Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Part 1 Hobbies for Seniors - Make Your Own Easy Movie

Finding a purpose for the day after retiring can mean taking up hobbies. In our high tech world there are easy ways to make your own movie. Get a digital camera, take photos of your favorite places, people, pets, sports, etc. and use the free windows movie maker software to put those photos into a movie. If you have Windows XP or Vista there is a free version of Windows Movie Maker that came with your computer. If you are getting a new computer then download Windows Live which includes yet another free version of movie maker.

You don't need to do something complex or learn the whole software package. Just import the photos, drag them to spots on the storyboard, and click "Publish." Below is a movie made by just doing that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Seniors' Trends: From Handcrafts and TV to High Tech Hobbies

Handcrafts like knitting and wood carving are being joined by high tech hobbies such as blogging, digital photography and making movies. Seniors still face a "digital divide" challenge but as middle-agers graduate to the senior years things are changing.

Traditional hobbies include such activities as wood working, making auto and plane models, knitting, sewing, and playing cards. Seniors centers and senior housing are offering high tech activities now such as computer training, computer games, Wii, and website creation.

When health issues limit more physically active hobbies then high tech offers a way to keep learning, exercise the mind, challenge oneself, and pass the time in an interesting manner.

Passive activities such as TV are always popular but don't offer the mental challenge that high tech does.

An acquaintance of mine admits to spending most of the time "watching that one-eyed monster" and is learning how to use the computer now. Boredom can be a strong motivator!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Part 1: Seniors Activities - Groups Make a Difference

Sharing coffee or lunch with a group of seniors while they visit, joke, share news and tell stories makes a difference. The mountains in life look different when you view them from a viewpoint with a group of friends who know what it is like.
The sting of painful memories and current losses becomes easier to bear when diluted by sharing it with the warmth and caring from others.

A knowing glance, an acknowledgement that someone heard what you're going through, a few words that others have been there too - all these can lift you up. Looking down at your troubles from a plateau makes them easier to cope with. If you're at the bottom of a mountain looking up, alone, life's burdens can seem overwhelming.

Seniors' activities that include group interaction and sharing have a way of soothing and strenthening one.

Groups make a difference. The path of life for seniors can be lonely, especially for those who have lost spouses and friends. Emptiness asks to be filled, and even a simple coffee hour with a group can change the day for the better.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Part 3 - Favorite Caregiver Recipes - Sandwiches

Avocado slices, crunchy iceberg lettuce, thin tomato slices, and sprouts can be the basis for a change of pace in the sandwich department. Protein foods in the form of cheese, meat, or "meatless burgers" can be added. While the sandwich is still open sprinkle on it some mixed Italian herbs and perhaps some paprika to wake up the flavor.

You can also sprinkle the open sandwich with Mrs. Dash or Spike, both salt-free, to give the flavor some zip.

Use a zero calorie buttery spray on the bread to keep the calories and "bad fats" low. Add mustard or other spreadable flavoring if desired. Low calorie salad dressing can be used.

Many seniors grew up with a diet that focused on starches and carbohydrates, and less attention was paid to vegetables. A sandwich like this has vegetables, whole grain, and protein so there is a lot of nutrition.

The avocado is a "good fat" that has the right fat to help the cardiovascular system. If the bread has flax in it then that also includes the "good fat."

Here on the central Oregon coast we have a chain of stores called "Fred Meyers" that has a fairly large organic foods section, with a wide variety of breads. An example of a really hearty whole grain bread that I really like is Dave's Killer Bread which has a website at" They have a lot more texture than even the regular whole grain breads we are used to, and they are described as "moist and chewey."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Part Two - Favorite Caregiving Recipes - Vegetable-Herb Stew

Fresh mixed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, parsley, spinach, tomatoes (or salt-free canned, stewed tomatoes)and other vegetables of your choice can be simmered in an herb broth to make a flavorful stew. Seniors who don't usually like vegetables, and who may have dentures, will find this recipe to have a lot of flavor and be easy to chew and eat.

To add protein to the stew there are a variety of choices: chicken, turkey, black beans, soybeans, or white beans(any type of beans will do).

You can use salt-free vegetable broth or boullion, or add chicken or beef broth if you desire. For a tomato based broth for the stew you can use salt-free tomato paste, canned tomatoes or soup. Your favorite variety of herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, dill and so on can be added.

The aroma filling the kitchen and house helps to create a comfy, cozy homey effect too. Some people use a ready made salt-free mixture such as the ones made by Mrs. Dash or Spike.

Using fresh produce makes the stew many times more flavorful. Frozen or canned veggies just don't have the amount of flavor that fresh ones do. Also, if you use canned vegetables they need to be rinsed well to get rid of sodium (salt).

