- Stop and smell the roses …. Take your time, don’t rush
- Keep stairs and walkways free and clear of clutter, ice and snow
- Use hand rails and grab bars
- Balance your body with good nutrition, hydration and gentle stretching
- Keep an eye on your vision and get your sight checked regularly
- Know what you are taking, some medications may cause dizziness
- Ensure your shoes are well fitting and sturdy
- Ensure all lights are working and bright
- Assess your home for ‘hazards’
- Ask for help
Aging in place means having the appropriate health and social supports in place to live a safely and independently in your home.
Planning, the earlier you begin planning for the changes that may occur you are able to be proactive, rather than reactive.
Things to Think about
Assess your home, if you became wheelchair or walker bound is there enough space to through the doors without becoming stuck? Do you have stairs, if at some point you are unable to get up them, will you need a chairlift installed? Or maybe you have no real need to be upstairs.
After assessing your home it will be apparent to you whether this is a place you could safely see yourself age, or whether it might be time to look for a more accommodating location. There are so many senior based accommodations, assisted living buildings or long term care. That if you find your home will not be safe or comfortable you have lots of options. However the early you start to plan for those, the smoother the transition. Has your family thought about it, maybe they have a ‘granny suite’ they would love to have you live in, so they can ensure you are receiving the appropriate support. Great conversation to have with all of your loved ones, as I’m sure they would be more than happy to help you make the right decisions.
Maybe your home is only a single floor, the doorways are wide, and you don’t want to move, you feel that if your ability became limited this would a comfortable and functional home that you could thrive in. What is available to you in the community? How will you be socially and physically active when your abilities become limited. Is your doctor close, are there shopping areas, where you can get the whole list crossed off in one stop.
What assistance is available financially to help with your home needs? What agencies in your community work to assist seniors? Are there any centers offering Senior based programming involving activities, and education, awareness and advocacy? So many questions, may be the community your home in isn’t senior friendly, it may be time to move.
Most Seniors live longer than their ability to drive – therefore when considering how you will get around, imagine you are not driving. Yay! To all the money you save, but the loss in independence will be devastating. One of the best ways to deal with the loss of a license or ability to drive is to plan. What other options are available in your area, do they offer discounted rates; will you need to book in advance? Will the costs of not driving be more than your vehicle expense? Many people can also rely on family or friends to get them in between appointments. If you decide long term care is for you, many times they can arrange drivers to ensure you are where you need to be.
If you lose your ability to drive, there are so many more options and due to the costs associated with owning and using your own vehicle, being sky high. I can imagine, switching to alternative methods of transportation would allow you to join a club that buses members to their activities. You would just need to be in the right neighbourhood.
Social Isolation becomes a negative issue impacting many older Canadians. Social interactions are so beneficial to your overall well being, be sure to plan how you are going to be able to take part in events in the community, coffee with friends, or a community group. Volunteering or working part-time can not only provide you a bit of extra pocket money, it could provide the social engagement you are missing. What things do you like to do, are you able to identify seniors groups in the area with similar interests.
Thinking about Supports
Some older adults feel that they need assistance with ADL’s (activities of daily living).
The support needed varies, from private out of pocket to those offered through OHIP and the Social Service System.
Find out what is available in your community. The best place to start is at the local seniors center or your health care provider.
What do you think you might need? Drive way shoveling, assistance with groceries or laundry. Maybe mobility is an issue and you would love to have someone sit with you. There are so many services available, unfortunately though, not all are covered by government funds, and somethings offered to some people may not be offered in other communities. Also if there is a particular activity that you really enjoy right now, are you able to brainstorm ways that aging is going to make it more difficult and develop strategies to overcome those challenges so you can still take part?
There are so many dimensions of health, it will be very important to take care off all of the dimensions in order to be the best version of yourself possible. Numerous community organizations focus on peoples overall health. Things to consider would be:
Are you eating well, getting regular exercise, getting enough social interaction. Am I reading and using my knowledge on a daily basis. It is so important to think of activities a person could do with limited mobility as it will help get them out and about, and improve their overall wellness.
Staying Financially Secure
Understanding and planning for future expenses is critical to enjoying a fulfilling life as you age. This means, being aware of the programs and funds available to older adults, as well as provincial and territorial tax credits.
Important questions to consider:
What income will I need to cover my needs and wants into retirement?
