Mental health & isolation - why it is so important to stay connected
Human beings are social creatures. It is often the relationships we have with each other that give life meaning and purpose. As John Donne famously wrote in 1624, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” Simply put, we need each other.
Make 2023 the year you drink more water
Here’s a new year’s resolution we can all stick to – make 2023 the year you drink more water! Adequate water intake is essential for good health, yet over seventy percent of Canadians in a recent online survey admit they do not drink enough of it. Before you pour yourself a glass of sugary soda or juice, think about this – every single cell in your body (and there are over 37 trillion of them) needs water to function. The human body itself is made up of 65 percent water. Not only do we need water to survive, we need it to thrive. This is especially true for older adults who are at a higher risk of dehydration due to age-related changes.
How to stay committed to your 2023 resolution
January is often a time for personal reflection as a New Year can gently nudge people in the direction of change. Survey results compiled by the Toronto Star a few years back found that 68 percent of Canadians still make New Year’s resolutions. The top three resolutions were the ubiquitous ‘lose weight’, followed closely by ‘quit smoking’ and ‘stick to a budget’. Even though less than 20 percent of people will make it a full year committed to that resolution, many of us continue to make them anyway. So if you're looking to make a change in 2023, here are a few resolution ideas and more importantly, some advice on how to make that resolultion stick.
5 tips to reduce your risk of a winter fall
November is fall prevention month, the perfect time to learn how to reduce your risk of falling in winter. Even simple activities like walking to your car or grabbing the flyers from the mailbox can be hazardous on our icy roads and sidewalks. Falls are a major threat to the health and well-being of older adults and one in three adults aged 65+ will fall each year. According to the latest stats from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there were almost 9,000 hospitalizations due to falls on ice, making them the number one reason people get hurt in winter. A serious fall on the ice can result in a debilitating injury and a long-term recovery - this especially holds true for older adults.
Exercise and Chronic Disease
Canadians are living longer than ever before. In fact, the average Canadian woman can expect to live until the age of 84 and men until age 80. As life expectancy increases, however, so does the number of Canadians living with chronic disease and pain.
5 self-care tips for caregivers
If you feel overwhelmed when caring for an elderly parent or family member, please know that you are not alone. Over 8 million Canadians are currently caring for someone they love and about half of those individuals are caring for their parents or in-laws. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and frustrated sometimes. Caregiving is often an emotional journey, filled with rewards and challenges. You may cherish the opportunity to give back to someone who once cared for you but feel constantly torn between your needs and theirs.
Sun Safety Tips
With the dog days of summer upon us, spending time outdoors is a rite of passage in Manitoba. Cooped up for 6 months of the year, no one does summer like we do! Your summer to-do list might include working on that golf handicap, hiking that new trail or spending time in your garden. But does that to-do list include lathering your skin in sunscreen and putting on a hat? Hopefully the answer is yes because if you are over 55, protecting yourself from the sun is more important than ever.
The impact of Lifeline through the eyes of a Community Representative
There are so many reasons why people need to push their help button and every week I hear stories that begin with the words, “This button saved my life once already,” or “Without that button I don’t know how long my parent would have been on the floor.” Here are a few of the stories that have impacted me…
Physical Activity Equals a Happier Healthier You
There’s no better time to talk about the benefits of physical activity then the promise of summer because being active is as easy as stepping out your front door! As we age, staying physically active is even more important to maintain your indepdendence and well-being, but it can also make you happier! An active lifestyle can enhance your mood and reduce stress, so if you’re looking for a reason to get moving this summer, keep reading to find out why physical activity is so darn good for you.
Why walking is so good for you
Imagine if you could live longer and be more creative by doing one simple thing every day - the same thing that the father of western medicine and a famous English poet believed to be the very foundation of good health. What could it be, you wonder? Well, it’s as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.
Grow your way to health
The promise of spring is an excellent time to contemplate the gardens of summer. If you’ve ever thought about planting your own fruits and vegetables, consider the many health benefits of growing your own food. Nurturing a tomato plant in a backyard garden and watching it grow to become food on the table can be very gratifying. Eating a crisp cucumber or a sweet bell pepper picked the same day not only delights your taste buds, it also nourishes your body like a store bought vegetable never could.
