Do you have an “aging navigation” plan?

Margot McWhirter. Photo by Suzanne Park.

The Scottish poet Robbie Burns in 1785 wrote, possibly from personal experience, that even the best laid plans can go awry. His exact wording was “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley.” Perhaps inferring the wise have contingency plans.

We all make plans. What we’ll have for dinner, vacation plans, fitness plans, financial plans, yet as Margot McWhirter, owner of Inclusive Aging (www.inclusiveaging.com), says, “often forgotten is an aging navigation plan. My business supports clients and their families to ensure plans are in place to age confidently at home.”

Margot is well qualified and experienced in this field. She has 20-plus years of work experience and numerous degrees and certificates, including her 2020 Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of South California, Patient Navigation from York University, in 2019, and her Masters in Gerontology from Simon Fraser University, in 2002, along with several other credentials.

“How easily and quickly our living circumstances can change,” she says. “I’m diligently attentive to potential risks in my clients’ surroundings that could result in an environmentally induced disability and yet a few days ago I almost slipped and fell – a fairly common incident especially during a snowy winter.

“My academic studies and work experience in the field of gerontology have instilled in me the importance of proactive health and aging plans. That’s why I’m so passionate about raising awareness regarding the importance of planning ahead.”

Like many Leasiders, Margot shops local, and that includes her partners. “I have on speed dial resources as diverse as acute care and rehabilitation hospitals (Sunnybrook, North York General, Michael Garron, Providence, Bridgepoint, St. John’s); health and medical professionals offering clinic and/or in-home services including GPs, ophthalmologists, chiropodists, footcare nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists; home care agencies; palliative care and rehab (both government-funded and family-funded); retirement residences; memory care centres; fitness trainers; home designers, contractors and handypersons; home health and wellness suppliers of medical equipment and technical services; salons and in-home hair stylists; private transportation; even frozen and fresh prepared meals and more!”

How does Margot define inclusive aging? As she sees it, it’s families and communities coming together to help prolong healthy living and boost the resilience of aging adults. “My process reflects those elements. After initial contact, a conversation is scheduled which may include additional family members. Next, we conduct an assessment of goals and needs along with an evaluation of the interior and exterior elements of the living space. Additional steps may include preparation of a person-centred care plan and recommendations to make the home accessible, safe and functional. This navigation plan may also map out relationships with caregivers and healthcare providers to address the client’s unique requirements.”

Her passion is seeing clients thrive and families confident that their loved ones are well supported and with plans in place for unexpected situations.” And like Robbie Burns, who wrote of “bitter-biting wind and thy sweet neighbour” in his 1786 poem, To a Mountain, Margot asserts that her mantra is “Life is bitter and sweet. I support people through the bitter to find the sweet.”

About Suzanne Park 42 Articles
Suzanne Park is a leadership and conversation coach and writer who enjoys bringing to the pages of Leaside Life the unique experiences and community contributions of her Leaside neighbours. Her daughter Zhen, a student at Leaside High School, is also a contributor to Leaside Life with a fresh perspective on her community.