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4 Ways to Achieve Well-being

 

What is "well-being"?

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! 

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What's Seniors' Month?

 

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!

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Sandwiched Mothers


You’re sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, watching the clock, waiting for your mother’s medical tests to finally be over.  Mentally you’re calculating whether you have enough time to drive your mother home, pick up some groceries, and cook dinner for your teenager. . . or will you be ordering pizza yet again tonight?
 

 

If this scene feels at all familiar to you, then you’re likely one of the 712,000 Canadians who fit into the infamous “sandwich generation”.  The sandwich generation generally applies to those in their 40’s to 60’s who are simultaneously caring for their aging parents as well as their growing children. 

Advances in healthcare are allowing people to live longer lives, though not necessarily healthier lives.  The end of one’s life may include more intensive care, further demanding the time and energy of the sandwich generation who is caught between their parents and children.  The increased life expectancy has led to another possibility—the club sandwich generation.  The club sandwich refers to people who are assisting their aging parents, while also being involved in their children’s, and grandchildren’s lives. 

 

Four living generations is no longer a rare scenario.

It is now possible for families to have two generations who are both in their senior years at the same time!  The club sandwich can also apply to someone who is in her 40’s who has teenagers at home, while also assisting her 68 year old parents and her  92 year old grandparents.  A woman in this situation is caring for two senior generations simultaneously, while also raising her own family.

 

Add to this the pressures of work, marriage, personal life, volunteer commitments, and personal health—no wonder there is concern about the sandwich generation suffering burn-out!  Often people feel that they should be able to manage all of the simultaneous caregiving because previous generations managed to do so.  In reality, previous generations did not experience the sandwich generation phenomenon to the same degree, and they certainly did not experience club sandwich generations! 

 

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by today’s sandwich generation will help to alleviate guilt and replace the sense of “I should be able to do this” with “where can I find meaningful assistance?". Acknowledging that you cannot do it all alone and that you deserve assistance is the first step. There are services available to help so that you don't have to this all alone!

 

Caring for your own health and well-being is crucial! 

 

Managing to eat healthy meals, and getting exercise needs to be a personal priority, not just something to do if you have time left over—because there is never time left over. If you are feeling completely stressed and burned out, you are in not in the best condition to care for loved ones. 

 

Intead, think about accepting homecare assitance so that you are able to lead a balanced lifestyle that cares for you too! Put support systems in place to assist you in caring for your parents and grandparents.  A loving companion aide might be just the solution to support your parents while caring for your health at the same time.

 

With support systems set in place, you can avoid being toasted, and enjoy as many of your “sandwich” years as possible!

 

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Are you an Apple or a Pear?

 

Did you know that your body shape can indicate your risk for heart disease and stroke?
Maintaining a healthy weight is important but where you carry your weight is just as important! Simply weighing yourself is not the only way to determine your health risk.


 

Excess weight that is carried around your mid-section can affect your heart health in different ways than weight carried on your hips or legs.  Your waist measurement is an important number to know!

 

What is the magic number?

Women: 88cm / 35 inches
Men:  102cm / 40 inches

 

If you are over the recommended maximum, or even if you are within 3 inches of the recommendation, you are at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type-2 diabetes.  Reducing your risk for each of these significant health issues can be highly motivating for weight loss!

Unfortunately, nearly 60% of Canadians are overweight or obese, and that increases their risk for each of the above health concerns. 

 

Obese adults are:

  • 4x more likely to have diabetes
  • 3x more likely to have high blood pressure
  • 2x more likely to have heart disease

Maintaining a healthy weight is a key component of prevention for heart disease and stroke.  Even modest weight loss can have a positive impact on your health.  Shedding 5% of your current weight can be enough to reduce your cholesterol level and your blood pressure.  Only a 5% change in your weight and your body begins to thank you with better health!

 

 

Exercise and eating well-balanced meals is key! 


Shedding those unwanted pounds can be terribly difficult and keeping the pounds off can be even harder.  When you realize the goal of weight loss is not just a vain endeavor, but a key component of your health, you might be far more motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle of daily exercise and well-balanced meals.

