Older Adult Entrepreneurs

You often hear about young entrepreneurs (Steve Jobs!) starting up successful businesses in their parents’ garage but there is a growing and often overlooked demographic of older adults who possess the knowledge, life experience and desire to create successful businesses. Creating a business plan and finding your target audience are essential to starting your own business but equally important is finding the supports to see your vision become a reality.

An article in Entrepreneur magazine titled Late Bloomers offers an inspiring list of older adults who have taken the leap and started their own successful businesses. These dynamic businesses are born out of personal life experiences, which propelled creative and very successful ideas.

These successful entrepreneurs are no surprise to the Society of Certified Senior Advisors (CSA). The CSA website proudly states that “according to the U.S. Department of Labor, seniors are the largest group of individuals starting new businesses”.

As part of the Centre’s Business of Aging: Information Exchange Network (BA:IEN), we often provide resources and forums to share best practices about new business ventures, specifically targeting older consumers. For our upcoming breakfast meeting on July 30, we are expanding that focus to include resources to support entrepreneurs, be they young or old, in creating new solutions for the mature market. See flyer below for details.

BAIEN mtg July_14 V3




The Inspirational Olga Kotelko

senior-trackGrowing old happens whether we like it or not, so why not make the best of these years? ~ Olga Kotelko

Last month, Canadian born, masters track and field star Olga Kotelko passed away at the age of 95. Kotelko’s remarkable, record-breaking athletic career began when she was 77 years old and has been a source of inspiration for many. Olga competed worldwide in sprinting, high jump, long jump, triple jump and her favourite, the hammer throw.

In an interview on BBC World News, conducted when she was 91 years old, Kotelko talks about her love of competition and the joy of camaraderie that comes with being an athlete.

What Makes Olga Run? The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives is a book searching for answers to explain her unique capabilities. The author of the book, Bruce Grierson, who is “convinced that this remarkable woman could help unlock many of the mysteries of aging, set out to uncover what it is that’s driving Olga. He considers every piece of the puzzle, from her diet and sleep habits to how she scores on various personality traits, from what she does in her spare time to her family history”.

In a CBC Q Jian Ghomeshi interview of Olga and author Grierson, he points out that Olga “certainly redefines the phrase ‘late bloomer’”. The interview discusses ‘the importance of her lifestyle choices’ combined with good genes as a possible explanation for her athletic prowess. When asked how much she exercises each day Olga responds by saying that she has no idea because she is “never idle”.

Olga is featured with four other athletes in Grey Glory: a documentary about Canadian seniors who are pushing their bodies to the limit. The documentary’s message is that it’s never to late to start exercising. To illustrate that message it “tells the story of five Canadian athletes in the 65-plus age group who are defying the stereotype of seniors as frail, slow and unfit. Also featured in the film are Regina runner/triathlete Milos Kostic, 72, who has competed in more than 20 Ironman triathlons; Calgary gymnast Ed Vincent, 76; Winnipeg bodybuilder Tom Heffner, 68; and West Vancouver’s Christa Bortignon, 76, who was so moved by Kotelko’s successes that she also took up track and field in her 70s”.

Kotelko wrote her own book shortly before she passed away entitled Olga: The O.K. Way to a Healthy, Happy Life where she extolls the virtues of focusing “less on my age and more on how I age”. Olga encourages older adults to embrace the pleasures of physical, mental and spiritual well-being by offering tips on how to stay fit.

Check out Olga’s website where she is described as an individual who “believed an optimistic attitude and regular exercise contribute to good health, better energy, and a happier disposition”.

Law Commission of Ontario: Elder Care Laws Public Consultation

“The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) is an independent organization that researches issues and recommends law reform measures to make the law accessible to all Ontario communities”.