Does my financial plan address emergencies or out of pocket expenses?
What benefits/programs are available to me?
Staying Safe and Free from Abuse
All people from all ages and backgrounds experience fraud. Older adults are more vulnerable, and more regularly effected by scams that younger people may not have problems with. Most younger individuals do not have landlines, and are very experienced with email and computers. Where as someone that still has a telephone number that is published, or someone that does not have much knowledge of email and computers may be vulnerable due to their need for assistance. The scams, come by way of telephone, at your door, and through your email. It is very good idea to become knowledgeable of the different scams happening in the area, so that if you are approached you can recognize it and report it.
Playing the Caregiver
It is not too unheard of that an elderly parent is helping an elderly parent, or anyone else for that matter who may need some personal care. However it is very important to note, that even helping exhaustion and fatigue can come with the role of caregiver. Be sure you are aware of the respite services available to you. Or private low cost home care services that can assist with showering, feeding, foot care so that you can take a break. You won’t be able ot look after anyone if you are run down. So it will be important to remember, always take care of you first.
(Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum, 2016)
At HomeCare on Wheels we know the importance of food prep and meal planning. By taking a bit of time to plan your weekly meal schedule, and prep, you save yourself a lot of time deciding what to eat, wondering what’s in the cupboards to eat, and can make shopping much simpler.
One of the number one concerns family’s have about their loved ones is whether they are getting the nutrition they need.
HomeCare on Wheels encourages taking a day to plan, and prepare meals ahead of time. Therefore when your loved one gets hungry they are able to simply reheat their already prepared food.
Benefits to planning your meals are:
Saves time and money, eliminates last minute stresses of ‘what are we going to have for supper’, makes shopping simpler, encourages home cooked nutritious and delicious meals, extras can be made and stored in the freezer, or given to friends or family for a special treat, equaling less wasted food.
If you would like some assistance getting into the habit of planning and prepping your meals, HomeCare on Wheels can come out and show you what it’s all about.
The fewer decisions that need to be made in one day, the better decision maker you will be.
Many of us look forward to our golden years, dreaming of the sand, sun and a million dollar yacht we will use to explore the great unknown. Too often though the reality is very unlike the dream. Take a second and visualize the things you think will be most important to you when you retire.
Is it spending the winter months in a warmer climate? Is it ensuring that your children will want for nothing? Are you hoping to simply ‘not have money worries’? Will you be working part-time to keep yourself socially fulfilled? Whatever it is that you decide, it will cost you money.
Sources of Retirement Income
Pension from employer, RRSP’s (Registered Retirement Savings Plan), TFSA (tax free savings account), OAS (old age security), CPP (Canadian pension plan), Residual (Blog Posts, Seminars), Passive (rental property), Investments (stocks and bonds), Disability… Are there other sources of income that you can think of? Due to the limited nature of all of these incomes, one of the most important first steps you can take to financial independence in retirement is to estimate your monthly expenses.
In order to do this you must identify your wants and your needs. Often people will seek advice from financial planners. If that is something you would be interested in doing, ensure they are accredited, licensed, and CFP – CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER follows the name on their business card.
Once you are able to identify your income and your expenses, it is time for ACTION!
Analyze your spending habits
Write down your budget
Pay your debts
When your expenses outnumber your income, you are living beyond your means. If you start planning early enough you will be able to curb this into retirement. However if not you may have to look into other options to cover those left over expenses.
As per The credit counselling society of Canada 70,000 of the calls they received in 2016 were from people that were 55 years and older. These people often had children and grandchildren that were in need of their financial support and it was crippling their retirement goals.
Sometimes it is really important to look at your own behaviors to see if you are the catalyst to your budget shortfalls.
Is there someone living with you that should be contributing more?
Are you able to downsize into smaller cheaper accommodations
Can you take on a tenant, a boarder, or a room mate
It is estimated it costs about 10,000$ to run a car every year.
Can you take public transportation, walk, or ride your bike?
Would an auto subscription service work for you (zip car/auto-share)
Asking for the generic brand prescription
Asking your doctor for samples of prescriptions
Preventative measures (Cycling regularly)
Bulk buy – split with friends/family/neighbours
Coupons – call the manufacture ask for coupons
Having pot lucks rather than making the whole supper
Call provider, they offer relief programs and discounts depending on your situation
Equal payment plans
Tax Rebates offered through companies
September and April – good promotions
Be a tourist in your own city – open doors festival
City Passes – discount purchases on multi activities
This is not an all inclusive list, but it highlights there are lots of ways to decrease expenses when you are experiencing a shortfall.