Everyone has a role to play in challenging ageist attitudes. Ageism is one of the more pervasive and acceptable forms of discrimination, which continues to marginalize and devalue the lives and contributions of older adults. Ageist stereotypes can be found in the media, in advertising, on TV, and even more troubling, internalized within our own hearts and minds. The pandemic exposed the harmful effects of ageism and as a collective, we need to change the way we talk and think about aging in this country. As an organization that works with older adults, Victoria Lifeline is committed to learning and listening so we can contribute to a positive narrative on aging.
Mindfulness - Learning to live in the moment
Have you ever struggled to live in the moment? Perhaps you're sitting down for dinner with your family, but your mind is actually a million miles away? If you answered yes to that question you’re not alone! Being mindful and staying in the moment can be difficult, especially when you are experiencing stress. A new year is the perfect opportunity to explore the many benefits of mindfulness meditation and learn how it can change your life for the better.
The spirit of volunteerism thrives during the holidays
Men’s Sheds is an informal club where retired men socialize and work together on community projects through a shared passion for building things. While men of all ages are welcome, more often than not it’s older men who seek out the easy-going camaraderie the group dynamic provides. Recognizing the mental health benefits Men’s Sheds provides its members, Victoria Lifeline has proudly supported the organization through their Health Promotion Grant program. This holiday season, take a moment to read this wonderful story and be inspired by a community that came together to support seniors and those in need.
Medication use & falling - what you need to know to reduce your risk
If you are 65 years or older, there’s a good chance you are taking several different medications on a daily basis. Older adults take more medication than younger adults because on average, they are living with more chronic health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and arthritis. Medications can greatly improve overall health and quality of life while contributing to a longer life span, but a recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that nearly two out of three Canadian seniors are now taking as many as 5 or more prescription drugs and if you fit into that category, you also have an increased risk of falling.
Exercise - a key to avoiding falls
“If exercise could be packaged in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.” – Dr. Robert Butler, National Institute on Aging Exercise really is a prescription for good health, and it’s never too late to start an exercise program in consultation with a healthcare provider. For fall prevention month this November, let’s focus on another amazing benefit of exercise – it also holds the key to avoiding falls. In fact, according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, regular exercise can reduce your risk of falling by 23-40 percent. So, there's no better time to get moving!
It is time to measure your social health
Have you ever measured your social health? We all know how important it is to care for our physical and mental health, but it’s also important to check in on your social health. The World Organization defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Social health is the third building block of health and just as essential as the other two for long-term wellness. In fact, according to a US study by Cigna Health released in 2018, poor social health and loneliness can increase your risk of mortality by 50%, similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So now more than ever, it’s time to measure your social health and look for ways to build and improve your social support network.
Learning to cope with stress
Have you ever felt your heart pounding on a rollercoaster or a knot in your stomach before a public speaking event? If the answer is yes, then you’re well-acquainted with how the stress hormone feels in your body. For many people, stress is a part of everyday life and while your heart might not race when you're worrying about money, if it keeps you up at night, you may be experiencing chronic stress. When stress is long-lasting, it can lower your immune function, increase your risk of disease, and accelerate the aging process.
Why good balance matters as we age
Most people wake up in the morning, get out of bed and start their day without thinking about balance. It’s something we take for granted as we navigate around furniture or walk the family dog, but it’s much more complicated than you’d think. Good balance requires many body systems working cohesively to detect and understand the world around you.
Bonjour Alexa - Grant helps older adults stay connected
As the pandemic continues to disrupt the rhythm of our daily lives, no one has been more impacted than older adults. According to Global Health Research and Policy, 89 countries around the world have experienced lockdowns due to COVID-19 as people stay home to protect themselves and others. Because older adults are in a higher risk category, physical distancing is even more important for the 65+ age demographic. Subsequently, many older adults are experiencing loneliness and isolation at unprecedented rates. While it has been a difficult year to say the least, there are some ‘good news’ stories about people who have stepped up to make sure older adults stay safe and connected.
The benefits of a one-on-one consultation
Finding a service plan that is the best fit for you or someone you're caring for is very important to the staff and volunteers at Victoria Lifeline. We want to make sure we understand your needs so we can provide the right resources to help you remain safe and independent at home. That’s why we offer a no-obligation virtual or in-home* consultation with one of our trained education facilitators.
