Autumn View Edition 1, 2015

A message from the Chair

According to two recent newspaper articles hospitals are grossly over crowded with next to no beds available and there is a tremendous shortage of both long term care facilities and or available home care for those that need it and in both cases the villains or the cause of this situation is “seniors”.

Evidently we have with reckless abandon, had the nerve to grow old and in some cases sick and thus foisting the cost for those extended care seniors that happen to need it on the general public and caused them undue waiting times and inconvenience at their local hospital.

As a senior, I positively refuse to apologize or take the blame for the dilemma most areas of Ontario find themselves in. The “Baby Boomers” have just begun to grow old, a fact that will only exasperate a steadily growing problem, that has been ignored for years. Surely the onus for the failure to properly plan for the needs of our aging population lies with the community leaders, hospital boards and the politicians that have failed and continue to fail, to change the system that has created this crisis.

It is long past time that we collectively work to create more and better long term care residences and that we insist that all levels of government contribute handsomely to the development of better home care and finally that we take part in discussions to enable us to foster a fairer and more sensible program for the care of our elderly. After all, there is a great likelihood that we will be in need of this care ourselves not far down the road.

Ed Faulknor, Chair, OPSEU Retired Members Division

Supreme Court vindicates right to meaningful collective bargaining

Today’s Supreme Court of Canada decision on the Mounted Police Association of Ontario recognizes the right of all workers in Canada to choose independent associations to engage in meaningful collective bargaining. This right is constitutionally protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The Court has confirmed what workers have known instinctively all along,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “The right to choose an independent association to engage in collective bargaining forms the essence of freedom of association.”

“The Court has also affirmed in a powerful and eloquent way the fundamental importance of trade unions and collective bargaining in redressing inequality between employees and their employer in the workplace,” he added.

The Court’s decision states: “Individual employees typically lack the power to bargain and pursue workplace goals with their more powerful employers. Only by banding together in collective bargaining associations, thus strengthening their bargaining power with their employer, can they meaningfully pursue their workplace goals.”

For more than a decade, RCMP members have stood before the Supreme Court insisting on their right to come together in an association of their own choosing.

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada has reversed an earlier decision on the matter.

“On behalf of 3.3 million workers in Canada, the Canadian Labour Congress salutes the men and women of the RCMP who fought relentlessly for the right to independent self-organization and democratic self-representation,” said Yussuff.

“Governments and private sector employers should take note: neither the courts of this country, nor workers, will accept ‘employee-relations’ bodies set up by management to thwart meaningful collective bargaining with an independent employee association,” he added.

Yussuff said the CLC is urging Parliament to respect the decision of the Court, and ensure meaningful collective bargaining for RCMP members through a democratically chosen independent association.

In its companion decision, the Court has left for another day the question of whether unilateral and arbitrary wage controls violate freedom of association.

Canadians have watched governments increasingly using economic crisis and fiscal expediency to discard workers' rights and dispense with meaningful and good faith negotiations with unions.

“We are hopeful that the Court’s strong endorsement of meaningful collective bargaining today will limit the ability of governments to interfere in collective bargaining through wage controls or other restrictive measures."

This article taken from the Canadian Labour Congress Website.

Auditor General's report shows numbers game used to justify P3 privatization schemes

“This report shows why NUPGE and its components are fighting for a Five-Point-Plan to protect public services,” said Clancy. “The requirements for openness and transparency in the Plan would make the kind of numbers games that added $8 billion to Ontario’s infrastructure costs impossible.”

Ottawa (12 Dec. 2014) — The 2014 Ontario Auditor General's report shows how cost estimates were manipulated to make P3 privatization schemes appear cheaper than publicly managed infrastructure projects. This was done by producing very high estimates for savings from transferring risk to the private sector.

When only costs like construction, financing and administration were included, the public option cost much less. For the 74 projects in which Value for Money (VFM) assessments were prepared, the report found public delivery was $8 billion cheaper.

