Social Innovations – A Nutrition Overview & Public Schools in the US offer a Free Lunch

I am sharing this information to try to connect the dots in a way that will be meaningful and helpful. I will be illustrating life experiences with scientific evidence-based corroborating. material. I am not a doctor so do check with your own health care provider for personal changes you may wish to try. Regarding social innovation programs, I want the whole world to have access to ideas, so we all have the best quality of life.

This article discusses the types, symptoms and causes of malnutrition and provides information about prevention and treatment.

Lillian

What Is Malnutrition?

Credit: This article is courtesy of Healthline.com

Written by Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD October 10/2018 – Photo courtesy of Healthline Magazine

Malnutrition is a condition that results from a nutrient deficiency or overconsumption.

Types of malnutrition include:

  • Undernutrition: This type of malnutrition results from not getting enough protein, calories or micronutrients. It leads to low weight-for-height (wasting), height-for-age (stunting) and weight-for-age (underweight).
  • Overnutrition: Overconsumption of certain nutrients, such as protein, calories or fat, can also lead to malnutrition. This usually results in overweight or obesity.

People who are undernourished often have deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, especially iron, zinc, vitamin A and iodine.

However, micronutrient deficiencies can also occur with overnutrition.

It’s possible to be overweight or obese from excessive calorie consumption but not get enough vitamins and minerals at the same time.

That’s because foods that contribute to overnutrition, such as fried and sugary foods, tend to be high in calories and fat but low in other nutrients.

SUMMARY Malnutrition includes undernutrition and overnutrition, both of which can lead to health problems and nutrient deficiencies if not addressed.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of malnutrition depend on the type.

Being able to recognize the effects of malnutrition can help people and healthcare providers identify and treat issues related to under- or overnutrition.

Undernutrition

Undernutrition typically results from not getting enough nutrients in your diet.

This can cause:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of fat and muscle mass
  • Hollow cheeks and sunken eyes
  • A swollen stomach
  • Dry hair and skin
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Depression and anxiety

People with undernutrition may have one or several of these symptoms. Some types of undernutrition have significant effects.

Kwashiorkor, a severe protein deficiency, causes fluid retention and a protruding abdomen. On the other hand, the condition marasmus, which results from severe calorie deficiency, leads to wasting and significant fat and muscle loss.

Undernutrition can also result in micronutrient deficiencies. Some of the most common deficiencies and their symptoms include:

Vitamin A: Dry eyes, night blindness, increased risk of infection.

Zinc: Loss of appetite, stunted growth, delayed healing of wounds, hair loss, diarrhoea.

Iron: Impaired brain function, issues with regulating body temperature, stomach problems.

Iodine: Enlarged thyroid glands (goiters), decreased production of thyroid hormone, growth and development issues.

Since undernutrition leads to serious physical issues and health problems, it can increase your risk of death.

In fact, it’s estimated that stunting, wasting and zinc and vitamin A deficiencies contributed to up to 45% of all child deaths in 2011.

Overnutrition

The main signs of overnutrition are overweight and obesity, but it can also lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Research shows that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to have inadequate intakes and low blood levels of certain vitamins and minerals compared to those who are at a normal weight.

One study in 285 adolescents found that blood levels of vitamins A and E in obese people were 2–10% lower than those of normal-weight participants.

This is likely because overweight and obesity can result from an overconsumption of fast and processed foods that are high in calories and fat but low in other nutrients.

A study in over 17,000 adults and children found that those who ate fast food had significantly lower intakes of vitamins A and C and higher calorie, fat and sodium consumption than those who abstained from this type of food.

Assessing Malnutrition

Symptoms of malnutrition are assessed by healthcare providers when they screen for the condition.

Tools that are used to identify malnutrition include weight loss and body mass index (BMI) charts, blood tests for micronutrient status and physical exams.

If you have a history of weight loss and other symptoms associated with undernutrition, your doctor may order additional tests to identify micronutrient deficiencies.

Identifying nutrient deficiencies that result from overnutrition, on the other hand, can be more difficult.

If you’re overweight or obese and eat mostly processed and fast foods, you may not get enough vitamins or minerals. To find out if you have nutrients deficiencies, consider discussing your dietary habits with your doctor.

SUMMARY Symptoms of undernutrition include weight loss, fatigue, irritability and micronutrient deficiencies. Overnutrition can result in overweight, obesity and a lower intake of certain vitamins and minerals.

