June 2017

Steps to Leaving a Family Legacy
 Leaving something behind for your loved ones, like a family legacy, will not only help them in life but will help them down the road.

A family legacy is a great way to have loved ones remember you and all that you have done.

May was National Leave a Legacy month, a public awareness campaign that encourages people to leave a gift to a favorite charity when they die. The idea was to support a cause that was near and dear to your heart with money as a lasting family legacy, kind of a footprint to be remembered by those in your community.

Most people hope that their life matters. Maybe you don’t have the money to leave to a charity. A financial gift can do a lot, but according to Billy Graham, “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” Although no one likes to consider their death, the best way to leave a legacy is to consider it now. Here are five things to think about when planning your legacy:

  1. What’s most important to you in your life?

Think about what you want to leave as your legacy. If your family were to think of you 10 years after you die, what would you want them to remember?

  1. Where did you find inspiration or transformation in your life’s journey?

Maybe you had a life-changing moment in a college class. Were you touched by cancer? What has made you who you are today?

  1. What blessings have you been given that you want to share with others?

These blessings could be tangible, for example, a set of chinaware given to you by your grandmother, or intangible, such as peace or kindness. If you have tangible items that your family doesn’t appreciate, think about who might use the objects. Check with local museums or charities.

  1. What causes are important to you?

Most people support at least one organization in some way. It could be a church or synagogue. Maybe you have a favorite 5K run you do each year. Your passion is your legacy.

  1. Who do you mentor?

Mentoring isn’t always a formal relationship. You can mentor people in your family, your church or your community just by being available. These relationships can last a lifetime, even after the period of mentorship is over. These people are your legacy.

Planning a Family Legacy

Your will is not a legacy, but it can be part of it. A written memorial can help your family know what you want after your death, but your legacy encompasses so much more. Whether you plan to leave a legacy or not, you will have a legacy. You may not ever think about how people will remember you, but they will remember who you were and what your passions were. You can’t really tell people how to think of you after you die, but you can leave ideas on how you want to be remembered.

Think about the people in your life who have passed on. Maybe you remember your grandpa smoking a pipe and telling stories. For some, it might be the smell of fresh apple pie coming from Aunt Mabel’s kitchen. Those are the legacies of your loved ones. It’s likely that Aunt Mabel never told you to remember her apple pie, but you did. Your children and grandchildren are likely to be the same way.

Those activities and character traits you pursue will be your legacy. What you’ve been dedicated to throughout your life is what you will be honored for. If you don’t like the legacy you are leaving, then it’s time to change your life. Maybe you will want to give money to a charity or leave a note to your family about something special to you. More importantly, think about relationships, faith and character. Are you living the way you want to be remembered?

Remembering Volunteers
When finding volunteers, make sure to keep all of your options open.

Volunteers can come in all shapes and sizes.

It was in 1943 that National Volunteer Week was first conceived to recognize the contribution women made to the war effort. Women worked just as hard as the men who were serving in the military but received no compensation for their efforts. After the war, the week declined in popularity until it was revived in the 1960s. Volunteer Canada delivers National Volunteer Week from April 23 to 29 to identify and recognize those volunteers who contribute to the community without a formal role or position.

The Value of Volunteers

While you may know that volunteering has a powerful impact on your community, you may not recognize specific benefits. Here are some of the ways volunteering works:

  • Promotes active participation in society
  • Gives everyone a voice in the community
  • Strengthens your community
  • Increases the ability to deliver services to those who are in need
  • Promotes general well-being and a sense of belonging
  • Connects people to the causes they care about
  • Offers duties to the volunteers

Statistics About Volunteering

Volunteer Canada reports that in 2013 Canadians gave close to two billion volunteer hours. That’s over 38 million full-time jobs for which organizations do not have to provide a salary.

Senior adults give, on average, about 223 hours each year. While this definitely benefits nonprofits, it also has a positive effect on seniors by reducing stress-related illnesses, increasing self-esteem and preventing isolation.

Volunteer Canada studies volunteers. In 2013, the organization found these characteristics of today’s volunteers:

  • They have goals of their own.
  • Volunteers want to see results.
  • Volunteers are self-directed and do not want to be micromanaged.
  • They have many different interests, and while they bring professional skills to the table, many volunteers want to use different skills when volunteering.

