Below are two American tales, and one Syrian tale, each bringing up an important global issue for older adults – housing security.
This week the Washington Post published an article by Peter Holley about an elderly woman who has been asked to leave the only home she has known for decades, a rented cottage. Apparently, the owner has chosen not to honor the verbal agreement of the previous owner, whom he was related to. The situation could become a death sentence for the tenant in more ways than one, if indeed, she must leave.
Here’s a link to Story #1:
Here is a photo of 97-year-old Marie taken by her neighbor Lisa Kriger:
If you work your entire life to build what you have, and you cherish and are thankful for it, why should comfort and a sense of security be taken away if you are elderly, vulnerable, and not blessed with infinite financial resources? What are the possible solutions? Moving and making major changes at an advanced age is not easy.
Furthermore, is it Marie’s fault society is crumbling down and things are drastically changing? Could she have known to prepare? No matter where she moves, if it turns out she has to move, it will be psychologically and physically traumatic. Since she may not be able to afford to move, it means she cannot afford to move to senior living, even though the article mentions she was asked about it. As a former senior living administrator I can comment that some seniors, not all, have a hard time adapting to senior living even if they can afford it, especially if they are mentally competent and independent minded.
I trust someone can help Marie and others in her situation create healthful ways to maintain independence, dignity, and sanity.The only saving grace seems to be that Marie has children. I hope they are in a position to come to the rescue.
Story #2 I recently witnessed a situation with an unhappy outcome, similar to Marie’s
A building on my block in West Hollywood was being torn down to build condos (each condo currently worth between $1-$2 million). Most of the tenants were elders under rent control who could not afford to move. Result? Almost every single elder died within the six months or year they were given to leave. No kidding. Heart-rending.
What are the lessons in this? Could Marie or the seniors of West Hollywood have known to prepare for such an eventuality? Should we learn to be flexible, start paring down to basic clothing and furniture at age 50, give up all that makes us comfortable and content, and not enjoy what we worked to create? If Marie were Buddhist, and attached to very little, it would still be a challenge to make a move because of one main factor, age. Added stress as we age can be a contributing factor to a faster demise.
Story #3 takes the issue a step further.
Imagine being an 80 year old Syrian woman who has watched her loved ones killed, her home bombed, and has somehow managed to get to the Jordanian border for rescue. She is alone, has no clothing except what she is wearing, no funds of any kind, no way to make a living, and her home is a camp until a proper roof can be found, if one can be found. She is totally dependent on people she does not know. Quite frankly, at age 80, how would she have the energy to keep on despite the deep trauma and loss she must be feeling? What if she has a chronic health condition and needs meds? What would it be like to live in exile? She is one of tens of thousands in this inhumane situation created by external circumstances.
For further reading on elder challenges around the world and in Syria, see the on-going rescue efforts being made by Help Age International, http://www.helpage.org . See also one of many stories posted on Syrian elders in exile at http://www.helpage.org/newsroom/press-room/press-releases/syria-three-years-on-older-refugees-in-exile-the-silent-casualties/. Another telling story with facts about how disabled and elderly refugees are treated is at this link… https://medium.com/@DFID_Inclusive/minimum-standards-for-age-and-disability-inclusion-in-humanitarian-action-e1932b32c141#.jd4061wxv .
At a recent conference on The Future of Housing for Grown-Ups: A National and Local Perspective, Dr. Anand Pareka, Senior Advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center is quoted as saying
“I’m quickly realizing that housing is in many ways health. It’s a very important determinant of health.”
Liz Seegert of the Association of Health Journalists wrote an excellent piece about those who live with the stress of homelessness… they age faster than those who have a roof over their heads.
February 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm
On June 7, 2015 I had the pleasure of speaking to the Cotacachi Health Chapters group at Gran Hotel Primitivo about End-of-Life Planning for Norte Americanos. (Cotacachi is a charming Andean city 2 1/2 hours from Quito).
My hosts were community organizer Caroline Goering – a true delight – and a team of other amazing, supportive people – Dan and Janda Grove, Mike and Linda Munhall, and Bill and Ann Henry. What to do in case of a health emergency, especially if you don’t speak Spanish, is their focus.
Caroline introduces Wendy Jane Carrel
Cotacachi Health Group
We discussed physicians, who to call and why, transportation, the importance of having end-of-life documents prepared, attorneys and notaries, cremation options, and disposition of remains to North America.
Fortunately, bi-lingual nurse practitioner Mary Grover, a former Peace Corps volunteer, can be of service to the estimated 200 expats in the area. I introduced Mary to those who had not met her.
A special thanks to CHC for the invitation. I was exhausted by the time I arrived, but content to meet a group that understands the importance of planning ahead, just in case, when living abroad.
October 11, 2015 at 4:14 am
Hello dear friends and readers,
I was on the radio today.
http://overseasradio.com/ashley-rogers-and-michel-blanchard/ See the archives for January 5, 2015 for the download.
Big oops. My hostess was stellar. I was energetically flat for a subject I am so passionate about, and a bit off point. I know better. Am praying to redeem myself on another program later. 😉
Here below are a few observations I had intended to clarify:
I have lived or worked in over 40 countries and am truly blessed that I have maintained my health with the exception of being thrown from the back of a Vespa in Rome, Italy – Vespa hit by a truck – two cracked vertebrae. I fortunately healed and have no residual effects.
This experience, among others, led to one important point of our radio chat…
No matter where you choose to live, please give thought to your physical and mental well-being, especially if you are over 50. Self-care is everything for your future, though accidents are sometimes not in our control.
