Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gifts seniors you love, will really love

With the holidays fast approaching, it can be difficult to know what to buy for the seniors that we love. Generally, more household items are not needed, in fact they are probably trying to get rid of stuff. Instead, try giving them items that are practical and add value to their lives:

Tim Horton Gift Cards – with a hand written note saying you will join them once a month for coffee.

Swiss Chalet Gift Cards – no cooking required, a gift we all love to get

Diabetic Socks - great for anyone with circulation troubles

Long Shoe Horn – no more bending over to put on shoes

Magnifier – makes that tiny print easier to see

Blank Cards – give them a year supply of a selection of various occasion greeting cards, saves them going out to buy them

Snow Shovelling/Grass Cutting - pay for a service cover household chores. Gives “peace of mind” to all

Subscriptions – pay for their annual magazine or newspaper subscription

Taxi Gift Card – give them gift certificates to take taxi’s. May really come in handy on a snowy day

Hair Dressers Coupon – inquire about gift certificates for the salon they frequent

We hope this will give you some ideas to show you care and happy holidays everyone!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Elder neglect is abuse

For the past number of weeks, the Toronto Star has featured articles about Elder abuse. It is a crime of our time and something that the elderly and their loved one’s need to understand. Fallacies that the article noted were:

· Abuse of the elderly occurs more frequently by family members then strangers

· Abuse occurs more often in a home then in a care facility

· Neglect is abuse

· Abuse can be physical, psychological and financial

The Government of Ontario is running a series of ad’s to bring awareness of the problem into the public domain. If you suspect elder please contact the Elder Abuse hotline at 1-866-299-1011 or go to their website at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Care for Aging Parents and Sandwich Generation makes the grade

Over the past month eldercare courses have run at both Centennial College and Durham College. There has been a noticeable change in the number of people attending these courses and the information they are looking for.

  • Adult children in attendance were comforted to know that they were not the only one's with concerns for their aging parents

  • They were surprised to learn how much there was to know

  • Did not understand why there was such a disconnect to the available resources

The courses provided a snap shot of the chain events that lead aging parents through illness and the care required to provide a good quality of life. Estate organization tips, as well as information regarding key documents like Powers of Attorney and Wills were also discussed. My hope is that people attending these courses disseminate their knowledge to family members, co-workers, neighbours and friends and we are able to help each other with these critical life decisions. In- house courses are available for your work place or check out our website for upcoming college seminars .

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bill 139 changes Eldercare

Bill 139 which, if passed, will come into effect next year, addresses some the concerns expressed in my last blog. People hiring Personal Support Workers through an agency, will have an opportunity to hire them to work for them directly after one year of employment. Additionally, agency "finders fees" would be eliminated and employees would begin to get paid for statutory holidays. Although this will result in a cost to the agencies, and may even lead to cost increases for care, the results are positive for an industry that we need desperately in the coming years.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

PSW's - stuck between and rock and a hard place

In the Toronto Star this week there was an article about some unscrupulous people handing out Personal Support Worker degrees for a little money and providing not much in terms of actual training. I remember in University, taking "Healthcare in Canada" and it discussed the ramifications of Health Care reform and the shift that took place in health care in general.
  • Nurses were no longer involved in actual care, but, instead, became administrators
  • "Hands On" care support was given to more Junior staff and, to ensure they did not get too close to any one patient, they were constantly rotated to different floors and different shifts
  • No longer were 40 hours of paid work guaranteed and benefits were reduced, and in some cases, eliminated all together.
The current problem is a symptom of a much bigger cause. Those who we need the most, when we are sick or dying, we treat the worst. These are tough jobs, requiring 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year of care. It is time that the job reflected the importance and, as a society, we need to provide the respect and support that these healthcare workers deserve.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fashion for all ages

Recently we had the absolute privilege of clothing shopping for a very fashion savvy senior. At 97, and a former fashion designer herself, she was tired of having clothing that did not fit, would bunch up and wrinkle when she sat down, and were just not all that comfortable or attractive.
This lady knew exactly what she wanted. Colours and patterns, not humdrum beige and black patternless materials that you see a lot of seniors wearing. Something that would look smart, yet would move with her body and not be too tight going across her Osteoporosis challenged spine.
We started by measuring her and then asking her what she did like that was in her wardrobe. The bright colours seemed to always make her happy, as did the clothing that did not wrinkle up too easy.
After a few hours, we had virtually emptied her closet of clothing too small or just not something she would wear. Taking samples of materials and styles that she did like with us, and armed with the measurements that we had taken, we came back one week later with bags full of clothing. A few nice jackets, that she could mix and match, a number of pairs of pants and a lot of great tops. She was thrilled!!! . Remember, aging in style keeps us all young at heart!

