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Newsletter. Issue 2010-03. January 30, 2010

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Health & Wellness

Canadians think a retirement of their dreams is out of reach: RBC Poll

Retired Canadians are spending less in their first year of retirement but still more than they expected

TORONTO, Jan. 18 /CNW/ - Nearly all Canadians (90 per cent) feel they will have enough income to cover their necessities in retirement but only one-in-four Canadians (25 per cent) feel they will have enough money to fulfill their retirement dreams, according to the 20th Annual RBC RRSP Poll.

The poll found that most retired Canadians (75 per cent) didn't know how much they spent in their first year of retirement, virtually unchanged from 2008 (76 per cent). Those who know how much they spent had lower costs in their first year of retirement, having spent close to $35,000, down from $51,000 in 2008. However, half of these respondents (52 per cent) said they spent more than expected, up from 46 per cent in 2008.
"How much money you'll need in retirement depends on how you'll be spending your time, with many Canadians underestimating the amount they will need," said Lee Anne Davies, head, Retirement Strategies, RBC Royal Bank. "Financial planning is more than just number crunching and your retirement is not a single phase of your life, but a series of stages. A personalized financial plan can look at options to make your nest egg last and help ensure your retirement needs and dreams are met."

When thinking about retirement, the study found that Canadians who have not retired were most worried about having enough savings (48 per cent), while only 29 per cent of retirees had this concern. Both pre-retirees and retirees are concerned about maintaining their standard of living (40 per cent). Retirees are also more likely to be worried about healthcare (33 per cent) than pre-retirees (28 per cent).

"All of these concerns are valid. Whether retired or not, your life will be somewhat unpredictable at times and you need to be ready when life throws you a curve ball. This is where having a plan can provide peace of mind - you'll know you've considered the unexpected and you've taken the steps to save for your retirement," said Davies.
These are some of the findings the RBC 20th Annual RBC Poll conducted by Ipsos Reid between October 21 and November 2, 2009. For this survey, a national sample of 1,457 adults from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-2.56 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
Your Future by Design(R) is RBC's distinctive approach to help clients identify, plan, and realize their goals for retirement. With the guidance of RBC financial planners and investment and retirement planners, Your Future by Design helps clients create a blueprint for a successful lifestyle and financial plan for retirement based on what is truly important to them in key areas in life, including family, health, home, lifestyle, work/business, mind and spirit, and legacy. To find out more about how RBC can help build a blueprint for the future, visit www.rbc.com/yourfuture  or call 1-866-335-4055.

For further information: Media contacts:
Suzanne Willers, RBC, (416) 974-2727; Matt Gierasimczuk, Media Relations, (416) 974-2124


Stressed-out boomers supporting adult kids and aging parents

Most boomers don't mind helping parents but aren't as thrilled about supporting adult kids Supporting kids, parents and themselves recipe for Boomer sandwich, Investors Group poll finds

WINNIPEG, Jan. 5 /CNW/ - Members of Canada's baby boom generation regularly add care giving and financial support to their already busy lives - sometimes at a cost that could include increased personal stress, abandoned vacation plans and reduced retirement savings.

Investors Group's Boomers on Call survey of Canadians aged 43 to 63 reveals that one-in-ten (10 per cent) boomers with children say they also provide some type of support to their aging parents as well as looking after their own needs. Of this group, four-in-ten (42 per cent) say they experience stress as a result of these combined responsibilities.

While boomers have a positive attitude about caring for their parents (66 per cent feel they're repaying their parents for their upbringing), they are not as happy about giving money to their adult children. One quarter (25 per cent) of the 'paying parents' said they were bothered by the need to provide financial assistance. The survey showed that six-in-ten boomer parents provide financial support averaging $3,675 per year to their adult children.

"Becoming a parent is a lifelong gift, but the payments are sometimes longer than anticipated. Boomers could face a cash crunch as they prepare for retirement," said Jane Olshewski, Manager, Financial Life Planning Investors Group. "It's natural to help your children as they start out on their own, but your own needs should be considered too."

