living your best to the end
10 ways to think creatively

10 ways to think creatively

What if what you want until you die can’t be done exactly as you imagined? Consider it an opportunity for creative thinking.  No ocean in sight? Make an ocean sounds playlist Ocean pictures: on the wall or on a digital photo album Video the beach and ocean, make a loop Virtual reality Ocean simulator game Create a mini beach scene: sand, a cocktail umbrella Make a Japanese sand garden Books about the ocean Make the most of an opportunity: the ambulance driver made a pit stop at the beach, for a last visit Find a sympathetic accomplice: a nurse broke the rules: she wheeled her patient to a balcony where he could see the ocean, have a smoke and a glass of wine...
Vial of LIFE

Vial of LIFE

What is the Vial of LIFE Program It may sound like the fountain of youth, or miracle life-saver in a vial. It is neither. Instead, it’s information about your health care and wishes, stored in your fridge with a fridge sticker to announce its presence. LIFE stands for Lifesaving Information for Emergencies The Vial of LIFE sticker on your fridge alerts Emergency Response Teams (EMS) Paramedics and other health care providers who may come to your home that you have information in your fridge with directions about your health care and wishes. Why Vial of LIFE in the Fridge? In case of fire, your wishes will be preserved. What should be in your Vial of LIFE? There are many templates to help organize and detail your health conditions, concerns, medications and ‘next of kin’ or who to call in the event of an emergency. If you’ve completed Advance Directives such as BestEndings, or have a specific Do Not Revive instructions, a copy can be put with the Vial of LIFE documents. Many’s the time when a medical crisis at home requires emergency services, that too little is known about overall health, health conditions to be aware of (heart, kidney, lung disease or allergies to medicines) to provide proper treatment. A Vial of LIFE sticker on the front door is also recommended Below is a picture of one example of a Vial of LIFE form. To complete follow this link Vial Form Also read: Who’s Important? End of Life Machinery CPR: what does it really mean?...

Connectivity and Cyber Seniors

Cyber Seniors: the growing internet demographic For the legion of cyber seniors, age 60-90 who rely on internet access to stay connected,  it will come as no surprise that I put forward, in a recent tv panel, ‘internet for free’  for the elderly and low income as a number one priority: Lest that seem a frivolous request, one in three cyber seniors uses social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. This figure is from most recent report from Pew Research Center: Older adults and internet use – dated 2012 and  likely already outdated. Also from this report: Social networking site use among seniors has grown significantly over the past few years: From April 2009 to May 2011, for instance, social networking site use among internet users ages 65 and older grew 150%, from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011. As of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users ages 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day. So increasingly important is access to the internet for this ‘demographic’ that cyber seniors services to help master connectivity and take advantage of the riches offered by the digital world are much in demand. Take TechBoomers: free educational website that teaches older adults with limited computer skills how to use the most popular and trusted websites: cyber safety at its best. Some of their most popular courses include: How to use PayPal, How to use eBay, and Introduction to Internet Safety. To quote LifeHackers’ Alan Henry  The team behind the service started it because, well, they’re the folks their parents always...

Room 217: Care Through Music

Guest blog by Bev Foster A lot of life happens in rooms and so does a lot of death. One room I will always remember is Room 217, where my mom, five siblings, and I sang around dad’s bedside as he was dying in a hospital northeast of Toronto. Whether it was the lingering words, simple melodies, or our faltering voices, what was undeniable was the calming and soothing impact of our music on dad in this sacred space. Music had been my way of connecting with dad in life, and it became my way of supporting him at poignant moments during the course of his illness. This final experience in Room 217 compelled me to ask some deeper questions. Why was music never offered to dad, live or recorded at the hospital? What did other families do while they waited and held vigil? Did they use music? Would they use music if it was designed for palliative care? Are there especially designed music resources for to accompany families in life threatening or complex care circumstances? The answers to those questions led me to create the Room 217 Foundation in 2009. Our mission is care through music. We do this in three ways: Producing research-informed, and artistically excellent music care resources targeted for specific situations and populations. These resources are ready and easy to use. Providing music care education for caregivers who want to learn how to integrate music into their regular care practice through the annual Music Care Conference, the Music Care Certificate Program, free monthly music care webinars, and workshops. Collaborating on research that optimizes or advances...

As we age, do we become too thin-skinned?

In a word: Yep. Our skin thins and gets dry Thin, dry skin often gets itchy. And that can lead to a mess of problems. Hence, the expression: thin-skinned. Perhaps not as talked about as the other issues of aging, but should be – considering how much skin we have. Dr Richard Usatine my fellow Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) is a primary care doc and lead author of The Color Atlas of Family Medicine. A lesson in elder-skincare “Our glands produce less natural oil which leads to dry skin. We scratch and we pick and broken skin can lead to infections. often the backs of our hands and forearms that are first affected.” In addition to the natural aging process, there are factors that influence the thinning of the skin: genetics, lifestyle specifically sun exposure, smoking and alcohol, and some medications can make skin more sensitive. What to do to protect our skin? The good doc offers these tips: Gloves: for gardening, biking, cleaning. Moisturize: doesn’t have to be expensive product. Good time to moisturize is after a bath or shower – which should not be too hot. Gentle cleaning, proper drying and staying dry – including sweaty parts like armpits, folds of skin, groin – can help prevent skin break-down. Keep hydrated: drink more water. Alcohol doesn’t count. Eat properly: good nutrition helps in so many ways Wear a hat: The tops of our heads also need care: skin thins there, too. Use sunscreen and stay out of the sun, especially between those hottest hours 11 – 3pm. Feet: a high-risk area – as those...

Medications: work differently and more dangerously as we age

Drug Use and Seniors 1 in 5 over age 65 are taking 10 or more prescription medications, 1 in 20 are taking 15 more so reports Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI). Not included in that total: the number of times a day meds are taken and non-prescription products. Not detailed are medications taken to counteract side effects of medications, and whether medications are being taken properly. That’s lot of chemistry and chemicals acting, reacting and and interacting in our bodies and huge room for error: the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports more than a million (U.S.) hospitalizations and emergency room visits are the result of an ‘adverse event’. Some of the medication errors I’ve heard about, that can lead to serious harm: Directions said: take one when you wake up. 80-year old man nods off during the day, and takes one every time he wakes up. This is only discovered at a family get together when his 3 children realize they’ve each been getting his prescription refilled. Capsules for an ear infection: put in the ear instead of swallowing. Capsule for a puffer wrenched out of puffer-enclosure and swallowed. Take twice a day interpreted as two capsules two times daily taken 15 minutes apart. An Australian study, focusing on why seniors are particularly at risk for medication errors: large quantities of medication, trouble opening the package, trouble swallowing, troubling side effects, and confusion — often caused by medications. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH): Choose to Change: A Client-Centered Approach to Alcohol and Medication Use by Older Adults, details outward appearances –  resulting from multiple medications...