How to Keep Seniors Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Catching a cold or flu isn’t fun for anyone of any age, but for seniors, a cold or flu can be much more serious than having to stay in bed a couple days. Because our immune systems weaken with age, seniors are at a greater risk for complications from the flu. It could turn into something more severe, like pneumonia or bronchitis. Luckily, there are ways to keep seniors healthy and help fight off sickness. Here are some preventative measures to help seniors avoid getting sick during cold and flu season.

1. Get the flu shot

The single most effective way to combat the flu is with the annual flu vaccine. It becomes available when flu season begins, in October, but is still available long after. You may want to consult a health care provider, but the flu shot is considered safe for most healthy seniors. You can also a doctor about the pneumonia vaccine, another preventative measure you keep your senior loved one healthy.

2. Regulate visitors

Seniors love company, but when visitors come during cold and flu season, so do their germs. When planning a visit, consider leaving your children at home – kids bring in germs that could be transmitted to seniors. Make sure that all family and friends who visit are healthy. If you’re feeling under the weather and can’t keep your senior loved one company, BookJane can set you up with a qualified caregiver to visit in your place.

3. Increase immunity

It’s important that our bodies are healthy and in working order during the cold and flu season to fight off infections. The best things a senior can do to boost their immune system? Get lots of rest, eat right (including nutrients, vitamins, and probiotics), stay hydrated, and get physical activity.

4. Proper hand washing

Seniors, their caregivers, and their visitors should all be aware of proper hand washing routines. Wash frequently and thoroughly. In order to kill bacteria, hands should be scrubbed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash up before and after eating, using the bathroom, blowing your nose, sneezing, and coming into contact with others. Make sure alcohol-based sanitizer is available as well for a more convenient, on-the-go alternative.

5. Avoid crowds

Reduce the risk of getting sick by keeping your distance. It’s obvious to stay away from people who are visibly sick, but did you know that people might be contagious before they even develop symptoms? Just to be safe, it’s best to be very cautious congested places, like cars, elevators, malls.

6. Reduce stress

You are less likely to get sick if you are healthy – not only physically, but mentally too. Your body doesn’t function properly when you’re stressed, which can reduce its ability to fight off infections, leading to illness. To help relieve some stress, use BookJane to find a caregiver to keep your senior company and help them with tasks around the house.

7. Keep the home clean

To stay healthy, it’s important that seniors live in a clean environment. Wipe off shared surfaces, like doorknobs, light switches, phones and remote controls, with disinfecting cleaner. This will help prevent the spread of germs and help keep your senior loved ones healthy this cold and flu season.

How to Help Your Kids Avoid Getting Sick

Kids are cold and flu magnets. Because their immune systems are less developed, they’re more susceptible to getting sick and have a harder time fighting off viruses. As the cold and flu make their way around daycares and schools, you’ll want to do all you can to ward off the sniffles and sore throat. Here are some tips to help keep your child healthy and prevent them from getting sick, so they’ll be catching snowballs this winter, not colds!

  1. Teach them how to wash their hands

This seems obvious, but the most common way to get a cold or flu is by getting the virus on your hands and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes. This means instructing your kids on hand hygiene is very important. Don’t just tell them to wash their hands before and after washroom use, meals, and playing with friends – show them the proper technique. Lather up with soap and warm water, then scrub for at least 20 seconds, the amount of time it takes to hum “Happy Birthday” twice. Then they should dry their hands with paper towel and use the paper towel to turn off the tap. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a convenient alternative, and just as effective as good old soap and water.

  1. Get them immunized

To keep your kid healthy, make sure their immunizations and vaccinations are up to date and they’ve gotten the yearly, seasonal flu shot – the single best way to prevent getting the flu. They’ll need to get a new one at the start of every flu season (around October) to protect against that year’s strain. Talk to your health care provider to find out if the flu shot is right for your child.

  1. Make sure they get enough sleep

Sleep is an important part of staying healthy. It gives children a chance to rest and reenergize, so they can better fight off viruses and illness. Experts recommend 14 to 15 hours of sleep per night for infants, 12 to 14 for toddlers, 11 to 13 for preschoolers, and 10 to 11 for school-age kids.

  1. Feed them well

A nutritious diet of well-balanced, healthy foods can help keep your kid flu-free. Deep-coloured fruits and vegetables – like blueberries and spinach – tend to contain lots of immune-boosting vitamins and nutrients. Broccoli and oranges are packed with vitamin C, and milk and eggs are a good source of vitamin D. Yogurt with probiotics also helps support immune health. If your child won’t eat fruits and veggies, try giving them a multivitamin supplement to strengthen their immune system.

