This past September 10th was World Suicide prevention day (WSPD). On September 28th, in honour of WSPD, a play written by Catherine Frid called “AfterWhys” followed by discussion will be held at Luther Village from 9 am – 11 am. Suicide is often perceived as a problem among young people but did you know that men over the age of 80 have the highest suicide rate in Canada. This event is to encourage the message of hope and resiliency to everyone who experiences difficulties with mental health. We look forward to learning more about seniors’ mental health with you. We hope to see you there!
Top 10 Tips for Resiliency in the Face of Depression
Monday, September 10, 2018
Maintaining good mental health requires just as much attention and care as maintaining good physical health. In reality, mental health is a continuum, a scale that ranges from mental wellness to serious mental health challenges. When someone experiences drastic stress in their life, their mental distress level rises. It is important to have adequate coping mechanisms in place to help reduce one’s mental distress level and maintain mental wellness.
The Canadian Mental Health Association defines mental wellness as “a state of well-being and the ability to function in the face of changing circumstances.” This includes handling stress and loss, relating to other people, and making decisions.
Dealing with stress though is not an innate trait in humans; it is a learned behaviour. Whether good or bad, we learn coping skills from our environment. Adding positive and healthy coping skills to our lifestyle is crucial to maintaining or gaining back mental wellness.
Depression is not always something that you can control—it may be related to a specific situation or it could seem to appear for no apparent reason. Depression may be triggered by loss—loss of a loved one, an important role in life, a job, loss of health or independence. Any of these losses create increased stress. Without coping mechanisms, someone’s mental distress level will climb and they may experience depression. Depression after any type of loss is likely due to situational depression, and having the right coping skills will be highly beneficial. It is important to note that clinical depression is an illness that many people experience regardless of their coping skills. In either case, it is important that you speak to a doctor.
The Canadian Mental Health Association recommends a few key coping skills to help maintain mental wellness. By implementing these coping methods when you are feeling your mental distress level begin to climb, you may be able to maintain a higher state of mental well-being.
1. Educate Yourself
The more you know about depression and mental illness, the more empowered you are to protect your own health.
2. Change Your Thinking Patterns
Many depressed people have negative and anxious thought patterns. Learning to redirect your focus can improve your mental health. Celebrate your successes; focus on your achievements rather than focusing on what you are unable to do.
3. Ask for Help
Requesting help is not a sign of weakness; rather, it requires courage to reach out to others when you are in need. Create a support system of caring people whom you can call when you are feeling low. Have a list of 5 close friends you can count on; if one person doesn’t answer, you have 4 more names you can call.
4. Use Problem Solving
Determine which problems are stressing you, explore possible solutions, try a new solution (as the same old solutions will yield the same old results), evaluate the effectiveness of your new solution, and focus on the progress of your problem solving rather than on the problem alone.
When you are depressed, the last thing you may feel like is exercise, but the results make the effort worthwhile. Exercise increases the blood flow not only through your body but also to your brain. Increased oxygen flow to the brain improves mental functioning and mood. Your endorphins are also elevated through exercise.
6. Eat and Sleep
Eat a properly balanced diet, even if you have no appetite. Aim to maintain a regular schedule where you eat healthy food at regular intervals. Sleep on a regular schedule as well. Ensure that you get enough sleep, but do not oversleep. Most adults need an average of eight hours of sleep nightly.
Schedule yourself time to rejuvenate. Prioritize activities that bring you peace and pleasure. This may include: meditation, being outdoors, various hobbies, caring for a pet, having a massage, etc.
Do not cut yourself off from social connections. If large groups are overwhelming, go out for coffee with just one or two people at a time. Isolation only perpetuates depression. Socialize with close, caring friends who are compassionate and supportive. Be sure to hug these close friends; physical touch should not be underestimated.
9. Relax Your Standards.
Many people experience anxiety and stress because they are holding themselves to unrealistic standards. Determine to not expect more of yourself than you would expect of anyone else. Be kind to yourself—sometimes, we are hardest on ourselves!
A sense of humour can go a long way. Sometimes, laughter truly is the best medicine. You don't even have to wait for a comedy act to come to town; through the internet, you can search endless comedies on YouTube and select comedies that suit your particular sense of humour.
If implementing these coping skills does not improve your sense of mental well-being or if you are currently experiencing other symptoms as well, you should see your doctor. Medication may be appropriate for you, or there may be a physical explanation for the mental distress you are experiencing. Your doctor can advise you best.
