How to Help Your Loved One Downsize

Downsizing a lifetime worth of belongings can be an extremely daunting task and for a lot of seniors it can be difficult emotionally as well as physically. Downsizing can happen for many reasons. For some, big family homes may feel too big to deal with all the upkeep now that most of the family has left and for others, an entirely new lifestyle in a smaller space may be desired, but sometimes seniors must downsize because they need to move to an assisted care facility and are unable to live in their homes on their own. No matter the situation, downsizing can be difficult because as people, we often become attached to our belongings and it can be hard to decide what will stay and what will go. As a friend or family member of the senior who is downsizing there are things you can do to help.

Time

One of the biggest things an individual can do to offer their friend or family member help in downsizing their belongings is to offer their time. Whether this time is spent helping to sort, organize or move belongings, this can provide a huge relief to your loved one. It can be hard for seniors to ask their families for help spending time with tasks like this because they don’t want to feel like they are burdening them, so if you know a loved one is looking to downsize, offer your time to come and help to go and sort through their belongings with them.

Support

Another way to help your loved one to downsize is to be there for them. Realizing that downsizing can be an emotionally trying situation, there is nothing more important than supporting your family member. For instance, helping your loved one to look at an item and decide whether it should stay or go can be extremely helpful. Since you don’t have emotional attachments to the belongings, you will be able to offer an unbiased opinion while still being able to stay sensitive to their emotions. Having someone in the room to be a trusted voice of reason can be one of the most helpful parts in downsizing.

Everything Else

Although finances can be an awkward discussion, its important that you make sure that your loved ones are in a good place financially. Downsizing can include the selling of big or antique furniture pieces, or realty costs including closing costs, legal costs, etc. Selling a home can be a large and stressful task. Offering to meet with realtors, or even gifting a cleaner to come in clean up the house to show it to prospective buyers are a few ways to assist in a financial way. You can also be there to help your loved ones to meet with potential movers or be there on moving day to ensure their belongings are being treated with care.

Although downsizing a home full of belongings and memories can be a difficult task, being there for your loved one emotionally and in person can make a world of difference to their downsizing experience.

 

Should I Be a Caregiver for My Parent?

As our parents get older and it begins to become apparent that they may need more help in their everyday tasks, it can be a big question of whether or not it is up to us to provide this care? For some, it is not possible to become a parent’s caregiver because of work or childcare obligations, but for those that it is an option, it can become an extremely hard decision.

Some of the most important things to watch out for as a caregiver are hygiene, nutrition and social interaction. A lot of seniors are unable to drive, so being a caregiver can also require driving seniors to appointments or to various locations so that they are able to socialize, run errands or shop. Depending on the general health and abilities of your parent, being their caregiver can be a small task (helping them out here and there to do a few things that are more difficult for them) or it can be a full-time position (cooking all their meals, bathing and ensuring all of their medications are taken on time, etc).

Before becoming your parent’s caregiver, it is important to ask yourself some questions to see if you are prepared or able to take on the extra responsibilities that come with the tasks your individual parents need.

Am I financially prepared or able to take on the extra costs of caring for another person?

This can be a huge aspect of deciding whether to become your parent’s caregiver. If you find it hard to meet your current financial obligations, adding the cost of another person who will need extra medical attention might mean this isn’t a cost you can take on.

Am I able to take care of my elderly parent?

If you are uncomfortable or feel you are unable to perform any of the aspects of taking care of your elderly parent, it might be best to consider hiring in a caregiver or outside help. If this is the case, you can still be heavily involved in your parents care by being in contact with their caregiver. Even if you do feel able to perform the tasks your parents require, you do need to also consider the physical and mental toll that becoming your parent’s caregiver can take.

Will I be able to make time for the rest of my family?

If taking care of your parent becomes your fulltime responsibility so much so that you are unable to focus on the rest of your family, friends or other obligations, becoming a caregiver probably won’t work for you. Not only do you need to make time for your family and friends, but you also need to make time for yourself.

