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Jan 192017

(NC) Did you settle in Canada in 2016? As a Canadian resident, you should do your taxes every year. Here are some quick tips to help you during tax time:

  1. Do I need to do my taxes? Residents of Canada for the entire year, or just part of it, must file a return if they have to pay tax or want a refund. You become a resident of Canada for income tax purposes when you establish significant residential ties which include a home or spouse or common-law partner in Canada. You usually establish these ties on the date you arrive.

  2. What do I need to know? By filing your taxes, you report income, claim deductions or tax credits, apply for certain benefit and credit payments, and calculate your refund or the correct amount of income tax you should pay, if any.

  3. What if I have little or no income to report? You should still are required to do your taxes. You may get back some of the taxes you paid or be eligible to receive certain benefit and credit payments. Your spouse or common-law partner also has to file a tax return each year for you to receive any benefit and credit payments that you’re entitled to. If you don’t file on time, your benefit and credit payments may be delayed.

  4. How do I prepare my tax forms? Most people choose to do their taxes online, since it’s fast, easy and secure.

  5. What if I need help? For 45 years, the CRA has teamed up with community organizations and their volunteers to prepare tax returns for eligible individuals for free through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. If you have a simple tax situation and a modest income, you may find a free tax clinic in your area through this program.

Find more information online at

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Jan 182017

(BPT) – There’s a reason why they say your home is your castle. This is a place of rest and refuge so you can be returned to your best state.

The next time you find yourself with a quiet evening or weekend in your abode, make self-care and pampering a priority. In fact, you can borrow a few pages from the wellness playbook with expert tips from one the world’s most storied resorts.

Destination Kohler located in the heart of Wisconsin in the quaint village of Kohler – and recently named one of the top 15 wellness resorts by Conde Nast Traveler – is what you might call a luxurious refuge. Here, after you explore picturesque snow-covered hiking paths on snowshoes or cross-country skis, and enjoy five-star accommodations at this historic American Club, you can restore your body and mind at the luxurious five-star Kohler Waters Spa or unique Yoga on the Lake facility.

But even a few simple additions at your home, says Garrett Mersberger, director of Kohler Waters Spas, can greatly increase the relaxation factor during your down time.

1. Include the five senses.

The secret to setting up the best spa experience, Mersberger says, is making positive connections to all the senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and sound.

“If one of these is missing, the experience isn’t the same,” he says.

Even the smallest changes can transform your space and elevate your mood. You can light a candle and plug in the indoor water fountain to create sound and lighting that soothes the mind. Snuggle into a plush robe and encase your feet in super soft socks or slippers after your shower or bath. Finally, don’t forget to set yourself up with a glass of wine and a cheese plate.

2. Prepare your body with hydrotherapy.

People have known this since ancient times: water has great powers of restoration, which is why hydrotherapy is central to any worthwhile spa experience. At home, it’s as simple as making small adjustments to your shower routine. Mersberger suggests changing the pulses in your shower head and experimenting with hot and cool blasts of water, which he says are good for the skin and blood flow.

But be careful, while a hot bath or shower before bed feels terrific, it’s not relaxing since warm temperatures will raise your blood flow, preparing the body for work or exercise, he says. To ready your body for sleep or relaxation, finish with a shower that’s a neutral temperature (about 92-97 degrees Fahrenheit), to return your body to normal.

3. Release blocked energy.

Start your quest for relaxation with a simple yoga move called the seated cat/cow position. “In addition to releasing blocked energy, it also opens the spine,” says Ashley Kohler, Manager of Yoga on the Lake at Destination Kohler. To do this, sit cross-legged on the floor and place your hands on your knees. As you inhale, lean your chest forward and lift your gaze to the sky. As you exhale, round out your spine while drawing your shoulders forward, gazing down.

4. Hone your breathing technique.

Breathing is a vital component of managing stress levels, Kohler says. Yet most Americans only breathe with a third of their lung capacity, creating “flight energy” in the body and cultivating that feeling of stress.

