Autumn View Edition 2, 2017

A message from the chair

Many people in Canada are unaware that the Bank of Canada was created during the Great Depression to fund a wide range of public infrastructures without our government incurring debt to private lenders.  These interest- free or nearly interest-free loans, helped build the Trans Canada Highway, the St. Lawrence Seaway and all sorts of hospitals, universities and airports and also helped fund Old Age Pensions, Universal Medicare and tuition-free post-secondary education.

However, since 1974 this practise stopped, forcing governments to borrow from private banks and foreign lenders at high interest rates, resulting in huge debts.

The Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER) filed a lawsuit in an attempt to return the Bank of Canada to it’s pre-1974 lending practises, thus giving nearly interest free money to federal, provincial and possibly municipal governments.  This battle is being put forward by Rocco Galati, a well-known lawyer and fighter for justice.  COMER has now filed an application to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

However, Justin Trudeau seems intent to introduce a new bank for building infrastructure that will continue the need for more debt and high interest rates.

Over the past two decades, big investors have been buying up and gaining control over infrastructure across much of the developed world.  These investors are making millions on publicly owned developments and trade deals such as CETA and TPP, and if ratified, will prevent banking and monetary reform.

Here’s hoping the Supreme Court of Canada will correct this injustice and help make Canada better for all of us.

Ed Faulknor, Chair
OPSEU Retired Members Division

Moving forward without moving out

Accessing your home equity can help boost your retirement income, ease pressure on your pensions and investments, and help you stay put.

In a recent survey of Canadian homeowners, only four in 10 respondents were confident they would have enough savings to maintain their lifestyle when they retire. One reason may be that, for many, a significant portion of their wealth at retirement is tied up in their home and selling their house to free up that money simply isn’t what they want to do.

If that sounds like your situation, you may want to consider accessing the equity in your home to help boost your retirement income. One of the most common ways to do this is through a secured line of credit (also called a home equity line of credit). A secured line of credit lets you borrow what you need, when you need it, at a very favourable interest rate because your loan is secured, or guaranteed, by your home.

In addition to helping you stay in your home longer, there are other potential advantages when you access your home equity:

  •  Your withdrawals are tax-free, unlike withdrawals from registered accounts such as Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Registered Retirement Income Funds.
  •  You may be able to avoid cashing out other investments and locking in losses when markets are volatile.
  •  You can ensure ready availability of funds to meet unexpected home or health care expenses.
  •  You can reduce the cost of other debts by transferring those balances to the secured line of credit (if the interest rate is lower than your other loans). Keep in mind that you may need to have enough cash flow from other sources to cover the monthly interest payments on the secured line of credit. To protect yourself and keep interest costs from becoming a burden, it’s a good idea to put a cap on the amount you borrow – for example, 20 per cent of the value of your home.

Your home is an important asset that should figure in your overall retirement planning. Speak with your advisor to find out how well this approach fits your personal situation. Plan to enjoy your retirement knowing that reaching this milestone with less saved than you hoped for doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sell the home you love.

Moving forward without moving out. Accessing your home equity can help boost your retirement income, ease pressure on your pensions and investments, and help you stay put.

Léony deGraaf Hastings, CFP, EPC 905-632-9900 Certified Financial Planner 1-800-775-7047
Retirement & Estate Planning Specialist www.dgfs.ca.

Unpredictable markets got you idle?

While market volatility chases many investors to the sidelines, it can be a great opportunity to bolster your long-term portfolio strategy.

Short-term market ups and downs can be very unnerving, even if your goals are far in the future. So it’s not surprising that two recent surveys have found that many investors aren’t enthusiastic about investing in today’s markets. In February 2016, the Manulife Investor Sentiment Index fell to its lowest level since the financial crisis in 2008. That same month, CIBC World Markets reported that Canadians were holding $75 billion in cash, instead of in investments better suited to longer-term goals.

It can be difficult to stay the course when markets are volatile. However, keeping your money inactive and out of the markets may actually mean missing opportunities that could help you meet your investment objectives. Cash has a hard time keeping up with inflation, let alone building value over time. And, historically, the moments when investors were most pessimistic about the markets have been among the best times to invest because they have often been followed by market upswings. Investment choices have broadened over the past decade, giving you and your advisor more flexibility to build a portfolio with growth potential that remains safely within your tolerance for risk. Here are three strategies to consider.