“No gold medal given for doing everything and ending up broke”
One thing to avoid
As you age, your income may become limited, and your ability to earn become non-existent. Many fall into the trap of using credit to cover the gaps in their budget. Before long the credit card is at a balance of 5,000$, but there is no extra money coming in, and at 18.9% interest, the minimum payment is 150.00 monthly. If you only continue to make the minimum payment it will take at least 20 years to pay down that debt, that snowballed into a 10,300.00$ liability.
It may be advisable to put 20-50$ away every pay cheque to create a nest egg that will cover the gaps. This will ensure you are not paying double to live.
(My Money Coach, 2017)
Elder Abuse, what you can’t see could be hurting someone you care about deeply. Most would never think of physically, verbally, sexually or financially assaulting our older parents, our grandparents, or our elderly neighbors. However, situations like these are on the rise.
What is elder abuse: Elder abuse is violent or abusive harm done to an older person by a family member, a friend, staff in a residential setting or hospital setting, and/or someone the person relies on for basic needs.
People whom abuse older adults are usually in a position of control or influence over their victims, almost to the extent the abused depend on them for food, shelter, finance, personal care, companionship and more.
A few specific situations:
Physical – slapping, hitting, pushing, forcible confinement
Sexual– any unwanted form of sexual activity, or comments
Financial Abuse – forcing an older adult to sell things, stealing their money, committing fraud, misusing Power of Attorney.
Neglect – Abandoning an older person, withholding food, or healthcare, deliberately failing to give an older adult what they need.
Mental – humiliating, insulting, frightening, threatening or ignoring an older person.
Some of these are not just abuse they are crimes. If you are witnessing someone go through any of these things please contact the police to have them investigate.
Why does Elder Abuse Happen?
Old age is difficult for people for many reasons; Failing health, reduced income, loss of meaningful role, death of loved ones, limited vision, hearing and mobility.
What do Victims of Elder Abuse Need?
The abuser to stop the violence, exploitation, neglect
Safety, Shelter and access to financial resources
Home Support services so they will not be dependent on the abuser, housing options
Emotional Support, counseling, and greater inclusion in the community
Information about the law and the criminal justice system
Elder abuse is a complex problem there is a great need for organizations to advocate and protect our most vulnerable through educating older adults and younger individuals on the different types of elder abuse to keep an eye out for.
What can you do?
Look for organizations in your community that are working together to eradicate and educate the public about elder abuse. Take part, and educate others about what you are learning. Report situations or circumstances that cross the line. Be the change you want to see.
The local police station can provide resources through their non-emergency number. However if it is an emergency and assistance is needed immediately, call 911.
http://www.itsnotright.ca also has great resources and information to help individuals experiencing elder abuse.
Falls can be devastating, and although they can happen to anyone. When they happen among older adults the results can be absolutely detrimental to their ability to happily and safely enjoy their lives.
The good news is they are preventable.
The most important step you can take to prevent a stumble is: Doing an environmental assessment of your home, or the area you have to walk around. Quite often out of habit we just do things without looking, because we do the same thing every day. Well taking a quick look around in front and beside you may allow you to identify the cord, in front of the door, or the fresh spill of juice that has become slippery.
Even if you are sitting watching tv, turn it off, look around. What do you see? Are the paths free and clear of clutter, is there ample room to get in between the furniture. Is the lighting good enough that you can see without straining your eyes. Are their magazines on the floor, empty packages, wrappers?
Having clear paths that are well lit, will not only help you but your guests. Be sure that if there are carpets that they are all flat against the floor. Depending on their age and condition it may be best to move them out entirely.
These posters are a bit dated, almost 10 years but contain great information regarding how to go through each room of your house to safety check it for fall risks
They also have printed a calendar for 2017 and 2018, with fall prevention tips.
Nervous about your next doctor’ visit? No need to be. Your health care provider is there for you. Let them know if you have concerns.
A few ways to have the best visit are:
Be prepared – Write down your questions/concerns, and take notes at the appointment
Bring a friend – Often they will hear the things you might not, they may be able to find the right words for you
Ask Questions – Repeat and answers and ask again if you do not completely understand