Column 3 – Good Riddance Waste

Waste is all around us and an accumulation of waste is a risk to ageing well. To be at our best we need to rid ourselves of excess waste. I know you are thinking what I am thinking, “excess” is in the eye of the beholder, but truly if you have not used something in a year and you have no plans on using it; do you really need it cluttering your space? I know, I know there are people who would say, “I might need that someday” and if they have a garage or workspace that allows them to keep that type of stuff and it is not in their living space, they might get away with that. I know in my home we do because it has been proven time and time again that we do indeed use that extra piece of whatever to make repairs around the home, or someone else’s home.
When people do get better organized they feel a good sense of “letting go” of clutter which then can bring an improved emotional state. Just like when you de-clutter your mind and you give your thoughts room to “breathe”, when you de-clutter your space you can feel healthier. It is a process and once you go through the process the overwhelming feeling of dreading the process is gone and our muddled thoughts can become clear. Also we can feel livelier and be safer.
The digestive system is another example of a part of us that we need to be sure is working well and ridding our body of waste. When our digestion is not working well and when it leads to our bowels not working well we can become severely distressed. Pooping well is an extraordinary important part of health and there are a number of things people need to do to be sure the bowels are able to do the job. The human body needs to have water, water, water, fiber, fiber, fiber, exercise, exercise, exercise and relaxation. Stress can bring on a number of problems and yes, constipation can be one of those things. When we do not get enough water into our system, and we are eating too many processed foods we can have bowel problems.
On the other hand when digestion is functioning well, it is very efficient and carries out an organized sorting process. A healthy digestive system knows what to keep to help our bodies, where to send all the good things like nutrients, and it gets rid of the waste. Like good digestion we also need to know what to keep that helps us and what to get rid of because it is bogging us down. Our minds and bodies get slowed down, just like our bowels if we do not keep what is good for us around us.
Believe it or not it has been shown that when we de-clutter and organize our living space our bodies react in a more healthy way. Some health benefits that have been stated are better blood flow and less soreness, and an improved ability to fight diseases. Just like in the bowels, the right nutrients can get to the right place. All the health benefits of de-cluttering our lives can help us beat back chronic conditions such as cancers, diabetes, heart disease and depression. When we are able to think clearly and more efficiently, our energy lasts longer and our health profits.
As we enter spring and warmer weather it is a good time to start purging unused items. Maybe someone else can benefit from our unneeded treasures. Maybe you need some help in getting your house back in order? Perhaps there are people who can assist who pick up donations, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Helping others brings joy. Also, there are companies you can hire that will help provide heavy cleaning, there are services that can offer help, check out the yellow pages under Garbage Collection.
Patricia is the Executive Director of the Westford Nursing Home in Port Elgin. She is an advocate for sharing information about aging well and enjoys promoting important aspects that will support our older population to age well. Patricia can be reached at

Column 2 – A Nasty Cycle

January 8, 2019

Having fear about some things can keep us safe, like the fear of being hit by a car when crossing a street, however, fear can contribute poorly to our lives. I am certain many of us can relate to our own fear stopping us from doing something and we should absolutely listen to that voice of fear, but other times that voice of fear can be hurting us more than we know. I will get to the point now. The fear of falling actually contributes to our risk of falling.

We need to think about the fact that if an older person is restricted too much from having walks or going to the bathroom then we can actually be increasing their odds on falling when they do get up. That is why patients are encouraged to get up as soon as possible after surgery or an illness. The longer we do not stand, or walk, or sit up on our own, then the longer we may hesitate to do these things and our bodies are more ready to fall.

Some people may stop attempting to do things they used to do regularly. Things like taking the time to make a healthy soup instead of just toast or a sandwich for many meals. Maybe leaving laundry to pile up instead of putting on a load when there is enough to do wash. Other things like going to another room or another level in the home to do something socially or entertaining during the day.

