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It's Okay to Ask for Help

 

When self-isolating at home, have you found yourself scrolling through random online updates more often than you want to admit?  If so, you’ve probably seen articles and posts about parents who are going crazy being cooped up with their children for weeks on end. Both the parents and the children are feeling the strain.

 

It isn’t just the parents of young children who are feeling the parent-child relationship strain. It can be felt at all ages but is showing up particularly strongly for those who have been thrust into a caregiving role that is more extensive than they anticipated.

 

Adult children of ageing parents who have dementia or other high-care needs may suddenly find many of their regular support systems removed. The Adult Day Program that your mother attended a few days weekly is now closed; her regular social groups at the church have shut down; even the PSW who usually comes to bathe her has not been coming. Your mother’s schedule is in upheaval and you have become the primary—and only—caregiver.

 

It can be pretty overwhelming to suddenly find yourself in the full-time position of caring for someone with dementia. While you’re happy to help sometimes on some days, being the only support person day after day is wearing you out and you’re starting to feel the strain.

 

 

It is okay to admit that, just like your mother, you’ve experienced a massive upheaval in your schedule and routine, with newly added responsibilities.  And though you may be tempted to think “I’m not working at the moment so I should be fully available to care for mom,” providing 24/7 dementia support is more than one full-time job.

 

Providing care to a loved one with dementia is more than just physically taxing. It can be emotionally exhausting as well. There are certainly very meaningful moments with laughter and joy, but when it is your parent or your spouse whom you’ve known for decades, it will undoubtedly be emotionally exhausting as well.

 

Just because you are home at the moment and may not be working does not mean that you are equipped to provide 24/7 dementia care. It is okay to acknowledge that sometimes, a professional is required and someone who is not related to your mother may be better able to provide the assistance she needs right now.

 

Fortunately, caregivers to the elderly are essential and permitted to continue caring for seniors. Here at Warm Embrace, we continue to serve our longstanding clients and we are also equipped to help families who are now finding themselves in need of more care.

 

As an essential service provider, we’re here to help your family through this difficult time. Contact us for more information.

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My Loved One has Fallen! What's Next?

A resident named, Delores, fell three times in two weeks. Her third fall landed her in the hospital where she remained for 10 days.  She was at risk of falling previously, but now, after 10 days of deconditioning in the hospital, her risk is even higher.

 

Delores has long been on the waitlist for long term care, but now that her needs have escalated, her care is beyond what can be safely managed within a retirement setting.

 

retirement home hallway filled with wheelchairs

 

To escalate her placement on the LTC waitlist, Delores had to be discharged from the hospital under the Home First LHIN strategy.  She went back to her residence after her 10-day hospital stay.

 

Now that Delores is in the community, she can be reassessed for long term care and be considered a crisis level. Even if someone is on the crisis list though, it doesn’t mean that a bed is immediately available.

 

Delores may still be waiting for weeks—or longer—for a suitable LTC placement to become available.

 

In the meantime, Delores is in your care, and she’s at an extremely high risk of falling. You are now worried that she cannot be left alone since she forgets that she is at risk of falling and she is inclined to get up and try to walk without her walker. Since her previous three falls were all attempts to make it to the washroom, you are very well aware that she may attempt to rush to the washroom and fall yet again.

 

Warm Embrace can help to meet this need! 

 

If Delores is on the crisis waitlist for LTC and she needs 24/7 attendant care, the LHIN may provide some PSW support for various shifts. Warm Embrace can provide the rest. We can cover up to 24/7 care to ensure that Delores is never left alone.  We can help to bridge the gap before Delores receives a suitable placement in long term care. This way, Delores is safe and has the one-on-one attendant care that she needs. 

 

Just think how relieved you will feel, knowing that you can utilize the support of Warm Embrace when someone you know is awaiting crisis LTC placement.

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Women's day: Choose to Challenge

International Women’s day is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments while also pressing forward to ensure equality for women globally.  Each year is designated with a specific theme; this year’s theme is Choose to Challenge.

 

Choose to Challenge encourages us all—men, women and nonbinary alike—to challenge our assumptions, our stereotypes, our mentality of “because it’s always been this way.” We are choosing to say “it doesn’t HAVE to be this way”.

