The Benefits of Artistic Activities for Seniors

Whether or not we consider ourselves creative people, artistic activities can have large benefits for everyone. The more a person practices an activity the better they become as they develop the skills of that particular activity. Whether it be painting, drawing or writing poetry, using a creative outlet can have a great effect on confidence and can help seniors to express themselves.

Stimulate the Brain

 For most people, loving art is natural. Whether it be reading great literature or appreciating great photographs or artwork. These activities can bring a lot of joy and can even evoke memories of the past. While appreciating the artwork of other can do this, partaking in art yourself can have these effects as well as seeing others to enjoy something you have created. Painting, drawing and other artistic activities can also be extremely relaxing for seniors and serve as a distraction for stress.

Alleviate Boredom

 Any activity out of the ordinary day-to-day schedule can help to alleviate boredom. Crafting can be a great distraction for seniors as it is a good way to keep the mind preoccupied. Crafting or other artistic activities like painting and drawing take a lot of concentration which is great for seniors who suffer from depression or find themselves bored a lot of the time.

 Improve Hand-Eye Coordination

Artistic activities can help improve dexterity. Crafting, painting or drawing all take a lot of focus as well as a lot of detailed movement. Using brush strokes, knitting, crocheting and a lot of other crafting requires the use of repetitive hand movements. This improves hand muscles and will help seniors in other daily activities.

A Sense of Purpose

 Creative activities can also be a huge factor in creating a sense of purpose. Oftentimes, seniors struggle with finding purpose in life once they have retired, their kids have grown up and they have no other responsibilities. Having a creative outlet can help seniors to find a new purpose. Knitting a blanket for a grandchild or an embroidering a pillow for another family member can not only give a senior a sense of purpose, but also a sense of pride in their accomplishment and the joy they feel in sharing their hard work with a loved one.

Finding the Right Creative Outlet

Some seniors may feel that they don’t have the creative skills to craft or take part in any other artistic activities, but it just takes encouragement and practice to be able to learn any of these skills. For those seniors who feel they are not artistic enough to do more complex projects, try collaging or creating a scrapbook with old photographs.

Back to School – The Best Ways to Ensure You’re Prepared!

The beginning of September can be an extremely stressful time for most families. After having two months off school, most children aren’t excited to go back to the routine that is the school week. Children are often stressed about social and academic situations, while parents try hard to ensure they’re children are prepared for school both emotionally and materially. Parents also have the stress of figuring out before and after school care for their younger children. With everything that goes into preparing your child and yourself for back to school, it might seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to make sure everyone is prepared in the most fun and low stress ways possible.

Back to School Shopping

The first thing you need to do when thinking about back to school shopping is to take an inventory of everything you already have. Once you know what you have, its easier to make a list of what you still need. Although sometimes shopping with your kids can be more complicated than doing it on your own, bringing your children will help them to feel more prepared for school. Letting them make choices for the types of notebooks they get or some new outfits will help them to feel more comfortable with going back to school. This way they will feel like they are going back to school they way they want to look and present themselves which can be a big confidence booster.

Meal Prep

One of the most time consuming and stressful tasks for parents and children old enough to make their lunches, is finding the time to prepare all the meals. Luckily, there are many great recipes and tutorials that can now be found online that show you how to create healthy and varied lunches for an entire week. You and your child can work on most of these recipes together and create their lunches. Choose a night once a week like Sunday, to create the five meals your child will bring to school.

Start Your Routine Early

The summer can bring a lot of bad habits like staying up late and sleeping in. Since these bad habits don’t lend themselves to school and learning, help your children by setting a bedtime and acclimatizing them to it before they go back to school. Starting a week before school starts is a good idea to get your children used to going to sleep and waking up at school appropriate times.

Take Some Family Time

Once the kids go back to school, it becomes a lot harder to make time to spend as a family. With after school curricula’s, work and playdates, sometimes it can feel like there is no time to spend together as a family. Before the kids go back to school, make sure to make use of the time you have left. Plan a board game night, or a nice night out for dinner and a movie. This will be nice time together, but may also offer a distraction from the stresses that can come with going back to school.