Choose To Be a Volunteer

It might be difficult to figure out where that time is coming from in your busy schedule. Consider this: When you are volunteering, you can really connect with people. It’s not simply busyness in which you feel like you’re just going in circles. Many employers have agreements with employees who want to give back to the community. Talk to your boss about finding time or support within your job.

You don’t have to volunteer with people to make a difference. Animal rescue organizations need help. Maybe you like books or nature? Find a group that supports something close to your heart, and ask to help. If you need help finding an organization, Volunteer Canada has many resources and can point you to local groups that match your needs.

Paula Speevak, President and CEO of Volunteer Canada, wrote, “In addition to honouring the 12.7 million Canadians who volunteer in non-profit organizations, during Canada’s 150th anniversary, let’s embrace all the wonderful ways people care. Care for each other and for the earth; from helping neighbours to mobilizing networks to raise awareness and funds for issues that matter to them.”

If you are part of an organization that uses volunteers, make sure to recognize their efforts, not only in April, but all year long. Remember how much more your group can do because you have volunteers who are making a difference.

 

Who Was Saint Elmo?
Saint Elmo's Fire was also a movie released in 1985.

Saint Elmo’s Fire is a phenomenon when a glowing ball of light occurs because of an electrical discharge in the atmosphere.

Pop culture often has references to objects or people of the past. You might have heard of the movie “Saint Elmo’s Fire,” a 1985 coming-of-age drama from the Brat Pack genre. Maybe you know that Saint Elmo is the patron saint of sailors. David Foster and John Parr composed and wrote the song “Saint Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” for Canadian athlete Rick Hansen to use in his mission to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries. The song went on to be used for the movie of the same name.

Do you know what Saint Elmo’s fire is? It is a phenomenon in weather that sometimes appears on ships at sea during a thunderstorm. A glowing ball of light occurs because of an electrical discharge in the atmosphere. It typically happens at the top of a sharp or pointed object, like the tops of the sails at sea, but it can also occur on aircraft wings, chimneys and spires.

How Did the Phenomenon Come to Be Known as Saint Elmo’s Fire?

To understand the roots of St. Elmo’s Fire, you have to know about Erasmus of Formia, who was also called Elmo. No one knows what year Erasmus was born or died, but it’s thought that he passed away around 303 A.D. He was Bishop of Formium, Italy, during a time when the emperors persecuted Christians. Erasmus hid for a period of seven years before being counseled by an angel to return to his diocese.

On his return, Erasmus met soldiers who questioned him. When he admitted his faith, he was brought to the Eastern Roman Emperor Diocletian. Christians had been discriminated against in the Roman empire before this time, but Diocletian had Christians tortured and killed. He was tortured before being put in chains and placed in prison, but he escaped with the help of an angel.

Arrested?

Erasmus is said to have raised up the son of an important citizen in Lycia, which brought him to the attention of the Western Roman Emperor Maximian. Erasmus was again arrested for his faith. Maximian forced Erasmus to go to a temple of an idol, but when he got to the temple, a fire came. Erasmus was tortured in a barrel of protruding spikes. After his release, he was healed by an angel before experiencing more tortures, from which he was always healed. Finally, Maximian threw Erasmus into prison, expecting him to die of starvation, but Erasmus escaped.

Erasmus Still Preaching

Erasmus did not let the Roman Empire stop him from preaching. He went to Illyricum, which is modern day Croatia, and continued to convert people to Christianity. At his death, legend says that his intestines were wrapped around a windlass, the winch that lifts anchors or heavy weights. In one story, before Erasmus died, he is said to have continued preaching to sailors even after a lightning bolt struck beside him. He is widely associated with the sea due to these two legends.

About 25 years following Erasmus’ death, the Christian Emperor Constantine reversed the persecution of the Christians, returning confiscated property and making Christianity the preferred religion of the region. If Erasmus had lived in a later time, it’s possible that he would not have been a Christian martyr.

References to Saint Elmo

If you read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in high school or college, you might remember this reference:

“About, about, in reel and rout, The death fires danced at night; The water, like a witch’s oils, Burnt green and blue and white.”

