Stroke Changes Life in a Moment – A Firsthand Education

My personal experience with stroke took place in an operating theatre undergoing aneurysm surgery. While surgeons worked to wire a larger aneurysm, a second smaller one ruptured. What should have been a two day stay in hospital stretched into 6 weeks, in and out of ICU with a 2 week stay in the Stroke Rehabilitation … Read more

My advice to Seniors Seeking Employment – DIY!

Are you the most competitive person you know? How about being comfortable and proficient doing repetitive tasks? Are you competent with computers and possess the ability to multitask – navigating multiple programs while on the phone…(and do you even want to?) Would you run through a wall to get things done? And do you love … Read more

Password Please…

“Forgot Your Password?” or “Time to change your Password” or “Password please?” are questions guaranteed to mess with your productivity and incite password rage. I call it password insanity. Password Password Password! Why do we require so many passwords and why do we have to keep changing them? And how are we as seniors, famous … Read more

Make Your Face Look Younger Naturally with Face Yoga

Upon being handed her 8X magnifying mirror to apply her lipstick, my Mother would invariably look into that same mirror and exclaim: “Who is that old bag?!”  Because she was suffering dementia, it was never clear to me whether she had so lost track of time that she had forgotten her real age at 88, … Read more

The Importance of a Seniors Community in Long Term Care

I learned the importance of a seniors community in long-term care – a place which initially struck me as institutional and sterile. I had placed my Mother in this home after a severe head injury had prompted her dementia. I remained with her as long as possible that first day, link that I was to … Read more

Seniors and Dogs – Advantages to Owning Man’s Best Friend

Before my Mother moved to longterm care she resided in the beautfiul but somewhat remote Margaree Valley on Cape Breton Island. There, a local breeder sold her a male Maremma puppy which grew to be 150 pounds. This beautiful white dog with his black eyes was more than any senior could handle. Running toward you he would literally shake the ground, then give you a playful hip butt as he sailed by, something which could cause any senior to fall. It was an entirely inappropriate dog for a woman in her 80s living alone. Unfortunately, a few months after she acquired “Wooly” as he was known, she suffered an unrelated fall and was hospitalized. It fell to me to clean up her affairs which included this lovely dog. I called my husband in Toronto to test the waters and described what a beautiful dog this Maremma was and what a sweet nature he possessed. We already had a male shepherd at the time and 2 male dogs in one space might have been a challenge. There was a long pause on the other end of the line and then a plaintive “Pleeease… pleeease, do not bring that dog back with you.”

Ultimately Wooly was adopted by a bachelor veterinarian on Prince Edward Island where he had 200 acres in which to run and guard, so there was a happy ending to my Mother’s accident – for the dog anyway…

I am an animal lover as are many Seniors, but…

Reflecting on seniors and dogs – what are the advantages to owning man’s best friend?

Owning a pet as a senior enhances health and longevity. They truly are man’s best friend in more ways than one. But pet ownership is also a longterm commitment and full of responsibilty. Seniors have to assess where they reside, their budget, their own capabilities and their temperament, then try to find a match from the many breeds available. Although miniature dogs come to mind as seniors tend to downsize and move into smaller spaces, miniatures are not necessarily the first or only choice. Some larger dogs have temperaments entirely compatible to life with a senior.

Let’s review 5 of the Calmest Dog Breeds:

1) The Labrador Retriever is the most popular of North American breeds. Many work as service dogs given their friendly nature with people and other dogs. Although they do shed, they are easy to groom, eager to please and are easily trainable. That said, as with most dogs, early socialization and obedience classes are recommended. The high energy Labrador Retriever would be best suited to an active senior, one who is dedicated to their exercise and daily walks. Of note: Seniors who walk their dogs regularly have better heart health and scientists claim that pet owners in their senior years have a 24% risk reduction for death from any causMan's Best Friende. Movement matters.

Height:up to 24.5″ male and up to 23.5″ for a female

Weight: up to 80 lbs for a male and up to 70 lbs for a female

Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

Colours: Black, Chocolate or Yellow

2) The Golden Retriever is right up there with the Labrador Retriever in terms of its popularity and need for the company of its owner. Retriever puppies are adorable. These dogs are intelligent, friendly, love people and because they love people do not make great guard dogs. Active seniors would make ideal owners as this is a high energy pooch. Golden Retrievers are strong swimmers and used as sporting dogs. They also work as guide dogs for the blind and are employed in search and rescue operations. Goldens do sheLabrador Retreiver Pupd and require regular grooming. Once again, early socialization and obedience classes are recommended.

