Activities for Seniors with Visual Impairments

For many people, ensuring that those seniors with visual impairments aren’t bored and have plenty to do is extremely important. Not only is this an issue in assisted living facilities and senior homes, but also for seniors living at home. Activities, games and events should be accessible to those with visual impairments because it is generally not too much trouble to adapt them to include aids for people who don’t have the best sight. The inclusion of adaptations to these activities can make a huge difference in the life of a senior with visual impairment who may often face isolation or boredom as they are unable to contribute or participate with others who are able to see.

Adaptability

There are many ways to adapt activities to assist visually impaired seniors and keep them included in their surroundings. Whether this involves using large print (such as large print edition books) which allows seniors to be able to read books they would have otherwise have been unable to read due to the small size of the text, or involving more audio so they are able to use their ears instead of their eyes to participate. Another option for a lot of seniors who are visually impaired is to play games, or participate in activities with the assistance of another person who does not have any visual impairments. This way, that person will be able to explain and assist the visually impaired senior in participation. This is important to prevent isolation, boredom and the ability to be involved in a group activity.

Cards and Board Games

Cards and board games are some of the easiest things to adapt for visually impaired seniors. This is because they mostly rely on physical game pieces that must be read or seen. These types of games don’t usually require any abstract description, so they are easy for visually impaired seniors to learn and understand. To help these seniors, trying using large print cards, or those that have raised numbers. This way seniors will be able to play the game without needing someone else to read the card over their shoulders to tell them what cards they have. The same can be done with board games. Many companies sell adapted versions of their games. For instance, dominoes has an adaptive version with raised black dots on the tile. This means that visually impaired seniors can feel which numbers are on the tile for themselves without struggling to see the numbers.

Shows and Events

Many shows and events now include audio description intended for the visually impaired. Audio description is often available at art and history museums and theatres. Options at live plays are available as well as movie theatres which try to have described video in the same way that television does for the most popular shows.

Although it can seem difficult to a senior who is visually impaired to participate with friends and family in certain activities, it is important that they feel included. Having these activities adapted for inclusion of the visually impaired can make a massive difference in a senior’s quality of life.

 

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.

Finding Happiness in Caregiving

When considering becoming a caregiver for your parents, most thoughts revolve around concerns such as:

  • Will I be able to provide proper care for my loved one?
  • Am I physically and mentally prepared for the strain of caregiving?
  • Will this affect my relationship with my parent?
  • How stressed will I become?
  • Will I have anytime for myself?

Most of these concerns tend to be on the negative side. Since caregiving is a rigorous job that can be the cause of stress, grief, frustration and depression, it is in our nature to worry about and focus on the negatives. Often regarding caregiving for an elderly loved one, you may feel overwhelmed or like you have no more time for yourself and it is natural to focus on these feelings and share the bad news of the job, rather than focusing on any of the positive feelings you may be having.

In all of these struggles you may be facing it is important to be aware of and take advantage of the benefits that also come with elder care. Oftentimes, these benefits and positives are not fully realized until you are for any given reason no longer your loved one’s caregiver.

Relationship with Your Loved One

Since you’re suddenly spending so much time with and caring for your parent, you will notice the strengthening of your bond with your parents or loved one. As people age, they also usually become more willing to communicate. For someone who may not have a completely open and honest relationship with their parents, spending all of this time together will offer you time to talk about their past and their likes and dislikes. You may find out a lot about your parent that you never knew. These moments and memories that are shared can become invaluable.

Relationship with Yourself

In caregiving for a loved one, you will probably find that you are a lot more capable than you ever imagined. Accomplishing so many tasks (administering medication, cooking and cleaning, driving your parent to the doctor, etc.) will help you to gain time management and organizational skills you may not have ever knew you had the ability to accomplish. You will feel great about yourself realizing just how much you are able to complete in any given day. You will feel stronger and have more self-confidence the more you are able to do when you care for your parents, specifically if you feel something is out of your own particular skill set.

Realizing the Importance of Taking A Break

Nothing will teach about what is really important in life more than caregiving for your loved one. Although the care of your parent is necessary, taking a break and caring for yourself is also important. One of the major causes of caregiver burnout is taking on too much and not taking a break. This is not only a good lesson to learn in caregiving, but it is also a good lesson to learn in life. Taking care of yourself will only make it easier and make you better at taking care of someone else.

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.

Challenges of Childcare Centers

It’s becoming more rare to find a family that has a “stay at home parent”. Childcare in some way, shape or form has become a large burden on most families as they are outsourcing the job just to make ends meet. There is a vicious cycle of families needing to work to be able to afford life’s expenses and extras like childcare, just to be able to afford things like childcare. Childcare centers are becoming more expensive and it seems, also problematic for a lot of families in the way they are raising their children.

