Aging FAQ & Info

The Growing Need for Home Care

The Ottawa Citizen just released an dynamic blog post on the need for a more sustainable home care system – read the articles below: 


In the last few years, I have spent a lot of time talking to seniors and those who look after them. That’s what happens when your parents reach their 80s, and you run for office in the riding with the highest percentage of seniors in the province. What I have heard is that home care for seniors is characterized by confusion over what’s available and a severe lack of resources for both the elderly and the family members who care for them.

This city is full of heart-breaking stories of aging spouses and adult children who are providing huge amounts of help for their family members while trying to negotiate a care system that is complex, seemingly arbitrary and often unreliable. Citizen columnist Hugh Adami’s article last week about a blind 96-year-old who has had her personal care assistance cut back to twice a week from twice a day is sadly typical of what’s happening. 

A new report on home care, commissioned by the provincial government, bears out what I have heard. Chaired by former University of Toronto nursing dean Gail Donner, the expert panel concludes that Ontario’s home care system just doesn’t work and that urgent action is needed to fix it.

The report’s primary conclusion is not very nuanced: “With no coordinated system strategy for home and community care, these pressures are creating challenges that need urgent attention. There is too much variability in access to services and too little accountability for outcomes. Everyone – clients and families, providers and funders – is frustrated with a system that fails to meet the needs of clients and families. Stakeholders may not agree on what the solutions are; however, no one thinks the status quo is an option.”

The report recommends that the province spell out what services are offered, who is entitled to them, and how they go about getting them. Expected service levels and outcomes should be measured and reported on, the panel suggests. The Community Care Access Centres were started in 1997 on the premise that dealing with a single agency would make it easier for people to get service. That’s still a good theory, but the execution is lacking.

This is doubly frustrating. Providing comprehensive home care is not only the right and humane thing to do, it’s the most cost effective. Helping a senior remain in her own home with home care services is far cheaper than the cost of a long-term care or hospital bed. Hospital budgets have been frozen and long-term care expansions put off on the grounds that people can be looked after better at home, That’s true, but only if we have a well-organized, accessible, fully-funded home care system.

The fact that the government appointed an expert panel to review the sector might be taken as a sign that it knows things need to be fixed. Health Minister Eric Hoskins says the report will be an important guide as the government transforms the sector. However, the government also has a track record of seeking expert advice, then not taking it. The government’s main talking point about home care has been that spending has doubled over a decade. Unfortunately, so has the number of people seeking home care help. Taking into account inflation and the increased level of care required by aging seniors, it’s difficult to think there has been any real gain at all.

How much will government do to respond to this new report? Not to be overly cynical, but spelling out what people should be getting and making it easier to get will raise both expectations and costs. This is not necessarily desirable for a cash-strapped government. Like it or not, the provincial government has a responsibility to tell Ontarians what it can afford to offer, and to deliver the service. Government can do many things poorly and not necessarily harm people, except in the pocket book. When the care just isn’t there for our seniors, real people actually suffer. Who supports that?

March 18,2015




A Tidal Wave of Dementia is Coming Our Way

It is estimated that 47.5 million people are living with dementia this year alone, and that number is dramatically increasing every year. At The World Health Organization (WHO) global action against dementia conference, Director General Chan referred to a “tidal wave of dementia” and illustrated the prevalence of dementia.

It is crucial that we reduce the stigma and improve the awareness of dementia. Every four seconds a new case of Dementia is discovered – accumulating to 7.7 million every year. In 2007, Norway was the first country in the world to launch a national plan for fighting dementia, and since then 18 more have followed. It was highlighted at the conference that in order to move forward participants need to increase the sharing of clinical trial data, increase cooperation between NGO’s, and the need for early prevention and diagnosis.




Vulnerable Elders have no Access to Dentists in Care Homes

Dental Care is crucial for optimal health. Many seniors in Care facilities do not have access to a dentist. Seniors suffering from Dementia/ Alzheimer’s are exceptionally neglected when it comes to dental care. Everyone should be entitled to receive regular dental check-ups.