Long-Term Effects

Malnutrition can lead to the development of diseases and chronic health conditions.

Long-term effects of undernutrition include a higher risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

One study in 50 adolescents in Brazil found that boys who had stunted growth as a result of undernutrition early in life gained 5% more fat mass over three years compared to their peers who did not have stunting.

Additional research found that 21% of adolescents with stunted growth in Brazil had high blood pressure compared to less than 10% of adolescents without stunting.

Researchers suspect that childhood undernutrition causes changes in metabolism that may lead to a higher likelihood of developing chronic diseases later in life.

Overnutrition can also contribute to the development of certain health issues.

Specifically, overweight or obese children have a higher chance of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

A study in over 369,000 children found that those who were obese were more than four times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to their peers who had a normal BMI.

Since the long-term effects of malnutrition can increase your risk of certain diseases, preventing and treating malnutrition may help reduce the prevalence of chronic health conditions.

SUMMARY Research has linked undernutrition in childhood with a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and obesity later in life. Overnutrition may also increase your likelihood of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Common Causes of Malnutrition

Malnutrition is a worldwide problem that can result from environmental, economic and medical conditions.

The WHO estimates that over 460 million adults and 150 million children are undernourished, while more than two billion adults and children are overweight or obese.

Common causes of malnutrition include:

  • Food insecurity or a lack of access to sufficient and affordable food: Studies link food insecurity in both developing and developed nations to malnutrition.
  • Digestive problems and issues with nutrient absorption: Conditions that cause malabsorption, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and bacterial overgrowth in the intestines, can cause malnutrition.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption: Heavy alcohol use can lead to an inadequate intake of protein, calories and micronutrients.
  • Mental health disorders: Depression and other mental health conditions can increase malnutrition risk. One study found that the prevalence of malnutrition was 4% higher in people with depression compared to healthy individuals.

Inability to obtain and prepare foods: Studies have identified being frail, having poor mobility and lacking muscle strength as risk factors for malnutrition. These issues impair food preparation skills.

SUMMARY Causes of malnutrition include food insecurity, certain health conditions and mobility issues.

Populations at Risk

Malnutrition affects people in all parts of the world, but some populations are at a higher risk.

Populations that are prone to malnutrition include:

People living in developing countries or areas with limited access to food: Undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are especially common in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

Individuals with increased nutrient needs, especially children and pregnant or breastfeeding women: In some developing countries, 24–31% of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are malnourished.

People that live in poverty or have low incomes: Low socioeconomic status is associated with malnutrition.

Older adults, particularly those who live alone or have disabilities: Research shows that up to 22% of older adults are malnourished and over 45% are at risk of malnutrition.

People with issues that affect nutrient absorption: People with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may be up to four times more likely to have malnutrition than those without these conditions.

SUMMARY Older individuals, people living in poverty and those with digestive problems or an increased nutrient need are at high risk of malnutrition.

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing and treating malnutrition involves addressing the underlying causes.

Government agencies, independent organizations and schools can play a role in preventing malnutrition.

Research suggests that some of the most effective ways to prevent malnutrition include providing iron, zinc and iodine pills, food supplements and nutrition education to populations at risk of undernutrition.

In addition, interventions that encourage healthy food choices and physical activity for children and adults at risk of overnutrition may help prevent overweight and obesity.

You can also help prevent malnutrition by eating a diet with a variety of foods that include enough carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water.

Treating malnutrition, on the other hand, often involves more individualized approaches.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is undernourished, talk to a doctor as soon as possible.

A healthcare provider can assess the signs and symptoms of undernutrition and recommend interventions, such as working with a dietitian to develop a feeding schedule that may include supplements.

SUMMARY Interventions that encourage a healthy lifestyle or provide nutrition education and supplements may help decrease the prevalence of malnutrition. Treatment usually involves assessment by a doctor and recommendations from a dietitian.

The Bottom Line

Malnutrition refers to overnutrition and undernutrition.

People who are undernourished may experience weight loss, fatigue and mood changes or develop vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Overnutrition can lead to overweight, obesity and inadequate micronutrient intakes and deficiencies.

Both types can lead to health issues if not addressed.

If you believe that you or someone you know may be malnourished, especially undernourished, talk to a doctor as soon as possible.