1. Diversify to help soften the ups and downs

Owning investments that tend to rise and fall at different times can help smooth out your returns. The traditional way to diversify has been to mix stocks and bonds in a balanced fund – and that can still be an effective approach for some investors. In addition, alternative investments are becoming more accessible to investors; diversifying into hedge funds, private equity, real estate, infrastructure, farm and timber lands, and commodities can offer additional levels of risk management. Investors also have the opportunity to benefit from sophisticated strategies used by institutional investors (such as pension plans) – for example, funds that target absolute returns to help control volatility.

2. Use guarantees to help put a floor on losses

In times of volatility, investors often flock to guaranteed products such as bank-offered guaranteed investment certificates. However, there are other guaranteed options with greater growth potential – something that’s especially important in the current environment of historically low interest rates. Segregated fund contracts are a popular choice because they come with a wide variety of underlying investments. Their maturity guarantee and death benefit guarantee offer a guaranteed payment after a contract has been held for a set term and on death, no matter what happens in the markets. They can also offer estate planning benefits and potential creditor protection.

3. Get back into the markets gradually

While it is a good idea to deploy excess cash relatively quickly, you don’t have to invest everything at once. It may be easier to commit to investing smaller amounts on a regular basis – and that’s simple to set up with your advisor. There’s another reason to take the “gradual” approach of a regular investment plan: it enables you to benefit from dollar cost averaging. Essentially, the fixed sums you invest will buy more units when prices are low and fewer units when prices are high, effectively lowering your average cost. When your average cost is lower, your returns (measured against that average cost) are higher.

Stay focused on your destination

If you were a pilot flying through turbulence, you’d likely make modest adjustments to your altitude to reach less stormy skies. You wouldn’t head outside at 30,000 feet to change the wings on the plane. The same principle applies when investing. Your portfolio may need minor tweaks to keep you comfortable when markets are volatile, but radical changes (for example, holding too much of your portfolio in cash) could seriously affect your chances of reaching your destination. The key is to remember why you’re investing in the first place. When you focus on what you want to achieve with your money – whether that’s a comfortable retirement for you, education for your children or any other goal – it becomes clearer which course you should plot through financial market turbulence.

Speak with your advisor about different investment opportunities. Many solutions are available, and he or she can help you identify the ones that will best support your overall financial plan.

Léony deGraaf Hastings, CFP, EPC 905-632-9900
Certified Financial Planner 1-800-775-7047
Retirement & Estate Planning Specialist www.dgfs.ca

Events

This is Canada’s 150th celebration and there will be many events to attend.

The Summer Fun Guide Event Calendar is your best place to find things to do in Ontario today, this weekend or next month. With loads of great events for singles, couples, and families, everyone can find a festival or event for a day off, a beautiful Sunday or a holiday.  http://www.summerfunguide.ca/events.html

This will be a fun year to explore Ontario and Canada. The above site is just one source. For events near you check your Municipalities sites for local events.  Have a wonderful summer!!!

For those of you who are interested in gardening the site below provides a list of garden tours in Ontario.  http://www.gardenontario.org

The opinions expressed in Autumn View are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the OPSEU Retired Members Division.

Racism and Islamophobia are barriers to an equal society: OFL Statement on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – March 21, 2017

Racism, bigotry and hatred know no boundaries, no borders, and no limits.

Canadian headlines teem with tales of hate crimes. An Ottawa rabbi awoke to find a swastika spray-painted on her door. A Mississauga Jewish family had their home egged. An east Toronto neighbourhood was plastered with white supremacist recruitment posters. Muslim women have been verbally and physically assaulted.  CBC recently reported that there has been a 600 per cent jump in the past year in how often Canadians use language online that’s racist, Islamophobic, sexist or otherwise intolerant. It can lead to devastating consequences, as we saw recently when six worshippers were killed as they prayed at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec in Québec City.

Yet, out of these desperate circumstances, inspiring courage and tenacity has led to an upsurge in grass roots activism within each of these communities that has demanded social and economic change. Long-ignored land claims disputes, a history of cultural genocide and the grinding poverty on reservations have led to the growth of the Idle No More movement for Indigenous justice; racially motivated ‘carding’ and police shootings have spurred a Black Lives Matter movement across North America; and recently, the racist backlash against Muslim people has inspired a Stronger Together movement of Muslims and allies to challenge Islamophobia in Canada.

