The population of these three countries is, on average, older than Canada’s. In France, for example, women had a life expectancy of 84.5 in 2008, compared to 83.1 in Canada.

So how about it? Do you want to live to be 100? And if you do, what do you plan to do now to wage against the overwhelming likelihood of acquiring a dementia-related illness?

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