Archive for the ‘senior’ Tag

Vascular Dementia

Written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care

How is your vascular health? That’s probably not a question that you’re frequently asked, and yet the impact of your vascular health is enormous. Did you know that caring for your vascular health could prevent dementia?

Dementia is a broad term that is comprised of many sub-types of dementias, one of which is Alzheimer’s Disease.  Less well-known than Alzheimer’s is Vascular Dementia (VaD).  VaD is a disease of the small blood vessels of the brain.

If the large blood vessels in the brain become blocked, the patient suffers a recognizable stroke.  The small blood vessels in the brain are also crucial, though a blockage may not result in a visible stroke.  Instead, the patient may suffer a series of transient ischemic attacks (TIA), which are like “mini strokes”.  These strokes may go entirely unnoticed, especially if they occur at the front of the brain. Even an initial CT scan often does not show any evidence of a stroke within the first 24 hours—only an MRI can show the results of a stroke within minutes of it occurring.

These mini-strokes may be silent, but they are still causing irreparable damage to the brain, increasing the risk for dementia.  In a study conducted by the Neuropathology Group MRC, 78% of dementia cases showed evidence of small vessel disease.  Every minute in North America an overt stroke is occurring, and there are an estimated 10-20x more silent mini-strokes than there are overt strokes. Vascular Dementia tends to affect men more than women, though the disparity between men and women is closing in as increasing numbers of women are being affected by heart disease and stroke.

The risk factors for VaD are the same as the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, so by reducing or eliminating your heart disease risk factors, you may also be preventing Vascular Dementia.  The most prevalent risk factor for both VaD and stroke is hypertension—a silent disease that affects the majority of our aging population.  Hypertension initially appears unimportant, but it flourishes on unhealthy lifestyles that tend to include too much sugar, fat, salt, and not enough exercise.

Hypertension, paired with elevated cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, age, and history of stroke/TIA are all serious risk factors.  People do not have control over some risk factors, such as age—we only wish we could control that factor! Other risk factors can be eliminated entirely—such as smoking.  While hypertension and diabetes may not be entirely eliminated in all cases, they can be reduced and managed effectively. Increasing physical activity to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times weekly has a positive influence on the brain and can assist in countering other risk factors for both dementia and heart disease.

Since you personally are capable of controlling most of your risk factors, you have the power to prevent VaD.  How is your vascular health now?

Parkinson’s Disease

Written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care

After years of waiting rooms, tests, and false diagnoses, your doctor has given you the final verdict: you have Parkinson’s disease.  You’ve suspected it for a while.  It was pretty subtle at the beginning, but the fatigue and stiffness are becoming more pronounced.  Your signature no longer resembles the one on the back of your driver’s license, and people are always saying “pardon me?” since your voice has dropped.  So here you are, sitting on the table in the examining room, hearing the final diagnosis, “you have Parkinson’s Disease”.

You’re not sure how to feel.  Part of you is just relieved that you finally have an answer.  No more tests, no more uncertainty.  You know what it is, and now you can move forward.  The other part of you is completely crushed.  You had still been holding out hope that your illness was something curable, something that would be treated and go away.  Not a degenerative disease with symptoms that could be “managed” at best.

The real question burning on your mind is: “now what?”  Where do you go for more information?  What questions should you be asking? What happens next?  Instead, you’re quietly ushered out of the office.  Going home alone that day can feel quite alienating, because the more you think about it, the more you realize that you now have more questions than you did before seeing the doctor.

The important thing to know is that you are most certainly not alone. There are between 80,000 and 100,000 Canadians who have Parkinson’s disease.  One of the best places to get preliminary information is from the Parkinson’s Society of Canada.  You can browse their website at: or call them at 1-888-851-7376.  There are local support groups available in most communities where people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) can come together and discuss issues and solutions.  The support groups will not only provide you with information and social support, but will also help you to figure out which questions you need to be asking your doctor to maximize the treatment you receive.

