Ageism is rampant in Canada
Arlene Adamson, Winnipeg Free Press
‘ANYONE over age 69 should face a firing squad" — this was just one of the many Facebook comments ridiculing the elderly cited in a recent Yale University study that reveals extensive bigotry and discrimination levelled at older adults on the popular social-networking site. Ageism, to give the offensive language a civil gloss, is a far too common occurrence on Facebook, the study found.
This may seem hard to believe for many people. After all, most of us have older people in our lives -- our grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbours or community members -- and we'd never wish them harm.
But discrimination on the basis of age is a daily occurrence for many seniors.
First, there are the systemic disadvantages -- those things not intended to discriminate, but that were never designed with seniors in mind, thus indirectly making life difficult for them. Let's face it, the world is designed for younger people, and so crosswalk and traffic lights often turn too fast, cash-register numbers are too hard to read and people are increasingly saying things far too fast and too low to understand.
If you think it's aggravating being the person in line behind a senior or waiting for a senior to exit the crosswalk, imagine how frustrating it is for seniors themselves.
But then there is outright discrimination against seniors. A recent report by Revera and the International Federation on Aging found 63 per cent of Canadians older than 66 say they have been treated unfairly on the basis of their age. More worrying still is that 79 per cent of Canadians agree that seniors over the age of 75 are seen as less important than others in society, and a full 21 per cent believe older people are a burden on our society.
We are facing a huge increase in the population of seniors across the country over the next two decades as their ranks swell. So now may be a good time to challenge ageism head-on in all our public spaces and even our virtual ones. When you think about it, aging is really a moving target -- age 65 is the new 55. This is more than a mindset, it's a reality. Many seniors today will live more than 30 years after the traditional age of retirement, and many won't retire at all. So it may be more appropriate to think of the senior years as a second adulthood, and there's no doubt that individuals going into their second adulthood today still have much to contribute to society.
What we need to do now is re-evaluate how we, as a society, think about aging and about older adults. This should be a national conversation.
To read the full article: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/ageism-is-rampant-in-canada-204436231.html
Canadians are Aging: We've Done the Math. Have you?
Wall Street Journal
Canadians Are Aging. We've Done the Math. Have you?
The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association advocates for improved access to hospice palliative care through their National Hospice Palliative Care Week Campaign
OTTAWA, May 3, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Did you know that seniors make up Canada's fastest growing age group?[i] And that currently only 16-30% of Canadians who die have access to quality hospice palliative care?[ii] For National Hospice Palliative Care Week 2013, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is asking Canadians and hospice palliative care professionals to raise their voice and encourage discussions about improving access to hospice palliative care across the country.
"In 2010, 259,000 Canadians died, yet few received hospice palliative care and bereavement services" said Sarah Walker, President of the CHPCA, "if we do not think ahead, our healthcare system will be woefully underprepared for the influx of seniors. It is time for a systemic change."
"Quality hospice palliative care offers a flexible set of services. It includes physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical support for people with life-threatening illnesses, and to their families. It focuses on what people need and want at any given time, both prior to death and during bereavement. Our population is aging, and seniors deserve proper access to these services in the setting of their choice," added Sharon Baxter, Executive Director of the CHPCA.
By 2036, seniors will make up 25% of the Canadian population,[iii] and if we do not have a functioning, integrated hospice palliative care system, even more of us will die emergency rooms. The CHPCA urges Canadians to share these statistics, whether it be with a friend or a provincial Minister of Parliament -- it is time for us to raise our voices. Fillable postcards are available for order at www.chpca.net/week
To read the full article: http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130503-912923.html
How To Live Longer and Better: Surprising Secrets Of A Long Life
Amanda Shupak, The Huffington Post
An extraordinary 80-year study has led to some unexpected discoveries about long life.
In 1921, a Stanford University psychologist named Lewis Terman recruited 1,500 elementary school students and began an academic inquiry that would last eight decades. Terman followed his subjects into adulthood until he passed away in 1956. Other scientists then picked up where he left off, and in 1990 psychologists Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin began poring over the wealth of data in search of factors that seemed to contribute to lengthy life spans. In The Longevity Project, Friedman and Martin reveal that some age-old wisdom -- work less, avoid stress, exercise hard -- is plain bad advice. From their findings, we pulled five tips that may surprise you.
1. Give More To Live More
It's no secret that people with a strong social support system tend to live longer. But it turns out that it's not what your friends and family do for you; it's what you do for them that counts. Among Terman's subjects, the men and women who liked to lend a helping hand -- the ones who cared for their neighbors, the ones whom others turned to for advice -- lived the longest.
2. Run The Rat Race
Everyone fantasizes about a job that isn't stressful, never follows her home, and complements her personality and interests. But the ideal work life won't necessarilyextend your life-life. Study participants who persevered toward accomplishment despite high levels of stress and responsibility lived longer than the people who worked at their "dream jobs."
Little for seniors in 2013 budget
Vikram Barhat, Benefits Canada.ca
Originally from our sister publication,Advisor.ca
As it relates to Canada’s retirees, and near retirees, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s eighth, and some say his last, federal budget has received mixed reactions from industry stakeholders.
They say its provisions neither improve nor impair the quality of life led by the nation’s seniors.
The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) was first out of the gate to express disappointment, arguing the budget did little to address priority concerns—retirement security, seniors’ poverty, equitable access to healthcare, affordable drugs and home care.
Susan Eng, CARP’s vice-president for advocacy, called measures for seniors modest.
