Sadness and Aging

Aging can be difficult. Both our minds and bodies are no longer as spry as they used to be. Our fresh and youthful looks give way to sagging skin and a weather-beaten appearance. Also, the longer we last, the more likely it is that we will outlive friends and loved ones. It is quite easy to feel lonely as we get on in years, particularly if our physical conditions reach the point where mobility becomes a challenge. Those of us who lived independently for decades often find it tough to accept that they will now need the help of others to accomplish basic tasks.

Even if life manages to go fairly easy on us in these regards, we can also live through the decline and loss of a beloved partner or best friend. This can be especially tough if the healthier person assumes caregiver duties.

Seniors in long-term care facilities can also find it very difficult, particularly if they are among the younger people there. Cognitive decline, understaffing, poor food, varying degrees of care and attention, and lack of interesting interaction and activities can also bring about depression, even in someone who entered in good spirits and health.

Fortunately, there are good options for anyone in this situation. First, they should visit their regular doctor for a check-up and recommendations. The GP can then refer them to a therapist who specializes in working with seniors and their challenges. Talk therapy can be an excellent way to work through problems and formulate solutions.

Group therapy also brings about good results for many people. The chance to meet with other people going through the same struggles can be very helpful and even lead to lasting friendships.

If need be, psychiatry is another option. Psychiatrists use methods similar to therapists, but can also prescribe anti-depressant medication to supplement therapy sessions.

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Can’t Afford to Go Out? Here are Some Fun Stay-In Date Ideas

It doesn’t matter whether you are dating in your teens or in your 60s: it can be quite expensive. A meal at a quality restaurant can run well over $100 and even a night at the movies will set you back about $40, if you can’t resist the temptation of the snack bar.

When all is said and done, dating is not about where you go, it’s about the time you spend together. And you can absolutely have a nice time just staying put.

Here are some ideas for stay at home date nights that go beyond just “Netflix and Chill”:

Cook a Nice Meal Together

Most couples usually have one partner who excels at cooking and one that…doesn’t. This is a great opportunity to work together creating a lovely meal for the two of you. The half who loves cooking can provide tutoring.

Play Board Games

Both life and entertainment these days are so fast paced, it can be quite refreshing to sit down to an old school board game like Monopoly. Bring out an old favorite from childhood or try one you haven’t played before.

Karaoke

Do you love to sing, but are mortified by the idea of doing it in public? Wail to your heart’s content at home with no one but your patient spouse to hear you butcher classic songs.

Indoor Camping

Love the idea of camping, but hate dealing with the weather, insects, and wild animals? Try setting up a small tent and sleeping bags in your living room. You can use the fireplace as your camp fire, toast marshmallows, and do all of the other things you would normally do outside without all of the hassle.

These are just a few basic ideas to get you started. Bottom line: the true magic of an evening usually revolves around the people involved and the connection they share.

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Things to Keep in Mind When Shopping for a Therapist

It can be a big decision to decide that you require therapy. However, that still leaves the issue of finding a therapist. This can seem quite daunting as there are usually a number available to you. In a way, choosing a therapist is not so different from selecting another service professional. Here are some tips that will help to make the process easier for you:

Have any of your friends or family ever been in therapy? Ask what sort of the therapist they saw, their opinion of them, and whether they would recommend that you also try this person. You can also access online reviews, but make sure that you also study the therapists’ backgrounds. Some therapists specialize in a particular form of treatment, while others feel they have the experience to help a variety of clients. If there is a particular issue plaguing you, it is wise to start with therapists who claim to specialize in treating that form of problem.

When you have made your choice, call and speak to them on the phone. This is your chance to ask questions about what a typical session is like, their success in helping people with your issue, and what the fees are. If you are happy with the answers, go-ahead and try an appointment.

First appointments with a therapist can be quite intimidating. It is common for clients to be a bit reserved at first as they decide on whether or not they have a relationship with the therapist that will allow them to be open and honest.

If the appointment does not go well in your estimation, do not hesitate to try someone else. It is common for people to switch therapists if they do not find one to be satisfactory, and therapists understand that completely. In fact, most would encourage clients to see someone else if they feel they are not getting their money’s worth.

