Grey Matters: Quality of life will suffer further unless we take action

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WANDA MORRIS |POSTMEDIA| 09.4.2017

We don’t just refuse to face facts when it comes to our finances; many of us are guilty of ignoring the reality that we are aging, too

Scott Terrio, an estate administrator with licensed insolvency trustee Coopers and Co., has seen too many debtors ignore clear signs of financial peril. They keep trying to make minimum credit card payments, prop up failing businesses, or hold on to a family home as their problems mount. By the time they seek help, many of their options have disappeared. If only they’d seen Terrio earlier, he might have saved their house — or their marriage.

We don’t just refuse to face facts when it comes to our finances; many of us are guilty of ignoring the reality that we are aging, too. Nobody wants to know that their hearing or eyesight is getting worse, much less that they are losing mobility or bladder control. But these problems rarely get better without help. Like financial crises, the longer we take to deal with them, the more limited our options become.

In extreme cases, ignoring failing body parts can magnify the harm and even cause premature death. My father died 16 years ago after his prostate cancer metastasized. If he’d obtained an earlier diagnosis, my son might have had a chance to know his granddad.

Wilful denials don’t usually end up killing us, but our quality of life can suffer significantly. We may refuse invitations because we’re afraid of a bladder leak, avoid conversations because we don’t hear well, or limit our walks because of mobility issues. These self-imposed restrictions are largely avoidable.

Technology has improved markedly over recent decades. Many aids to daily living are discreet to the point of invisibility, and where size precludes discretion, clever and stylish options abound. But it’s hard for product manufacturers to get the word out.

At CARP and our sister organization, ZoomerMedia, we periodically send emails to our members and magazine readers about products and services we think they’ll like. To understand what content is of greatest interest to our members, we track the number of times emails get opened and the unsubscribe requests they generate. Whether it’s step-in bathtubs or ride-on stairlifts, no content gets a higher rate of unsubscribes than emails featuring a product or service designed to help us deal with the fallout of aging.

This is too bad. By ignoring our problems and running away from potential solutions, we not only deny ourselves help, but we send a message to potential inventors and entrepreneurs that our problems aren’t worth solving. Even when they find creative and clever solutions, we don’t want to know about them.

That has to change. My friend, Trish, has a sign on her kitchen wall that reads: “Put your big-girl panties on and deal with it.” For readers who don’t wear panties, the equivalent expression is “cowboy up:” toughen up and do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt.

We need to toughen up, face reality and start taking advantage of the products and services that will make our lives better. For starters, anyone reading this who is not yet a CARP member should join and take advantage of our great member discounts on products from walking poles to invisible bifocals. (Yes, you can also check out our deals on hotels and car rentals while you’re there.)

Old age is a privilege denied to many. It’s time for the rest of us to put on our big-girl panties or cowboy up and make the best of it.

Wanda Morris is the VP of Advocacy for CARP, a 300,000-member national, non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for financial security, improved health-care and freedom from ageism for Canadians as we age. Send questions to askwanda@carp.ca. To join CARP or learn more, call 1-800-363-9736 or visit carp.ca