 

Rainy Day Social Innovations

Free Lunch Comes to All NYC Public Schools

Credit: This article is courtesy of dnainfo.com

Written by Amy Zimmer, September 6/2017 – Photo courtesy of DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

FAR WEST SIDE, NYC — All of the city’s roughly 1.1 million students heading back to public schools Thursday will have access to free school lunch this year, city officials announced Wednesday.

For years, hunger advocates have been urging the city to implement universal school lunch, and Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged during his mayoral campaign four years ago that he supported free lunch for all.

Making the meals free for all students, rather than just those who are low-income, helps break down the “poor kid” stigma and negative associations attached to school food, advocates believe. It will also help reduce the shame and bullying some kids experience when they are identified as getting free or reduced lunch, or when they can’t cover the costs of the meals, many said.

“There is now such things as a free lunch at New York City public schools,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who recalled how he wanted to hide his free lunch status from his friends when growing up on the Upper East Side.

“I had to chose between friends and food,” he said. “I told friends I wasn’t hungry — that’s because I was starving.”

Liz Accles — executive director of Community Food Advocates, which spearheaded the Lunch 4 Learning campaign of parents and union workers pushing for universal lunch — called the move “enormous” in terms of equity, given the notion of public school means that all kids are supposed to receive the same services.

“We’re erasing all the terrible history of the school food program not only in New York City, but nationally, that has divided children by income,” she said. “We’re done with that. This is a new day.”

Her group will now focus on the implementation of the program, to ensure that families are taking advantage of it.

The city has offered free breakfast since 2003 and rolled out free lunch to standalone middle schools in 2014. Middle schools saw participation in the lunch program increase by 6 percent under the program, DOE officials said.

Roughly 75 percent of the city’s students qualified for free lunch under federal guidelines. But because of problems with data collection from families, the city had previously been unable to qualify for the federal government’s Community Eligibility Provision, allowing districts to provide meals to all students free of charge, officials said.

Last year, roughly 30 percent of city students attended a school providing free lunch for all, DOE officials said.

In June, the City Council extended the existing free lunch program in the budget, which was expected to cover an additional 250,000 students, DOE officials said.

But now, free lunch will reach roughly 200,000 more students than that — and at no cost to the city, since the federal government will subsidize the food.

The move to cover all students was made possible after the state Education Department implemented a new data-matching engine demonstrating that the city qualified for the highest level of school food reimbursement from the federal government.

That new data program streamlined the process of identifying eligible families who qualify for other government assistance like Medicaid and food stamps, helping the city qualify for additional federal and state funding for the school meals.

Oddette Manzano, a mom to a fourth-grader and a kindergartner at P.S. 51 on Manhattan’s West Side, attended Wednesday’s press conference at the school to announce the initiative.

She said that when all kids had access to the food — P.S. 51 already offers universal free lunch — it felt more like “one big happy community.”

But when her older children moved on to middle school and then high school, before free lunch was universal, the students felt singled out for accepting free lunch, the mom said.

“It’s like we’re low-income, poor children,” she said. “Now they won’t feel any different than anyone else.”

The program will also save Manzano money, since her kids previously wanted to go out and buy lunch because they felt embarrassed eating free lunch.

“It makes a difference to my pocket,” she said. “Now they can stay inside with their friends.”

Roughly two-thirds of families qualified for free lunch by earning at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $34,911 for a family of three. However, more than 110,000 city families that earned between 185 percent to 275 percent of the federal poverty level — between $35,000 and $52,000 for a family of three — still had to pay the full price in the past.

Many struggled, and when their families accrued lunch bills, students had to rely on the kindness of teachers or lunch workers since schools are not allowed to let children go hungry.

But that informal policy only placed more of a burden on children to identify themselves as needy, advocates said.

Those with outstanding bills from last year will receive refunds, school officials said.

At full price, students had been paying $1.75 for the meals, which were already subsidized to bring down the roughly $3.32 cost per meal.

Families can now save, on average, $300 a year on school lunch, said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

“Equity goes two ways,” she added. “Equity means all children should have the same services no matter where you are on the economic ladder.”

For those families who can afford the meals, Fariña hoped they would consider helping out their schools.

“How about giving some of that money back to your school, to your local PTA?” she said.

City schools have been striving to improve the quality of the food, increasingly sourcing from local farms, using hormone-free chicken and expanding salad bars in cafeterias. Schools will continue to use whole grains despite loosening guidelines from the Trump administration, DOE officials noted.