According to Olshewski, today's boomers offer a variety of services to children, parents or both. The varying levels and types of support can be grouped into four broad categories:

The Venture Capitalist - Boomers who invest the initial capital to get their children to the next stage of self-sufficiency Four-in-ten (44 per cent) boomer parents indicate that they are currently contributing to their child's post-secondary education or have already done so. A further two-in-ten (21 per cent) expect to make this expenditure. Interestingly, six-in-ten (62 per cent) boomer parents say that their own parents did not offer this type of assistance.

The majority of boomer parents (52 per cent) say they expect their children to be financially self-sufficient by age 25, while more than half of the parents (53 per cent) say they themselves became financially self-supporting before age 21.

The Service Provider - Boomers assisting children who do not require boarding but still need emotional and financial support. Seven-in-ten (70 per cent) boomer parents have children aged 19 and over living away from home. These parents travel 190 km per month - on average - to provide some type of assistance to their children. This assistance includes a wide variety of chores such as babysitting grandchildren, helping with major financial decisions, doing car repairs and performing home maintenance and repairs.

The Funding Agency - Boomers providing lodging and financial relief to adult children with insufficient funds Two-in-ten (22 per cent) boomer parents have a child aged 19 or over living at home. Of this group, six-in-ten (58 per cent) say that their adult child makes no financial contribution to the household.

The Universal Coverage Provider: - Boomers caring for both parents and children, placing eggs in too many baskets Due to the time spent helping both parents and children, one-third (34 per cent) of these sandwich boomers say they've postponed or cancelled travel plans, and a third (32 per cent) say they're unable to focus on their own hobbies and interests. However, the financial assistance this group provides could have even more significant consequences. As a result of financially supporting both their parents and their children, four-in-ten (39 per cent) say they've been forced to reduce the amount they're investing for retirement and one-quarter (24 per cent) say they have adopted a less comfortable lifestyle. One-quarter (24 per cent) expressed concern that this financial assistance will jeopardize their retirement security.

"With children taking longer to become self-sufficient, and aging parents expected to live longer, boomers are headed for the perfect generational storm," said Olshewski. "One way to cope with these responsibilities is to know how much assistance you can afford to give, and how much you need to take care of yourself."


More people facing heart disease risk, Heart and Stroke Foundation warns
680News staff, | 2010/01/25

The Heart and Stroke Foundation issued a serious warning Monday.  In a report released Monday, the Foundation said a "perfect storm" of risk factors and demographic charges are converging to create an unprecedented burden on the health care system.

Spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson said the face of heart disease in this country is changing to include groups that have historically been immune to heart disease threats.

According to the Foundation, between 1994 and 2005, rates of high blood pressure among Canadians skyrocketed by 77 per cent, diabetes by 45 per cent and obesity by 18 per cent - affecting both younger and older Canadians. Moreover, even younger age groups are experiencing increases in risk: among those 35 to 49 years of age, for example, the prevalence of high blood pressure increased 127 per cent, diabetes by 64 per cent and obesity by 20 per cent - all major risk factors for heart disease.

One interesting note is that experts have said Toronto is the thinnest city in Ontario, but the least physically active.


Heart and Stroke Foundation report warns: A "Perfect storm" of heart disease looming on our horizon

TORONTO, Jan. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - The Heart and Stroke Foundation's 2010 Annual Report on Canadians' Health warns that a "perfect storm" of risk factors and demographic changes are converging to create an unprecedented burden on Canada's fragmented system of cardiovascular care, and no Canadian young or old will be left unaffected.

"In a very short time, the face of heart disease in Canada has changed to include groups that have historically been immune to the threats of heart disease," says Dr. Beth Abramson, cardiologist and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "But the combination of new groups at-risk of heart disease and the explosion of Canadians indulging in unhealthy habits across Canada have accelerated the impact of these threats, which are now converging and erasing the progress we've made in treating heart disease over the last 50 years."

The signs of this impending crisis are clearly evident. Between 1994 and 2005, rates of high blood pressure among Canadians skyrocketed by 77%, diabetes by 45% and obesity by 18% - affecting both younger and older Canadians. Moreover, even younger age groups are experiencing increases in risk: among those 35 to 49 years of age, for example, the prevalence of high blood pressure increased 127%, diabetes by 64% and obesity by 20% - all major risk factors for heart disease.