The stew can be stored in plastic freezer containers in personal serving sizes for easy later use.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Part 1 - Favorite Recipes for Caregiving - Mixed Baked Vegetables

For vegetables with lots of flavor fill a covered baking dish with fresh carrots, cauliflower, squash, broccoli, and tomatoes and bake it in the overn at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (more if the carrots are large ones.) Spray it with zero calorie buttery spray, then sprinkle a variety of herbs and spices (no salt) on it to make the flavor have some zip. Sprinkle with Paprika if desired. The medley of flavors from baked tomato to sweet baked carrots keeps it interesting.

The softened vegetables are easy for people who wear dentures to chew and baking the vegetables brings out a lot of flavor.

Use this as a main dish, with a protein dish of meat or meatless protein "on the side." Baked chicken or fish go well with it. For meatless meals there are vegetarian burgers with soy protein that can be baked.

The colorful plate of mixed fresh vegetables looks like an artistic masters still- life painting. Just looking at it and smelling the aroma helps someone with a weak appetite, or who doesn't like vegetables, to get interested in food. Seniors who are dieting will find this to be filling, satisfying, and low calorie. Yum.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Getting Out of a Rut - Social Groups for Seniors

Smooth the rough edges off the frustrations that accompany the senior years by sharing time with a like minded social group. The mountains often look more like molehills, friendship and fellowship remove isolation, and creative ideas from others can provide inspiration.

Arthritis exercise groups, health oriented support groups, fellowship groups, volunteer groups, and other clubs and classes are there for active or frail seniors.

In the past few days I shared time with an arthritis exercise group in a pool, a fellowship group, and a computer group. The uplift helps me to see my own problems from a different angle. They don't exert as much pressure on me when I share them with a group of friends. The positive energy builds up and the negative energy goes down.

If problems or depression are overwhelming isolated seniors, sharing time with social groups brings mental stimulation, positive feelings, and strength for dealing with adversity.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Arthritis: How to Feel Better - Exercise in the Water

Sore joints and backs are soothed and one's spirits are uplifted after an exercise session in water. For example, my local fitness club has just opened a special warm water pool, heated to close to 90 degrees, with an arthritis exercise class at the pool.

This morning about 20 seniors with bad knees, sore hips, bad backs, and other "aches and pains" did their water walking and water yoga stretches supported by water up to the waist or up to the shoulders. After one full hour of this, followed by a sauna, one feels like a new person both physically and mentally.

If you are usually unable to stand due to pain and do shoulder rolls, waist twists, and standing leg lifts then the water exercise provides the support to make this easier and painless.

Stiff joints move more easily, and general body tension is relaxed. I plan to make it a daily part of my own schedule and recommend it strongly for others. It's a nice way to meet new friends too.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Senior Volunteers Make a Difference for Others

Working as a volunteer seniors can make a difference in the lives of others, and make a difference in their own lives too. Being retired doesn't need to mean one is not needed. Life's journey and each individual's mission continue after retirement.

Opportunities for volunteers exist at local Seniors' Centers, Churches, Libraries, Clubs, Food Shares, the Red Cross, and other nonprofits that exist to reach out to others.

All that life experience that's been accumulated can bear fruit as a mission to make a difference in others' lives. It's a win - win situation because volunteering is also a way to feel worthwhile, to have plans and goals, and to meet the nicest people who are also volunteering.

Years ago a friend of mine, named Joy, lived up to her name by spreading love and caring as a volunteer.

Joy, who had been widowed at the age of 27, had lived alone, worked several jobs at once frequently, and gone through many tough personal and financial times. But she continued to be a blessing to others.

When I met her she was already in her 70's. She was still working 2 jobs as a bookkeeper as well as being a volunteer bookkeeper for a nonprofit. Her presence always made me feel uplifted. My own troubles paled in comparison to the ones she had overcome. She told me her secret was volunteering and making a difference for others.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Seniors Avoid Isolation and Depression with Group Activities

Retirement years can become times of depression and isolation unless new activities and personal growth are still a part of life. Health issues, handicaps, and a tight limited budget can make previous interests no longer an option. But life can still be rewarding and interesting. Below is a list of ideas.

* Join a health club. Even if you have health issues such as arthritis or joint replacements, there are exercise options. Aquatherapy, for instance, provides gentle exercise for sore joints. Chair exercise to music in a group is a way to do a variety of arm lifts with or without weights, leg lifts, twists and stretches. Some exercise groups I attend also go out to lunch together afterward so it's part of a social life too.

* Join your local Seniors' Center for affordable group activities, pot-lucks, health screenings, and a variety of benefits.

* Attend a church or spiritual group for fellowship and friends, group activities, and inspiration. Share pot-lucks, study groups, and meet friends to go out to lunch with or share other activities.

* Make use of the local library. Consider joining the local "Friends of the Library" to meet others and discuss books. The bulletin board will have notices of groups and events, and you can browse the magazines or use the library computers. The libraries offer free DVD's, audiobooks, and Cd's that you can check out.