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One Case is Still Too Many – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

“On this Day, I call upon Member States and civil society to strengthen their resolve and redouble their efforts to eliminate all forms of violence and abuse against older people.”   UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon   • Mary’s son-in-law bullied her into giving him money to help pay off a personal loan, telling her that it would be part of their inheritance anyway, and they are only collecting it early.   • Sonia recently moved into a care facility.  When she asks for help, some of the staff complain that she is too demanding, and are very rough with her and hurt her when helping her into and out of the bed and the bath.    • Harold’s daughter publically ridicules him about the times he forgets to zip up his pants or miss-matches his socks.  She tells everyone how looking after him is worse than looking after her children.   • Jimmy threatens to no longer come to visit his grandmother if she fails to give him cash from her wallet or... Read More»

Clarity Creates Purpose with Passion

  In a previous Maturity Matters, we discussed how true leadership presents inspiration, vision, strategy and stewardship.  In doing so, leadership really creates clarity. It all starts with becoming clear about the values we want to demonstrate and impact we want to create.  I believe it was Anthony Robbins who first suggested that the quality of our life is revealed through the quality of the questions that we ask. Isn’t that a great observation? Quality Questions Let’s start with asking what we ultimately want to experience and produce in this life.   When we first ask ourselves to define the ultimate higher-end intentions we want to demonstrate and experience, then the strategies, tactics and tools are more easily unveiled. So what are the higher-end objectives?  Responses typically include: Feeling Connected Being Engaged Expressing and Receiving Love Standing In-Service Promoting a sense of Well-Being Staying Safe Supporting Autonomy Living with Dignity Think about the professionals and businesses serving you.  In what way do their products and services contribute toward your experience... Read More»

Gift of Life

Age-Friendly Business® Becomes a Partner for Life (PFL) with Canadian Blood Services.  Come join us! This time of year we think about giving.  Purchasing gifts, offering adventures, and extending intangibles such as our time, respect, and our recognition. What about the gift of LIFE? “In February 2020, Peter suddenly felt very tired and was having trouble breathing, so he went to a hospital emergency department. Within hours, doctors diagnosed him with sudden onset acute myeloid leukemia. The next day, he began a three-week regime of daily chemotherapy.  Since then, Peter has also received more than 30 transfusions each of whole blood and platelets, and the leukemia went into remission. In August, doctors at London Health Sciences Centre successfully transplanted stem cells donated by Peter’s sister. His health continues to improve.” (go here to read and share the full story:  https://www.blood.ca/en/stories/london-ont-blood-donor-events-celebrate-patients-ongoing-recovery) And then there is baby Madison from Aldergrove, BC.  Madison was born with congenital heart disease and respiratory challenges.  During her first 6 months of life, she experienced many hospital stays,... Read More»

Taking Leadership in the Real Estate of Your Life!

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary offers a primary definition of ‘real estate’ as ‘property consisting of buildings and land,’ with a secondary definition of ‘space and capacity.’ It is the secondary definition that inspired some musings and reflections on how we exercise leadership in the way we choose to fill the space and capacity — the real estate of our lives. Leadership When I think of ‘leadership,’ the following 4 elements come to mind: • Inspiration: The over-reaching principles or values that are the driving force — the WHY • Vision: The picture of an even greater expression of what could be — the WHAT • Strategy: Process and means to make it happen: — the HOW • Stewardship: Responsibility and accountability for actions and consequences — the WHO We can reflect on these 4 elements as they guide us in terms of how we show up when no one is looking, how we show up inter-personally, in our communities, and on the world stage. It really comes down to life... Read More»

What’s Still Open

Since COVID-19, much of what we have come to enjoy and take for granted has been cancelled. In-class learning, visits with friends and family, group celebrations, faith-based services, some restaurants, bars, lounges, some gyms, theatres, and sporting events. Our lives have changed fundamentally with these ‘new normals,’ and it can be easy for us to focus on what has been taken away. A friend and colleague recently shared this poignant reminder of what hasn’t been cancelled. Not Everything is Cancelled Sunshine isn’t cancelled Summer isn’t cancelled Love isn’t cancelled Relationships aren’t cancelled Reading isn’t cancelled Naps aren’t cancelled Devotion isn’t cancelled Music isn’t cancelled Dancing isn’t cancelled Imagination isn’t cancelled Kindness isn’t cancelled Conversation isn’t cancelled HOPE isn’t cancelled and a remark to add … FRIENDS Aren’t Cancelled Keep Looking Up Fear does not stop death, it stops Life and Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace. Just Think About It…..how privileged are we that during a global pandemic, we can just stay at... Read More»