Height: 23-24 ” for a male and 21.5-22.5 ” for a female

Weight: up to 70 lbs for a male and up to 65 lbs for a female dog.

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Colours: Cream, Light or Dark Golden

3) Pugs are notably friendly smaller dogs well suited to families. They are described as robust happy dogs, loving and lovable. Potential skin problems on their face require attention with daily cleansing. Owners claim their Pugs are the ideal housedog. They thrive in both urban and rural environments, with children or senior citizens. Pugs tend to be foodies so attention to portion control and exercise is mandatory. They do best in moderate weather, neither too hot or too cold.                                                                                            Pug

Height: 10-13 ”

Weight: 14-18 lbs.

Life Expectancy: 13-15 years

Colours: Silver, Apricot or Black

4) The Newfoundland Dog is a large powerful dog which has earned its reputation as a great babysitter for children and a superb swimmer known for its innate lifesaving ability. Although the size can be intimidating the Newfoundland dog has a gentle temperament. Newfies need regular exercise and are easily trainable. A dog this size would not be appropriate in a retirement home setting but a single family dwelling with yard would work. Because of its size, early socNewfoundland Dog w Companionialization and obedience training are recommended. Brushing 3 X a week is recommended so that their coat does not mat.

Height: 28″ for a male and 26 inches for a female

Weight: 130-150 lbs., male – 100-120 lbs, female

Life Expectancy: 9-10 years.

Colours: Gray, Brown, Black

5) The Great Dane

Finally, the intimidating size of the Great Dane is belied by the dog’s gentle nature. Danes are patient with children and demonstrate a sweet disposition. They’ve proven that they can be wonderful family pets. That said, if this dog senses danger to its family, it will put up a formidable challenge. Because of its size this breed needs to be socialized early and participate in obedience training. It is a shedder and requires regular brushing. Definitely another breed unsuited to living in a retirement home but a gentle pet for any senior or seniors living in a single family home with a yard. Exercise is recommended 3 X per day and because of their curious nature, Danes should be leashed at all times when outside their yard Great Dane Dogunless they are in a secure setting.

Height: 30-32 ” for a male and 28-30″ for a female

Weight: 140-170 lbs for a male and 110-140 lbs for a female

Life Expectancy: 8-10 years

Colours: Numerous – black, blue, brindle fawn, chocolate, silver etc.

When smaller Dogs are the only option:

We’ve already mentioned the Pug but there are several other small dogs suited to living in a smaller space. These include:

1) The Papillon

Known for its intelligence, although appearing to be fragile this petit dog is actually athletic and hardy. These dogs are loyal companions and friendly. They can reside in any climate and are suited to either rural or city life. Noted performers and Papillon Dogconsistent winners in agility competitions, the Papillon would suit any active senior. Plus the grocery bill for this dog would be manageable given their size and weight.

Height: 8-11 inches

Weight: 5-10 lbs

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Colours: Numerous – White & black, lemon, red, sable, fawn etc.

2) The Pomeranian

Tiny but a good watchdog when necessary, the Pom acts like any big dog would. Easily trained, alert and smart, this little dog enjoys exercise indoors or out and can live in any city or suburb. Housebreaking can be a challenge with this breed so patience and consistency are required. The Pom requires grooming and regular exercise. Because of their size they can be a target for winged predators and Pomeranian Dogshould never be allowed outdoors on their own. They’re also escape artists and any fenced yard should be checked for escape ports and be fortified.

Height: 6-7″

Weight: 3-7 lbs

Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

Colours: There are many available but the most common are orange or red

3) The ShihTzu

Originating in China, this regal little dog was the go to house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty and carries itself in accordance with its lineage. Nicknamed the “Lion Dog”, Shih Tzus are loving companions and good with children. This dog is basically a house dog requiring minimal exercise and is better suited to a senior with mobility issues. This breed can be a challenge to housebreak and will use charm to get its way. Obedience training is recommended early on. Once again, if you wish to keep your grocery bill down, tShihTzu Doghese small dogs can be a solution.

