Popularized by the Beatles, the sentiments of ‘When I get older and losing my hair, many years from now’… ‘Will you still need me, will you still feed me’ are sentiments that ring true for many as we’ll all be older someday too.
It may not be front of mind, but perhaps we’ve all taken pause to consider what health and social supports and services we might need to live safely and independently for as long as we wish or are able.
Statistics Canada reports that by 2030, seniors will number over 95 million and make up 23 percent of Canadians. By 2030 my parents will be 89 and 92 years old and hopefully still with us, healthy, and living in their own home.
But even with the advancement of medical intervention, and people’s awareness and attention to their physical and mental well-being, we don’t have a crystal ball that can tell us how our lives will play out or how they will end.
By example, the recent global pandemic saw many face their own mortality or the impending death of someone they loved. Perhaps you still feel that you are more likely to win the lottery than contract COVID-19.
The reality is, conversations about aging, and the effects of this, including the several ways the body changes over time, how the perception of age affects our health decisions in general (including memory loss, slower reaction time, depression, etc.), the change in a person’s roles and relationships, and end of life make us uncomfortable.
There are many things we can do to make conversations about, and the reality of, aging less uncomfortable.
For instance, conversations with health professionals about common health issues, including sensitive topics (that older adults tend to avoid) – such as undetected, undiagnosed and untreated symptoms.
As a supportive person in an aging person’s life, there may come a time when you must discuss future plans with them – including making decisions about money, health, senior living, and other potentially difficult subjects.
Explore home modifications to enhance safety, consider home care, personal care, or companion care services. Help or encourage an older person to maintain their body as healthy as possible. Consult experts and do your research. Don’t make assumptions or isolated decisions.
Use the resources available to help guide your discussions and make educated and informed decisions. Accept referrals and consider the experience of others. Manage the stress and mental well being of all parties.
Show empathy by being present, listening, acknowledging the aging persons feelings, refrain from offering unsolicited advice, and work towards an end result that is appropriate under the circumstances.
A national survey on aging-in-place and home modifications revealed that 78 percent of Canadians want to age in their current homes but just 26 percent predict they’ll be able to do so.
What are you doing to foster independence and ensure a safe and healthy end to the last know address of your loved ones?
Recently, Jacqueline was a guest on ‘Big Conversations with Tee’, a live stream platform produced by LCC Media and a direct link to Ladies Corner Magazine.
Jacqueline continues to weave her personal and professional experiences into her weekly column – and although she has fond memories working as a ‘candy striper’ at a seniors’ home in her teenage years, Jacqueline’s focus is now more in-tune with the realities of aging parents and the consideration of their ‘last known address’ as outlined above.
For more information on seniors-related topics, or to access other tools or videos that could help you Plan for Aging in Place, visit www.Canada.ca/Seniors or contact your provincial or territorial government. You can also call 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).