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At Carefor, we believe that our strength lies in the diversity of our people and the inclusivity of our practices. Our commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism (EDI-AR) is more than just a policy; it’s a vital part of our path to excellence. 

Under our new strategic plan we are working towards a better understanding of EDI-AR within our organization and creating meaningful changes to support a more engaged and connected workforce.

With the assistance of equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism consultants, we have surveyed the current landscape at Carefor to better understand the needs, experiences, and barriers of our staff.  We are now in the final stages of developing our EDI-AR strategy, with implementation starting over the summer. Our goal is for our EDI-AR strategy to weave itself into all aspects of our work as we assess, acknowledge and act on ways we can be more inclusive of all our staff.

Carefor is committed to embracing inclusion and diversity. We recognize the importance of creating a workplace where all employees can bring their authentic selves to work without fear of discrimination or exclusion and to be an organization that provides the best care to all. We celebrate the diversity within our community and acknowledge that our strength lies in embracing and supporting each other.

Carefor stands proudly with our 2SLGBTQ+ community members. We are dedicated to fostering an environment where everyone feels safe, valued, and included, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Pride Month is a time not only to recognize and celebrate the 2SLGBTQI+ community but also a time to embrace and encourage our differences. By supporting our 2SLGBTQ+ community, we uphold these values and enrich our organization with diverse perspectives and experiences.

Happy Pride everyone!

Steve Perry
President & CEO

One thing that makes the Ottawa Valley unique is the staying power of its residents. There’s something about being “from the Valley”. People take pride in it.

In communities stretching throughout Renfrew County, including towns and the rural areas in between live just over 100,000 people. In Pembroke, the percentage of residents who are above 65 is 26%. For the rest of the country it’s 20%.

Some might say it’s a good place to grow old. But is that the case for everyone? If you have means, then okay. But if you’re living in a fixed income as are many elderly people in Renfrew County, the increasing cost of living is diminishing their ability to afford basic essentials such as transportation, food and housing.

This leads to a chain effect with limited access to food and healthcare preventing people from being able to continue living in their homes. As a not for profit charity, Carefor’s role is to help bridge the gap for seniors to community services and affordable living.

Access to Health Care

Carefor’s non-urgent medical transportation picks up seniors and transports them to their medical appointments. With Renfrew County having no public transit system and private alternatives being limited and costly, Carefor’s transportation program provides a more affordable alternative to allow seniors to get to the places they most need. Without access to medical appointments, elderly people might not as well have them, increasing the likelihood of hospitalizations.

Food Insecurity

Throughout the Ottawa Valley are seniors who live alone. Many for whatever reason don’t cook as much as they used to. Perhaps it’s not having anyone else to cook for; perhaps a loved one had always taken care of it; perhaps they just can’t get to the grocery store like they used to.

Carefor’s frozen meal delivery program brings prepared meals right to people’s doors so they have easier access to good, nutritious food. “These programs are becoming more and more essential,” says Alice Grenon, Carefor’s Manager of Community Support Services. “We’re not only seeing more seniors in our communities, and with the cost of living, people are struggling to afford basic things that they might have previously been able to.”

Housing Insecurity

The vast majority of people want to age in their homes, but that’s not always the best option for some. With limited supports, many seniors are isolated and age alone. It can be dangerous for many, causing them to seek out other options. But if you’re on a government pension without other sources of financial supports, where can you go?

Many retirement homes are out of range for lower income seniors leaving a gap between them and the other alternatives: hospital, long-term care and homelessness. Carefor’s two retirement homes, Carefor Civic Complex and Carefor Mackay Centre bridge that gap offering accommodation for people with limited means and options.

What people often don’t see in these two retirement homes are the integrated supports that exist for the residents. “We’re seeing more and more people coming to us with complex physical and mental health challenges,” says Sharon Maye, Director of Retirement Home Services. “Here we offer specialized services such as assisted living and mental health supports that help people dealing with more complex challenges.”

While large buildings, what you can’t see when you look at Civic and Mackay from the outside are the intimate communities and relationships between the staff and residents, and residents with one another. There is a family feel in the homes and people looking out for one another. People understand what each other has gone through and where they’re from, and they help each other feel a sense of belonging.

