Autumn View Edition 3, 2015

A message from the Chair

I am far from being an old man, but even farther from being young and that realization seems to come home to me on a regular basis.

My annual two week camping trip this summer, showed in spades the physical aspects of this realization. That canoe is getting too much to deal with on my own, the length of time for a paddle is shortened by my weary shoulders and the setting up and taking down of the campsite is not only becoming more of a chore, it has us talking about how much longer we can do this.

All this brought to mind the old George Bernard Shaw quote, “Youth is wasted on the young” and the shocking truth is, that not only is it about physical attributes and stamina, but also losing ground in the ability to think and learn.

With practically their whole life ahead of them, the young folks head off to university or college to learn. They travel to never seen places and experience the new and unexplored world. Their optimism and lack of cynicism, combined with their physical and intellectual energy, makes most any senior jealous of their “joie de vivre.”

However, I have decided I am not ready to throw in the towel quite yet. I still can and do enjoy my life, such as it is. Many of my fishing, golfing and curling companions are in their eighties and I have a long way to go to reach that plateau. Cards, games and puzzles on a daily basis keep my mind active and I have yet to spend a day where I haven’t learned something new. With my wife at my side and a good book nearby, I will continue to travel and learn and enjoy as long as my health and money hold out.

Don’t get me wrong, getting old sucks.  Getting sick, losing loved ones and not being able to do everything you used to do is not the greatest. But I am certainly not ready for the alternative to growing old, at this point in time.

Ed Faulknor, Chair
OPSEU Retired Members Division

What every older Canadian should know about: Financial planning

Making a financial plan is a way to take charge of your financial future. A financial plan helps you understand your choices and reach your life goals. Financial planning is for everyone and as you get older and face changes such as retirement, it is important for you to have as much information as you can about your financial future. Even if you are starting late, planning will help you get your financial affairs in order and let you know where you stand.

Lillian's story:

After Lillian's husband died, she became worried about her finances. Approaching retirement, Lillian was concerned she wouldn't have enough income to remain in her home for much longer. After making a financial plan, Lillian more clearly understood how much income she had from her pension plan and other savings, and what assistance she could receive from government sources. Making a financial plan gave Lillian a clearer picture of her choices and helped her make informed, workable decisions.

What is a financial plan?

A financial plan looks at where you are now and where you want to be in the future, and lays out a plan to help you get there. When you are making a financial plan you will have to think about your long-term needs and about the kinds of things that might happen to you in the future. A financial plan will address a number of different topics, including your:

  • Current and future living expenses
  • Current and future sources of income, including government and other benefits
  • Assets–their current and future value
  • Tax planning
  • Insurance needs
  • Investments

Why do I need a financial plan?

A good financial plan will help you understand what your choices are today and in the future, reduce uncertainty about the future and help you make good decisions. A financial plan will answer these types of questions:

  • How much income do I need?
  • Do I have enough money to retire?
  • Should I keep working?
  • Do I need to sell property or other assets?
  • How much insurance coverage do I need?
  • How much money will I receive from government programs?
  • How much will it cost me to live once I retire?
  • How long will my savings last?

How do I start making a financial plan?

There are many free guides on the Internet to help get you started on your own financial plan, or you may wish to consult a certified financial planner. Some certified financial planners, or elder planning counselors, specialize in working with people over 50. If you choose to consult a professional, you should be aware that financial planners have different ways of getting paid. Some earn commissions by selling products such as insurance or investment plans, while others are paid on an hourly basis by clients.

Tips and Safeguards

  • If your financial situation is complicated, consider hiring a professional who has professional certification.
  • If your plan involves making legal documents, it is a good idea to consult a lawyer before you sign them.
  • Find out if a financial advisor has an interest in selling you something. Ask if the person makes a commission from the sale of financial products.
  • Keep your financial records (including bank and investment statements, bills, tax forms and tax returns) in a safe and accessible place. Canada Revenue Agency requires you to keep your income tax returns and related financial information for a period of six years.
  • Be informed. There are many free information resources available to help you. Visit the Government of Canada Website: Canada.ca/Seniors to get started or go to your local library.
  • Do it sooner rather than later. Having a financial plan in place will help you make good decisions when something unexpected occurs.

