Tag Archives: Seniors

Only Child says snow snow – yech!

Last evening and overnight, Toronto, Ontario got blasted with the first snowfall of the year. At 14 cm it is certainly not the biggest snowstorm, but being the first one of this season, it seemed like way too much. Especially if like me you had to shovel all the white stuff. Especially when the two guys you used to hire to shovel your snow the past six to eight years seem to have disappeared.

As a senior, I shouldn’t be shovelling the results of big and/or heavy snowstorms. Especially as I am just now getting over a 48-hour virus – which was probably caused by an allergic reaction to too much dust. I don’t have time to dust my place very often and I certainly don’t have time to shovel snow – repeatedly during the winter season. Cutting the little lawn I have repeatedly in the summer is a different story. Especially using a hand mower as my late dad did.

Dad also shovelled the snow when I was growing up – until he got cancer.

But storms weren’t as bad as now back then (1950s and 1960s) – at least on a regular basis. Yes, we had some doozy winter snowstorms. I remember walking home from school at lunch time (yes, we didn’t stay at school for lunch unless we lived too far away) and the snow was up to my thighs. But I was so much shorter then and not so wise, not so knowledgeable, and well, a kid. Now, I’d just like to skip winter – not just for the snow but we get too much of this mixed precipitation and then there are the ice storms.

Actually shovelling the snow was very invigorating. Lucky my virus seems to have either disappeared or got buried for now. But I would still rather go for a walk…in the freezing cold? Temperatures nose-diving later today and will stay that way for the next couple of days. Brr!

Below my signature are a few more photos  of the snow on my property  before I dug in and shovelled.

Do you shovel your own snow or does somebody else? Or do you live in a rental apartment or a condo?

Do you consider snow shovelling a winter sport?

You can probably guess what my answer is as I don’t take part in real winter sports. But I like to watch figure skating – probably because I used o skate as a child and young adult – nothing fancy, just enough to keep from falling as I glided around the rink – outdoors or indoors.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Recycling bins snowed in back of driveway

 

Backyard patio snowed in

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Dad, Life demands, Only child, snow shovelling, Winter Weather

Only Child on stealing my time and line

Not really my landline. Mine is the touch kind.

Over the weekend I had my phone and Internet connection stolen. I say stolen because the  utility company techie who came to fix it found the cable had been cut, probably by vandals and the same thing happened in another nearby area of Toronto. He put in an order for the guys who fix the cable to come but said he didn’t know when but within 48 hours.

Not good enough, especially as I don’t have a cell phone (can’t afford one right now – more on why in a future post). I made two trips to my friend and neighbour Ev across the street to use her land line to call Bell, the utility company. I needed the exact status on my phone repair this second trip. But before I made it to her place I was called over by Jan down the street. Ev was there. Jan said the line went dead around 9 p.m. Friday evening (this was now late Saturday morning) in the middle of a call she was making. She had to borrow another neighbour’s cell to call it in to Bell. Unlike me, who got a customer service rep in tech support almost right away, she was on hold for an hour and a half. And the neighbour needed his phone because he was going away for the weekend. Because it was late Friday evening Bell wouldn’t even book a techie to come.

So, we had three seniors with no cell phone and Ev’s line working only because she was across the street and on another feed.

What’s wrong with this picture?

So, back to Ev’s and this time I put on my consumer advocate cum former journalist hat(s). Calling  Bell was not straighforward either as their Toronto lines kept giving me the message “this number is no longer in service.” Huh? That’s the number on my current phone bill. I had to call the Television section, tech support to get the 800 number to call for the phone and Internet. And yes I got through then. But the customer service person had no idea why the Toronto line didn’t work and did check – nada.

However, I can’t complain about the help from customer service – especially after I pulled the senior’s card – seniors living on this street and we don’t all have cell phones. The guy couldn’t get the cable techs to come any sooner (the recorded message had said the service would be restored no later than Monday at 10 p.m. which was NOT acceptable) and it would probably be sometime Monday because the techie who fixes cables in my area is off for the weekend.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I continued to push for a solution, hitting on the senior angle and no cell phones (both true) and after doing some checking the customer service guy was able to arrange for temporary complimentary cell phones to come Sunday for Jan and I – and there was a record of her call Friday night so I got her ticket number as well as mine.

