Welcome to the first post
On this section of the site, we will post links to fascinating or helpful articles that we come across, on a monthly basis. Articles can cover just about any topic be it health, financial or entertainment.
Check back every month to see what new, even share your thoughts about the story on our comment board below.
This first link is not to a new story, but one that is two years old. However, it is a great article none-the-less about an innovative new kind of long term care facility for Alzheimer’s and Dementia sufferers in the Netherlands.
The article is from the UK newspaper: The Guardian; so its statistics are British, but I am sure one could easily draw parallels to Canada, including that fact that the UK currently spends more money (in their case double) on Alzheimer’s and Dementia than what they spend on cancer patients. The rates for which are only expected to explode as society rapidly ages over the next few decades.
Click Here for the article
But don’t put your name on Hogewey’s waiting list just yet! The second – and related article – this month comes to us from the Globe and Mail.
In case you missed it because you were busy Christmas shopping, at a recent meeting of G8 Health Ministers in December 2013, the Ministers set a rather ambitious goal to combat and cure Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Happy Chinese New Year!
This month we are going to bring up a couple of news items you may have missed.
The first is in regards to changes announced by the Ontario Government, to the way in which seniors renew their driver’s licenses after the age of 80. You can read an article on the changes, at the Canadian Association of Retired Persons website or read the official government press release, by clicking on the link here.
In other news… or perhaps we should just call it the entertainment file… we are fast approaching a pop culture anniversary. This month in 1964 – the 50th anniversary – of the first appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.
By some people’s limited definitions, being 50 would make that episode if it were a person, a senior.
Now admittedly our concept of what is a senior has certainly changed from 1964. Is being 50 really that old?
But in recognition of that moment in time, here is a list of some of our favourite celebrities who also celebrate the BIG 5-0 in 2014. Welcome to the club!
Sandra Bullock: Actress
Nicholas Cage: Actor
Steven Colbert: Comedian
Courtney Cox: TV Actress (“Friends”)
Russell Crowe: Actor
Matt Dillon: Actor
Bridget Fonda: Actress
Melissa Gilbert: Actress
Mariska Hargitay: TV Actress (Law and Order SVU)
Teri Hatcher: TV Actress
Famke Janssen: Actress (and 90s Bond Girl)
Lenny Kravitz: Musician
Courtney Love: Musician (and widow of 90s rock legend Kurt Cobain)
Rob Lowe: Actor
Elle MacPhearson: Model
Clive Owen: Actor
Keanu Reeves: Actor
David Spade: Comedian (Saturday Night Live)
Marisa Tomei: Actress
Eddie Vedder: Musician (Pearl Jam)
Emergency Preparedness Tips
Many times you may have looked out the window and thought “I don’t want to go out there today.” Or worse, particularly if Ol’ Man Winter has dropped a new layer of snow: “I CAN’T get out.”
To be stuck in the house for a few days is not at all uncommon. But are you prepared. Being snowed in is another form of emergency you need to be prepared to handle. Disasters such as a house fire to an ice storm to a tornado or even a failure in the electrical grid can strike at anytime. Even less destructive but still extreme weather events such several days of bitter cold temperatures can keep you housebound.
Are you prepared? Do you or an aging family member have a “survival kit” (a dramatic name for “supplies”) in case of just such an emergency?
What you should keep in your emergency survival kit:
- Fresh Batteries
- Important documents (identification)
- Non-perishable foods items that would last at least 3 days
- Bottled water (4 litres per person, per day, with at least 3 day supply)
- Seasonally appropriate Clothing & footwear
- Hygiene products
- Sleeping bag & extra blankets
- Cellphone programmed with emergency contact numbers*
*Some tech companies are now exploring new “senior friendly” designs for cellphones.
Such designs can include amplified speakers, hearing-aid compatibility, larger buttons, and emergency buttons that allow users reach to someone without even needing to dial a phone number. For those who are more tech savvy, “senior friendly” smartphones offer big screens and keypads and simplified cameras.
In Canada, Doro is one such company that offers these devices, and most of the major providers now offer plans and services for the phones. Click here for more details.
Also visit this link for further resources on emergency preparedness for you and your family – Emergency Management Ontario
Are You Retiring with Debt?
When you reach a certain point in your working life it is safe to say you have been planning (and hoping) to retire for years. What had once seemed so far away is getting tantalizingly close. But are you ready?
For years we were taught to save for retirement, whether through work-place pension plans, investing in RRSPs or GICs, and of course through CPP. However, not nearly as many thought about the budgets they would be living on in retirement the closer the date comes. Back when many started their retirement planning it was going to be at some point down the road after having paid off the mortgage, sent the kids out on their own and expected to have little to budget for other than groceries, utilities, car payments and trips every now and again.
Life often gets in the way and things don’t quite turn out as planned. The kids moved back home, the house needed costly renovations and other events conspired to derail your plan. Did your savings keep pace? Has your plan evolved? Do you even know how the changes could impact the timing of your retirement?
