A senior Asian couple sitting on the stairs, holding a map.

Aging in place

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Portfolio Manager Neela White returns to the podcast to discuss seniors and aging in place. Specific topics include:

  • Safety tips
  • Important home modifications
  • When do we know that home is no longer manageable?

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Christopher: Hello and welcome to the Advantaged Investor, a Raymond James Limited podcast. A podcast that provides perspective for Canadian investors who want to remain knowledgeable, informed, and focused on long-term success. We are recording this on March 14th, 2023. I'm Chris Cooksey from the Raymond James Corporate Communications and Marketing Department, and today I'm looking forward to chatting with senior portfolio manager Neela White. Neela has been on the podcast many times and is a certified professional consultant on aging, an elder planning counselor, a certified executor advisor, a certified patient navigator, a certified dimension care provider, and trained as a death doula.

Today we are discussing strategies for aging in place. Welcome, Neela. Always nice to talk to you. How you doing today? Clearly, you have a little break from all the designations that you're acquiring.

Neela: It's good to be back, Chris, and I'm glad to be here. It's sunny and I have survived losing an hour and springing forward.

Christopher: Yes. Spring forward. Always difficult, absolutely. Well, we have a lot to get into today. So let's jump right in. I guess when it comes to aging in place and, and, and allowing people, I guess, to live in their home longer or whatnot safety comes into it. You want to make sure people are safe and secure in their place of residence.

So let's start with some safety tips to make sure that this is an appropriate way for people to continue their life.

Neela: You know, I think that's, that's more and more the case that's happening right now, that people do want age in place and they're looking at the environment that they're living in, specifically their home and what their pain points are.

So, you know, an example would be you know, to get a little down and dirty, when you're going to the washroom. Do you have trouble getting down onto the seat? Do you have trouble getting back off the seat? Simple things that you can put in would be a raised toilet seat and a grab.

You know, you have trouble doing stairs. Is there any simple home modification that you can do with putting the main bedroom on the main floor and a bathroom on the main floor? So that you avoid using the stairs. Other simple ones, you know, you can go to Ikea or Home Depot - do you have trouble turning doorknobs?

If so, you know, you can replace those with lever style doorknobs. Another one, I mean, I'm not the most technologically savvy person there is by any means, but, you have things like Alexa that you can program for reminders of taking your medication, which is a safety thing, so you're not taking it twice during the day.

Wearable technology, you know, just in case you fall, there is assistance when it comes to that. So I think systems are definitely being developed to put in place to support as much independence as possible.

Christopher: And I guess too, it's just figuring out where, like you mentioned off the top, where you need the help and then concentrate on that area.

And then obviously over the years that can change and make sure you stay on top of that. Let's talk about some home modifications. I guess the most common one would be a ramp to get into your house. Yeah. If you are in a, in a chair of some sort or, or require assistance in that way.

But let's talk about more that may be important.

Neela: So I think some of the important things that I've seen would be showering. That's a big thing because, you know, the traditional home has a tub that acts as both a tub and a shower, and it gets harder and harder to. Safely get in and out, as well as the fact it just needs to be slightly damp and one foot skids off, and there you have a potential fall or anything else.

So, you know modifying that to a standup shower or the type of tubs that now can be modified so it's a walk-in tub. Also what's great is it's easy to get a, a shower bath stool so you can sit down while you bathe and instead of the traditional shower head a wand that you can actually be responsible for your own bodily care, but in a safe way. So I think that's a big one. Another one, as I had mentioned before, when it comes to door handles and door levers changing that, and another one, depending on what your budget is, ends up being stuff to do with the kitchen.

I mean, where we spend most of our time is sort of kitchen, bedroom, family room, bathroom, right, and right, possibly laundry room. So, you know, is it possible to lower counters or move things to lower shelves, lower sinks. That way you can still maintain, your day-to-day activities, making yourself a meal and all that in a safe, comfortable environment.

Christopher: Also, I guess too, some sort of reminder to make sure the stove's off. I know that a big one as well.

