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War Reflections: From a Seven Year Old’s Perspective

The grandfather of my children is a wonderful man. A man of great wisdom, pride and patriotism. At 92, Joe is still remarkably sharp and witty. Although, at this time of year, he becomes quiet and pensive. When he does we all suspect he recalls the details of his time served on the front lines of WWII.   “I spent the night of my 19th birthday in a foxhole with the sound of live artillery firing overhead,” He said when I visited recently. “A runner came by and told us ‘keep your heads down tonight boys’, which meant artillery was firing proximity shells that could explode if they came close enough — and boy let me tell you — they did sound Read More...

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Remembrance Day – The Power of Stories

A young high school student in Alberta recently shared with us an interesting story about an English assignment he had just completed. The task was to write an essay about someone in his life who had experienced adversity, and to describe how these hardships shaped that person’s character.   The boy wrote about his grandfather.   He began with: “My Papa recently lost his balance and took a fall while on his daily walk with his small dog. He didn’t break any bones, but he was bruised and battered.” The boy went on to share how this recent fall reminded him of the stories his 88-year-old grandfather had shared about his experience as a WW11 soldier. He didn’t often like to talk about those days, but when he did; the boy listened carefully and reflected on the lessons.   He wrote  Read More...

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Hanging Up the Keys

For some, one of the most distressing aspects of aging is the prospect of losing their driver’s license. The freedom and independence of driving is something most of us take for granted for several decades of our lives. Giving it up can be quite a struggle.   If you are in this predicament with your aging parent, or if this transition is in your imminent future, you may be wondering how best to determine when it’s time to hang up the keys. Obviously, there is no definitive answer that suits all seniors in all circumstances. For instance, an aging farmer may be just fine driving within a short radius of his property until age 85, while a healthy senior living in a busy city may feel pressed to stop driving at age 75.   I spoke to a driving instructor  Read More...

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Planning a Trip with a Senior

Planning a trip with (or for) an aging parent can be a wonderful way to grant a wish, or give a gift of immeasurable joy. Perhaps you have a parent who is longing to see a special friend or distant relative, or to visit a land that holds special memories or appeal. Whatever the circumstances, here are some tips for planning a trip with a senior.   Research and plan extensively: Yes this is a given with any travel plans, but when it comes to travelling with a senior, thoughtful organization, careful planning and pre-emptive measures are mandatory. Also, once you have created an itinerary, it’s important to sit and go through it with your parent/s so they can ask questions and mentally prepare for the trip. This can help ease any anxiety and give them a chance to vocalize  Read More...

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Meet Our Resident ~ Bruce (Harmony Court Estate)

Bruce Murray has always been a bit of a contrarian; not one for following norms, opting instead to sample a life of variety, and forge his own unique path of adventure. Born in 1940 and raised in Vancouver, Bruce finished high school and went on to attend UBC – taking an unprecedented seven years to obtain a degree in physical education. “Eventually the had to throw me out with my bachelor’s degree,” he said with a chuckle, from his suite at AgeCare’s Harmony Court Estate in Burnaby. “I was busy enjoying myself with friends, being on committees and what not … I’m a very social person.” After graduating, Bruce worked as a camp director for the Boys and Girls Club, and sampled a variety other career paths, including a training program in Gestalt Therapy. None of these endeavours captivated him,  Read More...

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Meet Our Resident ~ Shirley (Harmony Court Estate)

Shirley McLeod loves life at Harmony Court Estate, in fact in her own words, “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”   At 82 Shirley is Chair of the Resident’s Council, a position that allows her to consult with fellow residents and weigh in on decisions related to activities and practices in the warm, vibrant retirement community.   “It’s just a really nice place to call home,” said Shirley, in an interview in August. “The people and staff here are really great. Everybody gets along. And there’s no shortage of activities to get involved in,” she says, citing exercise, crossword and cards as some of her favourite pastimes.   Shirley was born in a small hamlet in Central Alberta called Red Willow. Some 80 years ago there were around 100 people in the small town but a more recent census shows  Read More...

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Grandparents by any Name … are SPECIAL!

Grandparents are special. This sentiment was echoed repeatedly across the wide and varied sample of people I interviewed, asking them to share a grandparent story, a special tradition, or a treasured memory. The names people attach to their grandparents vary extensively, sometimes according to heritage - sometimes by favour. But the feelings of nostalgia, love and belonging were unmistakably universal. Here are just a few of the sentiments people shared:   Sydney’s Baba Baba has always played a huge role in my life, teaching me to bake and cook, to embrace nature (fields of canola, butterflies, ladybugs, worms even!), to appreciate the arts (music and live theatre), and to connect with people. She taught me the importance of believing in myself, being open and honest, laughing at myself, and diving deep for the pleasures and joys life has to offer.  Read More...

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Blended Families — The Importance of Cooperative Decision-Making

Recently at a celebration of a friend’s 50th birthday, I was surprised to learn that three of us at the gathering were in blended families and are experiencing tension related to family decision-making. Specifically, 10 per cent of us in the room had aging parents in second marriages, forcing a need for collaborative decision-making between adult kids and step kids. This, we agreed, can be tricky business. We also surmised that this business of merged family decision-making is on the rise, since a 2011 survey by Statistic Canada found that 43 per cent of marriages in Canada end in divorce. The agency stopped tracking marriage stats six years ago, and there are no real numbers on second or third marriages, but based on the trend, stepfamilies are now commonplace. Most of us agreed that while there can be many challenges  Read More...

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10 Little-Known Perks of Getting Old

It’s no secret, aging often comes with a heaping helping of grief, frustrations, and annoying limitations. But the truth is, getting old also comes with a fair number of benefits. Here are the Top 10 Perks I uncovered when I set out to discover what seniors like most about being exactly where they are in life.    1. “I no longer care what people think of me.” At 76, Marnie from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia offered this sentiment as her number one perk of aging. She went on to explain that for the first seven decades of her life she cared deeply what everyone thought of her. And now… well she really doesn’t care what anyone thinks – she only seeks the approval of her faithful old dog.   2. “I don’t need to know everything.” Ed from High River, Alberta was a  Read More...

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Estate Planning Part ll: What You Need to Know

In Part-One of this series we discussed the steps of creating an estate plan, the importance of having a will, and the practice of gifting assets while living. In this second part of the series on estate planning we will discuss the merits of life Insurance and what you can expect in terms of taxes when a loved one dies.   Life Insurance Most people understand the importance of having life insurance, but haven’t fully considered the important role it plays when it comes to estate planning. When a person dies, their life insurance can be used to:   Pay for final costs: Life insurance can be used to cover funeral costs and estate administration fees, pay medical bills not covered by insurance, offset taxes, and compensate for other expenses associated with death and dying. Pay off debt or replace income: Life  Read More...

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Estate Planning Part l: What You Need to Know

Let’s face it… estate planning is no one’s favourite topic. It takes time and thoughtful consideration, and there are costs associated with implementing an estate plan. However, this process is a critical part of protecting one’s life savings and assets and of paramount importance to people, especially as they age.   In this two-part blog series on estate planning we will discuss some of the pertinent aspects of estate planning, including: Creating an Estate Plan The Importance of Wills Gifting assets before death Life Insurance Taxes at Death    Creating an Estate Plan Over the course of a lifetime, most people amass a certain amount of wealth and assets, some more than others. Whether or not you consider your estate to be sizeable, it is yours, and you will no doubt want to ensure that in the event of your death,  Read More...

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