What I Wish I Knew Back Then: George

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Our blog writing team gets together each season to discuss what’s working, what’s not, and what we need to post more of. At our most recent gathering, we talked about breathing some life in to the What I Wish I Knew Back Then series. 

In our May/June Family Caregivers’ Grapevine, George shared some insight in to his journey caring for his father before he passed away. George was quoted in Navigating New Terrain: The Male Caregivers’ Journey, but we thought it would be pertinent to publish some more of his thoughts and tips, since they may help some of you on your caregiving journeys. 

Thank you so much for sharing your story, George!

Who did you care for?
My father
For how long?
2 years
What kinds of things did you do to help?
Daily check-ins to see how he was doing as he had a progressive disease of dementia. I also took him to doctors appointments, specialist appointments and eye appointments and frequent trips to emergency. Getting his medication and making sure he was taking it was also on the list. I visited him and my mother frequently to ensure everyone was safe and secure. I also had to monitor my Mother who was having a very difficult time with his health physically and emotionally. I took him to the Emergency room several times as his illness progressed and had to help to try and make an informed decision on whether to go ahead with two surgeries.
What impact did caring for your parents have on you emotionally?
It’s emotionally devastating and depressing to see a loved one slowly disintegrate physically and mentally before your eyes. It also alters your relationships with other family members. It was very difficult. The biggest challenge was not having a plan and not having the training to develop a plan. Once we understood what we were dealing with it was much better. Complicating the progressive nature of my fathers dementia was that he developed a potentially fatal aortic aneurysm and if not treated he could die at any moment when the aneurysm burst. We were lucky in that I had taken Dad to emergency and while we were there he asked why his chest was bumping up and down. The Dr did a cat scan and found the aneurysm. Luckily, the ER doctor had a mentor who was just starting an experimental procedure that may provide a relief for the aneurysm. We signed up for this and so now we were working on two life altering problems. There was a good possibility that the pins from the stent might cause the aneurysm to break while they were doing the surgery so this was very stressful. When Dad had his operation with this new experimental procedure unfortunately he had a heart attack but they were able to bring him back. Once that was under control we went back to the dementia problems. As dementia progresses the thought processes get more dysfunctional. In my father’s case he was not connecting with reality any more. I remember getting a call from my Mom at 3 am saying she couldn’t cope any more as my father was trying to climb out his bedroom window. When I got there, he refused to go to the hospital. People with dementia can be very suspicious and I had to talk him into going in to get his back looked at as he said it was hurting. On the way to the ER he was hallucinating and seeing people on the road in front of the car and he grabbed the wheel a few times to avoid hitting these imaginary people. So seeing your father who was totally in control all his life acting in this odd fashion was extremely stressful and I was in survivor mode as I didn’t know what was coming up and he was going to do minute to minute. The 30 minute drive to the hospital ER was the longest drive of my life. Dementia is a challenging disease as the patient will frequently stay up all night and sleep during the day. Also, they may decide to go for a long walk at 3 am thinking they are in some other part of the word.  With a disease like progressive dementia, there is another challenge. Basically when your parent gets a progressive dementia, the parent you knew and loved is gone. It is replaced by a new person who looks just like your old parent but comes with a brand new set of perspective, values and memories. So on top of caregiving you must go through a grieving process just like they had died already while at the same time providing the care that everyone needs.