“A lot of people who've seen Ontario P3 privatization schemes up close knew there was no way they could be cheaper than public delivery. The auditor general has proved them right," said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “The Auditor General's report also tells us exactly how the P3 privatization numbers game is being played in Ontario.”

“No empirical data” to support Infrastructure Ontario's claims about transferring risk

Instead Infrastructure Ontario justifies using P3 privatization schemes by claiming that transferring risk to the private sector will save money. The auditor general’s report makes it clear this claim isn’t based on hard evidence.

In her report, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk said that “there is no empirical data supporting the key assumptions used by Infrastructure Ontario to assign costs to specific risks.” Instead, she found Infrastructure Ontario base their claims on “difficult to verify” estimates from consultations.

Costs counted twice to make public delivery appear more expensive

Two of the costs included, when calculating the savings from transferring risk get counted twice for public delivery. This makes the cost comparison even less accurate. The auditor general estimated that, for the 74 projects she looked at, double counting made public delivery appear $4.9 billion more expensive than it really was.

Audits in three provinces found numbers games to favour P3 privatization schemes

This is not the first time an auditor general has found that figures were being manipulated to make public procurement appear more expensive. Two previous auditors general in Ontario came to the same conclusion when auditing specific projects as did Quebec's auditor general. In British Columbia, a forensic audit of P3 privatization schemes also found the cost of the public option had been made to appear artificially expensive.

Role of the privatization industry not addressed in report

What the auditor general didn't mention is the consulting firms doing the VFM assessments have a huge stake in P3 privatization schemes. Companies hired to prepare VFM assessments also advise contractors bidding on P3 privatization schemes, so more P3s mean more business. The companies hired to prepare VFM assessments belong to the Canada Council for Public-Private Partnerships, a group promoting P3 privatization schemes.

This is not an isolated case. Increasingly, those making decisions about whether or not public services should be privatized have a financial stake in the outcome. One example would be the number of board members of Infrastructure Ontario who are employees or retired employees of companies that profit from privatization.

Report shows transparency and accountability needed

The Auditor General’s report is a powerful reminder that the reason governments can get away with privatizing public services is the secrecy and lack of accountability that surrounds privatization schemes. If the public got the full story about things like P3 privatization schemes, they would be outraged.

“This report shows why NUPGE and its components are fighting for a Five-Point-Plan to protect public services,” said Clancy. “The requirements for openness and transparency in the Plan would make the kind of numbers games that added $8 billion to Ontario’s infrastructure costs impossible.”

This article taken from the NUPGE website

Eligible pension income

from the CRA website!

What is eligible pension income?

Eligible pension income is generally the total of the following amounts received by the pensioner in the year (these amounts also qualify for the pension income amount):

  • the taxable part of life annuity payments from a superannuation or pension fund or plan; and
  • if they are received as a result of the death of a spouse or common-law partner, or if the pensioner is 65 years of age or older at the end of the year:
    • annuity and registered retirement income fund (including life income fund) payments;
    • registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) annuity payments; and
    • certain qualifying amounts distributed from a retirement compensation arrangement.

For a more detailed list of eligible pension and annuity income, see the charts for line 314, Pension income amount:

Pension income that is not eligible

The following amounts received by the pensioner are not eligible for pension income splitting:

  • old age security payments;
  • Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan;
  • any foreign source pension income that is tax-free in Canada because of a tax treaty that entitles you to claim a deduction at line 256;
  • income from a United States individual retirement account (IRA); or
  • amounts from a RRIF included on line 115 and transferred to an RRSP, another RRIF or an annuity.

Note:  Variable pension benefits paid from a money purchase provision of a registered pension plan or payments out of a pooled registered pension plan are not considered life annuity payments and do not qualify unless the pensioner is age 65 or older at the end of the year or the variable benefits or payments are received as a result of the death of a spouse or common-law partner.

Do you qualify to split your pension income?

