Every June, Canada celebrates Seniors Month and the contributions those over 55 make to communities across the country. This year’s theme is Stay Active, Connected, and Safe. We believe that all three of these goals play a key role in a happy and healthy retirement. Staying active is often considered the golden bullet when it comes to your health. Research shows that getting 150 minutes (5 x 30 minute sessions) of moderate intensity exercise throughout the week can reduce your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and osteoarthritis. And those are just the physical benefits. Mental health advantages include lower risk of depression, anxiety, stress, and even dementia.
Rachel and Martha decided to take retirement for a test drive. The women embarked on a journey of “Not Working,” while travelling for 95 days across America. It worked out so well that four years ago Martha and Rachel decided to retire —while in their late fifties. They started thinking about making environmentally conscious upgrades to their bungalow and arranged for a CHIP Reverse Mortgage. They both see the loan as a good investment in their home and a smart way to live the life they love.
Now technology provides the older generation with ever more inventions to make our days more pleasant, less lonely and more purpose-driven. There’s a new platform called Papa, which provides us with “family on demand.” According to its website, papa.com offers “a hand to help, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen –supporting elder adults and families with how and where they want to live: at home. Papa and our Papa Pals represent a new category of care, to quite literally meet our members where they are. With true help unbounded by the real limitations of today’s health care system. Papa is aimed at the social determinants of health, including loneliness and isolation, transportation access, technology and health care literacy, and more.”
Since the Covid crisis in long-term care, our ideas of how best to age have altered dramatically. In fact, 93 percent of Canadians are now reporting that they plan to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, but we may be financially unprepared for a safe and comfortable retirement at home. The big question facing us is how to make aging in place a reality. During a recent webinar hosted by the Empire Club of Canada and sponsored by HomeEquity Bank, journalist and author Peter Mansbridge moderated a panel of red-letter experts on aging. It featured Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, Director of Financial Security Research at the National Institute on Ageing, Dr. Samir K. Sinha, Director of Geriatrics at Sinai Health System and the University Health Network and Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO at CanAge.
Although we remember little about de la Roche today, she was the celebrity writer of her time who travelled to Britain and America to promote her work and to represent Canada. She was also a single woman who lived with her cousin Caroline from the time they were children to the author’s death. Mazo experienced poverty and indifference in her younger years, and she experienced wealth and notoriety, as she grew older. She was prone to mental breakdowns and terribly sensitive. Although never married, Mazo and Caroline adopted two children and while living in the U.K., she became the only Canadian author received with open arms in Europe. During World War II, her novels about love and familial tradition in rural Canada appealed to a European readership tormented by war and upheaval.
If you’re looking at new ways to stay healthy as you age, exploring creativity could add a fresh touch to your daily routine. Researchers are discovering that it’s not only our body that needs to exercise, but our brain, too. For people like me, who lived in dread of gym class, creativity became my way of coping with feelings of inferiority at school. Everyone was focused on how efficiently they could make it over the gym horse without embarrassing themselves, or playing a sterling game of basketball. To be honest, I couldn’t do either. But I did find solace in reading, singing, theatre and eventually writing.
Today I worry about other things. Not how I’m going to make it through the snow. Instead, how we’re going to get through another fall and winter of COVID. Even for the double vaccinated, the Delta variant poses some danger. Without vaccination, the chance of contracting the virus is growing. Although I prefer to write about active ways to plow through the loneliness and isolation of this strange moment in time, there is a part of my mind stuck on that snowy field in winter, frightened that I won’t make it to the other side. As the Italian author Natalia Ginzburg writes, the pessimistic me can give in to “the temptation to let her life go to pieces.”
Beyond enjoyment and entertainment, VR could offer “immersive experiences going deeper and helping tackle isolation and cognitive decline, two of the biggest issues as we age,” according to the online magazine Next Avenue. Many studies show how isolation is linked to a 50 percent higher risk of dementia. “With this in mind VR could power new social connections via shared experiences,” says Kyle Rand, the CEO of Rendever, a Massachusetts high-tech company focusing on health solutions for older adults.
The report illustrated that the entire concept of retirement has changed. Our parents considered retirement as a time to stop working and to wind down their activities. It’s the opposite today. We see our retirement years –the New Retirement– as brimming with potential, as having more freedom – freedom from various work and family responsibilities, and freedom to explore new options and pursue new interests.