Tag Archives: aging

Why Elder Care Should Matter to You Too

24 Aug

I’m committed to finding ways to advocate for aging populations. And while I’ve been lax with original content for this space, I have been dutifully keeping up with the latest in issues relating to seniors, aging, dementia and elder care. I do so by reading as much as I can on these subjects whenever I can steal a moment.

With a rapidly aging global population and the likelihood of more individuals than ever before being afflicted with dementia,there seems to be a new study or report released every day. Many of these studies are from  highly reputable institutions. Others are from businesses looking to profit off the coming “grey tsunami” .
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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?

Sifting Through Studies About Aging

28 Jul

Recently I wrote about my continuing interest in studies relating to aging populations. Now I want to tell you how I determine if a report is worth sharing with others.  This may not be how you go about it, but for an individual with a non-medical background who is neither an economist or a gerontologist, this is what works best for me.
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When deciding if a study merits attention, I look to which organization commissioned the study and how many people were followed in order to achieve the reported results.  For instance:  if a report released by the Coca Cola Company claimed that increased soft drink consumption can cure Alzheimer’s, I’m not going to give that report any attention. Same goes for medical reports that looked at an extremely small cross-section of the population to come up with the stated results. Don’t get me wrong. I know there are some hard working scientists behind these reports. And I understand some of the medical findings may be significant down the road.  I hope many of them will lead to a greater understanding of age-related illness.  I just don’t want to be putting out false hope (or fear) based on results of a small sample size.
I share what I deem to be the more interesting information through my Twitter account. I hope you will follow along with me. If you’re not following already, my Twitter handle is @judila416.

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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?

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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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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