You (the pensioner) and your spouse or common-law partner (the pension transferee) can elect to split your eligible pension income received in the year if you meet all the following conditions:

  • you are married or in a common-law partnership with each other in the year and were not, because of a breakdown in your marriage or common-law partnership, living separate and apart from each other at the end of the year and for a period of 90 days or more beginning in the year (see the note below); and
  • you were both residents of Canada on December 31 of the year; or
    • if deceased in the year, resident in Canada on the date of death; or
    • if bankrupt in the year, resident in Canada on December 31 of the year in which the tax year (pre- orpost-bankruptcy) ends.
    • you received pension income in the year that qualifies for the pension income amount or you were 65 years of age or older and received certain qualifying amounts distributed from a retirement compensation arangement (Box 17 of your T4A-RCA slips)

NOTE: You and your spouse or common-law partner will still be eligible to split pension income if living apart at the end of the year for medical, educational, or business reasons (rather than a breakdown in the marriage or common-law partnership).

Eligible pension income can only be split between you (the pensioner) and your spouse or common-law partner (the pension transferee).

You are not prevented from splitting your eligible pension income because of the age of your spouse or common-law partner.

Seniors on fixed incomes particularly vulnerable to investment scams

Greedy or naive investors can be easily convinced by scammers to invest in get-rich quick schemes before they’ve had a chance to do their homework, say experts.

“They’re nasty. They’re heartless. They’re ruthless,” said Daniel Williams of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

“But they’re not stupid. They know the buttons to push. They’ll spot a weakness from a mile away,” he said, adding that scammers can be successful targeting vulnerable people such as those who experienced a death in their family or illness. Quite often, people will get pitches that offer them a return of 10 per cent a month, said Adrian Mastracci, a financial planner with KCM Wealth Management Inc. in Vancouver. What they should remember is the old adage: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”“If you get offered 40 or 50 per cent (return) per year, what makes you so special?” he asked. “Talk to your family members, talk to somebody else, go see an independent adviser,” he said.With a balanced portfolio of stocks and fixed-income investments, investors should be expecting a more realistic return of five to seven per cent a year on an ongoing basis.

Mastracci says seniors can be particularly vulnerable because they often have fixed incomes and can’t afford losses.

Investment scams can also come via phone, email, text message, social media and mail.

Common signs of investment scams are being told that you can make a lot of money with little risk in your investment and being given so-called “hot tips” or insider information about companies, said Perry Quinton of Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization founded by the Ontario Securities Commission.

Other signs include being asked to invest in little-known companies and promised high returns or one-time offers. Scammers may also use high-pressure sales tactics to encourage people to invest in something quickly, she said.Quinton said that the first thing that consumers should do is check with their provincial or territorial securities commission to find out whether the person making the pitch is licensed to sell securities or give financial advice.“If they’re not registered, it’s a scam,” she said.

Fraudsters will use such scams as pyramid schemes in which early investors get high returns fairly quickly but when the number of new investors dry up, there’s no more money to pay out.

Investors can also be persuaded to pay money up front to take advantage of an offer promising significant returns, Quinton said. The catch is that the scammer will take the money and the victim won’t hear back from them again.

In so-called “pump and dump,” schemes, investors are offered a deal on a low-priced stock and as more investors buy it, its value increases. Once the stock’s price hits a peak, the scammer sells his shares and the value of the stock plummets leaving other investors with worthless stock, says the Investor Education Fund’s website, getsmarteraboutmoney.ca.

Quinton’s organization estimates that 20 per cent of the Canadian population has been approached with an investment scam or fraud and about 5 per cent have been victims.

“Those are the people who will admit it. We think it’s quite a lot higher than that,” said Quinton.

This article was published by CARP and was originally a Globe and Mail Article.

Elder Abuse

Who are the Victims?

Elder abuse can happen to any older adult. In fact, contrary to commonly held beliefs, most victims of elder abuse are mentally competent and do not require constant care. Elder abuse usually occurs in situations where the victim of the abuse is dependent on the abuser in some way.

Who are the Abusers?

Elder abuse can be caused by family members, friends, staff or any individual in a position of trust and authority. Most elder abuse is caused by a family member of the victim.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse?