We know that insecure work is at the core of racial inequality in Ontario. Although workers of colour have slightly higher levels of labour market participation, they continue to experience higher levels of unemployment and earn a lower income than non-racialized Canadians. In fact, as a whole Canadians of colour earn 81 cents for every dollar paid to non-racialized Canadians. This wage gap is even wider for Indigenous and workers of colour that are female, have accessibility issues, and/or are recent newcomers. This racialized wage differential is partly due to the lack of opportunity afforded to Indigenous workers and workers of colour in accessing well paying, secure jobs. The OFL’s Make It Fair campaign calls on the Ontario government to make changes to its employment and labour laws which will alleviate some of these inequities that are faced by precarious workers across the province.

This year we have an opportunity to improve the work lives of racialized people across Ontario through the Changing Workplaces Review. The OFL calls on the government to apply an equity lens on employment conditions in Ontario and make meaningful changes to the Employment Standards and the Labour Relations Acts that will create decent work for all Ontarians.

The government must also introduce effective employment regulating legislation to ensure that all Ontarians have fair and equitable opportunities in the labour market. This piece of legislation must assist in removing employment barriers, establishing transparent human resource policies and practices, and cultivating a culture of equity and inclusion in all Ontario workplaces.

The OFL has welcomed the recent Ontario government’s Three Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan.  The Federation has joined with The Colour of Poverty Colour of Change calling for immediate action to eliminate poverty, end employment precarity, and close the wage gap that disproportionately affects racialized communities and prevents the advancement of every worker. The startling effects of poverty and inequality are perhaps most starkly exposed in the rise in youth violence, the exploitation of migrant workers and the squalid conditions that are endemic to many of Canada’s Aboriginal communities. However, Ontario’s growing inequality is more than just poverty.

Precarious jobs without fair wages, benefits, job security or union representation now comprise nearly half of all jobs in Ontario and disproportionately impact racialized people and new immigrants who can spend decades in vulnerable jobs. Yet, out of these desperate circumstances, inspiring courage and tenacity has led to an upsurge in grass roots activism within each of these communities that has demanded social and economic change.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the day in 1966 and called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

This article taken from the OFL website

While most know Seinfeld as "the show about nothing,” that's only an idea they talk about inside the show. According to Jerry Seinfeld, it was originally pitched to NBC as a show about how comedians get their ideas.

During Johnny Carson's final Tonight Show in 1992, Comedy Central didn't air any programming. Instead, it showed a simple message: "Watching Johnny Carson's last show, and so should you."

Another attack on retirement security

Bill C-27, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 was quietly introduced in the House of Commons on October 19, 2016. The Bill was introduced without notice or consultation with Canadians, pensioners, or unions and contains measures that directly contradict election promises to improve retirement security for Canadians. If enacted, it will have serious negative implications for existing private and public-sector defined benefit [DB] pension plans in every jurisdiction in Canada. Bill C-27 represents a dangerous and immediate attack on future and current retirees’ defined pension plans.

The Harper government proposed a similar target pension plan "shared-risk" proposal in 2014. The Harper plan proposed that employees and employers would jointly manage a plan aimed at collecting defined contributions to achieve a specific benefit [target] in retirement. The plan would allow a reduction of accrued benefits [illegal under the Pension Benefits Standards Act] if the plan ran into actuarial difficulty. Current employees and retirees of the target plan proposal would have to "share the risk" and therefore be subject to a reduction of pension benefits.

In April 2014, the Harper government launched public consultations on introducing a target benefits [TB] pension plan framework. Retirees and other pension stakeholders strongly opposed the proposal and the government was forced to withdraw the legislation.

Bill C-27, which contains much of the Harper governments’ proposal, would immediately affect federal private-sector plans and Crown Corporations. However, it will fundamentally alter the pension landscape across Canada. It will set the new standard for pension reform across the country, and it will accelerate the erosion of decent pensions in both the private and public sectors. Employers and the pension industry are paying close attention to Bill C-27 for this very reason. If the federal government signals that employers in one sector are no longer legally required to live up to their pension promise to workers and retirees, employers everywhere will demand the same treatment.

