Take time to breathe.

My 75 year old Aunt went to a meditation class last week. She wasn’t too fussy about meditation but was open to trying it. After class, she said it was the best experience she’s had and has been setting a couple minutes aside everyday since. Her exact words: “meditation isn’t what you think- it’s so easy”

Why create a small daily meditation practice? There are countless reasons, but here are some of my favorite:

It relieves stress and helps you to relax.

It helps improved focus, happiness, memory, and mindfulness.

Some research on meditation has indicated that it may have other health benefits, including improved metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and more.

Actually, some of the best benefits of meditation are hard to define — you begin to understand yourself better, for example, and form a self-awareness level you’ve never had before.

Most simply, sitting for just a few minutes of meditation is an oasis of calm and relaxation that we rarely find in our lives these days. And that, in itself, is enough.

How to Do It Daily:

Here is a simple way to form the daily habit of meditation:

  1. Commit to just 2 minutes a day. You can do it for 5 minutes if you feel good about it, but all you’re committing to is 2 minutes each day.
  1. Pick a time and trigger. Not an exact time of day, but a general time, like morning when you wake up, during your lunch hour, or before bed. 
  1. Find a quiet spot. Your couch, your chair, your bed or you may even sit in your car! It really doesn’t matter where — as long as you can sit without being bothered for a few minutes. 
  1. Sit comfortably. Don’t fuss too much about how you sit, what you wear, what you sit on, etc. 
  1. Start with just 2 minutes. This is really important. You can expand to 5-7 minutes if you can do it for 7 days straight, then 10 minutes if you can do it for 14 days straight, then 15 minutes if you can stick to it for 21 days straight, and 20 if you can do a full month.
  1. Focus on your breath. Slowly, deeply inhale.  As you breathe in, follow your breath in through your nostrils, then into your throat, then into your lungs and belly. Sit straight, keep your eyes open but looking at the ground and with a soft focus. If you want to close your eyes, that’s fine. As you breathe out, follow your breath out back into the world. Count … one breath in, two breath out, three breath in, four breath out … when you get to 10, start over. If you lose track, start over. If you find your mind wandering (and you will), just pay attention to your mind wandering, then bring it gently back to your breath. Repeat this process for the few minutes you meditate. 


And that’s it. It’s a very simple practice, but you want to do it for 2 minutes, every day, at the same time everyday. Do this for a month and you’ll have a daily meditation habit.


Take good care!

Personal Care at Home : What to expect (3 min read)

Personal Care at Home (3 min read)


There may be a time when you, or a loved one will need or want Personal Care services delivered in your home. Care delivered in the home is usually in response to a health situation and often results from referral by medical professionals. Given the choice, people want to be in their homes. This type of care is designed to support a person continuing to live independently in a safe environment and lessen the impact on the family. 


What Should You Expect from care delivered in your home? 

This for many people is a new experience. Both for the family and the person receiving care. So it’s important to understand what to expect when working with an agency that is providing care in your home. Here are some basic guidelines on what to expect:  


  1. Understanding your needs and clarity of services: A Care Plan outlining the services you will receive is prepared with you. You should have a copy of your care plan and contact information, should you need to connect with a care provider. Needs may change from time to time and when this arises, you can expect to connect with your care coordinator to review and reassess.


  1. Your healthcare provider is not your housekeeper: This is the area where defining care and expectations is very important. Housekeeping services are provided in some cases in order to ensure personal safety – ie vacuuming, dishes, laundry, changing bed linen, bathroom clean up, and meal prep. Personal care in the home is not designed to provide the kind of comprehensive cleaning that a professional cleaning company would provide. It is not the goal of a health service provider to move your couch, clean windows, or do other heavy cleaning. 


  1. Your care provider is there for YOU and YOU only: Your care provider should not be asked to do laundry or prepare meals etc for other members of the household. Similarly, please be considerate of your care provider when it comes to pets. You should not expect a care provider to walk your dog, empty cat litter, or feed your pets. Additionally, if your pet is not comfortable with others in the house, it should be in a cage or in a room with the door closed. You alone are the focus of care, not others who may either live with you or visit with you.


  1. Expect prompt communication: You should always be informed when a service is cancelled or unduly delayed. It could be as simple as dangerous driving conditions, or it may be that a client scheduled before you was ill and needed extra care delaying your service. Regardless, your care provider should be informing you of any issue. If you are experiencing constant delays (ie over an hour beyond your scheduled service time) make sure you speak to the supervisor and express your concerns.  Help can’t happen if we don’t know there’s a problem. 


  1. Compassion goes both ways: Changes in service can be upsetting or annoying once you have fallen into a routine. But the course of personal care doesn’t always run smooth. You may have had to wait last week while your care provider managed a crisis with another client, but this week, it could be your needs holding them up.   Compassion and flexibility are part of the ‘Golden Rule’. 


  1. Expect to be heard: Your personal care is important. You should have access to a supervisor to discuss any care issues that arise, and know that you can confidently and confidentially reach out. 


Take good care!

Spring at The Friends

Spring always brings to mind Charles Dickens’ opening lines to the Tale of Two Cities… “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” On the one hand, snow is melting, the air is warmer and birds are singing in the branches of trees. On the other hand, back roads are a muddy soup, lawns and gardens are bare and brown and we are not yet spared from the odd freak snow storm or cold snap.

As gentler weather approaches, it’s safe to start planning ahead for some adventures. In Parry Sound the Charles W. Stockey Centre will be hosting two former Cirque de Soleil performers; in East Parry Sound, Powassan is hosting a Food Summit; and in Muskoka watch for the Muskoka Home Builder’s Association Home and Cottage Show. For those of you with heightened tolerance for adventure, the spectacular Green Living Show is happening in Toronto. Check with local seniors’ groups or CAA to see whether there are organized day trips you can participate in so that you don’t have to face Toronto traffic.

These are just a few of the many local events crowding the April-May-June calendars. Have a look and start planning ahead.

If you are housebound, fling open a window or two on a sunny day, throw some seeds into a pot and put it on a bright windowsill; support the Cancer Society and buy a bunch of daffodils to brighten up your space. Check out accessible transportation options and plan for an outing. Invite a friend for coffee or tea. You are only limited by your imagination!

The Friends daffodils

Caught!  Good eats for a spring morning.

Chickadee nabs Mosquito

We Are Grateful

I’m sure many of you have noticed that our website has undergone some changes which have made it easier for those of you who use the internet to make donations. I am happy to report that this improvement has meant some surprise donations for which The Friends’ organization is profoundly grateful so we are chalking up a “success” for this initiative.

This is not the end of website madness. Keep an eye on www.thefriends.on.ca as we implement even more features to keep you in touch and in the know. We will be adding a weekly blog, videos, and lots of pictures.

Most of all, just know that your support makes good things happen in your community. Many seniors rely on us to defray the cost of transportation and other program expenses. This support means that isolated, frail members of our community are able to participate in social and recreational programs that keep them connected. It provides them with a hot meal, an exercise routine designed for them, and provides respite to their caregivers. Thank you!

The Friends’ celebrates living… living the best life you can regardless of your circumstances.

Dean enjoying his crops at Forest Hill Garden