Ontario’s Government Delivering on its Promise with $90 million Investment to Address Hallway Medicine

Sometimes its more likely that your car can and will get better and faster care than you, or someone you care about. We all know that caution is required when looking for a diagnosis and the costs for car repairs so we are not to become a victim of ”selling up”.

But not everyone has the radar to deal with a medical system that has for too long been” selling down”. In Ontario, I would even call it ”selling out”. For the last few years, I’ve been told  ”we don’t do annual exams anymore or preventive medicine…. if you have a concern we will deal with it at the time”.  As a social worker for decades, and in my own personal life, I have seen a lot of damage and unnecessary, untimely deaths resulting from a flawed health care system.  That is why I am so pleased to share these links and hopeful that the time has come for healthcare to enter the 21st century in a way that is beneficial for everyone. Food, housing, healthcare and quality of life for everyone is necessary, possible and not complicated. Meanwhile, congratulations and best wishes to the awesome team that’s been assembled. We will definitely be following and updating.

Today, Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announced that Ontario is moving forward with building 6,000 new long-term care beds across Ontario. Read more on ending ‘hallway healthcare’ here.

I will be sharing links to innovative social programs, new research in health-related matters, and front-line personal stories, my own and others.  Please sign up as a subscriber and feel free to share this site with your friends if you think they would enjoy it as well. Anyone can subscribe here.

Invest Atlanta Closes on Three Affordable Housing Developments Totaling 454 Units

The month of August was a big one for affordable housing in the City of Atlanta. Within a 15-day span, the Invest Atlanta team closed three key transactions that will support the preservation of 454 affordable multifamily housing units.

Read on to learn more about these critically important developments:

Rolling Bends II

Invest Atlanta is issuing $21 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance the acquisition and rehab of Rolling Bends II, a 190-unit multifamily project located at 2500 Center Street, NW in the Carey Park Neighborhood.  This project will provide affordable housing targeting families at or below 60% Area Media Income (AMI).  There is an existing Housing Assistance Payment Contract at the development, allowing residents to pay no more than 30% of their income towards housing costs.

The developer is Preservation Partners who specializes in acquiring and preserving affordable housing assets.  They provide residents with well-maintained apartment homes in a secure and supportive environment, and partner with affiliated nonprofit organizations to provide ongoing, age and need specific social service programs to enhance the lives of their residents.

Springview Apartments

A total of $1.5 million in Housing Opportunity Bonds financing will support the acquisition and rehab of Springview Apartments, a 144-unit multifamily project located at 2786 Old Hapeville Road, NW in the Glenrose Heights Neighborhood.  This complex will provide affordable housing targeting families at or below 60% AMI.

The developer—TriStar, LLC—will partner with Star-C Communities to offer free wrap around community services including free after-school, summer camp, wellness and gardening programs. The property will operate under AHA’s Homeflex subsidy for 24 of the units, limiting the tenants’ out of pocket expense to the greater of 30% of their adjusted family income.

Capitol View Apartments

The preservation of 120 affordable units at Capitol View Apartments is being supported by Invest Atlanta through $1.5 million in Housing Opportunity Bonds financing. This multifamily complex is located at 1191 Metropolitan Parkway, NW in the Adair Park neighborhood and will provide affordable housing targeting families at or below 60% AMI.

The developer is New Columbia Residential, LLC.  The 7.91-acre site will have direct access to the Atlanta Beltline Westside Trail along the western edge of the property.  There are 20 2-story buildings built in 1951 in the Art Deco style, and the goal is to preserve and renovate these existing buildings. Courtesy:https://www.investatlanta.com/impact-insights

The Thyroid Challenge – update 2

There are many thyroid patients who just aren’t feeling well, and share many of the same complaints and symptoms as myself, which means clearly, we are not making this stuff up, and no it’s not ”just in our heads.” As I described in the blogs dated April 6 and 25, 2017, I have had dramatic results from eliminating aspartame and other artificial sweeteners and fluoride from my diet. The fluoride battle is huge, because this toxic chemical is in tap water in Toronto, and many other places I visit when travelling. That means that coffee, tea and water served as a courtesy in many restaurants also have unknown amounts of fluoride in their water. Fruits and vegetables washed with what I now call, the ”f water,” also risk being contaminated. Rice and pasta freshly cooked in…you guessed it, also have this problem. I tried to find out how much fluoride is in the local tap water, and how and when it is measured, but so far no success.