In literature, St. Elmo’s fire is associated with a bad omen or divine judgment. The reference appears in “Moby-Dick,” “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “The Tempest.” The next time you hear an allusion to St. Elmo’s fire, you know more of the story and can appreciate its history.

Choosing Flowers Based on Symbolism
Many flowers have different meanings.

Large bouquet of different colored flowers, specifically tulips.

At one of the most prominent weddings of the 21st century, the flowers for the bridal bouquet were carefully chosen. Kate Middleton selected the ones that were important to her family and to the Royal Family. Myrtle was chosen as an emblem of marriage and love, and specifically, the sprigs of myrtle came from a plant grown from the myrtle used in the bouquet of Queen Elizabeth II. Kate chose ivy, the symbolization of fidelity and affection. The hyacinth was representative of “constancy of love.” Sweet William was for gallantry, and the lily of the valley for the return of happiness.

You don’t have to be royal to make a wedding bouquet that’s representative of your partner and yourself. Flowers aren’t only for weddings, either. You may want to use this list when you need to choose a spray for your grandma’s funeral.

The Meaning of Roses

You probably know that red roses are for love. Practically everyone gives these flowers for Valentine’s Day, but roses come in many different colors. Say what you mean by choosing different colors for the bouquet you bring to your loved one:

  • White – innocence and purity
  • Yellow – joy and friendship, or a new beginning
  • Orange – enthusiasm
  • Dark red – unconscious beauty
  • Light pink – grace and gentleness
  • Coral – friendship and modesty
  • Lavender – love at first sight
  • Dark pink – gratitude or appreciation
  • Pale peach – modesty
  • Yellow with a red tip – falling in love

More Flowers With Meanings

Here are some other popular flowers and greenery that you can choose to say something special:

  • Bachelor’s button – blessedness
  • Bay – glory
  • Chrysanthemum – cheerfulness
  • Daffodils – regard
  • Daisy – innocence
  • Ferns – sincerity
  • White jasmine – sweet love
  • Lavender – devotion
  • Mint – virtue
  • Red poppy – consolation
  • Sage – wisdom and mortality
  • Yellow tulips – hope and cheery thoughts, friendship
  • White tulips – an apology
  • Pink tulips – confidence and happiness
  • Purple tulips – the color of royalty, used to express admiration for someone’s accomplishments
  • Violets – faithfulness

The white carnation symbolizes pure love. Pink carnations are symbolic of a mother’s undying love. Legend suggests that the pink carnation first appeared from the Virgin Mary’s tears. Purple carnations are for unpredictability. Light red carnations are for admiration; dark red carnations are a sign of deep love and affection.

Another suggestion for symbolic flowers is to host a garden party with your friends and have each one bring a flower or plant that has meaning to the person. Make a pretty flower garden or create a mixed bouquet to remember each other. It would make a nice housewarming gift or a memory for a new bride.

Make a Special Message

Flowers aren’t just for weddings, funerals and special holidays. Take home a bunch of flowers to your loved one anytime to make a special memory. Know the language of flowers to send the right message any time you choose.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a flower bouquet worth? Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “the earth laughs in flowers.” Christian Dior believes, “after women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world.” Say something special with flowers.

SMART Goals and Setting Them This New Year
Smart goals means setting an attainable goals and telling yourself "I can do it".

In order to set smart goals for yourself, you need to get rid of the negativity in your life.

There is a difference between “Goals” and “Smart Goals”. It’s that time of year when everyone sets new goals for the new year. Most people think of January 1 as a clean slate. It’s a day to make changes toward what we want in life. Often, we make such grandiose plans that we’re unable to carry them through. Our expectations are unrealistic. When we forget the resolutions we so carefully crafted, it’s easy to get discouraged and not make any changes at all in your life. This year, take a different approach to the resolutions you set for 2017.

How to Make Smart Goals for Yourself

Businesses have a lot of experience in setting goals. We can look to how businesses approach goal-setting to learn how to better set goals for our personal lives. SMART is an acronym that outlines a basic plan for developing goals that lead to success.

