It’s not too late for flu shot

As if being in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t enough, here we are in flu season again.

I never really used to think about the flu. I’d get a cold about once a year. I’d increase my Vitamin C intake, get more rest, and keep my distance from others, and that would be all I really needed to do to fight it off in a few days. But as I get older, and as I now work closely with elderly people, I am learning just how important it is to protect ourselves and others from the flu.

What can you do to protect yourself and your elderly loved ones? Wear a mask. Wash or sanitize your hands at every opportunity. Keep your distance from others. And get a flu shot.

According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the flu vaccine is a safe, effective way to help people stay healthy, prevent illness, and save lives. And having done it now for eight years, I can tell you that it’s quick and painless. In Saskatchewan, it’s also free. Getting vaccinated is especially important for elderly people—who are at high risk of influenza complications—and for their caregivers. And the earlier you get your flu shot, the better protected you are.

Can you still get influenza if you get a flu shot? Well, yes, for a number of reasons. One reason can be exposure to a flu virus in the two-week period after vaccination that it takes the body to develop immune protection.  But, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, chances are it will be a milder case.

And if there was ever a time to avoid the hospital, this is it. Because of the pandemic, hospital beds are in short supply, and our medical professionals are exhausted.

This flu season’s vaccine is available now through public health clinics across the province, some physician and nurse practitioner offices, and at local pharmacies. Click here for a list of clinic locations in Saskatchewan.

And if you’re elderly and in need of someone to take you, give me a call. I’d love to help.

Pandemic was far off … until it wasn’t


Whoa, now that was a long hiatus! When I was planning startup of the business in 2013, I really wanted to have a blog. People told me that it would be tough to keep a blog going as a one-person operation. I thought, nah, I will be able to keep it going in my “off hours”. Well, those people were right. My blog fell down the list of priorities over time as things got busy.

But I’m back! Although I do wish it was on a lighter note.

I think we all knew deep down that a pandemic would happen one day far into the future, but certainly not in our lifetime, right? Well here we are, eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic and not an end in sight. We’ve all been affected in ways we probably never could have imagined. But no matter how challenging it’s been for us, imagine for a moment what it would be like to be an elderly person, whose family and friends can’t come to visit, or who are not allowed to leave their care home—maybe not even their room—except to attend a crucial medical appointment.

It’s important to keep connections with the elderly people we know and love while protecting their health. We have to be creative in how we connect in the absence of human contact and touch.

Call them by phone. Send them cards and notes. Set up a window visit. Drop off flowers or treats. If technology is an option, send an email or text or video message. Share photos and stories of happy times and memories. Do whatever you can, whenever you can, to let them know that they are loved and not forgotten.

Little gestures go a long way. And, honestly, isn’t it the least we can do? They have done so much for us and for the society we all enjoy today.

This pandemic won’t last forever. Keep your spirits high, and keep smiling behind your mask. We will be able to safely visit in person and give hugs again one day soon.

Hug your friends. Sometimes they need it. : aww

Senior or Seasoned?

Since launching No Place Like Home a couple of years ago, I’ve come across a lot of terms for older people: seniors, senior citizens, elders, older persons. “Seniors” and “senior citizens” are the most mainstream. They were also my go-to terms  … until now.

I met two dear friends, Sandra and Joe, at the Goulet Golf Club when I joined in 1997, a short 19 years ago! We spent many hours together on and off the golf course. Sadly, Joe became ill and home-bound about three years ago. For the next two years, Sandra selflessly provided full-time care to Joe and welcomed me into their home on numerous occasions to share coffee, delightful treats, and spirited discussions about golf and current events. It was during this quality time together that Joe and I discovered a shared passion for books. We talked many times about great books we’d read and the wonderful authors we admired. We even swapped a couple of our favourite books.

Continue reading

Being Mortal changed my way of thinking

I recently had coffee with a man who was in town visiting his elderly mom. We chatted about his mom’s wonderful life, some of her recent health challenges, and generally how she is faring alone in her own home (which she’s lived in for some 50 years). Physically, her eyesight is failing, and she has the occasional “run-in” with the bathtub or uneven patio block in the yard. Mentally, she’s sharp as a tack. Slightly forgetful—we all have our moments!—but she can recall stories from her earlier years in great detail. And, most importantly, she is happy. We talked about how long she might remain in her own home. I suggested that a consideration one day might be her personal safety. I think I struck a nerve. Continue reading

86 and loving it!

