Sustainability & Green Trends in SeniorsSeniors are the original ‘greens’! We rolled our eyes at grandma’s string bags and her habit of washing and re-using plastic milk bags, of saving those little bread tags (why?) and elastic bands, and rinsing out tin cans.
Use it up, wear it out. Make it do or do without!
Any senior of a certain age – or a Boomer who was raised by one – is familiar with this phrase. Reduce, reuse, recycle may not have been their catchphrase, but our forebears were masters of the trend, with wartime paper drives, metal collections and even rationing. Now these, and other helpful hints, are new again, under the ‘Green’ banner.
However, in my work with seniors, I sometimes see ‘green’ becoming frugality gone too far.
Edmund Jones was delighted with the walker he bought at a rummage sale – until he fell badly and broke his hip. He told his niece, ‘I paid a good $50 for that piece of junk!’
Mr. Jones paid an especially high price for his ‘bargain’ rollator. To the uninitiated, all devices seem to be the same – until the consequences of poor condition, inappropriate fit or improper use become disastrously clear.
An ever-expanding range of home health care equipment and assistive devices is available in stores, on TV and on the Internet, but before making a choice:
- Hire an occupational therapist, either privately or via the CCAC, to determine exactly what’s needed now and in the foreseeable future
- Be sensible about prices – a new rollator costs from $150 for an indoor model to $400+ for a sturdy out doormodel, so the $50 price tag should have raised his suspicions
- Check out the available equipment subsidies such as:
- Canadian Red Cross’s HELP (Health Equipment Loan Program) makes short-term loans of equipment
- Ontario March of Dimes partially funds the purchase and maintenance of equipment
- The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care’s ADP (Assistive Devices Program) refunds up to 75% of mobility aids and oxygen purchased from qualified vendors
- Check any private insurance policies or memberships such as CARP or Ontario Motor league for group or member discounts
- Be sure to check if the person is a veteran
- Many equipment vendors offer pre-used, leasing or rent-to-own payment arrangements
- Be creative with options; for example, try a $50 tub-climber before spending $6,000 on a new walk-in shower system
If your parent is determined to ‘go green’ with a used model, steer them toward a reputable dealer’s reconditioned version - NOT the local flea market! A dealer will ensure the device fits properly, is in good working order, and hopefully give some direction on proper use.
Always check the manufacturer’s website for user manuals, product news, possible caveats such as recall notices and top tips. Needless to say, always thoroughly clean and disinfect all equipment. Remember that used equipment is not going to be guaranteed, so use it at your own risk.
In Mr. Jones’ case, his niece got him connected with Veteran’s Affairs, which not only subsidized a new rollator, but provided home-making, transportation assistance and help with lawn and snow care. He now boasts about the wonderful ‘deal’ he gets from the government to anyone who’ll listen!
It’s a demographic fact that Depression-era parents often have deeply rooted money anxiety. It’s worth taking time to research all sources of eligible funds:
- The federal government’s Compassionate Care program offers benefits in the event of a family member’s terminal illness (certain conditions apply)
- Low-income seniors should investigate GAINS (Guaranteed Annual Income Supplement)
- Disabled Ontario residents over the age of 65 may qualify for ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program)
- Energy-efficient renovations may be subsidized by Ontario’s ecoENERGY program
- Check for your local Municipal Tax Assistance program for low-income seniors
- Veteran’s Affairs have numerous programs for health aids, home repairs and assistance and advocacy
Before you dismiss your parent’s’ frugality, remember that anyone who survived the Great Depression, a World War, the immigrant experience or countless other hardships, easily can teach you a thing or two about being ‘green’. Just be sure that ‘green’ doesn’t become ‘red for danger’.