Another impact was when we left after a visit at the care home, he would always ask “Can I come home today?” It was heartbreaking on a daily basis. I also had to aggregate information in order to make some extremely difficult decisions on whether he should have surgeries or not at his advanced age. These were both terrible decisions to make as in both cases the alternative to not having surgery could be fatal or the surgery itself
could be fatal. What a horrible decision to have to make.
What kinds of support did you have in your caregiving journey?
Support was very limited really. The doctor shortage doesn’t help anybody. Being confronted with a disease without training is kind of like the ridiculousness of having a
baby without any training. Babies don’t come with a manual. Why not? The biggest challenge which drains you emotionally is first not knowing what to do and then wondering if you’re doing the right thing. Not knowing where to go for help is a problem. Also, when there is a problem at 2 am where can you get the help you need? The challenge of caring for someone with severe health challenges also means it’s a 24×7 responsibility and something can go wrong at any time. And if someone is prone to running away there are other challenges. Without the internet, our family would have been totally lost as there are so many factions that require examination and execution.
Complex care is challenging as you don’t know what to do and you often have to help treat the patient as well as the loved ones around him. In my case this meant not only helping my father but providing emotional support with my mother and sister. Often times, other family members have completely diametrically opposed ideas on what the care should be and this makes a bad situation even worse. In addition some family members tend to downplay how sick. Once diagnosed, there can be a problem with wait times to get into a care home and then there is the financial hit that the family takes of 80% of their income going to the government. Also the amount of paperwork involved with all of this is overwhelming. Once he was admitted to a hospital he tried to escape several times so had to have a security guard on the floor to keep him in. He was in a room with 3 other men with dementia. When we went back 6 months later at least one of the men was still in the room. The fear of the unknown is huge for these situations. At hospital a social worker gets involved and then you’re told that there is a lottery for where the person ends up. In our case, my father may have been placed in a home over 30 miles away which would have made it impossible for my Mom to visit regularly. All of a sudden a very normal life is turned upside down for both my Mother and Father.
What helped most?
What helped most was getting educated in order to build an effective care plan which was overwhelming at first. When a loved one is struck with a disease it is extremely challenging to know what to do as the disease is complex and needs care and attention from many sectors. In my case, I had to navigate the physical disease as well as the mental disease and I was trained in neither. There is also the emotion of knowing that your father is alive but is gone so another patient added to the list is yourself. Grieving his death while he is still alive is a very strange experience. In order to get help you have to navigate the health care system which is extremely difficult when it comes to intangible problems like mental health. Extensive research online provided us with several practical educational aids to get educated. In the beginning you don’t even know what questions to ask. Then, drilling deeper I found practical guides on how to deal with dementia patients and specifically how to answer many of the hard questions that they will ask you. This was a great help. But often the patient just won’t cooperate and it really rips at your soul. The mental health system is even more complex to navigate. I can understand how difficult this is for practitioners as the patient appears normal but isn’t.
What hurt?
Nobody including yourself understanding the scope of the illness and how to care for it
effectively and practically. The lack of mental health resources was also a problem. The other challenge is family members blaming you for the wrong care, lack of care or other reasons. Often the other family members are suffering and just need to focus the blame on someone and the person leading the care is often the target of this.
What kind of positive things did you get from caregiving?
Knowing that you were taking care of someone in their darkest hours and that they had taken care of you all your life. It was nice to be able to give back even though the sorrow was often overwhelming. Once I realized that I had to grieve that my father had gone even though he was still alive, things got better. It was like there was a new chapter of the book and I could work on that in a positive way.
What were some of the challenges?
The scope of illness was huge and not knowing where to go for help and once knowing where to go how you could manipulate the system to get what you needed out of it.
Things like wait times were challenging. Psychiatric drugs are also incredibly challenging to the non-healthcare person. Many drugs are used and it is not known at the time if they will make the patient better or worse. Adding to this is that many of the drugs take 3 to 6 weeks to become effective. Side effects can be very dangerous to both the patient and the caregiver.
What sorts of things did you do for yourself to help cope? 
I kept researching looking for the tools and the answers so that I had an idea of what it was I was trying to manage.
Is there anything you needed that could have helped that you didn’t get?
It seems to me that a package of education would be very effective. In my case, there was the emergency, the hospital stay, the ongoing treatment, the acquisition of the care home and then having to help my Mom emotionally and financially. This involved lots of people, lots of forms and lots of worry on how to pay for it all.
As a male, do you feel that you faced any particular challenges or obstacles?
As a male providing care to another male I don’t believe I encountered any major obstacles. That being said, I think that anybody who is a Mom has years of valuable training and experience that many men don’t have as they lack that experience of caring for someone. However, if I rewrote this paper about the care we gave a female member of the family then it would be entirely different as often the health issues can involve personal, physical and hygiene issues that a male would not be able to effectively deliver.
Do you have any advice for men starting out on their caregiving journey?
My only advice would be to try and gather all the practical information about the care of the specific disease as you can and build an effective plan. Getting the right documents from an experienced source is gold. However, one of the problems is that you don’t know what questions to ask if you’re starting from scratch.
I think that finding a caring social worker or care worker will save everyone a lot of headache and heartache.
Anything else you’d like to add? 
I think a good package (education) would be very helpful:
1. A description of the disease
2. Symptoms
a. Memory
b. Thinking and Reasoning
c. Making Judgments and Decisions
d. Planning and Performing Familiar Tasks
e. Changes in Personality and Behaviour
3. Causes
4. Diagnosis
5. Treatment
a. Drugs and Expectations
b. Complications of Drugs
6. Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment
7. Complications
The above covers the patient, but what about the family members impacted by the disease. This can also be very complicated and gut wrenching. A practical guide tailored to the disease would be very useful which might include things like the hourly routines and log books of medicines administered, etc. Also, emergency numbers that can help 24 hours a day. How to get in touch with a social worker for guidance and to find out what assistance might be available would be very valuable as the healthcare world is huge and unknown to someone like myself. Also a practical package of what to do when something happens in the day of the patient or how to conduct a conversation with the patient so you don’t cause extreme stress to him ie. Don’t ask them what day or time it is or what they did today, instead talk about the weather as it is now. I think having access to a flight plan is the most important thing that can be offered in a case like this.
Any other comments? 
This comment is related to when I helped my Mom. If the disease is terminal and the patient wants to stay at home, explore the Hospice options that can provide excellent care at home (my Mom used this – she suffered congestive heart failure) and the nurse and doctor resources were wonderful.