It is important to know that help is available. You do not need to live in a state of mental distress. To learn more about healthy coping strategies and ways to reduce stress, please visit the Canadian Mental Health Association online at: www.cmhagrb.on.ca Locally, in Waterloo Region, we are blessed to have Here 24/7—a service that is available 24/7 to assist with addictions, mental health, and crisis situations. The number is: 1-844-HERE247 (1-844-437-3247)
Did you know that September 8th is World Physical Therapy Day? It is the date selected by the World Confederation for Physical Therapy to acknowledge the important work that physiotherapists (PT) do. This year’s campaign theme is “physical therapy and mental health.”
It’s easy to think about the role of a PT in the context of a specific injury—if you sprain your ankle or have knee surgery, you might automatically think about how a PT will help you to recover from your injury or surgery. A PT will also help with managing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. Chronic diseases are complex, and a physiotherapist can be one member of a necessary support team to ensure that the disease is well-managed.
But physiotherapy can extend even further beyond acute physical injuries and chronic disease management!
They educate and offer advice about disease prevention, injury prevention, healthy living, and overall well-being. And, one very important aspect of overall well-being is mental health. This year’s campaign theme is to bring awareness to how physical therapy and physical activity play an active role in mental health.
People with mental health issues are more at risk of having poor physical health. However, through advice and exercise programmes, physical therapists support people with mental health issues. Physical activity and exercise protects against the emergence of depression and has shown to be an evidence-based treatment for depression. PTs keep people moving through interventions to help maximize not only physical mobility but also mental well-being.
I’m sure many physiotherapists live by the old age: “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.”
A little preventative maintenance from a physiotherapist might reduce the need for significant therapy down the road—especially in the case of chronic disease, disability or mental illness. Seeking PT help early after diagnosis can help you to create a lifestyle and environment that will best support you as you adapt to your new diagnosis. As you can see, the role of a physiotherapist is broad, and they greatly impact the quality of life for the patient they see.
In honour of all that they do in our community, we say Happy Physiotherapy Day from Warm Embrace Elder Care.
Vacation time! That time that you’ve been excited and waiting for all year. But when vacation time finally arrives you feel hesitant to leave because you are concerned about your elderly parents or your in-laws. This month on July 24th marks International Self-Care Day (ISD). Self-care is “any activity that we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health.” So, going on a summer holiday break counts as self-care!
It hardly counts as a vacation when you have your cell phone and your laptop at the beach in case of emergency. Family caregivers may be the most deserving of respite care but they are often the last ones to actually book time off and go on vacation. The mental break away from everyday stress and demand is desperately needed, but there never seems to be a good time to go on vacation.
Good self-care is key to improved mood, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved relationships with others! What family caregivers really need is peace of mind. They need to feel reassured that their loved ones are in good hands and will be well cared for.
Here at Warm Embrace Elder Care, we’ve assisted many clients during an adult child’s holiday, and the client falls in love with the caregivers so much that the client is disappointed when the holiday is over! To think, families have delayed holidays and felt immense guilt over leaving for vacation, and yet their loved one benefits from the holiday as much as they do.
Vacation time doesn’t have to be associated with guilt. Instead, it can be an exciting opportunity for everyone involved—family receive the much-needed mental break of being on vacation, and elderly relatives enjoy a new friendly visitor, someone who hasn’t yet heard all the great stories!
If you or someone you know is over-due for a vacation due to concern about leaving elderly relatives, be reassured that there are options! For more information, call us at Warm Embrace Elder Care and we’d be happy to help. Everyone needs a break now and then.
It’s a beautiful summer day, and you want to enjoy the gorgeous weather with your elderly parent or grandparent; the big question is, what can you do together? While the heat and sunshine sometimes send the elderly indoors, there are safe ways to enjoy the summer weather (in small doses!). Be sure to select days that are not too hot or humid and remain in the shade as much as possible. Drink lots of water and ensure your loved one is wearing a hat and loose-fitting clothing. Once all the precautions to stay cool are in place, you can enjoy some summer fun activities outdoors!
Here is a Top 10 list of activities that will appeal to older generations and that will spark reminiscing of summers gone by.
1. Watch the Sunset at the Beach — regardless of age, watching the sunset shimmering over the water can be relaxing. If your loved one is up for a challenge, go for a walk along the beach and collect seashells, or build a sandcastle. If the beach is too far away, watch the sunset over the Grand River, or the ponds at your local park.
2. Play Miniature Golf — for avid golfers who can no longer handle the demands of an 18-hole golf course, mini-golf is a way to enjoy putting, without the twisting action of driving the ball.