Bill C-27 would amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act to provide a framework for the establishment, administration and supervision of [TB] plans. Bill C-27 would undermine already-earned or "accrued" benefits which currently are legally protected, and may not be retroactively reduced. The Bill would remove that legal protection, and encourage the proliferation of TB plans instead, potentially lowering benefits for both current and future retirees. Employers would also be allowed to persuade individual active and retired plan members to surrender their earned DB benefits in exchange for less secure, less stable TB plan benefits.

The government argues that employers cannot unilaterally make changes to existing workplace DB pension plans. It is true that Bill C-27 requires individual workers to give their consent to give up their DB benefits. Employers will reap huge benefits if plan members can be persuaded to surrender their DB benefits.

To convince their employees to surrender these benefits, employers have a wide range of carrots and sticks they can use to persuade DB plan members to give up their legally-protected benefits. Employers can offer gifts, perks and promotional opportunities and provide additional workplace training. More likely, employers will use threats such as potential job losses and reduced hours of work, reduced investments, scaling-back benefits and even threats of lock-outs, restructuring proceedings, or bankruptcy, if DB plan members don't surrender their benefits for the good of the company. The city of Hamilton has witnessed this scenario first hand.

It must be noted that the approach proposed by Bill C-27 is already proving to be a failure. Introduced in 2012 by the New Brunswick government, New Brunswick's legislation allowed conversion of both private-sector and public-sector DB plans to so called "Shared-Risk" TB pension plans. Plan conversions have resulted in class action lawsuits, constitutional challenges, and plummeting defined-benefit plan membership.

The Target Benefit "Shared Risk" pension plan proposal contained in Bill C-27 is not the solution to create a secure and sustainable pension for retirees. Target benefit plans will have the effect of watering down existing DB plans. Governments and companies that currently offer DB plans will be encouraged to adopt TB plans that will cost employers less while offering workers less and taking all the risks.

Instead of proceeding with Bill C-27, the federal government should actively encourage all private-sector and public-sector employers to introduce, maintain and enhance workplace defined benefit pension plans. That's the real solution for retirement security.

Malcolm Buchanan macbuchanan@rogers.com 
President Hamilton, Burlington and Oakville Chapter of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada.

Ontario Health Coalition

March 10, 2017

Health care advocates dismayed with Ottawa’s divide and conquer tactics: Hopes for a Canadian Health Accord dashed as provinces sign deals

Toronto/Ottawa/Edmonton: The Ontario, Quebec and Alberta governments, which had initially held out for better, were compelled to sign onto a bilateral health funding deal with Ottawa today. In the federal election, the Trudeau government promised to break with the high-handed approach of the previous Harper government and negotiate a new Health Accord with the provinces and territories. Instead, after tabling a take-it-or-leave-it offer in December, Trudeau’s government walked away from the table. It is now forcing through bilateral deals with each province, containing a funding level that is inadequate to meet the health care needs of Canadians and was rejected by the provinces and territories as inadequate in December. The scheme will reduce the federal government’s share of health care funding over the next decade, reversing gains made in the 2004 Health Accord.

With the reported signing of bilateral deals by Quebec, Ontario and Alberta today, hope for a Health Accord that will protect and improve Canadians’ equal access to health care for the next decade is gone. Health care will now become a major issue leading to the next federal election, advocates vow.

The bilateral deals set the federal funding level at nominal GDP with a floor of three percent and additional “targeted” funding for mental health and home care. Text of the bilateral deals has not been revealed to the public. In the December federal-territorial-provincial Finance Ministers’ meeting, the provinces and territories were calling for a Canada Health Transfer funding escalator that would match projected health care cost growth at 5.2 per cent.  The expected need for health care funding growth is projected to be 5.2 per cent, not 3 per cent. There is a broad consensus about this projection. It is in line with the estimates of the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario, and the Conference Board of Canada.  Health care advocates are concerned about the process of bilateral deals rather than an equitable national approach leading to inequities across Canada, inadequate funding, and secret language.

“We are disheartened by the Trudeau government’s divide and conquer tactics,” said Adrienne Silnicki, national coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition. “The Health Accord negotiations were supposed to be an opportunity to strengthen public health care. Instead we are seeing a funding deal that will force cuts to services and does not commit to upholding the principle of equity in public health care. The federal government is not just abdicating its responsibility to uphold single-tier public health care, it is threatening its future.”