Affordability

Most families aren’t able to afford a single-parent income with all of life’s expenses like food, rent or mortgage payments, transportation, or any other fixed or extra costs. For most families, it makes more sense to have two incomes and hire a childcare service for their children because of all of the other expenses they incur. Most families cannot afford all of their expenses on one income alone and so one parent is unable to stay at home to take care of their children. In Ontario, full day, play-based kindergarten was implemented to try to help offset the costs and stress of childcare for children, but before and after school care can still be extremely expensive.

Different Children Have Different Needs

It’s commonly known that children do not learn or grow at the same pace and that they don’t all have the same preferences or needs. For childcare centers, it’s impossible to program a full day or half day that will meet the needs of each child. Common issues that will arise for children in childcare centers is the food that is offered. Although, healthy meals and snacks are mandated, that does not mean your child will want to eat it, which can be difficult. Naptimes can also cause friction. Some children may not be tired, or they take a nap and then have trouble sleeping later at night. Since every child is different and has varying needs, childcare centers can only really base their programming on the needs of the average child and try to alter and adjust it for children that are exceptions to the general rule.

Homecare

Home care can be a great option for a lot of families. Oftentimes homecare is charged by the hour rather than a fixed price per child, per day. This is also a great option for parents who work part-time. Home care is a great option for children because they don’t have to be uprooted to a new location and instead their caregiver will come to them in a place they are familiar with. Parents will find that instead of having to arrange drop off and pick up times, having a caregiver come to them will help with their overall flexibility. Childcare centers usually have set hours that parents must work around, but by hiring a homecare worker, you get to choose the times that work best for you.

BookJane can help you with all of your childcare homecare needs. We have many highly skilled and qualified caregivers who are just a click away on our app. Each caregiver has undergone thorough background checks and comes with great references and recommendations. You can hire a BookJane caregiver ahead of time, or if something comes up last minute.

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.

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.

 

Martial Arts – The New Trend in Positive Child Behaviour  

Martial Arts has become a huge new trend in after school programs for children. More and more kids are becoming interested in learning this art form and although it used to be a male dominated sport, young girls are signing up as well. Not only is Martial Arts becoming trendy, but it is also teaching kids a lot of great values which are promoting positive behavior.

Movement/Exercise

It is extremely important for children to expend energy and Martial Arts is a great form of exercise that will get children moving. For young children especially, martial arts teaches large gross motor development. Children will be learning how to use their motor skills in a more controlled way. Martial Arts doesn’t just teach discipline of the mind, but it also teaches discipline in movement. To be able to perform the moves correctly, children must learn the exact movements. For instance, a common popular skill in a lot of styles of Martial Arts is using your hand to break through a plank of wood. In order to achieve this performance, children must learn the correct placement of their hand against the plank of wood.

Active Listening

Martial Arts requires children to practice active listening. In order to be able to learn the correct moves, children must be listening. Martial Arts instructors also demand respect. In their classes, children are expected to listen to instruction and to not interrupt instructors or cause distractions. This is one of the first lessons taught and one of the most important rules in classes. When the instructor is speaking or is demonstrating movements, the students are required to listen. Talking and distractions are not tolerated.

Violence As A Last Resort

 Martial Arts also teaches children appropriate problem solving methods other than violence. Despite Martial Arts being different methods of fighting, students are instructed that fighting is the last thing that one should be doing. For children, especially in schools, this is an important lesson. Oftentimes, when children get frustrated and don’t know how to use their words to work through their issues, they will throw a toy, bite or hit another child. In the training received in Martial Arts, children learn that they are not supposed to be using their bodies in altercations. Martial Arts teaches this control and a more calm way of overcoming issues.

Reward Systems

For a lot of children, receiving rewards for achieving certain feats is a great system. In Martial Arts, children have to work hard throughout the year to be able to test for their belt. The belt system is a great reward because children have to commit to Martial Arts as an activity. A child cannot become a black belt early on, it takes many years, hard work and commitment in order for a person to become a black belt in their chosen field of Martial Arts. All of the belts before the Black Belt work as the Martial Arts versions as trophies. These belts are keepsakes that will be the physical manifestations of the work that a child has put into this activity.

What We Need to Know About the Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation is just that – a group of people sandwiched between two generations – stuck in the position of caregiver for both their children and their parents. This is a generation that is feeling the pressure to take care of everyone, but are having less help than they once did.