Managing Caregiver Stress

Caregiving for loved ones can be both tough and transformational. Managed well, caregivers report that the opportunity to give back contributed to a sense of personal growth, meaning and purpose, strengthened the relationship with the care recipient, and provided comfort in knowing that their loved one was receiving attentive and compassionate care. And yet—we hear the warnings of caregiver stress and burnout. Indeed, much has been written about the toll it can take on our physical, emotional, and mental health, with collateral impacts on our family life, work demands, and personal self-care. Manifestations of stress and burnout include reduced sleep and increased exhaustion, depression, feelings of anger, frustration and guilt, irritability, difficulty concentrating, lower immune response and susceptibility to colds and flu. It is not unusual for caregivers to operate in a sense of denial, believing that they are handling it well and are able to continue to sprint this marathon…until they can’t. I can relate to all of these issues – especially the denial! I remember well working... Read More»

Caregiving Series Part 2 – Sharing the Load – Some Tips

Just because you love them doesn’t make it easy all the time. Many caregivers cherish the time and opportunity spent looking after their loved ones – but this is not without some corresponding emotional and physical stressors. Facing the mortality of a loved one, changes in family and household arrangements, reduced time for children, spouses, and recreational activities, added workload and increased financial pressures can all take its toll. You can’t sprint a marathon! You need to be available for the long haul, and that means creating new strategies to manage the acute and chronic demands. Control What You Can. You might not be able to change the health challenges your loved ones are enduring, so focus on what you can control — your reactions and stress management strategies. Share the Load. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Reach out to family and friends and let them know specifically how they can contribute and help. From money to transportation, cooking, and respite, many welcome the opportunity... Read More»

Caregiving Series – Part 1 – Caring Costs

If you are feeling like the ham in the sandwich — you have company! Increasing numbers of men and women are trying to juggle work and child rearing while simultaneously caring for their aging parents. It is called the ‘Sandwich Generation,’ and membership in this not so exclusive club is increasing at a substantial rate. Whether you are caring for one or more generations, it can be an overwhelming time. We know that with the right tools, resources, and support, this life stage can be enriching and daresay, even transformational. Canadian Profile We are a caring nation! Almost half of all Canadians (46%) aged 15 and older have provided some level of care to a family member or friend at some point in their life. The majority of those providing care are in the 45-64 age group, and the percentage of those providing care increased 20% during a short 5-year reporting period of time. Furthermore, more than 82% of caregivers work at a paid job or business and 28%... Read More»

How Old Are You REALLY?

I am celebrating a birthday this month. Often, when people know that, the braver souls venture forth and ask me “how old will you be?” Before answering that question, though, I should really consider ‘which’ age I should share. We have different ages. We have our chronological age, based on the number of years we have been alive on this earth. We have our subjective age, based on the age we personally identify with – the age that we feel we are. We have our biological age, which quantifies the rate at which your tissues, organs, and blood are aging. Everyone is familiar with our chronological age, so let’s review our subjective and biological ages. Subjective Age Satchel Paige asked a provocative question: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” That is your subjective age, and it is getting a lot of attention from researchers. According to a 10 year prospective study (conducted by Yannick Stephan, Joban Caudroit, Alban Jaconelli, Antonio Terracciano,) a... Read More»

Bet You Are Part of the Longevity Economy!

You’ve probably heard the joke before: “The good news is we are living longer… The bad news is we are living longer.” Within the last century, our life expectancy has increased by 30 years! It is called the ‘Longevity Bonus’ and this has never happened before in our history. The implications are staggering, and while some are ringing the alarm bells about the impact on our health care resources and our social security, others are documenting the tremendous contribution to our economy. It is called ‘The Longevity Economy,’ and it represents the $15 trillion dollar global spending power of the over 50 population. These extra years are not simply tacked on to our ‘later life years’ and, instead seem to be extending the number of years in productive activity during our middle age life span. According to the briefing paper prepared by Oxford Economics for AARP, the age 50+ are injecting much to the economy from a number of areas. Below are some compelling facts they cite in their... Read More»

The Gift of You

Socks, ties, perfume, and the latest kitchen gadget. Typical gifts that come to mind when thinking about what to buy for those on our Christmas list. But what about the gift of us – the gift of time – the gift of memories? When I think back to the precious moments in my life, they include the magical times spent with people I care about. Making chocolates with family and friends; cooking and baking days with grandchildren; movie nights curled up on the couch; and of course, the personal conversations of sharing deeper parts of ourselves and perhaps even solving major world problems over a glass or two of red wine! If these are our treasured times – the memories we turn to that warm our hearts, then why do we head to the local shopping mall with our list of names? Imagine a boxless or trinketless Christmas. I know of some families who have made a commitment to do this, and instead plan a family experience for all... Read More»

Making Change Stick

Maybe it was a heart attack… Tipping into the type 2 diabetic range… Or any other health or social scare.   The writing is now on the wall – something needs to change.   Eat better, exercise more, lose weight, stop smoking, drink less, meditate more, sleep well.  Typically, after the shock and fear are processed, there is a real and well-intentioned commitment to do things differently.  This time, things will be unlike before – until it isn’t. What is it that makes change so darn hard to maintain?  As it turns out, faulty thinking, misplaced motivation, poor strategies, and ineffective tools can all contribute toward that famous road paved with good intentions. Some factors that can sabotage our success: • Biting off too much to chew at once.  I can really relate to this one!  An ‘all or nothing’ kind of gal myself, I tend to think I can go from 0 to 1000% within a variety of arenas all at the same time and within one single leap... Read More»