“Conscious breathing will ease your nervous system and help control stress levels and help you unwind,” Kohler says.

Here’s an easy antidote: Sit quietly for a few moments, taking full-body, deep breaths through your nose.

“I like to visualize the ocean, and imagine the sound of the its big crashing waves with every breath I take,” she says.

5. Relieve stress by going outside.

The benefits of going outside in the winter is not only good for our bodies, being outside chases away the winter blahs, as research has told us. So go ahead and skip the treadmill and go jogging in the park. Or rent a pair of snowshoes take a tromp through the woods. Or take a walk. When you’re done, there’s no better feeling than coming in from the cool air, knowing you are truly in for the day.

Jan 172017

(NC) We do almost everything online — shopping, banking and even our taxes. In fact, 84 per cent of Canadians are already doing their taxes online. Here’s how you can get started.

My Account. My Account is an online service for individuals. It allows you to track your tax refund, view or change your return, check your benefit and credit payments and amounts, view your RRSP or TFSA limits, set up direct deposit, and more. You can also authorize a representative to manage your tax affairs for you.

Doing your taxes yourself? “Auto-fill my return” automatically fills in parts of your return. This service is available in some NETFILE-certified tax software when you are fully registered for My Account.

If you’ve signed up for “manage online mail” in My Account, using certain tax preparation software programs may allow you to use the Express Notice of Assessment service. The service delivers an instant message about your taxes after you’ve filed and inputs your notice of assessment directly into your tax software within 24 hours.

New this year, if you’re registered for My Account, you can securely access your ESDC My Service Canada Account. This lets you view and update your employment insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security information online, without having to login or revalidate your identity.

Online mail. Looking for an easier way to manage the mail you get from the CRA? With online mail, you receive an email notification when some of your tax and benefit correspondence is ready to view in My Account.

Pay online. When you pay online, you can make your payment anytime, from anywhere. There are several secure ways to make a tax payment.

Find more information online at

Jan 162017

3 ways heart disease can sneak up on you

(BPT) – As Americans, our health is far from perfect, but over the decades, we’ve seen great improvements to medical care and lived longer lives. But new health data in a recent report might shake up our complacency: The federal government finds that life expectancy for Americans has dropped for the first time in 25 years.

Though the factors are varied and complex, it has health experts and doctors taking a hard look at the current realities, including our rising obesity rate and the fact doctors may be reaching their limit on what they can do to treat heart disease.

“The report, though troubling to any family doctor, can be used as the basis of a wake-up call to anyone to improve their health,” says Andrew Manganaro, MD, FACC, FACS, Chief Medical officer for Life Line Screening. “That is especially true for those who have been diagnosed with a risk factor for heart disease.”

Manganaro urges patients ages 55 and older to be proactive with their heart health by scheduling regular doctor visits and following their doctor’s instructions. In addition, he recommends making regular cardiovascular screenings a part of your wellness routine.

Not convinced you need a screening? These three realities of cardiovascular health might change your mind.

1. Heart disease is often silent.

Problems with the cardiovascular system can creep in gradually. Fully 80 percent – 4 out of 5 – of people who have a stroke have no symptoms beforehand. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and coronary artery disease are often silent, partly because the warning signs are not what most people expect. Symptoms are less obvious, such as a headache, shortness of breath or pain in the jaw. Even if you are already taking steps to manage your risk factors, a screening will give you and your doctor a picture of the health of your cardiovascular system.

2. Minor conditions are easy to ignore.

Even if your screening doesn’t reveal you’re at a very high risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack, don’t be complacent. Because your cardiovascular system is interconnected, plaque in one artery makes it very possible that plaque will eventually show up elsewhere. For example, a diagnosis of peripheral artery disease is a condition that is associated with leg cramping, but that’s a diagnosis that should be taken as a warning. Because these leg arteries are literally narrowing, it could mean that the arteries to the brain could also narrow, creating the ideal conditions for a stoke. Likewise, if arteries to the heart were to narrow, that could lead to heart attack or heart failure.