 

black and white photo of 3 women from the 30s in New York

 

Indeed, it is generations of women who have continually chosen to challenge assumptions and stereotypes who paved the way for greater levels of equality today as compared to fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago.

 

I want to pay homage to a host of women we have served who actively Choose to Challenge the system and forged the way for many of the opportunities from which I and my cohort have benefitted.

 

Over the past 14 years, Warm Embrace Elder Care has served countless incredible women who were primarily in their 80’s and 90’s and some who were even over 100 years old! We have had the distinct honour of learning about their lives, the hardships they faced, the battles they fought, and all the challenges they chose to overcome.

 

These women were born in the 1920’s or early 1930’s.  They were born after the First World War had ended and the soldiers returned from war. They were raised through the Depression Era of the 1930’s and were coming of age during WWII. Women of that generation were expected to marry and have children…often when they were barely older than children themselves. While that was the expected narrative, many of our clients Chose to Challenge the stereotypes and forge their own paths.

 

Administrative & Management

 

Warm Embrace Elder Care has served women who all worked in clerical settings, but would not accept the title or role of Secretary. Instead, one woman became an Accountant and ran her own company, eventually expanding it to include three partners and she remained one of the principal partners until her retirement. Another woman worked as a Claims Specialist for the Workman’s Compensation Board of Ontario, and someone else became a Supervisor over a whole team of employees at the local tax office.  In her late retirement, the Supervisor would regale our caregivers with stories of how she and the women in her office would manage to improve conditions for women—sometimes by following the rules and playing within the system, and sometimes from being very creative with bending those rules!

 

Education

 

Then there are the women who insisted upon proceeding with higher education, and in many different subject areas. One woman we served was instrumental at the Veterinary College at the University of Guelph and travelled extensively to help with research and the founding of other veterinary colleges internationally. She had a fascinating career that spanned decades and took her to every continent. Upon retirement from the University, she started her own consulting company to keep her busy and actively engaged in the community well into her senior years. Warm Embrace Elder Care was honoured to serve her in her later senior years, and at any mention of a research study, she would sit up straight, lean forward, and look you straight in the eye while asking detailed questions. Her thirst for knowledge never waned; she continually wanted to learn more and remain on the forefront of academic research.

 

Another client of ours earned her PhD in chemistry as the first woman in her field, and went on to become a Chemistry Professor with numerous accolades to her name. She can recount stories of when she was the only female professor in the sciences and her classes were all male students too. Today we are still encouraging young women to enter the STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) programs of study, but it is thanks to the women who have passed before us that the conversation today is about how to have even more young women in STEM; the conversation is no longer simply about whether women should be permitted in STEM subjects at all.

 

Black and white photo of women meeting in a board room

 

Social Services

 

One of our clients had a twinkle in her eye that continued to shine until the very end. She had a zest for life and a deep concern for the well-being of others.  Today, she might have been called a Social Justice Warrior. In her time, she was a woman on a mission.  She was so frustrated at the local societal support for women that she took it upon herself to found and then fund what is today known as Anselma House. She was passionate about helping women to escape domestic violence and then supporting them to start a new life. She had so hoped to eradicate domestic violence in her lifetime. Over a decade ago at a ribbon cutting for a new shelter, she was quoted as saying “I resent that we need this building today,” and in 2021 we continue to need Anselma House as much as the day it was founded in 1978.  Her passion and tireless advocacy are behind some of the social support systems that are still in operation today.

 

Business

 

There’s a woman whose accomplishments in the 1960’s and 1970’s would still be considered gender-barrier-shattering even by today’s standards!  She founded her own construction company and went head-to-head with the major developers in the region.  Involved in both residential and commercial development, her construction company was known for quality and unique design.  Owning her own business was certainly an accomplishment; to have done so in a male-dominated field is even more impressive!

 

 

Each of these incredible women faced barriers that they had to overcome; they each Chose to Challenge gender expectations, stereotypes and assumptions.  They were often the only woman at the board room table or in the professor’s lounge.  They proceeded with excellence and demonstrated that women deserve to be at the table. It is thanks to their fortitude that it is no longer ground breaking to find a woman starting her own company, or to see a female professor in the STEM programs.