  • Specific – Your goals should be well defined.
  • Measurable – You should have a way to know when the goal is reached.
  • Attainable – The goal should be achievable.
  • Relevant – The goal should pertain to your overall goals.
  • Time-based – You should have a time frame to meet the goal.

Goals vs Smart Goals

Here’s an example of what a lot of people say: “I want to get healthier next year.” Although this is a good notion, it’s not exactly a SMART goal, because it’s very general in nature. How can this idea be changed into a smarter goal that can be reached? First, what aspect of getting healthy do you want to accomplish? Specifically, “I want to eat healthier.” Now, we need to add a number to our goal to make it measurable. “I want to pack my lunch four days a week instead of choosing fast food.”

While this goal sounds attainable, you should check it against your calendar. Are you traveling two or three days a week? Maybe you don’t have a way to keep your lunch at safe temperatures. If you have to take kids to soccer, boy scouts and dance every night, it might be difficult to pack a lunch for yourself every morning. Can you manage this goal based on your current lifestyle? Maybe you should start by saying “In January, I plan to pack a healthy lunch two days a week and make healthier choices when I do go out for lunch,” or “I will replace chips and cookies in my diet with fruit and yogurt.”

The relevancy of the goal is fairly obvious. If you want to get healthy, then eating healthier is probably important to you. But you have to look at where you are in life right now. If you’re being pressured into setting a goal that doesn’t mean anything for you, it’s time to go back and set a better goal. To make a goal more relevant, you might want to attach it to another goal. If you want to lose weight, then making healthier food choices would mean even more to you.

You Can Reach Your Goals

With a time-bound goal, you have an endpoint. With our goal above, the endpoint would be January. One month of eating healthier is much more doable than just getting healthy. At the endpoint, you can then examine the goal and the outcomes to decide if you want to try again next month or if you need to adapt the goal to make it “smarter.” Instead of setting one big goal that you never reach, set smaller goals that are reasonable. When you make your goals reasonable and attainable, you’re more likely to carry through. 

Göran Persson, former Prime Minister of Sweden, once said, “Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” Let the new year serve as a catalyst for change, but make your resolutions realistic.

Back to the Basics: Traditional Mail
Young woman at table writing traditional mail by a teapot and glass, smiling

Traditional Mail used to be the only means of communication before the internet was a thing.

When was the last time you received traditional mail like a handwritten letter in your mailbox? No, not a greeting card or thank-you note, but a real letter, written with a pen or pencil on paper. Remember the excitement you felt? If you’re like most people, you probably stopped everything and took a few minutes to open that envelope and read the words inside. There’s something about letter writing that demonstrates a special connection and communication.

Articles dating back to 2009 and maybe even earlier talk about how letter-writing is a dwindling art. According to “The Guardian,” about 20 percent of UK students have never even received a handwritten letter. Over half of the recipients had never sent one. One expert believes that letter-writing is instrumental to a child’s development. Receiving a letter is a statement of investment in a relationship. Putting your thoughts and ideas on paper is an effort in “civilized human thought.” Letter-writing is a practical application of spelling and grammar, without the ease of emoticons or shortcuts. 

Writing a Traditional Letter

It’s common to start a letter with the phrase, “Dear –,“ but that can feel very stilted and formal in today’s society. You should include some kind of salutation, but it doesn’t have to be traditional. Hi or hello will work just as well when you’re writing an informal letter to a friend. Pretend you’re talking to the person. If you don’t know what to talk about in the body of a letter, here are some ideas:

  • What made you decide to write the letter
  • Something about today that reminds you of the person
  • A memory of the individual
  • A piece of information or wisdom you’ve always wanted to share
  • Something you find difficult to say in person
  • A memory of your childhood that you want your son, granddaughter or mentee to know
  • Stories of college or the military

If you’ve never written letters before, it may seem weird to have a one-sided conversation. Don’t worry, as you get more accustomed to writing on paper instead of the computer, the words will flow. You don’t have to overthink letter-writing. Spend 15 minutes or so writing the letter, and send it off.

