Compliments of
John Verster
Changing Places Vancouver
Volume 11 Edition 11
Taking Time to Grieve

To remember and be remembered are natural human needs. Every senior has the opportunity to plan the final footprint she or he leaves on this earth. A way to ensure those wishes are known and respected, a senior can pre-arrange their funeral.
Recently, my brother died from brain cancer. Prior to his death, he was faced with the reality of finalizing his funeral arrangements, including picking out a casket for himself. By making these decisions, he gave a gift to our family. Many of his wishes we were all in agreement with, but after he no longer had the mental capacity to give us guidance, our family started to disagree on some final decisions. This was mainly due to the clashing of ideas and perceptions from two generations.
It was causing major family conflicts. However, we always referred to his decisions. A lot of the disagreements were also due to the emotions surfacing and the individual ways that each of us grieves.
More than ever before, people are making plans for every stage of life, including their funeral. Seniors can give their families an immense gift by pre-arranging their own funerals.

It spares the family from anxiety, expense and inconvenience at the time of a senior’s death. If seniors don’t pre-arrange their funerals, then loved ones are left asking what the senior would have wanted. It ensures that decisions that must be made are done so by seniors for themselves at a time when emotions of grief are not involved. Funerals don’t have to be elaborate. It has been proven that when seniors pre-arrange their own funerals, they spend less on it than if a family member arranges a funeral after their death. Pre-planning helps prevent emotional overspending. If funeral arrangements have not been made ahead of time by a senior, then his or her family is left with the added task or organizing it, and with that responsibility comes the related haste, indecision and stress. When a person dies, the family needs time to come together to mourn and heal. And as with a will, the funeral plan should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated when necessary. It is amazing the amount of information that is required at the time of one’s death. A pre-arranged funeral planning guide can help seniors walk through the required information paperwork. It does not need to be completed at the time that the funeral is pre-arranged. However, it should be done while a senior still has the capacity to provide accurate information. Sometimes, it is easier for a senior to write this information down on paper, rather than talk about it with a family member. After the planning guide is complete, it should be reviewed with the executor of the will, so your personal wishes are clearly understood. At the time of death, the completed planning guide is provided to the funeral director so that the funeral is carried out in accordance with a senior’s expressed wishes.

Article by, Sharen Marteny, CPCA,


Can Depression Mimic Dementia?

A. Last month when I wrote about dementia, I mentioned that there are a number of conditions other than dementia that also interfere with normal brain function. In this article I would like to explore depression as it is experienced by seniors because a major depression can significantly affect thinking and mental processing to the extent that it can mimic dementia in many ways.
Fatigue, sadness and withdrawal used to be considered normal responses of seniors to aging. The common misperception was that as people aged they often ‘naturally became disconnected’ from the world. It is now recognized that depression is not a normal part of the aging process, and withdrawal is instead a symptom of serious depression.
Depression comes on gradually over a few weeks to months and if left undiagnosed and untreated a person can silently battle this debilitating illness for years.
Here are some of the most common experiences that seniors with depression may have:

Poor quality of sleep, often waking early in the morning (3:00- 4:00 am)
Feeling of exhaustion and desire to sleep all the time
Decreased appetite and weight loss
Tearfulness, worry or feelings of guilt over life events
Memory loss, poor concentration, impaired thinking·  
Experience of pain may be heightened
Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities

The stigma of the past may have been a barrier to reporting these changes but it should no longer be. There are good reasons for seeing a Doctor if you or a loved one are experiencing changes in mood, because the sooner these changes are evaluated, the earlier treatment can begin.
There are many excellent and effective treatment options that can be considered if depression is diagnosed. An improvement in mood permissions improvements in life quality … each day!
In the next edition, Laurie Duke will discuss how delirium is different from dementia, and how you can help a loved one who may suffer from this condition. This article has been provided by Laurie Duke, RN, CPCA. Laurie is a registered nurse who has worked in the field of geriatric psychiatry since 1993.  Laurie is a CPCA who is co-founder of GigaLuma Technologies, a company that develops online learning in health care and in value-driven, socially-focused organizations. 