 

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An invitation to mindfulness practice

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In our adult lives, it can feel slightly intimidating to learn a new skill. Attempting a new hobby or putting your mind to a task you haven’t done before; or one that you haven’t done in a very long time, takes a measure of courage and chutzpah.

Why might you consider beginning a mindfulness practice?   

If you …
are overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities and need a break
would appreciate tips for calming down after a stressful event
are looking for ways to respect and honour your own needs

I had the pleasure of speaking with North Shore therapist Catherine Moore, who integrates mindfulness techniques into her counselling work. I asked Catherine, “What are some of the barriers to people trying mindfulness?”, and she said that many people don’t believe in it, and think “what is this?”
People often need proof that mindfulness practice is helpful, and Catherine demonstrates its efficacy by testing the person’s pulse before and after, to show  how mindful breathing calms the body down. Many people have a hard time quieting their minds and slowing down, and in today’s busy world, there can be a lot of fear and anxiety in their thoughts. Catherine encouragingly says, “Going to a professional, even for one session, is helpful”.

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“I tell people that the mind works 7 times faster than the body, and help them to navigate the distance between something that feels unfamiliar and trying the practice- using simple practices”.

“Anything is mindful practice- washing the dishes can be mindful; or getting out of bed”.

Experiment with different practices, and make it a higher priority in the day. Even 1 minute is helpful- Use a physical prompt- a favourite pet, a stone etc. Connecting to external cues, anything that is deeply meaningful Press your feet into the ground.

Here are some ways to make mindfulness part of everyday life:

-Choose a cell phone App that leads you through simple mindfulness exercises. Some examples are: Insight Timer, Smiling Mind, and Stop Breathe & Think.

-Try a meditation group, such as one of these options:

northshorezen.org

meditationinvancouver.org
Thank you for sharing your insights with us Catherine. If you would like to contact Catherine, her website is  www.catherinemoore.ca

 

Karyn

Mindful Monday no. 54 – A Writing Exercise to Encourage Self-Kindness

a writing exercise to encourage self-kindness

Set aside half an hour and find an inspiring place in your home, outside in a park, or in your favourite coffee shop and get out a pen and paper. Read the instructions, then set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping.

Think of someone you love dearly and picture them in the same situation you are in. What would you say to them if they said they were struggling to do everything as well as they wanted to? Would you encourage them to work harder, or would you tell them to be easier on themselves and remind them of all the good they’re doing? Write a letter to a friend who is going through exactly the same thing you are. What would you tell them?

How did that feel? Treating ourselves with the same love and care we’d treat someone else with is a helpful way to get some perspective. Our expectations of self are usually far greater than what we expect from others.

 

For the full article, click here. 

Cassandra Van Dyck

Foodie Friday – 3 Bars to Fuel Your Day

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When you’re a caregiver, you may spend a lot of time outside of your home. If you’re not working, you might be dashing around to different appointments, picking up prescriptions, grocery shopping, or running other errands. If you’re at home, it’s a lot easier to access food when you’re hungry. You can toast a piece of bread or heat up a bowl of soup. When you’re out, it can be more challenging. Fast food restaurants are convenient but offer few economical and healthy options.

Preparing some snacks to take with you on your journeys may require a bit more work when you’re home, but it will save you time and money in the long run. Eating nutritious snacks when you’re hungry will give you fuel and prevent energy crashes. 