Height: 9-10.5″

Weight: 9-16 lbs.

Life Expectancy: 10-18 Years

Colours: Numerous but Gold, Black and White; Red or their combination are common.

4) The Bichon Frise

Believed to have originated in the Canary Islands, this little dog is charming, beautiful and intelligent. This is a friendly canine when it comes to other dogs and children. They can be watchdogs but prefer to get along with people. Ideal city dogs, this breed is highly trainable with the exception of housebreaking which can be a challenge. They require mid level exercise and regular play sessions with their owner and would do well living in a house with a fenced backyard. As with most dogs, early socialization and training is recommended. One problem is that they are fast and if they escape it could present a problem for any slow moving senior. Grooming is easy with brushing recommended once daily for this low shedder.


Bichon Frise Dog
.Height: 9.5-11.5″

Height: 9.5-11.5″

Weight: 12-18 lbs

Life Expectancy: 14-15 years

Colour: White

5) The Yorkshire Terrier

One of the most popular small dogs, the Yorkie is known to be feisty and sometimes self-important and bossy. These dogs are favorites for folks living in urban centres and are good watchdogs. Daily brushing and weekly baths are recommended. That said, this dog is a low shedder. Yorkies need 2 short walks a day and enjoy obedience and agiYorkielity classes. The breed should be socialized early and can work as therapy dog.

Height: 7-8″

Weight: 7 lbs.

Life Expectancy: 11-15 years

Colours: range from black and tan, black and gold, blue and gold, and blue and tan

Main considerations in choosing a breed

Because pet ownership should be considered a longterm commitment, choosing the right breed for your lifestyle is imperative. Consider your ability to exercise a dog regularly as most do require a daily outing. Also consider the energy level of the dog. Does it mesh with your ability to keep up?

What temperament do you want in a pet? Do you want a pet for security or companionship – or both? Will you purchase pet insurance early on to cover any veterinarian bills because they will become a fact of life – or do you have the means to pay as you go?

Are you willing to dedicate the necessary time and effort to train and socialize your dog? This is your responsibilty and there might be consequences if you do not take it seriously. Does your budget allow all this and then provide good quality food for this animal?

Quality dogfood is a fundamental investment if you want a healthy dog. If you don’t provide a good quality diet for your dog, the money you think you might save will be spent later when you have to visit the vet. It is recommended that you thoroughly research any breed you consider making a member of your family. Research the temperament, the known health problems, the energy level and the life expectancy. Don’t take on any animal if you’re not fully committed to becoming their forever home.


Visit before you buy – and then be kind

Please don’t buy from a puppymill. Doing so will only perpetuate animal cruelty. Do visit your local SPCA or local animal shelter and seriously consider a rescue. Don’t choose a dog you do not feel a connection with. There is something to be said for chemistry – yes, even with a dog. Do commit to treating and training your dog with patience and kindness, always. Be realistic about the amount of space you can provide this animal and whether or not the breed is suited to your domicile. Do commit to providing your dog with adequate exercise. Train your pet with positive reinforcement and treats rather than aggressive correction. Realize that pets cost money but that they do give a lot in return. Do know that you will have a friend for life – one who will be there for you through thick and thin and who will see you as their whole world.


Seniors and Memory Loss – do they just naturally go together?

We forget where we put our keys. We lock ourselves outside our garage with the keys inside. I lose my purse or my glasses or the recipe I had in hand just a moment ago. Are these memory lapses normal or do they portend something more ominous – like Alzheimers or Dementia? Or do seniors … Read more

Seniors and Art – The Importance of Creativity

My Mother who was creative all her life was most intrigued by pottery in her final years. She would spend hours in the basement of her home crafting jewelry, pots, cups and saucers, serving bowls and various other creations using clay; “playing in the mud” as my stepfather would dismissively refer to it. Nevertheless, she persisted and had a garage full of her creations. Some were beautiful, some were practical and useful and others were just a little weird, true manifestations of her prolific imagination – little creatures she called “whimsies”, all with their distinct soul and personality.