Strawberry Mini Muffins

Pop these little bite size morsels in lunches for a fresh tasting strawberry flavour that is good for you! Little muffins are perfect for little hands and the slices of strawberries look like little hearts – perfect for the ones you love. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 20 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

Ingredients - 325 mL (1 1/3 cups) diced fresh strawberries, 250 mL (1 cup) all purpose flour, 150 mL (2/3 cup) natural wheat bran, 5 mL (1 tsp) baking powder, 2 mL (1/2 tsp) ground ginger, 1 mL (1/4 tsp) baking soda, 60 mL (1/4 cup) soft non-hydrogenated margarine, 60 mL (1/4 cup) packed brown sugar, 1 egg, 5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla, 125 mL (1/2 cup) plain, low-fat yogurt, 6 small strawberries, sliced (optional)

Directions - Using potato masher, mash 250 mL (1 cup) of the strawberries; set aside. In bowl, whisk together flour, wheat bran, baking powder, ginger and baking soda; set aside.

In another bowl, using wooden spoon, stir together margarine and sugar until combined. Stir in egg and vanilla. Stir in mashed strawberries. Gradually add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in yogurt and remaining chopped strawberries until well distributed.

Divide batter among 24 lightly greased mini muffin tins. Top muffins with sliced strawberries if desired. Bake in 190 C (375 F) oven for about 20 minutes or until top springs back when lightly pressed.

Nutrition Information Per Serving 2 muffins - Calories: 118, Protein: 3 g, Total Fat: 5 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 16 mg, Carbohydrate: 17 g, Fibre: 2 g, Sugar: 6 g, Sodium: 96 mg, Potassium: 124 mg,

Recipes developed by Emily Richards, PH Ec. ©The Heart and Stroke Foundation 2011

Take Time to Laugh

"We don't laugh because we're happy, we're happy because we laugh."

William James

"Laughter is like the human body wagging its tail."

Anne Wilson Schaef

Where Injuries Occur Most for Seniors

Nearly half of all injuries among seniors occur at home. Approximately 15% of all falls occur in the bathroom and stairs; they are responsible for more injuries than any other household area or product.



Visiting During the Holiday Season

Visiting friends and family over the holiday season can be a time to reconnect with those we haven’t been in touch with much throughout the year. Visits can be enjoyed and appreciated, but they can also add additional demands and stress to already overwhelmed family caregivers and care recipients who are frail, elderly or ill. Whether you are visiting someone else or others are coming to your home, or whether the visit is for an evening or for an extended stay, here are some tips to help reduce stress and allow everyone to enjoy this time together. If you are the primary family caregiver, and hosting the visit:

  • Let visitors know in advance what to expect. If they have not visited in a while, prepare them for any changes in the care recipient's health, behaviour or appearance.
  • Explain your daily routine, and let them know the best time to visit.
  • Ask for and accept help. Make a list of what needs to be done. If someone asks what they can do to help, respond with specific requests. Focus on people’s strengths. Some visitors are happy to help with personal care, while others would prefer to grocery shop or clean the gutters.
  • Allow others to share in the caregiving. This can give you a break. Allow them to contribute, and give the care recipient an opportunity to interact with someone new.
  • Don’t feel you have to “entertain” your visitors. Sometimes simply spending time together is enough.
  • Remember to take time to have some fun, share and laugh too.

If you are the visitor:

  • Make arrangements well in advance. Even if you are only coming for a short visit, call ahead to ask the caregiver what time would be best. When is everyone’s energy strongest? When are people resting? 
  • For longer visits, ask whether it would be better to stay with them or elsewhere.
  • Resist the urge to advise the caregiver about what they should be doing differently. Remember what happens during your visit may not be the same as day-to-day care. Often the ill person will rally forth when visitors come. 
  • Plan to visit in small groups for short periods, so that neither the caregiver nor care recipient becomes too exhausted.
  • Offer to help with chores, errands or other holiday-specific tasks, such as shopping, baking and decorating. 
  • Allow the caregiver to get away and have some free time. Perhaps give him or her a gift of a lunch out, a trip to the spa or a chance to attend some holiday events.
  • Express your appreciation to the family caregivers. Simple recognition of their time and effort may be enough to make caregivers feel more appreciated and help them stay strong, healthy and better able to continue to provide care.

    Article by Barb Small, Family Caregivers Network Society, Reprinted with permission from Senior Living Magazine

Taking Time to Grieve
Can Depression Mimic Dementia?
Strawberry Mini Muffins
Take Time to Laugh
Where Injuries Occur Most for Seniors
Visiting During the Holiday Season