Victims of elder abuse may show signs of:

  • Depression, fear, anxiety, passivity
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unexplained physical injury
  • Lack of food, clothing and other necessities
  • Changes in hygiene and nutrition (e.g. signs of malnutrition)
  • Failure to meet financial obligations
  • Unusual banking withdrawals

What Should I Do If I Know Someone Being Abused?

Sometimes people know or suspect that a friend, family member, neighbour or acquaintance is being mistreated or abused and they are not sure what to do. They worry about getting involved, not saying the right thing or wrongly identifying the situation.

If you know or suspect someone is being abused, make the effort to reach out to the person and talk to them. Ask things like:

  • How are you doing?
  • Are you having any trouble at home?
  • Can I help you?
  • Is there someone I can put you in touch with who may be able to help you?

This article is an excerpt from Elder Abuse information on the Ontario Government website.

Planning Ahead 

Prearranging a Funeral Service

When looking for a prearranged plan, ask the following questions:

  • Does the funeral home have a good reputation? Check with your provincial government regarding the status of a funeral home's license to sell pre-arranged funeral services, and if any disciplinary actions have been taken against the funeral home. Find out if there is a procedure for notifying your if the funeral home is sold, moves, or otherwise ceases operation. Some provinces require certain notification be given to the purchases of a pre-arranged funeral services.
  • What are your payment options? Does the funeral home offer funeral insurance products to fund pre-arranged funeral agreements?
  • Will interest be paid on the money in the prearranged plan? If so, compare rates at various funeral homes. Will you or your estate receive the interest or will the funeral home?
  • If you choose to pay in installments, will you be charged for late payment? Ensure the pre-arranged agreement includes an installment schedule for payments and ask for a copy of the installment schedule.
  • Ask what documentation you can expect to receive regarding the pre-arrangement (i.e. a copy of the agreement) and regarding the payment of funds in trust (most provinces requires notifications from the funeral home and/or the financial institution where the funds are held in trust). Ask how soon the funds will be deposited into trust. Most provinces have a time limit by which funds received for pre-arranged funeral services must be deposited into trust. Ask what the funeral home’s procedure is for notifying you if you miss an installment payment and what are your options for getting back into good standing.
  • Does the contract specifically describe all goods and services to be provided and all other fees charged?
  • Does the plan meet your religious needs? Does it allow for a service in your own religious institution such as a church or temple, or must you use the funeral chapel?
  • Is there any plan to cover the increased cost of the prearranged service due to inflation?
  • Is the pre-arranged agreement a guaranteed contract? Some province only permit pre-arranged agreement, if they are a guaranteed contract. A guaranteed contract means that the total price for all goods, services and fees indicated in the pre-arranged agreement is guaranteed to be the total price of the pre-arranged agreement and no additional charges can be added at the time the agreement is executed.
  • What is cooling-off period for you to reconsider the pre-arranged agreement and cancel it with no penalty. Most provinces require funeral homes to provide a minimum cooling-off period.
  • What happens if you move? Can you transfer your pre-arranged agreement to another funeral home, if you move or for any other reason?
  • Once your arrangements have been made, make sure you keep your documentation in a safe place and inform any family or friends of where they can find the paperwork, if and when needed.

Buying a Cemetery Plot

  • You can also buy a cemetery plot and a grave marker in advance. Before signing a contract, get answers to the following questions.
  • What happens if you move or change your mind for whatever reason? Would you be able to sell the plot or transfer ownership?
  • What are your payment options?
  • What penalty would apply if you failed to make the payments?

Mausoleums and Columbariums

  • An alternative to buying a cemetery plot is to purchase a compartment in a mausoleum (a structure, wholly or partially above the ground designed for a casket) or columbarium (a building or wall of niches designed for the storage of for cremated remains). As with prearranging a funeral or buying a cemetery plot, it is important to ask questions about fees and services ahead of time.
  • What are you getting for your money?
  • Is there an extra charge for the nameplate or for a flower vase to put in front?
  • What are the options for paying?
  • Can you get a refund if you decide not to use the niche?
  • You should also ask about the opening hours for a mausoleum or columbarium, since they are unlikely to be open all the time. This is particularly important if your family lives in a different city from the mausoleum or columbarium and will only be visiting occasionally.