We didn’t get our cell phones but the service was back by 1.30 p.m. on Sunday. Guess advocating for us seniors helped. And if they had to get the cable repair guy in to work on a weekend, too bad. They need more than one for each area of Toronto and they should be on call, even on a rotating basis.

But the time it stole. Jan was more upset than I, although if it had happened on a weekday when I need the Internet to work, I would have been more upset. The situation did give me a chance to visit with a couple of neighbour friends. Jan and I talked at her place for a couple of hours when I returned there to let her know what Bell were doing and gave her her ticket number.

Now I’m back on track, sort of. Still wrestling with time stealers and putting my foot etc. down. I have made a list of what is important to me to be doing right now and for the near future – just the subject/topic or whatever. In no particular order they are family and friends, work (including clients and my new mystery novel Beyond Faith coming out this fall – anything with the latter, house (including grocery shopping and basic cleaning)  garden, cooking, health, reading, walking and some TV for relaxation.

Anything else is out the window and that includes volunteer stuff (excluding facilitating my East End Writers’ Group writing critique meeting tomorrow evening). Out the window are other volunteer stuff, especially when others in the groups (not EEWG) bug me with questions that they can’t even keep to one email. Out the window are requests to help other writers figure out how to do their business – especially when they are on writing and editing listserves and could get info from many people there. Out the window is anything more than the basic housework and there better not be any repairs – emergency or other – that can’t wait.

Now, let’s hope I can keep to this.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

What happened to Only Child’s phone line

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Filed under Help and Support, Helping Others, Seniors, Time management, Uility Disruptions and Vandalism, Uncategorized

Only Child on Luck and the like

Only child contemplates luck

Only child contemplates luck

Do some people have more good luck than bad? Do others have more bad luck than good?

I believe that is true and unfortunately I am one of the latter, at least as my life the past few years has shown. And before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I am definitely not the only one in this over-sized boat.

How do I figure this? If I go through my daily list of what I am thankful for and what I’m not (and the list varies from day-to-day depending on what is happening or happened recently), I find that the bad things take over a larger percentage than the good. Some of the good (like my writing and my garden and my son – in no particular order here) are big. But so is much of the bad.

Bad can be anything from being old, poor, not being healthy to being injured to death of close family and friends, to being alone. The list can be endless. A lot of the bad that happens to people is what comes under the heading of “unexpected things that go wrong.” These usually steal your time, your psyche, your life.

And yes, there is research, there are studies on good and bad luck. I don’t agree with all of it, such as maintaining a positive attitude 100 per cent of the time. That does not stop bad things from happening to people. Neither does a strong belief in God and that he will help if we pray to him. I (and I’m sure others) have proven that one incorrect. The studies don’t go into this latter aspect.

One thing I have learned from life, especially from my friends,  is those seniors who have a life partner do much better in life. Sure,  bad things happen to them, too – nobody is immune from that. But, they have a partner so have help, moral support. They are not dealing alone with the crap in life.

So what are some of the other things that these studies show?

Stephan Makri, PhD. from the City University of London,  says, ““I think that luck means different things to different people—some people use it as synonym for serendipity,” he says. “But others were clear that the two were different—luck was totally out of our control and there’s nothing we can do to influence it.”  By the way the article also quotes Dr. Yanlong Sun,  professor of microbial pathogenesis and immunology, Texas A&M College of Medicine, “As both a scientist and a person, I do believe in luck, that it is something I cannot manipulate or operate on.” The article also  quotes Richard Wiseman, psychology professor, the University of Hertfordshire, England, who has done several studies on luck. Wiseman says from one study “unlucky people seemed to demonstrate more anxiety.

Which begs the question? Are peope  unlucky because they are anxious? O are they anxious because they are unlucky?

