Thursday, 29 January 2015

Musings about Multi-Generational Communities

I was sent an article recently about a community in the Netherlands where young people live in a retirement home alongside seniors rent free, in exchange for volunteering their time with the residents (

It is an interesting concept that in fact benefits seniors and young people alike, but I wonder if its something that would work everywhere....... Often we find that what works in one part of the world does not work everywhere. Culture plays a key role in this but so does economic implications and perceptions of both age groups and their perceived value to the other party. I wonder about our North American culture with less extended families living together and the culture of 'ageism' that we sometimes witness, how open our youth would be to live and volunteer among so many seniors in a retirement home. I wonder how 'patient' they will be and how open to understanding cognitive, hearing and even visual issues seniors often have. And I wonder how open our seniors would be to having young people living in the same setting. It's one thing to have your kids or grandkids visit; quite another to have them living with you!

I think both groups can learn so much from each other. I also think we need to find innovative ways to care for our seniors of the future given the increasing number we are anticipating in the next 20 years, many with limited income. There are multi-generational settings (the co-housing concept) throughout Europe and to a much lesser degree in parts of the USA and Canada but it seems it is a far easier 'sell' in Europe than here . Most of what we see in terms of this in North America are co-housing units with people in similar age groups as opposed to multi-generational. As a model for 'care & support of well seniors' , I wonder if it would be something people would be in favour of in this part of the world?  From the perspective of the retirement home operator, the costs of running a home is immense and I wonder how willing most would be to give rooms for 'free' to young adults with the promise of volunteer work. It makes for an interesting concept and would be a viable 'experiment' to try out but what are the implications  from a legal, social and economic perspective.

I am sure, there will be all sorts of ideas that will start surfacing in the next few years - some will be great, others less so. I think this idea is in fact a great one, but how viable it is in our part of the world is a separate issue.  It is possible that the time simply is not right for this 'forward thinking' concept; maybe 10 or 20 years from now we will progress enough to be able to 'think outside the box' when it comes to caring for our seniors.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Caregiver Stress

An article in yesterday's paper caught my attention as do most things related to seniors. Apparently there is a report published recently by the 'Mental Health Commission of Canada' that caregiving is very stressful and can result in mental health issues. I have to admit that I am a bit surprised that a report was needed to tell us this. Maybe I am simply more aware of issues related to caregiving than those in the general population, but it seems rather intuitive that providing care for someone with a long-term illness, regardless of the age of the person receiving care, would be tremendously stressful on the person giving the care. And stress can lead easily to mental health issues - as well as physical health issues and in some cases, physical abuse of the the recipient of care. While more than just caregiving was dealt with in the document (it looked at mental health issues in general across the country), it is a good thing for caregivers in Canada that a formal document finally acknowledges what so many of us know to be true.

The problem with reports though, is often they are written and then forgotten with nothing substantial coming from them in the form of changes to our system. I suppose now the challenge is to figure out what we do with this information and how we support at risk people in a more constructive way. In recent years there seems to be less secrecy around mental health issues in general. As a 'hidden' often stigmatized illness for many, as a society we certainly have not given it the same acknowledgement as we do physical illnesses or disabilities yet on some level the toll it takes on affected individuals, their loved ones, our health care system and our economy can be tremendous and in some circumstances, far greater than an acknowledge physical problem.

Given our ageing population, the impact of the physical and mental toll caregiving takes, will be on the rise if we don't find a way to support people in this most difficult and demanding task. It is my hope that health professionals and others will take the time to increase their understanding of the issues and look at ways to assist caregivers in decreasing their stress levels and identifying when situations become toxic. It is only through acknowledgement and understanding that we can ever hope to lessen the burden of any mental health issue but also, of caregiving in general.

For additional information on caregiver stress have a look at the articleWorking Caregivers - Balance or Burn Out?

Friday, 16 January 2015


A friend of mine recently sent me an interesting email about female friendships and reading it reaffirmed what I have always know but often wondered if others thought the same. I knew my friend wasn't the author so I took to the internet to try to find out where it came from. I found several instances of the identical content in electronic copies of bulletins and newsletters but since some gave no credit to the person who started it all, and others that did give credit all had different names, I decided that it was safest to quote it from one of the sources directly ........ I can reword it but frankly, I don't see the point - it doesn't need fixing and I don't want to lose the value of what is in the original.
So here it is.

Would love to hear from our readers - do you agree or not?

They Teach It at Stanford, by Sharon Rose
from the March 2011 newsletter of The Business & Professional Women of Nevada County
In an evening class at Stanford, the last lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best  things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.
Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well-being.  Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes.  Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings?  Rarely. 
Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health.  He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.
There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing  something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends,  we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged – not  true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky.  Sooooo. let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Hot off the Presses!

Our new 18th edition is out! And we can finally breathe a sigh of relief. No matter how many times we proof and reproof the draft copies (and usually its in the range of 5 to 6 times in a two month period), I always worry that I have missed something or that there will be a major problem with production. It's not until I see the very final printed version, that I stop worrying. So, once again, I worried for the better part of a month between the time that it went to the printer and I saw it. It turned out amazing! We changed things up a bit slightly this year and I am more than happy that we did so. We are now in the process of getting it out to our 'subscribers' and advertisers....... Our CD version is also a bit different this year in that we have incorporated two additional publications into it as well as many links to our various social media feeds. We are certain that both versions will be much appreciated by our users! And before long, we will have to start working on our 19th book!

For those of our users that would like a new book, please go to our online store and have a look at the process for ordering a copy or downloading a PDF. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Beginnings

Happy New Year to all of our followers! Wishing you all a healthy, happy and successful 2015!

For the past 18 years, each new year also brings a new edition of our well known book, the Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living and, this year is no different. Next week, we will be going to our distribution house to oversee the packaging and mailing out of our latest book. It takes many many months to put together from start until finish. We usually start working on the content from about April and it takes until early December to create, review (over and over again), and get it looking perfect for press. Some of you may know that I started this book the year that my first son was born. For me, it very much is like my "4th child'" as I have watched it change and grow into a 400+ book with an anticipated annual release. 18 years, 18 books. Something I never thought possible. Each book, brings with it a 'new beginning' - every year its different and every year, we look to innovate and change it up a bit while still keeping the flavour and style of what was always intended and what our readers have come to expect. It is and always has been, a resource first and foremost - a Guide, a directory, an information source - for seniors, their families and professionals who work with them.

I haven't yet seen our latest book - while I am the creator, I do not see the finished product until it gets to the point of distribution. I am, as I am every year, excited to see it again. Here's hoping that the coming year brings growth to the publication and website, captures more users and helps many many people. Every year, every edition, is indeed a new beginning.