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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?

Do New Increases to Long-Term Care Home Fees Set Up Two-Tier System?

8 Jul

As they do every year on the same date, fees for subsidized long term care (nursing) homes in Ontario went up on July 1st. Also of note is that lower-income Ontarians, or those who did not save adequate amounts for their advanced senior years, may find themselves having to settle for older, possibly second-rate accommodations than their better-heeled counterparts.

The co-payment residents pay for accommodation in long term care (LTC) homes was increased just slightly to meet the rising costs of meals and accommodation.  The maximum charges also increased for residents admitted to “newer preferred accommodation beds”  on or after July 1st. “Preferred accommodation bed” is government speak for “nicer newer nursing homes”.  The premium charged for semi-private accommodation will increase by $1.00 from $9.00 to $10.00 a day. And the premium for private rooms will go up by $1.75 from $19.75 to $21.50 per day. If you want to know if higher rates apply to a specific home, click here for more information.

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Dementia and Aging Aren’t Synonomous

25 Jun

I had my introduction to dementia on my uncle’s 91st birthday. He had been hospitalized and it was the first time I heard the term Lewy Body disease. Prior to his late 80s my uncle’s retirement years were anything but typical: at 65 he started a business and ran it quite successfully for well over 20 years. He read voraciously and could converse about complicated subjects with utter confidence.  He lived independently and his only health complaints were poor hearing and arthritic knees.

Looking back, signs of my uncle having dementia appeared long before that visit to the hospital. But I mistakenly believed those indicators were part and parcel with aging. I naively thought his increasing habit of repeating the same story over and over again was funny. It was only after he had several falls and started swearing at me that I suspected something more than normal aging was at play.

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How Long is Too Long to Have to Wait for Subsidized Long Term Care?

20 Jun

According to Central Toronto CCAC, the nursing home my mother most wants to go to is still filling applications from 2003-04. Yes, that’s right. The wait time for Baycrest’s Apotex Centre Jewish Home for the Aged is TEN YEARS! Sad to say, but with all my mother’s ailments, she has a better chance of landing a spot in a cemetery than she does a bed in the place most-likely to meet her cultural and spiritual needs.

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Every Day Should Be World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

15 Jun

Saturday, June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  Here in Ontario, the Seniors Secretariat is asking everyone to wear something purple today to raise awareness. I’m not convinced anyone is going to connect wearing purple with this important issue. So wear whatever color you want. Instead, check up on the seniors in your life.  And if a situation gives you reason for concern about potential elder abuse, do something about it before the situation gets out of hand and take action.

Elder Abuse is far too real. Of the 1.5 million seniors living in Ontario, research from the  Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse,  indicates four to ten percent (60,000-150,000) have experienced or are experiencing abuse of some kind. Hardly surprising, financial fraud is the most common form of elder abuse.

Seniors Crisis Lines exist in most metropolitan areas. If you live in Toronto and have concerns about a senior, the number is 416-619-5001. In Ontario the Seniors Safety Line can be reached by calling 2-1-1 or 1-866-299-1011. The line is manned 24/7 and the staff is able to provide service in 150 languages.

Just Exactly How Old is Old?

12 Jun

Old ladies aren’t supposed to run around and jump up and down and play games all the time. Old people are supposed to sit around talking about the weather…” *

One of my brothers likes to remind me about a time when I was 16 and I referred to his then 30-year-old boss as ancient. Now contrast my naive teenage words of wisdom with those of my seven-year-old:

The other night I was reading a book to my son in which a group of second graders were concerned their gym teacher would soon die if she didn’t start curtailing her many athletic activities. As I read the words “Miss Small is a quarter of a century old. That’s like ancient,” my son could be heard shouting “No it isn’t you dumb heads. She’s 25! That’s not old! Old is like 90!”

Obviously my son at seven has a better sense of  what it means to be old than I did at 16. I bet we all have a different opinion about what age we consider to be old.  So just exactly how old do you think is old? And do you really think age matters?

*Gutman, Dan. Miss Small is Off the Wall, Harper Collins, 2009.

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