 

Track your progress by measuring your waistline and aim to maintain a waistline that is below 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. Remember—each reduction of an inch reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke making the effort all the more worthwhile!

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Exercise!


When asked “how much do you exercise?” the answer is invariably “not enough!”  We know that we should exercise more, but do we know what the consequences are if we fail to exercise regularly?


Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke (as well as other many other illnesses such as diabetes and even dementia).  It is a risk factor that we have control over, so we should reduce our risk!

 

How much exercise do we really need?



The official guidelines from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommend a minimum of 150 minutes per week of aerobic physical activity. That’s it!  That’s an attainable goal—within reach, even for people who aren’t accustomed to exercise.  Even 10 minute increments of activity count toward the total of 150 minutes.

Of course, 150 minutes doesn’t need to be a limit.  More activity is even better.  The guideline is a base limit for how much activity adults (middle age, baby boomers, seniors, and even the frail elderly) require each week.

Which activities count toward your 150 minutes? 

The good news is that going to the gym is not your only option! Walking is a simple and easy heart-healthy activity, and counts toward your minutes.  Even household activities can count—vigorous cleaning, gardening and yard work all elevate your heart rate and get your blood pumping, and that’s the goal of physical activity!

 



I find it encouraging to measure exercise in terms of 150 minutes weekly because it allows for flexibility.  In contrast, if you measure exercise as ’30 minutes most days of the week’, the focus is on 30 minute intervals, and missing a few days in a week can feel like overall failure.

For the frail seniors who are utilizing our Triple Vitality program, they appreciate the flexibility in measuring total minutes over the course of a week.  Ten-minute increments feel very accessible.  Frail seniors can manage 10 minutes of light exercise!  Thirty minutes may be out of reach when we first start, but 10-minute activity sessions throughout the day add up quickly!


Our clients are so encouraged by the progress that they experience.  You can feel the benefits of exercise very quickly.  Increased energy and stamina, renewed interest in activities, reduced stress, better sleeping and digestion, are all immediate benefits to exercise.  Knowing that you are contributing to improved overall health and reducing your risk factors for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other illnesses only increases the incentive to continue being active!



Be sure to track your minutes of activity this week and see how close you are to the recommended minimum of 150 minutes.  Remember that 10 minutes of activity at a time can count toward your total!

If you know someone who is elderly and they are unsure about how to become active, be sure to contact Warm Embrace.  Our Triple Vitality program is specifically designed for the frail elderly who need assistance to become active.  We love to make a healthy, proactive difference in people’s lives, regardless of age!

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Happy International Women's Day!

 

International Women’s Day, and the week leading up to it, is an opportunity to acknowledge the advancement of women, and all of the successes achieved by women.  International Women’s Day (IWD) was first observed in 1911 in both Europe and America, and has since grown to become a day of recognition and celebration in both developed and developing countries across the world.  In some countries, IWD is a national holiday!

 

 

International Women’s Day started as a political event and was primarily focused on women’s economic, political and social achievements.  Acknowledging advancements in each of these areas remains important and a focus of IWD, but it has expanded to also be a way to acknowledge all women as a form of respect and appreciation for all that women do—both publicly and privately.

 

Here at Warm Embrace, we are honoured to have so many fabulous women on our team! Our wonderful employees make a different in their client’s lives every single day! We have fantastic women on our team who make a difference in a quiet way, selflessly meeting the needs of other. We want to acknowledge and publicly appreciate the wonderful women on our team for the meaningful service they diligently provide.

 


We are also inspired to serve elderly female clients, many of whom are well aware that women have made incredible progress; our elderly clients lived through an era that is quite different from today!  We are always amazed at the stories of bravery and triumph when our clients share details of how they fought for personal progress.  We certainly owe a debt of gratitude for the many women—and men—who came before us and ensured that today’s women would have greater opportunities by changing the course of history.  It is an honour to serve such inspiring people! 


In recognition of International Women’s Day, we want to say a special thank you to all of the extraordinary women who paved the way for this generation of young women to experience greater equality, and to continue working toward even greater progress.