There are many resources available for caregivers and it is important that if you decide to take on becoming a caregiver for your parent to take advantage on these resources. It is also important to remember to ask for help if you feel that you need it. Friends, families and support groups can be a great place to talk through any issues you might be having and to find support for what you’re going through.

Why It’s Important to Let Your Child Make Mistakes

As a parent, sometimes it can just seem easier to “fix” a problem your child is having by solving any of the issues for them. This could be as simple as fitting a piece into a puzzle they are working on, or it can be a more complicated issue like giving in to what they want while they have a tantrum in a public place. It is important for your child to learn from mistakes or consequences in any given situation. By fixing a problem, solving an issue or giving in to an unnecessary demand, you can harm the development of your child, even though if in the moment it seems like the right thing to do. This can also be the case when your children fight. Although sometimes being a mediator can be helpful, it is best for children to learn as early as possible how to mediate their own issues. This will help them to become more well-rounded adults.

Every Child is Different

This seems obvious, but its important. Just as every child is different, parenting each individual child must also be different. In accepting the person your child is, and not forcing the idea of who you think your child is, you can maintain a much better relationship with your child overall. By knowing or trying to understand who your child is, you will be better able to guide them through situations that may arise.

Actions Have Consequences

Not every outcome of your child’s decisions is going to be a good one, nut it is important that you allow your child to experience both good outcomes and negative consequences. You can tell a young child not too touch the stove because its hot as many times as you want, but if that child comes into contact with the stove, they will suffer the natural consequences and get burned. Although your child burning themselves is not an ideal situation, if it occurs accidentally, that child will learn from their mistake. As a parent, there will be a lot of guilt in this sort of situation, but humans learn through trial and error and it is natural for a child to need this sort of situation to learn what “too hot” means.

Judgement of Others

One of the easiest and most common reasons a parent will give in to their child is because of the judgement of others. Its horrifying to think that other people either think you are a bad mom or dad because your child is misbehaving and if it feels like other people around you are thinking it, or are making comments, it can make you start to think maybe there is truth to their words and opinions, but giving in to your child’s tantrums can instill more bad behaviour. If your child thinks that they get their way by crying or yelling, they will do it more often. By standing your ground in any particularly bad tantrum situations, your children will learn that they aren’t able to get away with that behaviour.

In letting your children have tantrums, make their own mistakes and getting to know who they really are, you are setting them up to be a much more well-rounded adult. It can be hard to watch your children fail, especially when you know the answers or are able to fix their issues, but in the long term, failure will be good for your children and celebrating their failures and being there for them in these situations can teach invaluable lessons.

How to Plan for Senior Living

It is so important to start planning for retirement and living as a senior from an early age.  Oftentimes, government pension plans and assistance don’t cover the costs of the average senior and so they must rely on their personal savings, their families, or go back to working after being retired a few years.  Most seniors don’t want to feel dependent on their loved ones and they also don’t want to have to enter back into the workforce after having been retired, so it is important to plan ahead and have access to other savings put aside earlier in life to take care of yourself in your senior years.

As a society, we are living a lot longer than we once did which is a great thing because it means that we now have more life to live.  With modern science and healthcare, today’s seniors have a longer life expectancy than seniors even twenty years ago.  Unfortunately, many of today’s seniors didn’t expect to live as long as they are and are finding it financially a burden to try and live their daily lives. Seniors today are outliving their resources and it’s a challenge in our society that going forward needs to be addressed.

Mental and Physical Health

Although in Canada we have a great universal healthcare system, not every cost is covered. When planning for senior living, you must factor in the possibility of needing different medications, or other tools for everyday living.  These can include wheelchairs, hearing aids, walkers, etc. that all need upkeep.  Often in the past seniors have either underestimated their life spans or the resources that they have needed which then extends the burden of care to family members.

Where Will You Live?

One of the biggest costs and considerations when planning senior living is where you will live. A lot of seniors prefer to live in their homes, while some move into assisted care facilities.  In either situation, it is important to plan ahead and budget for the costs of these options.  Living at home has the same costs you’ve always had.  General upkeep of the house, property taxes, but the added cost of home care should be considered.  For many seniors, home care becomes necessary when they can either no longer drive themselves to appointments, or movement becomes more difficult throughout the house creating challenges with cooking and cleaning of the house.

