Make this holiday season the best ever for Toronto seniors

Home Instead Toronto is expanding its charitable giving with GIVE65

Residents Aged 65 and Over is Expected to Double

For the first time in history, there are now more Torontonians over the age of 65 than children aged 15 and under. Looking ahead, the 500,000 plus Toronto residents aged 65 and over is expected to double to over a million residents by 2041. The City of Toronto has a long-time seniors advocate in Councillor Josh Matlow and The Honourable Raymond Cho is Minister of Seniors & Accessibility in Ontario. Yet there are still 15,000 seniors without the care they need in long term care facilities. So despite the recognition that more care is required for our elders, changes in health and home care are slow to be implemented. One organization, Home Instead Senior Care, is leading the charge in philanthropy for seniors to enable not-forprofit organizations in Toronto to provide more care to the seniors they serve.

Home Instead Senior Care Foundation of Canada

The Home Instead Senior Care Foundation of Canada was established in 2017 to help enhance the lives of aging adults and those who care for them. In actual fact, the Foundation has provided grant funding to senior-focused registered charities in Canada since 2003 and since then $226,000 has been distributed through two signature programs – GIVE65 and Be a Santa to a Senior.

Bruce Mahony, Executive Director of Home Instead Senior Care in Central Toronto is also a founding director and trustee of the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation of Canada. “There are many not-for profit-organizations doing great work but with limited resources to serve our growing senior population,” says Mahony. “With our GIVE65 campaign, we hope to bring together Torontonians who care and charities that have an impact on the health and well-being of seniors.”

Expanding Charitable Giving

In honour of its 25th anniversary, Home Instead is expanding its charitable giving with GIVE65, which is an online giving platform committed to honouring seniors by partnering with registered charities that support seniors. This year alone, Home Instead has partnered with 17 organizations serving more than 230,000 seniors across Canada with a donation matching program. Participating charities provide a range of services to seniors, including transportation, meals and nutrition, low income housing, Alzheimer’s and dementia care and hospice care.

Be a Senior to a Santa

Be a Senior to a Santa has provided gifts for nearly 20 years to seniors who are alone at holiday time. Many of us assume that seniors have family and friends to help them or visit. But according to Statistics Canada data, as many as 1.4 million older Canadians report feeling lonely. The holidays are particularly hard for those who live independently and social isolation can often lead to social loneliness. This year, Home Instead is expanding Be a Santa to a Senior to enable companies and their employees to make charitable contributions, which will be matched by the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation. Recently, Great West Life and Rexall Drug initiated this change by partnering with 16 senior-focused organizations across Canada and raising thousands of dollars that were directed to charities serving seniors.

In addition to Home Instead’s GIVE65 and Be a Santa to a Senior, Mahony encourages all Torontonians to contribute in whatever manner they can to enrich the lives of seniors in our community.

“Social isolation can have a negative impact on a number of health conditions and can result in an increase in dementia and cognitive decline,” adds Mahony. “While connecting with seniors helps to prevent isolation, GIVE65 and Be a Santa to a Senior helps many more seniors in our community by supporting their services.” Mahony offers the following tips for family and friends to make this the best holiday season yet for the seniors around them.

Tips for Family and Friends

  1. Take a senior to tea. Going out for tea/coffee and a good conversation can make a huge difference in the person’s outlook and attitude.
  2. Make a meal and share it with your senior neighbour at their house or yours. Eating alone isn’t very appealing to many people and can lead to malnutrition and dehydration.
  3. Take neighbours and friends to their medical appointments and to do errands. Doctor visits can be overwhelming, particularly if there’s illness and medications involved. Having a second pair of hands (and ears) to absorb the outcome of the visit can be reassuring and ensures that the senior understands the next steps in their recovery or care.
  4. Encourage your children and grandchildren to put their volunteer hours into senior care. There’s nothing that will bring a smile to the face of a senior more than children and young adults.
  5. If you’re visiting a senior, bring them a treat they’ll enjoy such as a chocolate bar or ice cream or a magazine if their diet is restricted. Everyone likes to splurge every now and again.
  6. Use Facetime or Skype to enable a senior to visit family members in distant locations. The face to face interaction is quick and easy and much less expensive than a plane ticket!

Mary Ann Freedman works with Home Instead Senior Care and has over 25 years experience working with organizations who serve 50+ adults.

Senior Care Plan – Planning for the Future

Planning for the Future - Senior Care Plan

Senior Care Plan – By Mary Ann Freedman

Conversations between Older Adults and Their Adult Children Are Needed

Today many Canadians are preparing to live a long life. Average life expectancy has grown from 68 in 1950 to 81 today. Canadian smokers have steadily declined. Many people are working longer. Others are finding ways to look younger.

But how many people you know are preparing for how they live the last 10 to 15 years of their lives? Not enough.

The facts don’t lie. Research shows that if you reach 85, you have a 50/50 chance of having dementia. And that means you probably won’t be able to handle your finances or pay bills; you may not remember whether you’ve had lunch or taken your medication; and your affable manner may be replaced with emotional outbursts.

According to a new survey by Home Instead Inc., while 73 percent of seniors have a written will, only 13 percent have actually made arrangements for long term care.  (senior care plan)

“When planning for their later years, many people go straight to making funeral arrangements and financial plans rather than taking time to prepare for care that might be necessary,” says Bruce Mahony of Home Instead Senior Care. “Unfortunately, many people do not consider that as we age, we need extra care. While most seniors prefer to age at home, they may not realize the range of options available to them, and that this time in their lives requires planning, too.”