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Ways That You Can Stay Mentally Sharp

Do you worry about staying mentally sharp as you get older? Very few people are as sharp at 90 as they are at 19, but that is a normal circumstance of getting old. Fortunately, you do not have to necessarily succumb to such issues, even if there is no actual way to completely prevent them. Doing any of the following will help to keep you mentally sharp and none of them require much time or effort.

Watch your diet

Many people in search a quick mental fix will load up on coffee or soda that is full of sugar. While this may be a short-term solution, studies have shown that your memory suffers when your body has chronically elevated sugar levels.

Spend quality time with friends and loved ones

While being alone may provide a nice opportunity to get some reading done, if you really want to keep your brain engaged, you need company. Spending time with friends and loved ones means that you are engaging in conversation, celebrating, playing games, and often doing things that require a good measure of brain activity.

Exercise

Exercising is not just for your body! Physical activity can also help to keep your brain in shape, believe it or not.

Limit your alcohol intake

We all know that alcohol destroys brain cells, but you have no doubt gotten drunk and then felt no different afterward. The problem is that all of those lost brain cells add up over the years, so you end up having lost quite a few by the time you are older. We are not saying to quit drinking entirely, just cut back a bit.

Try not to worry so much

It is common for people to worry, but doing it excessively is not good for your mind as it causes you stress. It can also prevent you from pursuing activities that improve your mental well-being and growth.

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Achieving Just the Right Balance of Busy

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” — Dale Carnegie

Many of us complain nowadays that we are too busy…and that may well be true. Excess work and lack of proper rest are bad for both body and mind. However, that fantasy you have every workday around 2:00 when you wish you could be sitting by the ocean sipping margaritas and watching the waves might not be great for you either.

Here are some reasons why it is actually good for you to be at least moderately busy:

Keeps Your Brain Working

Sitting around may be good once in a while, but ultimately, your brain is not getting the kind of stimulation it needs to come through for you on a regular basis.

You Will Learn New Things

Even if you are just doing your regular routine, there is a good chance that you are learning new things and acquiring new skills.

You Feel Challenged

Most of us spend so much of our lives doing things that feel like a waste of time. When you are busy, you are out there getting things done and feeling accomplished.

Boredom is Not a Factor

See above. No time to be bored when your plate is full.

Holidays Mean More

If you are genuinely busy during the work week, a holiday means more to both body and mind.

Productive Distraction

If there are things weighing on your mind that cannot be solved in the here and now, that can be very difficult to deal with. However, if you are busy, such worries have to be put aside for the time being, in favor of things you can address and problems you can solve.

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How to Survive Middle Age

Have you experienced a midlife crisis? In movies, this is always depicted in such extremes as a staid businessman suddenly buying a super expensive sports car and ditching his wife for someone 20 years younger. In reality, most people who do experience middle age problems don’t have such a reaction, but it can nonetheless remain a challenging time, particularly if you are looking for answers and don’t know where to turn.

Here are some things to keep in mind during periods like this:

Reduce Your Amount of Worrying

Any time in life can cause people to become uncertain about the future, but this issue seems to increase in middle age. Don’t assume that a mild health setback is automatically a sign of cancer, and don’t think that money woes now guarantee you will spend your twilight years in abject poverty.

Do Things You Have Been Putting Off

While climbing the ladder of life, it is common to put off things. You’re busy with work, so you put off spending time with your kids, traveling, or doing other things that can help to enhance you as a person. Now is the time to reshuffle your priorities and get caught up. If it means making up a bucket list, go ahead.

Switch Off at Night

Even if you are in the C-suite at your company, know when it is time to turn off your smartphone and enjoy your evenings in peace and quiet. If your company so badly needs someone to be on watch at all times, find a subordinate to assume this duty. Should there be a genuine emergency, then that person can contact you. Otherwise, they can handle it for now and you will have a look in the morning.

Make the Best of It

You could be dead. Pretty much anything is better than that, right?

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The Psychological Effects of Aging

Everyone ages, though the effects of aging differ from person to person. No matter how diligent we are, our bodies and mental faculties gradually decline and things that were once easy become progressively more difficult.