You will discover that the course of PD is unique to each individual person with PD.  You may experience different symptoms than someone else in your support group, and your symptoms will fluctuate over time.  As PD progresses, you may experience some of the following symptoms: tremors, rigidity, slowness, impaired balance, lack of facial expression, lowered voice, fatigue, stooped posture, constipation, and sleep disturbance.  There is currently no cure for PD, but there are medications and therapies which can alleviate symptoms.

Therapies which help to manage symptoms may include: physical therapy for mobility, flexibility, and balance; occupational therapy for daily activities of living; speech therapy for voice control; and exercise programs to help muscle and joint strength while also improving overall health.  Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential and is one of the most proactive options you have to help PD.  You may also choose to participate in a research study through the local Movement Disorders Clinic at the Wilfred Laurier University.

Maintaining your social connection is also a vital element of wellness.  You need support systems in place that will be able to accommodate you as your needs may change.  It is important to plan ahead of time how you will receive assistance, and to make your wishes known.  Remember, you are not alone, and there are others who can support you along your journey with PD, so be sure to tap into the local resources that are available to you and your family.

I think my ______ has Alzheimer’s! Now what?

written by Laura Bramly

More and more people are coming forward to say that one of their family members or friends may be showing signs of memory loss. I get this question all the time: What do I do now? Where do I go? Who do I talk to?

There are so many diseases in the world, some easy to diagnose and some more difficult, but everyone knows that the first stop is the doctor. With memory loss, it’s different. For some reason (probably due to the stigma of losing memory) no one knows where to turn or what to do next. Here are three steps that you can take with your loved one who may be showing signs of memory loss: Diagnosis. Understand. Live.

One proviso: Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. There are some 70 or more types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s being the most prevalent, along with Vascular Dementia (caused by a stroke) and Lewy Body Dementia. People can have two or more types of dementia at one time. Even when considering Alzheimer’s alone, no two people with Alzheimer’s will present exactly the same symptoms or maintain the same capabilities. Each person is different. So, even though there are three steps to take with a person who may have dementia, the exact path that each person takes will differ.

Step One: Diagnosis

Memory loss should be treated like any other illness for which a diagnosis can mean the difference between suffering in silence and receiving a treatment that can have a real impact. Memory loss is not a direct ticket to the nursing home, as it can result from such treatable medical conditions as depression and anxiety disorders, thyroid disease, B12 deficiency, elevated homocysteine levels, dehydration, infection, brain tumor and others.

If possible, see a doctor who is a neurologist, or who specializes in geriatrics (if the person experiencing memory loss is a senior). If you see your primary care physician, make sure that you go to your appointment well-armed with information about diagnosing the cause of memory loss. If the only test your loved one receives is a memory test, ask for further testing. Such conditions as brain tumors can not be diagnosed by a memory test! Most importantly, ensure that you feel comfortable conversing with the doctor, that you don’t feel as if you are getting brushed off, and that you are receiving thoughtful and knowledgeable answers. If you don’t feel this, find another doctor.

Step Two: Understand

If the diagnosis for memory loss is Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, then it’s time to understand how to slow the progression and how the disease may impact the rest of the person’s life. Talk to the doctor about drugs that are available to slow the progression of the disease. Put together a program of exercise, healthy eating, brain activity and socialization. Studies have shown that all of these factors can contribute to slowing the progression of the disease.

It’s also time to understand how the disease may unfold and affect the person with dementia over the years (again, understanding that no two people have the same experience with dementia). For example, the early stage of dementia is a good time to get financial affairs in order and determine what care options are available so that a plan can be implemented “when the time comes.” Now is the time to have thoughtful discussions with family and friends about what the future may bring, so that family members are not forced into making reactive and upsetting decisions about these important issues. It’s also a nice time to put together family history scrapbooks, make videos, reconnect with long lost family and friends.

Step Three: Live!