“While primarily a provincial responsibility, federal leadership and funding are needed, and the modest measures are welcome but insufficient on their own to make a material difference in how people today can access these services,” she says. “The social safety net has been fraying through neglect or deliberate government action.”
CARP, says Eng, will continue to push for reversal of the old age security decisions, for increased levels of income support for seniors living in poverty and “equitable access to affordable drugs regardless of postal code.”
Kathleen Wronski, director, wealth management, at Richardson GMP, agrees the budget was thin for older Canadians but adds that’s not necessarily bad news.
In reference to the government’s decision not to introduce new taxes or decreases to transfer payments made to the provinces, which fund healthcare, Wronski says “all the good news was on the no-news front.”
To read the full article: http://www.benefitscanada.com/news/little-for-seniors-in-2013-budget-37390
Seniors the happiest generation in Canada, survey finds
Misty Harris, Montreal Gazette
Seniors are the happiest demographic in Canada, according to a survey released Monday, with people 66 and older outshining all other age groups in terms of overall contentedness, optimism about aging, the sense that “age is just a number,” and the belief that you should never stop living life to the fullest.
Despite this positive outlook, however, the study finds seniors continue to battle unflattering stereotypes about loss of independence, reduced mobility, diminished mental capacity and inability to keep physically active. In fact, nine in 10 Canadians associate aging with something bad.
“The research consistently tells us that as we get older, we get happier. . . . And yet, the vast majority – 89 per cent of people – hold some negative stereotype about aging,” said Amy D’Aprix, a gerontologist from Toronto. “If we can blow these myths out of the water, it will change everything.”
The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing for Revera and the International Federation of Ageing, draws on responses from 1,501 Canadian adults, including Gen Y (18 to 32), Gen X (33 to 45), boomers (46 to 65), seniors (66 to 74) and older seniors (75-plus) .
Across the board, negative connotations about aging were more common than positive ones: 45 per cent cited mobility hurdles while 36 per cent said “more time to do the things I love;” 43 per cent noted loss of independence, but just 32 per cent envisioned increased wisdom; 42 per cent cited reduced mental capacity, while 19 per cent said self-assurance; and a mere 15 per cent linked old age with “a better version of myself.”
The dim view comes as a surprise to Mary Shaw, who, on the cusp of 83, is likelier to be found on a rowing machine than in a rocking chair. A typical week for the Toronto woman includes four full-body workouts at the gym – including one with a personal trainer – brain fitness classes, Tai Chi, outdoor strolls, carpet bowling, reading and myriad social events.
Elder Abuse Leads to Rise In Seniors Seeking Care at Shelters
Dan Sewell, The Huffington Post
She raises her hands to her snow-white hair in a gesture of frustrated bewilderment, then slowly lowers them to cover eyes filling with tears. The woman, in her 70s, is trying to explain how she wound up in a shelter that could well be where she spends the rest of her life.
While the woman was living with a close family member, officials at the Shalom Center say, her money was being drained away by people overcharging for her grocery shopping, while her body and spirit were sapped by physical neglect and emotional torment. She says she was usually ordered to "go to bed," where she lay in a dark room, upset, unable to sleep.
"She just yelled at me all the time. Screamed at me, cussed me out," the woman says of a family member. "I don't know what happened. She just got tired of me, I guess."
The Shalom Center offers shelter, along with medical, psychological and legal help, to elderly abuse victims in this northern Cincinnati suburb. It is among a handful in the country that provide sanctuary from such treatment, a problem experts say is growing along with the age of the nation's population.
The number of Americans 65 and over is projected to nearly double by 2030 because of the 74 million baby boomers born in 1946-64, and the number of people 85 and over is increasing at an even faster rate. The number of seniors being abused, exploited or neglected every year is often estimated at about 2 million, judging by available statistics and surveys, but experts say the number could be much higher. Some research indicates that 1 in 10 seniors have suffered some form of abuse at least once.
"That's a big number," said Sharon Merriman-Nai, project director of the Clearinghouse on Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly, based at the University of Delaware. "It's a huge issue, and it's just going to get bigger."
Recognition of and mechanisms for dealing with elder abuse are many years behind strides that have been made in child abuse awareness and protection, experts say.
Canadian couples living together into later stages of life
Misty Harris, Ottawa Citizen
It’s no small irony that one of the oldest romantic ideas in history has never been more relevant, or more attainable, than in the modern age.
Growing old together is less a dream than a reality for more and more Canadian sweethearts, with Statistics Canada reporting a steadily rising share of seniors residing as couples – and at much later stages of life.
But even as biology obliges long-term love, with the gender divide in life expectancy continuing to narrow, the culture at large isn’t quite as accommodating.
Before 89-year-old Jean Gibson passed away this summer, the Victoria woman spent her final months separated from her beloved husband of nearly 71 years – a painful, involuntary scenario that’s becoming increasingly common among seniors.
“My mom, because of the Alzheimer’s, couldn’t rationally understand it. She perceived it as my dad walking away from their marriage and throwing her out with the garbage,” says Gibson’s son Don, who lives in Winnipeg.
“And for my dad, the tough part was the sense of failure that he wasn’t able to be her primary care-giver and advocate. . . . His identity suddenly had a doughnut-hole in it, with a whole part of him missing.”
Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging, says such deficiencies in the system are just one part of a larger picture in which older Canadians’ wellbeing is threatened by everything from poor public transportation to limited community health resources to housing accessibility issues.
“I don’t think society is prepared for seniors, period. So senior couples challenge things even further,” says Milner.
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