 

To all of these inspirational women who were clients of Warm Embrace Elder Care, I want to say THANK YOU for Choosing to Challenge the assumptions that you did which have led to increased opportunities for women today.  You have passed the torch, and this generation will carry your work forward as we continually Choose to Challenge for today’s women and for future generations.

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Springing Forward!

It’s almost that time of year again—time to change the clocks!

 

The springtime change has a hopeful element to it; the days get longer and you have more daylight to enjoy in the evening hours.  It almost feels like you can measure the increased daylight every day!  It signals that spring is truly on its way.

 

There is one big challenge first though.  That’s the loss of one hour!  For most of us, that means the loss of an hour of sleep.

 

Blue clock on a wall

 

It would seem as though losing one hour of sleep shouldn’t be that detrimental. Surely we can handle one less hour of sleep.  And yet, statistics indicate that losing one hour of sleep does impact us, and not for the better.   It’s a well-known fact that there is a higher incident rate of automobile collisions on the Monday following the spring time change. Some studies have indicated an increased risk of heart attack too!  

 

If losing one hour of sleep can cause us to drive poorly and increase our risk of heart attack, what does it do for someone with dementia who may not understand what is happening with the time change?

 

Adjusting to the time change is essentially like dealing with jet lag. While it is only a one-hour difference, it is enough to throw us out of whack for a few days as we slowly adjust. Our bodies are finely tuned mechanisms that follow a very careful circadian rhythm.  When that rhythm is interrupted, it takes us a while to get back on track.  If that much adjustment is needed for those of us who can cognitively understand the time change, how much more difficult is it for someone with dementia who cannot tell time?

 

Someone with advanced dementia may not be able to tell time anymore. Some days, it may seem as if they don’t have much routine if they are waking at odd hours and sleeping during the day. But even if their routine has shifted from what it was years ago, they still have an internal sense of the passing of time. Suddenly missing an hour throws off that internal sense, and it can feel disorienting and confusing.

 

Sleep is critical for brain functioning in all people, and especially so for those with dementia.  The brain needs a chance to recover and it is during sleep that memory is encoded. When someone’s brain is impacted by a disease that impairs memory, they may require extra sleep to encode even minimal memory.  Sleep is essential, and losing an hour of sleep can have an enormous impact on how someone functions. 

 

a bed

 

As much as possible, try to adjust bedtime and waking time in advance of the time change to make it a more gradual adjustment rather than a one-hour change overnight.  On the eve of the time change and the subsequent nights, ensure that your loved one still receives their usual allotment of sleep, even if it means going to bed a bit earlier or getting up a bit later.

 

When caring for someone with moderate or advanced dementia, just knowing what to expect can make a difference.  Recognize that the time change is just like dealing with jet-lag and it will be an adjustment for your loved one. Expect that they may exhibit some unusual behaviour or feel agitated and anxious the week following the time change.

 

Prepare as much as possible by making the adjustment gradual. And remember, these adjustments will be helpful not only for your loved one but also for you!

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Speeding Up Spring

Are you experiencing a case of cabin fever?

Don’t be discouraged and let the cabin fever get to you—instead, speed up spring!

 

One of the best ways to bring spring to you is to start your gardening early—indoors! Rather than waiting on mother nature to cooperate for a display of spring colours, get things started yourself by forcing bulbs.

 

Indoor gardening is a very accessible way to garden. There is no need to bend over or kneel on the hard ground. Bulbs require very little maintenance or effort. Indoor gardening is a great way to connect with an elderly loved one’s passion and hobby without being overwhelming or too physically demanding. It can also be a great intergenerational activity, drawing children and grandparents—or even great grandparents—together over a common task.

 

Forcing bulbs indoors mimic the outdoor environment that causes a bulb to grow and bloom. Unlike large, potted house plants, bulbs do not need big pots. A small, shallow dish is sufficient. Many bulbs are easily forced using only water and pebbles, rather than soil, resulting in much easier clean up when gardening indoors. It is also more fun to watch the roots develop and see the bulb change as it grows. New growth development is exciting to see—at any age!