  1. Keep them active

We all know that physical activity is good for your overall health, but did you know it can help curb the cold and flu? That’s right, moderate physical activity has been shown to boost the immune system. There are plenty of indoor activities kids can participate in during the wintertime, like swimming and gymnastics. But getting outside with winter sports, like skiing, and being exposed to the vitamin D from sunlight can further help keep kids healthy – just make sure your child is dressed appropriately.

6. Say no to sharing at school

Usually we teach kids to share – but not during cold and flu season. Tell your child not to share snacks, pencils, drinks, or clothes, because that’s how infections can spread. Classroom books and toys are often shared, especially with younger kids, so sometimes it might be difficult to enforce this policy. At the very least, remind your child that when they do come in contact with shared items and other kids, they should wash their hands properly and avoid touching thei

Meet Thanuga, Our Featured Caregiver

I am a recent graduate from the Early Childhood Education Program at Seneca College.  My main responsibilities as a caregiver are to maintain a safe environment for the children, help prepare meals, to work with the children and observe their development and to support the children’s growth socially and emotionally, and always be a role model for the children because they learn from what we do such as washing our hands, and tidying up after doing an activity.

Throughout the 2 years of my Early Childhood Education Program at Seneca, I’ve been working with children from 4 different placements, one placement per semester. Each placement was a different and amazing experience! I decided to become a caregiver because I enjoy working with children and to see how much they developed socially, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. When I am not working, I am mostly in school because I am currently doing the Liberal Arts Program at Seneca College. When I am not at school, I enjoy spending times with my friends and also staying at home watching shows on Netflix and playing with my dog, Milo!

The favourite thing about my job is when the children will get shy to come and introduce themselves to me but by the time it’s time for me to go, they come out of their comfort zone and interact with me. Seeing the children smile, and having fun. Especially when the children include me into their active play is probably the most favourite thing about my job. I got into the caregiving field by first completely my Early Childhood Diploma, then my best friend introduced me to BookJane and that is how I started to work for BookJane. I don’t think that I had a caregiving motto but every time I leave my house for work, I’ll tell myself that “today is a new day and I’m going to love it.”  I say this because in my opinion, when you’re at work, you should be happy then the children will know that you’re happy to be with them today.

Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents Over the Holidays

One of the best parts of the holiday season is heading home and seeing family you don’t see very often. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to see how your parents are doing as they age – and to have some important conversations. During your visit, you’ll want to observe your senior parents and make sure they are being properly taken care of. A great way to do that is by sitting down with them and asking some questions. Make sure to pick a time without distractions, but try to keep the conversation calm, casual, and natural. Here are some open-ended questions you can ask your aging parents this holiday season to help you evaluate their health and welfare.

  1. “How are things around the house?”

This question can help you gauge your parents’ general well-being. Can they perform fundamental daily tasks, like household chores, dressing, grooming, and shopping? Piled-up mail, broken appliances, poor hygiene, and a cluttered house might be indicators that they need some help. If they do, use BookJane to find a trusted and reliable caregiver to aid your elderly parent in these important daily activities.

  1. “How are you doing with your medication?”

As your parents age, you will might notice an increase in the medications they are prescribed. This question will help you determine how well your parents are managing their pills, and if they are using them safely. Are they taking their meds regularly? Are they refilling their prescriptions? Are they experiencing any side effects? If all the pills seem overwhelming and confusing for your senior loved one, talk to a doctor about simplifying their medications to eliminate unnecessary pills or treating some problems without drugs.

  1. “What’s your favourite childhood holiday memory?”

The purpose of this question is two-fold. Firstly, listening to an older loved one reminisce will help you engage with them on a more meaningful level – and it’s a great way to get in the holiday spirit! Secondly, this kind of question gives you the opportunity to pay attention to their memory and cognitive ability. Focus on how they speak. Can they keep a conversation? Are they referring to people’s names and specific details, or are they being vague? If they are confused about time, people, and places, there could be a more serious memory problem.

  1. “How are you eating?”

Food and nutrition are very important to senior health. Is your parents’ fridge stocked? Are they able shop for, prepare and cook meals? Do they have an appetite? Maybe they would benefit from a food delivery service a couple days a week, or assisted living, where all their meals are prepared for them. Weight loss is one of the most obvious signs of health problems, both mental and physical. If you notice weight loss, express your concern to your loved one and consider scheduling a doctor’s appointment.

  1. “What have you been doing for fun lately?”

The goal of this question is to get at your parents’ emotional well-being, mood, and mental health, which might be difficult to assess over the phone. If your aging loved ones aren’t getting out of the house much or have lost interest in hobbies and activities they used to enjoy, they could be suffering from loneliness, isolation, or depression. Be sure to seek medical attention if you notice a change in their mood or behaviour. Another possibility if your parent stays home more often is they no longer feels comfortable driving. If this is the case, arrange for alternative transportation, so they can still go out, be social, and do activities they enjoy.