Dementia is not a death sentence. Well, OK, it can be. We will all die sometime, but people with dementia know more or less when they will die and what it might look like. So, in the years that are left, it’s time to live. Yes, driving will become unworkable at some point. People with early-onset dementia may lose their jobs. Activities that were once easy, requiring no thought, may become more difficult or indeed, impossible. However, that does NOT mean that a person with dementia must resign themselves to a life of watching the TV alone in their house with a caregiver, or to mindless activity in a nursing home. In fact, don’t, just DON’T!

While it’s hard enough for people without a life-threatening disease to find purpose in life, many people with dementia find new purpose in their lives when they know life is limited. It’s time to ask oneself: How am I going to use these last years of my life so that I can have the greatest impact on my family, my community, my country, my world? People with dementia are in demand as bloggers and speakers, so that they can pass along their experiences and recommendations to a public hungry for more information about dementia. There is no one who can comfort a newly-diagnosed person more than a person who already has the disease and who can pass along reassurances and counsel. A person with dementia might also find new purpose in volunteering for other causes, or in travel, or in taking up a new hobby. Anything one can do to keep the brain and body active is essential to slowing the progression of the disease, even when one reaches the later stages of the disease.

The person with dementia and their family may find that many of their friends stop calling to invite them out; dementia still has a terrible and unfounded stigma that makes even “good” friends reluctant to maintain former relationships. Through your local Alzheimer’s Association support groups or through your faith community or senior’s centre, find other families dealing with the disease and with whom a social group could be formed. Just because a person has dementia doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy going out for a beer on Friday night!

I welcome comments and emails to

Writter’s Bio:

Laura Bramly is a communicative consultant specializing in education programs about dementia. She is author of ElderCareRead Life Scenes 1, a book for people with moderate to advanced dementia to read and enjoy ( Laura’s mother passed away from vascular dementia in 2008.

Achieving Well-Being

written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care

“All of us will age eventually, if we live long enough,” stated Dr. Peter Naus at the June 15th “Celebrating Seniors” event.  His lecture focused on the positive elements of aging, which actually begins at birth.  In reality, people cannot delay aging, they can only impact the way in which they will choose to age.

The old saying “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks” is simply not true, according to Naus.  Perhaps it is true for canines, but it does not apply to humans.  We retain our ability to learn throughout life, and can continue to make significant contributions to society.

Naus feels that the most important element of positive aging is to have a sense of well-being.  He defines well-being as having a positive outlook on life, maintaining a purpose despite loss, having a realistic sense of control over one’s life, and having a strong sense of self.  These conditions are not constant; they fluctuate constantly.  It is possible to achieve a sense of well-being even amidst declining health.

Naus also offered practical advice on how to achieve well-being: eat well, exercise, drink less alcohol, do not smoke, and stimulate your mind.  Do not minimize the gains in life, or maximize the losses—don’t exaggerate the extremes.  Be sure to “count what you have, and not what you lack,” and Naus says you will be closer to achieving well-being.

Old-age should be a time for discovery.  Discovery of what, you may ask?  True discovery is an individual journey, so you must find it for yourself.  Seniors need a vision, a dream, not just memory alone.  You will find peace if you truly believe “just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy.”  Such concepts are not unique to old age; these tenets create well-being at any age.  Naus encouraged the audience to live well at every stage of life, and remember that it is never too late for change.

There are pervasive negative connotations throughout Canadian society regarding aging.  There is a strong market for “anti-aging” products and services, but the term alone is problematic.  By deeming a product or service “anti-aging” it is suggestive that there is an inherent problem with aging.  Indeed, we even tend to pay compliments by suggesting someone looks younger than their age, as though retaining a youthful appearance is akin to aging gracefully.

Cicero, the roman emperor, wrote that the “the course of life is clear to see, each stage has unique peculiarities,” and “each stage should be gone in time,” suggesting that hanging on to one phase longer than it’s natural course is the very opposite of graceful aging.  Instead, the “mellowness of age” should be embraced as a stage of life.

Seniors deserve to be valued for the wisdom that they can share with others.  They are living proof that aging is not synonymous with being sick and decrepit.  Instead, old age can be a time for deep fulfillment and pleasure, a time for personal well-being.

