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Little Red Hen Health Care

Wow! 2015!  Now what? Resolutions get made about money, relationships, home care, lifestyle, or changes to our lives.  My words for the year are Caring and Honesty!

To be honest, I did not understand why people avoided dealing with their finances.  I often heard reasons like, "I do not have time now," or "I just can't face it,"  or  "I will just keep on keeping on and hoping for the best."  I understand better now.  After 3 weeks of indulgence and no trips to the gym, I cannot face the scales and my excuses are about the same.  Ironic, eh?

I also know that we need to look after our own health as best we can, and that exercise is THE BEST way to do that.  However, knowing that and actually getting that exercise, do not follow as logic would seem to demand!  No excuses really.  That is just the way it is for me right now.

I did go for a physical, got the blood work done, got a massage, been sleeping long and well, but exercise?  Not really, I confess.  True confessions may point out a bit of laziness, the out of the routine time of the holidays, and the eye off the ball.   Perhaps it will make me more patient with those who do not take control of their lives and futures in a way I think is just basic common sense!  Compassion and patience on my part may result!

I also know that there is NO POLICY for increasing health care budgets for an ageing population at either the federal or provincial level.  That means that families are on the line for lots of health care and caretaking now and into the future.  That means that we Baby Boomers better take care of ourselves really well!  It is the Little Red Hen Health Care  plan.

Off to go for a the cold!

  All the best with those resolutions everybody!

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Away From Me

Yesterday morning, I opened the fridge to get the almond milk to make my breakfast shake.  Not there.  I was sure I left enough for breakfast.  I would not have used it all. Mystery.

Later in the day, I found the milk on the top shelf of the cupboard where I keep the home made meusili.  I have done bonehead things before like lock my keys in the car, forget a friend's birthday until the next day, and the rest of 'just slipped my mind" incidents.  NEVER have I put the milk in the cupboard.....until now!

Could this mean that Sudoku is not enough?  I am not exercising enough?  Do I have early on-set....oh, no...

I saw Away From Her. I know people who suffer from some form of dementia.  Will I be getting lost next? Putting the butter dish in the freezer? Forgetting to wear a bra or shower?  Leaving the stove on all night?  Writing myself notes for everything including brushing my teeth?

When I was in B.C., I read an article by Jim Mann who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when he was 58 in 2007.  He now tours the province with the Alzheimer Society campaigning for a comprehensive, funded dementia action plan. About 15,000 people in B.C. are diagnosed with dementia each year and each one will impact a number of other family members,loved ones, health care workers, and service providers. 

There is no known cure. 

The costs of care are enormous. 

The Baby Boomers are just getting started to add to these numbers.

This, and the milk on the shelf, scare me to bits!

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Stories From the Heart

A friend of mine is fit, active, in his early 60s and just had bypass surgery.  He went to the hospital when some heart pain alerted him to a possible problem.  They would not let him go home when the test results came in.  Severe blockages were life threatening.  Luckily, awareness of family history made him take the pain seriously.

Another fit friend at age 53 was having symptoms, got initial testing, and died of a heart attack before more tests could be done.  Again family history rather than lifestyle was the problem. 

I have a genetic marker that plays havoc with cholesterol levels and, without testing, I would not have known that and the silent killer would have been stalking me.

Each of these situations have more to do with genetics than lifestyle, but many of us are ignoring warnings and are carrying on with lifestyles that invite heart issues.  We are not getting tested or having regular check-ups, 40% are not getting enough physical activity each week, 30% say they are often or always stressed, 21% of us are still smoking, and 11% are heavy drinkers. Yet we think we are healthy despite these lifestyle choices. Are we delusional?

The Heart and Stroke Foundations's 2013 Report on Health of Canadians called Reality Check is a heads up if we do not want to deal with    chronic illness, immobility or disability in our last years.  Making positive changes to lifestyle now can reduce in incidence and effects of heart disease, and stroke.  We get to stay out of hospitals and care facilities and improve the quality of the rest of our lives.  Sounds great but not enough of us are doing anything about it.