Friday, July 17, 2009

CCAC expands service to seniors

It is a true pleasure to be able to report that CCAC (Community Care Access Centres) are adding services that they provide for seniors. The addition of assistance, from this vital organization, of placement into Adult Day Care programs, will be a real benefit to members of the community who are caring for their loved one's in home. Adult Day Care is a true God send for people who want to keep their loved one's at home but need some time to themselves and a place for their loved one where they will be cared for and understood. It will be a great asset to have CCAC provide this placement service for their clients. Well done...let's keep adding these kinds of services for our seniors. They deserve all the help they can get.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Long Term Care placement requires forward thinking

In this weekends paper, there was an article regarding Jean and Gord Vigars who live in St. Thomas, ON. Due to declining health Jean was moving to a Long Term Care facility however, there was only one available bed in the system, which meant that Gord, would being living alone for the first time in nearly 70 years. The question is, why can't they move into the same facility together??

The reason is that, although the Community Care Access Care system gives priority to couples during placement, this couple would have needed to put their names on a waiting list years ago to ensure that they could go where they wanted, together.

Until changes are made to the way that placements are assigned, I tell my clients that if you want to stay together, or even if you are alone and want to live at a specific long term care facility, you need to ask your Community Care Access placement co-ordinators how long the wait times are, to get into the home of your choosing and act now.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Geriatric Floor - Graceful way to age

Anyone who has had an elderly person ill recently knows that being sick and elderly can be a very difficult combination. My friends and clients know, all to well, my concerns with the way our elderly are treated in many hospitals. I am pleased to compliment Scarborough Grace Hospital on their use of a Geriatric Ward to care for our chronically ill, aging population. On the floor, there are both volunteers and extra staff who ensure that, not only the physical needs of the patients are cared for, but basic aspects of daily living, too, are covered. There is always lots of people around to help and their courteous and friendly manner relieves tension for people at a very stressful time. More hospitals, particularly with our aging population, need to consider a special ward with highly specialized care for the chronically, ill and aging patients. Now....if we could just fix the wait times in the emergency rooms for our seniors but that is another topic for another day. Hats off to Scarborough Grace!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Elders need caring family and advocates

On the weekend there was an article discussing that Scarborough's Craiglee Nursing Home is now being temporarily run by Extendicare after the original owners went into Receivership. This Long Term Care Home was sited with major violations in patient care including the discovery of worms in a patients wound. This is an appalling case of neglect but I want people to know that not all homes are created equal. Standards set by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care would not allow for this kind of neglect but standards only count when people running organizations are able and willing to meet or exceed the standard. This also speaks to the greater issue that our Elderly need family and advocates to oversee their care even when placed in a facility.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seniors and $950 million for Toronto LRT

As the Government announces a $950 million infusion of cash to fuel the creation of a raised light rapid transit line (LRT) in Toronto, I hope that the increasing needs of seniors will be factored in.
Think about it, a large amount of our population is senior and increasing exponentially and simultaneously, as the scheduled completion date, for the first section, in 2013 approaches rapidly.
Will seniors, using walkers, scooters and wheelchairs be part of the design….not only the car design, but also the platform and the access to the middle street design?
With more and more seniors, either unable to drive or unwilling, this new system needs to address their physical abilities.
If done right, this new system could provide mobility for many into their 80's. Let's get this right and keep our senior population mobile, able and independent as long as possible.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

H1N1 brings back SARS memories

Over the past few weeks, as people around the globe prepared for a possible H1N1 pandemic, my thoughts turned to SARS. Although my own Dad did not die of SARS, his demise was certainly hastened due in part to SARS.

Being unable to visit loved ones in the hospital due to contagious diseases, certainly puts even greater pressure on the health care system, to ensure that the people you love will be in good hands.
In my own situation, because I was not allowed to enter the hospital to visit my Dad, I was unable to ensure that he was eating. Once I did force my way in, I found out that he was not eating and, in fact, was unable to eat due to a sprained wrist and arthritis . This led to high levels of toxins from too much medication and not enough food.

As concerns for H1N1 continue to grow, I would recommend being vigilant with hand washing for any aging relatives that you may have. Should they need to go to the hospital, do not assume that you will be allowed to visit and, if you cannot visit, give thought as to how some of their basic aspects of daily living will be provided.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Covering your assets

Previously long term relationships with bank tellers and branch managers meant that, when a loved one died, your loss was met with concern and condolences. Changes to bank policies are tying the sympathetic hands of caring employees within these institutions.

Increasingly, the death of long time, as well as short term, bank customers, leads banks to freeze bank accounts, disallowing access to funds until a probated Will is produced, a process which can take months. Instead of accepting legitimate and valid Wills, many banks are requiring that the estate trustee be appointed first. Sadly, unknowing, grieving customers, expecting sympathy and understanding, are being met with red tape which, instead of assisting the grieving families, instead is tying up needed assets at a most critical time.

Here are 5 things you can do to aid your family in accessing your bank accounts when you pass away.

1) Educate yourself on the probate policies for each financial institution that you deal with.

2) Probate policies are inconsistent within the financial industry so it pays to shop around.

3) Ask for copies of these policies from banking personal to ensure that when policies are amended, you have copies of what you did agree to.

4) Ask key banking personal to explain what would happen to your accounts should you pass away and vocalize your expectations so that there are no surprises.

5) Where appropriate and after advisement from a lawyer and accountant, add a family members name to your accounts.

These assets belong to you and, although there are times when these policies have avoided potential problems for families, for the majority of the population, this is a case where the needs of the many are being negatively impacted by the few.