Brain games – tips for staying mentally sharp with age
While many of us are spending more time at home, and some of us are watching more television, it’s important to remember that your brain needs to stay in shape just like your body does. The old adage ‘use it or lose it’ is particularly true when it comes to brain health. As we get older, the brain starts to experience normal age-related declines just like every other part of the body and some cognitive functions start to deteriorate, like the speed at which we process information. The good news? You can whip that older brain into shape! So let’s explore some fun ways to stay mentally sharp.
Why you should honour & celebrate the older adult in your life
October 1 is National Seniors Day! Please join Victoria Lifeline in acknowledging and celebrating all the ways older adults enrich our lives and our communities. At Victoria Lifeline, seniors are at the very heart of everything we do and one day is simply not enough to celebrate all the ways they make our lives better. Recognizing the valuable contributions of older adults supports a thriving, age-inclusive society where every voice matters.
Canine companions: why having a dog is good for your health & well-being
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” —Roger Caras, wildlife photographer & animal preservationist Over 8 million Canadians own a dog and while they have long been hailed as man's best friend (and women too!), it turns out that canine companions also have a positive effect on our health and well-being. Our furry family members not only offer unconditional love and a friendly wagging tail when you walk in the door, research confirms what most pet owners already know – dogs are really good for us!
Broken Trust - Elder Financial Abuse by a Family Member
On Tuesday June 15th, we hope everyone will join Victoria Lifeline in recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Each year, the world comes together in recognition of the mistreatment of older adults and to highlight the need for appropriate action. Please take a moment to read Margaret's story of broken trust as she opens up about the financial abuse she suffered at the hands of her son. Only one in five cases of elder abuse is ever reported and we hope to change that by joining this global awareness movement.
How to stay connected when physical distancing keeps us apart
As social/physical distancing becomes our new normal, older adults are at risk of becoming more isolated than ever before. As many of us of take comfort in the company of our immediate family at home, plenty of older adults aren’t so lucky. In fact, over 26 percent of older Canadians live alone, and without regular visits from family and friends, they have been cut-off from the outside world. This separation can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are both detrimental to overall health and well-being. Fortunately, there are some simple steps we can all take to stay connected to the ones we love when physical distancing keeps us apart.
March is Fraud Prevention Month - what you need to know to protect yourself
It’s an unfortunate reality that older adults are often the target of fraudulent scams. In fact, Canadians over the age of 60 lost approximately $94 million to various scams between 2014-2017. Sadly, this is just the tip of a very large iceberg. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center estimates that only five percent of fraud cases are ever reported. People may feel ashamed or embarrassed that they ‘fell’ for a scam and are reluctant to report it to the authorities.
Why Holiday Traditions are so Important
What holiday traditions do you cherish? At this time of year, many people have annual holiday traditions that they look forward to, and it’s the perfect time to reflect on the year gone by and to celebrate the spirit of the season.
It's time to FALL proof your home
It's National Injury Prevention Day, which means it’s the perfect time to ‘fall’ proof your home. Did you know that most falls happen at home where you spend most of your time? We tend to think of our homes as sanctuaries, not somewhere associated with a risk to personal safety.
Gratitude - the gift you give yourself
Reflections on gratitude can be found throughout human history in both religion and philosophy. Cicero, the ancient Roman political theorist and philosopher asserted that gratitude was the mother of all virtues, one that may indeed hold the key to happiness.
Supporting the Health & Well-being of Older Adults
Have you heard the old expression ‘put your money where your mouth is’? Well I’ve always loved it and decided it would be a great starting point for this month’s column. According to a quick online search, the expression dates back to the early 1900s and is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as, “to show by your actions and not just your words that you support or believe in something.”
Grandparents Day is the second Sunday in September and it gives families everywhere an opportunity to celebrate how grandparents enrich all our lives. Some of my fondest memories are of my grandparents and our trips to the small prairie town they called home. A pot of tea was always ready for our arrival and the smell of fresh baking drifted into the opening of the doorway when we stepped into their old Victorian home.
Living Green: what the past can teach us about sustainability
‘Living green’ is a trend that has dominated social discourse over the last decade, representing a growing movement to reduce the impact human behavior has on the environment.