Age-Friendly Workplaces

Yay, Boomers! By virtue of our sheer numbers and temperament, we have re-defined and led change at every stage of our development. It should be no surprise we are also changing how we approach the nature and tenure of our work life, demanding a new paradigm to address a new reality. Boomers represent 27 percent of the population and almost half the workforce in Canada. Savvy businesses know the numbers and are learning how to recognize the risks and how to take advantage of the opportunities. A thought leader from Down Under is showing them how. Consultant, trainer, speaker, author Geoff Pearman established “Partners in Change” in response to a perfect storm— • aging demographics; • increasing health, vitality, and longevity; • boomersʾ obsessive attachment to independence and personal achievement; and • economic challenges that compel us to work longer. But are small- and medium-sized businesses ready for this perfect storm? Sadly, Geoff says many are not. Although there was much research, analysis, and commentary, there was no practical... Read More»

Pet Power

The sentiments are well known: “man’s best friend, “unconditional love, “protect you with their life.” We are talking about our love affair with our pets, and especially, our devotion to our dogs. They serve as our companions, guide us, entertain us, comfort us, alert us to danger, monitor our health, assist law enforcement, and even herd unruly and mischievous farm animals.  That’s quite the list – and all this for care, approval, and a few tasty treats. The Benefits We attribute much to the power of our pets.  There are many claims that our pets can reduce stress, mitigate depression and loneliness, lower our blood pressure, and in doing so, perhaps even extend our lifespan.  They show us what unconditional love looks like and demonstrate how to live in the moment.  Taking our pets out for frequent walks helps to keep us more active and engaged in their communities. Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld suggests that interaction with a personal pet can even prompt better memory recall and access to... Read More»

The Next ‘ism’

Take a moment to think about the jokes you laugh at and the birthday cards you buy. What images of aging and older persons do these reflect?  Is this a picture you want to embrace, and is this a perspective you want to promote?  Do you or would you like to be perceived this way? June was Seniors’ month, offering an ideal opportunity to explore and challenge our explicit and perhaps unintentional beliefs, myths, values and fears about growing older. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines ageism as “…the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age.”  The WHO speaks further about the harmful effects this has on older adults, and suggests that this is even more widespread, accepted, and ‘normalized,’ than racism and sexism.  10 Common Examples of Ageism: • A service clerk or health care/social service professional speaks to an older adult through their adult children or caregiver. • An individual speaks extra slowly to an older adult in a loud and high pitched ‘singsong’... Read More»

Cognitive Reserve – Can We Beat Biology?

We know we are living longer — but are we living better?  Most would agree that it is not just about adding more years to our life story, it is about making sure those years enriching and rewarding.   Too often, though, we know of friends and family who struggle with cognitive decline as they transition into later years.  Is it inevitable?  Why is it that some individuals seem to navigate this progression better than others?  Is there a secret to stalling or even overcoming cognitive decline?   In the late 1980s, researchers noticed an interesting anomaly.  Some individuals, with significant brain pathology, did not evidence a commensurate decline in overall cognitive functioning while they were alive.  Others, with less brain pathology, showed much greater challenges in their day to day functional capacities.  Clearly, brain pathology in and of itself was not directly associated with the behavioral expression of cognitive function.   This led to the study of ‘Cognitive Reserve.’  Cognitive Reserve (CR) refers to the mind’s resistance to... Read More»

I’ve Got Your Back – Role of Advocacy

It was in the news again – the heart-breaking story of vulnerable loved ones receiving neglectful and sub-standard care. Frightened and angry family and friends came together to reveal problems and demand change.   Perhaps a related story has happened within your family or circle of friends.  Perhaps you found yourself speaking on behalf of someone else. It is called Advocacy. Although there are a variety of definitions of the term ‘advocacy,’ we can recognize common themes of taking action for a particular cause or policy on behalf of someone else. Advocacy is necessary at both systems (regional, provincial/state, federal) and individual/family levels.   WHY? Increasingly, our systems, especially our health and social services, have become inordinately complex. Under-resourcing leads to ‘rationing’ of services, and staff reductions can create increased risk of error.  As resources decrease, the quality of communication tends to deteriorate, resulting in too many gaps open to misinterpretation.   HOW? The process of Advocacy includes 3 main elements: Communication Follow-up Action   1. Let’s First Look... Read More»

Falling in Love with Your Community Again

In the last edition of Maturity Matters, we discussed the need to feel connected, engaged, and valued throughout every life stage, especially as we transition into later years. Whether you want to be challenged, entertained, inspired, or in-service of others, most communities have a menu of options to entice and invite.  We have included a sampling of some of the ways we can participate and share throughout our lifetime. Social Engagement Local Senior Centers:  For those who want to get-together, connect and have a good time.   These centers offer a variety of social programs including luncheons, informal get-togethers, games and classes, as well as a variety of activities and group outings to local events and attractions. Community Service Clubs: Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, etc. are not typically age-specific, and provide an excellent opportunity to meet and affiliate with other service-minded people who are looking for fellowship while helping their community. Organized Sports Be active!  From tennis to hockey, softball to pickleball, there are local clubs and organizations looking for new... Read More»