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Enduring Love

 

One of the greatest honours I have in my position at Warm Embrace Elder Care, is to witness the lives of our incredible clients, and to be invited into their lives at such an important moment.  I am frequently astounded at all the challenges my elderly clients have overcome, and their subsequent life view.

Witnessing love that has developed over a 65 year marriage is phenomenal. I recently met a couple who is in their mid-eighties and is approaching their 66th wedding anniversary.  I marveled at the feat and asked how they had initially met.

 



She was 19 and he was 22 years old.  He arrived late to a dance, and just as he was arriving, she was packing up to leave.  He thought she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, and he overcame his usual shyness and requested a dance with her.  She conceded, and they danced the night away.  Sixty-five years later, that couple is still waltzing through life together.

 


How incredible!  As very young adults, they were attracted to each other, and then created love out of that union.  The gentleman told me that: “she was so beautiful that I thought I loved her. I didn’t even know what love was yet! It is now that I truly love her.  I love her more and more each year.”

 

To be in the presence of such enduring love, such dedication and loyalty, is truly humbling.  In today’s world, young people in their late teens and early twenties feel they don’t know themselves yet, much less have the ability to truly know someone else.  Today’s young generation wait to “fall” in love and find a “perfect” partner.  The generation that married 65 years ago had a totally different approach.  They found a partner with whom they could connect, and they determined to create love and create a life together.  Quitting wasn’t an option; when trouble arose, they faced it together and created a solution.

 

The couple was curious about my fascination with their 65-year marriage. They don’t  view it as being extraordinary in anyway; I was clearly impressed.  I explained how there are entire sections of bookstores dedicated to self-help guidance on relationships, love, and marriage.  They guffawed and thought that was ridiculous; then the woman said: “I’m not saying it was always easy.  It wasn’t.  We had our troubles just like anyone else.  But we made a promise to each other, and we’re people who keep our word. So when it got tough, we just decided to keep going and wait for the feeling of love to return.  Sure enough, it did!”  I teased her that with advice as simple and straightforward as that, she might put the relationship section of the bookstore out of business!

 

These two marvelous people are so interconnected that they almost operate as one.  They’re beyond finishing each other’s sentences; it seems they sometimes communicate without even saying a word! 

They know each other’s likes and dislikes right down to the correct teaspoon served with afternoon tea.  They can only recollect being apart for a handful of nights their entire marriage. 
 
Now, life has become just a little more challenging, and living together at home requires some assistance.  What an honour it is for us to provide the caregiving this couple needs to remain at home together. 
I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for this couple to be split up if one person were sent to a nursing home and the other remained at home. They can’t even fathom it!  Thank goodness home care allows them to remain together, and allows their touching love story to continue.

They tell me that this is the final chapter of their love story.  With all the adversity this couple has faced and survived, I wouldn’t be surprised if they celebrated their 70th and 75th wedding anniversaries!  I’m so privileged to witness and be inspired by this enduring love.

If you have a story of Enduring Love, please share it with us!  We love to hear inspiring love stories!
 

 

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Holiday Traditions

 

It’s no secret that the holiday season has become increasingly complicated with a heavy focus on commercialism—lots of shopping, busy malls, huge meals, many parties...the list goes on.  While some people may enjoy making detailed desserts that look like a Martha Stewart display, many others find it stressful. When did all this pressure become the norm?

 

If you ask your grandparents what Christmas used to be like, I’ll bet they would tell you a different story.  If they were of the generation that lived through the depression era, you can be certain that there was very little—if any—Christmas shopping to be done. 

 

Instead, the focus was on being together with loved ones, and participating in activities together.  Rather than rushing around trying to have everything in perfect order before family arrived, the focus was on doing things together as a family.  Decorations were much simpler, but usually included extended family members.  Popcorn was strung and used as a garland hung outside for the birds to enjoy. Fruit featured prominently in 

décor—orange peels were used creatively as little baskets, or peels were dried and cut into shapes. 

 

These simple traditions are low-cost and allow everyone to focus on quality time together, rather than individually rushing about stressing about fancy décor.  Perhaps this year you can slow down the pace of the holiday season and revert to some time-honoured traditions from your grandparents’ era. What a special tribute for your grandparents or great-grandparents this holiday season!

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