Read the article on all this: “The Science of Luck” by Alexandra Osola, from Popular Science here.

What is some of the bad luck coming my way lately?

Computer problems, which I may or may have not fixed.

Two watches on the fritz at once. It better just be a new battery needed for each. With the big health issue I’m facing (see below), I don’t have extra cash for anymore expensive extra expenses. Also I need to keep track of my time, even though the powers that be may not be doing so.

Things going missing somewhere in my house. Disclaimer: I am not a hoarder and with what I do have I’ve been systematically sorting through and purging.

Ongoing health issues – the latest the biggie – the tooth extraction which comes up next Monday. I previously posted about the difficulty of  finding a good oral surgeon. But what is scary about all this is I haven’t had a tooth extraction for over 30 years and back then the situations didn’t go well. Mind you they were wisdom teeth (and that’s a misnomer for sure. Somebody goofed here in “creating” us). Also I have a lot of other health issues (which the surgeon is aware of – I did have to fill out a form and did have a consultation with him) including a compromised immune system. And then there is weather – it’s winter and if we get snow right after (like overnight after and the day after), guess who will be shoveling that white crap? The fellow who used to shovel my snow the past seven years didn’t show up this year. I tried to get someone else, but no luck.

And there is that word “luck” again. Hey, luck is a four-letter word, so what did I expect?

Dark days indeed. No wonder I often don’t get around to opening the blinds in the basement.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Balance, God, Good and Bad Luck, Health, Help and Support, Prayer, Seniors

Only Child on seniors health and poverty living

Mulling over health care costs and seniors

Mulling over health care costs and seniors

It doesn’t matter where you live – if you are a senior living in poverty, you can bet your health will suffer and can be worse than if you have money. I’m not saying that being wealthy prevents cancer or heart disease. There are certainly many other factors weighing in here.  But I am saying that if you live below the poverty level, there are many age-related medical conditions that could be stopped or at least improved if you could just afford to pay for them.

So much for universal health care. That is a myth, even in Canada and Great Britain which are supposed to have health care coverage. I live in Ontario, Canada, and over the last few years, what is covered by our provincial health care plan (OHIP) has shrunk. Here is a summarized list of what is NOT covered by OHIP from the official site.

Services NOT Covered by OHIP

  • Ambulance transportation services if not deemed medically necessary (maximum cost of $240).
  • Routine eye examinations for people between the ages of 19 and 65.
  • Glasses and contact lenses.
  • Some physiotherapy may be partially covered or not at all.
  • Routine dental services such as examinations, fillings, cleanings and non-surgical extractions.
  • Podiatrists are only partially covered by OHIP.
  • Paramedicals such as chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopaths, podiatrists, acupuncturists and osteopaths.
  • Necessary emergency medical treatment obtained outside of Canada (e.g. while traveling) is only covered on a very limited basis; it is highly recommended to have travel insurance protection if traveling outside of Canada. Out of province ambulance costs are not covered.
  • Prescription drugs, although assistance MAY be available (see below).
  • Any cosmetic surgery.
  • Semi-private and private rooms in a hospital.

– See more at: https://www.healthquotes.ca/OHIP-Ontario.aspx#sthash.pbM8hhZK.dpuf

But not included in this generalized list are some blood tests, such as tests for Vitamin D deficiency and Candida (the latter was covered until the early 2000s). Vitamin D deficiency can be a problem, especially in winter, when there is less sun to be exposed to, something I found out the hard way nearly five years ago. And no, I didn’t go to a doctor’s about it or I would have been hit with the cost of a blood test. I did my research online and figured the extreme pain in my leg bones wasn’t arthritis (pain wasn’t in the joints but in the calf bones) was Vitamin D deficiency. So after a few weeks of massive daily doses of Vitamin D, the pain went away. Now, starting in November and until at least the end of April, I take very large doses of Vitamin D, daily.

Which brings me to something else not covered by healthcare – Vitamins, Minerals and other supplements that not only aid in your health, but in some cases get rid of the health problem. Most months what I spend on food is in a “race” with health supplements for highest amount spent.