Many in this generation are finding the strain of being a caregiver for both their children and aging parents is causing stress, anxiety and even depression. All of this is due to a general lack of understanding and support. It’s important for everyone to realize who this generation is and how it’s possible that they will become a part of it. Here are some important details about the Sandwich Generation and the struggles they face:

It’s Growing

The amount of people considered a part of the Sandwich generation is increasing. This growth can be attributed in part to a higher mortality rate as well the rising average age before having children. The numbers make sense – we have much better medicine and care and frankly, people are living to an older age. This can put a strain on the children of seniors because they are looking after their loved ones a lot longer than they used to. Family sizes are now also a lot smaller and with less siblings around to shoulder the burden, it can fall to just one or two people who may not have the financial means or time to contribute to their parents well-being. This generation is also having children later in life than they used to which can be attributed to both our longer lifespans as well as post-secondary educations and careers. A single income used to provide for the whole family, but now, most families rely on double income in order to support themselves. All of this leads to a larger gap. The longer a person waits to have children, the older their parents get, which is leading to this overlap in supporting parents in old age and children in their growth.

It Effects Everyone

The problems facing the Sandwich Generation aren’t just effecting its own generation or their parents and children. These issues are also affecting the economy and businesses. Many members of the Sandwich Generation are feeling they have to leave the workforce to provide full time care for their loved ones. This is sometimes one of the best or only options available when considering the financial strain on this generation. If people are having to leave their jobs or consider career changes (to positions that require less time or commitment), businesses are losing highly skilled and qualified employees.

It’s a Financial Strain

A lot of parents would love to help their children with university costs, but also find themselves feeling fiscally responsible for their aging parents who may also require care. Millennials are already facing a turbulent job market right now and once leaving school a large amount are moving back in with their parents, unable to find work in their chosen field. These situations can put a large financial strain on a family who may already not have much extra money to be spending on extra expenses to begin with.

There is also the issue of pensions and retirements savings running out. With the raising levels of higher life expectancy for seniors over the last few years, it seems that seniors are running out of the money that they worked hard to save. This puts additional financial strain on their children who are still able to work, but who will now have to work a lot later into their life before retiring.

How to Develop A Child’s Curiosity Through Everyday Situations

Children are at their most malleable in their early years. Even though they all attend school on weekdays and have certified teachers that help them learn to read, write, do math as well as various other subjects, children are likely to do a lot of their learning from their parents in everyday situations. It is important for parents to take an active role in their child’s learning. Juggling work and social obligations might make it seem impossible to find time to teach your children as well, but in using everyday situations as learning tools, you’ll find it doesn’t take much time at all. Here are some ways that you can teach your children and help them to expand their curiosity and learning:

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is a great way for parents to use a boring errand as a tool for learning. Ask your children to recognize brand names, for instance, in the cereal aisle, you can ask them to grab you a particular box. See if they are able to recognize it by name, by the colour schemes on the packaging or even the pictures of the cereal on the boxes. Another great thing you can do with your child at the store is have them help you count out the correct change needed to pay for your purchases.

Screen Limitations

 Screens have become an important tool for children’s learning. In schools, tablets have become a part of lessons using educational apps as teaching aids. However, a lot of children have access to tablets, smartphones and other various screens at home and aren’t necessarily using them as learning tools. Of course, its fine for children to watch TV and play games, but its also important to realize when it becomes too much. Limiting screen time will encourage children to find alternative entertainment. This can include playing with physical toys — which can encourage improvement in motor skills—or going outside, which usually involves more active play.

 Going for Walks in Nature/Gardening

 This is an especially great way to get children interested in the environment. Bird’s nests, small animals and bugs are all interesting parts of nature that will get children asking questions about different species and how they differ from us and the importance they have towards the earth. You can also have your child join you while gardening. They will see you caring for and tending to flowers and other plant life. This is also a great way to get your children involved in caring for the environment and helping them to learn from an early age the importance of respecting our planet.

 Read In Front of Your Child

 Your children look up to you and will want to copy what you’re doing. Instead of parking yourself in front of the TV and watching Netflix after dinner, read a book. This will encourage your child to seek out a book to read as well. This is an especially good tactic for reluctant readers. At first they may not actually be reading the books they pick up, but if you persevere, your child is more likely to become a reader which will help them develop.

 Read to Your Child Every Night

 Similarly, it is important to read to your child each night. Make reading a picture book or two a part of their nighttime routine. Try to get them to help you to read these books. If they are engaging with the words while looking at the pictures instead of just listening, they will pick up a lot more. This is great quality time for you to spend with your children and if you start early enough with reading to them every night, when they become older, reading at night before bedtime will be an established part of their routine. This way they are more likely to read independently at an older age.