3. Be a Tourist — sometimes, we overlook some of the greatest local attractions, simply because they are right in our own backyard! Pretend to be a tourist in your own community. Take a train tour around Waterloo Region with the Waterloo Central Railway or take a cruise with Grand River Cruise in Caledonia. Tours are a fun way to see your town from a different angle without being required to walk far distances. You might be surprised about what you can learn about your own community!
4. Make Lemonade from Scratch — this would have been the only way to have lemonade 70 or 80 years ago! Your elderly loved ones may even remember a favourite family recipe. You can always modify the recipe to accommodate diabetic needs by reducing sugar or replacing sugar with sweeteners.
5. Go Fishing — many grandfathers have taken their children and grandchildren on fishing expeditions. Now, it might be your turn to take your grandfather out fishing. Tip: fishing off a pier or stable dock might be more accessible (i.e.: able to use a walker or wheelchair) than fishing from a boat or riverside.
6. Attend a Live Sports Game — the energy of a live sports game can be contagious and exciting! There is accessible seating at all major sports centres, so your loved one can use whatever assistive devices are necessary for safety. If a major league game is too long or intense, attending a grandchild’s (or even a great-grandchild!) team sport might be just as fun!
7. Win a Prize at the Fair — who says that fairs are just for children? Appeal to the inner kid by trying a few midway games. Tip: if your loved one’s gait is unsteady, it might be wise to use a wheelchair throughout the fair as the pushing and shoving of the crowd could pose a safety threat.
8. Have a Picnic at the Park — a good old-fashioned picnic basket filled with favourite treats will always bring a smile! You can be sure to accommodate special dietary requirements when packing the picnic basket. Be sure to look for a picnic table or bring along a lawn chair (sitting directly on the ground might be difficult; getting up from the ground could be even harder!).
9. Pick Wildflowers — who doesn't love a vase full of fresh flowers? It’s even better when you pick the flowers yourself and create the arrangement! Best of all, this fun summer activity doesn’t cost a penny.
10. See a Movie at the Drive-In Theatre — this will feel like a flash from the past! Drive-In theatres still operate and often feature classic movies from varying eras. The drive-in has many benefits for the elderly—they can remain in a comfortable seat in the car, they don’t have to fight any crowds on foot, and the volume can be set to the level that suits their hearing. Of course, it does mean a late night out, but that’s all part of the fun!
Hopefully, you now have an idea or two of a fun, lighthearted way to spend time with elderly relatives while enjoying all that Canadian summer has to offer!
We are all relieved when the snow finally melts, and the mucky spring weather turns into the balmy days of summer. But do you know how to stay cool and healthy in the summer heat?
Many people are aware of the dangers of too much exposure to the sun’s UV rays, which can cause sunburns. Wearing sunscreen is always advised! But there are other concerns about heat, even if you avoid direct sunshine.
Heat exhaustion can occur from prolonged exposure to high temperatures and insufficient fluid intake. It can range from heat cramps to a severe form of heat stroke. Symptoms may include excessive sweating, cool, pale, and clammy skin, weakness, nausea, headache, dizziness, and elevated body temperature. If someone is exhibiting these symptoms, they need to be moved to a cooler place, have their clothing loosened or removed, and they need to drink plenty of cool liquids.
8 Tips to keep seniors (or anyone else!) safe in the summer heat:
1. Keep well hydrated! Drink eight or more glasses of water daily. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink! Avoid caffeinated, alcoholic and sugary beverages, as they may dehydrate rather than hydrate.
2. Dress Appropriately! Wear loose-fitting and light-weight clothing.
3. Air Conditioning is your best friend! Remain indoors in the extreme heat and utilize air conditioning. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, go to a public place such as a library or shopping mall. Even a few hours of relief from the heat can prevent heat stroke.
4. Electric fans aren’t always the best. Keep the house as cool as possible by keeping shades closed during the hottest part of the day. An electric fan may feel comfortable, but it does not prevent heat-related illness if temperatures soar into the mid-30’s Celsius.
5. Cool down! Take a cool bath, shower, or sponge bath to lower your body temperature. Don’t have the time? Then wet washcloths or towels with cool water and put them on your wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck.
6. Enjoy outdoor activities in the early morning or the evening when the heat is not as severe. Don’t forget to use the broad-spectrum sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and if it’s sunny wear a hat and a pair of sunglasses.
7. Stayed Shaded when you are outside. Even in the early mornings and evenings, stick to the shade so you aren’t as exposed to the sun’s rays.
