“I’m too old to exercise and weight train” says my friend Adam.  At 78, he has all the more reason to engage in an exercise program.  Even if it is simply to maintain the function he currently has.  Current Canadian statistics are recording gradual increases in life expectancy with 80 years of age for males and 84 years of age for females being the norm.  The list goes on for revealing the advantages of regular exercise, however here are 10 sure bet reasons:

  1. Increase or maintain bone density:

Osteoporosis is often the main cause of fractures in the elderly.  By maintaining bone density through low impact exercise, we can maintain bone strength and/or build on it.  Every day exercise such as walking, and a supplement of vitamin D and calcium can help maintain bone strength and health.

  1. Mood/depression

Exercise can reduce depression and enhance self- esteem and a feeling of wellness.   Exercise can certainly boost those endorphins to enhance your well-being and allow you to do things you may otherwise not do.  Engage in group exercise classes to increase social context or ask a friend to join you.  Statistics show that when you exercise with a buddy, you will be more inclined to keep exercising.

  1. Increase Metabolism – Manage Weight

Strength training increases muscle mass, which raises your metabolism and your ability to control weight.  Being overweight is the number one reason for increase in diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

  1. Manage medical conditions

A regular sustained exercise program of at least 3-4 times per week will help you manage medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and depression.  Statistics show that individuals with Parkinson’s disease manage symptoms by exercising on a regular basis; those with diabetes and high blood pressure may see sharp decreases in values often requiring reduction of medications used to manage them.


  1. Cognitive Function

Exercise is good for the mind. Group exercises & seated exercise programs are excellent choices for those with cognitive decline.  The social context of exercise is also beneficial for the senior with dementia. Recent studies have shown that exercise may improve memory and slow down mental decline

  1. Fall reduction

Balance is often a concern for elderly patients, especially those with a sedentary lifestyle.  Muscle imbalance and overall weakness will cause one to stumble.  By exercising, muscle strength and muscle balance can be restored causing increased reflex action.

  1. Flexibility

Range of motion exercises and stretching are very important as we age.  Programs such as gentle yoga in addition to strength and cardiovascular programing will benefit you immensely.

  1. Weight Management

A good exercise program should address weight management by designing a comprehensive program which includes cardiovascular training, strength training, stretching and a diet regime to assist you in weight loss.  Meeting with a dietician can be very helpful in determining which foods are high in the glycemic index and assist in making good choices.  As we age, our calorie needs diminish – or our calorie intake requirements are directly related to our physical activity levels.

  1. Functional Strength

Functional strength is defined as having the ability to perform all aspects of activities of daily living (ADL’s). If you enjoy gardening, you must maintain strong core and back muscles, to allow you to keep doing the things you love.   Maintaining strong arms and legs will assist you in rising. Being able to transfer safely is the most important ADL of all!

  1. Aging in Place – Staying Independent

The number one choice for seniors today is to stay at home as long as possible.  This can be arranged through managing all aspects of health through exercise, proper diet, regular physician checkups and downsizing as you age, to assist you with the physical changes in the aging process.


Written by Johanna Booy, of Care & Company Ltd., SeniorCareVictoria.ca.

More and more seniors are opting to age in place – stay in the home they know and love for many reasons.  Aging in place is by no means a new phenomenon.  Only a few generations ago, many families lived and died at home; families made way for grand dad to sit by the fire in a rocking chair having converted a den to a bed sitting room.  We’ve departed from this style of inter-generational living; we are however beginning to see a shift back to this model of senior care.


Aging in place is a term used for individuals both wishing to live at home or at a residential care complex until they die.  Seniors living at home experience rewards such as being able to stay in familiar surroundings, maintain a routine, sleep in their own bed, eat food they like to eat, and stay involved in making choices.  Many seniors and their families relate they enjoy the one on one care and consistency in care of bringing in a care worker to assist the senior to age in place.  However this model of care is not always possible.  When the time comes to interview a community of care or complex care home for your parent or loved one you should ask if they have aging in place capacity.  Our seniors do not do well with numerous moves in advanced age with the upheaval causing much stress and anxiety.


In a recent article a daughter remarked on the benefits of aging in place stating that “Emotionally and financially it is more rewarding.  Quality of life and personal attention, consistency of care and one on one care is better.  Family input is welcome and family are empowered.”


