Posts Tagged "health"

Talking About Finances

Posted by on Apr 14, 2021 in Financial and Tax Matters, Power of Attorney |

Many families experience problems with financial discussions - and therefore avoid them. The older generation may avoid discussions with adult children out of fear of losing privacy and control. Adult children may wish to respect a parent’s privacy but they wonder - not only about a parent’s well-being, but also whether a parent’s finances could affect their own retirement plans. In other families, money is a taboo subject or one that simply brings up too many negative emotions.  Why do adult children need to talk about money with their aging parents? First, knowing a parent’s situation can help adult children plan their own financial future. Second, being aware is especially important if an adult child has been appointed financial power of attorney for their parent. Third, a trusted adult child can stay alert and offer support when an older person’s health issues make dealing with finances more demanding.  As we get older, dealing with chronic health problems, pain, medication side effects, and vision loss are among our physical challenges. There are mental and emotional challenges, too. They can include increased anxiety and depression, as well life changes, such as losing a spouse (who may have been responsible for finances). All these factors can make dealing with money matters more challenging.   Here are some early signs that finances are getting more challenging, either for loved ones or for ourselves:   Trouble balancing bank statements Unpaid bills, notices or statements stacking up Penalties for late payment or services and utilities being cut off Trouble reading fine print or understanding financial notices More stress about paying bills and looking after finances Changed spending patterns or behaviour So where can we start if we have concerns? Here are some strategies for adult children that can help open doors with this sensitive subject.   Assist with minor, routine tasks. For example, suggest automatic debits for recurring bills or help introduce someone to on-line banking. This can give you some insight into someone’s finances. Once bigger issues or tasks arise later, working in tandem won’t seem such a drastic change.   Ask for their insights. If someone seems financially aware and is an active investor, start a conversation about investments to get a sense of their approach. Alternately, set the stage by asking about older persons’ insights from experiences such as the Great Depression or other financial setbacks. In the process, personal values can be uncovered, and that can create greater trust and open doors for deeper discussion.   Ask them to help give you peace of mind. Let your parents know you’ve been concerned and that you would feel better if you knew more about their plans. Point out that you could be the “go to” person who will need information in a crisis. If you have read or know of a case where a family was financially unprepared, sharing their story can provide food for thought.   Once trust is established, ask to participate in financial planning. It’s no secret that investment options today can be complex. Sound financial advice is more important than ever. If your parent uses an advisor, ask if you can come to a meeting with their advisor - as an observer. Notice whether your parents are following along and involved with the conversation. If they don’t have an advisor, encourage them to get appropriate financial advice.   When should we begin? Ideally, start conversations even before you notice warning signs. Because retirement planning and financial planning are closely tied, this is a good trigger event for starting a dialogue. Another milestone may be when parents turn 65 or 70; at...

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Retirement: Families Planning Together

Posted by on Apr 3, 2021 in Planning |

 Originally published May 2011 on Contribution by Mara Osis, eldercare consultant and speaker on LifeSpeak’s Calgary roster.If one or both of your parents is talking about “retirement”, they are using a term that is being re-defined so quickly and drastically that the word might actually soon disappear. For previous generations, mandatory retirement at 65 was not uncommon; nor was collecting a pension for 25 or more years of service. More recently, retirees were sold the “Freedom 55” concept – endless, carefree days of golf, travel and leisure. Today, because we are expected to live longer than previous generations, retirement is largely uncharted territory. Some older workers are financially secure, and looking forward to leaving the workforce. For others, career and financial upheavals have walloped retirement savings and even pensions. Still others are dreading retirement, fearing the loss of income, sense of purpose and social life that comes with the job. With more evidence that “inactive” retirement can lead to aggravation of health issues, those are real concerns. Today, more people are “getting” the message that they need to plan ahead for the transition. Involving the whole family can help. Whether you are nearing retirement age and wondering what’s next, or watching your parents as they plan ahead (or don’t), here are things for both generations to consider and discuss together. What will retirement look like? Who is retiring – one or both parents or marriage partners? Are your visions and expectations of retirement in sync with each other? If not, how will the gaps be closed? Many marriages undergo a period of adjustment, whether one or both spouses retire. Declining energy, mobility or health are behind some retirement decisions. Understanding the health issues and prognosis helps manage the present situation and plan for the future. If work is too demanding, health-wise, what activity or life focus will take its place? Often, retirees who embark on a “life of leisure” soon find it less than satisfying. The purpose and meaning that came with their careers evaporates; they might feel they’ve stopped contributing. Part-time, contract or volunteer work can be the solution for some. For others, it can be learning and exploring entirely new interests. Every retirement plan needs to answer the question: “How will this next chapter of my life be fulfilling, meaningful, and driven by my values?” How is the family affected? Retirement can change the family dynamic. For example, parents may want to retire to a warmer clime, thus affecting both regular and holiday family get-togethers. Some may want to move closer to adult children and/or take a more active role in grand-parenting. Others may actually crave fewer obligations, e.g., babysitting, and more time to pursue their own interests. How will each generation manage expectations and accept each others’ preferences and choices? A retirement transition is a good opportunity for families to take care of practical matters and look to the family’s future well-being. Here are three things families can discuss together: Caregiving: What kind of future support might the older adults need and even expect? Do your parents believe it’s a family’s obligation to care for its elders, or do they insist they won’t be a “burden” to their children? Whatever the attitudes, the reality is that people are living longer than ever; centenarians are a fast-growing cohort. What would you do today if you knew that your parents (or you) will live to be 100? Legal Documents: Major life changes are opportunities for all adults in the family to review and update wills. Properly prepared wills save families time, trouble and money. Many common life events can...