“The bottom line is that the funding deal being forced through by Trudeau’s government does not meet the evidence for what is needed in Ontario and across Canada. The shortfall must be made up by the provinces which have less fiscal room to do so, or services will be cut and privatized,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “We are deeply concerned that inequities in access to needed health care for Canadian patients will widen because of the Trudeau government’s tactics. They have put PR before good policy and we fear that Canadian patients will pay the price.”

“Instead of using the opportunity afforded by a Health Accord to strengthen national standards for Canadian patients, the Trudeau government has done the opposite. We are deeply disappointed,” said Sandra Azocar, executive director of Alberta’s Friends of Medicare. “Canadians need equal access to quality public health care no matter where they live in the country.”

Ontario Health Coalition ontariohealthcoalition@list.web.net 

A joke or two:

Rodney Dangerfield said:

~ When I was born the doctor came out to the waiting room and said to my father "I'm very sorry. We did everything we could, but he pulled through."

~ I don't get no respect, are you kiddin'? The time I got hurt. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance stopped for gas.

~ I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.

~ My psychiatrist told me I'm crazy. I told him "If you don't mind I'd like a second opinion." He said "Alright, you're ugly too!"

~ I tell ya I get no respect from anyone. I bought a cemetery plot. The guy said, ''There goes the neighborhood!"

Latest phone scam draws attention of Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

'Can you hear me?' is another tool for scammers, says Edmonton digital marketing expert

By Min Dhariwal, CBC News Posted: Feb 09, 2017 8:00 AM MT Last Updated: Feb 09, 2017 10:00 AM MT

'Scammers are always looking for the next big way to make cash' 

Canada's anti-fraud line is receiving more calls than it can handle.

The "can you hear me now?" phone scam has caught the attention of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the federal agency that collects information and intelligence on mass-marketing fraud and identification theft.

Robocalls have been reported in Edmonton in which someone on the other end of the line asks the question, "Can you hear me now?"

New phone scam tricks you into answering 'yes'

The scammers try to bait callers into answering "yes." Then they take the recorded answer and use it to create audio proof that the victim has agreed to buy something — a cruise or a big-ticket item. Then they bill the victim.

"There's variations to the scam — 'Are you the homeowner?' 'Do you pay the household bills?'" said Nancy Cahill, the intake unit manager with the anti-fraud centre based in North Bay, Ont.

"Can you hear me now?" is the new phone scam making the rounds. (Cbc.ca)

Her advice is simple: "Do not answer any questions that would prompt you to say 'yes' from an unknown caller. If you're not expecting the call, just hang up."

Anti-fraud agencies in B.C. received their first round of complaints this month, noting that the U.S had been inundated with the "new twist on a phone scam that can be very tricky to avoid."

The current scam has also been reported in parts of Ontario.

Cahill says it doesn't take much for a caller to answer in the affirmative.

"They're caught off guard: 'Can you hear me?' 'Yes.' And what happens is the fraudster will use your recorded voice in order to sign you up for services or products." 

Experts say you won't know if you've been victimized by the scam right away. An invoice or bill often won't appear in the mail until weeks later.
    
Dana DiTomaso, a digital media expert who operates Kick Point, a digital marketing agency based in Edmonton, says the "can you hear me?" scam has been floating around in various formats. She remembers that years ago it was being used to offer consumers free long-distance calling. 

"When telemarketers call you, that call is being recorded," DiTomaso said.

Collection agency, or a fake one

"It makes sense that this would be a type of scam where they would try and tie you into a contract."

"Whether or not legally they could tie you into a contract is a question for a lawyer," she said.

"But certainly if you don't know and suddenly you have a collection agency or a fake collection agency coming after you, that can be scary, and so it would probably work as a scam to get money out of people."
    
DiTomaso said some cellphone providers and other legitimate businesses ask consumers to confirm their contracts verbally over the phone. And now scammers are trying to find a way to cash in on it as well.     

"Scammers are always looking for the next big way to make cash and this is just another tool in their arsenal. Essentially, don't answer your phone. Let it go to voicemail."

Experts say if you think you've been scammed, check your banking records. Complaints can be filed with your local police service. Incidents can also be reported directly to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Dementia care: how to care for a parent at home

Posted on March 1, 2017

Caring for an aging parent is a complex task, but when dementia is part of the picture, it becomes exponentially more difficult. Cognitive and behavioral changes can occur unpredictably, and parents may resist care. If you are the caregiver for a loved one who suffers from dementia, the most important thing is to first understand the disease.

