Posts Tagged "anxiety"

Downsizing Stress

Posted by on Jun 21, 2021 in Housing Options, Living Arrangements |

You have made the decision to move and “downsize” your living arrangements. You have either decided on your own, acted in part because of pressure from family, or put the decision off for so long that now you must move to a care home for medical reasons. Whatever the reason, downsizing can be a stressful and uncertain life transition. There are common reasons behind the stress, and each person will experience them uniquely and in different proportions. Some common stress triggers are grief, resistance, uncertainty and overwhelm. Here are some thoughts on how to cope with them. Give Grief A Chance First and foremost, allow yourself to grieve. “Downsizing is an end to one phase of your life and it is okay to be sad”, says Dawn Rennie, President of Transitions – Your Moving Facilitators. “Like the day you watched your children move out, leaving your home will be bittersweet. Your new home and lifestyle will mean new friends, new activities and new adventures. But you are leaving your home of many years and possibly your community and friends.” Rennie says it’s vitally important to allow yourself the time to say good-bye to what you are leaving behind.  Hanging on to “Independence” As we age, our physical abilities decline, and we fear losing our “independence”. But we can choose what independence means to us. Does it mean doing everything ourselves? Or does it mean arranging for others to do demanding tasks, and focusing on doing the things you really love to do? When we arrange for others to do the cooking, cleaning, and maintenance, we gain time and energy to spend on travel, volunteering, friends and family, or new hobbies. “You don’t give up your independence when you are the one choosing what you want others to do and who those ‘others’ will be,” says Jan Sali, Managing Director at Transitions. “But you do give up your independence when you allow yourself to decline to the point where others make those decisions for you.”  Fear of the Unknown Not knowing your downsizing options can be stressful, even frightening. To combat this, prepare and gather information, to avoid feeling forced into a decision you know nothing about. Explore all your options – including condominium living, an independent seniors’ residence, or various levels of care homes. Consult a local seniors’ housing directory (in Calgary, published by the Kerby Centre). Inquire at the local seniors’ centre or your municipal offices. Consult with friends who have made the move, interview realtors (if you are buying or selling), or talk to eldercare specialists. Armed with a list of “must haves”, visit the places you are interested in. Many places will give you lunch or dinner and invite you to their special events. Tour their facilities, learn about services and activities. Sample the menus, get a feel for the staff and “culture” of the place, and learn what the particular community is like. Spend enough time at each place see whether it fits with your budget and desired lifestyle. Once you decided where you will move, you will feel relieved, but more anxiety could follow: How will we manage the move?!?!  To avoid feeling overwhelmed, develop a personal moving plan, which includes decisions on the following: 1. Your time frame, e.g., set a goal for being in your new home. 2. What you want to/can take with you. 3. What you can give to family and friends. 4. What possessions are saleable, what can be donated, what needs to be disposed of. 5. Move-out and move-in dates (ideally with a couple of weeks between). 6....

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Exercise for Healthy Hearts

Posted by on Sep 9, 2021 in Staying Active |

Exercise is good for us, right?  Most of us believe physical fitness will help keep us healthy, especially as we age. Some of the benefits are: Combating depression and anxiety Keeping bones, muscles and joints functioning well Improved cholesterol levels Helping to reduce body weight and body fat Helping the cardiovascular system to work more efficiently Reducing the risk of high blood pressure AND…of heart disease!  Exercise has many benefits for the heart and cardiovascular system. But what kind of exercise?  Here are some simple ways to increase your everyday activity and work your heart for healthy results: Increase the amount you walk, e.g., park your car further from the door when shopping. Get up and move every hour. Stretch during commercial breaks while watching TV. Take the stairs - not the escalator or elevator.  Everyday activities you may not think of - like gardening and housework - also qualify  as exercise and  contribute to heart health. You don’t need an hour-long exercise regimen to help your health and your heart.  If you can’t manage 30 to 40 minutes continuously, break that down into ten-minute segments of light exercise such as walking. If you have not been exercising for a while, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that you aim to start at 15 minutes every other day and work up from there. Staying motivated is the key. Make a plan. Don’t just say you will exercise if you feel like it…because you may never feel like it! Read up on exercise and health. Get ideas about new activities to try or new ways of doing activities you already like. Take a course in a new activity.  Spending the money for the course and having a group to support you and to learn with can be inspiring. Start exercising with a friend or neighbour.  Your partner can help you stay the course when your commitment is low. Exercising with a companion can feel more social and less like drudgery. Pick activities you like. Running may provide a good cardiovascular workout, but if you hate it you are far less likely to keep doing it. Make a six-week commitment.  Some exercise specialists believe you will notice results from an exercise program within 6 weeks.  Seeing those results can help keep you going - but you need to get to the six-week mark!  The risks and prevalence of heart disease are too great for mid-life adults and seniors to ignore. Embracing an active lifestyle is one of the best preventive measures we can take.  For more information, visit these web sites: Exercise for your Health: Benefits and How-To’s Canadian Diabetes Association, exploring links between diabetes and heart disease. Try the quiz on heart health and heart disease at   Vol.3, No. 4 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our...