3. Oral health is a window to artery health.

For decades, researchers have seen a connection between oral health and heart health. Back in the 1920s for example, doctors thought they could cure heart disease by extracting teeth. While the connection is not yet fully understood, we do know oral plaque has a relationship to carotid artery plaque. Manganaro encourages patients to also see their dentist regularly and take good care of their gums and teeth.

The good news is you don’t need a prescription or take a trip to the doctor’s office to have preventive health screenings for cardiovascular disease. Life Line Screening performs affordable testing in community settings throughout the country. This testing will reveal where carotid artery plaque buildup is located and how much. This could translate into lifesaving treatment for you, or simply offer peace of mind. To find out when a screening clinic may be scheduled in your area, visit or call (877) 754-9631.

Jan 142017

(NC) If you’re a family caregiver to your aging parents or another elderly loved one, it’s essential to

be aware of the signs of stress and take steps to prevent burnout. Common signs include trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, losing interest in your favourite activities, and getting sick more often.

Remember that you can’t support others effectively if you’re physically and emotionally exhausted — so use these tips to take care of yourself and your family.

  1. Educate yourself. Read books, attend workshops and consult with healthcare professionals. Even if the person you’re caring for doesn’t have a specific condition, it’s still useful to gather general information about aging and elder care.

  2. Maintain your own physical and mental health. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating healthy, well-balanced meals. Exercise, rest, meditation and other activities can reduce stress. Support systems are critical, so join a caregiver support group or discuss your situation with family and friends. Seek medical help if you notice signs of depression or anxiety.

  3. Take care of financial, legal and long-term care planning matters. If they are still capable of providing input, try to involve your loved one in decision-making and consider their wishes related to future care and end-of-life issues.

  4. Make time for yourself. Pursue interests beyond your caregiving role and other obligations you may have, like work and the kids. No matter how much you may enjoy all of these aspects of your life, it’s important to do something just for you — like exercise, hobbies or art projects.

  5. Seek additional support. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a change or help might be what you require. You may need to call on other family members, explore community resources or hire professional assistance. Bayshore HealthCare provides personalized home care services across Canada. This additional support can allow you to spend quality time with your elderly loved one, while enhancing quality of life and independence for you both.

Find more information at

Jan 122017

(NC) As real estate prices continue to rise across Ontario, many homeowners are opting to renovate their current homes rather than purchase new ones. According to design expert Kimberley Seldon, if you’re on the hunt for more square footage, rescuing your lower level is a great way to create more room for the whole family to enjoy.

Turning a basement into a stylish, practical space that meets the demands of modern living doesn’t have to be daunting. When planning for a basement redesign, it’s important to start with an electrical plan and work with a team of experts.

To get you started, Seldon works with the Electrical Safety Authority to offer a few ideas that’ll help you achieve a revitalized basement that’s both beautiful and safe.

Smart storage. When it comes to storage, the lower level of your home is typically a wealth of unused nooks and crannies, which can be creatively reimagined. Perhaps there is space under the stairs to hide away those items you use just once or twice a year? Adding lighting to a closet is always a good idea. A Licensed Electrical Contractor can provide advice on automated options and even the best bulbs to use. Get creative with your storage solutions, but just remember that a breaker panel can’t be located in a closet or bathroom.

Light it up. Basements often lack natural light, but a layered lighting plan that includes task lighting for a home office nook, decorative lighting on display shelves, and pot lights for ambient light will enhance the room’s overall level of brightness. Remember that all pot lights aren’t created equal. There are specific options for insulated and uninsulated spaces to prevent overheating and a potential fire. A Licensed Electrical Contractor can provide advice and install the right pot lights for your space.

Warm and toasty. For the ultimate relaxed ambiance, consider adding a gas fireplace surrounded by built-ins for added storage. You can even illuminate some of your favourite objects if you have display shelving. Don’t forget that even when you’re installing a gas fireplace, there are still electrical considerations. You’ll need an outlet added in the right spot for power controls, such as the ignition transformer, thermostat and fan.