And yes, there are private drug plans, but if you live below or near the poverty level, you just can’t afford them. Who says Canada doesn’t have a two-tier health plan? It is just not the usual definition of a two-tier health plan.

However, those of us who live below the poverty level in Ontario, have some government help with the Ontario Drug Plan for Seniors – you get all prescriptions free and waive any druggist fee. The down side is you have to re-apply each year based on your Net Income as filed and assessed by Canada Revenue, If you are living a bit above the poverty in Ontario, you  might get partial help, i.e. pay the first $100 for prescriptions, then after that pay a nominal druggist fee for filling the prescription. Again, it is set-up as an annual thing based on your income. So living in poverty (for the next year) guarantees me no prescription costs for my eye drops – absolutely necessary or my left eye will go blind.

And being over 65, I now don’t pay for any visits to my ophthalmologist and optometrist. But I do pay for glasses. Which is why I kicked up a big fuss when I had to have replacement sunglasses because the original ones had a broken connection to the glasses, just over a year old. Not only was this particular glasses style no longer made, the one-year warranty was up. So full price here. No wonder I complained to the store (Hudson’s Bay Optical) manager and he credited me with half the cost.

No wonder I have very bad feet problems. No wonder I am cranky a lot.

Speaking of poverty levels. There is a big gap in what is considered the poverty level for singles living alone in Ontario, Canada and the United States.

In the United States:

“Over 25 million Americans aged 60+ are economically insecure—living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) ($29,425 per year for a single person).” See Economic Security for Seniors Facts.

Compare that with Ontario’s $19,330

These are both annual incomes.

I’ll be covering more on Seniors and poverty in future posts.

Comments, please. I would also like to hear from those living outside Canada and outside the United States.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Only child, Poverty, Seniors, Vitamin D Deficiency

Only Child on dreading the day

Dreading the day or night? That can be a sign of having an anxiety disorder. High anxiety has followed me through most of my life from the early teens. It is my black dog and no matter what I do or don’t do, it hovers and often strikes. The difference may be just that some of the anxieties have changed since I turned senior.Sharon CLB mid 1990s

Well, it turns out that up to 15% and counting of seniors suffer from anxiety. Medical experts, research and the like didn’t cotton on to that for some time and instead focused more on seniors’ physical ailments, dementia and depression. See information from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Now they are taking note.

That 15% figure comes from the NCBI  PubMed. And they are saying that a lot of us seniors with anxiety disorders got them first earlier in life (with some exceptions such as acrophobia). Research is also finding that the anxiety is chronic. They got that one right. I have a few other ideas of my own here. For example, today many seniors, especially women, live alone, so don’t have someone to support them emotionally. Not that all duos are supportive, but often you get some opposites in there, someone who will listen and offer some suggestions, hopefully in a non-judgemental, friendly way.

And I can hear the “pie in the sky” and “when cows come home on roller skates” skeptics reverberating in the background. I know that the above supportive scenario is the ideal situation rather than the norm. And I don’t know what the solution or solutions are to decrease this menace. Certainly less big problems popping up so often in people’s lives would help. And I’m not going to even go into how confusing, complicated and over-busy our world is today. Just think too much technology, to many things to -do and of course dealing with our weather around the world. Enough said about that here.

I will be looking into some more information on anxiety in older adults with some ideas on possible help (I don’t say solutions; the only solution may be to get the hell out of Dodge, but we will all be doing that at sometime. High anxiety can  make that happen sooner as it can lead to heart attacks, strokes and cognitive disorders. It’s that last one that bothers me.)

For now I would like your comments on anxiety – and it doesn’t matter if you are a senior or not. Anxiety really doesn’t belong to any age.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Seniors, Stress, Worrying

Only Child on fears about getting old

Only Child with Mom and Dad in the early 1960s.

Only Child with Mom and Dad in the early 1960s.