Other brochures in this series

What every older Canadian should know about:

Financial Planning

Where can I find out more?

Your bank or credit union is a good starting place. They have resources and staff who can help you get started with your financial plan.

If you wish to hire a financial planner, you may want to contact the Financial Planning Standards Council, a not-for-profit organization that certifies financial planners in Canada. The Council can give you the names of certified financial planners, including elder planning counselors in your community. You can visit their website or call them toll free at 1-800-305-9886.

The Government of Canada has many resources to help you with financial planning, including an online program called the Canadian Retirement Income Calculator.

For more information, visit Canada.ca/Seniors or visit your local Service Canada office. For help finding a phone number in your province or territory call 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232), TTY: 1-800-926-9105.

The original document reprinted here has been jointly prepared by the Federal/ Provincial/ Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum. The Forum is an intergovernmental body established to share information, discuss new and emerging issues related to seniors, and work collaboratively on key projects.

Wow Am I That Old!

Someone asked the other day, 'What was you favorite fast food when you were growing up?'

'We didn't have fast food when I was growing up,' I informed him, 'All the food was slow.'
'C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?'

'It was a place called 'at home' I explained!

'Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn't like what she put on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.'

A Common Platform of the Green Economy Network

As members of Canadian-based labour, environmental and social justice organizations we have come together to form a common front for the building of a green economy in Canada. We have done so, recognizing that we are living in one of those critical moments of human history wherein decisions must be made that will ultimately affect our destiny as a people, a nation, and the planet.

We maintain that, if the plan of action outlined below were to be fully enacted during the coming decade, Canada would be well on the road to creating over two million new person job years and reducing our total national greenhouse gas emissions by over 100 million tonnes a year by 2025 which represents a substantial contribution towards our overall emissions reductions. Moreover, these initiatives would generate opportunities for the transition towards a more equitable as well as a more sustainable economy.

Introduction

Canada is still recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Unemployment and underemployment in precarious jobs remains very high. Policy measures which de-industrialized the Canadian economy in favour of a resource-based economy are proving short-sighted in the aftermath of the collapse of the price of oil. This economic crisis is compounded by an environment and climate crisis which threatens the future of the planet.

In turn, this environment crisis is further reinforced by an emerging energy crisis. What’s more, our economy and society are further plagued by an equity crisis marked by increasing inequalities and divisions amongst race and class. We can no longer afford an economic model that treats the planet and people as disposable goods. We believe the time has come to chart a new economic model, one that requires a fundamental transformation in the way we produce, transport and consume goods. We need a new industrial strategy for this country. We need to rethink the way we construct buildings, produce products and generate energy. We need to rethink the way we transport ourselves, move goods, fuel industries, and heat our homes and businesses, while ensuring there is affordable green energy for all. We need to foster local sustainable economies, provide equitable job opportunities and contribute our fair share to efforts that reduce environmental and social harm internationally. In doing so, we will help break our addiction to fossil fuels and overcome persistent poverty and inequalities. In short, we must build a green economy and a society that transforms the mode of production and consumption, ensures energy is available and affordable, and makes the jobs we have more environmentally sustainable, while simultaneously creating new decent paying green jobs and providing just transition programs.

Download here: GEN-Common-Platform-EN.pdf

The above is an outline by the Canadian Labour Congress of their approach to a Green Economy taken from their web site.

Retiring or Already Retired? 

Do you still need Life Insurance?

I’ve been assisting people with their life insurance needs for 25 years and I’m asked this question regularly.  People in their 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s tell me that they will have no need for life insurance when they retire; they only require protection when they have dependents, debts and mortgages.  As a general rule this is true, however it is a little too simplistic. 

There are times when life insurance in retirement might make sense.

