August 2017 archive

Depression in Seniors

Senior citizens face a number of challenges that you and I may not have considered. When you are young and in good health, life seems easy and challenges are easily surmounted. However, as we age, both our mind and body slow down, which can make tasks that were previously simple much tougher. That additional burden, combined with physical changes that make us seem less attractive desirable, can lead to crippling depression.

While depression is common in senior citizens, many do not receive the proper treatment they require to overcome it.

Health Impacts

It is widely accepted that depression lowers one’s quality of life, but it can also negatively affect physical health. Studies show that depression in the elderly can lead to an increased risk of death following a major health event like a heart attack. When we are depressed, we tend not to take proper care of ourselves, even though that is just what we should concentrate on in the wake of a major health scare. As with other age demographics, depression also increases the likelihood of suicide.

Social Isolation

When we feel down, we are less likely to spend time with friends and family, even though such interaction would likely help make us feel better. Seniors have an increased challenge here as decreased mobility and placement of some in old age homes makes it difficult to get out and about. That can make social interaction less infrequent and more dependent on other parties to maintain such a connection.


Lack of sufficient sleep can both lead to depression and be a common by-product of it. When we feel tired and out of sorts, everything about life seems tougher and that makes it more difficult to function day-to-day. Improper amounts of sleep can also cause health problems, which in turn either lead to depression or can increase it.

Can I Eat Junk Food in Moderation?

You don’t have to be a news junkie to know that the government and various scientists are constantly warning us about the dangers of junk food. And really, aside from very specific data, we should already realize that a diet of soda, red meat, and greasy fries is not doing us any good.

However, what about moderation? If you only drink once in a while, that doesn’t make you an alcoholic, right? What about, say, only having Kentucky Fried Chicken and a chocolate sundae only once a week? Would my health still be fine if I exercised that type of self-control on a regular basis?

Empty Calories

Junk food is considered to be empty calories: food that provides calories for you, but have few, if any, beneficial effects for your body. The amount of recommended empty calories varies from 120-330 per day, depending on age and gender. Generally, the older you are, and if you are male, you are allotted more empty calories. However, that limits goes up with the amount of exercise you do. In other words, the more exercise you do, the more potato chips you can have.

Health Issues

The more sugar you consume, the more likely you are to gain weight, develop diabetes, have a heart attack or stroke, etc. So, in general, if you really wish to avoid serious health problems, you should try to keep your junk food consumption as close to zero as possible. If you want to consume a bit of junk food, the odds of health issues rises.


By this, we don’t mean cheat on your diet by having nothing but junk. We mean mixing junk and healthy choices together. For example, if you really must eat a bag of potato chips, wash them down with a glass of water, rather than a can of soda.

Are Canadians Really as Nice as Everyone Thinks?

There are a number of stereotypes when it comes to our country, but the one I encounter the most is that Canadians are nice to a fault. That we apologize for everything and always defer to everyone else. Some even say that it indicates we have no spine.

There are certainly more important things to worry about than being perceived as overly nice. In fact, isn’t politeness a desirable quality? It certainly is, though in apparent accordance with our deferential nature, not all Canadians see that as a positive thing when it is pointed out.

In fact, given the common brashness of some Americans (particularly given the current climate and president), I think our comparatively mild demeanour is certainly something to be cherished. That familiar American “We are the Best!” mantra cannot help but instill an inferiority complex in its neighbours, but it shouldn’t, particularly given the terribly misguided course that country is currently on.

Cynical folks might say that our politeness is really more the result of a defense mechanism. After all, if you are around people that you must spend time with (or wish to spend as little time as possible with), it’s a wiser strategy to be nice than brash.

However, I think that politeness is the default position for many Canucks I know. Maybe it is a natural result of  having to survive brutal winters that run for half of the year (or more); if you help your neighbour, they are more likely to be there for you in your own time of need, right?

So, to answer the question posed in our title…there is no scientific proof that Canadians are as nice as everyone seems to think, but there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence to back that up. That is good enough for me, but I fully respect your differing opinion. Because I’m Canadian and I’m not always right.

How to Make the Most of Your Lunch Break

Most of us find that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. One way to combat this is to make more efficient use of the time we do have available. Depending on where you work and your agreed-upon schedule, you may have anywhere from 30-60 minutes for your lunch break. If it’s only a half hour, that doesn’t leave you with much time to do more than eat. However, if you have an hour, that leaves you with a good 30 minutes that you can also use for other things you wish to accomplish. Here are three suggestions on how you can spend that extra time productively:


If your company has a gym on site, go and use the tread mill or get on an exercise bike. No equipment on-site? Get that 30 minutes of recommended daily walking in. If you like to jog, go for a short one around the area. A change of scenery will probably help you be more productive after lunch.

Don’t just sit in the cafeteria for an hour. Make more productive use of your lunchtime!

Eat Outside

Don’t get to spend enough time outdoors with your current schedule? Try eating outside for a change. If your company does not have an outside seating area, bring a blanket and have a picnic with your co-workers. Sunshine and fresh air are very good for you; this allows you to get in your daily quota and can help revitalize you for the afternoon.

Stop Looking at Screens

The average American and Canadian spends an inordinate amount of time each day looking at screens: smartphone, computer, tablet, TV, etc. Give your eyes a well-deserved break during lunch and read a book, go for a walk, meditate…do something different that will help both mind and body decompress.