We often read of couples where one spouse requires a higher level of care due to advanced dementia and is cared for by the other spouse.  The burden is great, and sometimes the couple is split, leaving one spouse at home and the other in care.  Aging in place and providing home support services to keep them together is very important.  Seniors experience benefits emotionally, physically and financially.


There are however challenges in aging in place.  One of the greatest challenges seniors face is running out of funds to remain at home.  When the senior can no longer ‘bear the cost of care’ it may be time to make the transition to complex care.  Care agencies should consult with seniors and their families when they foresee an increase in future cost of care due to increased services required to assist the senior to live at home.


Another indicator care coordinators use as a benchmark for determining whether aging in place is a viable choice is when our seniors put the care worker or residents of the home or apartment building they live in at risk; this is usually a great indicator for moving.  We all live at risk, our seniors do so when they choose to stay in a home with stairs and experience the many challenges of living at home.  No one lives without risk – we hope as care workers to minimize that risk whether at home or in care home.


Seniors and families usually have a plethora of choices for care provision.  Navigating the health care system, knowing the terminology and understanding the various levels of care available to seniors is confusing at times.  Seek out reputable agencies, look into resources available in your community and check in with your local health authority for more information on how to care for your loved one to appropriately prepare for the future.


Written by Johanna Booy, of Care & Company Ltd., SeniorCareVictoria.ca.

Are you embarrassed by frequent visits to the bathroom? Don’t assume you are alone in dealing with this dilemma – far from it! If you are starting to carefully consider where and when you should be going out, or planning for long trips and avoiding certain activities, then this article is for you.

First of all, consult your physician. He or she will ask questions to help determine which type of urinary incontinence you’re experiencing – stress incontinence, urge incontinence, mixture of both, or less commonly, overflow incontinence or overactive bladder.

Urinary incontinence can also be a persistent condition caused by underlying physical problems or changes including, menopause, prostate cancer, pregnancy, obstruction (such as a tumor) and change in weight or age. The bladder muscles may simply weaken due to these problems. Certain foods or drinks can tax the bladder especially at night when the urge to get up numerous times will result in a poor night’s sleep. Specifically, drinks such as coffee and tea should be limited as they put a lot of stress on the bladder. Not only limit the quantity but also be mindful of the time of day. Anything in the early evening or onward should be avoided.

Activities such as sneezing, laughing or coughing trigger the urge to urinate or may cause a slight leakage. When in a group setting, these triggers should be carefully considered and managed to ensure you avoid embarrassing situations.

Everyone will benefit from the steps below to avoid urinary stress, urge and incontinence.

1. Improve the muscle tone of your Pelvic floor: Walk, sit and move using a strong postural positioning. Lift up from the lower pelvic floor, and tighten those muscles
2. Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles before you sneeze or cough. A chronic cough may weaken the muscle tone of the pelvic floor.
3. Exercise the lower abdominal muscles by performing bridges, and other isometric exercises utilizing the internal muscles around the bladder.
4. See a physio therapist to design a set program such as the Beyond Kegels, which is a new set of exercises developed for the pelvic floor. These are especially helpful for new
mothers, and women with uterine prolapse. Men can certainly benefit from these exercises as well.
5. Maintain a healthy weight and eat more fibre which can prevent constipation, also a cause of urinary incontinence.
6. Avoid bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol and acidic foods

Urinary incontinence isn’t always preventable but you can certainly decrease the risk! Don’t let urinary incontinence or frequent urinating limit your lifestyle.


Written by Johanna Booy, of Care & Company Ltd., SeniorCareVictoria.ca.

It’s amazing the items left over when someone you love passes. My mum passed away on her birthday this year. My dad is in an independent living home, having moved only 3 weeks prior to her death. The house they lived in sold and was closing at the end of July. So much to do to complete this chapter of their life.
On the last day before closing, and on the buffet where my mother’s family pictures were arrayed for the past 14 years, were a number of items no one wanted… Antique dolls, photographs of people no one recognized, tacky holiday pictures in frames … That is until a grandson with a sentimental heart arrived on the scene. He wanted the button jar – a mason jar full of buttons! “Buttons” he said “I want those”.