Communities by Design – Not Default – Part 1

There is much talk about “aging in place of choice.” The keyword is choice. In the Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, our Chief Public Health Officer offered this definition: “Aging in place of choice is the ability of individuals to choose to live in their own communities for as long as possible, and to have access to home and community services that will support this ability.”   Why do you live where you live? Perhaps your choice is based on: • lifestyle, • access to amenities, commercial and professional services, • walkability, • closeness to family and friends, • proximity to schools, hospitals, and your place of worship. Some people thrive on the energy of downtown, activity and people, while others need their back door to open into the peace and tranquility of the great outdoors. Regardless of the reasons, we know that how we live is directly related to where we live. It’s the ‘how’ that impacts and informs our quality of life. This... Read More»

The Gift of Recognition

When we think of giving, we turn our thoughts to money, gifts, and perhaps the act of service. Donating to worthwhile causes and offering the gift of our time and talents are important contributions. Giving is associated with the notion of philanthropy. When we look to the derivation of the word, we find that philanthropy refers to the love of humanity, the love of what it means to be human for both the benefactor and the beneficiary. Whole philosophies have been written about what it means to be human. Perhaps a fundamental element of our humanness involves our ability to recognize our humanity within ourselves and others. I had a poignant experience when a friend called and said, “I just wanted to tell you that I see who you are.” The gift of recognition – I was moved beyond words. I wonder if she realized her willingness to look to the unique expression of another person’s humanity was an ultimate act of giving—of philanthropy. Imagine bringing that gift of... Read More»

I Need a Vacation – Gotta Get Away

What We Expect Vacations – we sure look forward to them. Whether it is an action-packed adventure, lounging on the beach with a good book, a spiritual retreat, educational discovery, or anything in-between when we go on vacation, we expect to come back…different. Restored, rejuvenated, revitalized, re-focused, or even reinvented, we often have expectations about what the vacation can do. A heavy row to hoe for those vacation fairies! Why We Expect So Much It seems like the speed of life is accelerating. I remember in the 1990s when faxes were introduced to the workplace as a regular means of sharing and communication. My executive secretary was concerned. She felt that the expectation for an immediate and quick response fed reactionary and less thoughtful responses. I often wonder what she would think of the evolution of mail to fax to email to text to Instagram! (Even the name implies immediacy!) Regardless of our life circumstances, many long to escape the stress of daily living… and for good reason. We... Read More»

Chill Out

Summertime and the living aren’t always easy! We welcome that transition from the sometimes all too long cold, snowy, or rainy months. The first sign of those warm sunny days invites us to get out, bask in the sunshine, and restore that healthy vitamin D! But when is it too much of a good thing, and what can we do when we overindulge? We have all heard the tips and recommendations to take it slow, wear a hat, cover up with loose clothing that can breathe, avoid the sun during the hottest times of the day, interrupt sun exposure with time in the shade, and apply a good sunscreen. Nothing new here. So, what are the warning signs that we need to be aware of and what can we do when someone is in distress? Seniors and The Sun It takes energy for our bodies to regulate our temperature, and this extra demand can cause serious, significant, and even deadly stress for seniors. As we age, our ability to... Read More»

Tough Decisions – What Do You Value Most

Last month’s Maturity Matters Newsletter discussed how tough decisions can often involve the need to reconcile seemingly competing values. We considered the dilemma of wanting to keep a loved one safe and protected versus the deference to the individual’s entitlement to self-determination. In our scenario, the ‘right-to know’ bumped up against the timing and ‘need-to-know.’ In the absence of understanding the defined preferences of the care recipient, the loving family was left to weigh the equally compelling pros and cons of the choices. Ideally, conversations take place ahead of time to explore what the loved one would want, who would make these decisions at a time of crisis or uncertainty, and how these decisions are influenced and informed. This edition will review another real-life situation with a different dilemma – lifestyle today versus certainty for tomorrow. Jeanne is in her early 70s. She has enjoyed a rewarding career of significant renown and is now retiring after suffering two minor strokes. She has undergone a couple of challenging surgeries and... Read More»

Competing Values – Part 1

What makes tough decisions so darn tough? Usually it is because you are faced with a choice or dilemma that involves equally compelling and seemingly competing principles and values. This is especially the case when confronting questions and issues around caregiving, where choices can often appear to be in opposition. Here is a recent experience to illustrate the point. Mary and Ann are sisters, both in their 90s and living thousands of miles apart. Mary’s Alzheimer’s was advanced, while Ann was just starting to present the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Both Mary and Ann have loving adult daughters, committed to providing care and support. Mary caught the flu, and given her fragile state, was not recovering at all. After a couple of months of more aggressive interventions, the medical team moved Mary to palliative care to be more comfortable as they anticipated her passing in the coming weeks. Mary and Ann’s daughters both decided to not tell Ann about Mary’s failing condition. Although I respected their decision to... Read More»