Tips for Travelling with Kids Over the Holidays

Winter weather, crowded airports, traffic jams and delayed flights make travelling during the holiday season aggravating. When you add squirming kids to the mix, long car rides and catching flights are no easy feats. Whether you’re flying with the kids to a warm and sunny vacation destination or driving across time zones to visit relatives, it’s crucial to stay calm and be flexible. Here are some tips to make travelling with kids over the holidays safe, easy, and enjoyable for you and them.

  1. Ask for their input

If you involve your children in planning the trip, they’ll get excited and be invested in it – they may even look forward to packing! Give them small tasks to do to prepare. Older kids can look up activities at your destination online, and younger ones can pick out which books they want to bring along with them.

  1. Keep them informed

After involving them in the preparations, make sure your kids are aware of the final plan. This way they there are no surprises and they know exactly what to expect. If you have younger children, who may not have travelled before, prepare them for potentially scary situations, like going through airport security. This will help avoid confusion and meltdowns.

  1. Bring entertainment

Let your kids pack plenty of books, puzzles and games to keep them busy and distracted waiting in line or during long flights and car rides. Include some old favourites to help them settle into a new environment, and perhaps some new surprises. Tablets are also great travel companions. There are tons of apps and games for kids of all different ages, and they’re much easier to pack than a bunch of toys.

  1. Adjust the rules

You’re already out of your regular routine, so don’t be afraid to alter your at-home rules a little. If the kids are having a blast playing with their out-of-town cousins, let them stay up past their bedtime. It’s not the end of the world, and it will avoid creating a fight and ruining your visit. Just discuss with your kids ahead of time that you’re making some exceptions while you’re away – whether it’s to bedtime, screen time, or the sugar they are allowed – but things will go back to normal when you return home.

  1. Pack snacks

There’s nothing worse than travelling when you or your kids are hungry and cranky. Pack snacks and water to avoid rumbling tummies and keep energy levels up. Crackers, trail mix, and cut-up fruits and veggies are great options. These are much healthier than roadside fast food options and also cheaper than overpriced airline snacks.

  1. Dress appropriately

You want to make sure you’re comfortable, so prepare for the climate and layer up! It might be cool on the plane but warm once you land. You’ll also want to pack a change of clothes in a carry-on or bag that’s easily accessible in your car. This will come in handy in case of delays, lost luggage, or unexpected spills!

  1. Don’t overdo it

It’s the holidays and you’re on vacation, so it’s tempting to pack in as much fun as possible. But when you’re on holiday with kids, you’ll want to plan fewer activities and more downtime to rest. Having the whole family well-rested will keep the tantrums at bay. On the other hand, if you’re in the car all day, make sure to take breaks from driving and give the kids a chance to stretch their legs and release some energy. After all, you don’t want to return from your holiday feeling like you need a holiday!

  1. Bring the medicine along

Whether it’s from jet-lag, a change in climate, or eating different food, kids always seem to get sick on vacation. Be prepared, so it doesn’t ruin your trip. It’s always a smart idea to pack a little first-aid kit. Include Band-Aids, Gravol, and Tylenol –for children and adults. Travelling with kids can be hard on you too!

How to Help Seniors Fight the Holiday Blues

Most of us think of the holiday season as a time of joy, but for many seniors, the holidays aren’t filled with as much good cheer as they used to be. This nostalgic time of year can be especially tough for seniors, as they are reminded of their friends and family who have passed and holiday traditions they can no longer participate in. That’s why senior isolation disorder, loneliness, and depression are very common this time of year. But there are many ways to make the holidays merry for seniors. Here’s how you can help the seniors in your life avoid the holiday blues.

  1. Offer a ride

For seniors, no longer being able to drive doesn’t just make it difficult to get to appointments and run errands, but it also makes it hard to connect with friends and do activities they love. Lack of transportation is a large cause of social isolation for seniors. Ask your older loved ones if they would like a ride – to a social outing, Christmas shopping, or even just to the movies. Driving to visit an old friend or see holiday lights will really get them in the holiday spirit!

  1. Spend time with them

The best gift you can give to a senior this holiday season is your time and companionship. Planning a visit, inviting your senior loved one over for dinner or doing an activity together can really enhance their holiday season. If your loved one will be alone for an extended period of time, BookJane can help you arrange a certified caregiver to provide companionship over the holidays.

  1. Bring along the kids

Seeing the glowing faces of energetic kids can really brighten up the holidays for seniors. A transgenerational visit can be meaningful for the kids as well. Ask your older loved ones questions about their old childhood holiday traditions to spark a meaningful holiday visit. They’ll love taking a trip down memory lane, and you and the kids will get to engage with them on a deeper level.

