- Not enough boom in Baby Boomer generation
- Aging population prompts rise in disabilities, says federal report
- Questions to ask your aging parents
- What to look for in a Medical Alert system
- Fun activities for seniors
- Healthy Eating for Seniors
- In the near future, 25 per cent of Canadians will be seniors
- A third of Canadian baby boomers spend either time or money looking after their aging parents
Not enough boom in Baby Boomer generation…from an article published in Canwest News, September 30, 2009
Contrary to their healthy living image, baby boomers are "drifting" into old age with poor eating habits, too little exercise and decimated savings, said Robert Butler, CEO of the International Longevity Center.
"We do not have a healthy population moving into old age," he said recently when opening a weeklong workshop on aging issues run by the ILC, a non-profit think-tank. "It's a huge social change. I don't think we can do in time the things that will most benefit them."
However, Butler said he hopes boomers will still be "energetic" about bringing on changes that will benefit the generations to follow them.
By 2015 there will be more people in Canada over 65 than under 15, according to Statistics Canada's most recent population projections. And the number of seniors is expected to double during the next 25 years.
In a report issued by the ILC, "The Future of Living: Independently," boomers -- the generation born between the end of the Second World War and the early sixties -- are urged to plan ahead for old age and create "a meaningful social dialogue on aging."
Boomers are encouraged to establish support systems "by keeping engaged, active and socially connected through pleasurable and meaningful activities like volunteering," and try to live in communities that make this possible.
Boomers are also asked to "think strategically about access to health care" and use new technologies to prevent isolation and enhance safety.
In another session, S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said obesity in general is on the verge of causing an unprecedented decline in life expectancy in developed countries.
Entire generations who became overweight in childhood will come of age with a set of health risks never before seen, he says, and he predicts that within 10 to 15 years, that will reduce average life expectancy, following a century of rapid improvement.
Current life expectancy in Canada is 82.5 years for women and 77.7 for men, according to Statistics Canada.
Only in the most recent chapter of human history have people even lived long enough to grapple with old age, Olshansky says, thanks to advances in medicine and public health that drastically reduced death rates from causes like infectious diseases and childbirth early in life.
"Aging as we know it today is a new phenomenon, really a 20th-century phenomenon," he said.
We've effectively "redistributed death from the young to the old," Olshansky said, but this extension in life expectancy combined with falling fertility rates means a massive shift in the global age structure on the immediate horizon.
Societies usually have lots of young members and few old members, he says, but by 2011, that's poised to flip in the massive populations of developing countries like China and India, as well as in North America.
"Humanity will experience a permanent shift in our age structure," Olshansky said.
Aging population prompts rise in disabilities, says federal report…a report from the Canadian Press on Dec. 28, 2009 TOP
An aging population and growing awareness mean the number of people living with disabilities is on the rise in Canada, says a newly released report.
More people with disabilities have access to jobs and the tools and aids they need, says the study, but the wage gap between those with disabilities and those without is growing.
"The challenges people with disabilities face in their day-to-day lives are numerous and often go unnoticed," Human Resources Minister Diane Finley says in the introduction to the 2009 Federal Disability Report.
The 61-page national portrait of disability shows that about 4.4 million Canadians - one in seven - now has a disability, an increase from earlier this decade.
The report crunches newly released data from the 2006 census and compares it with similar numbers in the 2001 census. Then, 12.4 per cent of Canadians reported having a disability. Now, the disability rate has climbed more than two percentage points, to 14.3 per cent.
The analysis cites the aging of the population for much of the increase. While all age groups saw some rise in the disability rate, adults over 65 saw their rate climb faster than other groups.
The research also points to an increase in reported learning disabilities. About 2.5 per cent of the country's adult population has a learning disability, compared with just 1.9 per cent in the 2001 data.
In general, women have a higher disability rate than men, but the reverse is true among children. About 17.7 per cent of adult women have a disability, compared with just 15.4 per cent of men. Among those under 14 years of age, 4.6 per cent of boys have a disability compared with just 2.7 per cent of girls.