When I was about to turn 40 a few years ago, I got in a bit of a pout. I had no reason, really.  I was in good health. I had a challenging and good-paying job. I had great friends and a wonderful husband. Life was pretty fantastic. But something about turning 40 really bothered me.  And then, it happened. My birthday came and went. I was 40. Turns out it wasn’t so bad. And, thankfully, within a few days, I snapped out of my funk and returned to a happy place.

I was in the car with one of my clients recently. We were on the subject of age, and she told me how glad she is to be 86. I was speechless (which almost never happens). Continue reading

Who’s Your Family?

Today is Family Day in Saskatchewan (and a few other provinces), a superb opportunity to spend quality time with our biological family members, our in-laws, our friends, our significant other, our neighbours, or whomever we love like family.

Not only do I have a special sister and brother, wonderful in-laws, and an amazing husband, I also have a few close friends that are just like family to me. They lift me up when I’m down, they make me laugh, they celebrate with me when I reach a milestone, they hold judgment if I say or do something unorthodox, they listen when I babble, and they help me learn from my mistakes. All together, these beautiful people make up my large and colourful family, filled with uniqueness and love.

I am the luckiest person in the world. And today’s the perfect time to remember with fondness the family members I’ve lost and to be thankful for everyone who’s in my life and supporting me on life’s journey.

Whatever you are doing today, I hope you are connecting in some way your family … whomever it includes.

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When the sun goes down

Sundown (a.k.a. Sundowner’s) syndrome. It’s a term used to describe the onset of confusion and agitation for people with dementia and for some residents of hospitals and nursing homes, usually occurring in late afternoon or early evening. Symptoms can include argumentative or demanding behaviour, confusion, agitation, paranoia, anxiousness, restlessness, or requests to “go home.”

Sundown syndrome is still a bit of a mystery to doctors and researchers. Some believe it is an accumulation of sensory stimulation throughout the day. Some believe it is caused by hormonal imbalances that occur at night. Some attribute it to fatigue. Others believe it is caused by anxiety resulting from the inability to see well in darkness.

It is certainly stressful to watch someone suffer from sundown syndrome, but know that it’s even more stressful on the individual experiencing it. It’s also not something that he or she can control.

My first encounter with sundown syndrome was uncomfortable, dare I say even a bit scary. Continue reading

Remembering isn’t always easy

Each November 11th, we stop our busy lives and remember our veterans, past and present, and honour their courage, service, and sacrifices. Hundreds of ceremonies take place across the country to commemorate Remembrance Day. It’s a day that unites us as Canadians.

For the generations that follow veterans, we want to learn as much as we can from them and their missions, partly to honour them and partly in the hope that we can prevent future wars. But for many veterans, remembering isn’t easy … not because their memory is failing, but because it’s so excruciating. Continue reading

Would you want to live forever?

Scientists have successfully altered the life span of fruit flies, worms, and mice, and some believe we are not far off being able to do the same with humans. Pardon?!

In a recent episode of The Nature of Things with David Suzuki called, “Living Forever: The Longevity Revolution,” scientists from around the world explore whether we can repair the human body and perhaps increase the human life span another 100 years, 500 years, even more. The documentary is not about wanting to look and feel younger. It’s about stopping, slowing down, and even reversing the aging process. It’s about the modern quest to create a longer, healthier old age, even eliminating old age altogether.

It’s a controversial subject, and one that’s fascinating to ponder. Continue reading

Get out those “buffet pants”

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. ‘Tis the season to start overindulging. Thank goodness for “buffet pants” (what Kelly and I call any pants containing spandex, which allow our mid-section a bit more room after a monster meal!).

Thanksgiving in Canada was traditionally about being thankful for another year’s harvest and having enough food to survive the winter. Today, we maintain our attention on thankfulness, but with more emphasis than ever on food, usually turkey, gravy, dressing, and pumpkin pie as the big finale.

I am always thankful for my family, good friends, and good health … not just at Thanksgiving, but each and every day. (Sappy but true.) But as this Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I find myself being thankful for so much more, thanks to No Place Like Home. Continue reading