Lounge Lizard Articles, Let's Talk About...

Today I thought we could talk about expat-living overseas.
I had a friend return from a three year stay in Sri Lanka two days ago and he has been regaling me with tails of how cheap it is to live there. This got me to wondering, where the best places for retirees to go are if they wish to live overseas, and what are the benefits vs. risks and what information is available to those who are interested?

As with many things these days, if you are on line these questions are not that hard to answer. I quickly found a web article published by MSN, (www.articles.moneycentral.msn.com/RetirementandWills/RetireInStyle/the-worlds-best-places-to-retire.aspxmsn) that focuses on a magazine called International Living. This magazine’s target market appears to be those of retirement age who are or wish to be ex-patriots. Each year International Living publishes an index of the 29 most liveable countries for expatriates each year, with countries rising and falling in the rankings depending on political and economic changes.

The magazine rates each of these countries, deemed the best places to retire to on the following categories: real-estate costs, special benefits offered to retirees, culture, safety and stability, health care, climate, infrastructure and cost of living. Each country is given an overall ranking by number as well as by their place on the list. The best country to move to this year appears to be Ecuador; the least favored of the 29 at the moment is South Africa. On the web page, the editor, Laura Sheridan, is quoted as saying "We look closely at the best opportunities worldwide for retirement living………..Where will the retiree's dollars go farthest? Which country is the safest? Where is the health care best? We give top priority to those things that matter most to anyone planning for retirement, including programs with special benefits for retirees . . . things like tax breaks and discounts, for example, that various governments offer in an effort to attract investment and retirement dollars." The web page even gives a sample budget for the city of Cuenca, in Ecuador, as set out by International Living. It is applicable to a couple living a middle class lifestyle with a luxury two-bedroom apartment, utilities (including internet and cable T.V.), food, a clothing budget, medical care, entertainment and maid service. All that for $1415 American a month, I’d say that’s not bad for two people living on a limited budget.

Regarding International Living magazine, while you can subscribe to it, it is available on line for free at www.internationalliving.com. Also, some on line reviews of this magazine have suggested that it is primarily advertising, so it may not be worth the cost of a subscription. There are also many more cost of living indexes and articles available. For instance, if you go to www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/rankings you can get the cost of living for several categories (housing, food, etc.), as it compares to the cost of living in New York City, as of 2010. If you’re interested in learning more about this subject, there is plenty of information on line that is easily accessible. If you’re not on-line, your local book store or library should have resources and of course there is always the travel agency.

This is my last article for the Lizard, so I just wanted to say thank you for reading me all these years, I have enjoyed my time with all of you, keep reading, Sharon Grant, LAD, BA, SAC, Media Phil Cert, PhD.

 

Let’s talk about….

As I write this it is technically still winter, but the weather is reminiscent of spring. This brings to mind the allergies, its connection to asthma, its onset and how to manage it. Allergies are problematic for everyone who suffers from them, but for those of us who are experiencing the frustrations of aging and the accompanying medical problems and medications, allergies and the allergens that cause them, can be even more problematic.

As we age we tend to have more respiratory problems and not all respiratory problems are caused by allergies, for instance asthma and respiratory problems can be triggered by acid reflux, (heartburn) that can increase as we age. And, as we age our lungs may cease to work as well as they once did. But, there is no avoiding the fact that as we age allergies and allergy-like symptoms are more likely to manifest themselves. This is partially due to the repeated exposure to allergens and air pollution, as well as smoking. Also contributing to this problem is the effects of aging on our overall health, the medications we take, and even new foods we try. The aging process makes us especially vulnerable to developing upper respiratory allergies and asthma.

Of all types of allergies, upper respiratory allergies, caused primarily by allergens in the home, (dust, pet dander, mold, etc), are more easily developed as we age. Regarding asthma, Dr. Huss Dr. Huss stated in her study of upper respiratory allergies in those over 65 years of age was published in a May 2006 issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, that “asthma is a significant, chronic problem in the elderly," that is under studied and often is either undiagnosed or improperly treated. Dr. Huss had 80 subjects in her study, all over the age of 65. She found that 75% of her subjects tested positive to an airborne allergen and 50% tested positive to a skin test to at least one airborne allergen. Dr. Huss noted that while indoor allergens were the most irritating to her subjects.