We are not risk taking teenagers anymore despite our Forever Young thinking.  What is really scary to me is that 1.3 Canadians are already living with the effects of heart disease!  AND most Canadians already have at least one risk factor and some have 3 or 4 risk factors.  Heart disease and stroke account for an average of 1000 hospital visits per day!  That is expensive too!

So what do we do?  GET MOVING!  Exercise is the best way to improve your chances.  Then eat a balanced and healthy diet, reduce stress levels or deal with stress in better ways, stop smoking now, cut down on drinking if that is your problem, and check out for tips and tools to improve your heart health.

You may not be as healthy as you think you are and living in denial and delusion will not help.  Get real about your weight, your diet, your exercise levels, your lifestyle choices and stress levels.  You may also want to get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked annually. That was what gave me my warning that all was not well so that I could take the precautions I do and make the changes I needed to make to remain healthy and alive!

Take it to heart!

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Posted on 2013.02.06 | Author: Barry McCarthy

thanks Donna, Very informative and direct,asking for a stress test after 50 is probably a very good idea as well and having your cholesterol levels checked IS A MUST! stay away from fast foods and prepared foods...they are loaded with sugar and sodium. Barry the out patient

Here We Go Again!

Health, like finances, is a seed planted now that keeps on being harvested later proposition.  My sister is a geriatric nurse who heads to the gym regularly as she sees what happens with those who did not maintain fitness.  There are no guarantees, of course, but increasing the odds of a better future by exercise makes that activity worthwhile.  Balance, flexibility, pain reduction, weight maintenance or loss, improved sleep, stronger immune system, greater lung capacity, and better mood and self-esteem sound like great reasons to keep moving. 

So many Boomers make a new health regime a part of their retirement.  They have more time for leisure activities that may involve a social aspect as well like joining a hiking or walking group, playing golf or curling, taking pilates or yoga, joining a gym and taking the classes there, starting a new sport or continuing a favourite one like skiing, biking, or tennis.  Some are loners and buy the exercise equipment for home or go swimming or walking on their own schedules.  Many of have seen those changes "where we ache in the places where we used to play" as Leonard Cohen so aptly puts it.

Personal trainers are seeing more and more older clients with special circumstances that need to be accommodated.  They have injuries or conditions that require working around but they have not given up!  They work with the knees, the back, the bursitis, arthritis, the heart condition and keep doing what they can.  Mom always said that growing old was not for sissies.  Got it!

When I asked a few folks at the gym why they were there I got answers like, "I am recovering from an operation and my physio guy suggested I come here."  "I find I do not hurt so much if I exercise regularly and I just feel better."  "Time to shed a few pounds to keep the old ticker happy." "I want to keep up with the younger guys on the golf course." "Lifelong habit, I guess." "I just feel better, happier and healthier."  

Exercise pays off and is likely the best investment in your future for quality of life.  The mood lift alone can get you out the door.  Happy, positive people tend to live longer according to a British Longitudinal Study and exercise is one of the main factors in both health and mood elevation.

So have a happy, healthy, and active New Year!


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Heads-Up: Health Care Costs and Retirement

The latest Time US has a bright red cover with HOW TO DIE on it.  Joe Klein has an interesting article on the care for his aging parents that many of us can relate to immediately.  Many of us are dealing with family members and friends who are coping with this reality now.  Many of us have had our own encounters with mortality warnings too.  In 10 years, the first Baby Boomers or 'super seniors' hit age 75 when health care costs head steadily upwards. 

The federal government has let provinces know that transfer payments will not rise to deal with this increase in health care costs.  That leaves provinces having to deal with education, social services, and health care costs on their own.  Watch for cuts in all three or new ways of distributing costs.  The student movement in Quebec may just be the first of many such protests. 