For seniors that choose to live in assisted care facilities or senior homes, it can be a little easier to predict the costs of living.  At these facilities, seniors pay a set amount per month and have a combination of their accommodations, food and care included in the cost.  These facilities often include other amenities as well that can make senior living fun!

Although planning for senior living and ensuring you have a safety net of money set aside for your senior years is important, it is also important not to stress too much about money because the stress can cause other health issues.  Most seniors have great support systems in their families and including them in decisions can also be a big help. This way your family will know your wishes and be able to help you achieve them in your later years.

Seniors – Eating Safer and Smarter

Our bodies, metabolisms and taste buds are constantly changing and for seniors, nutritional needs and patterns are extremely important to watch and ensure that a healthy diet is being followed. Although a healthy diet is important for everyone despite age, seniors are more likely to have health problems, dietary restrictions based on a doctor’s recommendation, and changes in appetite.

Eating Patterns

Eating patterns and food preferences can change for seniors for several reasons. For some seniors, symptoms of depression can also coincide with changes in appetite. Depression is a common issue for seniors because sometimes seniors feel inadequate when they feel they need others to take care of them. If a person feels that they are unable to do things on their own, it can lead to a feeling of being useless. This is why depression can be so common with seniors. Depression is a known contributor to eating poorly, so its important to look out for signs and symptoms. Isolation can also be a contributor to poor dietary habits. Food and eating is often used as a tool for social interaction. For seniors who are feeling lonely or isolated, it can be hard to have a proper diet. Sometimes it can be easier to eat snacks or easy to make foods than to cook a properly balanced meal. This disinterest in cooking can also be a huge factor in an improper diet.

Medical Conditions/Medications

A lot of seniors have medical conditions and medications they need in order to keep these conditions under control. Common conditions can include high blood pressure, low circulation and high cholesterol. Many seniors are able to use their diets to improve these conditions or are required to have a specific diet based on the medications they are taking. It is important to know which nutritional requirements your medical condition or medication needs. Some medications, for instance, must be taken with food and others cannot be taken with food. Being aware of the requirements your medications/conditions can completely change the way you need to eat. Checking with your doctor or pharmacist or working with a nutritionist can be helpful to get to know what types of food you should be eating.

The Body

Eating smart and healthy options becomes extremely important in your senior years because the body starts changing and proper nutrition can prevent or help to slow down future health issues. After living for so many years, the immune system becomes less reliable and so proper nutrition to prevent sickness and keep your body strong is invaluable.

Your doctor will ultimately know what is best for you and your health.   It is important to listen to and implement any advice they may have. Food restrictions or foods that will largely positively effect your health are important for you and for anyone else who is preparing your meals. Although it is important for everyone to have good nutrition and make healthy nutrition choices, it can be even more integral for seniors so they are able to avoid other medical conditions and keep healthy.

The Importance of Senior Socialization

Senior isolation is a common problem for many because unfortunately, many seniors live alone. For many isolated seniors, socialization can be extremely daunting, but social relationships can have a positive impact of health during aging. Having a good attitude and lifestyle can make a world of difference throughout the aging process and being social will generally only make seniors feel happier and healthier.

Seniors Living at Home

For seniors living at home, socialization can be a daunting task. Those receiving care at home are in contact with others, but with time constraints on caregivers, these seniors may not be getting to spend as much time with their caregivers as they wish to. This means that these seniors will have to find other means of socialization. Socialization doesn’t have to be a planned activity with a large group of people. It can be as simple as meeting a friend for lunch or spending some quality time with your family members.

Another option for seniors living on their own is to join a club or class where they can not only interact with others, but possibly meet new friends to spend time with. There are many clubs and fitness classes targeted at seniors and these can be a great option to learn a new skill, get fit and meet new people. All these things have great health benefits for seniors who otherwise may have stayed at home on their own.