Memorial Societies

Memorial societies are voluntary, non-profit organizations dedicated to helping people arrange simple, dignified and inexpensive funerals in advance.

And that's when the fight started

A guy takes his wife to her high school reunion. After meeting several of her friends and former school mates, the two are sitting at a table, where he is yawning and overly bored.   

The band cranks up.  People are beginning to dance.  There's a guy on the dance floor, living it large: break-dancing, moon-walking, back-flips, buying drinks for people, the works.

The wife turns to her husband and says, "See that guy? 25 years ago, he proposed to me, and I turned him down!
Husband says: "Looks like he's still celebrating!!!

Many more seniors are living alone.  Is it a bad thing?

By Ian Logan, Administrator, New Horizons Tower

Toronto, ON, 23 October 2002 -- The Census of Population and the 2001 Labour Force Survey show that compared to the rest of the population, more seniors live alone as the sole occupants of a private dwelling than any other population group. The Labour Force Survey 2001 shows that nearly 3 in 10 seniors live alone, rising to almost 4 in 10 senior women. This represents about one million seniors, mostly widows. The question is … is that a bad thing?

"First, let's get away from the stereotype that to be old is to be sick, unable to learn new things or pull your own weight," says Ian Logan, Administrator, New Horizons Tower, a retirement residence at Bloor and Dufferin in Toronto. "But let's take care that the seniors who are living alone can do so healthily, safely and comfortably and most importantly, stay involved with their community."

A recent study by the MacArthur Foundation in the US established that older people are much more likely to age well than to become decrepit and dependent. Of those aged 65 to 74, fully 89% reported no disability whatsoever. Even in advanced old age an overwhelming majority of the elderly population have little functional disability and the proportion that is disabled is being whittled away over time. Much of this is due to a huge reduction in acute infectious illnesses in the twentieth century, and more recent decline in precursors to chronic disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and smoking.

Older people can and do, learn new things. With regular physical activity, a strong social support system and belief in their own ability to handle what life has to offer, seniors have strong mental function in old age. They regularly learn to use appliances and equipment that were unknown in their youth and which all make living alone easier to accomplish like microwave ovens, ATMs, even mastering the mysteries of VCR programming. And now seniors are embracing computers in unprecedented numbers.

The assumption in our society today is that everyone who works for pay is pulling his or her own weight. Those who do not are a burden. Unpaid productive activity is not part of the equation for measuring contribution to society. Yet, in a larger sense older people are productive. One-third work for pay, another third as volunteers in churches, hospitals or charities and another as providing informal aid to family members, friends and neighbours.

Living alone has become much more common for all age groups over the last 50 years. For seniors however a number of factors have lead to the huge growth in seniors being the sole occupant of a private dwelling. The decline of extended families means that more grandparents, aunts and uncles who previously would have had a place with relatives are living on their own. Falling fertility rates and the movement of families to suburbs so that fewer children are living close by has also left many widowed seniors alone.

While many of us cherish the time we spend by ourselves, some are concerned about the increasing number of seniors living on their own and having less and less contact with the outside world. The 1998 General Social Survey (GSS) indicates that seniors are also spending much more time alone than the rest of the population. While on an average day Canadians spend nearly six hours alone, women 65 and over spend 8 hours alone and widowed seniors spend the most time alone, at over 10 hours.

For some, the increasing isolation of living alone and spending time alone can result in depression and anxiety. Loneliness and depression has been the fate of many previous generations of older Canadians, mostly because society had no role for them. According to the 1998 GSS, people who spent a lot of time by themselves were also less likely to be very happy with their lives than those who spent little time alone. Forty-eight percent of those who spent less than 2 hours alone on an average day were very happy compared to 37% who spent 8 or more hours by themselves. This difference was greatest among seniors.