8.Know the signs of heat exhaustion so that you can get immediate assistance. Some symptoms to watch for are throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, hot dry skin with no sweat, muscles weakness, cramps and trouble breathing,
Well-being is all about having a positive outlook on life, maintaining a purpose despite stress or loss, having a realistic sense of control over one’s life, and having a strong sense of self. These conditions are not constant but instead fluctuate constantly. It is possible to achieve a sense of well-being even amidst declining health!
But how is well-being achieved?
Some practical ways to achieve well-being would be eating well, exercising, drinking less alcohol, not smoking, and stimulating your mind. But there are also other ways to achieve well-being!
1. Being Optimistic
Optimism is about taking “the sourest lemon life has to offer and then turning it into something resembling lemonade.” Optimism is often associated with happiness or with a positive person but it is much more than that! Practicing optimism has shown to build resiliency, increase goal achievement and increase overall well-being.
2. Being Grateful
Dr. Peter Naus – an advocate for positive views on aging – says to be sure to “count what you have, and not what you lack,” and by doing so you are one step closer to achieving well-being. Gratitude impacts well-being positively because it has shown to reduce anxiety and increase positive emotions. It is a powerful experience to count what you already have rather than focusing on what you don’t have!
3. Seeking Adventure
Believe it or not, old-age can be a time for adventure. In the midst of an adventure, you can discover new insights and experiences! Simply having a vision and a dream can inspire you to experience new adventures – big or small – these memories will hold value, novelty and positive emotions. Dr. Naus encourages us to live well at every stage of life and remember that it is never too late for change!
4. Sharing Wisdom
Sharing wisdom creates a sense of purpose and meaning for many retired seniors! Wisdom is developed over time as you gain insight, practice good judgment and most of all live through varying experiences.
There are pervasive negative connotations throughout Canadian society regarding aging. There is a strong market for “anti-aging” products and services, but the term alone is problematic. By deeming a product or service “anti-aging” it is suggestive that there is an inherent problem with aging.
However, the wisest group in our Canadian society is our aging population! As wisdom is passed down to younger generations, the experience of aging becomes purposeful and meaningful.
Even though abilities may change, health may fluctuate and loses may occur, prioritizing your personal well-being can truly lead to you living your best life.
Seniors are valued for the wisdom they can share with others. They are living proof that aging is not synonymous with being sick and helpless. Instead, old age can be a time for deep fulfillment and pleasure, a time for personal well-being!
There are over 5.9 million seniors in Canada right now and that number will double in the next twenty years. Today’s retirement is certainly not synonymous with passivity. Rather, most retired people will tell you that they wonder how they ever had time to work! Today’s seniors are actively involved as both formal and informal volunteers, caregivers for their grandchildren, hobbyists, part-time employees, travelers, and many other roles.
Seniors month is our opportunity to recognize and celebrate these seniors and their contributions to our community. The consistent volunteering of our seniors—often in behind-the-scenes, unacknowledged positions—contributes to the maintenance of our major institutions. For example, St. Mary’s hospital has over 300 regular volunteers, and Grand River Hospitals has nearly 1000 volunteers. Many of these volunteers are dedicated seniors who wish to help others. You will find countless seniors engaged in volunteer and mentorship capacities across the city, and their contribution is vital to the success of our growing community.
Seniors Month in June is not only about formal government recognition through specific awards; it is also about truly appreciating all of the seniors that you personally know! Take the time to acknowledge their contributions to your life and your community.
Here are a few ideas for how you can celebrate a senior in your community!
1) Nominate seniors for local awards.
If you know a senior who is contributing to the fabric of your community, why not brag about their achievements to others by nominating them for an award?! You can nominate them for the Ontario Senior of the Year Award, the Ontario Senior Achievement Award, the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship, or any other award in your local community.
2) Listen to their stories and oral history.
Many seniors are natural story-tellers! They have years of wisdom, knowledge and experience to share with younger generations. So, why not take some time to listen to these incredible stories?! You can always share a cup of tea with a senior in your community and engage in a conversation filled with storytelling.
3) Write a simple thank-you card.
These days the only mail people seem to receive are bills and statements, so sending a thoughtful thank-you card could brighten up a senior’s day! Simply writing a thoughtful and heartfelt letter could make a senior feel celebrated and appreciated.
4) Take your appreciated senior on an outing.
You can plan a fun outing to the theatre, a church service, a senior’s dance, a strawberry social, or even just out for a nice dinner together; to demonstrate your thankfulness and appreciation for their contributions to your community.
