"Senior Years Newsletter"

Your newsletter of information, inspiration and education for seniors, boomers and caregivers on Pre- and Post-Retirement matters.
(Published by Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications - Seniors Services)

~ February 2014 Issue ~

Hello and welcome to your February 2014 issue of the "Senior Years Newsletter".

As usual, I trust you will find this edition to be as informational, inspirational and educational as promised it to be. Your comments are always welcomed and interesting to me, so do write (address/web site at the bottom) -- because I care to hear from you.
Blessings and good health to you, always,

Diane M. Hoffmann, CPCA
(Certified Professional Consultant on Aging)

1. Feature article:

Are you getting a good night sleep?

Your sleeping position may have a lot to do with it...

By Diane M. Hoffmann, CPCA, Ph.D./Th.

Getting a good night sleep is one of the most important aspect of a healthy life. But, many don’t realize that sleeping positions can greatly affect your quality of sleep.

The main sleeping positions identified by health professionals on the subject are (in order of best to worst):  1.On your back, 2.On your side, 3.Fetal position, and 4.Face down.

1.On your back: This is generally considered to be the best position, placing  your neck, head and spine in a neutral position. Arms are usually at the sides or raised up above the head. From my experience, I find that putting a pillow under my knees definitely improved my sleep and relieved strain on my lower back. However, the downside  is that sleeping on your back may cause snoring and sleep apnea in some people.

2.On your side. This position also is considered to be a good neutral position for the spine, reducing back and neck pain. It is as well a solution to reducing snoring and sleep apnea. However side sleeping can cause pressure on the arms and shoulders, restricting blood flow which can cause pain and/or numbness in the arms. Personally I find that switching now and then from the back position to the sides works best for me and probably for most people.

As well, which side to sleep on should be considered. Sleeping on the right side can make heartburn problems worse. Sleeping on the left can minimize acid reflux but place strain on internal organs such as stomach, liver and lungs. Everybody is different with specific health needs. You should talk to your doctor or chiropractor on what would be the best solutions for you.

3.Fetal position: This position may be comfortable and even comforting but is said to be bad on the neck and back. The acute curl of the body in this position can also restrict deep breathing.  

4.Face down: Also known as sleeping on the stomach, this position is considered the worst of the common ways to sleep. Although it may improve digestion, it distorting the natural curve of the lower spine and leads to tilting your face in one direction or the other for breathing. This puts strain on the neck and can cause damage and/or pain.

There is a lot to read up on this subject and a search of the internet will quickly give you more specifics on the above and ways to improve your sleep. However as I always warn, make sure what you read is from reputable sources.

Dr. Joshua West, B.Sc., D.C.,  my chiropractor at the Discovery Chiropractic Clinic here in Campbell River, BC, had a few more helpful comments and suggestions to share on this subject:

-On the back position: a pillow should support the neck in a neutral position, very slightly elevated. It really doesn’t matter what type of material or shape the pillow is.

-On the side position: If you choose this position, put a pillow between your knees, and ensure it is a pillow that supports your neck in a neutral position slightly elevated.

-On the face down position: If your arms fall asleep you may be sleeping on them with your wrists and elbows bent, cutting off blood supply.

I do hope this will be helpful in your getting a good night sleep as much as it has been for me to do the research and writing on the subject. If you have any specific problems or concerns about sleeping,  check it out with your health professional or personal doctor. /dmh


2. Ask the Experts:

What are some results of Caregiving for a family member?

There is a great sense of joy and satisfaction to be gained by the caregivers in helping their family member or friend, giving them a sense of purpose and love in action.  It should be a positive and transformational process for all.

But, there is also another side that can be negative for some.  Caregiving for a family member can also result in many problems. Are any of the following affecting you? For your own self-examination, indicate by adding a tick mark next to those that may be of concern to you.

(   ) Financial stress: lost wages and retirement contributions, added cost to support care recipient.

(   ) Lost social benefits: missing out on socializing with friends and other hobbies and interests.

(   ) Physical stress: sleeplessness, fatigue, stomach disorders.

(   ) Emotional stress: anxiety, inappropriate laughing, crying, indecision, apathy, anger, depression (six times the national average).

(   ) Behavioural stress: substance abuse, decreased personal hygiene, time off work, old family dynamics.

(    ) Burnout: where the caregiver is overwhelmed in the burden and can hardly continue the task.

If you are affected by any of these, it is recommended that you seek some help from a family member, friend, clergy or a professional in the field, so that a program can be put in place to help with the area of your life affected. Do not ignore the warning signs. Take action for your own well-being and that of the person you care for.

Respite care and adult day care programs are very helpful, as well as support for caregivers. It is important to see that there is a scheduled time off for a caregiver. Access to informal and professional emotional support is of significant benefit, as well as educational resources for the caregiver.

