Home & Health

Hispanic older couple

Aging-in-place – what you should know!

Choosing to age-in-place is a good option for many seniors and older adults wishing to maintain their independence at home for as long as possible. And, studies show show that there are health benefits in doing so. However, this option is not necessarily good for everyone, or every situation. If this option is being considered it is important that a number of factors be looked at, such as one’s physical and cognitive capacity, as well as their financial state, all of which impact the ability to maintain a home.  Often seniors retire in cottage country where as beautiful and serene these areas may be, they may be placing themselves too remotely where access to hospitals, healthcare, shopping and social support systems can become a challenge, thus creating barriers for themselves.  It is important that seniors and older adults, along with their families, be involved in learning and understanding the different lifestyle options available, to ensure the most suitable decisions are made for one’s changing needs.

If interested in further reading on this topic, I recommend reading Lyndsay Green’s book, The Perfect Home for a Long Life: Choosing the right retirement lifestyle for you. This book provides a good overview of senior and older adult housing options.

Gardening – a healthy activity

Gardening is often a very enjoyable activity for many people.  And, there is strong evidence that supports gardening as having therapeutic qualities while also being a healthy means of activity or exercise.  Sometimes as one ages however, they may experience medical conditions or physical disabilities (e.g., arthritis, mobility concerns) that can limit their participation in such activities. There are several options available that may be considered in creating a safe, accessible and enjoyable space for gardening.  For example an elevated garden bed, hanging baskets and use of vertical planting (use of walls and trellises) can often provide an alternative to ground beds where one would otherwise have to bend over, crouch or kneel. Please see here for more information on easy gardening tips.

Renovation Tax Credits – know if you qualify and stretch your $$

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers programs that help qualifying individuals with some of their home modification needs.  Here are a few to consider when doing home modifications that improve safety and accessibility in your home:

Important:  Ontario Healthy Homes tax credit assisting those individuals 65 years and older with home renovations for safety and accessibility was terminated as of January 2017; so, if you haven’t yet filed your 2016 return and did some work to your home for safety or to make it more accessible be sure to claim it, as this is the final year to do so under this program.

Similar to the Ontario Healthy Homes program, in 2016 the government introduced the Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC), which allows disabled individuals or those 65 years and older to claim 15% of up to a maximum of $10,000 per calendar year for home modifications that make their homes safer and more accessible.

The Medical Expense Tax Credit provides cost relief for individuals that have incurred significant medical expense and/or have severe or prolonged mobility impairment.  This credit can be claimed for home modifications for safety and accessibility as listed on the CRA’s approved detailed list of eligible medical expenses.  Important:  you may be eligible to claim your home modifications through both the HATC and Medical Expense Tax Credit programs together in the same year.

If considering home modifications for safety and accessibility be sure to understand what you qualify for by speaking with your contractor, accountant or call Revenue Canada directly at 1-800-959-8281 for more information.

Let’s talk bed bugs – the basics

Seniors in Stride specializes in organizing, right-sizing, decluttering and downsizing and along with this can come the discovery of bed bugs.  The last thing any client wants is to learn they have bed bugs, and if they do they certainly don’t want to keep them around or take them with them where they go.  Adult buildings and retirement homes generally have policies around bed bugs and it can be costly to the client should they bring them into a building or facility.   This month we are including some basic information on bed bugs.

What are bed bugs?  The adult bed bug is a small flat rusty-brown coloured bug the size of an apple seed and can be seen with the naked eye.  They need a blood meal to survive and typically feed every 5 – 10 days, but can live up to a year without feeding.  They can also endure extreme temperatures (from freezing to 113 °F) making them quite resilient.  They often feed on humans while asleep and motionless, however they will feed on animals if needed.  They are typically found hiding in the seams of mattresses and other small cracks and crevices.  Learn more on the life-cycle of the bed bug.

Brief history:  Prior to WW2 bed bugs were very common, but when the pesticide DDT was created and used to combat the little critters they were nearly eradicated and seemed to disappear until the early 70’s when DDT was banned after being deemed too toxic for use.  The banning of DDT, warmth of home heating systems along with globalization allowing people to easily travel across the globe has resulted in the come-back of the bedbug.

Impact on Health: Although bed bugs are not considered a public health issue, as they do not transmit disease, their bite can cause red itchy welts that for some can become infected.  An infestation of bed bugs can lead to many more bed bugs feeding on an individual and over time can lead to blood loss and anemia. There is also an aspect of quality of life where bed bugs can cause significant stress, sleep disturbances and overall psychological distress.

Stigma: Maybe just as big a problem as the bed bug itself is the stigma associated with having them.  It is important to understand that anyone, anywhere can have or get bed bugs.  One’s cleanliness has no impact as to whether they have bed bugs; although having significant clutter in the home can provide easy hiding places for the bugs.  Unfortunately, the fear of stigma can prevent those suspecting they have them to shy away from seeking the help they need to treat them, which can therefore lead to greater infestation.

How do you get bed bugs? Bed bugs are great at hitching a ride into one’s home via luggage, bags, furniture, bedding, on your clothing, in books etc.  If you suspect you may have brought one home on your clothing or bedding etc., immediately wash and dry items on the warmest temperature setting, and then keep a watchful eye.

Prevention Tips:

  • Regularly vacuum mattresses, furniture and carpets
  • Always clean up any clutter to reduce hiding places for bed bugs
  • Seal cracks and crevices in walls, windowsills and baseboards with caulking
  • Always inspect used furniture before buying or bringing into your home
  • NEVER bring home discarded mattresses, boxsprings, bedframes, electronics or upholstered furniture
  • When travelling inspect hotel rooms for evidence of bedbugs
  • Place luggage on racks or place in the bathtub; bed bugs can’t climb slippery surfaces
  • Inspect your luggage and its contents upon returning home

What to do if you think you have bed bugs in your home?

It’s good to do regular checks of your home, as it’s best to catch these little nuisances early.  The earlier detected the easier it is to rid yourself of them.  Hiring a professional to determine what type of bug you are dealing with is best in ensuring the most appropriate treatment plan is performed.   For extensive information on bed bugs along with how to help detect and treat them please see Regional Municipality of Durham.

Do you have a particular topic you would like more information on as it relates to senior home and health?  If you do, please contact us and our writers will be happy to research and include.   We are always working on new and very informative articles for you – please check back regularly!  

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