But things are changing. Since the end of Feb 2017 this is what I am stunned but so happy to report:

I can stay up later, go out in the evening if I choose to, and sleep solid, restful and undisturbed by anxiety and wakefulness until morning. I have no diffuse aches and pains, way more energy, no constipation, fluid retention, or puffy abdomen and eye areas. My hair keeps growing!!!! It has grey now, yes, almost as much as my original dark brown, but I love it. My eyebrows and eyelashes are growing back. I even used mascara today for the first time in over twenty years! My blood pressure remains in the optimal to normal range, and my weight loss is slow, but steady, with no change in my usually healthy food choices. The no fluoride toothpaste I use does a great job, as my teeth are whiter, with no heartburn after brushing, which used to be a frequent occurrence with fluoridated toothpastes. Sometime soon I plan to have a section listing products that have helped me to encourage others to comment and share.

And one more thing to discuss: brain fog. Those of us who live in thyroid nation know what brain fog feels like. It is very difficult to concentrate, think clearly, and problem solve effectively; varying degrees of forgetfulness. It is an equal opportunity disorder, and it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, well educated or not, or what ethnic group, religion or private club you may belong to. I no longer have brain fog. Things that seemed so difficult for years are easily figured out now. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back there are decisions I would never have made today, because I can finally think clearly again. I am grateful that I was able to work my way through high school and university and have a family before the diet cola and fluoride water started causing damage. Looking back I see that the damage was preventable and avoidable.

I am determined to get these facts out to as many people as possible. Life is precious.  I will not go the academic route and try to get funding for a study, as bureaucrats and politicians are not the best place to start. I encourage people to: 1. Read up on hypothyroidism, symptoms, diagnostic tests, medications, etc. 2. Stop consuming products with aspartame and fluoride to see if you have any improvements to your health and overall well-being.3. Consider sharing your experience.

I am not a doctor, so please find a doctor who will work with you. I am just telling my story because others might benefit from hearing my experience. There are quite a bit of evidence-based research papers on the thyroid/fluoride connections, and I will be sharing those links soon.

The Thyroid Challenge – an update

I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis many years ago and then Fibromyalgia as well. No matter which doctor or which combination of thyroid meds, I have never really felt well. As shared in the last post, dated April 6, 2017, I stopped using artificial sweeteners. Then at the end of February I stopped using water and toothpaste containing fluoride and now most of the unpleasant symptoms I lived with for years are gone.

Thyroid patients often experience disturbed sleep, anxiety, depression, “brain fog,” chronic and persistent muscle aches and pains, dry skin, hair loss, constipation, low energy, fatigue, and more. I no longer experience any of that. I can stay awake past 8 p.m. now. I can finally go to a concert or watch an entire movie without falling asleep. These symptoms were my constant companions, and now that they are gone I have to reinvent myself.

On a more serious note, I want to share this information with all thyroid sufferers and ask that if you choose to stop artificial sweeteners and fluoride, please leave a comment and let me know if you have any positive results.

Your donations will help me to research and provide ongoing important information to many people who will benefit. Click here to donate today.

Want to get regular updates? Subscribe to my blog today. 

The Thyroid Fluoride Challenge

I have not posted for quite awhile but this past summer I came across some information, which dramatically changed my life. I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis decades ago, but regardless of which doctor or medication or change of dose, I was never symptom-free. Many of us with underactive thyroid problems have persistent symptoms that are often dismissed by doctors who tell you ”your blood tests are fine” and “within normal range.” Conversations usually were like this: ”Maybe you are eating too much of the wrong foods”, “try to exercise more”, “there’s nothing more to be done.” To the doctors, it was my fault and I was to blame. Their advice was “Just live with it.” So I did, although I sure didn’t like it!

This summer I stopped drinking diet colas and other soft drinks, which contain aspartame. I never used sweeteners or sugar for coffee so it was not a big effort on my part; no withdrawal, discomfort or cravings. Some research I had found indicated that artificial sweeteners could be harmful to some, especially to people taking thyroid medications. Within a few days of stopping, I felt a significant improvement. I felt more relaxed and was thinking more clearly. The heavy-duty symptoms were still there though, and there was never a day where they were all gone. With a little less of the brain fog that we in thyroid nation endure, more research followed. Thanks to Google and a local pharmacist, I learned for the very first time that fluoride can negatively affect the reliability and functioning of thyroid medications. Many countries have banned fluoride from being added to tap water. I found an affordable, pleasant clean tasting spring water with no fluoride at all, and I changed to a toothpaste without fluoride. I also decided to use spring water for tea and coffee, to cook pasta and rice and to wash fruits and veggies. Within a couple of days, everything was changed. To use an expression from my past, it really freaked me out.