Some of the tell-tales to watch for in a caregiver are: 

1. Depression,  2. Stress,  3. Fatigue or  4 .Possible substance abuse.

Three factors that have the greatest effect on caregivers’ emotional stress, physical strain, and financial hardship due to caregiving are:

1. The level of burden;  2. Whether caregivers felt they had a choice in becoming a caregiver; 3.The caregivers’ health.

But there is also a real rewarding experience in Caregiving. Caregivers can gain a great sense of joy and satisfaction in helping their family member or friend as they give them a sense of purpose and love in action.  It can be a positive and transformational experience and growth process transferable to new careers and directions./dmh

Excerpt from "Caregivers and Caregiving Basics" seminar/webinar by Diane M. Hoffmann, CPCA


3. Heart Healthy Recipe:

Kung Pao Chicken with Vegetables…

Makes 4 servings. This quick and spicy stir-fry will put the zing back into dinner.


    2 chicken breasts about 7 oz (200 g) each

    2 green onions, chopped

    1 cup (250 mL) red pepper, cut in chunks

    1 cup (250 mL) snow peas, trimmed

    1 cup (250 mL) bean sprouts

    1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil


    2 tsp (10 mL) sodium reduced soy sauce

    2 tsp (10 mL) rice vinegar

    1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil

    1 tsp (5 mL) corn starch


     1 tbsp (15 mL) sodium-reduced soy sauce

    1 tbsp (15 mL) rice vinegar

    1 tsp (5 mL) sugar

    1 tbsp (15 mL) water

    1 generous pinch chili pepper flakes (or more if you like it really spicy)

    1 clove garlic, chopped


1._Cut chicken into bite-size chunks.

2._Make marinade in a medium size bowl. Add chicken and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This is a good time to start cooking your brown rice.

3._Meanwhile mix all ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

4._Heat nonstick skillet to medium-high heat and add the chicken. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the marinade. Discard marinade. Cook chicken for about 10 minutes. Set aside on a plate.

5._Add sesame oil to the same skillet. Heat to medium-high heat. Add the chopped red pepper and sauté for 1 minute. Add the sauce, chicken, green onion and snow peas and cook for 5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and cook for 1 minute.

6._Serve immediately on brown rice.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (1 ¼ cup/300 mL) - Calories: 150, Protein: 21 g, Total fat: 3 g, Saturated fat: 1 g, Dietary cholesterol: 48 mg, Carbohydrate: 9 g, Dietary fibre: 2 g, Sodium: 208 mg, Potassium: 436 mg

Developed by Nadine Day, RD. ©The Heart and Stroke Foundation. Reprinted with Permission from The Heart and Stroke Foundation.


4. Quote or Joke of the Month:

Be Kind

 "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel".  

Maya Angelou


5. Did you know?

What a Senior Needs to Ask a Doctor About a Prescription

 Seniors who are seeing multiple doctors are at increased risk of medication problems. Try to ensure that older adults have one doctor overseeing all of their medications. Also, look for an independent pharmacy or a specialist in geriatrics, geriatric pharmacotherapy and the unique medication-related needs of the geriatric population.

Home Instead Senior Care® has put together the following list of questions that seniors and family caregivers should ask a doctor about their prescription(s).

- What is the name of this medication and why do I need it?

- What is this medication supposed to do?

- What is the correct dosage?

- How does this drug interact with other medications I am taking?

- How do I take it – with or without food?- When do I take it – a.m. or p.m.?

- What are the benefits and risks of the medication?

- What are the side effects of the medicine, and what do I do if they occur?

- What food, drinks, other medicines or activities should I avoid while taking the medicine?

- How often must the doctor check the medicine’s effects? For example, checking your blood pressure if you are taking a medicine to lower it, or having a laboratory test done to make sure the levels of medicine in your blood are not too high or too low.

- Do I need a refill and how do I get one?

- Is there written information I can take home about the medication? (Most pharmacies have information sheets on your prescription medicines.)

Article by Scott Johnson from Home Instead Senior Care Reprinted with Permission from www.widowed.ca.


6. Seniors Tip:

What Seniors can do to safeguard their own living situation.  (Excerpt from Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Older Canadians – Myths and Realities Seminar/Webinar by Diane M. Hoffmann, CPCA)

1._Stay sociable as you age, maintain and add to your network of friends and acquaintances.

2._Keep in contact with old friends and neighbours, if you move in with a relative or change to a new address.

3._Develop a “Buddy System” with a friend outside of the home. Plan for at least weekly contact and share openly with this person.

4._Ask friends to visit you often – even brief visits allow for observations of your well being.

5._Participate in community activities.

6._Have your own telephone, post and open your own mail.

7._Arrange to have your pension cheques or other income deposited directly into your bank account.

8._Get legal advice about arrangements you can make now for a possible future disability, such as powers of attorney.

9._Keep accurate records, accounts and lists of property/assets available for examination by someone you trust, as well as by the person you or the court has designated to manage your affairs.

10._Review your Will periodically and do not make changes to it without careful consideration and/or discussion with a trusted family member or friend.

11._Give up control of your property or assets only when you decide you can’t manage them.

12._Ask for help when you need it.

13._Discuss your plans with your attorney, physician or family members.



Well, we've come to the end of this newsletter. I'll be looking forward to see you again in the next one.

Blessings to all,

Have a great month!

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