Volunteering your time to causes can also be a great way to not only socialize with others, but can also be a very healing experience. Looking into local causes and events that need volunteers can be a great way for seniors to interact with others, but also can be a rewarding experience to know that you have helped others.

Seniors in Assisted Living Facilities

Senior homes have a lot of programming availability for their residents, so it is generally easier to get out and meet other people in your community. Socializing can still sometimes be a challenge, but with your caregivers available to you and other seniors also living in the same vicinity as you, joining in activities will be a great way to ensure that you are engaging with others. Physical activities, like fitness classes are especially important because they can have other health benefits as well. Craft and hobby classes as well as excursions can also be great ways to meet other people, learn new skills and gain new experiences. All of this will be beneficial to your health.

Seniors who are out and socializing are happier and healthier because of their lifestyle. The importance of socialization is important to those of all ages, but because a lot of seniors live alone, it is very easy to become isolated. It is important for seniors, and their family members, to ensure that they are making the effort to spend time with others doing activities or even just spending time in the company of others. This time spent with others will ensure everyone’s happiness and health.

Fidget Spinners – Helpful or Harmful?

Fidget spinners are the newest trend for kids everywhere. These little triangular toys are extremely inexpensive and fit in a child’s hand and spin around. You can even learn how to perform tricks with fidget spinners with video streaming services inundated with how-to tutorials. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a kid who doesn’t have, use or want a fidget spinner and because they are relatively cheap, it seems like an easy toy for parents to gift to their children that will keep some of their time preoccupied.

Although, fidget spinners are considered toys, their original use was seemingly more noble. Fidget spinners were originally marketed towards children with ADHD, anxiety, or being on the autism spectrum.

Helpful

Fidget spinners are being marketed at those with challenges concentrating in class. The idea is, if a child with problems concentrating has an outlet, they won’t be as distracted and “fidget” in class. Fidget spinners are small, handheld and because of this are said to be a good tool in schools for children that have challenges concentrating. Instead of moving around in their seats, looking out the window and having a hard time paying attention to their teachers, children can focus their extra energy into this small toy.

One of the biggest pros of fidget spinners is that they have become mainstream. A lot of students who used to feel like tools like this marked their differences and made them stand out as needing extra help in class, now feel as if this standout tool has been normalized. Learning challenges can be stress enough for a lot of children who don’t want to stand out or be different from their peers. Fidget spinners are regular and common and not only do kids with learning challenges have them, but their friends do as well.

Harmful

There has been a huge outbreak lately with classrooms and schools banning fidget spinners and for good reason. This toy which was originally intended as tool for children with specific concentration challenges ahs become “on trend” and now instead of a few kids in class using these toys, it’s most kids. For children who do not have challenges focusing, the fidget spinner has become an extremely large distraction. Teachers are finding that they don’t have the full attention of their students anymore and that fidget spinners have become less of a tool and more of a toy.

Fidget spinners have evolved from just a triangular device on a ball-mechanic system that you spin in your hand to help avoid fidgeting throughout your whole body. With the multitude of available YouTube tutorials teaching children how to do tricks, its no wonder the tool has become more of a toy. Children are using these spinners in class and they have become a massive distraction.

Other Options

Tactile discs, putties, clays, stress balls, or even fidget cubes are all great options as replacements for fidget spinners. These options can all be used as tools for students that need help focusing on class and their teachers and are often used for children with sensory challenges.

 

 

Great Children’s Books to Teach and Help Develop Empathy and Acceptance

One of the most important things a child can learn is to empathize and to be accepting of others. Children often see things through a selfish lens because they haven’t yet learned the importance of different perspectives. Its vital for children to learn from an early age that despite our differences, living creatures all have emotions and can feel hurt by the actions of others. When children are exposed to the idea of acceptance and are taught to empathize with the struggles of others, they become more well-rounded adults who can co-exist more peacefully. Here are some books that explore themes of acceptance and empathy that you can read to or with your child to help them to learn a valuable lesson through story as opposed to a lecture.