 

new plants growing

 

Using your shallow container, fill it half full of pebbles or marbles, then place the bulbs on top of the pebble layer. Gently fill the rest of the container with pebbles or marbles to secure the bulbs in place, but do not completely bury the bulbs. Put enough water in the dish so that the water touches the bottom of the bulb, but do not submerge the bulb in water or it will begin to rot.

 

The step that is most often overlooked when forcing bulbs is the chilling step. Your freshly “planted” bulbs need to be chilled in a cellar or in the fridge to mimic the winter season. Some bulbs only need a few days of chilling, and others need a much more extended chilling period of several weeks. Be sure to check the specifications on the bulbs that you purchase.

 

NOTE: Please do NOT store bulbs in an elderly person’s fridge. If that person has dementia or mild cognitive impairment, the bulbs (or pebbles) could be mistaken for other produce. Likewise, if your loved one has impaired vision, the bulbs could appear similar to onions. Senses such as taste and smell become dulled for many people as they age; the smell or bitter taste that might alert you to food being harmful may not alert an elderly loved one.

 

When roots begin to show you will know that your bulbs are ready to begin their growth cycle and it is time to remove them from the chilling stage. With roots now showing, your bulbs are ready to be moved into warmth and sunlight. You need to introduce them to sunlight slowly, just the way that the spring sunlight is soft at first and then gradually gets warmer. Place your bulbs in a cooler area of your home, away from direct sunlight. When your plants begin to grow and the stems take on a healthy green colour, then it is time to move them to a sunny windowsill to watch the beauty unfold!

 

flowers on a plate with exposed bulbs

 

In theory, any bulb can be forced to grow indoors, but some varieties are easier to force than others. Paperwhite narcissus grows well indoors and does not require a very long chilling period. They grow well in water and pebbles and are quite fragrant. Amaryllis are very easy to force and the blooms are giant and colourful. They grow so quickly that you can see growth daily.

 

The warmer the environment, the faster the amaryllis will grow. Once it blooms, it is best to move the plant to a cooler, shaded area for the blooms to last longer, as they can remain for up to a month.

 

Hyacinth and crocus can also be forced and take eight to ten weeks to grow. Although tulips are a favourite spring bloom, they are probably best enjoyed out in the garden as they can be trickier to force and require a long chilling period of sixteen weeks.

 

Enjoy your head start on spring by forcing your favourite bulbs indoors, and use this easy, timeless, and ageless activity to connect various members of your family. You will have spring beauty unfolding in your own living room—no matter how much snow remains on the ground outside!

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Happy Family Day

February is no longer just the month for lovers— it is now the month for families! Have you created any family traditions yet for this day off work and school? 

 
Family Day is an opportunity to spend time with the people who mean the most to you.

Even though this year Family Day will be particularly difficult, there are ways you can still celebrate online

 

young black family cooking in the kitchenOne of the wonderful things about Family Day is that it has not been commercialized—the stores are not full of merchandise and the holiday is not associated with overspending, overeating, and overstressing! It is a holiday with no strings attached. Just a chance to pause and enjoy the people who matter most

 
Enjoy this holiday as a day to keep things simple and low-key. Pause and notice the beauty of a quiet winter day, watch for birds in the trees, photograph the dripping icicles, cook a homemade meal, bake a favourite recipe, share favourite memories, sip hot chocolate and watch a classic movie.  

 

Whatever you do, remember to say “I love you” and let your family know just how much you appreciate them. Family is certainly not just restricted to blood relatives either. Anyone who is close to you can be considered as family—friends, neighbours, acquaintances from church, social clubs, etc. If someone is meaningful to you, then consider them as family! 
 

From everyone at Warm Embrace Elder Care, we wish you a wonderful Family Day! 

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Reasons Why Family Caregiving Does NOT Work

Family caregiving is an honourable endeavour and can be intensely meaningful and fulfilling.  But not all families are the same, and there are situations where family caregiving for an elderly parent or relative may not be suitable. In some situations, attempting to be a family caregiver can actually cause more upset to the overall family than enlisting external help.  

