Posts Tagged "elderly"

Avoiding Danger @ Home

Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Safety Concerns | 0 comments

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: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/adse/masein/index.cfm 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 http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/h_00122.html 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 http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.  ...

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Tips for Staying At Home…SAFELY

Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Safety Concerns | 0 comments

This tipsheet focuses on safety measures you can take to: 1) Be prepared in case of a medical emergency at home. 2) Avoid or minimize the chances of a fall  For older persons living alone, a regular “check-in” system is our first line of defense.  Friends and neighbours who see or call each other daily are often the first to know if something is amiss. If you don’t answer the phone according to a normal schedule, who can look in on you (or your parent)? Make arrangements with a neighbor or close-by friend. Alternately, have a professional caregiver or paid companion check in. This friend, neighbor, or companion should also have contact details for one or more family members. Will there be set of keys left with someone (or at least at a known location) in case of serious concern? Many frail elderly persons use an emergency response system, connected to a live phone answering system, and usually worn around the wrist or as a pendant. Assuming the user is capable of triggering a call, this can be an extra safety precaution. Falls are one of the greatest risks for an older person; in fact, more than 40% of nursing home admissions can be traced back to a fall or complications from a fall. Even if the fall produces no serious physical consequences, the person who falls often becomes increasingly fearful and loses some confidence that they can move about safely. That can lead to a downward spiral of less activity, loss of strength, and increased vulnerability to further falls.  That’s why a “safety audit” of all rooms in the house is a prudent idea. Following are some safety aids to evaluate: Bathroom:  Use grab bars, rubber mats, “telephone” shower heads, shower chairs/benches, raised seats to minimize slips and falls in the bathroom. Kitchen: Increase use of small appliances rather than stovetop and oven Buy small appliances with automatic shut-off features Place items within easy reach, avoid lifting/carrying heavy dishes All rooms: Reduce clutter, minimize objects on floor Increase lighting, including night lights Tidy up loose cords and wires Re-assess furniture, e.g. chairs too low, sharp edges, wobbly items Remove throw rugs, secure carpet edges. Can you easily see flooring transitions (e.g, tile to carpet)? Outdoors: Repair cracked sidewalks Install handrails on stairs and steps, or install a ramp Trim shrubbery and trees along pathways Ensure adequate lighting by doorways and along walkways Stairs: Plan how to reduce/minimize stair use Install hand rails on both sides of staircases at elbow height Always have one hand free to grasp handrails Secure or remove carpet on treads of stairs Increase lighting in stairways Remove any rugs at the top/bottom of stairs General Safety: Wear properly fitting shoes/slippers with non-slip sole Remove reading glasses when walking, especially up/down stairs Install a telephone extension in the bedroom, kitchen, and in or near the bathroom Never rush to answer the door or phone Understand side-effects of alcohol and medications, such as dizziness For more ideas, visit this webpage and review items in the right-hand column: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/adse/masein/index.cfm...

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Tax Breaks for You and Your Caregivers

Posted by on Apr 3, 2012 in Financial and Tax Matters | 0 comments

With many Canadians caring for aging parents or receiving care ourselves, it’s good to know that there may be federal and provincial tax breaks available to us: Below are excerpts from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca, detailing three of the available federal benefits. Click on the links below for more information, and note that these benefits apply not just to the elderly, but to any qualified care recipients over the age of 18, such as adult children. Caregiver Tax Credit You may be eligible for this tax credit if you meet ALL of the following conditions: • You maintained a dwelling where you and a dependant lived at any time during the calendar year. • Your dependant is: * your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s child or grandchild; or *your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, parent, or grandparent who was resident in Canada. • This person was not only visiting you. • Your dependant meets all of the following conditions: * 18 years of age or older at the time he or she lived with you; * Net income in 2011 (line 236 of his or her return, or the amount that it would be if he or she filed a return) of less than $18,906; and * Dependent on you due to an impairment in physical or mental functions or, if he or she is your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s parent or grandparent, born in 1946 or earlier. • You did not have to make child support payments for this dependant. • No one other than you claims an amount for an eligible dependant (line 305) for that dependant. Disability tax credit As per the Canada Revenue Agency website, claimants for the disability tax credit (DTC), must meet the three following conditions: • The claimant must have an impairment that is prolonged, which means it has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. • The claimant’s impairment in physical or mental functions must be severe and it must restrict him or her all or substantially all of the time. • The claimant’s severe and prolonged impairment must be certified using Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate, by a qualified practitioner. If your dependant is able to claim the disability amount, and does not need to claim all or part of that amount on their tax return, they may be able to transfer all or part of this amount to you. Click here for a list of “impairments” that qualify for the Disability Tax Credit: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/sgmnts/dsblts/qlfd-prcts/dtrmnng/menu-eng.html Finally, if you pay for someone’s nursing home fees, you may be able to claim them under “medical expenses for other eligible dependents –line 331”. Provincial Tax Credits It’s worthwhile to check whether your provincial government offers caregiver tax relief as well. You can start by searching online for “caregiver tax credit” together with the name of your province. Need assistance with your CRA returns? Consult a tax professional or click on the link to our previous article to learn more about help available for older persons with preparing tax returns....