Naus concluded by challenging the audience with two choices:  “we have a decision to make.   Either we can put all of our energy into denying aging, or we can embrace aging as a natural and meaningful part of life, and achieve well-being.”

Written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care


Scams and frauds are the number one crime against seniors. Education is your best protection against unscrupulous scam artists and fraudsters. These are some of the most commonly perpetrated scams and frauds against seniors. Don’t fall prey.

Door-to Door Scams: Scam artists will use high pressure tactics and try to get you to sign quickly – too quickly. Making a purchase from a door-to-door sales person is not your best option. If you ask a salesperson to leave your home and they refuse, call the police. Don’t sign anything in haste even if it is a product or service that you are interested in and seems to be a great deal.

Home Improvement Offers: A favourite ploy of fraudsters is to offer you any number of home improvements, saying that they are working in the area and have excess material so that they can offer you a great price. Never hire a contractor unless you have estimates and quotes in writing from at least three different companies. Ask for references and call them. Never buy from someone that gives you just a first name and cell phone number. Or that asks for money up front.

You Are a Winner: If you have really won a contest it will not cost you any money to retrieve your prize. NEVER send money for shipping, handling, or processing. Further it doesn’t matter how old you are, What is the family income in order to claim a prize. You never have to pick up a prize it will be sent to you.

Bank Inspector Needs Your Help: A phony bank inspector contacts you and asks for your help in catching a dishonest bank employee. These scams all involve you withdrawing money from your bank account that you will never see again.

Online Scams: Beware of emails that appear to be from your financial institution wanting to verify your account information. Financial institutions NEVER ask to verify your information via email. If you are making purchases online make sure that the websites are reputable.

How can you protect yourself?

  • FINDHELP4SENIORS has created the senior-friendly logo to protect you from unscrupulous scam artists. Look for it, if you don’t see it ask why not!

  • If you want Find Help 4 seniors to poll for consumer reviews please contact them online.

  • Never give out your credit card number, social insurance number, PIN number, or bank account numbers to anyone that you do not know.

  • When using an ABM or your debit card, protect your PIN number.

  • Never sign a contract until you and your lawyer, or other expert has thoroughly read it.

  • Never buy anything over the phone.

  • Never send cash.

  • Don’t give out personal information.

  • Don’t tell anyone that you live alone.

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is.

  • Shred bank statements, credit card statements, and utility statements.

  • Report suspicious offers to the police.

  • Check the caller id and Google the number if it is a scam Google will have a record of it.

  • Register to the Do Not Call list. If they call tell them you are registered and please take you off their list. If they call again threaten legal action. The threat alone is enough of a scare tactic


Written By: Jennifer Rallis

Co-Author of Ugly Resumes Get Jobs and Other Fishing Lessons (

The 21st Century was supposed to usher in a wave of retiring Baby Boomers who would live off the spoils of their retirement funds traveling to sunny destinations, playing golf and enjoying time with their grandchildren. The reality of 2009 has many Baby Boomers reconsidering this vision of their future! Some Baby Boomers who feel that they are in the prime of their careers and too young retire, have postponed leaving the labor force for several more years. While other retiree-wanna be’s are forced to continue working because current economic circumstances have depleted their retirement savings, depreciated their home value and raised the cost of living, leaving them without the necessary funds to retire.

Whatever their reason for staying in the labor market, many Baby Boomers claim age discrimination when it comes time to look for a new job. This is a difficult claim to refute when you look at the results of a recent US Labor Statistics Report. Although the rate of unemployment for Baby Boomers is lower than the national average of 8.9%, when unemployment hits this group it lasts longer than any other demographic; 22 weeks on average. And as the recession deepens it is predicted that this time period will be even longer.

The good news for Baby Boomers is that there are simple things that they can do to ward off age discrimination and land their next great job. No plastic surgery or hair dye required!

  1. Ageless Thinking

If you believe that your age is an issue, then it will be issue! Focus your energy on selling your skills and experience to potential employers, not on defending your age.