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Hearing Loss? Take Action!

Posted by on Sep 8, 2021 in Caregiving, Health Signals |

 It is estimated that 33% of those who are aged 65-74 have some hearing loss: 45% of those 75 – 84 years of age, and more than 60% of people over 85. Hearing is important to the quality of everyday living. Taking part in a conversation, receiving directions and information, and enjoying entertainment and recreation are affected when hearing is lost.  Hearing impairment can cause us to become isolated and withdrawn: to feel “stupid” or embarrassed in everyday situations - or to become depressed.  With gradual hearing loss, the person may not be aware of the changes: others might notice first. The flip side is that with a hearing aid you can reduce the nerve deterioration that usually results from untreated hearing loss.  Ironically, the number one reason those who need a hearing aid avoid getting one is that they think the hearing aid will make them look old, frail, or “dumb”.  The opposite is true!  Wearing a hearing aid can make you more alert, interactive, and involved. How can you encourage someone to get a hearing test? Some people are intimidated by the thought of having a hearing test.  Understanding the process of a hearing test may help.   How can you help someone who’s afraid of the test results? Some people avoid getting tested because they fear the results will confirm they have hearing loss.  But knowledge is power.  Having the test means being able to find help or the tools needed to improve the quality of hearing.  Just because you get a hearing test does not mean you have to get a hearing aid. It’s the first step to figuring out what you need and what could improve your quality of life if you need it. How can you help someone who has hearing loss? Speak slowly, clearly, facing the person, without putting your hands over your mouth Lower your voice, without speaking louder.  Reduce background noise/distraction. There are tools to help people with hearing loss, for example, an amplifier for the telephone and headsets for television.  You can find out more about these devices from an audiologist. Seek reliable testing. Find a qualified professional. Visit a qualified Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Practitioner. Audiologists have a masters or doctorate degree in hearing sciences. Hearing aid practitioners have a two-year College diploma and, in most cases, significant experience with hearing loss and hearing aids. Both are regulated, and both will be able to help determine your current hearing sensitivity and whether you need amplification. Additional Resources: The Canadian Hearing Society http:/?   Hearing loss is not harmless.  It can lead to depression, anxiety, and social isolation.    Vol.3, No.10 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc.,  Canada‘s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE bi-weekly...

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Aging and Memory Loss.

Posted by on Sep 7, 2021 in Health Signals |

A group of senior women share comments on the changes they experience as they grow older.  One says:  “I’m tired of others saying that I’m ‘losing it’ “. Another wonders whether she should be alarmed about her “senior moments.” A third reads from a newspaper article: “Memory changes can cause unfounded fears.” Research shows that the human brain functions well even into advanced age.  Normal changes of aging might affect some aspects of memory and processing information, but people can make simple changes in behaviour to adapt and to stay sharp. Some changes do occur in the structure and function of the brain. Actual brain size may shrink and blood flow may be reduced. By age 40, many people report difficulty doing more than one thing at a time or having to search for a word. They might have to work a bit harder to remember “to-do’s” - or to recall people’s names. But these common changes DO NOT signal impending dementia (or Alzheimer Disease). Using new technology, such as neuron-imaging, as well as new and increasingly sensitive psychological tests, researchers have refuted the notion that aging people go into a general mental decline. Instead, they are finding that diverse brain functions decline at very different rates and that these losses vary widely among individuals. Psychologists are finding that older people are not suffering from “memory overload”.  Rather, the changes seemed to be linked to difficulty in encoding and retrieving information.  Distractions and slower processing may interfere with recalling names or dates.  However, even with these changes, most  older adults are still quite efficient at acquiring new information and storing it in long-term memory.  These findings suggest that, as we age, subtle changes in memory are not a sign of impending mental collapse. Reducing our anxiety around “senior moments” in and of itself can help the brain work more efficiently.  It’s also a good idea not to put added pressure on yourself by saying, “but I used to do three things at once and remember everything!” Here are a few things you can do for yourself: Relax: anxiety makes your memory worse Organize: always put glasses, gloves, and keys in the same place Adapt: it’s OK to write to-do list.  Limit distraction, especially when you are trying to recall or to memorize  Challenge yourself: embark on activities that stimulate the brain (e.g., crossword puzzles) Get creative: use memory helpers such as mnemonics or visualization Stay physically active. Exercise improves blood flow to the brain. Learn something new: take a course, volunteer, play a musical instrument Learn more about memory changes at these online sources: Is it Alzheimer Disease? Brain Gain: Mental Exercise makes elderly minds more fit   Vol. 3, No. 22 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE...

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