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

This week is all about seniors

Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 is Seniors’ Week in Saskatchewan, which coincides with National Seniors Day and International Day of Older Persons on Oct. 1. Seniors deserve special attention all year, but this week in particular is to recognize how important seniors are in our families and communities and to celebrate their many positive contributions—past and present.

According to the Ministry of Health, one in seven people in Saskatchewan is currently 65 years of age or older. That’s a big portion of our population! And this number is expected to climb to one in six by 2020.

Think for a moment about a senior who positively impacted your life in some way. Continue reading

Colourful leaves bring reminder of home safety

It’s the first full day of fall! Exciting for some (my husband, Kelly). Not so exciting for others (like me.)

For hunters like Kelly, it’s the time of year when the elk start bugling and the deer enter full rut. Kelly painstakingly prepares all year for the short hunting season in fall when he gets to do what he loves most. For golfers like me, it means starting to lose my ball in the fallen leaves and having to wear multiple layers of clothing—often too many to maintain a proper swing—to stay warm for the 4-5 hours I’m out on the course. It also means I’ll soon be packing away my golf clubs for the long, cold winter that’s just around the corner.

Could hunting and golf be more different hobbies?! Let’s just say there’s an interesting dynamic in our household. Actually, it’s the best of both worlds. Kelly’s energy and excitement pick me up in the fall when I’m feeling blue about the golf season ending. And I reciprocate in spring when hunting season is over. We complement each other quite nicely.

Regardless of how you feel about fall, there are some seasonal dangers to keep in mind, especially for seniors who still live in a house or condo: Continue reading