By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 0 Comments
At 92, A.E. Hotchner has his reasons why seniors should avoid Jeopardy and the evening news
Ernest Hemingway’s dear friend, the quick-witted A.E. Hotchner, has had more than one retirement in his 92 years. Born in 1920, Hotchner practised law for two years before turning to writing plays and biographies—he was a biographer of Hemingway, Sophia Loren and Doris Day. His other pursuits include co-founding the salad-dressing company, Newman’s Own, with his good pal, Paul Newman.
His newest incarnation is as a self-help guru of sorts. His latest book, out Feb. 13, is aimed at all those 70- and 80-year-old whippersnappers who are after him for his secret to longevity. “Orange juice in the morning, gin and tonic at night,” is his answer every time, abbreviated for the book’s title, as well: O.J. in the Morning, G&T at Night. Each chapter is an essay on growing old, peppered with Hotchner’s unexpected, at times mischievous advice. “Don’t watch Jeopardy,” he writes. “It makes your brain feel bad.” And when trying to nap, suspend the mind rather than revisit sexual highlights of the past. Continue…
By David Newland - Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 6:00 PM - 0 Comments
Add doughnuts, stir heartstrings, and let simmer in social media til piping hot
What makes a great viral video? Wouldn’t a million social marketers love to know. But if Old men singing at Tim Horton’s (sic) isn’t an example of a sure-fire hit, I don’t know what is.
Now, you may be wondering why a dozen or so men of retirement age, singing Can You Feel The Love Tonight in a coffee shop in Oakville, Ont., filmed by an amateur on a cellphone, has the makings of a Canadian web sensation. (I’m sure you’re wondering, if you are one of the guys in the video.)
Consider it an object lesson in how the web works in the age of social media. Here’s what makes this video a sensation in the making:
1. Location. As in the fast food business, so in the viral video business: the secret to success is location, location, location. If you’re looking to tug the heartstrings of Canadians, start someplace that has emotional resonance—real, or marketed, it doesn’t matter much, as long as it’s Tim Hortons. (Can you picture this at KFC?)
2. Story. Content is king, goes an old online marketing expression (is that a contradiction in terms?). In this case, the “content” is a heartwarming little tale about a talented bunch of ungrumpy old men. Instead of shaking their fists at kids playing road hockey, or running for the Conservative party, these guys sing. What a novel idea. We can sell that.
3. Familiarity. You know these fellows. You’ve seen them at your local Tim Hortons, endlessly taking up tables in the corner and talking baseball/convertbiles/politics, or whatever. Sober, avuncular, maybe a bit corny, churchy, and straight-seeming. It all works, because…
4. Surprise! As above, this is a scene we’ve all seen before—except the part where a bunch of bucket-listers break into a torch song by the world’s most famous gay guy, from a beloved Disney family musical, and absolutely nail it.
5. Optimism. The notion that a bunch of older gentlemen somewhere, sometimes just break out into song together hearkens to a (probably imaginary) simpler time, like the Fifties. As such, the video offers an antidote to the often dull, depressing suburban world many of us live in. Some call this stuff “glurge,” and depending on your taste it may or may not work for you. But trust me, they eat it up in internetland.
6. Authenticity. The first thing I did on investigating this video was to contact the guy who made it, to make sure he wasn’t in the marketing department at Tim Hortons. He’s not, at least not unless he’s a compulsive liar. He’s an ordinary dude named Danfi Parker, a biblical studies student and soccer player. He just wandered into a Tim’s one night, saw something cool go down, shot it, and shared it. You can’t imitate that. (Though Tim Hortons would be wise to capitalize on it.)
7. Shareability. Danfi Parker tried to post the video to Facebook right after he shot it on Monday night, just to show his friends. The file was too big, so he put it on YouTube. I saw it on Facebook a few days later, at which point it had more than a thousand views. I watched it, gave it a thumbs-up, and sent a link to my dad. (A hundred guys are sending it to their dads right now.) I also sent it to my friends, by email, my “friends” by Facebook, and my “followers” by Twitter. So did a lot of people. Cha-ching.