A artist friend has sent out a survey of four questions on aging for those 60 years and over. The survey is in connection with an art show she is exhibiting in fall 2017. I haven’t done the survey yet, but the first question has really got me thinking. Her question?

As a woman approaching/over the age of 60, what is my greatest fear?

Before I answer it, I’m going back to my mother and my father as their lives as seniors or almost seniors are influencing me.

My father had some form of cancer the last six years of his life. An operation that removed half a lung stopped the cancer there, but it spread to his brain and surfaced twice in two different places. Radiation stopped it in the one area, but four years later it returned in another area of his brain. That one killed him. He was 66, So much for three times is a charm – unless it is a bad charm.  At least Mom and I were with him at the end. I was 16 and despite expecting this to happen, still felt the loss. We had all gone through so much suffering and for this?

After Dad died, Mom was never the same. She had lost her soul mate and her body began to betray her. Arthritis appeared in mega-doses – rheumatoid arthritis in her hands, feet and ankles, causing much pain and disfigurement. If that weren’t enough, God threw in something just as bad – schleroderma – which attacked her insides and her face – hard puffy cheeks and a low (as in not loud, not timbre) almost squeaky voice. She had lost her autonomy and no  matter what her youngest sister and I did, she got worse. She decided to downsize to an apartment and so began the long job of getting rid of stuff. Looking back, I wished I had done more. But I was a typical late teens adolescent, although I was working at my first job as a secretary for the Ontario Government. My boyfriend (later my husband) stepped in to help and organized the two of us to at least get some of the smaller stuff to the apartment, stuff we didn’t want to go in the moving truck. He didn’t have a car or drive then. So there we were, making many trips back and forth (a five-block walk) with as much stuff as possible crammed into her bundle buggy.  And once we were moved to the apartment, I took over most of the grocery shopping, including paying for groceries. But she helped – she taught me how to budget and how to shop. Something I use to this day.

Mom would visit her sister on her sister’s farm in western Ontario but that brought problems too. She fell on the steps (two steps) and back home, she fell off her vanity bench. The latter sent her into a coma and despite an operation, she died five days later, officially of a brain aneurysm. I say arthritis killed her. It happened to fast and I, at 22, was in a daze. Her sister, my godmother, took me back to the farm to heal. But a few days don’t heal. Especially when Mom died at 63.

So, here I sit, in my late 60s, surpassing both my parents in age, and faced with Ramune’s first question.

As a woman approaching/over the age of 60, what is my greatest fear?

It’s a multiple answer, hung together by three words “losing my health.” The litany for that goes something like this. “I fear getting cancer, any cancer, stroke or aneurysm, completing losing any of my senses (and in the last year I’ve had a taste of temporarily losing 85 per cent of my hearing and being threatened with going blind in one eye), losing my mobility and losing my mind.”

Any of those could put me over the deep end. I am not one to wait it out and/or live life not to its fullest. I would like to live to 80, barring the above happening (and I do have health issues which at this point I live with – complaining a lot of course). If any of the above in quotations happens, get me out of here.

Funny, I don’t even consider heart issues as a fear. Maybe I think I could deal with that?

What is  your greatest fear in life? No matter what your age now.

Comments, please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

Only Child at 13  and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

The teenage Only Child with her late mother who inspired her to do good deeds

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Albert Langevin, cancer, Dad, Death and Dying, Family, Health Seniors, Mom and Dad, Only child, Seniors

Only Child warns pensioners to be wary of government pension setup

Only child contemplated government red tape with pensions

Only child contemplates government red tape with pensions

When my late dad turned 65, the Canada Pension Plan was just coming into existence. The CPP was legislated in 1965 and came into effect in 1966 . So, of course Dad never paid into the CPP when he worked for the CNR as it was then called. Of course CNR paid a pension. My mother died before she reached 65.  Dad died at 66.

Fast forward many years and my generation – the so-called baby boomers-  are dealing with the current federal government pension plans and Guaranteed Income Supplement. And if you think once we sign up and get approved it is all smooth-sailing and we will get our regular monthly increments, sometimes with additions, think again.