So what can we do about seniors who are living on their own and spending too much time alone? For many seniors the answer is to find alternatives to being alone such as house sharing or moving to senior living communities and residences where they can maintain social connections, continue to learn and contribute to the larger community through employment or volunteerism.

Living in a retirement community gives seniors companionship, security and independence and leaves them with the freedom to enjoy their health, learn new things and contribute in whatever way they wish. Services such as housekeeping, linen service, dry cleaning and maintenance needs are taken care of while seniors enjoy chatting with friends and neighbours in a dining room or relaxing in central lounges or living rooms. Resident and community programs such as physical fitness, concerts, computer access and excursions are thoughtfully planned with seniors in mind. And for their families, knowing that medications can be monitored, that food is readily available and that there is 24-hour staffing can relieve many of their concerns.

"The final stereotype that seniors have to deal with is that moving to a retirement residence or community spells the end, that they are places to die," says Logan. "Life in a retirement residence can be fulfilling, enriched and affordable and seniors can often choose the life they want within a community of caring, well-trained staff and good neighbours," he added.

In many retirement residences seniors have the option to live fully independently in their own suite, or to choose a level of support and care that is right for them.

A glance at the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) Web site www.50plus.com, demonstrates that today's seniors are ignoring retirement and continuing to stay engaged and active participants in society. Ironically, while examples of seniors enjoying productive lives abound, most Canadians continue to view aging as a totally negative process.

The good news for seniors, as well as those who will one day become seniors, is that most of these negative associations are wrong or exaggerated. Life no longer begins at 40!

Your Mobile Panic Alarm

Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your ...parents, your Dr's office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage.

If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around. After a few seconds, all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

P.S. I am sending this to everyone I know because I think it is fantastic. Would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can't reach a phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn't hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she'll know there's a problem.
Please pass this on even IF you've read it before. It's a reminder.

Cardiorespiratory fitness improves memory among older adults

Last updated: 5 January 2015 at 12am PST

Older adults who have greater heart and lung health also have better memory recall and cognitive capabilities. The study, which appears online in the Journal of Gerontology, examines the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), memory and cognition in young and older adults.

Aging is associated with decline in executive function (problem solving, planning and organizing) and long-term memory for events. CRF has been associated with enhanced executive function in older adults, but the relationship with long-term memory remains unclear.

Researchers compared 33 young adults (age 18-31) and 27 older adults (age 55-82) with a wide range of cardiorespiratory levels. Participants completed exercise testing to evaluate their cardiorespiratory function and neuropsychological testing to assess their memory, planning and problem-solving abilities. In addition to standardized neuropsychological tasks of executive function and long-term memory, participants engaged in a laboratory task in which they had to learn face-name associations.

They found older adults who had higher cardiorespiratory levels (i.e. were more "fit" performed as well as young adults on executive function measures. On long-term memory measures, young adults performed better than older high fit adults, who in turn performed better than low fit older adults. In older adults, better physical fitness level was associated with improved executive function, and memory. In young adults, fitness had no effect on their memory or executive functions.

According to the researchers these findings demonstrate that the effect of CRF is not limited to executive function, but also extends to long-term memory. "Our findings that CRF may mitigate age-related cognitive decline is appealing for a variety of reasons, including that aerobic activities to enhance CRF (walking, dancing, etc.) are inexpensive, accessible and could potentially improve quality of life by delaying cognitive decline and prolonging independent function," explained corresponding author Scott Haynes, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and the Associate Director of the Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

"More research is needed to explore the specific mechanism of how physical fitness enhances brain structure and function as well as to clarify the impact of specific exercise programs (i.e. strength, aerobic or combined training) or dose of exercise (frequency, intensity, duration) on a range of cognitive functions," he added.

Adapted by MNT from original media release

Care Givers

Caregivers provide ongoing care to family members and friends who have a physical, cognitive or mental health condition. Care giving is not new, but today’s caregivers provide more complex care for a longer period of time than ever before.