8. Quality. Spontaneous as it may be, quality is still at the heart of this video. Any old group of geezers wheezing any old song couldn’t pull this off. These guys are good. They’re a real group, The Entertainers. They do gigs. And they’re doing a great rendition of a nice arrangement of a superbly written, popular, familiar song from a much-loved production.
9. Validation. Ironically enough, the secret ingredient that makes a feel-good organic grassroots video truly viral, is major media support. And that’s where this article becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: your friendly neighbourhood freelancer trolling the web for stories feels the tug at his heartstrings, makes a quick phone call to the video’s author, cobbles together a pitch to his editor, taps away at the keyboard for a few hours, and whammo… we’re on the home page, baby, watching the clicks roll in.
Danfi Parker may not be able to cash in on his efforts, and I bet The Entertainers still paid for their coffees, but this stuff is gold for online media outlets. Not to mention a certain doughtnut chain. And, um, me.
And there you have it: nine quick steps to Internet success. Somebody book that band, will you? Or at least buy them a box of Timbits. My conscience is killing me.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
The Conservatives have moved to limit the pension debate as it pertains to the government’s own legislation, but the House will now spend Thursday debating the following NDP motion.
That this House rejects calls by the Prime Minister to balance the Conservative deficit on the backs of Canada’s seniors by means such as raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and calls on the government to make the reduction and eventual elimination of seniors’ poverty a cornerstone of the next budget.
Separately, Liberal backbencher Sean Casey has tabled a private members’ motion that the Liberals figure will come up for debate in March. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 27, 2012 at 4:59 PM - 0 Comments
The Harper government explains how its supporters and spokespeople should be explaining potential changes to Old Age Security.
To be clear: there will be no changes to the benefits seniors currently receive. We will ensure any changes are done with substantial notice and adjustment period and in a way that does not affect current retirees or those close to retirement, and gives others plenty of time to adjust and plan for their retirement.
CBC has an interview with Ted Menzies. NDP finance critic Peter Julian says asking people to work until they are 67 years old before receiving OAS is “completely unacceptable.” The Liberals are promising a fight. And they’d like you to sign a petition.
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
British Columbia:… Nearly half (49 per cent) of the province’s drivers think their fellow
British Columbia: Nearly half (49 per cent) of the province’s drivers think their fellow road warriors are ruder behind the wheel today than they were five years ago. The most common complaint—something 82 per cent of those surveyed have experienced in the last three months—was a fellow driver’s late signal, or no signal at all. Seventy-three per cent have been tailgated. And yet, when asked to rate their own performance on the road, 82 per cent of those surveyed gave themselves an A or B.
Alberta: With 74 per cent support, Albertans are the most likely in Canada to say they have a good quality of life. That’s probably due, say researchers, to the province’s strong economic standing. Quebec, on the other hand, has the lowest degree of satisfaction. Only 61 per cent of Quebecers say they have a good quality of life.
Ontario: It’s been over a year since the G8 and G20 meetings in Ontario, and the support for police actions that weekend has dropped significantly among residents of Toronto, where over 1,100 people were arrested. Just after the summits, 73 per cent of Torontonians said the police actions were justified. Now, only 41 per cent feel that’s the case.
By Risha Gotlieb - Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 16 Comments
Why power-of-attorney abuse against seniors is soaring—and so easy to get away with
Léony de Graaf, a Burlington, Ont.-based financial adviser, witnessed first hand how lives can be ruined by the unscrupulous use of power of attorney. She received a call from an 82-year-old client who had been forcefully incarcerated in a Hamilton psychiatric ward. “Rose was still capable of handling her affairs, including her own banking,” says de Graaf. “I had a very strong suspicion that her son, who had a power of attorney [POA] for his mother, was trying to have her deemed incompetent so he could take full control of her assets.” She suspected Rose’s son misled the psychiatrist whom he himself had arranged to evaluate his mother, whose family doctor had recently retired.
De Graaf fought to have Rose (not her client’s real name) released from the facility, advocating for her capacities and a reassessment. The medical team relented and allowed Rose to move into a retirement residence. Unfortunately, even after Rose’s release, de Graaf was powerless to stop the son from redirecting his mother’s investment statements to himself, putting her house up for sale, and eventually moving her west, where he lived. “One of the fastest growing crimes against seniors is POA abuse,” says De Graaf, who chairs the local chapter of a group called Seniors and Law Enforcement Together chapter.
