January 2017

Overcoming Winter

Winter is a difficult time for seniors and their caregivers. My mom needed blood tests every three weeks which meant taking her out into the freezing cold and maneuvering our way through snow and ice to the lab. By chance I learned that these tests could be done in her home for a small fee that was an eligible medical tax deduction.
Also as my mom's patient advocate, I could see her doctor on my own for routine prescription renewals.
There are many mobile services for seniors. To find services go to the Seniors' Resource Network site and call a seniors organization in your area.

Here are just some examples of services that will come to a senior's home.
  • Physicians  
  • Dental 
  • Optical
  • Massage
  • Physiotherapy
  • Manitoba X-Ray Clinic - Portable Unit 
  • Lawyers
  • Grocery Orders and Deliveries 
  • Shopping 
  • Winnipeg Mobile Library Service for Seniors 311
  • Meal Delivery 
  • Hair Care 
  • Foot Care
  • Manicures
  • Pet grooming
Another resource for services is The Grey Pages - Winnipeg Edition: An online directory for older adults.

Winter Outings

My mom loved outings from the personal care home but as her dementia progressed she was more interested in just going somewhere that she could see families, colours and familiar items. We started just cruising the malls with a customer service wheelchair but eventually that became too busy for her. I found other spots like IKEA where we could look at many things and then have coffee and dessert was a better choice. Shelmardines was another favourite during the months it is open. Does anyone know of other spacious low cost locations?

Thoughtful Reading for Future Seniors

Moving Beyond Place:Aging in Community by William H. Thomas and Janice Blanchard


People fear nursing homes. Indeed, when asked what they fear most, older people ranked loss of independence and placement in a nursing home above the fear of death.

The bitter truth is that an older person can succeed at remaining in her or his own home and still live a life as empty and difficult as that experienced by nursing home residents. Feeling compelled to stay in one’s home, no matter what, can result in dwindling choices and mounting levels of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom.

Our culture has constructed a continuum that positions institutional long-term care at one end of a spectrum, and an idealized vision of aging in place at the other. The challenge is to escape this false choice. An increasing number of Americans are searching for, and finding, a third way.

Read the whole article here.

Christmas 2016

A Gift of Memories -Reprinted from December 2013

When I was a child we walked two blocks to my cousins' house for Christmas dinner. There were aunts, uncles and grandparents but no great grandparents. We all lived in the same neighbourhood. Our moms didn't go out to work.

Today is different. Mom is in a personal care home and only knows who I am some of the time. My brother lives in BC. My son and three grandchildren live on the other side of the city. The last time my mom came to Christmas dinner, I drove across town to pick her up, helped her dress and looked after her at my son's home while helping to cook dinner. When the day was finally over I realized that I had spent almost no time with my own grandchildren.

Duck Pond 1949
I will see my mom on Christmas day but we will have a small family event at another time. Too many people and too many gifts are confusing and stressful for her. We usually have only one gift for her to open but we honour her by donating to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in her name as a way of carrying family memories from past generations to future generations of our family.
I have pictures of myself as a little girl feeding the ducks at the duck pond.
 I have pictures of my son as a little boy at the zoo. There are pictures of my grandchildren in the new children's' Nature Playground. Perhaps there will be pictures of their children with the polar bears.

My mom no longer has her memories. I carry hers and mine. These memories and new ones that we will build together are gifts I can pass on to my grandchildren. I can honour my mother (my past) by building the family memories of the future.

I hope all of you have a place that may pass your family's memories from yesterday to tomorrow.


A New Breed of Old People

Senior citizenship. It's about more than discounts. I have friends who won't accept seniors' discounts because they don't identify themselves as seniors. Until recently I thought that was kind of admirable. But recently I've been concerned. My friends don't want to join Demand a Plan, the CMAs advocacy program for a national seniors' health strategy. They don't want to come with me to hear about Manitoba's Medically Assisted Dying program. They don't want to be involved with seniors organizations and advocacy groups.
These are the boomers. The generation that has pushed for positive change in "the system" for years. But now they don't want to talk about it. It's not that they have no experience. Many of them have seen how their elderly parents are treated by the system. They have a wide range of horror stories. Why aren't they prepared to advocate for a better future for themselves?
I've changed my tune. I identify myself as a senior citizen with the emphasis on citizen. Citizenship comes with rights and responsibilities. I'm not prepared to abdicate my future to a system that refers to frail elderly hospital patients as " bed blockers". Who constantly refer to the need for more "beds" rather than look at changing the "nursing home" model.

We are the elders, the experienced ones; we are maturing, growing adults responsible for the survival of our society. We are not wrinkled babies, succumbing to trivial, purposeless waste of our years and our time. We are a new breed of old people. -Maggie Kuhn, A Dialogue on Age