Celebrating Mothers through caring connection
May brings with it the promise of a beautiful summer and on the second Sunday of the month, a day set aside to honour mothers everywhere. Many families have their own mother's day traditions that may include breakfast in bed or a day of pampering for the family matriarch. For those of us who have lost our mothers, it can be a day filled with wonderful memories tinged with sadness.
The Value of Volunteering
Murray McNeil, a retired RCMP officer who spent 34 years keeping the community safe, now spends his days helping people feel safe and secure in their own homes. Murray personifies what it means to be a volunteer. He goes above and beyond the call of duty in his role as a Home Service Representative (HSR). If another HSR calls in sick, Murray will cover the shift, no questions asked. He comes to the office with a smile on his face and a willingness to help out however he can.
7 ways for older adults to stay active – try one today!
Staying active, both physically and mentally, is important for people of all ages and abilities. More specifically, social participation has proven to be a key predictor of overall health and well-being for older adults.
Beating the Winter Blues
February may be the month synonymous with love, but for many Canadians, it’s the time of year when the winter blues set in. After months of cold temperatures, snow days and overcast skies, some of you may start to feel a little down in the dumps and you’re not alone! In a recent survey of Canadian workers from Benefits Canada, nearly half of all respondents said the winter weather negatively affects their mood.
The gift of peace of mind: helping loved ones accept change
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves.” French novelist Anatole France Why do people resist change? Is it because we are habitual creatures, craving the comfort of what we know versus the discomfort of what we don’t? When faced with an impending change or even the possibility of change, some of us stubbornly dig in our heels and resist. And if that resistance involves someone you love, perhaps an aging parent who won’t accept any help, how can you successfully transition from the old to the new?
The gift of your time: Connecting with isolated older adults during the holiday season
Older adults are often the most isolated population over the holiday season. Victoria Lifeline has been helping seniors remain independent in their homes for the last 30 years and we have seen first-hand the effects of social isolation and poverty. Our volunteers are in the homes of older adults every day installing the Lifeline service and we hear the heartbreaking stories of loneliness and financial hardship.
Fear of Falling: How to break the cycle of increasing risk
National Injury Prevention Day is the perfect opportunity to talk about older adults and the risk of falling. One in three older adults aged 65+ falls each year and it's the leading cause of injury hospitalization in Manitoba, accounting for $265 million in healthcare spending. A 2017 Government of Manitoba Report on falls also found that of those hospitalized, nearly 31 percent are later transferred to personal care homes.
Do something good for yourself today - read a book!
A study published in the journal Neurology found that people who read frequently throughout their lifetime experienced cognitive decline at a slower rate than those who didn’t. Furthermore, according to an article published in Psychology Today in April of 2018, “remaining an avid reader into old age reduced memory decline by more than 30 percent compared to engaging other forms of mental activity.” The article also purports that renowned billionaire Warren Buffet spends at least 80 percent of his day reading.
Poor sleep hygiene? Here's how to clean up your act
There is one persistent myth about sleep that just won’t take a snooze – the older you get, the less sleep you need. Sleep requirements actually remain quite consistent throughout your lifetime, with experts recommending around seven to nine hours a night, regardless of age. And while you may need the same amount well into your 60s and 70s, a quality, uninterrupted night’s sleep may be harder to come by.
There is no health without mental health
In the last fifty years, advances in the field of medicine have helped our understanding of the prevention, diagnosis and management of physical disease. The result? People are living longer as the average life expectancy in Canada is now 82 years of age. In recent years, however, research has shown that mental health is an important component of overall health and well-being. In fact, a summary report by the World Health Organization (WHO) states unequivocally that, “There is no health without mental health.” Mental health is now on the forefront of many awareness campaigns and research projects for good reason. Mental health matters.
Going Green: The benefits of exercising outdoors
Stepping outside into the warmth of a summer day is one of my favorite moments of the year. After a long cold winter, those first few bursts of summer air seem to rejuvenate my weather worn soul. That mental health reboot is just one of the many benefits the great outdoors has to offer, and believe it or not, our ancestors have something to do with it.
Happy Anniversary - Victoria Lifeline turns 30!
Victoria Lifeline installed their very first client on May 18, 1988. He was an 84-year-old gentleman named Murray who immediately felt more confident with a Lifeline help button on his wrist. When interviewed about Lifeline all those years ago, Murray declared, “If anything happened, I know I could reach out and touch someone.”
Learning to live healthy has never been so easy!
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