 

3 generations in one picture

 

Here is a top 5 list of reasons where family caregiving may cause more strife than benefit.

 

1. Siblings rivalry was never outgrown

 

Do you still squabble with your siblings as much as you did when you were children?  Family caregiving can be challenging in and of itself; add sibling rivalry and the emotional toll just jumped to a whole new level. Siblings who exert more effort competing than cooperating will not likely set their personal issues aside and be completely agreeable over care for mom or dad.

 

When there are long-standing sibling rivalry issues it often ends up feeling as if you can’t do anything right. No matter which action you take, it is misinterpreted by your siblings. You provide hands-on care, it is criticized; you step back to allow your siblings the opportunity to participate, and you’re labelled as “uninvolved” or “being selfish”. With dynamics like this at play, involved family caregiving likely won’t heal sibling wounds. Rather, there is a great risk that the sibling divide deepens.

 

In family caregiving, the recipient of care—your elderly parent or grandparent—needs to be the focus. Sibling rivalry can’t continue to be the main issue at hand. Out of fairness to your elderly loved ones, you may want to enlist external support so that long-standing sibling rivalries don’t rear again over family care.

 

2. Your parent is intensely private or modest

 

Every family has different comfort levels around privacy and personal care. For someone who was intensely private and modest her entire life, she may find it terribly uncomfortable to have family or friends assist with personal care, such as bathing or toileting. An elderly mother may not wish to have her sons bathing her—and her sons are often even more uncomfortable with personal care than is she!

 

For these families, the kindest option is to have someone else provide personal care—someone who was not previously known to the elderly mother. This way, she can maintain her dignity and privacy in front of her sons, her daughters-in-law, and her friends. Receiving support from a caregiver whose role it is to provide personal care is exceedingly different than forgoing privacy and modesty in front of family and friends. It is less about gender and more about personal preference and maintaining dignity.

 

The role reversal between parents and children is a complex issue that is deeply personal. It is challenging enough when adult children are suddenly managing schedules and household needs; crossing into the realm of personal care can exacerbate the role reversal.

 

3. Personality Clashes

 

Let’s face it—most families are not like the Brady Bunch. Not everyone gets along, and there are decades of history by the time caregiving for elderly family members arises. The elderly grandfather who suddenly needs assistance does not develop a new personality just because he suddenly requires care. If he was ornery his whole life, it is likely he will be ornery in his senior years too!

 

If he burned bridges with various family members in the past, it may be unrealistic to expect family members to set aside their grudges and hurt and begin family caregiving for Grandpa. In addition to past hurts that may be resurrected, those same family members are now exposed to a whole new host of potential personal insults. Grandpa is also less likely to be a gracious recipient of care from family members with whom he is accustomed to being ornery. There is a better chance that Grandpa will actually be kinder and more satisfied receiving care from someone outside the family.

 

It may just be that parent and child have two different personalities or styles that clash in a caregiving situation. Perhaps an elderly father prefers to be very detailed, slow and meticulous, doing things in the particular way that he has always done. His adult daughter—who loves him dearly and is trying so hard to help—is fighting her natural tendency toward efficiency. She wants to accomplish tasks quickly since she is already torn between her demanding career and her own family waiting for her at home.

 

The father and daughter have different styles and different personality types—something that may have been complimentary at other stages in life. But when it comes to caregiving and ensuring that her father has the quality of life that he prefers at whatever pace is comfortable to him, his daughter would be well-advised to step back and allow a professional caregiver to assist her father in the way he needs.

 

4. You're just not a caregiver at heart

 

Truth be told, you’re just not the caregiving type. We can’t all be good at everything; being compassionate, gentle and patient just aren’t your top strengths. There’s a reason you didn’t become a nurse or an activities director at a retirement home. You know your strength, and it isn’t caregiving.

 

elderly person hands

 

There’s no shame in acknowledging that you’re just not the right person for the job. Your strengths can be utilized in other ways to support your elderly loved one.  when it comes to personal care and more intimate needs, you would be wise to enlist the support of someone who is particularly compassionate, gentle and patient for the sake of your elderly loved one. They deserve the best and a trained caregiver can provide what you cannot.