Find more design and electrical tips online at

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

Jan 112017

(BPT) – Innovations in modern medicine have brought many artificial joints and bionic body parts to patients. Although these devices have been used for years, a prosthetic replacement for the meniscus – the tissue pad located between the thigh and shin bones – is not yet available. Now two clinical trials underway across the U.S. may help make the “artificial meniscus” a reality, providing a new treatment option for millions of Americans with persistent knee pain caused by injured or deteriorated meniscus.

The meniscus is highly vulnerable to tearing, both from physical activity and excess weight. Once damaged, it has a very limited ability to heal. More than 1 million partial meniscectomies to remove or repair a torn meniscus are performed in the U.S. every year – about the same as the total number of hip and knee replacement surgeries combined. However, many patients still experience persistent knee pain following meniscus surgery.

New York area volunteer firefighter Tracy Cullum was diagnosed with a meniscus tear eight years ago, when the 42-year-old mother of two was experiencing a constant ache and the inability to put any weight on her left leg. Although she underwent a partial meniscectomy to treat the tear, her knee pain became progressively worse and resulted in a constant limp while walking.

“I went from working out seven days week to having to stop any exercise activities,” Cullum says. “And my work as a part-time volunteer firefighter was challenging, since it was difficult to move any equipment and my mobility was compromised when responding to an emergency scene.”

With her activity severely limited, Cullum sought out options to treat her persistent knee pain and discovered that a hospital near her home town is participating in the clinical trial of the NUsurface Meniscus Implant – the first “artificial meniscus” designed to replace the damaged one for patients like Cullum with persistent knee pain due to injured or deteriorated meniscus cartilage.

“There are limited options for patients who experience persistent knee pain following meniscus surgery,” says Dr. Richard Alfred, orthopedic surgeon at Capital Region Orthopaedic Associates and VENUS study investigator. “It is our hope that the NUsurface implant alleviates pain in these patients, allowing them to return to their previous levels of activity.”

Cullum received the implant in July 2016 through a small incision in her knee. She completed a six-week rehabilitation program, and she has now returned to daily leisure activities like hot yoga and her work as a volunteer firefighter.

“In the six months before receiving the NUsurface Meniscus Implant, my knee pain had peaked to where I had a constant dull ache and a limp while walking,” Cullum says. “Now my range of motion is improving, and I am ecstatic to be able to resume one of my favorite activities – volunteering together with my husband and children at our local fire department.”

The NUsurface Meniscus Implant, made of medical-grade plastic, is an investigational device that is inserted into the knee in a minimally invasive procedure through a small incision. It has been used in Europe since 2008 and Israel since 2011.

“It is important to note that NUsurface is an investigational device that is limited by United States law to investigational use,” Dr. Alfred says. “Responses to the NUsurface can and do vary with each patient, so those interested in the trial should discuss their individual situations with a clinical trial physician.”

To be eligible for the clinical studies, you must be between the ages of 30 and 75, have pain after medial meniscus surgery and have had meniscus surgery at least six months ago. To find a study site near you, visit

IMAGE CAPTIONS: ——————————————- Caption 1: Tracy Cullum received the NUsurface Meniscus Implant in July 2016 through a small incision in her knee. After completing a six-week rehabilitation program, she has now returned to daily leisure activities like hot yoga and her work as a volunteer firefighter.

Jan 092017

(NC) If you’ve been in the work force for 20 years, you’re likely in your peak earning years. As your finances improve, now is the time to also focus on improving your long-term financial future. Here are some tips from the experts at Investors Group.

Pay off debt. Apply some of your extra money to paying down your mortgage and other debts.

Build for retirement. Develop an effective investment portfolio and apply an ever-increasing amount of your income to your portfolio and other vehicles for retirement savings, such as registered retirement savings plans and tax-free savings accounts. The earlier you invest in RRSPs, for example, the more you maximize the magic of compounding. By making your maximum RRSP contribution each year, you’ll maximize your tax savings.