There are other factors that can change our patterns in life. Factors such as our eyes not working like they used to, not feeling as well as we once did, or maybe fatigued from that new medication we take. These aspects of our life combined with a fear of falling will really take a toll on us. Our fear of falling can come alive if we have a fall, even if no serious injury comes from it. A fall is an unkind reminder that we are not always in control and something nasty can happen in a flash. Sadly, if we do not address this fear it can make us stop doing things we used to do. When we stop doing things we used to do, other aspects of our life can be affected in a bad way. We stop moving around as much, we stop going out as much and then we stop socializing as much. When we stop moving and we stop socializing our quality of life and our health are affected negatively in a big way. The small joys of having a good conversation, being a part of something, feeling well, eating well, and feeling needed can be stripped slowly away.

Research has been carried out on studying how the fear of falling increases the risk of falling. We know that more needs to be done and it is clear that it is a problem and one that we can work toward addressing ourselves through talking about it and acknowledging that it is an issue. Working towards reducing the risks that are around us that could contribute to us falling is an important step (pun intended). No, falling is not a normal part of ageing, but it certainly affects us more as we age. We need to be very careful that we are not avoiding the very things we need to do to reduce our risk of falling or being seriously hurt by a fall. Start or join a walking group, walking is good at any speed. Using walking aids is not something to restrict us, they are there to keep us moving and independent. Show that cane, walker or wheelchair off with pride that you are not going to be slowed down to a stop! Speak with your doctor or nurse practitioner if you are feeling unsafe when walking so you can work together to correct the issue. There are resources and help please use them and keeping moving.

Column 1 – A New Start

January 3, 2019

Hello Everyone, Westford has decided to start posting the Aging Well columns that have run in the Tribune over the past year. We will post a new column about every two weeks to help you catch up or review. We hope you enjoy the tidbits of information that are intended to help us think about approaches that assist us to age as well as we can. Here is the first one:

The Westford Nursing Home starts 2018 with a New Executive Director with a New Column

The Westford Nursing Home has started 2018 with a new Executive Director. They have said farewell to their long-time Executive Director, Judy White, wishing her a very happy retirement after a lengthy and dedicated career. Patricia Harrington has been warmly welcomed into their home.
Judy began her career at the Westford Nursing Home 27 years ago, first as Director of Nursing and then as the Executive Director. Judy has been a steadfast advocate for the residents and an exceptional leader, guiding and inspiring staff throughout the years. She now hands over these responsibilities to Patricia who will ensure Westford Nursing Home continues to provide compassionate and professional resident care in a safe, comfortable and homelike environment. The Board of Directors feel very fortunate to have found someone with Patricia’s experience, qualifications and enthusiasm to fill this key position.
Patricia is keen to continue the respectful, caring leadership that is so evident at the Home. “I was thrilled to be informed that I was chosen to be a part of the Westford team, I truly look forward to working in Port Elgin with such a dedicated, caring group of people”. Patricia started out her career as a care provider to seniors and has since worked in a number of management positions that not only supported older people living in long term care, but, also vulnerable people living in their communities. As the Director of a provincial personal emergency response service, to a District Manager of Continuing Care Services, Patricia worked collaboratively with many organizations to ensure safe, appropriate services were available. Services such as palliative care, home support services, long term care, equipment loan, home oxygen, meals, adult day, and caregiver support. Patricia was also an initiator of a successful Seniors Safety Program.
As a writer for an Aging Well column for over five years, Patricia has helped to raise awareness of the important supports and knowledge of how we can take control of our health as we age. As a co-facilitator of a caregiver support group, she also helps support people who are caring for loved ones living with dementia. “There are a lot of supports available to help people to age well and to live as independently and safely as possible in their communities. Raising awareness is a constant challenge. I look forward to helping people become informed regarding the support that is currently available in the Port Elgin region”. This work goes hand in hand with the high-quality care that the Westford Nursing Home currently provides.
The Westford Nursing Home and Villa are integral to the community – not only caring for our frail and elderly, as well as, offering affordable housing, but also as a major employer, providing economic spin off to the community. “From removing their outside footwear at the door to ensure the floors are kept dry and safe for walking, to providing reassurance and an extra cup of tea as requested, the staff at Westford demonstrate everyday how important the residents are to them and how much they are loved by them. The Westford is not just about providing the much-needed care, it is about showing how much people are cared for as well,” said Patricia. I feel very blessed to be a part of the Westford home.

Patricia is an advocate for sharing information about aging well and enjoys promoting the important aspects that will support our older population to age well.