The most common current types of disability are related to an aging population: pain, mobility and agility.
But adults with disabilities are far more successful at meeting their needs for aids and devices now than in 2001. The recent data show that more than 56 per cent of adults said all their needs were fully met, compared with just 17.4 per cent earlier.
The improvement was particularly noticeable among people with learning disabilities, and among seniors, the report said. However, younger people and people with communication disabilities saw a deterioration in their needs being met.
Those who can't obtain the necessary aids and devices most often cite cost as the key reason, the report says.
Generally, people with disabilities are now better educated and are finding it easier to land a job, the report found.
Almost three-quarters of working-age adults with disabilities have at least a high school diploma - an improvement of more than 12 percentage points since 2001.
And employment among working-age Canadians with disabilities rose four percentage points from 2001, to 53.5 per cent in 2006.
However, people with disabilities still earn much less than people without disabilities, and the gap has grown. Women with disabilities earn far less than men with disabilities.
The report's conclusions vary greatly depending on age, gender, and type of disability.
Indeed, the reality of Canadians with intellectual disabilities is a stark contrast to the general results presented in the government report, says Anna MacQuarrie, director of policy and programs for the Canadian Association for Community Living.
About 750,000 Canadians live with intellectual disabilities, she said, and they are predominantly among the poorest of the poor in Canada. In some provinces, about 70 per cent of the welfare roll is made up adults with such disabilities.
There has been no change over the past decade, MacQuarrie said.
"What we've seen is a stagnant poverty that is persistent and staggering," she said in an interview Monday. "It's largely without change and remarkably troubling."
The federal government has introduced some helpful programs such as the Registered Disability Savings Plan and the disability supplement to the Working Income Tax Benefit, she said. Provinces also have an array of programs.
But there's little coherency among the programs, she added. "They're piecemeal. So people are falling through the cracks." People with intellectual disabilities frequently complain of not finding permanent work or failing to gain access to the help they need to get by with dignity, she said. "For people with intellectual disabilities at least, what we're doing is not working."
Still, she said she has hope that, at the federal level at least, some positive changes are in the works. Ottawa recently tabled the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the hope of having Parliament ratify it. That's a sign the federal government is dedicated to making improvements, the association says.
Two parliamentary committees also recently recommended in separate reports that the disability tax credit be made refundable - a move that would substantially benefit the poorest of people with disabilities.
Questions to ask your aging parents ...The Pulse -Canadian Initiative for Elder Studies Issue 7, Volume 12 TOP
It's not easy watching our parents age, but at some point you and your siblings need to sit down with Mom and Dad and discuss your parents' wishes for their future so that you will be prepared to do as they wish if at some point they can't make decisions about their own lives.
Find an appropriate time to sit down with them and have a calm, frank discussion about the following matters:
Who are your doctors?
If there is a medical emergency in one or both of your parents' lives, their personal doctors will have a wealth of information that will be critical to their immediate care. So, you need to obtain a list of all your parents' physicians.
What medications are you taking?--Again, in a medical emergency, doctors will need to know what medications your parents are taking. So, obtain a list of medications as well as vitamins and other supplements they are currently taking.
What do you want us (your children) to do when you are unable to make decisions regarding your health?
Ask your parents how they feel about being incapacitated. Who should be making those decisions? How do they feel about end-of-life issues? These are tough questions to ask, but they need to be asked. You can suggest that your parents each prepare a living will as well as a durable power of attorney that will allow you or a sibling to step in and make medical decisions for them when they are unable to do so.
Where do you keep your financial documents?
Assure your parents that you're not trying to be nosy about their financial assets, but again, if they are incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions, you and your siblings will need to know where those documents are kept. Encourage them to put together a list of all their bank accounts, stock brokerage accounts, the location of safety deposit boxes, etc. And, above all else, do they have a will and, if so, where do they keep it?
How do you want your assets and possessions distributed after you die?
