BY: FAZAAD BACCHUS
Last issue we discussed the fact that Canadians are living longer and as a result, there are many issues that Canadians will face including, financial, medical, care and estate planning. As Canadians live longer, they are living longer with dramatic improvements in quality of life. As a result, aging is becoming less and less synonymous with dependency, misery, and inactivity. Still, all the same, there are some that may have a difficult future due to the following issues.
Aging process: we cannot reverse aging, but we can slow the pace of it. In normal aging we tend to have physiological issues to contend with, for example, diminished hearing, seeing, tasting, touching and smelling. One of the more dangerous ones to look out for is decreased mobility, it affects physiological as well as psychological. The need to depend on others to do things for you coupled with loneliness and isolation brings tremendous psychological stress to an elderly person.
Physiological changes: as a person ages some of their functions are retarded or quite simply put we are no longer at our peak. Matter of fact is that our bodies peak around thirty years of age and start slowing down thereafter. By age fifty-five your heart pumps 20% less than it usually does, your kidneys 25% less and your capacity to breathe declines some 40%. As a person continues to age, their cardiovascular system goes under some strain as well. This causes weak oxygen intake, reduced stamina, reduced liver and kidney functions and if not managed properly can lead to hypertension and subsequently a stroke.
Hearing problems: It is expected that more than 50% of us will lose some of our ability to hear by the time we reach sixty-five years of age. You may notice that many elders speak loudly and this is an indication of hearing problems. One common issue is to understand another person’s intonation so you are not sure of the emotion attached to their statements. Two of the most common issues are Presbycusis and Tinnitus. John complained to the doctor that his wife was deaf because she doesn’t answer his questions; she complained that he was deaf because he doesn’t hear her answers, what a thing.
A person can age well. It is believed that if you keep your blood pressure low, your blood sugar low, keep your weight down, exercise frequently, sleep well and drink lots of fluids, you may have found the secret to a long life.
My column is usually about finance not about psychology and psychological issues as I am no expert on these. There is another issue facing Canadians, that of living too long and running out of money. We are faced with the issues that we might die too soon and we ought to have some form of insurance to protect against premature death. What do we do as an elder though if we see that our money may run out, it’s nice to be able to live a long life, but horrible to live it in poverty.
Over the next two issues, we will focus on financial decisions you can or will have to make at some time in your life. These decisions will be based on estate planning, your powers of attorney, you completing your wills, and possible long term care.