Identify your priorities. As your income increases, it’s tempting to purchase something significant, like a cottage, vehicle or boat. But beware of spending too much now at the expense of your retirement years. It’s better to identify your priorities and budget to achieve them without compromising your future.

Help your kids. It’s tougher these days for young people to become financially independent. You may want to help yours with tuition and other financial support, perhaps for several years beyond college or university while they get established in their careers. A registered education savings plan can help rein in the rising costs of a post-secondary education. Investing a few dollars each earnings period in a fund for “kids’ support” is also a good idea.

Support your parents. You’re a member of the “sandwich generation,” and so could find yourself supporting them in some fashion. Include that possibility in your budgeting decisions.

Plan to retire. Whether you intend to work into the traditional retirement years or are aiming to retire early, make sure you have a plan that will get you there in financial comfort.

Contact an advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. More information is available from an Investors Group consultant.

Jan 082017

(NC) When Victor Wasaba retired five years ago, he didn’t want to spend his golden years sitting on the couch watching TV. The 71-year-old Winnipegger wanted to use his time away from work to be active and socialize with friends.

“Once a month I meet with the guys from my old repair crew and we go out for breakfast,” he says. “We catch up, laugh at all the same jokes and really enjoy each other’s company. It’s nice because it gives me something to look forward to.”

What Wasaba may not realize is that his regular breakfasts are likely improving his health. Many studies show that an active social life can help people stay heathier and live longer.

One study, conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, concluded that strong social ties in general can be beneficial to both mental and physical health. They found that an active social life has been linked to a lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, greater ability to carry out physical tasks, improved happiness, and better cognitive functioning.

Conversely, a relative lack of social ties is associated with depression, later-life cognitive decline, and increased mortality. One Harvard Medical School study found that a lack of strong social relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50 per cent. People who smoke up to 15 cigarettes a day have the same kind of increased risk, according to the study.

There are many ways to keep an active social life in retirement, like volunteering or picking up a new sport or activity. Communities in warm climates, like Florida or Palm Springs, cater to active retirees.

One approach is to revisit friendships that lapsed during your working years. That’s what Wasaba has done. “It gives me a sense of belonging,” he says. “I always make a conscious effort to stay in touch with everyone. After we meet up, I feel really good about myself for the rest of the day.” And he’s staying healthy in the process.

Contact an advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. More information is available from an Investors Group consultant.

Jan 062017

(NC) Did you know that there are only two risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease that we cannot control? These are genetics and aging, but other risk factors can be reduced by making the right lifestyle choices for your body and brain in order to age successfully.

Confused Senior Man With Adult Daughter At Home

“While there’s no way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, a healthy brain is able to withstand illness,” explains Holly Quinn, Chief Nursing Officer at Bayshore HealthCare, which provides home and community healthcare services and often works with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and caregivers.

Maintain a healthy brain and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease with these simple lifestyle choices:

  1. Diet. A healthy diet is important for your overall body health, and especially a healthy brain. Eating nutritious food long-term also helps maintain brain function and slow memory decline. Choose foods rich in omega-3 oils, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables of many different colours.

  2. Mental exercise. It’s important that you exercise your brain and body on a daily basis. Growing evidence suggests that regular mental stimulation may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by enhancing cognitive reserve ( the mind’s resistance to damage. Try puzzles, playing chess, learning a new hobby or musical instrument ( anything you enjoy that engages your brain can help create new mental pathways or develop infrequently used ones.

  3. Physical exercise. What’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. Exercise is great as it gets the blood moving and keeps the heart and brain healthy through constant nourishment from increased circulation. If possible, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times a week.

  4. Quit smoking. Smoking is extremely dangerous to your health and body, and your brain is no exception. Recreational drug use and excessive alcohol consumption are also best avoided.

  5. Manage stress. It’s very important to fix any underlying problems that are causing stress, as stress increases blood pressure and makes the heart beat faster. It also releases the stress hormone cortisol, prolonged levels of which can have a negative effect on the body. Relax your body and mind by managing stress with physical activities, breathing exercises, yoga or meditation.

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