"Up to this point we've had a patchwork quilt of prevention and treatment initiatives aimed at addressing some, but not all, of the risk factors affecting Canadians," says Stephen Samis, Director of Health Policy, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "The magnitude of this problem has become so large, the only way forward is to implement a comprehensive, Canadian heart-health strategy that focuses on at-risk and disadvantaged populations, addresses the disparities between provinces and territories and integrates Canada's fragmented system of cardiac care services."

The at-risk and disadvantaged populations in Canada include: the unprecedented growing number of young Canadian adults who are obese and overweight; the largest cohort of Boomers (50-64 years) in Canada's history entering a stage where they are at a higher risk for heart disease; our Aboriginal peoples who are experiencing a full-blown cardiovascular crisis; more women entering their young adult years at higher risk for heart disease, which could overwhelm the healthcare system with an entire new generation of patients; and, some of Canada's fastest growing ethno-cultural communities who are pre-disposed to a heavier burden of risk factors and heart disease.

The Changing Face of Canada

"The face of heart disease has changed," says Dr. Marco Di Buono, Director of Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. "We can no longer operate under the current stereotypes. In this country, heart disease is not just a disease affecting older, Caucasian males."

At Risk: Young Canadian Adults

Young people are beginning their adult lives with multiple risk factors for heart disease. Over the past 15 years, Canada has seen significant increases in overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. It used to be thought that like heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure were "diseases of aging." These increases will translate into an explosion of heart disease in the next generation.

"There are more than 250,000 young Canadians in their 20s and 30s with high blood pressure. That's something we could have never imagined a decade ago. It's almost a doubling in 15 years," says Stephen Samis. "The real tragedy is that this is largely preventable."

"Canada is truly at a crossroads," says Dr. Abramson. "As a society we need to decide if we are going to invest in making our society more heart healthy so we can reduce our future risk, or would we rather continue to pay for a healthcare system overwhelmed by cardiac patients."


Exercise, green tea may lessen breast cancer blues
Joene Hendry | Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:54pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Depression is a major health issue for breast cancer survivors, but new research hints that regular exercise and drinking green tea may help.

Exercising regularly and drinking green tea "may play an important role in the prevention of depression among breast cancer survivors," report Dr. Xiao Ou Shu, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues.

They examined depression-related factors in 1,399 Chinese women who were 54 years old on average and treated for breast cancer in Shanghai, China between April 2002 and December 2006. Six months after their diagnosis, the researchers assessed the women's physical activity levels; food, tea, and alcohol consumption; cigarette smoking; and use of herbal medicines and supplements.

In depression evaluations at 18-months post-diagnosis, the investigators noted distinct benefits among the women who reported some sort of exercise (62 percent of the total). At this time, exercisers were about 20 percent less likely to be either mildly or clinically depressed, the researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

They noted just 84 cases of mild or clinical depression among 437 vigorous exercisers (19.2 percent), but 161 cases among the 528 non-exercisers (30.5 percent). Plus, compared with non-exercising women, the likelihood of depression was 28 percent lower among women who exercised more than 2 hours a week and 42 percent lower among those who increased their post-diagnosis exercise time.

Tea drinking also seemed to lessen depression. Compared with the 1,216 women who did not drink tea, among the 183 women who did, depression risk was about 36 percent lower. The vast majority of the tea drinkers -- 90 percent -- drank green tea. The exercise and tea-drinking benefits remained when Shu's group allowed for multiple other risk factors for depression. No other factors seemed to alter depression risk. Although exercise and drinking green tea seemed to lower depression in this group of Chinese women, breast cancer survivors "should not overdose themselves," Shu cautioned in an email to Reuters Health.

He noted that excessive exercise and tea drinking may not have the same benefit on mood. Also, further investigations are necessary to clarify these findings since women in other countries, who may undergo different breast cancer treatment regimens, may react differently.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, online January 4, 2010

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