Now, you may be wondering why this issue is important. As it turns out these allergens (bronchial irritants in the home), can leave the elderly at risk from asthma complications. Dr. Huss stated in her article that allergens found in the homes of older adults with asthma were found primarily in “carpeting, older furnishings, high indoor relative humidities and non-encased mattresses…..cockroach exposure is also a significant cause of asthma….and exposures to furred pets are important triggers for asthma.” Allergies and asthma can also be triggered by food additives containing sulphur, (dry food, canned goods, bear and wine), cold and damp weather, vigorous activity, strong odors, (perfume, cleaning sprays, chemical fumes), and suffering from sinusitis or hay fever.

According to an article published in 2005 on line in Medical News Today, the fact that the elderly are more susceptible to asthma and allergies is clinically significant as elderly subjects are at a higher risk of developing excessive airway narrowing, with increased asthma morbidity, (greater intensity of the illness), and a higher rate of mortality.
Knowing the signs of an asthma or allergy attach can go a long way to curtailing the damage. Some common warning signs are as follows: Coughing, (worse at night or in the early morning); wheezing, (breathing with a squeaky sound and with difficulty); shortness of breath, (due to constricted airways); and fast or noisy breathing along with panting. Some common symptoms of asthma are mood swings, sneezing, headache, stuffy and blocked nose, coughing, feeling tired, sensitive or itchy chin or throat, trouble sleeping. Keep in mind that symptoms, and their severity, differ from person to person.

So, what do you do about it if you are suffering from allergies or asthma? According to the on line reference Your Asthma Treatment, (www.yourasthmatreatment.com) older people can have asthma and allergies triggered by viral respiratory diseases like flue and cold as well as the usual suspects, (dander, pollen etc), so it is important to get a flue shot. Asthma can be triggered by medications like anti-inflammatory’s, used to treat arthritis and pain, beta-blockers, used to treat heart disease, and beta-blocking eye drops, used to treat glaucoma. So make sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding any medication’s you may be taking, especially the potential for respiratory related side effects. Also, make sure to talk with your pharmacist about any interactions your medications may have, (this means that one or more drugs can effect how other drugs work). And, as the symptoms of asthma and allergies can be mistaken for the symptoms of other illnesses, (heart and lung disease), it is important to be able to explain precisely what took place and when to a doctor. Remember, older people don’t always responds as well as their younger counterparts to treatment, so it is important not to overuse medication trying to deal with the problem.

Sharon Grant, LAD, BA, SAC, Media Phil Cert, PhD.

 

 

 

Let’s talk about….

As I write this it is technically still winter, but the weather is reminiscent of spring. This brings to mind the allergies, its connection to asthma, its onset and how to manage it. Allergies are problematic for everyone who suffers from them, but for those of us who are experiencing the frustrations of aging and the accompanying medical problems and medications, allergies and the allergens that cause them, can be even more problematic.

As we age we tend to have more respiratory problems and not all respiratory problems are caused by allergies, for instance asthma and respiratory problems can be triggered by acid reflux, (heartburn) that can increase as we age. And, as we age our lungs may cease to work as well as they once did. But, there is no avoiding the fact that as we age allergies and allergy-like symptoms are more likely to manifest themselves. This is partially due to the repeated exposure to allergens and air pollution, as well as smoking. Also contributing to this problem is the effects of aging on our overall health, the medications we take, and even new foods we try. The aging process makes us especially vulnerable to developing upper respiratory allergies and asthma.

Of all types of allergies, upper respiratory allergies, caused primarily by allergens in the home, (dust, pet dander, mold, etc), are more easily developed as we age. Regarding asthma, Dr. Huss Dr. Huss stated in her study of upper respiratory allergies in those over 65 years of age was published in a May 2006 issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, that “asthma is a significant, chronic problem in the elderly," that is under studied and often is either undiagnosed or improperly treated. Dr. Huss had 80 subjects in her study, all over the age of 65. She found that 75% of her subjects tested positive to an airborne allergen and 50% tested positive to a skin test to at least one airborne allergen. Dr. Huss noted that while indoor allergens were the most irritating to her subjects.

Now, you may be wondering why this issue is important. As it turns out these allergens (bronchial irritants in the home), can leave the elderly at risk from asthma complications. Dr. Huss stated in her article that allergens found in the homes of older adults with asthma were found primarily in “carpeting, older furnishings, high indoor relative humidities and non-encased mattresses…..cockroach exposure is also a significant cause of asthma….and exposures to furred pets are important triggers for asthma.” Allergies and asthma can also be triggered by food additives containing sulphur, (dry food, canned goods, bear and wine), cold and damp weather, vigorous activity, strong odors, (perfume, cleaning sprays, chemical fumes), and suffering from sinusitis or hay fever.