Neela: And they also have technology now that you can use with your stove and stuff that it automatically turns off burners or turns off the oven. So it's a safety control as well.

And maybe now instead of using stove top kettles or whatever, use plugins that have automatic shutoffs. Stuff like.

Christopher: All right. I guess the big one would be there could be a time where no matter what the modifications or what you do within your house, it just becomes too difficult to live on your own or without the help necessary. So let's hit on some things that, that maybe let us know when it's no longer manageable to be, to be living on our own, in our own home.

Neela: You know, it's such a stressful and emotional decision to come to that point, but I think, you know, really when it's you need assistance with all activities. So you're not able to prepare a nutritious meal for yourself. You're not able to safely bathe and toilet yourself or dress yourself or get in and out of bed. I mean, obviously that's more assistance than, than just one or two tasks, which require maybe half an hour assistance.

That's assistance throughout the day. And I think you need to look at one part, outside of safety, but, we all want to live in our home because home is closest to where the heart is. But is that at the cost of, so social isolation, living at home and you are you unable to get out and go out with your family, go out with your friends, be social, in which case, might be thinking it might be time for a change, and it could just be instead of, you know, going from your home to something possibly more restrictive. It could be maybe communal living. Something we're hearing a lot about in the news right now is NORCs, which are naturally occurring retirement complexes where seniors sort of congregate or gather to condos or apartments and then they can bring in services. So you still have the independence that you want, but you have communal living.

Christopher: So I guess what you're saying is a place where seniors have decided to live in, in a group, not necessarily obviously together, but a group of seniors there, they can get together or the building can get together, have cleaning people come in or lawn care if it's a townhouse type situation or whatever.

Neela: meal services. Assisted services and it is one of the trends that we're seeing now that naturally occurring, retirement communities are sort of the big bus right now. And it makes sense, right? Because more and more studies are being done on the relationship between social isolation and health. And we know that the stronger our ties and more our ties, the healthier we are both physically and mentally. And you know, it is one of the systems that. We can, you know, together, living together, we can sort of create a environment with less gaps. So let's say I'm having difficulty making a meal for myself. Well, maybe my neighbour can come in and help me or make extra and share that with me, and maybe I don't have problem with my vision and I can help my neighbour take care of opening the mail and seeing what's going on. And one of the other things I was going to mention, and this is, I think a neat thing, and it certainly became more popular as a result of covid, but because we have a lot of services now, like home delivery for groceries home delivery for medications, you know, we really can set things up before it becomes a crisis, right? To put these things in place. That way we also get used to the idea of, hey, nothing's wrong with needing a little bit of help. We all do. Whether you're 53, whether you're 63, 73, 83, right? And I think you, you put it in, in small phases and small steps. That way it's not a sudden lifestyle change. And I think that's the key.

Christopher: Right. So, and I guess, I guess to your point around social isolation it's easy to find ways to do a lot of things. Again, whether it's lawn care or cleaning or having your groceries brought in, but the social isolation part, that's the part that we really have to concentrate in a lot of ways.

Neela: And I think that's important. We're living longer and obviously we see as we age, maybe our social groups become a bit smaller as, as people die or their conditions change. So I think it's something we constantly need to work at on, volunteerism, volunteering at a daycare school or you know, we're hearing a lot about smaller economies developing. What can we do to keep ourselves socially engaged, active, and independent?

Christopher: Awesome. Well, thanks so much for joining the podcast, Neela. I always learn something when we talk, so I appreciate that. My views definitely have evolved as we've talked about this and as of course. as I age what seems like a more rapid pace as, the days go by. But I look forward to you joining us again and have a great day.

Neela: Great. Thanks so much, Chris. It was a pleasure to be here. Bye now.

Christopher: Reach out to us at advantagedinvestorpod@raymondjames.ca. Subscribe to the Advantaged Investor on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast. Please contact your advisors with any questions you have. On behalf of Raymond James and the Advantaged Investor, thank you for taking the time to listen today. Until next time, stay well.

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