“Really, I remarked – a button jar! What on earth will you do with that?” “Well, it’s obvious someone went to a lot of work to save them”, he remarks.
Those buttons represent 65 years of painstakingly removing small decorative and to today’s standard, antique buttons from items of clothing her three daughters had outgrown or simple garments she acquired from odd jobs she did sewing for her clients in the 60s.

Somethings as simple as this button jar, conjures up more memories that I can recall. Not only did we collect buttons and threads, but zippers, snaps, bows, bling (sequins) and anything we would otherwise have to pay for at the shop.

These buttons in a jar, represent once more things we don’t think of saving in this disposable society. On the other hand, how many buttons and zippers adorn the clothing of our present-day clothing, making this relic a true item of sentiment for one grandson to bring home and wonder…. Why exactly did I pick this?

Memories are made of this!


Written by Johanna Booy, of Care & Company Ltd., SeniorCareVictoria.ca.

Functional Fitness – Assisting Seniors at Home

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) is a term health professionals use to describe an individual’s daily self-care activities. They use it as a measure of your functional status to assess how fit you are to stay in your home. There are six ADLs including bathing or showering, dressing, self-feeding, personal hygiene and grooming, toilet hygiene, and functional mobility (the ability to move yourself from one place to another).

“The most important is functional mobility, also called transferring and mobilizing,” says Johanna Booy, CEO of Care and Company – a home care company committed to assisting elders to stay at home and recover from major surgery.

“Without functional mobility, you’re not going to be able to go down to the dining room to eat, or get out of bed to get to the bathroom to do your toileting, or dress yourself. All the other ADLs are dependent on your strength; functional strength.”

Stay in the home you love longer

The biggest advantage of being a functionally fit person is that you get to stay in your own home as long as possible,” says Johanna.

When a discussion group at Minton House were asked about staying home, they unanimously agreed it was their top priority. They wanted to sleep in their own bed, eat their own meals, be free to make choices and remain independent. One resident responded that she liked her home because “I’m familiar with my surroundings.” Her neighbor agreed. He said, “I can do what I want to do when I want to do it.”

As we grow older, remaining independent really comes down to your functional fitness. You need to stay strong. The good news is, with a little commitment and help, you can maintain, even regain your functional strength. “Whatever activity you do, there is an exercise that will target the muscles and joints required to do the activity and enable you to do them longer,” says Johanna.

Fall Prevention

One of the thing that happens when your balance deminishes is a tendency to shuffle in order to try and keep your feet close to the ground.

“Every time you strike your heel on the floor, it impacts the bones and builds density. Shuffling does nothing for the bone. If you’re going to walk properly, you need to utilize an even pattern of heel to toe,” says Johanna.

The exercises Care & Company employ helps you to establish a regular gait pattern and increase your balance.   “That’s the whole reason for these exercises, so that the neural muscular facilitation takes place between the muscles messaging the brain and the brain gives feedback to the muscles.”

Picking Yourself Up

Falling is dangerous, but getting stranded on the floor after a fall can be deadly. Care & Company has a solution.

“While I certainly don’t recommend any exercises from the floor, I do show you how to get up off the floor, because many people who fall don’t have any way to get up off the ground. I teach a couple of very simple ways to get up again,” says Johanna.  And there are some fine exercises which target the upper body and legs to assist with the push up off the floor.

In Home Chair Exercises

Even if you have difficulty standing, you can do many of these exercises from the comfort of your own chair and reap the benefits of increased strength.

Recover from surgery and hospital visits more quickly

If you undergo hip or knee replacement surgery, the exercise program you should do post-surgery is very comprehensive. These post-surgery exercises are extremely important. If you don’t do them, the muscles targeted in the surgery will atrophy.

When you leave the hospital, the outpatient program that sets you up with exercises sincerely hope you will continue to follow-up in the  community where you have the support of friends and qualified personnel to assist you.

Seniors are into fitness for a completely different reason. They want to recover from surgery, focus on balance issues to prevent falling and make sure old injuries don’t come back to haunt them.

At Senior Care Victoria, we enable you to stay at home as long as possible. Our in-home exercise program incorporates cardiovascular and strength training and specific exercises for balance and core strength.