Again, a tough question to ask, but necessary. Encourage your parents to make a list of their assets--financial and otherwise-- and to designate on that list who they wish to receive that asset. This will help alleviate family squabbles and disagreements when you and your siblings are in the process of distributing the assets.
These are tough questions to ask and your parents may be reluctant to discuss, but gently encourage them to share this information with you and your siblings for everybody's benefit. Make sure they understand that you want to carry out their wishes and decisions as they would want them handled.
What to look for in a Medical Alert system … The Pulse -Canadian Initiative for Elder Studies Issue 7, Volume 12 TOP
A Medical Alert System is designed to allow seniors to live independently with the peace of knowing that if a medical issue arises, help is available at the push of a button.
The alert system can be worn as a necklace, belt clip or wristband and is designed to immediately call for help as soon as the wearer pushed the alert button.
Here are some things that you should look for in choosing a medical alert company:
- Be vary of pre-payment requirements, Low pricing should not be your only criteria in choosing a company.
- The reliability of the company and the monitoring service is the most important factor. Make sure that the Central Monitoring Service is listed with and regulated by a reputable organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories
- Make sure you are able to get a 30-day money back guarantee or a 30-day trial.
- If a company, for any reason, outsources its monitoring service, DO NOT SIGN UP WITH THEM UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Insist on a company with its own monitoring center.
- Get real customer testimonials if possible.
- Find out what the training process is of the operators.
- Will you receive 24/7 monitoring and customer support? Insist on this.
- How long has the company been in business?
- Make sure your system includes repair and maintenance for your monitor.
- Does the system automatically test itself, and if it does so, how often does it do this?
- Does the system come with a battery backup in the event of a power failure?
- Is the bracelet/necklace that you carry on you waterproof so you can wear it in the bathtub or shower?
- For couples, you will typically have to pay for an additional necklace/bracelet, but will the company monitor these two devices (for you and your spouse) for the price of one?
Fun activities for seniors...The Pulse -Canadian Initiative for Elder Studies Issue 7, Volume 12 TOP
If you have a senior in your life you may have a hard time coming up with new ways to entertain them when you visit. It is actually not as hard as it may seem. Here are some fun and simple activities for seniors in your life they will find very entertaining.
Keep in mind when visiting with your senior, the mere fact that you are there spending time with them is appreciated and will make them feel great. It is all about spending time together.
It can be often the simplest of ideas that will be fun and entertaining for a senior that you have come to visit. If your senior is feeling up to it, taking them out is always a treat. You can take them out to a park for a walk or to a movie or performance. Places where they like to eat can be a good idea. Whenever you take them out be sure to bring along any medications that may be needed for the time you will be gone.
Another fun activity for a senior citizen is to take something that is new technology and show them how it works. Remember that basic conveniences we have today were not available when they were younger. Because of this they may find it interesting to be shown a few new technological things that they aren't actually expected to incorporate into their daily lives. An experience with the internet via laptop and wireless connection, or even the newer cell phone technologies might be quite interesting to them.
Fun activities for seniors might include showing how a digital camera works. Even if you take it for granted -a digital camera may provide hours of fun to a senior who has only experienced owning a camera that took film and was often expensive to develop photographs. They will be amazed at the ability to take pictures of anything and view it immediately or delete at will.
Find out if they would be interested in participating in some senior exercise programs. A lot of these will focus on very low impact exercise and encourage independence and flexibility, rather than being a hard or exhausting day. Many groups that meet for this also have a catch up afterwards so it's a great way for your senior to make new friends and experience new things.
Take games with you that are fairly simple, or those you might think are old fashioned, that a senior might remember from childhood. A simple card game can often be ideal and there are cards for those with vision impairment you can use. Other fun activities for seniors might be as simple as sitting and watching a favorite old movie together.
There are hundreds of ways you can come up with fun activities for seniors and not only will you be able to build new positive memories with them but you can also get to know them as a person in an entirely new way. By entertaining your senior you may discover yourself just as entertained and you can experience things from a new perspective.