Don’t forget to close the letter. You don’t have to use the very formal “sincerely yours.” Choose a casual sign-off, maybe “toodles,” or “see you later.” Again, just pretend the person is there, and you’re saying good-bye. Sign your name. Be creative and use the name the person knows you as. This isn’t a business letter. If you have a lot of space at the bottom of a page, draw a picture or include your favorite quote. Not many people keep linen stationery around. It’s okay if you just have plain white copy paper. Find stickers or stencils and jazz up the page to make it look special.

Why Traditional Mail?

Teaching our children to write casual letters is the introduction to more formal kinds of communication. It’s very difficult to sit down and write a business letter unless you’ve experienced casual letter-writing. Email and letter-writing might be similar, but they have their differences.

A letter isn’t for bad news or to start a fight. Be positive and creative. Many people have forgotten how to communicate in writing, but getting a letter is fun. Make a resolution to write one letter a month to someone you love. You might choose a shut-in who can’t use technology. Your letter isn’t just for the recipient. Your words tell the story of your life. Sharing this story is a way to bring you closer to your family and friends. It also helps you become more articulate about what has shaped you. Let’s bring back the lost art of letter-writing in 2017.

The Myths of Men’s Depression
Men's Depression is extremely hard to overcome without help.

Men’s Depression is difficult to address. Most men do not wish to leave themselves exposed to that degree.

October 10 marked World Mental Health Day. The focus this year was on raising awareness about men’s depression and mental health. The second leading cause of disability in the world is depression. Sixteen percent of Canadian women experience a major depression at least once in their life. Men, although perceived as more stalwart and less emotional than women, experience depression at a rate of about 11 percent, according to figures from Health Canada. This means that about 840,000 men are affected by depression. The more startling figure is that Canadian men account for more than four times the number of suicides than women. Depression is a leading cause of suicide, which means that this mental health disorder has to be addressed.

Men may find it more difficult to get help because of the misconceptions about depression. Headsupguys.org, funded through Movember Foundation and the University of British Columbia, has launched a movement to help men find the help and support they need to get past depression. On the Headsupguys websites, men share personal stories of overcoming depression as a way to encourage others to reach out for help. To help these measures, we would like to share some of the myths about depression to give you information about getting better. Share with a loved one or use it for yourself.

Misconceptions About Men’s Depression

  • Depression is a sign of weakness – No, it’s not. Depression is actually a real illness with treatment available from your doctor and therapist.
  • Real men don’t let things get to them and stay in control of their emotions – Not true. The real strength is in facing the daily challenges that arise in your life and dealing with them, no matter what your emotions do.
  • Being sad is unmanly – Nope. All humans feel a huge range of emotions every day, sadness included. Men feel many different things and shouldn’t be scared of sadness.
  • Men should be able to cope on their own without asking for help – Truly, this is wrong. If you broke your arm, you wouldn’t hesitate to ask a professional for help. In business, you’re encouraged to have a mentor. Asking for help and guidance when you’re experiencing mental health problems is not a sign of weakness. It’s actually one of the smartest things you can do.
  • If you have enough willpower, you can snap out of depression – A big misconception, and completely false. Much like you couldn’t make yourself get over cancer, you cannot just get over depression. You need new tools and resources to learn to approach your life differently and overcome this disorder.

Reaching Out for Help

Once you understand that depression is a serious illness, that doesn’t make it easy to just get help. But you have to take that first step. What can you do? If you’re worried about talking to your doctor, start with a loved one who can help you reach out. Your spouse, your parents, your siblings and even your adult children are a good place to start. Depression makes it difficult to move forward in your life. Ask for help.

Call your doctor and make an appointment to get the ball rolling. Your doctor can go over your symptoms with you and help you find the mental health resources you need. A doctor might suggest medication along with therapy. Don’t be afraid to at least talk about the options. Getting better and back to your life is the most important thing.

There are many 24/7 health crisis lines in Canada that you can call when you want help. Don’t be afraid to reach out. You won’t be wasting their time. The services are anonymous and confidential. Calls are not recorded. If you are in imminent risk, you will be asked if it’s okay to send help. Your privacy will not be violated, and you may find the resources you need.

Saint Francis and Animal Blessings
Saint Francis of Assisi

After his death, Saint Francis was made the patron saint of animals and ecology.