Having a senior declared incompetent is a commonly used legal manoeuvre by POA abusers to nullify the senior’s ability to make choices for themselves, including revoking the POA, says Ann Soden, a Montreal lawyer who specializes in elder law and heads the National Institute of Law, Policy and Aging. Sadly, perpetrators of many types of abuse against seniors are often their own children and others they trust. According to the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, the most conservative statistics suggest one in 12 older Canadians are abused or neglected, with the most commonly reported type of abuse being financial.
By Ken MacQueen - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 17 Comments
The role of individual responsibility for wellness is under debate. Should healthy choices be rewarded?
On April 27, Maclean’s hosts “Health Care in Canada: Time to Rebuild Medicare,” a town hall discussion at the Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel in Vancouver. The public forum is held in conjunction with the Canadian Medical Association and broadcast by CPAC.
Numerous polls put health care as the top priority in the federal election campaign, yet until recent days there was little debate about the failures of a health system that is a middling performer among most wealthy nations in its scope, cost and outcomes.
There’s an alarming lack of new ideas among national leaders on ways to either help provinces improve delivery of public health services or to rein in what a new report by the C.D. Howe Institute calls “chronic health care spending disease.”
By Risha Gotlieb - Friday, March 25, 2011 at 6:00 AM - 8 Comments
Joint bank accounts are increasingly being used to defraud seniors and effectively rewrite wills
At 85 and with failing eyesight, Donna (not her real name) was relieved when her daughter returned to Toronto to assist her. Eventually, she added her daughter’s name to her bank accounts to facilitate bill payments. A year and a half later, Donna’s eldest son, who works overseas, hired Jayne-Ann Steele, a long-term care specialist, to surrogate some of his sister’s duties. “One day Donna asked me to read her bank statements aloud,” says Steele. “She was shocked when I read out the huge sums of money being withdrawn like clockwork every month—to the tune of over $200,000″ in the span of 18 months. When I saw her daughter’s name beside hers, I instinctively knew who was taking the money.” Today Donna no longer speaks to her daughter. She must rely on her other three children to subsidize her retirement expenses. “These families never recover from the betrayal,” says Steele.
Joint bank accounts are increasingly being used as a vehicle to defraud Canadian seniors. Although the banking industry recognizes the problem, most banks do little to curtail it, say experts. Toronto lawyer Jan Goddard, an estate and elder law specialist, says banks are making it dangerously easy for their senior clients to add others to their accounts. In fact, sometimes the bank staff “steers” them into this arrangement, she says, because they recognize they need help with the simplest of banking tasks. (Raising the question: are seniors giving informed consent if they can’t even decipher a bank statement?) It’s a process that can take mere minutes, ruin lives, and yet seniors may be encouraged to do it without the benefit of legal advice.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 12:33 PM - 80 Comments
The Globe tallies the senior vote.
About 75 per cent of Canadians over 65 are reliable voters, meaning they voted in the last federal, provincial and municipal elections, according to the Statistics Canada General Social Survey (and nearly 90 per cent vote in federal elections). Among 25- to 44-year-olds, the proportion of reliable voters is closer to 45 per cent. Targeting older voters is clearly an efficient way to campaign. And as political scientist Christian Leuprecht points out, rural ridings, which are often only half or one-third the size of urban ridings, also tend to be older. That makes seniors’ votes even more significant in areas such as Atlantic Canada, rural Quebec and Northern Ontario, where several races will have a significant impact on the election.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM - 33 Comments
A month ago, Stephen Harper invited Jack Layton over for a chat. Afterward, the NDP leader listed five “proposals” for the federal budget:
1. Remove the federal sales tax on home heating bills.
2. Restore the EcoEnergy program.
3. Increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement to aid vulnerable seniors.
4. Strengthen the Canada Pension Plan
5. Improve access to family doctors.
According to various leaks and hints, it seems the EcoEnergy program will be renewed, some kind of assist for vulnerable seniors will be provided and student loan forgiveness will be offered to new doctors who choose to practice in rural areas. Depending on what else is included, that’s three (two and a half?) out of five and so whether or not the budget passes would seem now to depend on whether that’s enough for the NDP.