Eating a bar is a great way to quickly get some nutrition when you’re out and about. Read on for three tasty recipes!

PUMPKIN OATMEAL ANYTIME SQUARES | These are wonderful if you have a sugar craving and you’d like to avoid your local pastry shop! Get the full recipe here.

DIY FRUIT, NUT AND FLOWER CHOCOLATE BARS | Chocolate? You read that correctly! Look for chocolate that’s low in sugar and add in lots of nuts and dried fruits and you’ll have yourself a beautiful afternoon snack! Click here for the details.

BREAKFAST BARS | Do you need to rush out the door in the morning? Take one (or two) of these with you to make sure you don’t skip the most important meal of the day!

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

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You may have tried Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) in a yoga or meditation class without even realizing you were trying it. PMR is an anxiety-relief exercise that repeats two steps over and over:

tense your muscles

 release your muscles

When you are experiencing chronic stress and anxiety, you might forget what it feels like to be relaxed. By tensing your muscles and releasing them, you are reminding your body and mind that it’s possible to release tension in your body – both physical and mental. “This exercise will help you to lower your overall tension and
stress levels, and help you relax when you are feeling anxious. It can also help reduce
physical problems such as stomachaches and headaches, as well as improve your
sleep,” says Anxiety BC. 

Are you ready to give it a try?

WHAT YOU NEED | 15 minutes, a comfortable chair, loose clothing and bare feet. Avoid lying down if you don’t want to fall asleep!

STEP ONE: TENSION | Take a few deep breaths and settle in to your seat. Choose a muscle group or a part of your body to focus on first, such as your left foot or your right thigh. Take a deep and slow breath and tense the body part as hard as you can for five seconds.

STEP TWO: RELEASE | With a swift exhale, release the muscles you were tensing. You should notice a drastic difference in how that muscle group or body part is feeling.

Take a few breaths, in and out, and luxuriate in the relaxed feeling for ten seconds or so. Repeat steps one and two with different parts of your body for as long as you wish. 

 

*Anxiety BC has a wonderful, thorough handout if you wish to further explore PMR

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Your Own Best Friend with Self-Compassion

My personal struggles have gifted me with more compassion towards others, and, ultimately, more compassion towards my own lived experience.

One website I can recommend for those wishing to learn more about the art of self-compassion is Kristin Neff’s Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. The word compassion means to ‘suffer with’.  You realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the human experience.  Writes Neff:

“Self-compassion involves responding in the same supportive and understanding way you would with a good friend when you have a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself.”

Self-compassion is not self-pity, which tends to reinforce egocentric feelings.  Self-pitying individuals get wrapped up in their own emotional drama. Therefore, people need a more balanced and objective perspective.

I also recommend Neff’s Self-Compassion Test (follow the links).  You get your score instantly and it can be very illuminating.

In addition for some recommended reading:

Neff’s ‘Self-compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself.’

Christopher Germer’s ‘The Mindful Path to self-compassion.’

Namaste.

Calm Pond

Difficult Conversations: Setting Boundaries

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“The appropriate uses of the words ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ make more room for love.” – SARK

As a caregiver, you will be asked to do a lot. Whether explicitly or inadvertently, you will be asked to provide emotional support and help with day-to-day tasks, such as cooking meals, driving your loved one to appointments, or assist with personal care. Knowing your boundaries and affirming them is essential to prevent burnout and to make sure you are caring for yourself with the same love and attention that you give to others.

Your personal boundaries are unique to who you are and what you allow in to your life. Maintaining or creating boundaries is not selfish – it is essential if you wish to take care of yourself. Personal boundaries are not inflexible; they can shift and change and grow. What’s important is that you honour the boundaries you’ve created for yourself when you need to so that you do not burn out or become resentful of what’s been asked of you. People and so many other things in life will test your boundaries over and over again. Without knowing yourself and what your limits are, you might feel that you are often “walked on” or that you feel a general lack of control in what happens to you.

If you struggle with setting boundaries in your own life…

…please remember to be gentle with yourself. People have a hard time setting boundaries for a number of reasons, but it usually stems from the way you are raised and what you learned about what you need to do to be accepted and loved. Learning to set strong personal boundaries can be hard work! Please reach out to a counselor or health care professional if you are realizing you need to do some more work around boundary setting.

If you would like some tips for setting boundaries in your caregiving journey…

…read on for a helpful exercise! Implementing some simple strategies can help you to maintain your boundaries and prevent taking on too many things, or situations that you are not comfortable with.

