Posts Tagged "seniors"

Avoiding Danger @ Home

Posted by on May 15, 2021 in Safety Concerns |

Safety, including safety in and around our homes, becomes more top-of-mind as we age. Why be concerned? As we grow older, we gradually lose some of our physical strength and mobility. Reflexes may slow, affecting the speed with which we can react to dangerous situations. While some of our cognitive functions actually improve as we get older, others start to slow or decline. This may start happening as early as in our mid-50’s – even for otherwise healthy people! Our home is a good place to start when evaluating our overall safety. Performing a home “safety audit” is a first step to identifying potential hazards and reducing risks for the elderly, including injuries, as well as fraud and other crimes.  Home modifications may allow seniors to stay at home longer, but also reduce the risk of falls and other injuries. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers a wealth of information on home renovations, as well as grants available to qualified seniors: Outdoor home improvements can do double duty, increasing your safety at the same time as providing improved security against break-ins and robberies. Consult the CMHC link above and/or your local police service for information for all homeowners, whether at home or while travelling. Uninvited visitors are in a position to prey on a homeowner’s loneliness, politeness and/or desire to help someone. Basic protection includes installing a peephole and chain on doors. Utilities service personnel typically do not need access to your home, especially without advance notice. Don’t let any one in unless you have initiated a service call. Even then, ask for identification. Never allow uninvited visitors in. If they need to make a phone call offer to make it for them. If they have an emergency, offer to call police or an ambulance for them. Door-to-door marketing can involve a homeowner in a high pressure situation. Do not give out personal information; you can request the visitor leave information in your mailbox for you to review. You are NOT obligated to open your door to any uninvited visitor. For more information on fraud prevention, go to A safe place to call home includes feeling safe in our neighborhood. For safety outside the home, basic guidelines apply, whatever our age. Be aware of your surroundings and know that a frail-looking older person can appear an easier target for purse-snatching or mugging. Choose well-travelled, well-lit areas and shopping or take outings with companions to reduce safety risks. Keep money and ID cards well protected (e.g., in an inside jacket pocket rather than in a dangling purse). Change your banking and shopping routines from time to time.  When out and about, know when vanity may be affecting your safety. In addition to “sensible shoe” choices, you can use mobility aids such as a well-fitted cane or walker to help you avoid serious injury. For additional reading, consult these recent ElderWise articles: Tips for Staying At Home…Safely Beware of “Helping’ Strangers – Especially Visitors in Pairs: A true story from an ElderWise subscriber Choosing – and using – Walking Canes and Walkers (2 separate articles)   © ElderWise Inc. 2012 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc. We provide clear, concise and practical direction to Canadians with aging parents. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.  ...

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The Vulture Generation

Posted by on Mar 1, 2021 in Power of Attorney, Powers of Attorney |

Originally published December 2010, Reader’s Digest magazine.  Copyright (c) 2010 by Reader’s Magazines Canada Limited. Further reproduction or distribution strictly prohibited. Reprinted with permission. The elderly and infirm routinely delegate control of their finances to family members but more and more Canadians are abusing that power. Can our aging population trust its own children? BY RISHA GOTLIEB On June 24, 2007, Tony Budkowski got an unexpected call from his mother’s nursing home in Oshawa. The home’s regular contact was Tony’s sister, Heather, but according to the administrator, Heather had left the country. “Instantly, I realized something was amiss,” says Budkowski. “Why didn’t my sister want me to know she’d be away and unavailable to help our mother?” He also learned the nursing-home fees had gone unpaid for eight months. “I knew my mother had enough to cover her bills, and my sister, who had been given power of attorney to pay these bills, had full access to Mom’s bank accounts.”  Budkowski started to investigate, but was stymied when he tried to obtain his mother’s banking records. He turned to the Durham Regional Police for assistance. Luckily, his file ended up in the hands of Sgt. John Keating, who Budkowski says is “very passionate” about protecting the vulnerable and the elderly. With Keating’s help, he eventually got the bank to hand over the records. “My sister had made off with our mother’s life savings, leaving her with $270.” Keating arrested the sister, and on June 10, 2008, she was sentenced to two years house arrest and three years probation, and was ordered to repay $92,000. This, says Keating, is one of the harshest convictions ever seen in Ontario’s Durham Region for abuse involving power of attorney (POA). Budkowski’s mother had Alzheimer’s. Her death earlier this year, at the age of 95, left unanswered questions about her POA document. “Did my mother know what she was signing?” asks Budkowski. “Or was it even her hand that signed it? I have my suspicions.” POA abuse stories are surfacing in every community across Canada. The Canadian government estimates that as many as ten percent of seniors are affected. “And financial abuse involving powers of attorney is the most rampant,” says Laura Watts, national director of the Canadian Centre for Elder Law in Vancouver. “Abuses are grossly under-reported. Victims are reluctant to come forward if the exploiter is a family member, due to feelings of shame, fear of exposure and even fear of being denied access to grandkids.” The situation—which Watts describes as “a national crisis”—is forcing legislators, the courts and police to re-evaluate their responses to reports of POA misuse. “I’ve heard over and over from seniors who have taken their complaints to police, only to be told this is a civil matter,” says Brian Trainor, a retired Saskatoon police officer and one of the first in Canada to investigate POA abuse cases. Keating has heard similar complaints, and maintains that a change is necessary. “The whole system needs to be revamped,” he says. “We need to start recognizing theft by POA for what it really is: a crime.” A power of attorney is a document that legally appoints  one individual (the “attorney”) to act on another’s behalf. Each province has its own POA legislation and terminology, but generally speaking, there are two types of POAs: those that grant authority to manage assets and those that cover personal care. For a POA that grants authority to manage assets, you can decide whether you want it to be continuing or noncontinuing. A continuing POA will stay in effect even if you become mentally incapable,...