Research has shown that poor oral health can have a negative impact on seniors’ overall health and well-being, but for many, there are significant barriers to visiting a dentist. People suffering from dental pain need somewhere to turn for help. Frequently the place they turn is the emergency room of their local hospital. According to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the number of dental ER visits in the U.S. increased from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010.

A separate study shows that in 2009, dental caries (the disease that causes cavities) and abscesses alone – almost entirely preventable conditions – accounted for nearly 80 percent of dental-related ER visits. While emergency rooms can provide pain relief and treat infection, few hospitals have dentists on staff so they aren’t able to provide comprehensive dental care.

Offering dental care in Senior Care facilities should be a mandatory service provision in order to deem the facility as a Care Provider. In order to keep our fragile citizens out of the hospital and in their own homes – proper dental care is a requirement.


A new diet for the Mind, linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have developed a new diet which could significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

A new study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association

The new MIND diet was created by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PHD, and colleagues at Rush. This proactive approach to health consists of 15 diary components: 10 “Brain Healthy Food Groups” and 5 unhealthy food groups.

Green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine make up the brain-healthy foods, while red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food are the food groups that should be limited.

Moderate adherence to MIND diet reduced Alzheimer’s risk by 35%

For their study, the researchers analyzed the food intake of 923 Chicago residents between the ages of 58 and 98 who were part of the Rush Memory and Aging Project – an ongoing study that aims to identify factors that may protect cognitive health.

Dietary information was gathered from food frequency questionnaires the participants completed between 2004 and 2013. The researchers scored participants on how closely their food intake matched either the MIND diet, Mediterranean diet or DASH diet, and incidence of Alzheimer’s disease was assessed over an average follow-up period of 4.5 years.

With more than 5 million people in the US are living with Alzheimer’s, and this number is expected to rise to as many as 16 million by 2050.  Currently, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in North America – so adopting this lifestyle diet could be a crucial aide in reducing the risk rate.

Dementia diet1

The researchers at Rush found that participants whose food intake closely followed either of the three diets were at lower risk of Alzheimer’s. Participants who followed the Mediterranean diet were at 54% lower risk, those who followed the MIND diet were at 53% lower risk, while followers of the DASH diet had a 39% reduced risk for Alzheimer’s.

Morris says one of the most exciting things about their findings is the fact that even following the MIND diet moderately well indicated significant protection against Alzheimer’s. “I think that will motivate people,” she adds.

However, the researchers note that to really benefit from the MIND diet, followers should not overindulge in unhealthy foods, particularly butter, cheese and fried foods.

While further studies are needed to confirm these findings, the researchers believe the MIND diet shows promise for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. “We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study,” Morris adds.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the number one way to reduce the risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Read more articles on our blog to learn more ways you can reduce the rate of cognitive impairment and improve your health.

March 18, 2015 



DEMENTIA: Can This 3-Step Test Predict Alzheimer’s?

Dementia Test

The Alzheimer’s Association – dedicated to fueling the advancement of early detection and diagnosis of dementia – has developed an easy-to-implement process. Dementia rates are on the exponential rise. It is important that families, and family physicians have the simple tools to determine if further testing is necessary. Imaging tests, and spinal taps are expensive, invasive, and just not practical. The Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Ronald Petersen tells Time Magazine about their new strategy. Read the articles below for more: 

A simple, three-part test that lets doctors identify a person’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment that could progress to Alzheimer’s disease, the LA Times reports. The first step: Doctors collected data on age, memory issues, family history with Alzheimer’s, and factors linked to the disease, like smoking and diabetes; they then reviewed basic mental exams and psychiatric evaluations. The second step: They analyzed motor function based on how fast a patient could walk a short distance.

Researchers ran the test using 1,449 patients over 70 in Minnesota; each factor believed to boost a person’s MCI risk came with a score, Medical Xpress reports. Patients with scores in the top 25% were seven times more likely to develop MCI than those in the bottom 25%. By performing the first two steps for every patient over 65, Petersen suggests physicians can better understand changes over time. Only if doctors notice red flags should they complete the third step: a blood analysis that could identify genetic factors, like versions of the ApoE gene, linked to Alzheimer’s. Petersen wants to duplicate the results before recommending the strategy, but he hopes better diagnosis can lead to more participation in clinical trials of dementia drugs.

March 19, 2015