The survey also revealed that that aging parents are far more comfortable discussing their plans for their final years (89 percent) than adult children are discussing their parent’s plans (68 percent).

So how do families plan for the demands of a longer life?

Senior Care Plan

  1. Accept that ‘Older Adult’ is a new phase with new realities and needs much like the ‘teenage’ years, mid-life and empty nester years.
  2. Be astute and recognize changes in attitude and abilities that you observe in an older adult for what they are – an opportunity to do things differently, rather than as the potential loss of freedom and independence.
  3. Decide where you want to live and what you can afford. Are you a ‘people person’ and want to live in a community or retirement residence with other people? Or do you want to live in your own home with some extra help? According to CARP, 93% of seniors in Canada live at home and want to stay there as long as possible. However, Home Instead found that only 74 % of seniors have shared their wishes with their adult children.
  4. Select a close friend or family member to be the substitute decision maker if you’re unable to communicate or make informed decisions. And different people can be selected because of their strengths in different areas. For example one person may handle the financial affairs and pay bills, while another makes health-related decisions.
  5. Prepare the documents – Ensure that your will, Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POA), life insurance, inheritance are up to date.
  6. Share your plan with a close friend or family member who can step in as a substitute decision maker when you’re unable to do so. And give them the information they need. Consider having a family meeting where you can share your documents and contact information for your closest advisors (legal, financial, doctor) with adult children.
  7. Explore ways of covering the cost of increased care and other needs as you age in place. What resources are available from the government? Explore extended health, long term care and other insurance to help cover the cost of special drugs, home care, physio, assistive devices to name a few.
  8. All good plans require good research. If you don’t know what your options are, engage your family and friends to help. The more they know, the better able they will be able to implement your plan.
  9. Engage in continuous learning. Explore activities that will help you stay active both physically and mentally. You may need to replace your weekly tennis or golf game with bridge or a walking club.

Mary Ann Freedman works with Home Instead Senior Care and has over 20 years experience working with organizations who serve 50+ adults.

For more information about a senior care plan, call Bruce Mahony at 416-972-5096 or use the contact form.

Dementia Knowledge, Five Ways to Improve

Home Instead Senior Care in Toronto believes that dementia care begins with education and knowledge

Bill Gates recently announced that he’s donating $100 Million to research into Dementia.

In a blog post published on November 13, Gates announced that he’d be donating $50 Million of his own money to the UK- based Dementia Discovery Fund.  He said that he will be donating another $50 Million to smaller startups researching the disease.

Today there are 564,000 Canadians living with dementia at a cost of $10.4 Billion each year.    And the numbers will continue to escalate as the population ages.  Nearly 1 million Canadians are expected to have dementia within 15 years.

With the growing numbers, most of us have been personally touched by someone with dementia – a parent or grandparent, a neighbour or a colleague.  Without the financial resources of Bill Gates, how can we do our part to advance the understanding of such a wide-spread condition?  And what can we do with the resources that are available?

Bruce Mahony, Managing Director of Home Instead Senior Care in Toronto believes that it all begins with education and knowledge.  “The first thing children and families can do is to beef up their knowledge of what dementia and Alzheimer’s are, and how they can help their loved ones improve the quality of their lives, and in some cases reduce the risk factors”.

Here are five ways to improve your knowledge of dementia.

  1. What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

Dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning, according to the Mayo Clinic.  Dementia is an umbrella disease that includes several types – valcular, Lewy Body, Mixed, Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia for people over 65.

  1. What are the symptoms of dementia?

The most common symptoms are memory loss that disrupts daily life, confusion with time and place, trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, decreased or poor judgment, changes in mood or personality and problems with speaking and writing.

  1. Is dementia hereditary?

The majority of dementia is not inherited, but this depends upon the particular cause of dementia.  Some rare causes of dementia are very clearly inherited, for example Huntington’s disease.

Many people fear that Alzheimer’s disease in the family may be passed on to children and grandchildren.  According to the Alzheimer’s Society UK, in the vast majority (99 percent) of cases, it is not so.

  1. Who is at Risk of getting dementia?

Dementia is not an inevitable consequence of ageing according to medical journal The Lancet which released a paper in July 2017 entitled “Dementia prevention, intervention and care”.  The study shows one in three cases could be prevented or delayed if people took better care of their brains.

The Lancet study identifies nine potentially modifiable health and lifestyle factors that if eliminated might prevent dementia.  They are:

  • Midlife hearing loss
  • Failing to complete secondary (high school and above education
  • Smoking
  • Failing to seek early treatment for depression
  • Physical inactivity
  • Social isolation
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes.
  1. What can be done to reduce the risks of dementia?

Dr. Anotine Hakin, emeritus professor of neurology at the University of Ottawa offers hopeful advice in his new book Save Your Mind: Seven Rules to Avoid Dementia.  Read. Write. Play music. Be physically active. Be socially engaged. Eat healthy food. Maintain a healthy weight. Sleep well.  Don’t sit mindlessly in front of the TV.

A few simple lifestyle changes

“While this advice sounds simple, it’s surprising how many people ignore what has now been proven in the research,” adds Bruce Mahony of Home Instead.  “I think that these new findings are particularly relevant for young and mid-aged Canadians who have seen the damaging effects of dementia on their loved ones.  There is now hope that dementia can be delayed or avoided with a few simple lifestyle changes.  That’s news in itself”.

Home Instead Senior Care offers a series of resources free of charge to help families understand and cope with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  They include Access the Daily Companion care app; 24/7 Care line can be accessed at 1 800 939 1533; and online help for alzheimersfamilies.com; and Caregiverstress.com.