  1. There may be a tax bill upon death.  This tax bill could be a result of capital gains on investment or vacation property (cottages), investment portfolios, etc.  Life insurance is often used to cover these tax liabilities which then allows real estate to remain in the family and/or a large estate being left to your beneficiaries.
  2. Pay off debts.  We work hard all our lives and we have the expectation that we will have little or no debt upon retirement.  This is often not the case.  We are carrying higher lines of credit, credit card debt and mortgages well into retirement.  If we don’t have enough liquid assets or funds in our pensions/RRSP’s to cover these debts, upon death a life insurance policy can offer peace of mind knowing that your heirs will not be burdened with the debt load.
  3. Providing an income for a spouse or other dependent.  In these tough economic times, children are often returning home and could also be bringing their children with them.  Although not ideal, we help as much as we can.  More often we are concerned with our surviving spouse.  Do they require funds?
  4. Equalize an estate.  In some cases things cannot be divided equally; such as a family run business or a vacation property.  One beneficiary may have no interest in retaining the family cottage, while others would never want to part with it.  Having a life insurance policy provides cash to the beneficiary who doesn’t want the cottage to equalize the equity and value of the property being left to the others.  This holds true for businesses too. 
  5. Increase the size of your estate.  As we get older our thoughts often turn to leaving a legacy to those we love.  Leaving tax free funds to our children or establishing an education fund for grandchildren is something most of us would like to do.  Once again this can be accomplished with a life insurance policy.
  6. Charities.  Charitable gifting with a life insurance policy allows us to make a larger donation to a specific charity that is close to your heart.  Giving to your charity through your estate can save a lot of money in taxes.
  7. Final expenses. This can include funeral expenses and legal fees.

These are the most common reasons someone would consider having a permanent life insurance policy. 

There are various types of policies: some based on the life of one person and others that are based on both of you.  An individual life policy is as it suggests: tax free funds are paid to the named beneficiary(ies) upon the death of the life insured.  A policy based on two people can either be a joint-first-to die, which is typically used for debt elimination and income replacement.  Or, a joint-last-to-die policy, which is used for estate planning purposes such as capital gains taxation or estate equalization.

Should you want further to discuss your specific needs, please feel free to contact, The CG&B Group, part of Arthur J. Gallagher Canada Limited Sally.ryan@cgbgroup.com or 905-948-2664.

The CG&B Group is OPSEU’s preferred insurance broker with a number of exclusive programs for OPSEU Members and Retirees.  For more information, please contact:

Robert Manson
Senior Vice President
The CG&B Group, part of Arthur J. Gallagher Canada Limited
120 South Town Centre Blvd. Markham, Ontario L6G 1C3
direct: 905.305.5967  |  fax: 905.948.2709
Bob.Manson@cgbgroup.com | www.cgbgroup.com

You might spend a lot of time alone

Without a job to go to every day, you could find yourself spending an increasing amount of time alone. Some 44 per cent of Americans ages 65 and older live alone, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Unless you sign up for a volunteer position or make an effort to socialize on a regular basis, you could become bored and lonely.

Conservatives use anti-democratic tactics to pass Bill C-377

After four years of failed attempts, Conservatives finally were able to pass the anti-union Bill C-377 in the Senate today, but only after using anti-democratic tactics to rig the rules of the Senate.

The private member’s bill — entitled an Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations) — has been back and forth between the House and Senate for four years. It was the first private member’s bill to proceed to the Senate this session, and is the last piece of Parliamentary business before the Senate adjourned for summer and the upcoming federal election campaign this fall.

A partisan and political attack on the constitutional labour rights of Canadians

Bill C-377 is nothing more than a partisan and political attack on the constitutionally guaranteed labour rights of Canadians. The bill changes the Income Tax Act to make it mandatory for all labour organizations, including those regulated under provincial law, to publicly file detailed annual financial statements covering salaries, revenues, and expenses. The legislation sets a $1,000 a-day fine to a maximum of $25,000 per organization for non-compliance. It would also ensure that detailed personal financial information would be publicly available on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

Widely criticized for its high financial costs, its unconstitutionality and violations of privacy

In the four years since Bill C-377 was first introduced, it has been widely criticized by its detractors for its high financial costs, its unconstitutionality, its violations of privacy and ultimately for its lack of necessity.

The legislation has been strongly opposed by seven provinces, the federal NDP and Liberal parties, constitutional law experts, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, the Canadian Bar Association, the NHL Players' Association, the insurance and mutual fund industry, and a long and diverse list of others in the business, financial, professional, legal, labour, and academic communities.

Conservative Senators vote to overrule the rules of the Senate

Up until June 25, the Liberals in the Senate had successfully filibustered to keep the debate going and were prepared to continue to keep the Senate held up all summer in an attempt to prevent the anti-union bill from becoming law. Their efforts were quashed late last week when Conservative Senators, acting on direct orders from the prime minister’s office, moved a motion to shut down debate and block any further motions on Bill C-377. The Senate Speaker, Leo Housakos, ruled the motion out of order as it violates Senate rules, which do not allow for the limiting of debate on a private member's bill.