Picture Books

One by Kathryn Otoshi

One is a story about colours and their differences and the number that comes along to teach them how to come together and count. This story teaches young readers about numbers and counting as well as primary and secondary colours, all the while also how to learn to accept each other’s differences.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

This story is about a blue crayon that has been mistakenly labelled red. The blue crayon has an identity crisis when everything he tries to colour doesn’t look the way it should. Red, the blue crayon, must come to terms with his inner self despite what his outsides say. This story will teach children that labels aren’t important and that people aren’t always what they seem on the outside.

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

The Sneetches is a classic story by Dr. Seuss about two distinct kinds of Sneetches. The plain-bellied Sneetches and the star-bellied Sneetches and how this physical difference keeps them separated. This story discusses segregation and discrimination in a simple way that really gets the point across and will help children to realize that even if they don’t look like someone else, it doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. We can’t judge others based on physical differences.

Chapter Books

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This is a graphic novel/memoir detailing author Cece Bell’s younger years with severe hearing loss and the Phonic Ear that sets her apart from her classmates. At first, the hearing aid, which is bulky and awkward, prevents Cece from making new friends, but in this funny and truly beautiful graphic novel, Cece is able to learn to control the Phonic Ear and become her own superhero. This is a heartwarming tale that shows its readers that being different isn’t a bad thing.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B White

Charlotte’s Web is a classic and well-beloved tale about a girl named Fern and the love she shares for a pig named Wilbur. This is a must read for all children because of Fern’s true compassion towards animals. Fern looks after Wilbur because he is the runt of his litter and saves him from an awful fate. This is a novel of friendship of a different kind that will teach children the intelligence of animals and that having compassion for all living beings is important.

Wonder by R.J Palacio

This is a book about a young boy with a facial difference that has prevented him from attending regular school. Starting in the 5th grade at a mainstream school, the protagonist, Auggie Pullman, just wants to be treated like a normal kid. Unfortunately, it seems that his classmates have a hard time looking past his facial difference to meet the real Auggie. This is a great book for middle grade kids that tackles feeling different, standing up to your bullies and the struggle of trying to find acceptance.

Each of these stories offer a unique perspective on the differences of those around us that will help your children to learn to find acceptance and be able to empathize with their peers. The younger children are able to learn these lessons, the more tolerant they will be as adults.

The Top Concerns for Seniors Today and How You Can Help

As a group, seniors are facing everyday challenges that are causing stress, feelings of incompetence or failure and instead of being able to solve these issues, it seems only more are added.   It is important that we understand and empathize with these challenges so we are able to provide solace and assistance to our elderly loved ones. Here are some of the main concerns facing seniors today:

Loneliness

A common social concern for seniors is that as they grow older, feelings of loneliness creep in. As we get older, our friends and partners also grow older. A lot of seniors lose these friends and their spouses either to growing health issues or even death. It is important that we spend time with our loved ones and encourage them to spend time with any of their remaining friends. This will help to ensure they feel they have support systems and they are not alone. Considering a pet can also help to create daily companionship.

Financial Issues

Living is expensive and as a senior, a lot of healthcare costs can become cumbersome. As we grow older, it becomes more and more important to keep an eye on our health. This means doctor’s appointments, testing and medications. Although in Canada, we do have great healthcare coverage, it does not cover all of the costs. There is also a higher mortality rate and seniors are living to be a lot older than they once were. All of these possible health concerns and medications can end up costing quite a bit of money, which will impact a senior’s retirement savings.

Other unexpected costs can also affect a senior’s retirement savings. The rising cost of living affects seniors who are on fixed incomes. Their savings won’t cover the higher and higher inflation we face in today’s society. If seniors run out of money, the logical option would be to go back to work, but this isn’t possible for a lot of seniors who are either unable physically or who face possible ageism in the workplace market and can’t get hired.

For most people, it is hard to take on another’s financial burden, but if you are unable to help your loved one’s by providing financial assistance, you do have other options to help tackle some of the stress they can cause. For some this could be providing transportation to medical appointments or coming over and helping your loved one to prepare meals. This is not a huge financial burden, but has the ability to alleviate financial stress for your elderly loved ones.