There is some question now as to whether Mr. Layton will announce a position today or tomorrow. I’m told no decision on timing has yet been made.
In the meantime, Rob Silver considers the long, meaningful history of the EcoEnergy retrofit program.
By Ken MacQueen - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 4:59 PM - 51 Comments
Each day in Canada, 7,550 hospital beds are filled with the elderly who don’t belong there—and it’s bad for their health
On March 1, Maclean’s is hosting “Health Care in Canada: Time to Rebuild Medicare,” a town hall discussion at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto. The event, in conjunction with the Canadian Medical Association, will be broadcast by CPAC. The conversation on health care reform continues in the coming months in Maclean’s and at town halls in Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa.
He was a frail old man living in Vancouver. Call him Mr. B. One night he developed excruciating back pain, and his doctor was summoned. Mr. B was a lucky man in that his doctor was John Sloan, a general practitioner whose practice consisted of treating the frail elderly in their homes. Sloan’s diagnosis was a compression fracture of the vertebrae due to osteoporosis. He prescribed pain medication, and recommended keeping him at home. “It hurts like hell for six weeks,” Sloan said, “and then it gets better.”
His family was skeptical. Aren’t hospitals where you go when you’re sick? But Sloan was a trusted doctor and diligent with his follow-up visits. One day, Mr. B had a setback, and the hired caregiver dialled 911. Three days later, Sloan received hospital reports, the first he knew his patient was admitted. Not good, he thought. He tried to convince the family to continue treatment at home, but they were awed by the medical resources deployed in aid of Mr. B. “He saw a psychiatrist. He saw a heart specialist. He saw a respiratory specialist. He saw an orthopaedic surgeon,” says Sloan. “The inevitable happened. He lost strength. He became confused.” He was put on antibiotics. He developed a C. difficile infection. Mr. B died in hospital.
By Jen Cutts - Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 2:33 PM - 0 Comments
Japanese retirees have taken up an unlikely pastime—shoplifting
Forgoing gardening or trips to the Canadian Rockies, Japanese retirees have taken up an unlikely pastime—shoplifting. One in four people (26.1 per cent) arrested for the crime in 2010 in Japan were 65 or older, according to a report from the country’s National Police Agency. It’s a record high, nearly equal to the number of teens arrested in the same period (27.1 per cent).
The items most frequently stolen by pensioners, according to the report, are food and clothing. And the trend is being blamed on a three-pronged predicament: Japan’s flattened economy, the eroding tradition of multi-generational households, and a life expectancy that is normally the envy of most countries (by 2050, it’s projected that 40 per cent of Japanese will be over the age of 65). “Senior citizens likely commit shoplifting not only for financial reasons but also out of a sense of isolation,” a Tokyo police official told the Mainichi Daily News. Of 119 seniors busted by Tokyo police last year, 63 told officers they had “nothing to live for,” and 49 said they had no friends. To discourage the trend, thieving pensioners are being encouraged to volunteer in their communities.
By Julia McKinnell - Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 2:40 PM - 4 Comments
A Vancouver Island safety rodeo tries to rein in an often Wild West way of getting around
Here in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, where the median age of residents is 60.9 (the oldest in Canada), you can’t stroll the main street without seeing a senior on a mobility scooter zipping into the pharmacy or zooming into a bank. For seniors who’ve failed a driving test or voluntarily relinquished a licence, the vehicle is a boon. There is no education class to take or test to pass. No insurance or licence is required. Speed limits don’t apply to mobility scooters, so you can’t get a speeding ticket.
And if you’re a little unsteady one day from prescription medications and the scooter weaves a bit through traffic, “there’s not going to be an impaired charge,” says Const. Stewart Masi of the Oceanside RCMP detachment in Parksville, B.C. Mobility scooters are classified as pedestrians, he explains. “It’s like if they were walking down the street impaired. They’re not breaking any laws.” Continue…