Motion violates Senate rules but Conservative Senators overrule Speaker

On June 26, the Government Leader in the Senate, Claude Carignan, introduced a motion to overrule the Speaker’s decision, which passed by a 32—17 vote.

The final vote on the bill took place earlier today. It is expected that this will be the last piece of Parliamentary business in the Senate before it rises later today for the summer.

A sad day for democracy

In commenting on the passage of Bill C-377 in the Senate today, James Clancy, National President of the 360,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), stated, “This truly is a sad day for Canadian democracy. It speaks volumes to the disrespect this government has for democracy and the rule of law when Prime Minister Harper personally directs these undemocratic tactics to ensure that Bill C-377 passes the Senate in order to appeal to the Conservatives’ right wing base.”

“I believe, however, that this provides us with an opportunity to talk to Canadians and our members about how the Harper government continues to use whatever tactic it can to usurp democracy, even if it means rigging the rules to get its way," Clancy added.

This article was taken from the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights website recounting the events as they unfolded June 30, 2015.

How Unions strengthen the Canadian Economy

Many historians attribute unions to the rise of Canada's middle class and the general prosperity of the country. By helping more workers make decent wages with more job security, unions are largely responsible for stabilizing the economy and stimulating its growth. Because of unions, more working people can afford houses, better food, clothing, cars and other consumer goods. Increasing demand for these things creates more jobs and even more economic growth.

Home Security

A. Home Security for Peace of Mind

When it comes to the protection of your family and the security of your property there are some simple steps you can take to increase both. Most burglaries happen during the day when the occupants are not at home. The thieves are often young men looking for expensive items that are easily carried away and sold. They are looking for a house that is easily entered, has a good amount of privacy and has an easy escape route.

Use the information below to complete a security audit of your home. Some local police services will complete an audit of your home. When you call, ask for the community services department. If they do not offer the service they may be able to refer you to a company that will. The cost will be worth it.

B. Giving Away Personal Information

  • Never leave a message on your answering machine or door advising you’re away. If you’re a female, and have an answering machine with a male pre-recorded message, it’s a good idea to use it.
  • Don’t give any personal information to strangers including service providers. Talking to a barber or clerk about an upcoming trip can give away information a thief could use.
  • Don’t leave notes for service people or family members on the door. These act as a welcome mat for a burglar.
  • Answer the door if someone knocks. If you don’t answer you may run into an unwelcome visitor in your home who thought you weren’t there.

C. The Outside of Your Home

  • Keep the entrances to your home clear of shrubs and trees so the doorways are clearly visible.
  • Locking up your home but leaving the tool shed open is an invitation to thieves to use your tools to break in.
  • The same applies to ladders; keep them locked away so thieves can’t use them to access upper levels.

D. Doors and Locks

  • Change all the locks and tumblers when you move into a new house.
  • The door must have a solid core or be made of metal or fiberglass.
  • If you have windows in the door ensure they are difficult to break.
  • Install a peephole to identify who is at the door.
  • Ensure your locks are secure. An excellent lock with short bolts is useless.
  • Similarly, an excellent lock with a weak door jamb is no deterrent to an experienced thief. The door frames must be strong enough to withstand a kick or pry bar. There are many styles of locks available and some are definitely superior to others.
  • You do not want a lock that can be reached from the outside with a hanger through the mail slot or pet door.
  • Invest in keys that can’t be easily duplicated at a hardware store. Consult with a reputable locksmith to ensure your door locks are secure.
  • Sliding patio doors can be pried or lifted to open. There are a number of devices that can be added to a patio door to make it more secure. Check with a locksmith or quality hardware store for options.
  • Needless to say, if a patio door is in a secluded location the glass can be broken.

E. The Garage

  • Keep your garage door closed unless you are in eyesight of it.
  • If you frost or cover your garage windows, burglars won’t be able to tell if your car is gone.
  • Install a peephole in the door separating the house from the garage. If you hear suspicious sounds, you can check without opening the door.