The following is a partial list of what I lived with every day, and how I am today. After two months with no fluoride, that I am aware of (that’s a story for another time), take a look at how my life has improved:

  1. For the first time in more than thirty years, I went to sleep and woke up when it was getting light outside. No more disturbed sleep, waking up tired unsure how I would face the day and get everything done.
  2. No more pain and achy-tired feelings regardless of the weather.
  3. My blood pressure went from high to normal/optimum
  4. So far I have lost five pounds with no change in diet or amount of exercise.
  5. No brain fog.

There’s more, which I will describe next time.

Now back to the hypothyroid/fluoride challenge. I would like this information to reach as many people as possible. If anyone wants more information please contact me. I am not a doctor, so do check with your own doctor before undertaking such a feat. If anyone does try this and is willing to share results, please let me know.

Living with Hypothyroidism

Many of us have lived our lives believing that it is okay and safe to trust doctors (the Hippocratic Oath above all, do no harm), dentists, lawyers, friendly mortgage brokers, bank managers, elected officials etc. They are professionals after all, not criminals, and are guided by the rules of conduct of their profession. While most of us in every walk of life here in Canada do take the high road and govern ourselves ethically, there are, unfortunately, those who do not.

Hypothyroidism. I have suffered from this disorder most of my life, and only in 2007 did I finally get a combination of good doctors and effective medication. While there is still room for improvement, I often wonder what my life could have been like if I got the right help back when I was young. My story would make a good documentary, but for now I want to urge anyone who has the following symptoms, or knows someone who fits the description, to check out Mary Shomon and also Hypothyroid Mom on Facebook. If you are fat and unable to lose weight despite eating healthy and exercising; if you have thin hair; if you have fine hair and/or bald spots; if you have very dry skin; if you are always cold and always tired; if you are depressed; if you are unable to concentrate, (brain fog we call it) –many of us for decades were told that the above are “our own fault.” This blaming the victim still goes on today.

Please learn and share. I welcome feedback from readers.

Looking for Rainbows in Turbulent Times

I intend to write about things that are not beneficial, harmful, and need to be changed. However, there are also many good services, programs and people that I intend to highlight because too often, those who could benefit do not have the information to access and benefit, even though they or a family member is entitled.

For example, an accountant living in the suburbs of Toronto, who worked full time, was taking care of her elderly mother who lived nearby but could not grocery shop, do laundry, go to medical appointments or prepare anything other than coffee or microwavable items for herself. She was lonely and isolated but could not take public transit and could not afford taxis. Before her health problems, she worked for a few years, but now, she sat all day with only the phone, television and her daughter’s visits. This woman was eligible for the Federal Disability Tax credit. I encouraged the family to get the forms from CRA, have their doctor fill them in and apply retroactively to the onset of the health problems. The daughter was skeptical at first, saying her mother’s income was so low, it would be a lot of fuss for no benefit. However, the credit can be transferred to the caregiver. Eventually, this family received a significant amount of money, which they used to improve the elderly woman’s quality of life. Inspired, they applied and were approved for Wheel Trans ($2.00 per trip), and with a part time support worker, the woman was able to go to community seniors programs, where she even got lunch and snacks. This family moved to Canada from another country years ago and English was still a second language.

Another example I would like to highlight includes a university professor and her husband, also a professor, who have a similar story. The husband had a stroke a few years ago and could no longer work. He was eligible for the Disability Tax credit from that time, but no one had ever told them about it. As the caregiver, the credit was transferred to the wife. His wife continued to work part time. They also dipped into retirement funds. They were astonished to be successful, got retroactive payments from CRA and can benefit going forward every year.

I am a social worker/community advocate, not an accountant, but I urge everyone to contact your accountant if you have one and CRA to see if there are benefits you may be entitled to. Please check Canadabenefits.gc.ca or call 1-800-622-6232 and see if there are benefits you may not have known about.

I value any feedback on successes or failures that you would like to share that may help others in a similar situation. Feel free to contact me and reach out.