That leaves many of us on our own to cope with our families and ourselves with the financial burdens of care.  Many more folks will want to age in place and renovate their homes to make this work.  Builders and renovators  will be putting in wider doors, remote control fans and window covers, railings, great lighting, easy on the knees flooring with no trip hazards,  lower cupboards, grab bars, granny nanny flats, ramps over stairs, stair-lifts, and emergency call systems.

Private care services from Moving Mum to shopping, cooking, cleaning by personal care workers and services by health care aides are popping up now to deal with the needs of people who require and can afford this help. The communities that are 55+ may add these services to their roster of attractions to potential purchasers. Granny flats are appearing in back yards and first floors of adult children's homes now.

For a couple who are 65+, there is a 66% chance of at least one spouse entering a facility for additional care.  For a single person, there is a 50% chance of needing in-home or facility care.  The average stay in a care facility is 4 years but 20% stay more than 5 years.  People need help with some or all of clothing and dressing, toileting, bathing, feeding, transferring, and continence care.  Some are in retirement homes with a degree of independence and some in nursing homes with 24 hour access to care.

Costs are a wake-up call for many!  Private care retirement homes can range from $2800-$9000 per month.  Long term care insurance can help with these costs or they are self-funded.  Nursing home costs in Ontario for a private room are now $73.04 per day or about $2222.00 per month as many are partially subsidized.  Private care ranges widely.  

Much of Europe is broke and our neighbour to the south is not in a good position either.  We are not immune to their troubles.  Take a hard look at pensions, benefits, insurance needs, and use your political clout now to get policies in place.  Boomers actually vote, many own their own homes, take part in the political process at various levels, sit on boards and committees, know who to write letters and emails to get things done and need to assess what their communities offer seniors.  It is time to break the forever young denial and get moving on quality of care for seniors and forward looking policies and facilities.

 Many planners of projects suggest starting at the end or with the desired outcome and moving backwards with a timeline for what needs to be done.  Boomers need to take a look at their next few decades and get that planning in place now for themselves and their communities.

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The Cornerstone of Staying Healthy

I am with Ponce De Leon.  I want the Fountain of Youth.  Just drink the water and health is restored.  Simple.  No sweat...literally!

Perhaps a trip to Lourdes, or Chartres or the healing waters of a sacred site.  My health would be perfect.  A miracle would be great right about now!

But every source I research says the answer to a better memory, a more active sex life, improved circulation and breathing, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, a slimmer body, better mobility, and disease prevention is exercise!  And there are more perks to getting sweaty.  In fact,  exercise is seen as the best medicine.  And I thought it was laughter.  Too much Reader's Digest and not enough dumbbells.  

Doctors are now giving prescriptions for gym memberships and encouraging walking and working with weights for resistance training.  Dr. Oz says walking daily is as vital as sleeping nightly.   He says walking can even make you happier!  Walking improves blood flow to the brain with just 30 minutes a day. A pedometer can track your progress. If you combine walking with Vitamin N (Nature), your stress levels go down even more than walking indoors.

It may be time to find those hiking trails, that walk along the river or the lake, get outdoors on your lunch break or walk to work, join the folks doing the mall walks in winter,  get the Nordic walking sticks and use them in the parks, join the gym with the walking track, and get yourself moving daily.

Health problems are the biggest reason that folks choose to retire.  Quality of life is vastly improved with getting out there!  Keep your options open by doing what you can to support your health.

No drug works unless you take it, and no exercise regime is effective unless you follow it regularly. Figure out what would work for you!


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Beware that Salty Dog

So one average hot dog has how much salt content?

How much salt is a good daily amount?  About 2-3 hot dogs will do it for the day!

One average hot dog has 400-800 mg of salt and the daily suggested intake per adult is 1500 mg of sodium per day.

I have become a label reader after working at the Foodbank, after prediabetic friends suggested I try it, and since I found out about the negative effects of high salt diets.  Some clients came in to the foodbank asking for low salt and that eliminated most soups and canned vegetables.  Take a look at fibre and sugar content too.  Scary what we are eating in processed foods.  That is without considering the chemical dangers of the cans and their linings themselves.