Healthy Eating for Seniors ...The Pulse -Canadian Initiative for Elder Studies Issue 7, Volume 12 TOP
Numerous benefits of a healthy diet and proper nutrition include: increased mental acuteness; resistance to illness and disease; higher energy levels; a more robust immune system; faster recuperation times, and; better management of chronic health problems.
As we age, our relationship to food changes along with our bodies. When we're younger, we might grab fast food on the run and not think twice about it. In later life, however, eating well can be the key to staying mentally sharp, emotionally balanced and energetic, with a strong immune system and a positive outlook.
Eating obstacles for seniors
Obstacles to proper diet, including emotional, lifestyle and physical factors, crop up as we age.
Newly single seniors may not know how to cook or may not feel like cooking for one. People on limited budgets might have trouble affording a balanced, healthy diet.
Seniors often cut back on activity for physical and medical reasons. Weight gain can result from the decrease in calories burned.
Every year over the age of forty, our metabolism slows down. This means that even if you continue to eat the same amount and kinds of food as when you were younger, you're likely to gain weight because you're burning fewer calories. In addition, you may be less physically active now.
Taste and appetite
Your senses of taste and smell diminish, so you may be inclined to season your food more heavily than before—even though seniors need less salt than younger people. You may struggle with loss of appetite due to lifestyle, loneliness or a medical condition.
Physical ailments and prescription medications often negatively influence appetite. Talk to your doctor about overcoming side effects of medication or specific physical conditions.
Due to changes in your digestive system, you generate less saliva and stomach acid as you get older, making it more difficult for your body to process certain vitamins and minerals, such as B12, B6 and folic acid, which are necessary to maintain mental alertness, a keen memory and good circulation.
Emotional factors such as loneliness and depression can affect your diet. For some, feeling down leads to not eating and in others it may trigger overeating. If emotional problems are affecting your diet, it is important to talk to your doctor or a therapist.
Specific nutritional recommendations for seniors
Yes. Some of the factors described above, like changes in the digestive system, as well as health concerns like the increased risk of fragile bones, means that nutritional needs change as you age. Periodic review of your diet is always helpful, particularly if you have specific medical conditions. Your doctor can help you assess your nutritional needs and make suggestions for meeting them.
In general, some important guidelines for seniors include:
- reduce sodium (salt) to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure,
- monitor fat intake in order to maintain healthy cholesterol levels,
- consume more calcium and vitamin D for bone health,
- eat more fiber-rich foods to prevent constipation,
- cut back on sugar and on dry foods,
- make sure you get the recommended amount of important vitamins and minerals,
- increase your water intake, and
- participate in regular physical activity.
Additionally, because of lifestyle changes and a lower metabolism, it is important to consider how you eat as well as what you eat. To manage your weight and maintain optimum health, focus on eating efficiently. This means choosing foods that maximize nutritional value, not calories.
What is Meals on Wheels and how does it work?
Meals on Wheels is a world-wide concept with organizations everywhere, who provide nutritious meals to people who are homebound and/or disabled, or would otherwise be unable to maintain their dietary needs. The daily delivery generally consists of two meals: a nutritionally balanced hot meal to eat at lunch time and a dinner, consisting of a cold sandwich and milk along with varying side dishes. In an effort both to cover costs and to maintain the elders' sense of dignity, the programs charge a small fee based on the individual's ability to pay.
In the near future, 25 per cent of Canadians will be seniors…an article form Canwest News Service, Nov., 2009 TOP
By the end of the 2030s, nearly one-quarter of Canada's population will be seniors aged 65 and over, thanks to the baby boomer generation moving en masse into that stage of life, according to new population estimates released Friday by Statistics Canada.
As of July 1, 2009, seniors comprised a record high 13.9 per cent of the Canadian population, the report shows, while children under 15 accounted for 16. 6 per cent.
Fertility levels below replacement rate and increasing life expectancy will continue the greying of Canadian society in the years to come, the agency says, and baby boomers – who are currently aged 45 to 64 and make up a record 40 per cent of the country's working-age population – will accelerate the aging of the population.