If you’re one of the millions of people who enjoy animal videos online, you’re going to appreciate Saint Francis of Assisi. He lived in the late 12th century into the 13th century, during a time of great unrest in the Middle East. Francis upset his family when his life took a turn toward poverty and the priesthood. He would renounce his wealth and his family in order to serve God. When Francis was canonized after his death, he was made the patron saint of animals and ecology. His love of nature and all creatures makes him someone to remember even today. 

Saint Francis and His Legacy

In 1989, Liliana Cavani directed Mickey Rourke in “Francesco,” an Italian film which follows Francis’ life from a son of a wealthy silk merchant in Italy to a soldier in the army who would be captured in a war. Francis would later become a humanitarian and give up his family’s wealth to serve God. The film won three major awards and is a great representation of his life.

During the Fifth Crusade, Francis would attempt to mediate peace between the Christians and Muslims. Although he was unsuccessful, the Franciscans, his order of monks, were given permission to have a presence in the Holy Land. Since the 13th century, the Franciscans have almost steadily been the “Custodians of the Holy Land” for the Catholic Church.

El Greco painted a beautiful rendition of “Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata.” Saint Francis is said to have received five wounds similar to those that Christ received when he hung on the cross. Although many historians now believe he was stricken with leprosy, at the time it was considered to be a sign of exceptional religious faith.

Saint Francis has inspired many other works of art and music. As recently as 2005, Lewis Nielson composed a concerto for violin, called, “St. Francis Preaches to the Birds.” One of Bernard Malamud’s novels features a main character who lives the life of Saint Francis in Brooklyn during the 20th century.

Francis is remembered as a great poet and writer. Not only do his poems and works have religious value, but also literary value. This is the first few lines of “Canticle of the Sun,” believed to be one of the first works of literature written in Italian:

“Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!

All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

“To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.

No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

“Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,

especially through my lord Brother Sun,

who brings the day; and You give light through him.

And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!

Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.”

It was written in the Umbrian dialect and translated into English for us to appreciate.

Your Pet Is an Important Member of Your Family

The church celebrates Saint Francis of Assisi on October 4, commonly with services that include blessings for animals. In many paintings, Saint Francis is portrayed with a bird in his hand because legend has it that he commanded the animals. One legend tells the tale of a wolf who lay down at his feet. Francis is thought to have worked out a pact with the wolf and the town dogs to protect the townspeople. He blessed the wolf.

Pope John Paul II referenced Saint Francis in 1982 on World Environment Day, reminding people to care and to love all of creation, to offer a healthy environment for those who come after us. Everyone can get behind being green and eco-conscious to protect our animals and the plants. You don’t have to be Christian to appreciate Saint Francis of Assisi.

Alzheimer’s and Dealing With Aging Parents
Dealing with a parent suffering from  Alzheimer's can be extremely stressful.

Alzheimer’s can be a very stressful on the relationship between a child and their parents. Dealing with a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s can be extremely stressful.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. With more than 46 million people in the world living with a form of dementia, it’s time to speak out against this debilitating condition that is often ignored or hidden away. Although the elderly are revered and honored in many cultures, there’s still a stigma about having dementia. It’s not only the individual who is diagnosed with dementia who suffers, but family members who must care for this person are often under more strain and stress from dealing with a parent who is sick. If you’re taking care of a parent who has Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another chronic condition, here are some tips to help you deal with the complex issues that arise.

 