Although Alzheimer’s disease is just one type of dementia, it is the one with the most pronounced stages. If you are familiar with these stages it will help you to identify the behaviors your loved one is exhibiting, learn how to address them, and update his or her primary care physician. The National Institute on aging defines the three stages of Alzheimer’s disease as follows.

Mild: The disease begins with memory loss and small changes in personality. The person may forget recent events, the names of familiar people or things and may no longer be able to balance a cheque book. They slowly lose the ability to plan and organize and may have trouble making a grocery list or finding items in the store.

Moderate: In this stage memory loss and confusion become more obvious. People have more trouble following instructions and may need help getting dressed. They have trouble recognizing friends and family members. They may not know where they are or what day or year it is. They may lack judgment, begin to wander, and become restless. In the moderate stages people may make threats, accuse others of stealing, curse, kick, hit, bite, scream, or grab things.

Severe (late stage): This is the last stage of Alzheimer’s and ends in the death of the person. People often need help with all their daily needs, may not be able to walk or sit up without help. They may not be able to talk and often cannot recognize family members. They may have trouble swallowing and refuse to eat. As you can see, caring for someone with dementia is much more intense than caring for a senior with other health issues. You can care for the physical needs of your loved one by closely coordinating care with his or her physician. Just as important is your ability to remain a caregiver for the long term. That requires a clear understanding of the role and strategies designed to protect the well-being of you and your family.
 
1. Caregiving demands will increase over time. As the disease progresses so will the needs of your loved one. By the advanced stages, caregiving will become a full-time job. Knowing this will help you to plan your work/life schedule in a realistic manner and seek help with caregiving responsibilities.

2. Dementia caregiving requires special skills. Caring for someone with dementia may not come naturally. It isn’t intuitive. In fact, sometimes the logical thing to do is the wrong thing. For example, insisting that they eat may be the wrong thing if they have developed swallowing or chewing difficulties. Learn about the disease and its treatment. Consult with your loved one’s physician and ask their advice for caregiving.

3. Talk with your family and children about caregiving. Be honest. Children are very intuitive. They will know that their grandparent, aunt or uncle are changing and that their behavior is odd. Explain the disease and that loving the senior loved one is most important. Engage them and empower them to be part of the caregiving process. Younger children can read to the senior, or help you with chores. The family will be less stressed when the situation is discussed out in the open.

4. Have regular family meetings. Sit down on a regular basis to talk about how caregiving is impacting the family as a whole. Talk about the impact of the senior’s condition on the family and address stress points and difficulties. Meet with a therapist or case manager if that will help to solve grievances.

5. Pay attention to family needs. Caring for someone with dementia can quickly be the focus of attention for the household. Young children and spouses can feel excluded and left behind. Take time to schedule activities for just the family. A family member or professional caregiver can stay with your loved one and bring special activities so it is a fun evening for him or her as well.

Do you care for a parent with dementia? Have you found strategies that work for you and your family? If so, we would like to hear from you. Senior care is its own special community and by sharing information we can help one another to provide meaningful care.

Can grapes help protect against Alzheimer’s decline?

Posted on March 2, 2017

A pilot study at the University of California, Los Angeles looked at whether consuming grapes could help fight the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers, led by Dr. Daniel H. Silverman, worked with people with early memory decline. They broke the volunteers into two groups – one that received whole grape powder and another that received a placebo powder that looked and tasted like the grape powder. The “grape group” received the equivalent of 2 ¼ cups of grapes per day. The researchers measured participants’ cognitive performance at the beginning of the study and again six months later. Brain metabolism was also measured at the beginning of the study and six months later by PET scans of the brain. These scans provide both predictive and diagnostic value to health professionals who are evaluating patients presenting with signs of dementia.
 
When people have Alzheimer’s disease, their brains aren’t working as they should. Some of that, experts believe, is due to problems with brain metabolism. The brain, like the rest of the body, needs energy to work properly. The areas of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease tend to need the most energy. The process of converting food to energy for the brain is, in very basic terms, brain metabolism. Healthy brain metabolism is essential for proper functioning. The study results showed that people with early memory decline had healthy metabolic activity in the regions of the brain most affected by early Alzheimer’s when they consumed the grape powder, but the people who consumed the placebo powder actually had a significant decline in metabolic activity in the same regions of the brain.
 
