News Articles

  • Doing it Her Way by Pat Irwin


    The magazine articles, brochures and ads are gorgeous. Slim, fashionable folks with just a touch of grey, enjoying their senior years to the fullest. Do you ever notice – they’re always pictures of couples? Are Canadian seniors really so perfectly paired up?
    Public Health Agency of Canada ( reports that while the majority of seniors are married (56% in 2006), nearly one third are widowed, and there are marked differences in marital status between the genders. In 2006, three quarters of senior men were married compared to 41.4% of women, while 46% of senior women were widowed compared to 12.7% of senior men. These differences become even more pronounced in older age groups. The National Seniors Council ( reports that 15% of seniors live below the poverty line (versus 1.4% of married seniors); of these seniors in poverty, 75% are women. The median income of Canadian married seniors is $41,400; for single seniors, $20,800. ‘Doing it HER Way’

  • Having the Talk by Pat Irwin


    Manage expectations:
    Contrary to what you might think, families don’t just make these decisions over a cup of tea. It’s normal to have discussions, arguments and every variation of emotion. While it’s one of the most important talks’ in a person’s life, there’s no need to dread it if you keep these tips in mind. Read More

  • Expert Opinion by Pat Irwin


    Why did Mom leave you half the estate? You lived in her house for 10 years – wasn’t that enough?

    I turned down promotions and finally had to quit to look after her – you owe ME money!

    Two bereaved siblings – too mired in bitterness to be able to mourn the mother they had loved – and thought they had understood. The best efforts at mediation had failed to bring them to an agreement, and the issue had gone to litigation. Read More

  • Adding it Up by Pat Irwin


    Brian Oliver looked at his brother as he snapped his laptop shut. Mom’s recent fall brought them both back to the family home for the first time in two years and they’re dismayed at what they see.

    “No matter what I do, it doesn’t balance. We promised Mom and Dad they could stay at home but the money just isn’t there. Maybe you can kick in $1,000 a month, but I’ve got two kids in university”!

    Let’s look at the Oliver’s worry list. Read More

  • Arithmetic for Seniors by Pat Irwin


    In these recessionary times, investments, benefits and pensions are on everyone’s mind. We joke that ‘Freedom 55’ is now ‘Freedom 95’ – but for aging parents facing care and housing bills, it’s no laughing matter.

    What income stream can folks over 65 expect? Here’s a run-down:
    CPP – Canada Pension Plan
    – begins at age 60
    – federal program
    – only applies if paid into as employee
    – $800 /mo
    Read More

  • Dollars and Sense by Pat Irwin


    Mom and Dad’s bathroom is a safety disaster – but they won’t spend the money, although they can afford it!
    Dad went out for snow tires – and drove home with a new $45,000 Camry! What was he thinking, at his age?
    Mother and Dad could really use some help in the home. My brother, who is Power of Attorney, doesn’t see them often enough to know, so I have to pick up the slack – and I’m burning out.
    Mom said her annual church donation was $1,000, but when I did her taxes I saw it was really $10,000.
    She said she was afraid to tell me.

    Parents, adult children and finances – a recipe for misunderstanding and confrontation, or an opportunity for generations to work together? Is it possible? Decidedly, it is – but, like all good things, it takes awareness, co-operation and planning. Read More

  • The Downsizing Dilemna by Pat Irwin


    Should we sell now, or will the market rebound?
    Smaller house or condo?
    Retirement residence or live-in caregiver?
    Donate it all or call an auctioneer?
    Believe it or not, there’s a common solution to all these questions – downsizing!

    A major life decision is daunting enough at any age, but for seniors, the ability to process the changes required to embrace a new life can be hindered by age, disability, bereavement or our universal reluctance the change. However, taking the major first step – and achieving it on your own terms – not only accomplishes that first step; it allows you the flexibility to take subsequent steps much more easily. Read More

  • Duet for One by Pat Irwin


    One of the saddest rites of adulthood is losing our parents, and it’s heartbreaking to see our surviving parent’s brave, solitary figure. Whether it’s after a lingering illness or a sudden attack, a death in the family is like a pebble in a pool – over time, the ripples affect us all. What will we need to know – how can we prepare – and what are some practical tips on helping our surviving parent through this transition? Read More

  • Dying Inestate by Pat Irwin


    “Peter Howarth had always been a private person, and after his wife of 60 years passed away, he was even more taciturn. So it was frustrating, but not terribly surprising, when his son got a call from a neighbour that Peter had been taken away in an ambulance. Once his chest pains were diagnosed as angina he was discharged, only to face the ire of his son, Brian. “Dad, I had no information – nothing about your health instructions, your bank accounts, your Will – I need to know this stuff.” “You don’t need to know it, and I’m not going to tell you, so stop asking”. Read More


  • Elder Mediation by Pat Irwin


    Dad wants his annual Florida holiday; Mom won’t go – but won’t let him go, either!
    Why did you marry my dad if you’re just going to put him in a home?
    When Dad married your mom he agreed to pay for her care – but that’s not what it says in his Will.
    Your dad’s left the retirement home and is holed up in the local bar!
    Mom won’t allow any home help – but she calls me at work 20 times a day!

    Incredible? Yes!
    Improbable? Not really!
    Impossible? Maybe not…

    Family shenanigans are the stuff of sitcoms – but they’re not so funny when you’re coping with an aging parent. Dilemmas such as these are tricky – they aren’t matters for the police, or for a lawyer – or even for Dear Abby. How can you understand your parent’s behaviour – get them to see reason – to act logically and responsibly, and to commit to making a positive change? Read More