  1. Think Healthy

The only time you should divulge health conditions during an interview is if good physical health is a requirement for a job. If you have had previous health problems, heart attack, diabetes, cancer, etc, do not volunteer this information to a potential employer.

  1. Have a technology friendly Ugly Resume

In a sea of thousands of other applicants, you must have a technology friendly resume that can be found and entices hiring managers to call you. Younger applicants would never mail a typed resume to a potential employer, nor should you.

  1. Make your Ugly Resume Ageless

Do not include your birth date, graduation date or more than 15 years of experience on your resume. Do not list out-dated software, hardware or systems experience. Listing out-dated technical skills paints a picture of an out-dated job seeker.

  1. Be Selective

Only apply for jobs that you are qualified for. Do not apply for jobs that you are either over-qualified or under-qualified for. You will set yourself up for rejection and disappointment.

  1. Use Technology

When applying for a job, apply online or email the potential employer directly. These simple actions indicate to a potential employer that you have the basic technical aptitude needed to do most jobs.

  1. Have an Ageless Interview

During an interview, sell the benefits of “you” to a potential employer. Do not spend the interview defending your age or trying to convince the interviewer that you have the health and stamina to do the job! Younger job seekers would never mention these points, nor should you.

  1. Build a Bridge

When interviewing with a younger hiring manager, do not intimidate him or her with your age and experience. Do not make statements such as: “when you were in diapers, I was managing a team of 30 people” or “the work ethic from my generation is much better than your generation”. You need to make this person comfortable with you and make them feel that they can manage you without any problems.

  1. Don’t answer any direct questions about your age.

It is illegal for employers to ask direct questions about your age during an interview. If a potential employer asks you how old you are, don’t answer the question; rather answer the intent behind the question.

  1. Sell Your Lifestyle

Older job seekers offer employers many benefits over their younger counter-parts such as: years of proven experience, expertise, seasoned judgment and lack of family responsibilities (small children) that may interfere with job performance. Sell these features of you during an interview!

If you have experienced age discrimination during an interview, don’t get discourage! Find another opening, apply and move on. There are plenty of employers who value older workers. Remember, you have worked too hard in your life to end up in a job where you are not valued.

For more tips on how to successfully land your next great job, see Ugly Resumes Get Jobs and Other Fishing Lessons (


In ever increasing numbers seniors are embracing technology and they are currently the fastest growing group of computer buyers and Internet users. A recent study by the Canadian Internet Project reports that 51% of Canadians aged 60 and over are now online. This is great news because research shows that computer use has a positive influence on the overall outlook and mental health of seniors. According to the American Psychological Association, seniors who use computers show fewer depressive symptoms than others. Nursing homes with computer facilities have reported improvements in the residents’ feelings of self-esteem and life satisfaction. At the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care in Scarborough, Ontario seniors surf the Internet, Instant Message friends and family, and learn to blog in the computer lab, and they are loving it.

Computers can enrich the lives of seniors in many ways. Most importantly they contribute to a greater sense of independence and decreased isolation. Regular computer use can keep the mind active and sharp. The Internet is a life line for seniors who may have restricted mobility and find it increasingly difficult to get out and about. With families spread out all over our global village, the Internet offers a cost effective and convenient way for seniors to keep in touch with family and friends. Think of the marvelous things that you can do online

  • Stay in touch with friends and family via email
  • Send online greeting cards
  • Post and view photographs
  • Shop
  • Pay bills
  • Listen to music
  • Research health related information
  • Search government websites for information
  • Play games
  • Do genealogical searches
  • Keep up with news and current events
  • Make travel plans
  • Buy tickets for concerts, theatre, and special events

Don’t be afraid of computers. Everyone can learn how to use a computer. The costs of owning a computer have really come down in recent years, but if a new computer is beyond your budget, consider purchasing a used computer. If you are mobile the Government of Canada offers the use of computers and the Internet for free.

For help in finding public access to computers and training near you call:

TTY: 1-800-465-7735