Tax Time Scams

(This newsletter is reprinted by popular demand. Please read and share because these scams are still active, especially this time of year.) The phone rings. You pick it up and the caller identifies himself as being from the government, contacting you on a problem with your taxes. Your heart races. You begin to wonder what could possibly be wrong? You picture investigations, fines, and trouble! All those thoughts begin to spin in your head while you try to listen to what he is saying. When you start to ask questions, the caller becomes aggressive and threatens serious consequences—police, criminal charges, and jail—if you don’t provide specific information and make a payment right away. That is called a telephone phishing scam. Those scams are all too common during tax preparation season. The more sophisticated telephone scammers might even have a telephone call display ID that looks official, so please be very careful. Or you might have been contacted through a very official-looking email message that demands personal information or even... Read More»

Minister for Loneliness

We are social beings. We need to feel connected, to love and to be loved. But what happens when we don’t feel connected, valued or understood? We feel lonely. It is probably one of the most universal experiences and can range from episodic feelings of discomfort to more profound feelings of depression, helplessness, and a fundamental lack of value. Some identify loneliness, especially for older persons, as one of the most significant public health issues of our time. In early 2018, the U.K. government announced the appointment of a ‘Minister for Loneliness’ in memory of British lawmaker Jo Cox. Just prior to her untimely death (she was murdered by a right-wing extremist in 2016), Jo Cox set up the cross-party commission to bring attention to the impact of loneliness, and to “turbo-charge” action and response to this disturbing problem in our communities. Whether this government announcement is perceived as a progressive, provocative, or political move, the gravity of the issue is undeniable. In Britain, 14% of the general population... Read More»

Extending Your Personal Shelf Life

Extending THIS 6 Week Shelf Life Just Might Extend Your Personal Shelf Life! In the market for a deal on second-hand work-out equipment? Or perhaps a discount on a gym membership? Now might just be the best time! It is commonly accepted that 60% of gym memberships are left unused; and following an initial flurry of ‘New Year Newcomers’, the regular gym attendance reverts back to normal by the middle of February. Looks like exercise intentions have a shelf life of about 6 weeks. We all know that exercise is good for us — but I wonder if we truly appreciate the depth and extent of the benefits. It has been said that if the benefits of exercise were distilled into a pill or portion, we would have access to the real ‘fountain of youth.’ Exercise and Cognitive Aging A variety of studies confirm that a regular exercise routine can reduce age-related cognitive decline, and may postpone or even prevent the onset of dementia. Now that’s an incentive! We... Read More»

Who Will You Bring Into Your Next Life Phase?

There’s a wonderful parable about a couple looking to move to another community. They are walking down a country road and come upon a wise sage sitting at the gates of a village. The couple tells the sage they are looking to move and wonder if this might be a friendly village. The sage asks them about their previous village; they confide that it wasn’t a very friendly place to live. He tells them they will likely find this village isn’t very friendly either. A different couple arrives at the gates of the same village; they ask the wise sage the same question. The sage questions them about their experience in their previous village. This couple exclaims joyfully that their village was loving and friendly. The sage suggests they will likely find this village just as loving and friendly. As Confucius said, No matter where you go, there you are.   It’s the same with any life transition. We bring who we are to every life phase. The who... Read More»

I See Who You Are

When we think of giving, we turn our thoughts to money, presents and perhaps even the gift of service.  Donating to worthwhile causes and offering the gift of our time and talents are important contributions.  How often do we consider the power of the gift of recognition – of seeing and acknowledging the unique essence and value of another person? Giving is associated with the notion of philanthropy.  When we look to the derivation of the word, we find that philanthropy refers to the love of humanity, the love of what it means to be human for both the benefactor and the beneficiary.  What it means to be human goes beyond the surface of what we look like, what we know, and what we possess.  Expressions of our humanity are who we are. I had a poignant experience when a friend called to tell me that she wanted me to know that she ‘could see who I am.’  In that instant, her gentle and firm declaration stopped all my... Read More»

Personal Safety—Top Ten Tips

The headlines were alarming: ’95-year-old purse snatching victim suffers minor injuries to her arm.’  This recently happened just up the street from our home.  The community was stunned — how could this happen here?    A valued neighbour, as well as our sense of safety and civility, had been violated. The fear of crime is a big concern for seniors.  While seniors are in the age group least likely to experience crime, when they are victimized, the results can be even more devastating.  Seniors have less time to recover from financial loss and may take more time to heal from physical assaults.  Furthermore, the fear of crime can be isolating, leading to less community engagement and a diminished sense of the quality of life. In previous articles, we provided travel safety and fraud prevention tips.  Today, we’ll offer some ideas about how you can enhance your personal safety — regardless of your age. Top 10 Personal Safety Tips Be aware of your surroundings — notice who is entering the area... Read More»