According to an article published in 2005 on line in Medical News Today, the fact that the elderly are more susceptible to asthma and allergies is clinically significant as elderly subjects are at a higher risk of developing excessive airway narrowing, with increased asthma morbidity, (greater intensity of the illness), and a higher rate of mortality.
Knowing the signs of an asthma or allergy attach can go a long way to curtailing the damage. Some common warning signs are as follows: Coughing, (worse at night or in the early morning); wheezing, (breathing with a squeaky sound and with difficulty); shortness of breath, (due to constricted airways); and fast or noisy breathing along with panting. Some common symptoms of asthma are mood swings, sneezing, headache, stuffy and blocked nose, coughing, feeling tired, sensitive or itchy chin or throat, trouble sleeping. Keep in mind that symptoms, and their severity, differ from person to person.

So, what do you do about it if you are suffering from allergies or asthma? According to the on line reference Your Asthma Treatment, (www.yourasthmatreatment.com) older people can have asthma and allergies triggered by viral respiratory diseases like flue and cold as well as the usual suspects, (dander, pollen etc), so it is important to get a flue shot. Asthma can be triggered by medications like anti-inflammatory’s, used to treat arthritis and pain, beta-blockers, used to treat heart disease, and beta-blocking eye drops, used to treat glaucoma. So make sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding any medication’s you may be taking, especially the potential for respiratory related side effects. Also, make sure to talk with your pharmacist about any interactions your medications may have, (this means that one or more drugs can effect how other drugs work). And, as the symptoms of asthma and allergies can be mistaken for the symptoms of other illnesses, (heart and lung disease), it is important to be able to explain precisely what took place and when to a doctor. Remember, older people don’t always responds as well as their younger counterparts to treatment, so it is important not to overuse medication trying to deal with the problem.

Sharon Grant, LAD, BA, SAC, Media Phil Cert, PhD.

 

 

 

I had to go to the dentist today for a filling, not because I had a cavity I was assured, but because the way I chewed was wearing a groove in a tooth. This got me thinking about oral health and the fact that no matter what your age you need to make dental care a part of your personal care, sigh.

The teeth of older adults are at greater risk of building up plaque, the colorless, sticky layer of bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. This is magnified if oral hygiene is ignored. To fight off the specter of tooth decay brushing with a good fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing, (which I often neglect much to my dentist’s chagrin), or using a interdental cleaner, are recommended. Also seeing a dentist as often as you can for cleaning and exams is encouraged.

Believe it or not adults are just as at risk for cavities as children. The cause of tooth decay in adults is the same for all ages, the bacteria in plaque feeds on the carbohydrates, (sugar), in our diet, resulting in the production of cavity causing acids. Interestingly tooth decay manifests differently in older adults than in younger people. Adults are more likely to experience decay around old fillings, and as many older adults grew up without the benefits of fluoride, they may have more fillings than younger people. Decay of the tooth’s root is also common in older adults. Root cavities, as they’re called, occur when the gums recede, exposing the softer root surface, which is more easily decayed than tooth enamel. Gum disease is stealthy, often progresses slowly and painlessly over a long period of time. The longer it goes undetected and uncontrolled, the more damage it causes to gums and supporting tissues. Even thought gum disease is caused by plaque there are other factors that can increase the risk or severity of it. Food left between the teeth, smoking, chewing tobacco, badly aligned teeth, poorly fitted bridges or dentures and poor diets as well as systemic diseases like anemia all contribute to gum disease.

Interestingly, tooth decay can cause a condition called xerostomia, or dry mouth. This condition is the result of a decreased supply of saliva. It can be caused by medications, (anti-histamines, anti-hypertensive’s, and anti-depressants), or by radiation therapy to the head or neck. Saliva neutralizes the acids produced by plaque. Dry mouth, if left untreated, can lead to rampant tooth decay. If you think you have this problem a discussion with your dentist or medical doctor might be in order. They may recommend an artificial saliva and fluoride products that help prevent tooth decay. Periodontal disease can be controlled or arrested and in its early stages it can be reversed. Unfortunately severe cases may need surgery so if you have any of the following symptoms you may want to contact a dentist: bleeding gums when you brush: red, tender or swollen gums; gums that pulled away from the teeth; pus between your teeth and gums; and loose teeth or teeth that are moving apart. Also any change in your bite, an change in your partial dentures, constant bad breath or a persistent bad taste.