 

5. You don't live locally 

 

Today’s families are more spread out geographically than ever before. Family members may be time zones apart, and visiting regularly just isn’t possible. When you do visit, you stay for a week at a time and try to get everything mom needs, but you’ve noticed that each time you visit, she needs a little more than last time. You feel bad that she’s on her own between your visits, and you worry about her more and more all the time.

 

It’s more than just stocking up on groceries and running errands. You want to know that mom has a reliable caregiver to accompany her to appointments since doctor’s appointments cannot always wait until you’re in town. You want the best for your mother. She deserves consistent care that isn’t dependent upon your work schedule. You also want the peace of mind that someone is checking in on your mom, even when you are not in town.

 

If your family fits into any of these 5 categories, then family caregiving may not be advised.  Family caregiving is highly stressful and involved in the best of situations, but if you add any of the above five elements, you may want to enlist some additional care for your ageing loved ones. 

 

It’s okay to admit that your family is better suited to enlisting caregiver support from outside the family. Doing so maybe just the thing your family needs to keep everyone sane and happy!

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10 Life Choices You Can Make to Protect Your Heart

February is all about hearts. . . but not just the cupid and chocolate kind of hearts. It’s also heart awareness month as the Heart and Stroke Foundation promotes heart health and disease prevention.

 

Did you know that every seven minutes someone in Canada dies from heart disease or stroke? And 32% of all deaths are attributed to heart disease or stroke? With heart disease this rampant, it is bound to affect you personally through someone that you know.

 

Here are the Top 10 healthy living choices you can make to help prevent heart disease

 

1. If you smoke, become smoke-free.

 

2. Be aware of your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels and keep them in the healthy range.

 

a person walking upstairs

 

3. Engage in regular physical activity for a minimum of 150 minutes weekly– choose activities you find fun so you’ll stick with them. Bouts of 10 minutes of exercise at a time count toward your 150 weekly minutes.

 

Research conducted by Dr. Poulin with women over 65 demonstrated that active women have 10% lower blood pressure and 10% higher brain function on cognitive tests. The active women were engaged in aerobic activity, such as walking, for at least 150 minutes per week.

 

4. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss of 5-10% of your current weight can have significant health benefits.

 

5. Consume at least five servings of vegetables and fruits per day by including vegetables with every meal and fruit for dessert. Boomers are notorious for failing to eat enough fruit and veggies; 80% of all boomers do not eat the recommended five veggies daily.

 

6. Develop and maintain personal relationships to help reduce any stress that can lead to unhealthy habits such as overeating and lack of physical activity.

 

7. Choose lean meat, fish, poultry and meat alternatives such as beans along with low-fat milk.

 

a healthy salmon sandwich

 

8. Include a small amount of soft non-hydrogenated margarine, vegetable oils and nuts each day.

 

9. Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day.

 

10. Choose foods that are lower in sodium and limit the amount of salt you add in cooking or at the table. Begin using fresh herbs or spices to flavour your food, rather than depending on salt.

 

Starting and sticking to new habits can be difficult - especially when done alone. However, you don't have to do it alone! We are fabulous caregivers who will encourage and guide you - or your elderly loved one – in staying on track. Your heart health is important, it’s never too late to introduce new living choices, start today!

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Safety Tips for Winter Walking

One of the best ways to avoid the winter blues is to get out and be active while enjoying some of the beauty of winter. Winter walking is great for physical activity as well as providing relief from cabin fever. Winter walking must be taken seriously though and approached carefully.

 

Over 12,000 Ontarians land in the hospital each year from falling on the ice. Half of these falls occur in January or February—apparently the two most slippery months of the year. One-third of those falls happened to people who were age 60-79 and resulted in an average hospital stay of 7.6 days.

 

 

What you might not expect to find out, is that another one-third of those falls happened to people who were 40–59 years old, and their average hospital stay was 3.6 days. Fall prevention, especially in the winter, is not just an issue that affects the elderly. Winter safety is important for any Canadian who is willing to venture out into the cold!


Here are some basic safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this winter.
 