  1. Adapt traditions

As our loved ones age and their senses diminish, our usual holiday traditions might too too much for them. All the sights, smells, sounds, visitors, activities, and foods of the season can become overwhelming. Tailor your holiday traditions to seniors by engaging their strongest senses. If they suffer from vision loss, take them to a holiday concert and sing carols, so they can hear the sounds of the season. If they have lost their hearing, bake gingerbread cookies with them to experience the holidays through smell and taste.

  1. Worthwhile gifts

If you plan on getting an older loved one a tangible gift this year, skip the slippers and opt for a gift that will bring them joy and help them curb depression. Technology, like a tablet or laptop, can help them stay in touch with friends and family. They could also use it to keep their brain sharp by taking online courses and learning new things. A pet or plant, if they are willing and capable of taking care of it, is also a great gift for seniors. Having something to nurture gives them a sense of purpose and is a great icebreaker.

  1. Volunteer together

The holiday season is all about giving back, which makes it the perfect time to volunteer with your senior loved ones. Volunteering has been shown reduce social isolation and loneliness in seniors and contribute to mental health and well-being. It’s incredibly rewarding, helps seniors contribute of the community, and it’s a great way to spend time with your senior loved one while doing good for others!

  1. Make celebrations simple

Think of ways to tone down your holiday traditions, so your senior loved ones can still be involved but don’t burn themselves out. If mom used to cook the whole family Christmas dinner, ask everyone to bring a dish to lessen the load. Make sure celebrations are at convenient times and locations for your senior guests. Perhaps it’s better to turn family dinner into family brunch if Dad gets tired early. Remember to leave lots of time for seniors to rest between holiday festivities.


Holiday Tips for Single Parents

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Family preparation holiday food. Mother and daughter cooking Christmas cookies.

We all know the holiday season is exciting, but it can also be hectic, especially for parents.  Add in the extra challenge of being a single parent, and the most wonderful time of year can get a lot more difficult. With gifts, decorations, and parties, the pressure is on to make the holidays extra special. And when all that pressure is on one person, it can get pretty overwhelming. Here are some tips for single parents to bring the joy back to the holiday season.

  1. Be organized

There’s a lot to get done around the holidays – and not a lot of time. That’s why being organized is essential. Before you head to the mall, make a list of exactly what you need to buy and where you plan on buying it. Create a family schedule with all your holiday plans and activities – and make sure to leave enough time for having fun and spending quality time with loved ones!

  1. Focus on what’s important

Be realistic when making your holiday plans. You can’t do everything, so decide what’s important to you, and skip over the things you don’t have time for. Perhaps Santa can snack on store-bought cookies this year instead of homemade ones. Just do the best you can; not everything has to be perfect.

  1. Use your support system

All parents could use a little help during the holiday season, single or not. Luckily, people are extra generous this time of year. So when friends and family offer to help out, let them! Try swapping play dates with a friend, so you can each finish wrapping gifts. Don’t be shy to ask for help – you don’t have to do everything yourself! If you ever need a helping hand, BookJane can provide you with quality child care while you finish up your holiday preparations.

  1. Stick to a budget

It can be tempting to go all-out for the holiday season, but keep to your budget and don’t go overboard. A low-cost Christmas can still be loads of fun, especially since little ones tend to enjoy the boxes their toys come in as much as the toys themselves! Instead of spending money on large, expensive gifts, focus on smaller, more thoughtful ones. Remember, the holidays are about spending time together, not spending a fortune on gifts.

  1. Take care of yourself

Being a single parent is especially tough around the holidays, when routines are out of whack and you’re with your kids 24/7. You will need a break or you’re going to go stir-crazy. Make time to recharge by taking a bath or reading a book. BookJane has you covered if you need to find a qualified caregiver to watch your kids while you catch up with a friend over peppermint mochas. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a little gift – you deserve it! A happy parent is a good parent, so make time to do things that make you happy.

  1. Reinvent traditions

As our lives change, so might our holiday traditions. Things that used to work for your family might not work anymore. There’s no need to stress yourself out by spending time and money on other people’s customs that aren’t meaningful to you. Plus, when you create new traditions, you get to make new family memories. Consider creating your own tree decorations, building a gingerbread house, or volunteering at a local food bank or homeless shelter as a new holiday tradition.

  1. Let loose and have fun

Yes, you’re busy with all your holiday obligations, but don’t forget to stop and smell the yule log. Relax a little and enjoy yourself! The holidays only come once a year, so you’ll want to treasure these moments with your kids. Be flexible if things don’t go according to plan. Snowed in? Have your very own pajama party movie marathon. After all, the holidays are about s