F. Windows

  • Windows come with latches and not locks. Some latches are easier for a thief to open than others. Again, there are anti-lift devices that can be added to your window to make it more secure.
  • Basement and main floor windows are most at risk because of their accessibility. Second floor windows can be reached if you leave an unsecured ladder outside.
  • Pull the blinds or curtains shut at night so thieves cannot see inside.

G. Lighting

  • There are many styles of interior and exterior light timers that will always give your home the appearance of being occupied.
  • Provide as much as 100 feet of lit visibility in the area of front or side entrances. Motion or infrared detectors at the rear of the building are very useful.
  • Good lighting makes a burglar very visible.

H. Personal Goods          

  • Do not keep your car keys or purse near the garage door. Most people do and most burglars know it.
  • Thieves have learned that the master bedroom is the best place to find valuables such as jewellery and smart phones. Keep your valuables inside cereal boxes and fake soup cans in the kitchen. Thieves won’t expect to find valuables there.
  • Do not leave keys hidden anywhere outside of your home.
  • Don’t put your name on your mailbox. If a burglar can find out your name, they can find your number and call.

I. Identification

  • If you are the victim of a burglary, having your belongings labelled with your identification could help having them returned to you.
  • Whenever possible, engrave your license number on valuable items. Do not use your social insurance number for this purpose.
  • It is also a good idea to photograph your possessions, room by room. Be sure to keep the photos in a fire proof safe or separate location in the event of fire.

J. Alarm Systems

  • Alarm systems can be a very useful part of a complete home security system. The window decals and lawn signs alone will cause many burglars to bypass your home.
  • An effective alarm will make it necessary for burglars to act more quickly than they might prefer, so your home is more likely to be spared a break-in.
  • There are many kinds of alarm systems with many different features. Ensure that your system has an audible horn or bell that automatically resets after a few minutes.
  • Tell your neighbours about your system so they know what is happening when they hear the alarm.
  • Video surveillance systems are a strong deterrent for thieves.
  • Make sure those alarm signs, stickers and placards you decorate your front and back yard with, note that you have an alarm system and video surveillance equipment.
  • For the most effective alarm system, conceal all wiring. Professional burglars looks for places where they can disconnect the security system.

K. Home Safes

  • Home safes are becoming more affordable and therefore more popular. They are particularly effective in protecting you from smash and grab thefts, dishonest babysitters or cleaners.
  • Some models can also protect your valuables from heat and fire damage.
  • Ensure the safes are secured to the floor or wall so they cannot be carried away.

L. Be a Good Neighbour

  • Create your own neighbourhood watch program.
  • One of the best protections for your home is a friendly neighbour who understands your home and your habits.
  • Establish trust with your neighbour on either side, behind and two or three across the street.
  • An observant neighbour can see suspicious behaviour and will know what you would want them to do.
  • It is also useful to leave a key with a neighbour instead of hiding one where it can be found by a savvy burglar. Sep. 2012

M. Apartment Living

  • There are some special precautions that apartment dwellers should consider.
  • Before buzzing callers in, be sure they are who you expect them to be.
  • When entering the building, do not admit people you do not recognize.
  • On the intercom list in the lobby indicate your name as an initial and last name.
  • Keep your doors and windows locked. Do not assume the building is secure from the inside or outside.
  • If you are not comfortable with the occupants of the elevator do not get in or get off at the next floor.
  • Try to use the laundry room with a partner.
  • When entering the underground parking area, be alert to other cars following you inside.
  • Watch the garage door closely to ensure no strangers entered with you.
  • If you see someone in the garage or building you believe is genuinely suspicious, contact the superintendent.

I Was Wondering

  • Why do croutons come in airtight packages? Aren't they just stale bread to begin with?
  • Do Lipton Tea employees take 'coffee breaks?'
  • Why do banks charge a fee due to insufficient funds; when they already know you're broke?
  •  Why is it that when someone tells you that there are one billion stars in the universe you believe them, but if they tell you there is wet paint you have to touch it to check?
  • Why do people run over a string a dozen times with their vacuum, then reach down,pick it up, examine it & then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?
  • Why, Why, Why do we press harder on the remote control when we know the batteries are getting weak?