Intergenerational Learning : What Is Old Is New Again

Imagine young and old coming together to experience, learn, and share. Innovative new programming, or a dusting off of the way it used to be? With our aging population, we see emerging examples of intergenerational programs being offered on many continents. Although it would be overstating it to suggest this has ‘taken-off,’ some of the experiences and results are both encouraging and positive. Some Examples: We turn first to Seattle where a long-term care facility shares space with a pre-school and child care center.1  Monday through Friday, babies and toddlers come to Providence Mount St. Vincent to mingle and connect with the residents where the average age is 92! Canada boasts a variety of examples where select secondary school students on a regular basis, attend local retirement or long-term care centres for a full school day that includes elements of their academic curriculum, social engagement with the residents, and service to the facility.2 The United Kingdom showcased an imaginative program initiated by a group of seniors. 3 This program... Read More»

New Year – Clean Start

I love the beginning of a new year and new cycle. These times hold such promise for fresh perspectives and different experiences. There is a catch, though. We often have to toss out some of the ‘old stuff’ to make room for new… or better yet, to simply just make room! This edition looks at a few tips to help us reduce and declutter. Clothes • Ask a Friend. Sometimes we need the trusted truth that only a dear friend can provide. I remember the brutal support from a friend telling me to ‘keep the memory’ and donate the dress – many times over as I went through a significant collection of out-of-date outfits bought for previous special events! • There is also the tried and true recommendation that if you haven’t worn it within the last year – it is time to share! If one year is a little too short a time frame for you to give them up, box these clothes and store them for an... Read More»

Safety Savvy Travelers

Schools Out and Summer is In.  This is when our attention turns to vacations, getaways,  and adventures.  Whether your plans are local, international or perhaps even exotic, becoming more safety savvy can help to create treasured travel memories rather than regrettable recollections. The more informed and aware you are, the less likely you can fall victim to problems. A Few Tips For A Safer Vacation: Home Arrange for a trusted neighbor or friend to check your house regularly, park in front of your home occasionally, and collect your mail and papers each day. Make sure they have your emergency contact information. Set up timers to turn your lights on and off to reflect your regular routine at home. Some window blinds can be connected to a timer as well. Unplug electronic devices and small appliances. Currency and Cards Make sure you have enough local currency with you to cover local transportation and small purchases. Only use trusted financial outlets to exchange your money: o   Currency Exchange –local ATMs can... Read More»

Bet There’s an App for That!

Do you line up the night before to buy the latest shiny new device being launched the next day? Perhaps you are a self-proclaimed “luddite” who opposes technological change.   More likely, you shun the two extremes and embrace technology that actually works, serves you, and makes your life easier, safer, and more convenient. New technologies are being introduced continually to help us maintain our independence and age more safely in place. Monitors alert us to take specific medications at prescribed times of day and ensure the medications are accessible only then. Do you fear a loved one will miss taking meds? No problem. A pre-recorded reminder message can arrive to the loved one through the TV set and a text message can alert you or another caregiver that the meds were not taken. Motion detectors can identify when routine activities of daily living fail to be carried out. Perhaps the fridge door was not opened throughout the day or the toilet was not flushed. Once again, caregivers can be... Read More»

Tax Time Scams

The phone rings. You pick it up and the caller identifies himself as being from the government, contacting you on a problem with your taxes. Your heart races. You begin to wonder what could possibly be wrong? You picture investigations, fines, and trouble! All those thoughts begin to spin in your head while you try to listen to what he is saying. When you start to ask questions, the caller becomes aggressive and threatens serious consequences—police, criminal charges, and jail—if you don’t provide specific information and make a payment right away. That is called a telephone phishing scam. Those scams are all too common during tax preparation season. The more sophisticated telephone scammers might even have a telephone call display ID that looks official, so please be very careful. Or you might have been contacted through a very official-looking email message that demands personal information or even payment. That is an email phishing scam. Bogus requests can also be sent through the regular mail. Scammers use the pretext of... Read More»

Our Seniors and Volunteering

Nicole Nilsson July 26, 1944 – October 23, 2016 She lived a life of service—to her family, friends, and community. Over 300 members of her small town attended the Celebration of Life to recognize the love and contribution of an amazing woman and dear friend Nicole Nilsson. We were all struck by the sheer range of her service and were in awe of the impact she made during her all-too-short 72 years on this earth!  No wallet or chequebook was safe when Nicole came calling to fundraise for one of the many local causes she embraced.    As do other inspirational seniors, Nicole dedicated much of her time to making her community a better place to live. I am sure you can think of others who fit that profile and it may describe you, as well. Seniors create a vital and sustaining footprint on the landscape of service. It has been suggested that our tax base would collapse under the absolute weight of societal demands if not for the involvement... Read More»

Later Life Love

Red hearts, cupids, flowers, and chocolates.   All the trappings for St. Valentine’s Day celebrations, encouraging us to re-affirm our love for that special someone in our life.  Lots of hype, presenting images and promotions typically targeting younger adults, while failing to recognize the need and legitimacy of later-life love.  How did we ever get to the belief that love is only for the young? Our need for relationship and companionship stays with us throughout our lifetime.  Some even suggest that this need for affiliation actually increases with age, and when this connection is present and positive, contributes toward not only to our quality of life but to our longevity as well.  Speaking of longevity, with the average life expectancy now creeping into our 80s, and the average age of widowhood 56 — there is the potential for many to be living 20-30 years on their own.  The reality is that finding love again in later life can have its challenges. · Uneven playing field for heterosexual women.  According to... Read More»

Are You a Thought Hoarder?