The study also showed that the “grape group” had positive changes in brain metabolism that correlates with cognitive improvement and improved performance of the working memory.
 
The results of the pilot study were published in the journal Experimental Gerontology[HT1]. What the results showed is that eating grapes every day preserved healthy metabolism, prevented decline of brain metabolism, and improved both memory and attention. According to Dr. Silverman, the study results “suggest that regular intake of grapes may provide a protective effect against early decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”
 
Why does eating grapes seem to work? There is evidence that the polyphenols in grapes help promote anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity in the brain. There is also research that suggests grapes may help encourage a healthy brain by reducing oxidative stress in the brain (which can lead to brain function decline), helping maintain levels of a chemical in the brain that promotes memory, and having anti-inflammatory effects.
 
While the study results are exciting, Dr. Silverman says further studies need to be done with larger groups.
 
At Home Care Assistance, we promote healthy brains and improved quality of life for our clients through multiple programs, including the Balanced Care Method

- a holistic approach to healthy longevity - and the Cognitive Theraputics Method – a cognitive stimulation program developed to keep aging minds sharp.

The green thing

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days." The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

The older lady said that she was right -- our generation didn't have the "green thing" in its day. The older lady went on to explain: Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the "green thing" in our day. Back then we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.  Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used old newspapers to cushion it, not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right; we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the "green thing." We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

Isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation. This has been around for some time and we don’t know who the author is but it is accurate.

Here are some headlines from the We Own It campaign!

-Thomas calls for 'global summit' against privatization

-Port Colborne calls a moratorium on privatization

-Fort Frances councillor: We Own It is 'a good movement'

-Conservative MPP pledges to stop privatization

-Belle River agrees: public = better

-Belle river deserves a public Service Ontario centre

-Government relents: nine Service Ontario centres to stay open

The above is just a few of the headlines generated by the WE OWN IT campaign. You can read all these stories and more at www.opseu.org .  

The current focus of the campaign is the LCBO. If you are at a LCBO store offer your support and ask what you can do to help. Each region has mobilizers if you wish to get involved. Go to www.opseu.org  to find out who the contacts are in your region.

Long-term care

For more than 75,000 Ontarians, long-term care (LTC) homes provide the care and dignity they need to survive. Seniors and persons with disabilities living in LTC facilities need and deserve a robust regulatory and enforcement regime, and public accountability to protect them. But increased privatization is eroding accountability and service quality, posing a serious risk to some of Ontario’s most vulnerable people.

Weak accountability and transparency

In Ontario, for-profit facilities receive funding from the government. But private facilities demonstrate less transparency and accountability, opening the door to instability and displacements that are harmful for residents, workers and the health care system. A complex web of investors and companies, combined with subcontracted management and service delivery, means monitoring for-profit providers is difficult.

Staff face precarious employment and lower wages

In order to increase profit margins, private facilities often slash wages and benefits of care staff and reduce investment in professional development. This leads to an increase in turnover. An American study of 902 nursing homes in California in 2005 found for-profit and chain-affiliated facilities had higher turnover rates compared with non-profit facilities — in some cases, turnover ranged as high as 100 per cent. The precarious employment and high turnover of senior care workers in private facilities translates to a lack of continuity of care for patients and their families.

Decreased quality of care for vulnerable seniors

Cost-cutting measures at some private LTC facilities also lead to understaffing, meaning seniors are not receiving the level of attention they need for daily tasks like bathing, recreation, and one-on-one care. In Brantford, Ont., one private nursing home was so short-staffed that weekly baths for residents were often skipped. Further cost-cutting measures, such as rationing of essential supplies, cause an even bigger decline in the quality of care. In Ontario, a private nursing home chain enforced stringent rationing on diapers, forcing staff to wrap residents in towels and plastic garbage bags to keep beds dry.

Demand for long-term care increasing

The aging of Canada’s population is accelerating as baby boomers reach retirement. By 2036, nearly one in four Canadians will be a senior. As the population ages, demand for long-term senior care will only increase. Acting now to protect sustainable and accountable high-quality services will ensure Ontarians receive care that helps preserve their health and their dignity.

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Publication Date: 

Monday, June 26, 2017 - 10:15am