How well a person accepts these changes can also vary. People who were fiercely independent for most of their lives often have trouble coping with the fact that they need assistance later in life. They may also find it tough to accept that they cannot do the sorts of physically challenging things that were once easy for them.

Psychological difficulties at this point in life can also arise from other factors that one normally encounters in life. Losing a partner, friends, or children can easily cause someone with no previous mental health concerns to develop depression and/or anxiety problems.

Psychologists working with this population employ a number of strategies that have proven effective. These include CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), talk therapy, anti-depressants, behavior modification, disease management strategies, and health promotion through regular exercise and proper diet.

Things can be especially difficult for adults living in long term care facilities. They often feel isolated, sad, and unable to relate to those who also live there. It is important for relatives and friends to visit them whenever possible and keep close tabs on their condition. If anything seems wrong, they should immediately report it to the head nurse or facility director, and then follow-up to make sure that corrective action has been taken.

While psychological difficulties may be more common for people in their golden years, they do not always have to be debilitating. It is up to people who work with this population to accurately diagnose when issues are present and then take proper steps to rectify the problem(s). That will help to ensure that people can live out their remaining days with a degree of dignity and happiness.

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How to Live With Anxiety

Anxiety is something that we all live with at one time or another. However, for most people, this form of fear and unease is usually over with after a short period of time. Chances are you did not enjoy the way you felt while in the grip of anxiety; now imagine what it is like to spend most of your waking hours dealing with just such a problem.

People suffering from anxiety disorder find themselves plagued by constant worry and negative thoughts. They typically feel a loss of control in their lives and may even experience panic attacks, which are physically debilitating.

Here are some things you can try that will help you live with anxiety:

See a Therapist

While your anxiety might seem like a mild problem, there is the potential that it can become more serious and even life-threatening. If you experience anxiety regularly, it is wise to see a therapist for an an evaluation. Should you find that your therapist is not a great fit, try another one.

Be Open to Accepting Help

Anxiety can even cause someone to not accept help overcoming their anxiety. Do not let fear defeat your desire to live a happier life. If your therapist thinks you should try medication, do so. If he or she requests that you join a therapy group, try it. Even just the fact that you are working on solving the problem can help to alleviate some of your anxiety.

Learn CBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a way of stopping those negative thoughts before they overwhelm you. Clients are taught to challenge these thoughts whenever they occur and then through a series of questions, they can come to the realization that the negative thought is not rational and can be dismissed. Done on paper initially, CBT eventually becomes a process you do automatically in your head.

 

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2017 Continuing to Be the Year of the Big Wet for Canadians

If you are of a certain age, you may find yourself conferring with similarly decrepit friends about the state of the weather these days. Chances are, you have found yourself saying something along the lines of, “I don’t remember there being such extremes in weather when I was a kid!”

Climate change has definitely made the weather more unpredictable and, at times, downright fiercer. The last couple summers in Ontario probably left you parched: brown lawns were the norm on every block. By sharp contrast, this year has seen a tremendous amount of rain in the province. That means everything is lovely and green, but you had better keep an umbrella with you at all times. I can’t recall a season where things have alternated so rapidly between sunny and rainy. Meanwhile, our friends on the west coast in British Columbia continue to suffer through a prolonged season of disastrous fires that are claiming homes by the dozens.

Dubbed by Environment Canada as the “Year of the Big Wet,” 2017 has certainly been a soggy one. Between April 1st and July 11th, rain fell on 71 of those 102 days, which seems more like a forecast for a Brazilian rain forest than the Great White North.

This can’t be a good summer to be a hiker or a drive-in owner as there have been few totally sunny days; it seems like rain always makes an appearance at some point. So, how have you been dealing with all of this extra moisture? I’m tempted to say that you should go jump in the lake (don’t take that personally), but it’s not safe to swim in the rain. Have you been staying inside more? Or are you one of those people who not only don’t mind getting wet, but actually rather enjoy it? Tell us in the comments!

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How a Murder Changed Yonge Street

40 years ago this summer, shoeshine boy Emmauel Jaques was found dead on the roof of a massage parlour on Yonge Street. Examination of the child revealed that he had also been sexually assaulted. That news led to a public outcry and a considerable crackdown on the increasingly sleazy nature of many businesses on one of Toronto’s best known streets.