A 2012 poll conducted by Harris/Decima and CIBC found that 60% of Canadians are retiring with debt. So if you find yourself in this situation, you are clearly not alone. That may be small comfort of course, when faced with the stress of personal finances, but don’t be afraid of the old stigma. Talk to a financial professional and come to terms with the situation earlier rather than later, especially if you have not yet retired. It is best to deal with it now rather than finding yourself and living on a set pension plan or savings that were not meant to deal with this reality. With less income at this stage you will find less flexibility in making payments, which in turn leaves you paying off the debt over a longer period of time.
From this link, CIBC offers the following tips:
- Work with an advisor to structure your debt to minimize your overall interest costs by utilizing debt products that offer a lower interest rate and having a strategy to pay these balances down in a specific time frame.
- While interest rates remain near historic lows, don’t ignore the long-term benefits of making small adjustments to your payment today. Setting your debt payment even slightly higher than your required payment can reduce your overall interest costs and help you become debt free faster.
Sun Life Financial also recommends that you:
- Make a budget & cut back spending: Like so many personal goals, you need discipline. The first step is a household budget to review your monthly expenditures and identify ways to spend less. This will help you reduce your new debt, find the money to pay down your existing debt, and save for other important goals, like an emergency fund or retirement.
- Pay down high-interest debt first: Take a good look at your current debt obligations to see the facts. Focus on paying off those high interest credit card debts first or switch to a lower cost credit card if you must carry a balance. If you have outstanding student loans, commit to pay them off before you take on new financial commitments.
- Consider consolidating debt: If you have multiple high-interest debts, consider consolidating them into one lower-cost loan, like a line of credit. But be careful to focus on paying down the balance, not using this credit to rack up more bills.
- Pay down your current mortgage faster: With the goal of paying off your mortgage before you reach retirement – or ideally, in your 50s – make smart moves to pay down your home loan. With the help of some household budgeting, you may be able to increase your regular payments or make payments more frequently.
For example, paying bi-weekly vs. monthly saves a lot of interest charges. Choose a shorter amortization period and take advantage of pre-payment privileges that let you make an annual lump sum payment on your mortgage. Apply any salary bonuses or tax refunds to your mortgage and keep your payments the same if interest rates go down. Your banker can help you explore these and other ideas.
Finally, whether you are retired or still working, if you think you need help, here is a terrific link: Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services.
Keeping Active in Your Golden Years
As we grow older, living an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Regular exercise helps us maintain health, boost energy, reduce injury risk, manage weight, and improve balance. During our prime years, exercise is arguably more important than at any other point in our lives. However, no matter what your age, your health, or your fitness level, you can become more active and reap the benefits.
So Why Exercise?
The Public Health Agency of Canada suggests adults 65 and older take part in at least 2.5 hours of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Sessions should be 10 minutes or longer. It is also suggested that flexibility (light stretching, reaching, and bending) be performed on most days of the week, as well as 2 to 4 days of strength/resistance training per week. The risks associated with an inactive lifestyle (to name a few) are;
• Premature death
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Certain types of cancer
• Type 2 diabetes
As we age our muscles actually shrink, we become less active (especially after retirement), bone density can decrease, and our muscles get tighter due to a less active lifestyle. Many people develop arthritis and other diseases that impede mobility. The good news is we can do something to at least minimize the physical effects of aging. So why exercise? Let me just address a few of the issues.
1) Flexibility; Imagine if every time you turned the steering wheel in your car it was so stiff it took everything you had to move it. You would be running into everybody and everything unless you slowed to a crawl. A muscle without flexibility can be compared to that steering wheel. The result is potential injury, limited mobility, and poor posture.
2) Strength; As we grow older our muscles tend to atrophy (shrink), we lose strength and balance, and our metabolism slows. Moderate resistance training can increase strength, slow muscle loss (it is argued that it can increase muscle mass even in older adults), improve posture, reduce the risk of injury from falls, and make daily activities less difficult. Even the symptoms of arthritis (pain) can be reduced when performing daily tasks. Try this simple exercise to improve strength and balance. Stand on one foot and balance yourself with eyes closed for 20 second intervals. Alternate between legs for 3 to 5 times. Use a chair to help to help you balance and until you feel comfortable without.
3) Heart Health: We all need a good heart. Our muscles can be small, weak, and stiff but we can squeak by…for a while at least but, if our heart stops beating… It is the one muscle we cannot live without. Our heart is a pump and like any pump it has to be strong enough to “do the job”. Exercise will strengthen the heart as it does any muscle. A strong heart will pump more blood and oxygen per beat than a weak heart. It is recommended that after age 65 we should get 2.5 hours of cardio exercise per week. Just 20 minutes a day can lead to great improvements. Try walking your stairs (if you have them), or go for a brisk walk. The key is to elevate your heart rate for a period of time. Many trainers will develop a program that will develop strength, increase flexibility, and improve cardio in one simple workout.
No matter what your age is, exercise should always be a part of your life style. Feel and look better! Live a healthier and longer more comfortable life. Many seniors feel discouraged by health barriers. Some maybe feel like they are so unfit that they can’t exercise. But that is not true. No matter what your situation you can do it.
There are many ways to get started but if you are stuck contact a specialist such as myself and we can develop a program just for you.
So start now, just please contact your doctor first before starting an exercise program. Your doctor will advise you of any activities you should not do.