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Health Risks & Family History

Posted by on Nov 18, 2021 in Health Signals |

We don’t choose our blood relatives but, in some cases, our future health may depend on knowing more about them! Our genetic make-up may increase our risk or pre-dispose us to developing chronic conditions or diseases. Knowing our family’s health history may help us take steps today to prolong both our years of life…and add life to our years!   Lifestyle choices have a major effect on our health, but tuning into our family health history helps us know our risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer. Identifying these risks early on can spur us to take action to reduce them.   According to a recent article published by Manulife Financial, here are some things to look for in your family’s health history: several closely related individuals affected with the same or related conditions a common disease that occurred at an earlier age than expected (i.e., 10 to 20 years before most people would get the disease) sudden death in someone who seemed healthy an individual or couple with three or more pregnancy losses a disease that does not usually affect a certain gender (e.g., breast cancer in a male) certain combinations of diseases within a family (e.g., breast and ovarian cancer, or heart disease and diabetes) To put the risks in perspective, the article also suggests looking at the lifestyle habits of family members who have the same disease. This could be a key factor in increasing or decreasing your risk, depending on whether you share or avoid the same lifestyle habits.   Your whole family can benefit from you taking the lead on compiling your family’s health history. Include grandparents, parents and their immediate families as well as your own siblings, their children and yours, in these discussions.  Consult older family members who may recall information about relatives that you may never have known. Here are some things you can ask about: A list of health problems How long family members lived, and what they died from Pregnancy losses or birth defects Ethnicity (some conditions are more common in certain groups) Lifestyle habits that may have contributed to longevity, early illness or premature death   Share what you find out with your family doctor. Our family history is usually only one of several risk factors. Work with your doctor to help assess risks both for you and younger family members, and put together a plan for reducing those risks. (c) ElderWise Inc., 2012. You have permission to reprint any ElderWise INFO, provided you do so in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for boomers with aging parents and for anyone who wants to do “age-smart” planning. For more information, visit     Ready to compile your own or your family’s health history? Learn more about our interactive workbook, My Passport to Health and Wellness.  ...

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Volunteering: Benefits for Seniors

Posted by on Feb 24, 2021 in Health Signals |

Why do Canadian seniors volunteer? A survey of senior volunteers in Canada finds that 95% volunteer for a cause they believe in.  Seventy percent said they volunteered for a cause that had personally affected them. Some volunteered as a way to use their skill base and years of experience (81%). Others were looking for a way to explore their own strengths (57%).  What else motivates seniors to volunteer? Developing new skills and staying connected to their own passions inspires many seniors to volunteer.  Volunteering leads to meeting new people, staying active in the community, and serving others. It can help keep cultural or religious traditions alive.  Some older persons also find the chance to fulfill lifelong dreams and create new ambitions through volunteering. Seniors who volunteer report feeling very satisfied with their lives…AND they report that sentiment at a higher rate than seniors who do not volunteer. What can volunteering do for YOU? Volunteering can improve your health.  It can enhance self-esteem, coping abilities, and feelings of social usefulness.  Volunteering increases social activity. Research into health benefits of volunteering suggests that forming these social relationships acts as a buffer against stress and illness. Some experts even conclude that social relationships may be as important to overall health as avoiding risks such as smoking and high blood pressure. How can you find the right organization? The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) suggests asking the following questions to help define the best volunteering opportunity for you: Why do I want to become a volunteer? What are the benefits I am looking for from volunteering? What skills and abilities can I offer? What do I enjoy doing? What do I dislike doing? What issues are important to me? How much time can I give? What times are most suitable for me? Reasons for volunteering may be as profound as feeling an ethical pull to help change Canadian society – or as lighthearted as wanting to get to know people in the community. But getting involved, on any level, not only benefits society. It also benefits the volunteer. Everyone wins. Vol.2, No.12; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning.  Visit us at...

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Why Geriatrics and Gerontology Matter

Posted by on Feb 24, 2021 in Caregiving, Health Care Team and System |

Aging is complex – and unique to each individual. When older adults experience acute illness, they need – and deserve – specialized care. Health professionals specialized in Geriatrics or Gerontology have the expertise to recognize normal aging, identify common diseases of old age and provide holistic care. The term “Geriatric” refers to the study, diagnosis and treatment of common diseases associated with aging. The term “Gerontology” is derived from Greek, and means “the study of elders”. Gerontology is multidisciplinary and therefore looks at physical, mental and social aspects of a senior’s life.  Why know these terms? There are a variety of practitioners in your community. Knowing how to find those with specialized knowledge and expertise will help you or a senior family member get the best possible care. In hospital: A geriatrician is as important to an older adult as a pediatrician is to a child! So ask for a geriatrician – a physician who can work with the health care team to determine an appropriate plan of care. Geriatricians have been certified in Canada since 1981. For more information, visit their website: In a long-term care facility: Ask for a Certified Gerontological Nurse. These nurses have written national certification exams to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Their education makes them exemplary problem-solvers. As part of the health care team, their focus includes avoiding the dangers of over-treating as well as under- treating chronic and acute health problems in older adults. In the community: If a senior is still healthy and wants to stay that way as long as possible, look for a Geriatric or Gerontological Nurse Practitioner. Contact your local health authority or the provincial nursing association to locate resources near you. For more information, visit the Canadian Gerontological Nurses Association website: Vol.2, No.9; © ElderWise Inc. 2005 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our...

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