From Retired Teachers of Ontario website

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Aging brings unpredictable changes to our senses, often making them less sharp. As you age, being aware of how these senses may change will ensure your safety and comfort and promote overall well-being. 

Here are six common indications of vision loss that you need to be aware of:

  • Changes in the way you read, watch television, walk or perform other tasks
  • Difficulty identifying faces or objects
  • Squinting or tilting head to the side to get an object in focus
  • Holding reading material close to the face or at an angle
  • Bumping into walls, objects or people when walking
  • Spilling food or liquids during meals

If you or a loved one is experiencing vision loss, you may be vulnerable to tripping and falling, especially in unfamiliar environments. Older adults with declining visual acuity may also accidentally leave appliances running if they can no longer see the off/on switch. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your safety:

  1. Ensure adequate lighting. Try to increase the amount of lighting directly over the activity that you are doing (e.g., eating in the kitchen, reading in the living room). It’s also a good idea to have a working flashlight nearby, especially during evenings and nights.
  2. Use color contrast. Eat meals on bright plates that are in sharp contrast to the color of the table and consider using colored duct tape to mark light switches and stove dials.
  3. Stay organized. Come up with methods of organization (e.g., cereal goes in the cabinet next to the sink) that work best for you. You might consider labeling containers in the fridge and cabinets using masking tape and a black marker.
  4. Ask for support. For outdoor walking, or walking in unfamiliar places, the Family Caregiver Alliance recommends using the “sighted guide technique” where someone holds onto your arm just above the elbow and walks about half a pace behind you. Daily physical activity is important, and if you need some extra assistance to get in your favorite neighborhood walk, don’t be embarrassed to ask a friend or family member to accompany you. This is a great excuse to enjoy quality time together!

For more information about how aging affects the senses, purchase a copy of our book, The Five Senses: A Sensible Guide to Sensory Loss. The fourth book in our award-winning senior wellness series, The Five Senses provides information, insights and practical advice to help you cope with changes in sensory awareness.

Visite our website www.HomeCareAssistance.com .

Seven Tips for a Healthier Brain

The Cognitive Therapeutics Method™ promotes quality of life for individuals who want to take a proactive approach to the long-term cognitive health of themselves or a loved one. In line with the Cognitive Therapeutics Method’s mission to keep aging minds sharper longer, we have put together seven tips for leading a brain-healthy lifestyle!

  • Socialize. Story-telling, reminiscing or relaxing with family and friends is time well-spent. Being social exercises your memory and keeps you socially connected. These rich, meaningful relationships help your brain stay engaged, maintain your sense of community and sharpen your overall cognitive ability.
  • Stimulate the mind. Mentally engaging activities like cards, Sudoku and puzzles exercise the brain, keeping it healthier longer. Reading works our language and attention skills, and activities like chess or origami exercise our visual-spatial perception and executive functioning skills. Many studies have shown that the continuation of learning new skills or pursuing continuing education may also reduce the risk of cognitive decline by forming new neural pathways in the brain.
  • Take care of your mental health. Stress can block the part of your brain that processes and files away new information so it is important to promote calm in everyday life – try yoga, meditation or prayer to de-stress. Some studies link depression with risk of cognitive decline, so seek help if you have difficulty with anxiety, depression or stress to optimize your mental health, and in turn, your brain health.
  • Exercise. Physical activity increases heart rate and stimulates blood flow to the brain. By exercising, you are engaging both the circulatory system, which promotes the removal of toxins, and the brain itself, especially the frontal lobe which promotes executive functioning and includes reasoning, problem solving, judgement and cognitive flexibility.
  • Eat well. Super foods that promote heart health and blood flow are great brain foods and include fish, nuts, olive oil, blueberries and dark chocolate. We have featured articles proving that diets high in fat and sugar affect our brain health by decreasing our cognitive flexibility, the ability to adapt to new situations. We recommend a Mediterranean diet which consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, unrefined grains and fish along with moderate consumption of wine.
  • Engage in a hobby. Whether it’s picking up an old hobby or finding a new one, multiple studies have shown an inverse relationship between participation in leisure activities and development of dementia. Recreational activities can have cognitive, physical and social aspects that are also found to be beneficial to healthy aging.
  • Stimulate your senses. Listen to a favorite song, try aromatherapy, massage your hand or look at pictures from your last trip that bring you good feelings. In addition to maintaining sensory skills with practice and stimulation, sensory stimulation can provide positive social interactions and cognitive exercise.