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Long Term (Care) Planning: It’s Not Just for the Old

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Planning | 0 comments

Canadians have been quietly caring for their elderly for hundreds of years. Suddenly, however, it seems that long term care has worked its way from obscurity into the national limelight virtually overnight. If you consider the state of the country, the reasons are obvious. Canada’s population is aging rapidly. According to a Statistics Canada 2001 report the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to double from nearly 4 million in 2000 to almost 8 million by 2026. By 2016 at the latest, Canada will have far more seniors than children aged 14 and under, a phenomenon never before recorded. The most rapidly growing age group, however, will be those over 80. Canada’s health care system is being restructured province by province; change and upheaval are the norm. The only sure thing seems to be less money and care for the old who require the most care. Canadians are worried. By 2031, over 750,000 Canadians will have Alzheimer Disease or related dementia unless a cure is found before then. Almost 25 per cent of Canadians now have someone with Alzheimer Disease in their family. Family caregivers are beginning to understand that caring today does not last for a few weeks or months as it did in the ‘old days’ – it can now last up to twenty years or more, completely disrupting one’s personal, work and financial life. There is an undeniable financial burden involved in long term care. No matter where care is provided – in the home or in an institution – families invariably end up paying for some products and services out of their own pockets. In fact, informal caregivers’ financial subsidy of cost of services delivered to the home, and in casual expenditures (food, laundry, gas, parking, etc.) – total about $100 mission a week or more, suggesting that caregivers spend at least $5 billion a year. Many caregivers report they have had to cut back on their personal budgets, use up their savings or borrow money to meet their caregiving financial obligations. Although many of us are aware of these care realities, Canadians continue to put long-term care planning on the back burner. “It won’t happen to me”, “My spouse will look after me”, “The kids will look after me”, “The government will provide for me” – continue to replace critical planning steps we all need to take.  These include: 1.    Looking after our health. Diabetes and obesity are running rampant among adults – and our children 2.    Talking to our parents and spouses about what we all want as we age 3.    Talking to our financial advisors about what we want as we age, and together coming up with a plan to ensure we have the financial and social resources to care for ourselves till the end of life.   It’s never too early or too late to start planning for long term care. As the saying goes: Just do it! Guest Author: Karen Henderson, Founder, Caregiver Network    Vol. 2, No. 20; © Karen Henderson, 2005...

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Heat Stroke

Posted by on Sep 16, 2010 in Health Emergencies | 0 comments

Summertime brings the benefits of fresh air and sunshine, but hot, sunny days pose a risk of heat stroke, particularly for seniors.  What is heat stroke? Heat stroke occurs when the body can not regulate its temperature. It can develop quickly; internal body temperature can rise as high as 106 degrees in as little as 10 to fifteen minutes. Heat stroke can lead to brain damage and even death. Why are seniors at greater risk of developing heat stroke? As the body ages, sweat glands which help cool the body become less efficient.  Blood vessels carry less blood to the skin. The skin itself goes through natural changes that may slow the rate of heat release or “cool down”.  Bodies of the elderly may be slower to respond to heat and therefore may not produce sweat until body temperature is already quite high. Diseases of the lungs, heart and kidneys, and illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure can affect the body’s ability to cool down. Drugs that treat depression, motion sickness and high blood pressure also change the body’s ability to regulate temperature. What are the symptoms of heat stroke? Red, hot and dry skin (with no sweating) Heavy sweating together with cold clammy skin Dizziness Throbbing headache Nausea Rapid pulse Confusion Unconsciousness How can you prevent heat stroke? On extremely hot days, stay indoors in an air-conditioned room.  If there is no air conditioning at home, spend time at a local mall, library or movie theater. Wear a hat when golfing, gardening or hiking. Always have water with you or near by.  Drink 8-12 cups of water daily to maintain hydration, more during hot days or physical exertion. Choose fruit juice or sport drinks if your activity means you’ll experience heavy sweating. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.  Also avoid extremely cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramping. Eat small nutritious meals throughout the day rather than large meals.  Reduce your intake of  protein, which can raise body temperature. Increase intake of potassium-rich foods, e.g., potatoes, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe and broccoli. Take frequent breaks from physical activity. Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath. If you see symptoms of heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.  Vol. 3, No. 14 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. 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, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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