It has been suggested that we experience between 50,000 – 60,000 thoughts a day — and that 95% of these thoughts are the very same recurring thoughts we have entertained before.  Now that’s a lot of re-runs!  I am not sure where these statistics come from, but they do sound plausible, and perhaps even familiar. If even a portion of the 95% of repeating thoughts is an accurate representation, it gives us some insight into why the proverbial New Year’s Resolutions often don’t make it into February.  The most well-intentioned fresh resolutions are destined for failure!  Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  I suspect this is probably just as true with our thoughts.  Same thoughts — same results! That being the case, it would behoove us to take some time to not only identify the new behaviour we want to instill but to also list the thoughts that would support that new behaviour.  While we are at... Read More»

Covid-19 and the Cost of Social Isolation

Betty is 97. Lives in an Assisted Living Facility. Must receive and take all her meals alone in her room. Has not participated in any group social activities for approaching 3 months now. Has had no physical contact with family, friends, or co-residents for almost 3 months. Every day is the same in the small room and times and dates have lost any distinction. TV no longer serves as a distraction. Betty admits to profound loneliness. She is protected from the Covid-19 virus. But is she safe? No one will deny the need to do all we can to keep our communities safe and healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is especially true for our most vulnerable citizens. And yet, it would be equally wrong to deny the short-term and long-term impact of the loss of association, community, physical contact and touch. We know that social engagement and connection form a critical part of our life experience. This is especially true as move through later-life transitions. Our time with... Read More»

Coronavirus Scams

Coronavirus Scams Difficult and stressful times bring out demonstrations of great compassion and altruism. Unfortunately, these times also present a rich opportunity for scammers and fraudsters to take advantage of uncertain situations and vulnerable persons. The presence of the current coronavirus compels us to take the necessary precautions to protect our health. At the same time, it is equally important to safeguard our financial and overall wellbeing. Our friends, family, and community members are facing new circumstances, and with social distancing, many may not have access to traditional support systems to provide guidance, caution, and protection.   Below are some alerts and tips to help minimize the risk these exploitative opportunists present. Protect Your Personal Information ALERT: Previous scams are being re-purposed to solicit funds from the unsuspecting public. Government services, local police, research institutes, and health care services will not call you making threats, while demanding action, payments, or contributions. Legitimate government offices will not send you an email or text asking you to click on a link or... Read More»

Times of Crisis: The Opportunity to Dream Newer Visions

Times of crisis bring out the best in us and the worst in us. In the last edition of Maturity Matters, we discussed how to protect ourselves from a number of new Covid-19 Scams introduced to exploit and take advantage of our friends and families. This edition looks at the other end of the spectrum – the opportunity to demonstrate the vision of our better angels. Shortly after preparing the article on the scams, I was invited to participate in an email chain that shared uplifting messages with other women. Historically, I have chosen to not respond to these types of chain requests. Something caused me to pause this time. If I would spend many hours researching how to protect folks from the worst of us, why would I not invest the same attention and energy to celebrate, inspire, and share the best in us? I made a leap of faith and decided to participate. While I forwarded to others on the list an impassioned video message on gratitude,... Read More»

Getting To The Essence of Customer Loyalty

Do they Love You — or Are You Just Convenient?  I think about customer loyalty every day.  What are we doing right that keeps our members happy and loyal and what are we missing that causes others to leave?  When we do crack the ‘magic formula’ how can we then share the golden secrets with the businesses we serve? The following is a personal story of my own conflict with loyalty and guilt. I like to think of myself as a supportive and loyal person; and yet sometimes, convenience and price will win out over loyalty…(hence the guilt.)  I wanted to explore when and why that happens, and to see how I can use that information in my own business, as well as the businesses we serve. My husband and I recently moved to another community, and have started to forge relationships with local businesses.  An entrepreneur myself, I like to support small businesses when I can.  Looking for a new place to buy our supplements, we popped into... Read More»

Travel Tips

Welcome to our Age-Friendly Business® Tip Series! This TRAVEL edition provides a small lesson on preparing for a quality and safe travel experience. We save and plan and prepare.  It may be a once in a lifetime dream adventure, a bucket list wish come true, or a regular holiday with the kids.  It just makes sense to learn what we can to ensure that our time away is all we want and hope it to be. We’ll start with Travel Safety, and then you can access a link to a short lesson including more information from passports and visas to health advisories, vaccinations and insurance, to budgets and baggage!  We have even created a fun ‘infographic’ to provide an engaging ‘Summary at a Glance!’  Make sure you check that out! Whether your plans are local, international or perhaps even exotic, becoming more safety savvy can help to create treasured travel memories rather than regrettable recollections. The more informed and aware you are, the less likely you can fall victim... Read More»