The median age in Canada – where exactly half the population is older and half younger – was 39.5 years as of July 1, up 0.2 years from the same date last year and 3.1 years from a decade earlier. The latest projections suggest the median age could reach 44 years in the 2030s, the agency says.
Canada's youngest population is in Nunavut, where the median age is just 24. 2 years and children under 15 account for nearly one-third of the population. Alberta is the youngest of the provinces, with a median age of 35.6 years, while Newfoundland and Labrador is home to the oldest population in Canada, with a median age of 42.9 years.
However, Canada's proportion of seniors is still one of the lowest among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member nations, in which seniors account for an average of 14.3 per cent of the population. The United Kingdom, France and Germany all have a higher proportion of seniors than Canada, while the United States has a smaller slice.
As of July 1, there were 1.3 million people in Canada aged 80 and over, Statistics Canada says, making up 3.8 per cent of the population. An estimated 6,000 of those are members of the elite century club, aged 100 and over, and the number of centenarians has nearly doubled from 2001, the first year for which estimates are available. The latest population projections suggest they could number 15,000 at the beginning of the 2030s.
A third of Canadian baby boomers spend either time or money looking after their aging parents…an article by Canada.com, Nov. 2009 TOP
A third of Canadian baby boomers spend either time or money looking after their aging parents, something the majority says has strengthened their family relationships for the better, according to the results of a national poll released Monday.
The study, conducted by Investors Group, surveyed 500 Canadians between the ages of 43 to 63 and found 69 per cent had at least one living parent or parent-in-law. Of that group, 35 per cent said they devoted an average of 42 hours each month or travelled an average of 225 kilometers a month to care for their parent or parents.
"Caring for an aging parent is equivalent to some baby boomers as working a part-time job," said Jane Olshewski, manager of Financial Life Planning at Investors Group in Winnipeg. "The majority of them say they were paid in advance and are repaying their parents for their upbringing."
The survey found it wasn't just time or travel distance baby boomers were kicking in, but also dollars.
Forty per cent of those who help out their parents said they spend an average of $6,000 a year as caregivers.
"That's a significant sum of money and a big financial commitment," she said. "I think with those who are providing financial support must take a look at whether it will continue to be sustainable in the long term, in their retirement years or whether it is likely it will change in the future."
The results showed boomers saw that helping out their parents involved a number of activities.
Sixty-five per cent reported they were involved in everyday activities with their parents, including providing companionship; 64 per cent said they provided transportation to and from appointments or social events; 61 per cent said they made investments or were involved in financial decision-making; and 55 per cent said they did household chores.
Sixty-two per cent said their parents expect them to provide support in their golden years, leaving them to feel the pressures of having to live up to these expectations. But those caring for their elderly parents also felt like they were paid back in dividends.
More than half of the boomers — 56 per cent — said their bonds with their aging parents have improved because of this extra support and 60 per cent said they wouldn't have spent this quality time together otherwise if their parents did not need it.
For 55-year-old Mara Osis, setting aside time each week to call her out-of-town elderly mother and mother-in-law has become part of life's routine.
"A lot of the support is provided by phone but certain times of year, my husband and I have to take days off and check in with our people," said Osis, vice-president of the Calgary-based publisher ElderWise.
"Many seniors on the phone can put on a brave face on how they're doing and what they're doing, but it also takes a visual check to see that everything is alright."
The majority of those polled — 90 per cent — said the extra financial commitment did not provide more stress for them, but 51 per cent said the emotional and time demands were sources of stress.
Osis advises that baby boomers should make their boundaries clear to their parents.
"They need to have open communication between themselves and the older generation. As in any relationship it is important to set up boundaries about what they can and are able to do," she said. "It takes a team to support an elder just as it takes a village to raise a child."
Seventy-four per cent of the caregivers said they share the task of caring for their elderly parents with their spouses, siblings and other family members.
The survey was completed online by 500 randomly chosen Canadians between the ages of 43 to 63 from Sept. 23 to Oct. 3. There was no margin of error available.