If you have partial dentures and they are not fitting properly it is not recommended that you fix them your self, this may cause irritation of the tong and mouth. It is better to go in for a fitting. If you have full dentures it is still recommended that you see a dentist for oral health check ups. Dentists screen for oral cancer, (95 percent of all cancers are found in people over 40), as well as signs of other diseases the signs of which can appear in the mouth.
Sharon Grant, LAD, BA, SAC, Media Phil Cert, PhD.
If you have anxiety over dental visits don’t hesitate to let the dental staff know, they are often trained in ways to help patients to relax and they can make the visit more pleasant. Also, keep your dentist up to date on any medications and supplements you are taking, these can affect your oral health as well as interact with any medications used in the course of your treatment.

 

Let’s talk about……divorce…
I thought we could talk about divorce at an older age today. An odd topic it might seem, but a while ago I had a conversation with a lady in her early 80’s who voiced the opinion that some of her social set might benefit from a freeing of the marital yoke as it were. She spoke with joy about having freed herself from marital constraints and having the freedom to go where and when she pleased and with whom. It was pointed out to me in this conversation that while you can retire from a job you can’t retire from marriage unless you divorce or are widowed.

While there are indeed many happily married couples out there who couldn’t live without one another after so many years there are also many people who feel frustrated and stymied by their marital situation and who no doubt looked upon the retirement of their spouse with uncertainty if not full on dread? I have one elderly cousin who is deeply religious and felt divorce would be inappropriate but who often voiced the hopes that her teacher husband would move to China upon retirement to teach ESL and never come back. I did not make this up, it happened and my cousin, now widowed, is enjoying her 70’s as a single gale.

While I am not advocating divorce as such I do believe that if someone is not happy in their marriage and hasn’t been for a long time than it is never too late to get a divorce and be happy. Divorce these days is neither the social taboo it used to be nor the legal hassle. The days of having to be legally separated for years on end are gone. There are in fact some very simple and accessible resources that can help if you are interested in dissolving your union.

There is a society of lawyers dedicated to giving free legal assistance; it is called the Western Canadian Society to Access Justice. Each appointment is about 30 minutes long, and there will be follow ups when necessary. Written advice will be provided and thought they lawyers don’t go into court for you they do prepare you to represent yourself. If your household income is less that $2700 a month, plus an extra $100 for each dependent, you should qualify for this free legal service. To contact the Western Canadian Society to Access Justice toll free call1-877-762-6664. If you are on line and want more information go to www.accessjustic.ca or e-mail a question to help@accessjustic.ca. In Chilliwack this society works out of the Chilliwack Community Services offices, 45938 Wellington St, call 604-792-4267 to set up an appointment. In Abbotsford the clinic works out of the community services office located 2420 Montrose St., to get in touch with a lawyer call 604-659-7681 extension 206.

There are books available for specific target audiences, men, women parents etc, that you can order on line at Chapters, (simply type www.chapters.indigo.ca into your computer’s browser), and or access at the local library. Chilliwack’s library catalogue is available to search on line at www.fvrl.bc.ca. It is located at 45860 First Ave, call 604-792-1941. Also, if you are on line and feel comfortable with on line services you can go to www.divorceoptions.ca for a do it yourself divorce package that costs $149 plus taxes or for an additional $100 plus taxes this organization will file for you.

In BC divorce is a three step process. A divorce Action is filed, (this costs $218), and then a year later one of the parties files an Application of Divorce Order. This costs $62 and within eight weeks a judge should have granted the Divorce Order. If this is not contested by either party the divorce becomes final at the end of 31 days from the date the order was granted. The last step is optional and costs $31 you can apply for a Certificate of Divorce.

If you are considering leaving your spouse, seek out guidance and advice from people who have gone through this experience. Talk to your friends and relations and way the pros and cons carefully. After being married for a long time being single can be daunting and lonely. Also, your identity may be based in part on being someone’s spouse, and being single again can be disorienting and confusing.

Remember to look closely at your financial situation before going ahead with any action. If you rely on your spouses pension benefits make sure you have a legal right to them and that they are accessible to you after you separate. Conversely, if your spouse is relying on your pension benefits make sure you are able to support two households. Be prepared to change your standard of living if necessary. Be prepared for adverse reactions from friends and family members, especially your children. Even adult children may become distressed by the thought of their parents divorcing.

That’s it for this month,
Thanks for reading, Sharon Grant, LAD, BA, SAC, Media Phil Cert, PhD.

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