5) Plan an event in honour of your senior loved-one.
Maybe there’s a milestone to celebrate like a 90th birthday or a 60th wedding anniversary; an event honouring them would be perfect! You could even host a family reunion that would allow you to recognize many loved ones at once.
6) Spend quality time together.
The simplicity of spending quality time together can demonstrate your care and appreciation. The way that you choose to demonstrate your gratitude is up to you and allows you to be as creative as you wish!
People appreciate recognition at every stage of life and you can never offer too much praise. You may be surprised at what you can learn about the seniors in your life and discover some of the activities with which they are involved. So, this June, take the opportunity to encourage the seniors in your life by acknowledging their accomplishments—you, in turn, will be inspired.
June is Seniors’ month, and it’s the perfect time to recognize and appreciate seniors! Seniors prove that aging doesn’t need to prevent anyone from leading fulfilling lives, instead they outline that aging enhances life experiences.
Every day seniors are breaking the mold by leading fulfilling lives! So, let’s put to rest those negative stereotypes when it comes to aging. Instead, we should all celebrate and appreciate the contributions that seniors are making in our communities.
Seniors are an important part of our community because they contribute their wisdom, friendship and experiences. As a community, it is our responsibility to ensure that we create an environment where all citizens are valued and respected throughout the life process.
How do we create that environment?
The key to creating this environment is prioritizing intergenerational opportunities, between the young and the old. When we create intergenerational opportunities, we are creating this space where seniors have the ability to pass along their wisdom and advice to generations. This environment then breaks down barriers between generations and puts to rest negative stereotypes that surround aging. When those barriers are removed, open and honest conversations are shared between different generations. When founded upon mutual respect, intergenerational learning can be deeply impactful for everyone involved!
Why is celebrating our Seniors so important?
When we celebrate our seniors, we are affirming that their contributions are ever so important to the fabric of our communities. Without our seniors’ accomplishments, our communities would not be what they are today!
This June, in honour of Seniors’ month, make an effort to spend time with someone who is from a different generation than you—or maybe even two or three generations! Pause, and truly listen, and learn from each other and you will reap the rewards of intergenerational sharing.
Here at Warm Embrace Elder Care, we want to thank all of the wonderful seniors that we see on a daily basis. We are continually learning from you and are enlightened by your viewpoints. It is an honour to serve you!
Who doesn’t live with stress these days?! There’s no such thing as a completely stress-free life, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A certain amount of stress is necessary to get through life. Many life events can produce stress—both positive events (getting married, having children, or retirement) and negative events (loss of a loved one or being laid off at work).
Stress is a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. It is a two-fold risk—the state of being stressed, especially over a long period of time can result in higher cholesterol and increased blood pressure. Additionally, people who are highly stressed often turn to unhealthy habits to ease the stress (such as smoking, over eating, too much alcohol, etc.), which further increases the risk! Stress is one of the controllable risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Reducing your stress also reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke.
How many symptoms of stress do you experience regularly?
Common symptoms include: anxiety, headaches, stomach issues, depression, muscle aches, insomnia, weight gain, frequent colds or illness, low energy, agitation, etc. Does this list seem all too familiar?
For women who fit into the sandwich generation, a major stress factor can be the dual caregiving of raising children, while also providing care to aging parents. Today’s healthcare system is increasingly difficult to navigate, and advocating for a loved one can become a full-time job!
In an effort to be the sole caregiver for their parents (while also maintaining all of their other commitments), today’s women are often placing their own health at risk by increasing their stress levels. Women are notorious for taking care of everyone else that they neglect their own needs. Receiving help with family caregiving can be an important component to reducing your stress. Completely eliminating stress is not an option. Instead, we must focus on reducing our stress, and managing the stress that remains.
There are several ways to manage and reduce our stress!
A few common tips include: exercise (such as daily walks, cycling, yoga classes, etc.), meditation and prayer, engaging in a favourite hobby (such as reading, knitting, painting, etc.), and most of all, reaching out for support.
Professional caregivers can provide hands-on help to your parents, freeing you to focus on your own health and wellness!
Reducing stress is sometimes seen as a wish-list item. One day, you hope to be stress free. You might be thinking your stress will evaporate “when the kids move out of the house” or “once I retire.” But that could be years from now! You can’t afford to put your own health in jeopardy for years, and just hope that the stress you experience is not leading to either heart disease or stroke. Stress is a preventable risk factor. Support your own health by reducing your stress levels starting today!