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Newsletter. Issue 2006-05. March 04, 2006
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Health & Wellness

Working Smoke Alarms: It's the Law as of March 1, 2006

 TORONTO, Feb. 28 /CNW/ - A new regulation requiring smoke alarms on every storey as well as outside all sleeping areas of every home will make Ontario an even safer place to live, says Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter..

"It's simple - smoke alarms save lives," says Kwinter. "Even with the lowest fire death rate in Ontario's history in 2005, we can all do more to protect our loved ones. Installing smoke alarms on every storey of a home and outside all sleeping areas can ensure your family has the precious seconds needed to escape from a fire. The new regulation that takes effect March 1,
2006 will mean safer homes and safer communities."

Announced in December, the smoke alarm amendment to the Ontario Fire Code applies to all single family, semi-detached and town homes, whether owner-occupied or rented. It was announced in conjunction with the launch of the Office of the Fire Marshal's public education campaign, Working Smoke Alarms:It's the Law!, designed to heighten awareness about the importance of working smoke alarms.

"Since 1997, the number of fire deaths has declined by 50 per cent," said Bernard Moyle, Fire Marshal for Ontario. "Although these numbers reflect a milestone in Ontario's fire history, people are still losing their lives in fires. We expect that having more smoke alarms in homes will mean earlier warning of fire, which will result in faster escape by occupants, earlier arrival by the fire department and ultimately less risk to firefighters and the public."

Smoke alarms can be purchased for as little as $10. Municipal fire departments across Ontario have increased their public education efforts to ensure homeowners are in compliance and will soon be enforcing the new smoke alarm requirements. For homeowners, tenants and individual landlords, non-compliance with the Fire Code smoke alarm requirements can result in a
ticket for $235 or a fine of up to $50,000.


Study uncovers what matters most in end-of-life care

 OTTAWA, Feb. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - How Canadians die is far more important than where they die, according to a new Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funded study on the quality of end-of-life care.

"Patients are telling us they don't want to be a burden on their families, whether they die at home or in hospital," says Dr. Daren Heyland, a research director in the Department of Medicine at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) and a Queen's University Professor of Medicine. According to Dr. Heyland, dying patients and their families need to feel they can trust their attending physicians. "It's not that patients don't care at all about where they die, they just rated that factor as less important than having confidence in the doctors looking after them."

The study sheds light on the opinions of elderly patients suffering from chronic, terminal diseases and what they consider to be key elements of quality end-of-life care. The study is published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

"This is the first study of its kind to look into the interventions that really make a difference in the last days of seriously-ill patients with diseases or ailments other than cancer," says Dr. Bruce McManus, Scientific Director with the CIHR Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health. "The more we can understand about this period of life, the greater the dignity and comfort we can provide to all patients."

The results may cast doubt on current efforts to support more patients dying at home, according to the research team that conducted the study. At present, seven out of every 10 Canadians die in hospital.

Out of 28 factors describing quality care, patients and family members rated "to have trust and confidence in the doctors looking after you" and "not to be kept alive on life supports when there is little hope for a meaningful recovery" as most important. "To be able to die in the location of your choice, e.g. home or hospital," rated 24th of 28 from the patient's perspective and 14th of 26 from the family member's perspective.

The study also questions whether doctors receive adequate training in and understanding of the significance of communications in dealing with patients and their families. The patients and families surveyed reported that adequate interactions with and honest communication from doctors were additional key determinants to quality care at the end-of-life.

The survey involved 434 seriously-ill, elderly patients and 160 family members.

The study was conducted in hospitals in Kingston, Vancouver, Halifax, Toronto and Edmonton between November 2001 and June 2003.

To view the complete article, visit www.cmaj.ca

CARP News Articles
Early Retirement May be Dangerous to your Health
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Article By: James Pasternak

Early retirement might be dangerous to your health. So say the findings of a recent study published in the British Medical Journal

Entitled “Age at Retirement and Long Term Survival of an Industrial Population: Prospective Cohort Study,” a team of researchers tracked thousands of employees who worked at Shell Oil. The investigators found that leaving the workforce at age 55 doubled the risk for death before reaching age 65, compared with those who kept working beyond age 60.

Subjects who retired early at 55 and who were still alive at 65 had a significantly higher mortality than those who retired at age 65. Mortality was also significantly higher for subjects in the first 10 years after retirement at 55 compared with those who continued working.

In Canada, industries that tend to have the lowest median retirement age include education, public administration, transportation and warehousing, forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas.

In the study, gender made a difference. The risk of dying early was 80% greater for men than for women, the researchers concluded.

The researchers reviewed the survival outcomes of 839 employees who retired at age 55 and 1,929 employees who worked until age 60 and were still alive at age 65. These outcomes were compared with 900 employees who retired at 65.

Failing health might have played a role in the younger retirees' higher mortality, said Shan P. Tsai, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at Shell Health Services and one of the authors of the report.

However, data were not available to assess directly whether poor health was a significant factor, and it is not clear why continued employment led to longer life, the researchers wrote.

This is a conundrum taken up by consulting actuary Malcolm Hamilton of Toronto-based Mercer Human Resources Consulting Ltd.

“It’s not clear from the study whether retiring early causes you to die early or quite the reverse. It could be people who suspect their health isn’t terribly good - and they are likely to die early - decide to retire early. It’s not clear which is the chicken and which is the egg.”

In fact, a Social Development Canada study released in May 2001 seems to conclude that health, the age of retirement and life expectancy might be intrinsically linked. The study concluded that the planned age of retirement continually increases with the health status of the individual. Relative to persons in poor health, the planned age of retirement increases by 2.5 years for persons who report their health as fair, rising to 3 years for persons who report their health as excellent.

“If you look at the individuals within the groups my guess is you’ll find every possible variation on a them. You’ll probably find some people who retired early and for whatever reason [and died early]” says Hamilton.

“You’ll find another group that was quite the reverse. They were fed up with working; discouraged with their job; retired; made themselves fit, pursued things in which they had a greater interest; re-discovered their love of life and lived long.”

“Suggesting there’s a correlation between two things doesn’t go very far to telling you what’s causing what or what it means. There’s nothing there to suggest whether bad health causes early retirement or early retirement causes bad health.”

Speaking anecdotally, Larry Berdugo, a certified financial planner of Toronto-based Independent Financial Concepts Group Ltd has found that early retirement without a road map can lead to malaise, indifference and reduced life expectancy.

“Some people who retire and do nothing lose their purpose. If they are not in the workforce they need some kind of purpose. How much can you golf? How much can you garden?” asks Berdugo.

“I think its partially depression. For retirement planning I tell clients that they are likely to start second, third and fourth careers.”

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