General Health and Lack of Independence

One of the largest frustrations for seniors is the physical ageing and the lack of independence it brings with it. A lot of seniors become dependent on loved ones or support workers to help them which can be extremely frustrating. Seniors aren’t able to see as well as they once did or move as quickly as they were once able and often require assistance to do tasks they once found menial or simple. In order to help your loved ones to feel more independent, encourage them to do as much as they are able on their own. Good nutrition and exercise can often help to strengthen the abilities of seniors so they are more able.

The Changing Social Climate

One of the largest hurdles for seniors can be the changing social climate which includes a lot of technological inventions which are ingrained in the abilities of younger generations. Using computers, cell phones and other advanced technologies can prove to be a large challenge for a lot of seniors. Either you can try to help give them lessons on how to use these technologies or look into local classes. A lot of libraries and community centers offer free classes (and wifi) which can help to assist seniors with technology. This way, they also won’t feel dependent on you

Fun Activities for Your Kids This Summer that Still Use Brain Power!

It’s the beginning of June and the end of the school year is quickly approaching. It’s time to start planning some fun summer activities for you and your kids. It’s always good to have a mix of relaxing and stimulating activities. Just because school’s out and your kids are on vacation, doesn’t mean that they have to stop learning. Try to use any opportunity you can to keep their minds curious and exploring.

Here are some ideas for activities for your kids that will keep their minds fresh for school in September:

Attractions to Visit

Zoo’s, museums, science centre’s and other great attractions can be found all around the country. These places offer great resources and learning opportunities. Animals and nature and cultural and scientific experiences all offer learning, but at these establishments, children are interacting with creatures and experiments. They are learning through doing, rather than by listening or watching. Not only will your kids be learning, but they’ll be having fun while doing it. Nothing about going to the zoo or a science centre will feel forced. This will be a fun outing for the whole family that won’t feel like learning. The best part of these types of places is that they often offer group discounts or cheaper tickets for children’s entry. This makes going to these attractions affordable and worthwhile.

Everyday Simple Activities

Oftentimes, we overlook the simple and free activities in local areas. A lot of parks hold free (or donation only) events throughout the summer. These are a great option for you and your kids. Art in the Park is a staple in most towns and cities (or will be in a town nearby) which will allow you and your children to wander through a festival in the summer weather that has lots of ways to get kids involved. Usually there are bouncy castles, face painting and kids crafts stations that your child will love. These days in the park pair perfectly with a picnic lunch. You can also take your children out for hikes, walks and bike rides. These are activities that take up a lot of energy, and are great exercise. These activities can be combined with a beach day.

On Their Own

Do some research to find out about day camps and special programs being run in your area. Many community centres and libraries offer events for children throughout the summer. Summer Reading Challenges are common at local libraries and usually they offer prizes to children who reach certain reading goals. These are great programs to keep your child’s mind sharp throughout the summer. Community centres sometimes offer craft days, dances (for older children), classes and movie nights. All these activities will keep your children entertained with very little parental effort.

Camping/Cottage

Although not all families have access to a cottage each summer, take advantage of the outdoors and try to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and technology. Spending time at a cottage or going camping lets kids spend time outdoors and with their families. Children have to use their imagination and creativity to play games and make the outdoors fun. Plus, nothing beats eating hotdogs and marshmallows roasted by the fire.

If you find you don’t have the time or money to get away to a cottage or on a camping trip, why not choose a night to go camping in the backyard. This will be a great experience for your kids this summer!

Sports & Games

A lot of kids are excited about being active. There are many summer sports leagues that you can enroll your child in. Some of the more popular summer sports are soccer and baseball. There are a lot of kids leagues out their that don’t take up a huge time commitment. Not only is playing a sport great exercise for your child, but team sports will help your them to socialize and learn to be as part of a group.

Alternately, you can take your children to see an amateur or professional sports game. There are a lot of amateur teams playing in the summer. You’ll get to watch a sport together and maybe teach them some of the rules and pique their interest in learning to play.

As a parent, summer can be hard. Even though your kids have two months off, you still have work and other responsibilities. Trying to get your children engaged in activities with others and on their own will keep them entertained, active and still learning.