Housing Ourselves for the Future

           We're just putting the finishing touches on my next book, The Perfect Home for a Long Life, scheduled for release next spring. This one looks at creative housing options for aging boomers and seniors. The book explores what we'll need from our home as we age in order to support a life of quality and fulfillment. The focus is on practical housing solutions and replicable ideas, with insights into the benefits and challenges of each option.

            There's been much advance interest in this topic from you, my dedicated readers, and, already, I'm booking speaking engagements for the book's spring 2013 publication. Please use the contact form if you'd like to receive advance notice of the book's release and book launches and presentations in your area.

            As for You Could Live a Long Time and Teens Gone Wired, I want to express my thanks to the thoughtful reviewers who continue to blog about the books and bring them to the attention of new audiences. Recent reviews can be found here.

Community Garden of Silver Sage Cohousing Village


Speak Up!

      Next month I'll have the pleasure of speaking about You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? as part of the Speak Up campaign and the importance of advance care planning. This national campaign stresses the importance of “speaking up” to ensure that our family and friends know our wishes in the event we are not able to speak for ourselves, and provides tools and terminology to make this easier. 

      Although the majority of Canadians say they understand the value of an advance care plan, talking about death and end of life care is a daunting task, and most don’t know how to begin. The Speak Up campaign encourages us to start that important conversation. And it's a conversation that's worth having. Research finds that Canadians with advance care plans require fewer interventions at the end of life, place less of a strain on caregivers and are more likely to take advantage of hospice resources or die at home. They and their caregivers report greater satisfaction with end of life care.  

      The Speak Up event is being organized by four organizations in London, Middlesex and Elgin counties in Ontario and proves the power of collaboration. The Serenity House Hospice and the Hospice of London support, educate and empower individuals and their families who are living with a progressive life-threatening illness. The West Elgin Community Health Centre delivers primary health care, illness prevention and health promotion services, and VON (Victorian Order of Nurses) Middlesex-Elgin offers a range of home care, personal support and community support services to help people live independently and in their own homes for as long as possible. Together they are offering this information session for those who are involved in the care of, or are part of the growing aging population.

      This free event features a number of speakers and will be held the morning of Friday, September 21 at the Stoneridge Inn and Conference Centre at Hwy 4 and 401.


Through the Looking Glass

     Mount Sinai Hospital will be hosting its annual day-long Geriatrics Institute in Toronto on June 28. This year the theme is Through the Looking Glass: An Older Patient’s Experience Across the Continuum of Care. Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics, is the event organizer and explains the purpose of the Institute. "This is a day where we and our partners can offer a day of education that seeks to help all of us do better at delivering a better patient experience for our older patients. The fact that our 250 seats filled up in no time speaks to the growing value of this day to health and social care professionals and advocates. We are also proud of the fact that we have been able to continue our tradition of offering this educational event for free through the generosity of our donors and sponsors."

     I'm delighted to have been asked to give the lunch time keynote and look forward to the opportunity to participate in the day. Presentations range from the emotional and health needs of older patients to Ontario's Senior Care Strategy, and from home safety assessments to advocating for elders at risk. Presenters include experts from Mount Sinai Hospital, CCAC, SPRINT and the Reitman Centre, among others, with expertise including legal, occupational therapy, mental health, social work and pharmacy. It's not surprising the day is a sell-out!


60 plus and going strong

       On June 8, I'll be speaking in Ottawa at 60 plus and going strong: Wellness 101, an event organized by Bayshore Home Health in honour of the graduates of their health promotion program. Jennifer May, Bayshore's Community Relations Manager, estimates there may be 150 people in attendance. The event runs from 9 am - 1 pm and the speakers include Kevin Willis of the Canadian Stroke Network.

      The average age of the Wellness 101 participants is 75 and mainly female, but they have had people as young as 58 and as senior as 92. Jennifer explains the program's objectives. "Our participants are still reasonably healthy and they have a lot of potential to positively impact their aging experience. Most are converted intellectually and know that wellness is important and we try to offer them practical ways to achieve it. Our goal is to empower them to take control of their own health on a daily basis. We say, 'Here are the three, four or five things you can do today to promote your own wellness.' But our aim is not to overhaul people or their routine. We're looking for sustainable activities with long term results - and to get there it often takes just little steps.

        "The event on June 8 is one of our methods to bring our graduates back for another dose of health promotion. Let's refresh, refocus and stay committed to this. They regenerate the flame, see their peers, and take inspiration from others with a similar objective." Bayshore Home Health is a Canadian-owned company providing health care services to about 70,000 clients a year, primarily in their homes, from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland.


A Dialogue of Dedicated Parents

Left to right: Hilarie Klapman, Maria Russell, Lyndsay Green, Joy BrickellIf we can measure successful parenting by the amount of thought put into raising teens, then the young people of Central Technical School are in good hands. A few weeks ago, two dozen parents joined me, the Principal and the TDSB Superintendent of Schools to bat around ideas raised by Teens Gone Wired. Here are a few comments pulled from several hours of animated discussion that will give you a flavour of the depth and range of the dialogue.

  • What I like about the book is that I can see I’m not on my own – other people have these same issues.
  • I found the whole approach of the book very calming with its emphasis on issues and values.
  • My house rule is that everyone must turn off their cell phone and put it on the counter if they are sitting down at the table. This goes for my teenage son and his friends, as well as my husband and any other guests.
  • By texting my son, I was able to reconnect with the child I remembered. He was so impressed that “this cavewoman” could text, that he opened up to me again.
  • When I ask my kids to tutor me on the computer, I request that I get on the keyboard rather than just watching them do it. That way I make sure I really understand.
  • I played the game of Halo with my son because I wanted to see what it was all about.
  • Your kids need to know that one-way texting is not a conversation. Things are not confirmed unless I text back.
  • I like the focus on strategies in the book because the specific technologies and their uses are changing every 6 months.
  • What the book is doing in our family is helping open the conversation.Karen Falconer

The Discussion Guide for Parents is now posted here. Thank you to the School Council (PTA) of Central Technical School for their collaboration, with special thanks to the two dozen Book Club participants and the CTS School Council Executive: Hilarie Klapman - Chair, Maria Russell - Secretary, Joy Brickell - CTS School Council Past-Chair and organizer of the book talk, Fatima Ferreira -Treasurer, as well as Sheryl Freeman - CTS Principal and Karen Falconer - TDSB Superintendent of Schools.