The Stop-Look-Listen System

From Better Boundaries: Owning and Treasuring Your Life, By Jan Black & Greg Enns

“When you are faced with a choice, you stop before moving ahead, look over the situation, and listen-to yourself, to your intuition, to the wisdom of trusted advisors, or to what your experience has taught you.”

STOP | Stop right before you make a choice. If you are at the store deciding whether or not to overspend, on the phone deciding what date is best for a family reunion, or at work debating an offer to take on a new project even though you haven’t finished the last one, stop long enough to clear your head and review your options.

LOOK | Look at the situation from more than one perspective. Ask the following questions:

  • What is my motive for making this choice?
  • Will it hurt me?
  • Will it hurt others?
  • Would I choose this option for someone I love?
  • Can I change my mind? If not, am I sure I want to make a final decision right now?
  • What would the people I trust suggest I do?

LISTEN | In your mind, try to “hear” these tips from people who have become experts at making choices.

  • Listen to your gut, is it telling you that you’re being pressured in to saying “yes”?
  • If someone is pressuring you, remove yourself from the situation.
  • Don’t make an important decision when you’re desperate.
  • “Let me think about it” are five words to speak often. Things usually look different the next morning – either better or worse.

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 53 – Self-Care Within A Busy Life: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

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For a brief overview of MBSR, please see one of our previous posts.

I have much respect for skills that are cultivated over time, such as metalwork, gardening, and pottery. There is something wholesome and nurturing about choosing to build practical knowledge and skill in an area that means something to you. MBSR is a skill that can be learned by most people, and is a way of being present that enhances quality of life. Read on to hear more 🙂

I had the pleasure of doing a phone interview with Dr. Kasim Al-Mashat to learn more about MBSR from a real-life perspective. During our conversation I appreciated Kasim’s warm demeanour and was struck by the authenticity with which he spoke about what MBSR has meant in his own life. Rather than being a “quick fix,” MBSR is a way of approaching life that gets us “Tapping into our deepest inner wisdom.”

What drew you to explore MBSR?

In the midst of a too-busy life, filled with studies and work in the field of psychology, Kasim found himself approaching burnout. He had grieved the loss of several loved ones, and developed a health condition that forced him to slow down; his usual activities coming to a complete stop. “This was my first experience at looking into life.” After Kasim recovered he went back to his overly busy, often stressful life with a newly discovered curiosity about what sorts of coping strategies could be complimentary to medical care and psychology. Related to care of the self, Kasim began questioning “What else is there?” besides common notions such as eating healthy, exercise, and getting enough sleep etc. In his curiosity, Kasim recognized there was a gap in his own practice of self-care.

“How we navigate the tragedies affects the quality of our lives.” Kasim states that while it’s simple, MBSR isn’t easy. “It takes practice to train the mind to be present.” Mindfulness based stress reduction helps one recognize their normal patterns in daily life (that have been developed over time), and to meet challenges in a new way. This kind of mindfulness is experiential in that you will be exploring your life and investigating what patterns and tendencies are there.

What if I feel uncertain about trying MBSR? Will I be any good at it?

While learning the ways of MBSR takes patience, it helps to remember that the nature of the human mind is to be distracted and busy with thoughts. You’re not alone! “You don’t need a calm mind in order to meditate.” That is a very helpful point to have clarity on- thank you Kasim!

Caregivers, as you continue to provide practical care, meals, care and comfort to your loved one(s), this is one way to strengthen your coping abilities, allowing you to deal more calmly with all that is required of you- or as some call it, “to keep your sanity.”

“This is an opportunity to nurture yourself.” Kasim points out that extensive research shows structural changes happen in the brain (over a period of time) when people meditate. We can see through scientific proof that mindfulness and meditation are beneficial for one’s mental, emotional and physical health.

Where you can learn MBSR:

Kasim also holds free MBSR info sessions (1.5 hours) to give people a chance to see if this is for them (dates and locations are on his site). He also holds meditation retreats for those interested. You don’t need to have any experience with mindfulness in order to join these sessions. For more information, click here. 

Finally, remember that it’s YOUR choice of whether a particular approach will work for you. After being open-minded and giving the practice a wee try, asking “Does this appeal to me?” is helpful in deciding which stress relief methods you prefer to focus on.
The main thing is that you have SOMETHING positive which helps you to cope, and maybe even to see the beauties of life within the many challenges.