In April of 2012 the LCO introduced a report entitled A Framework for the Law as it Affects Older Adults: Advancing Substantive Equality for Older Persons Through Law, Policy and Practice. It became evident during the project that issues surrounding capacity and decision-making are a ‘central priority’ within the community and therefore need to be re-examined. Within decision-making and guardianship laws there appeared to be “considerable concern about how the law was operating in practice, and its impact on the autonomy, security, dignity and inclusion of older adults”.

In a Metro News article, Lauren Bates who is heading the project states that “the Law Commission’s early findings suggest that because the process is so accessible, seniors may fail to grasp that the best person for the job may not be their closest relative”. The article also explains that “unlike some other jurisdictions, Ontario has no mechanisms to keep track of substitute decision-makers, actively monitor their decisions or even inform them that they have been placed in this important role”.

In response, the LCO has undertaken the Legal Capacity, Decision-making and Guardianship project to “examine and recommend reforms to Ontario’s legal capacity, decision-making and guardianship laws related to property, personal care and treatment decisions”. The key issues identified by the project are:

  1. Legal capacity. The project will consider how the standard for legal capacity should be defined and assessed.
  2. Alternative to substitute decision-making. The project will consider whether approaches, such as co-decision-making or supported-decision-making should be formally included in legislation.
  3. Processes for appointment and termination of substitute decision-makers. The project will consider whether the processes through which substitute decision-makers (or potentially supporters or co-decision-makers) are appointed or terminated can be made more efficient, accessible, transparent or accountable.
  4. Roles and responsibilities of those acting for persons who require assistance with decision-making. The project will re-examine the roles and responsibilities of those who act for those who require assistance with decision-making
  5. Addressing abuse. The project will consider improvements in law, policy and practice to prevent, identify and address abuse or inappropriate activity by substitute decision-makers.
  6. Dispute resolution and rights enforcement: The project will examine potential improvements to dispute resolution and rights enforcement for this area of the law.

As part of its Legal Capacity, Decision-making and Guardianship project the LCO released a discussion paper on June 26, 2014, that is asking for feedback from members of the public. The LCO is interested in hearing about your experiences in this area.

You have until Friday, October 4, to have your say about the current laws of decision-making and guardianship to ensure that older adults who require a power of attorney are protected.


LGBT Older Adults

worldprideHuman rights are an important issue for all ages. During the WorldPride festival this year (June 20 – 29), Toronto is hosting the WorldPride Human Rights Conference 2014. This conference creates opportunities for individuals engaged in the community to discuss lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) rights around the world.

WorldPride is holding an event that may be of interest for LGBT older adults. Generations of Queer is described as an exhibition that focuses on “storytelling; creating a dialogue between the works of two senior artists and two younger artists who have come into queer discourses as beneficiaries of the activism of their predecessors”.

Across Canada there are organizations that provide support specifically for the LGBT older adult community.

Senior Pride Network The Senior Pride Network describes itself as “an association of individuals, organizations and community groups that share an interest and commitment to expanding programs and services for 50+ lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people in the City of Toronto and throughout Canada”.

CARP Pink Chapter shares the core values of CARP but also recognizes that “while many of the issues faced by Canadians as we age are common, some of the needs and challenges facing our LGBT members as they age, including issues with the health care system; legal rights, including powers of attorney; housing and long term care, etc., differ from their heterosexual counterparts”.

519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto “Older LGBT Program provides people with opportunities to make deeper connections with their peers by socializing and learning through special events, guest speakers and promoting related community resources. The Older LGBT Program offers a weekly Monday drop-in with programming for older LGBT people in our community. Everyone is invited, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation”.

QMUNITY Generations in Vancouver “reflects an exciting and innovative approach to age specific service delivery, education, and community”. The QMUNITY offers older adult support/discussion groups, social activities, recreational activities, educational workshops and special events.

The Ottawa Senior Pride Network is “committed to creating safe, LGBT-friendly services and residential environments and building a strong, connected, visible senior queer community in Ottawa”.

Do you know your rights? View the 30 basic human rights as put forth by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.