The Toronto Star wrote a detailed article about this grim anniversary and it left me thinking about my youth. I didn’t live in Toronto, but my family frequently visited the area in order to shop at the newly opened Eaton Centre and the World’s Biggest Bookstore.

I was 12 years old in 1977, the same age as Jaques, and while my brief time in the area would not have subjected me to the same sorts of dangers he faced, it was almost certainly less safe than I imagined. The Ontario Censor Board ensured that the sex films exhibited in the province were far less explicit than those shown in American cities like New York and Los Angeles, but prostitution was increasingly prevalent on the Yonge Street strip. While there were women working the streets, many were out of sight and in the large number of massage parlours that had opened in the area.

Sexual freedom is important and I support legalized prostitution, but studies have shown that many of the women in this profession are illegal immigrants and not doing this job willingly. Even when sex is a business transaction, it needs to be a safe and consensual one. Government oversight is probably the only way this would be possible.

Did the prurient nature of Yonge Street during that time contribute to the murder? It might have, and the actions of Toronto police certainly indicated their belief that it did. Nowadays, Yonge Street is far more corporate and safe, though probably still not an area where a wide-eyed 12 year-old should be walking around unaccompanied.

Yonge Street only has a few sex-oriented businesses left these days. By William Mewes from Oakville Ontario, Canada (Rio Theatre) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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Do You Consult Ratings Before Letting Your Kids Watch Movies?

In the United States, motion pictures did not carry content ratings until 1968. Previously, movies were either approved or sent back for revisions. Parents and members of the public did not have any idea what their content was like, outside of a few independent bodies like the Catholic Legion of Decency, which reviewed movies on their own.

Canadians had ratings systems launched well before that. The Ontario Censor Board started operations in 1920 and still carries on to this day as the Ontario Film and Video Review Board. Outside of extreme pornography, movies are no longer censored or banned in Ontario. The emphasis has switched from censorship to classification, leaving people and parents to decide for themselves if a film is appropriate.

In the recent past, Ontario grew quite notorious for cutting and banning movies that were allowed intact in other parts of the country. Those days are behind us, thankfully, though some horror movies these days regularly boast graphic content that would never have been allowed even as little as 20 years ago.

The Ontario ratings system consists of G, PG, 14A (those under 14 must be accompanied by an adult), 18A (those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult), and R (18 and over only, used mostly for explicit sex films). Theatres can be somewhat lax in enforcing these ratings and many parents don’t bother to consult them.

What are your thoughts on movie ratings? Do they influence what you go to see or allow your kids to watch? With the rise of content on the internet, children have access to material that would have given board examiners a coronary even just a few years back. Do you trust your kids or do you police their viewing?

Click the comments and let me know. I’m of two minds. I want to trust young people, but some of the content out there is quite explicit and disturbing.

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Look After Yourself This Summer

Summer is now upon us and we have already had a couple of super hot and humid days here in Canada. With the depletion of the ozone layer and the harsher temperatures each year due to climate change, it is not a good idea to spend extended amounts of time outdoors without some precautions. While Canadians love the heat after a long winter, it can definitely be too much of a good thing.

Here are some ways you can look after yourself this summer:

  • Wear a hat and sunscreen. Are you old enough to remember the days when people used to put on baby oil and spend as much time as possible in the sun in order to get brown? Well, those days are long gone. There is nothing wrong with a mild tan, but nowadays, it is more important to protect yourself from skin cancer. Always wear a hat and sunscreen on sunny days (check the weather forecast to know what spf rating your sunscreen should be for that particular day).
  • Avoid heavy exercise during the hottest parts of the day. Check the weather forecast and see when it will be coolest that particular day; save your exercising for then.
  • Stay hydrated. You will probably sweat quite a bit over the course of the day, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids. If you perspire more than the average person, then you need to ingest more water.
  • Wear lighter shades. Dark coloured clothes will make you feel hotter, so save that cool black shirt & jeans combo for the fall. Choose a lighter shade instead.
  • Stay inside. If there’s a heat warning or the temperature/humidity has things above 35 degrees Celsius, try to just stay inside. Take a cool shower, sit in front of the fan, and relax. Don’t go outside during times like this unless you really have to.

 

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