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Parents Who Won’t Accept Help

Posted by on Feb 7, 2021 in Caregiving, Family Relationships, Sensitive Conversations |

Originally published at on September 3, 2010. Seniors resist help at home Susan Pigg, Living Reporter More than half of seniors resist asking for help, even from their adult children, fearing it signals a neediness that could land them in a nursing home, a new study shows. That fierce resistance is playing out in so many family squabbles — from the silent treatment to bitter turf wars between aging parents and their grown kids — that the home-care agency Home Instead Senior Care has just launched a series of online self-help videos, one of them focusing on communication. “This is a big problem for family caregivers,” says Bruce Mahony, owner of Home Instead’s Toronto office. “If seniors admit they need help, they think their independence is in question. They worry about losing control of their affairs.” Fifty-one per cent of 24,147 adult caregivers surveyed across Canada and the U.S. by Home Instead Senior Care from 2004 to 2009 say their aging relatives can be so reluctant to accept help, they fear for their safety. Some worry their elderly parents are forgetting to eat meals or take medications in a misguided bid to maintain their independence. Others are managing to hobble along with considerable help from elderly partners who are getting sick struggling to keep up appearances that all is well, elder-care experts say. But a big part of the problem is baby boomer children who feel the overwhelming need to parent their parents, says Mara Osis, co-founder of Calgary-based ElderWise Inc. which offers “family coaching” and advice via the book Your Aging Parents: How to Prepare, How to Cope. “We stress that you are not your parents’ parent. You need to see each other as two adults of different generations trying to work out a problem,” says Osis. The struggles can be even more complicated if the parent is suffering from early dementia and feels confused and threatened by any changes or in-home help from strangers. “Boomers are used to being very much in control of everything in their lives and being able to effect change, so when they see that they are getting push back from their parents, it’s an unfamiliar role. “Sometimes the adult child creates their own problems by saying, ‘I’m just going to fix mom and dad and their situation because the solution is very simple from my point of view.’ ” Read the complete article   ...

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Fall Prevention for Seniors

Posted by on Mar 1, 2021 in Health Emergencies |

During the winter “slippery season”, it’s good to be aware of the leading cause of fatal injury among Canadian seniors – falls. Nearly two-thirds of injuries for which those over age 65 are hospitalized, and 40 percent of admissions to nursing homes originate with falls. While slippery conditions outside do pose risks, most falls occur in the home - particularly on stairways and in bathrooms. Fall prevention tips are available from your local health authority. Many communities also offer fall prevention education as part of their seniors’ programs. Vol.1, No.1; © 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 and subscribe to our free e-newsletter.        ...

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Assisted Living Care Homes

Posted by on Mar 1, 2021 in Living Arrangements |

Assisted living (or supportive housing) refers to a broad range of care homes primarily designed for seniors. These “congregate-living” residences combine housing, meals, and supports such as housekeeping and recreational activities. Most offer transportation for shopping, outings and medical appointments. Some also assist with personal care, such as bathing and dressing, and administering routine medications.  You can rent, own or have a life lease in an assisted living care home. Some provinces provide “designated assisted living” facilities, where the resident pays the accommodation charges and the health authority pays for personal care and support services.   “Assisted living” care homes provide for those who need regular personal assistance but do not require the complex range of professional nursing services available in a long term care home. What standards exist in assisted living care homes? British Columbia was the first province in Canada to regulate assisted living residences through the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (2004). An Assisted Living Registrar was appointed to protect the health and safety of seniors and people with disabilities in assisted living residences. Other provinces have followed suit, and developed accommodation standards for all care homes. What are the costs? Many assisted living developments can be beyond the means of low- to modest -income seniors, but more choice is becoming available. Subsidized housing, available in most provinces, can be an affordable option for low-income seniors. These publicly funded lodges usually provide accommodation, meals, housekeeping and social activities. Costs and eligibility criteria differ between the provinces – and even among different lodges. How do you choose an assisted living facility? You will find considerable variation in services, philosophy, and staffing in assisted living or supportive housing. We recommend your family visit several local residences, and ask many questions, before choosing the facility that best meets your specific needs. Here are TWO very important questions everyone should ask:   1.     Can a resident remain in the setting if physical and emotional needs change? Ask: Why do people move out? 2.     What emergency contacts are available 24-hours/day? Is someone on site or do residents rely on family or emergency response systems? Also, speak with current residents and their family members about their experiences. If possible, arrange for a short-term stay. Quality of meals is important for physical health, and socialization around meal times can contribute to emotional health. Ask to have lunch at the facility to get a feeling for the atmosphere and culture. Ask about the menu: how often it is changed, what choices are available, and who ensures that meals and snacks are nutritious. Finding an appropriate assisted care home can play an important role in improving the quality of life for seniors and increasing peace of mind for family members.     Vol.2, No.19; © 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 and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.  ...

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