Multi-Generational Households

My house is your house…  It is not unusual, particularly following a death in the family, for multi-generations to consider living together. This blog addresses some of the opportunities as well as some of the difficulties, and offers tips for families considering the blending of multi-generations within one household.  Multi-generational households are not unusual in North America. According to the US Census Bureau and Stats Canada, the number of children living with their grandparents has increased substantially in the past decade. In the USA, 20% of these households have no parent present, and in Canada, where a single parent is living in the home with the grandparent, 65% of these grandparents are financially responsible for the household.  Let’s start with the advantages Multi-generational homes offer a significant opportunity to deepen family bonds, enhance a sense of unity and establish a connection with history. Grandparents can play a central role in their grandchildren’s lives, transferring their wisdom and life experience. This is especially beneficial for passing along cultural heritage and... Read More»

From Information To Transformation

A difference isn’t a difference until it makes a difference. We have all heard that knowledge is power. That’s just not true. If knowledge were power, everyone with an Internet connection and a library card would be shaking it up. That’s just not so. Knowledge in and of itself is all very well and good, but until knowledge is used in some way to cause a result or to impact change, knowledge is actually pretty power-less. The alchemy, the true power comes when knowledge is applied in a way that leads to transformation. The dictionary defines transformation as a ‘marked change in appearance or character, especially for the better.’ Think of some of the great change agents in the last century – Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa. They didn’t possess any secret or exclusive knowledge about human rights, personal dignity or freedom. Yet, they each took what they knew to be true, combined this awareness with passion and action, and changed the course of history. They moved from... Read More»

Aging in Place of Choice – Part 2

Given a choice….. In the previous blog, we talked about the importance of being able to ‘Age in our Place of Choice,’ and how this serves us individually, contributes to our communities, and is more cost effective than residential care. Think of all the choices we make in the course of our day. From the mundane to the significant, we may struggle with the array of options before us. Faced with unending decisions, we likely don’t reflect on the fact that we actually have the privilege of choice in the first place. Until we don’t. We may now agree on why this is important–but what about the obstacles and challenges getting in the way of how to make this happen? Let’s consider some of the challenges and the opportunities. Challenges – Under Care Not surprisingly, an increasing number of seniors trying to live on their own (up from 5% to 8%) report having unmet needs that threaten their ability to remain independent. As our population ages, and without a... Read More»

Where Do I Want to Live When I Grow Up? – Part 1

Why do you live where you live? Have you given this much thought? Perhaps your choice was based on: • Lifestyle • Access to amenities • Proximity to family and friends • Near schools, hospitals and your faith community. Some thrive on the energy of downtown, while others need their backdoor to open into the great outdoors. Regardless of the reasons why, we know that where we live is directly related to how we live. This principle remains true as we transition through various life stages. There is much talk about ‘Aging In Place Of Choice.’ The key word here is ‘Choice.’ A North American Public Health official offered this definition: ‘Aging in place of choice is the ability of individuals to choose to live in their own communities for as long as possible, and to have access to home and community services that will support this ability.’ To be able to live in our own communities of choice for as long as possible serves us as individuals. It... Read More»

Ageless Tips for Effective Communicating

Talking Dirty… You have probably witnessed this, or perhaps even caught yourself doing this. Take intelligent and rational adults, and put them in front of young children and/or the elderly, and watch these once articulate adults reduce themselves to speaking like a Saturday morning cartoon character in a singsong falsetto voice. Check in with some of your senior friends and family members, and ask them how often (albeit well meaning) service people talk ‘baby talk’ to them and you may be shocked – I know I was! I find this irritating enough when people do this to young children, I can’t imagine how offensive this is to older adults. What may have started out as an expression of endearment, can soon devolve into an unintentional demonstration of ageism. I can hear the objections now, suggesting that we are taking ‘political correctness’ and ourselves far too seriously. I get that, and many times I do think that we do take ourselves too seriously. When unsure, however, my personal litmus test... Read More»

You Shouldn’t Have To Work Hard To Give Them Your Money

Imagine… a market that represents almost half of the population, controls the lion’s share of the assets, and is responsible for most of the discretionary spending. Looks like an ideal client and customer, wouldn’t you say? You’d think that this market would get kid-glove service and gold level attention. Sadly, and surprisingly, this is not always the case.   We are talking about the Baby Boomers and Seniors, and a recent Ipso Reid poll showed that while Boomers acknowledge their significant spending power, 40% feel ignored by the businesses that serve them. Furthermore, an ad hoc survey conducted in a popular retirement city revealed that their seniors felt downright invisible! Ignored and invisible. Not an attractive way to be received by the businesses and professionals wanting your support. Bottom line: You shouldn’t have to work hard to give them your money! The Next ‘ISM’ In our society, we have a history of confronting some big social issues, issues such as racism and sexism. We haven’t got them licked yet,... Read More»