If you are a caregiver, it’s important to know what your needs are and if there are community supports available that can help you. It’s also important to start talking early with your family members about what they want as they age and to stress the critical role of legal and financial planning.

In addition, you may want to learn more about home and community care services that serve the needs of seniors, the frail elderly and others. Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) and Community Support Services deliver these services. Your local CCAC can provide an assessment for an individual who requires home care and explain options for care in the community.

For more information about home, community and residential services available to seniors, please visit www.ontario.ca/rux.  Ont. gov’t website.

Tips and Tricks

Now isn't this clever? This is one great idea!

I have a friend who used her solar lights inside the house at night when the electric power went off during a hurricane. She stuck them in jars and bottles and said they gave off plenty of 'free light' in each room. She put them outside in the daytime and brought them back inside at night for several days while the power was off. They are safe to use and cheaper than batteries. She recommended we bring a solar light into our own house one night to test it for ourselves.

Due to a thunderstorm, we lost power for about 5 hours one night. We were scrambling around in the darkness, looking for matches, candles, and flashlights. Then we looked outside and noticed our solar lights shining brightly all around the patio, stairs & dock. My wife walked outside and brought several of the solar lights inside. We stuck the solar light pipes into plastic drink bottles and they made the nicest, brightest, safest, lighting you could imagine. We put one in the bathroom, one in the kitchen and in the living room.

There many types of solar lights available. We bought quite a few and put them all around our yard. They look nice and do not attract flying bugs like the outdoor lights around our doorway. The lights we have fit into 20-oz. water bottles and also fit into most larger 2 liter bottles. If you need a weight in the plastic bottle to keep them from tipping over, put in a few of the colorful flat marbles they put in aquariums and vases. You can also use sand, aquarium gravel, or whatever you have available.

The solar lights we have are perfect inside our home. They burn all night when needed and next day we take them back outside where they recharge and are ready for use again when needed. Solar lights are the perfect light solution for power outages. I had never thought of it before seeing what my friend did, and now you know about this idea too.

Working out... it's not just for your body!

One of the pillars of brain health is keeping your brain active. A few recent studies have shown:

  • Education in early adulthood and mid-life could delay cognitive decline later in life.
  • For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia can be reduced by 3%.
  • Bilingualism may protect against the onset of dementia.

Although doing mental exercises will not necessarily prevent dementia, studies suggest that they can provide extra protection against it.

So don’t feel guilty for spending a few "unproductive" hours reading, playing a board game or talking on the phone with a friend.

8 ways from dusk till dawn to challenge your brain

Looking for ways to make challenging your brain a part of your daily routine? Try our 8 tips to get you there from dusk until dawn:

  1. Too groggy in the morning for a brain workout? Try brushing your teeth with your other hand.
  2. Driving to work or to pick up the kids? lf you've got a bit of time, why not try a different route!
  3. Solve a crossword with your morning coffee.
  4. Read a book during your lunch break.
  5. Try some memory games in the afternoon.
  6. lnstead of reaching for the frozen dinner section, find a new recipe and try cooking dinner yourself.
  7. Wind down the day with a board game.
  8. Keep up hobbies such as sewing instead of turning on the TV.

What about online cognitive tests?

Many people turn to the internet to find information. Some sites offer cognitive health self-assessments, but remember there is no single test, online or even at the doctor's office that accurately determines whether someone has dementia. Using incomplete or incorrect information to make healthcare decisions can have negative consequences such as causing people to take inappropriate actions or leading to misplaced anxiety.

What about online brain-training sites?

There are many sites that promise brain-training in the form of tests, quizzes or questionnaires. lf you want to spend time playing those brain games take the following into account:

  • Online brain-training can be fun and challenging. Use them for just that: to have fun and be challenged.
  • Many of the brain training sites give a score after the game is played, remember these scores are subjective and should not be used as a cognitive assessment.
  • Remember that if you are concerned about dementia, always have a conversation with your doctor.

Alzheimer Society @ 2014

PDF icondownload Autumn View Edition 1, 2015

Publication Date: 

Monday, January 5, 2015 - 9:45am