What drives us to want to create?                                                          Senior-painting

Seniors and Art go together. At a time when our lifespan has been shortened and we finally have the time to explore our creative impulse, we feel an urgency to use life remaining to express ourselves, validate our feelings, act out, be heard & make our mark while we can. For many, that inner self, that truly authentic self, ignored for so long is now being rediscovered. The act of creating can become compelling because not since childhood have we had so much freedom to explore our inner life and now we want to dust it off and begin. Seniors and art – the importance of creativity and self expression become a priority.

Universal themes are explored

Themes are things which bridge our humanity: the universal common experiences, concerns, our love of things beautiful, our horror of man’s depravity, life’s conditions which affect us all, and ultimately our connectedness no matter who we are or where we live. People paint to express these themes, or do so through poetry, or writing fiction; while others sculpt, and some compose music. A compelling need to express drives all works of art. A mysterious muse sits on our shoulder urging us to give expression to a very personal interpretation of the world around us.

What happens when we create?

Self esteem is enhanced through creative expression. We create something from nothing; we become builders, our authentic selves; a blank piece of paper fills with words and becomes a poem or the beginning of a novel, a canvas is flooded with colour and shapes, a lump of wet clay is moulded into something tangible, possibly useful, maybe even something beautiful…Problem solving and motor skills are tested. Our mind is active and we focus. We concentrate. There is an energy within us that demands attention when we have a creative impulse. To respond and create alleviates any boredom in our life and relieves the stress created by that nagging muse. It can be a catharsis of sorts. What once was an inner intangible impulse is now out there and has become a tangible item.

Feelings which are difficult to articulate can be expressed through art, its interpretation left to its audience. We take away from any work of art whatever speaks to us.

A close friend of mine who was First Nations once told me that her band believed that if you were born with a talent, which was interpreted as a gift…and you did not use that gift, it would turn its energy against you. In other words, there was a belief that any talent was energy waiting to make itself seen or heard.

Where do we join an artistic community?                                                                    Mon's-artwork

So what do we do with this impulse to create? Today, information on becoming a member of any arts community is at your fingertips on Google, Facebook..or Linked In. In addition, many courses are now available online making art education available to those living in rural areas. You no longer have to live in a major urban center in order to become involved and educate yourself. That said, my personal preference is to socialize and learn in a group setting where everyone shares their experience and we learn from one another.

The importance of all art is now being recognized by the enlightened who administer Seniors Centres, Retirement Residences and Nursing Homes. Not many seniorsp are inspired by attending a Doughnut Social as is so well expressed by Tim Carpenter , founder of EngAGE who advocates for Thriving as we Age:


Hannah-Brown-paintingArt is something we can engage in over a lifetime

My Mother resided in longterm care for the last 11 years of her life, where she continued her art. At this point in life, into her mid 90s and having survived a serious head injury, cognitive issues rendered her creations somewhat childlike but they were colourful and whimsical and her creations filled the walls of her room, making it undeniably and uniquely hers.

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso – also known as Pablo Picasso created until his death at age 91. Apparently retirement from art and creation was not a part of his life plan.

And Einstein who died at 76 years of age expressed that had he not become a physicist, he would have pursued music studies and become a musician.

Each artistic endeavor has something to offer its practitioners: art being an exploration, a freedom zone – another reality.

Music improves connectivity in our brain – and the Acting profession with its emphasis on memory improves word search and listening recall.

People who have been traumatized are relieved of the stress of remembering when they document and journal their experiences. Writing is therapy and journalling about trauma apparently improves one’s immune system. The same holds true for listening to music. From Medical News Today, in an article by Maria Cohut, PH.D, Ms Cohut states “… music “may help to restore effective functioning in the immune system partly via the actions of the amygdala and hypothalamus. These brain regions are implicated in mood regulation and hormonal processes, as well as in the body’s inflammatory response.”

Dance is promoted as not only a pleasurable way to move but one which can enhance physical fitness. My Mother at 93 was still a Zumba enthusiast, wearing her signature earrings and dancing along with the younger seniors while unknowingly benefiting from decreasing her blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

When it comes to holistic health one might rightly assume that creative endeavours are on par with pharmaceutical interventions without the side effects.



Seniors’ Mobility Issues

As we age, our Mobility takes on increasing importance. No one wants their mobility compromised, much less see it disappear altogether. One of the most upsetting issues affecting seniors and usually one of the first things to disappear is one’s driver’s license. Governments have taken notice that seniors are now the demographic most involved in … Read more