Try adopting these habits into your daily routine, and pick things that you love that will be easy to add – for instance, incorporate your favorite fruit or vegetable into your daily diet or spend 15 minutes in the morning meditating. Small, healthy changes in daily living will not only boost brain health, but promote longevity too!  For more info, visit their website at: http://www.alz.org/northcentraltexas/in_my_community_101405.asp

Blood Pressure Can Impact Brain Health Years Later

We know that health in our adult years has the potential to affect our overall wellbeing and cognitive health down the line. Many studies have shown that high cardiovascular risk in midlife is correlated with an increased risk of dementia later on. Now, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine have found more evidence that having high blood pressure in midlife may impact brain health in later years.

The researchers measured the blood pressure of 378 Framingham Heart Study participants who were between 50-60 years old. When the participants were approximately 80 years old, thirty years later, they were given tests to assess their cognitive performance.

The research group found that participants who had higher blood pressure in midlife scored lower on cognitive tests of attention and executive function later on. Executive functioning includes higher-order cognitive abilities such as reasoning, problem-solving, judgement and cognitive flexibility, or the ability to adapt to new situations.

“Midlife health matters. The pathway to one’s older years is through the younger years and taking care of your health while you are younger may help you better preserve your cognitive health when you are older,” said Rhoda Au, professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and corresponding author.

Many of us view aging as the biggest cause of cognitive decline and dementia. However, studies like this one are proving that there may be risk factors within our control. If you or a loved one has blood pressure outside of the normal range, contact a local physician to develop a plan to achieve normal blood pressure levels. Methods to reduce high blood pressure may include physical exercise or mindfulness practices to promote calm, such as meditation.

It is important to remember that you are neither too young nor too old to start developing healthy habits. Aside from staying physically active, socializing and stimulating the mind, the Cognitive Therapeutics Method™ recommends a Mediterranean diet which is beneficial for both heart and brain health. A Mediterranean diet consists of vegetables, fruits, beans, unrefined grains and fish along with a moderate consumption of wine.

Source:

http://www.j-alz.com/content/midlife-high-blood-pressure-may-negatively-impact-brain-years-later

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/midlife-high-blood-pressure-negatively-impacts-brain-later-115071800116_1.html

The Brain Health Benefits of Milk

Milk has always been known as an excellent source of vitamins and protein for building a healthy body and strong bones. Now, researchers have found that milk may also have a protective effect on the brain.

Researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center – In-Young Choi, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Neurology, and Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Dietetics and Nutrition – studied how milk benefits the body and specifically, the brain among older adults. 60 participants, with an average age of 69, recorded everything they ate and drank in the days leading up to brain scans, which were used to measure the levels of glutathione in the brain.

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that experts believe may slow cognitive decline. Antioxidants can prevent oxidative stress in the brain that causes cellular damage and is associated with a number of different diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Results from this study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that participants who drank milk recently had higher concentrations of glutathione in their brains. They also found that participants who drank milk frequently over time had higher levels of glutathione as compared to those who did not drink milk. Regardless of the participants’ age, the amount of milk they consumed directly correlated to their glutathione levels.

Dr. Choi and Dr. Sullivan concluded that this study proves an association between milk and glutathione levels in the brain, and that this association may be due to the fact that milk is an excellent source of the “building blocks” that are necessary for glutathione production. Although glutathione is naturally produced in the liver, finding natural sources to boost this antioxidant could also help protect the brain and prevent the development of future diseases.

A similar study by the University of Maine in 2012 tracked the milk consumption of 900 participants aged 23 to 98 and found that participants who drank milk frequently over time performed higher on a series of eight different measures of mental performance compared to those who did not drink milk, regardless of the participants’ age.