-Karyn

Foodie Friday – 4 Ways to Eat Oatmeal

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Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, and not because it’s supposed to be the most important one. I love the ritual of waking up in the morning, filling the kettle, and grinding beans while waiting for the water to boil. I make my coffee in a Chemex and prepare breakfast in between pours of hot water. To me, that first hour of the day feels sacred. Taking the time to appreciate and savour that first cup of coffee and a simple meal an set the mood for the whole day.

I save weekends for the big breakfasts – pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup or savoury eggs on toast. Monday to Friday, I make oatmeal. It wasn’t always that way. I grew up knowing oatmeal as the mushy option at a breakfast buffet, only made slightly better with milk, brown sugar, and raisins. It wasn’t until my adult years that I discovered the versatility of oatmeal. Did you know it doesn’t have to be so mushy? Steelcut oats take longer to cook, but they are deliciously chewy. Rolled oats can be cooked with more or less water to appeal to your palate. What makes oatmeal really interesting is the different options for toppings. Oatmeal is not just for those with a sweet tooth! Add eggs or vegetables and skip the milk, and you have yourself a hardy breakfast. Oatmeal is inexpensive, quick to prepare, and fabulous fuel for a busy day.

Though the base stays the same, I prefer to change my toppings with the seasons. Because of my distaste for mushy oatmeal, I stick with steelcut oats. As mentioned, they take a little longer to prepare, but a few minutes of evening preparation can save you time in the morning. Read on for 4 oatmeal recipes for all seasons!

PREP

The ratio for steelcut oats is 3-1 (3 cups of water to 1 cup of oats). You could choose to make more at the beginning of the week and reheat it in the morning, but I prepare to make it fresh every day.

To prepare the oats the night before, bring 3 cups of water to a boil on the stove.

Carefully pour in 1 cup of steel cut oats and boil for 1 minute.

Remove oats from the heat and allow to cool. Place the pot in your fridge overnight.

In the morning, put the pot on the stove and turn the element to a low-medium heat setting. The oats should be ready in approximately 15-20 minutes.

FALL

FIGS, APPLES, PEARS, NUTS.

Is there anything more comforting than eating a warm bowl of oatmeal with freshly harvested, baked fruit on a cold autumn morning while the leaves fall outside your window? Likely not.

Bake fruit for a short time in the oven, Toss it in cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or all three! Roast some nuts and add them in the mix. Warm nut or dairy milk on the stove and add that in your bowl as well.

WINTER

HONEY, NUTS, APPLES, MAPLE SYRUP, SPICES, PRESERVES, EGGS.

Oatmeal will warm your bones on cold winter mornings, but finding appealing toppings may be more challenging. This is the time of year to spice your oats and crack open jars of preserves. Hopefully you’ve stocked up on canned peaches! Experiment with adding proteins if you start to bore of your daily oats.

SPRING

RHUBARB

If it was tricky to top your oats in the winter, you might find spring even harder. It’s such a hopeful, strange time of year, isn’t it?! You know the hot days and fresh fruits are right around the corner, but they’re not there yet! Rhubarb to the rescue! Try boiling or baking a large batch once a week and storing it in your fridge. Add it to your oats with dairy or almond milk and savour the first fresh fruits of the year.

SUMMER

BERRIES

Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries… the possibilities are endless! They add a freshness and coolness to your oatmeal that may be welcomed on summer days. Try letting your oatmeal cool on the stove for a little longer than usual or add cold milk if you don’t feel like a hot meal first thing in the morning.

 

What’s your favourite quick, easy breakfast? We’d love to hear from you!

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

 

 

Seniors and driving issues

Recently I’ve had to think about my Dad’s driving.  It is a very delicate issue, as you can imagine, because in North America we value mobility and independence.  Also, in North America (unlike Europe) the distances are longer so accessing convenient transportation is more of a challenge.

If you are also facing this issue, I highly recommend one website, which I will provide below.  Basically, you have to watch for warning signs, such as : close calls, or getting lost on familiar routes.  One thing I’ve implemented with my parents is to suggest not driving on the freeway and avoiding driving late at night or in very bad weather.  I have had some success in this regard.

But undoubtedly, the time will come when my Dad will have to give up driving altogether.  So alternate forms of transportation, such as the HandiDart, taxis, and the Senior’s Hub (more on those in future posts) will have to be explored.

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/aging-well/age-and-driving-safety-tips.htm

Stay safe!

Calm Pond