There are many Federal Rules and Regulations that can screw up those receiving pensions. I know this from first-hand experience.

Because I can’t afford to retire (I didn’t say the pensions etc. were enough to live on), I still am self-employed. I am grateful that I am doing something I love (writing, editing, teaching writing) and would probably chose to do so until age 70. Then I would just write – to me, writing is for a lifetime. However, how many pensioners who have to work to make ends meet are working at something they love?

To make a long story short, if you are still self-employed and getting CPP you can elect to still contribute until you are 70.

Watch it here folks. If your self-employment income (after business deductions) is below a certain amount, you don’t have to pay into the CPP for that tax year. So, I followed this rule, didn’t have to pay,  and the powers that be at CPP punished me for that.

The b******* clawed back my CPP.  The monthly decrease is a mere $1.47 so I’m not quibbling about that. But they arbitrarily decided to deduct all the difference in the same month’s payment instead of spreading it over 12 months. And they pick a month barely three months from when they send you the notice letter so that if you do dispute it (which I did) your three months timeline for disputing runs into that month of cut-off. Yes, I disputed, after contacting my MP, and did the dispute for lots of time for the CPP rulers to do as the letter said can be done – have a different set of CPP rulers go over my situation.

Well, I got notice that I’m not getting it reversed. This notice came after the full clawback deduction in May’s payment. Their excuse? Legislation says they can’t repay once they do the clawback, once it is taken off. What do you want to bet they didn’t even bother to re-check it?

Sure, there is more procedure if I disagree. I am planning to take all that to my MP and hope his office will help me with that.

But in the meantime I’ve run into more government red tape – with the Guaranteed Income
Supplement (GIS). I did apply for it originally (as per government instructions) when I applied for the OAS.  Last year I got notice from the government (read Service Canada – they do all the government dirty work with us citizens) that I would be receiving the GIS monthly – how much extra, that it would be added on to my OAS for one payment, plus the first month of all that I would get a lump sum for past months.

Great. I thought.

My suspicious radar should have been on alert. June 30, this year, I received another application form for 2016 and 2017 GIS. I thought once you applied that was it. I did know they could claw back if your taxable  income went up too much. Well, for 2015 my taxable income went down, enough to put me below the poverty level for a single person (according to the Ontario Government). I thought they got the information about a person’s income from the CRA (they do; I checked with Service Canada). I always file my income taxes and on time. And this year for a change I don’t seem to have made any math errors. (And yes, I signed out of paying anymore into the CPP.) So, why are they sending me this application form, which arrived June 30, when the note with it says that if I don’t fill in this form and get it in by June 30, my GIS could be stopped until they receive it and then I would get reimbursed and the payments would continue?

What? Okay, if  I have to reapply, fine. Just get the damn form to me on time to do so.

I phoned Service Canada June 30 afternoon right after receiving this nonsense in the mail. The fellow I talked to checked into my account and said there was money there in my account to be paid in July. But he suggested that I fill out the form and deliver it to Service Canada on Monday just to be on the safe side.

Which I did. I had questions for the Service Canada employee at one of the desks. After waiting 30 minutes to do so, this fellow was not very helpful and wasn’t very polite either. He did give me one piece of information for filling in my form but he wouldn’t check into my account to see if the money there is OAS only or includes the GIS. His excuse “We don’t have the means to do this like where you phone Service Canada.”

Oh, please. Now I have to waste another 20 minutes to half an hour on hold at Service Canada and also worry if I filled in the form correctly because I just sat down at one of the tables and finished filling in the form and then handed it in at the front. I did find it is sent by courier, not Canada Post, so if there is a Canada Post strike it won’t be stuck in regular mail.

And if you think this is just me whining, think again. Some of my friends have told me similar stories of what has happened to them.

If any of you reading this have any bad dealings with your government pensions, I would like to hear.

Meantime, I’m going to set up an appointment later this month with my MP.

But first, I have some client work to finish. That got slowed down because of all this government red tape.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under finances, Income Taxes, Old Age pensions, Only child