While further studies need to be done to better identify the role of milk in protecting the brain and preventing cognitive decline, it is safe to say that milk has positive benefits for your overall health and wellbeing. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends three servings of dairy daily. Get your daily recommended amount along with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle for optimal brain health.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutathione

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150324101447.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/30/a-glass-of-milk-a-day-is-good-for-your-brain-and-memory_n_1240933.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2093806/Milk-good-brain-memory-Drinking-just-1-glass-day-boost-brain-power.html

Repair Scams

Don’t be a victim of home repair scams. Arm yourself by being aware of the following red flags to potential home repair scams:

  1. Contractors who appear uninvited at your doorstep or who call or email you out of the blue.
  2. The contractor says they are doing work in your neighborhood and claims they have “extra material” left over.
  3. You feel pressured to make a decision and sign a contract for the work immediately
  4. The contractor offers a “special deal” available “today only”.
  5. The contractor points out a “problem” with your home that you never noticed yourself before. Some unscrupulous scam artists have been known to offer “free” inspections and then break something on purpose so they can be paid to “fix” the problem.
  6. The contractor demands full payment up front, particularly if payment is demanded in cash.
  7. The contractor lacks identification, such as a permit from the city or locality.
  8. Offers to give you a discount so that your home can be used as a “model” or if you find additional customers for him/her.
  9. The contractor offers to help finance the project, either from his own funds or the funds of an associate, especially if your home equity or home deed is involved.
  10. The contractor insists you come and examine “damage” with him (while an associate steals valuables from your home).

Some of the more common types of home repair scams involve duct cleaning, driveway sealant, leaky foundations, landscaping, furnace and roofing repair. This is by no means an exhaustive list, however.

Consumers can take some precautions to avoid home repair scams, including:

  • Get multiple estimates on any home repair job before signing a contract.
  • Check out the contractor’s references and visit the site to check out the quality of the work itself, if possible.
  • Check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau and make sure the contractor is licensed.
  • Never pay in full up front, especially if cash is the only payment accepted.
  • Make sure the contractor is insured and bonded.
  • Document in writing the scope of the work to be done and the complete cost and time necessary to complete the job and how payment will be handled.

Source: National Consumer League

Child Care Rules For Parents

  1. It's helpful to schedule ahead of time. If I know the grandkids are coming over, I won't dive into that closet-cleaning project, and I just might schedule a nap instead. I know there are times when you need a last-minute sitter, but give me advance notice whenever possible. I want to be well-rested and in a good mood for my grandchildren!
  2. You may need to bring food. If you have scheduled ahead of time, I'll be sure to have kid-friendly foods in my pantry, but if not, you may need to bring something. Grandparents tend to have meals that are minimal and possibly unappealing to the grandchildren. I don't think that Grannie's spinach omelet or Grandpa's Wheaties will be enthusiastically consumed by the grandchildren.
  3. Bring extra clothes. I know that Johnny hasn't had a toileting accident in a week, but guess what. Murphy's Law says that his next one will occur somewhere where extra clothes are non-existent. Children who are thoroughly toilet-trained can still have spills, so toss in an extra change of clothes for all.
  4. Let me know if they're sick. I may consent to babysit even if one of the grandkids has a runny nose, but if there is something contagious involved, let me decide if I want to take the risk. Grandparents don't bounce back as quickly as five-year-olds.
  5. Prep the kids for their visit. It never hurts to remind the children that things at their grandparents' house can be a little different from things at home. For example, perhaps there's only one TV, and Grandpa doesn't share well. Remind the grandchildren to be on their best behavior, even though Grannie and Grandpa will love them anyway.
  6. Consider our schedules. If Grandpa has to be at work at 5 a.m., or if Grannie's yoga class meets at 7 a.m., pick up the kids early. Just because we are grandparents doesn't mean that we don't have social lives and other commitments.
  7. Don't bring us kids that are too well-rested. Don't let the kids sleep until 11 a.m. if they are going to be spending the night at our house. It's hard for grandparents to make it past midnight, and it's dangerous for us to go to sleep while they're still awake.
  8. Be sure we have car seats. It's never safe to assume that we won't have to go anywhere while the kids are in our care. There could be an emergency. We've probably educated ourselves about car seats and bought the appropriate models, but if not, leave us yours.
  9. Keep your cell phones on. Okay, so perhaps the music is really loud at the club where you are meeting your friends. Keep your cell phones on, and put them on vibrate if you need to. We won't call you unless we need you, but there is always that possibility.
  10. Be on time. Drop off the children when you say you will, and pick them up at the agreed-upon time. If you are going to be late, call.

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Publication Date: 

Thursday, December 17, 2015 - 9:00am