We are all subject to falls despite the place we choose to reside in or travel to. In Ecuador, where sidewalks are rarely flat, smooth, and wide, you can unwittingly fall into ditches, and the street. You can also trip on exposed rebar and protruding cement edges. When it rains, you can glide right across the marble and shiny tiles in front of buildings and splat. Do you want broken bones? Plan on looking down a lot and being mindful.
We are not all made the same when it comes to oxygen intake. The altitude in most Andean cities is between 6,000 and 9,500 feet. Some who are new to high altitude adjust well, others do not and do not know it. I recommend bringing a blood pressure cuff and reading your blood pressure each day. Also, as one ages, I am told we receive less oxygen into our bodies than when we are younger. Options: bring liquid oxygen drops (haven’t found them here) drink coca de mate tea easily found in any store, go slowly, or, move to a lower elevation. The North American community has lost members who arrived with no chronic health conditions and a clean bill of health – they unwittingly succumbed because of the oxygen issue. These incidents remind me of the childhood story of Heidi and the fresh mountain air in Switzerland that healed her. I had always concluded that high elevation would be good for me or anyone else. Patrick Coady of http://www.southamericanhealth.com has written a fine article about living at high altitude and how to handle it:
If you plan to live in Ecuador, make certain to create a Constancia or a Documentacion Juramentada for end-of-life arrangements. Your Advanced Health Care Directive or your Five Wishes are not valid in the country even if notarized, apostilled and translated into Spanish. Again, your North American documents will not be recognized. If you wish to be cremated this is especially important. The number of days and bureaucracy required for your loved ones to negotiate the system is more than challenging, especially if they are grieving and far away. Different culture, different mentality.
Health Care Prevention and Emergencies in Cuenca in brief:
I had not intended to sound like an advertisement for people whose work I admire, but there is no getting around it. Trainers Ken Dobberpuhl of ZealCenter.com, Chelsea Gary at http://www.shaome.com, and Sky Rajewski will help you stay in shape if you have balance issues or injuries. They will also recommend physical therapists. They focus on keeping you well.
In 2014, the In Case of Emergency Cuenca volunteer team created lists of health-related emergency resources. You can locate the information on a local church web site, http://www.internationalchristiancommunity.org/health-resources.html. The names include providers who speak English – but please beware, you are provided with lists, not recommendations. Do your due diligence as you would in your country of origin or elsewhere as to the person or persons whom you will feel comfortable with. The church kindly provided space for the In Case of Emergency Cuenca team to deliver free seminars of interest to Europeans and North Americans residing in the city in 2014. The next seminar will focus on End-of-Life and is planned for sometime in spring 2015. Look for announcements on on-line newsletters Gringo Post and Gringo Tree.
Other holistic mentions for Cuenca:
Cuenca Holistic Network founded by psychologist Robert Higgins, a group of North American and Ecuadorian alternative healthcare workers www.CuencaHolisticHealth.com
Patrick Coady and Silvana Spano of http://www.SouthAmericanHealth.com
Dr. Hugo Alvarez, MD and naturopath, a Cuencano who lived 25 years in Canada
Dr. Francisco Malo Tamariz, General Medicine and Ayurveda
Other MD’s are on the church web site link above.
When discussing senior health care in Latin America, the quality of care in Mexico was inadvertently omitted. In many cities, medical care is truly excellent. Assisted living in Mexico is often on a par with the U.S., depending what state and city of Mexico you are in, and as in the U.S., what funds you have. The “carino” that was mentioned is also prevalent in Mexico. Cuba, a leader is gerontology, has waiting lists at assisted living homes. This is due to current economics. Chile, also a leader in gerontology, has sophisticated senior care in Santiago.
January 5, 2015 at 4:07 pm
In light of devastating and continuing natural disaster challenges throughout North America, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposes increased emergency preparedness standards for long-term care facilities. May this plan be implemented soon!! Below is an article with more details by Tim Mullaney, Staff Writer for McKnight’s
January 03, 2014
CMS proposes more rigorous emergency preparedness rules for long-term care facilities
CMS proposes more rigorous emergency preparedness rules for long-term care facilities
Long-term care facilities would have to meet more comprehensive emergency preparedness guidelines, under a newly proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Events such as the Sept. 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and recent devastating floods around the nation have shown that current emergency preparedness requirements for Medicare and Medicaid providers are inadequate, according to the 120-page proposed rule. Therefore, CMS has drafted more robust requirements for providers and suppliers.
Long-term care facilities would be subject to similar requirements proposed for hospitals. These are based on the principle of “all-hazards planning,” the rule states. This means planning should not involve developing highly specific plans for every conceivable threat, but should focus on creating the capacity to handle a spectrum of emergencies. The government has identified 15 scenarios for healthcare providers to use in assessing their risks, including natural disasters, cyber attacks and biological attacks.
Based in part on a risk assessment, hospitals should develop specific policies and procedures, the rule states. These include such items as tracking the location of staff and patients, and ensuring that medical records are “secure and available” in an emergency.
Long-term care facilities would be responsible for meeting all the hospital requirements, with some specific adjustments and additions, according to the rule. LTC facilities would specifically be directed to account for missing residents during a disaster, would have to determine what emergency planning information should be shared with residents and families, and should evaluate the need for chargers or electrical outlets for items such as motorized wheelchairs.
Click here to access the complete document, issued Dec. 27. Comments are being accepted through Feb. 25.
January 11, 2014 at 3:11 pm