Seniors and the Risk of Weight Gain

Weight gain can be a serious problem for people of all ages, but for seniors it can pose a particularly dangerous threat. Many of the usual health issues that we associate with aging are also the same issues that we associate with weight gain. The older we get, the more important that exercise and eating correctly becomes. Younger bodies are able to bounce back a lot better than older bodies, especially with the slowing down of our metabolisms. One of the largest health problems that can stem from weight gain is heart failure. Some other health problems that can arise through weight gain with age are diabetes, arthritis, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.

Weight Gain in Seniors

Weight gain in seniors is a common issue. As we age, we tend to gain weight for a multitude of reasons. Lower muscle mass leads to a slower metabolism and the number of calories we lose when we aren’t being physically active decreases. As we grow older, we also tend to be less active in general. Most people work in professions that are considered sedentary and we don’t engage in as many physical activities like we used to. Exercise is usually the first thing that people give up when they find their schedules and other obligations become too time consuming. It is important through any of these lifestyle changes that we keep an eye on our health and weight.

One of the most common reasons for weight gain isn’t necessarily a lack of exercise, but instead an increase of food intake and junk food cravings. High stress levels can cause a lot of issues with us as we age and the more weight we put on at a younger age, the harder it is to lose that weight as we age.

Addressing Weight Gain

Prevention is always the best medicine, so we should always strive to not let weight gain get out of hand. The more we weigh, the higher probability it is that we will encounter severe health issues later in life; however, for those who are overweight and looking to take control of their situation it is important to combine a combination of healthy eating and exercise.

For healthy eating, seniors (or people of any age) should be trying to eat well-balanced meals each day and eliminating junk food from their diets. Learning to ignore food cravings and to listen to your body tell you when it is actually hungry can be a huge factor in keeping your body healthy and avoiding the health issues associated with weight gain.

For exercise, seniors should know the limits of their bodies and not push too far. The first steps are improving mobility, balance and flexibility. At first, it may be enough to go out for a brisk walk, but upon the strengthening of muscles and confidence in your body, picking up weights or participating in fitness classes can help you to either lose the weight that is causing you health problems or prevent them altogether.

Living with and Improving Mobility Restrictions

For many seniors, at some point in their life, mobility restrictions will become an issue. For some, this could entail needing a walker or cane when moving around for balance to ensure that falls are avoided. For others, mobility issues can be more severe and require a wheelchair or other mobility assistance device. This can be a problem for a lot of seniors who find that suddenly they are needing to ask for help a lot more and needing this assistance can sometimes feel like a loss of independence. Loss of mobility can stem from chronic illnesses, falls that result in broken bones, or just regular issues with pain in joints. In most cases, there are many ways that we can help seniors who are struggling with their activity and it’s important to do so, so that seniors can maintain their independence.

Assistive Mobility Devices

Fortunately because there are so many seniors that are facing mobility issues, there are a lot of options available to seniors for assistance in their mobility. For something to lean on, consider using a walker or a cane. These are simplistic mobility devices that can make a world of difference to seniors struggling to get around and perform daily tasks. By offering just that little bit of extra support, these devices can make a large difference in daily life.

For seniors who still live at home who have a bedroom on an upper floor, chairlifts can be installed. Stairs tend to be a large issue for seniors and can, in fact, be a major player in seniors falling. By installing a chairlift in the home, seniors will be able to safely gain access to their upstairs rooms without having to risk taking a nasty fall.

Other devices such as shower chairs, grab bars and ramps can be added throughout the house just to help ensure that seniors are safe in their homes and can be assisted by devices rather than by people. This can mean a lot for seniors who want to maintain their independence.

Use Exercise to Improve Balance

One of the best ways to help a senior maintain as much mobility as possible is to help them with their balance. Falls have become one of the most common reasons for seniors having mobility issues and prevention is always the best medicine. By working with seniors to increase their balance, we can help to prevent nasty falls which will increase and promote independence for much longer. Almost any activity that includes walking will help to increase balance in seniors, but strengthening leg and core muscles specifically will improve balance drastically.

Many seniors fear becoming dependent on others and want to avoid needing any assistance. Mobility issues can exacerbate this fear and allowing your loved ones independence through the means of an assistive device can make a big difference to how they will feel about doing things on their own. It’s important to work on your balance at any age because it can make a big difference in later stages of your life.

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.

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.