Dealing With Parents Who Have Alzheimer’s

  1. Give your parents as much autonomy as you can. Offer options, not orders, when possible. This shows respect for their condition and affirms their value to you.
  2. Expect anger and grief. Your parent is not only dealing with a loss of his or her own body and mind, but of authority. The relationship he or she has always had with you is changing. Anticipate anger and respond in ways that show you understand what he or she has lost.
  3. Separate the emotional dysfunction from the disease. Dealing with a parent who has dementia is hard enough when he or she forgets your name. When your mom or dad calls you by your sibling’s name, don’t assume anything from this. It’s not about who is loved more.
  4. Appreciate your helpers. Find other caregivers who can help you take care of your mom and dad. If you can’t bring in healthcare providers, find members of the community who can offer respite from cleaning or shopping to give you a break.
  5. Ask siblings for help, but remember that everyone has their own baggage they’re dealing with. Ideally, it would be great if the family came together when mom and dad were sick. Realistically, you have no idea what each person is dealing with emotionally when it comes to parental relationships. Just because you’ve worked through your issues, maybe siblings haven’t.
  6. Expect crazy from the family. Impending grief makes people do crazy things. If there’s any kind of inheritance, it compounds the situation. Anticipate the frenzy that can happen when a parent is dying. Know where you draw the line about money. Protect yourself as much as you can.
  7. Take care of yourself. Caring for an elderly parent is a time-consuming job, and it’s probably not your only responsibility. Take time for yourself and your family. Have some fun when you can. Enjoy the good days.
  8. Don’t dwell on the little things. When dad forgets the little things, don’t sweat it. Just go with it. Listen to his stories from the old days. A patient with Alzheimer’s might remember things from 50 years ago while forgetting that he took his medicine just a few minutes ago.
  9. Ask for your parents’ advice when you can. Get them to talk about their past when they are able. Take advantage of the moments and appreciate the good times.
  10. Take things slow. You’re running a marathon, not a race. Get help from the aging council in your community to help you find the right process that works.

You’re not alone in taking care of aging parents. There may not be a cure for the condition your parent faces, but there is a lot of support. Reach out to others and find assistance to help you manage your new role as a caretaker. Talk about the problems of dementia and aging in your community to let others know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. When people come together, it makes a difference.

Are You Considering Adoption?
Adoption can completely change a child's life.

Adoption can completely change a child’s life.

The Adoption Council for Canada estimates that there are about 30,000 children in Canada’s child welfare system eligible to be adopted. Although many of these children are aged 6 or older, they still need a permanent home where they can grow and thrive in a loving environment. If you’ve been considering an addition to your family, but were afraid of adoption, learn more about it to know if it might be a good solution.

Myths Surrounding Adoptions

Many people are concerned about the costs of adoption, which is understandable. However, a public adoption costs very little, according to the ACC. A private adoption will cost more, but costs vary by organization. It’s estimated that a public adoption costs $3,000 or less. Through a licensed agency, it can run $10,000 to $20,000, and an international adoption can cost $20,000 or more.

Then, there’s always the fear that a biological parent can take back the child. Once a parent’s rights have been terminated, the parent cannot regain custody of the child. Once the adoption is finalized, adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as biological parents when it comes to the child.

Another common myth is that “I don’t qualify.” Whether it’s age, marital status, or relationship-status, there are no hard and fast rules about who qualifies to adopt. Many people over the age of 40 have been able to adopt children. Single parents can also adopt, as can same-sex couples. Actually, in Canada, each province regulates adoptions based on rules that have been set by their government.

Many people are concerned with the needs of the child who has been abandoned or abused. It’s true that children in the foster care system can have emotional, mental or even physical needs that have to be addressed. Their best chance at success is a loving, permanent family who works toward a positive future with the child.

What’s the Process Like?

Although the process may be slightly different based on where you live or the agency you’re using, there is a basic process that can help you understand what it will take to adopt a child. The first thing you need to do is contact the agency and attend their intake meeting. Here, the agency will outline their specific guidelines.

Adoption is a very intrusive process. You’re going to be given an application that is very personal. You may not have even considered some of the questions you might get asked. You can’t get upset by the process. You’re asking to be entrusted with a human soul. This is a very serious matter. The agency has to do its due diligence to know that you are capable of the job. A medical exam is required. You may also be subjected to a police check. Prepare to give references for a background check.

Each applicant will be required to have a homestudy by a licensed social worker. Some agencies offer a class to prepare you for this step. You may choose to delay the process at this point while you prepare or even withdraw. The homestudy is more than just paperwork. You and your spouse (if applicable) will be interviewed. You should expect at least one home visit. The agency worker will probably want to meet with family members to assess your readiness and ability to deal with the adopted child.

Is It Worth It?

There’s no real timeline for the process, because it depends on many different factors. Be patient, because the most important aspect is the child’s needs. Although you may be trying to find your child, the real purpose of adoption is to find a family for a child. There may be disappointments along the way, but once the process is complete it is very rewarding. Think about it. Maybe you can be the difference in the life of a child.