For example, if your diet is made up of processed foods, packaged and restaurant foods primarily, you likely have a high salt diet.  One pizza slice averages 1000-1500 mg of salt.  The Pizza Hut Caesar salad has 1490 mg of salt, the A&W Grampa burger with cheese has 1550 mg of salt, and a half cup of Unico chick peas has 20% of your daily share of salt.

About 7.5 million Canadians live with hypertension which increases risk for heart attacks, stokes, heart and kidney failure, and even erectile dysfunction.  Sodium depletes the body of calcium which then can lead to osteoporosis.  The average Canadian ingests between 3400 and 4000 mg daily.  Way too much for our own good.  Most of us do it unconsciously.  Some of us are salt lovers and cannot leave the chips alone.

Health experts suggest that between 10,000 and 16,000 deaths in Canada each year are related to high salt diets.  What a waste and an expensive one at that to our health care system!

Read labels, ask to see content levels in restaurants, cook from scratch, take it easy on the salt shaker and soy sauce, and tell your friends.  You could be saving their health as well as your own!

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Surprises you do not want to have!

Jim left his job at the university to start his own business.  He got the word from his dentist on his next visit that about $3500.00 worth of work had to be done.  Jim had not replaced the insurance benefit from his previous employer with a private plan and had to pay the whole amount at the same time he was starting his business.  Ouch in the dental chair and the bank account!

Jill was laid off from a job where she had a small group benefits plan and made enquiries to replace it and was shocked at the price.  It cost more than her car insurance!  That was not in the pay cheque gone budget!

Mike and Mel went on a cruise to celebrate Mel's recent retirement.  A burst appendix, care on the ship, an air ambulance and then surgery abroad added up to about the cost of their home.  Luckily they did have some coverage that kicked in later.

Joe and Ellen went to Florida as usual in December but chest pains at Christmas landed Joe in hospital.  Joe's insurance claim was rejected because he had not reported his high blood pressure condition or medication that had been diagnosed and prescribed the previous spring.  It was then a preexisting condition. 

These are the surprises to avoid.  Get the coverage you need well ahead of needing it, understand the nature of the coverage, the reporting, and documenting necessary.  Whether it is travel insurance, health care coverage, dental, critical care or disability, it can help you sleep easily and not have to face nasty surprises.  The younger you are when you apply, the less costly the insurance will be.

May be a good reason to inquire now!

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The Wild Card

Many of us expect to choose the timing of our retirements. However, there is a wild card that can get played and derail all those well laid plans.

Cancer and heart related illnesses are the most common attackers of health and well-being. Health is the wild card that can interrupt all of our plans for our careers, retirements, and visions for our futures.
These experiences change our plans but also our relationships, values and priorities in many cases. A brush with mortality refocuses our view of the world around us. This is from a person who drew that wild card in her late 40′s.
“When I got the diagnosis, I was a Mom of two busy teenagers who needed their tutor, chauffeur, laundress, and short order cook and all the other little Mom jobs that I could no longer do. Cancer put a hole in the life I had and the future I had expected to have. The day by day life was all I could handle. It did not matter that RRSPs got collapsed. It was a short term survival scenario. Now I have an up-to-date will, an executor who knows my wishes, and a whole new perspective on my life and the life of my family. I have been OK for 2 years now but may not be out of the woods just yet. Retirement plans? Not number one on my list anymore.”

Health is the number one reason that people have for choosing to retire at a particular time. It may their own health or the health of someone close to them. It is not reaching a magic retirement age, or amount of funds available. It may be emotional and/or physical exhaustion, a health crisis of a family member, stress or some symptoms that a person experiences.

“We’ll just have to make it work because I know I am done and I have the chest pains to prove it!” commented one retiree.

That is why you need to know where your ducks are and who can line them up if you are not able.

Stay tuned for more on your retirement.

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