Footwear: good quality winter boots are essential! They need to be waterproof and insulated, have a thick and non-slip tread, have low and wide heels, and be light in weight.
 

Ice grippers: you can attach ice grippers to the bottoms of your boots for added grip on hard-packed snow and ice. Warning: the grippers are terribly slippery on smooth surfaces like tile, stone, or ceramic. You should always be seated when attaching the ice grippers to the bottom of your boots.
 

Hip Protector: wear a hip protector when walking outdoors. A hip protector is a lightweight belt or pants that have shields to guard the hips to give you added protection should a fall occur.


Carry sand: carry a small bag of grit, sand, salt, cat litter—in your pocket or purse so that if you must cross a particularly icy section you can sprinkle some grit first.

 

Cane or Urban Poles: use a cane, a set of Urban Poles, or ski poles to help with balance. Attach an ice pick to the end of your cane or poles for added stability.

 

Buddy System: walk with a friend or family member. Canadian winters are unpredictable and for your safety, you should always walk with another person. Let others know which route you will be taking and when you expect to be home again. 

 

Resort to the Indoors: in the truly Canadian winter storms, exercise indoors. Utilize an indoor walking track where there will be no ice or snow for you to battle.

 

Triple Vitality: enroll in the one-on-one exercise program offered by Warm Embrace Elder Care—right in the comfort of your own home! You can remain safe and warm at home while still maintaining your fitness and mobility.


Have a safe and happy winter!

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Living in the Moment

Learning to be zen and mindful is something that takes incredible focus, dedication and practice. There are entire fields of study dedicated to mindfulness and how beneficial it can be to our overall health. Living in the moment can be your goal for this new year!

 

People with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can teach us a lot about how to be in this moment, completely and fully. 

 

older lady smiling with yellow flowers around her

When you spend time with someone who has dementia, they are present in that moment and they’re acutely aware of their environment around them. They are noticing sights and sounds and temperature variations at that particular moment in time. They may not be able to articulate it entirely, but they are very much present in the moment.

 

The challenge is usually more for us than it is for them.

 

We are the ones who have a hard time slowing down. How many details from our immediate environment do we miss completely because we’re totally absorbed thinking about the past or worrying about the future? 

 

When you spend the afternoon with someone who has dementia, they are truly with you for that afternoon. They are not creating a grocery list in their head. They aren’t worrying about what to cook for dinner later. They aren’t wondering if they’ll have enough time to squeeze in an extra errand after the visit. They are present, with you, at that moment. 

 

Sometimes, someone with dementia will jump from one topic to the next and you might think that they weren’t engaged in the conversation if their brain was heading in such a different direction than yours. Remember that the connections between areas of the brain and the way information is stored, retrieved and processed are very much impacted by dementia. 

 

Two different topics that to you seem unrelated, might be connected in an abstract way for someone who has dementia.  In their mind, those two topics may be connected and to them, it feels that the conversation is flowing.  They aren’t feeling that the conversation is disjointed; they are following the conversation exactly as their brain is permitting at that moment. They are entirely present and engaged; their brain is just taking a different route than your brain.

 

Sometimes when someone has advanced dementia they may be using the knowledge that they gained early in their life to make sense of their world.  They may ask for their parents; they may call you by their sibling’s name. They may reference attending school, or planning for their wedding, or having their first child. Sometimes, people interpret this to mean that someone with dementia is “living in the past.”  This isn’t true. 

 

older lady wearing a purple dress and hat, and smilingSomeone with dementia is living entirely in the moment today—they are as much in the moment as you are. Their brain is just relying on information from decades ago to explain what they are experiencing in this present moment.  They recognize that you are a person who is close to them and very much connected to them, and their brain uses that archived knowledge when it assigns the name of their sibling to you.

 

They are not living in the past; they are engaging with you at this very moment. They are just relying on data from their long-term memory that is no longer reliable. But be aware that they are very much present in the moment and acutely aware of the information they’re absorbing through their five senses.

 

We can learn a lot from our friends who have dementia. If we can join them, at their pace, to experience the world around them, we can have a very zen moment. We can learn to notice and appreciate small details.

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