To learn more about our retirement homes in Pembroke or our community support services, please visit our website.

In an age where mental acuity is prized, the search for methods to stave off cognitive decline has intensified. While brain teasers and puzzles have long been heralded as the champions of cognitive health, recent research suggests that physical activity may hold the key to maintaining a sharp mind well into old age.

Engaging in regular physical activity is not just beneficial for the body; it also provides a wealth of advantages for cognitive function. Numerous studies have shown that exercise can boost cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, and decision-making. Moreover, physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.

So, what types of physical activities are particularly effective in preventing cognitive decline?

Aerobic Exercise: Activities that get your heart pumping and your blood flowing, such as walking, running, swimming, or cycling, are excellent for brain health. Aerobic exercise increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, promoting the growth of new neurons and enhancing synaptic connections, which are crucial for learning and memory.

Strength Training: Building muscle isn’t just about looking fit; it also has profound benefits for the brain. Strength training exercises, like lifting weights or using resistance bands, can improve cognitive function by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth and maintenance of neurons.

Yoga and Tai Chi: These mind-body practices combine gentle movements with focused breathing and meditation. Research suggests that practicing yoga or tai chi regularly can improve cognitive function, reduce stress, and enhance overall brain health. These activities may also help to mitigate the effects of aging on the brain by promoting relaxation and reducing inflammation.

Dance: Whether it’s ballroom, salsa, or two-stepping, dancing offers a fun and engaging way to stay physically active while challenging your brain. Learning new dance routines requires coordination, memory, and spatial awareness, all of which are vital for cognitive function. Plus, dancing is a social activity, which can further support brain health by reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Mindful Movement: Activities like qigong or mindful walking combine physical movement with mindfulness practices, fostering a deep connection between body and mind. These gentle exercises promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve cognitive function by encouraging present-moment awareness and mental clarity.

Incorporating these physical activities into your daily routine can have profound effects on your cognitive health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with two or more days of strength training and regular practice of mind-body activities. By staying active both physically and mentally, you can keep your mind sharp and resilient as you age.

Many of Carefor’s programs incorporate physical activity. Whether at our retirement homes in Pembroke, our adult day programs for people living with dementia in Ottawa or our seniors support centres in Eastern Counties, keeping moving is part of the program.

As seniors continue to embrace an active and vibrant lifestyle, the importance of flexibility and mobility cannot be overstated. Incorporating stretching exercises into daily routines plays a pivotal role in maintaining joint health, preventing injuries, and promoting overall well-being. In this guide, we explore essential stretching tips tailored for seniors, promoting a path to active aging.

Start Slow, Progress Gradually

One of the golden rules of stretching for seniors is to start slow and progress gradually. Before delving into stretches, it’s crucial to warm up the body. Gentle aerobic activities such as walking or cycling for 5-10 minutes increase blood flow to muscles, preparing them for stretching exercises. This helps prevent injuries and ensures a more effective stretch.

Begin with gentle, dynamic stretches that engage major muscle groups. Stretch major muscle groups including, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, shoulders, and the lower back. These areas are particularly prone to stiffness, and regular stretching can enhance the range of motion and alleviate discomfort.

As flexibility improves, seniors can introduce static stretches, holding each position for about 15-30 seconds. Be sure to pay close attention to your body and avoid pushing beyond your comfort zone. Discomfort is normal during stretching, but pain should be avoided.

If a stretch feels painful, it’s essential to ease off and consult with a healthcare professional if necessary. For those new to stretching or individuals with existing health conditions, consulting with a healthcare professional or a certified fitness trainer is advisable. They can provide personalized guidance, taking into account individual health needs and limitations.

Enjoy the Process

Stretching should be an enjoyable and rejuvenating experience. Seniors are encouraged to embrace the process, celebrate small victories, and appreciate the positive impact stretching has on their overall well-being.

To experience the full benefits of stretching try to stay on track and keep stretching regularly. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes of stretching exercises most days of the week. This regular practice contributes to improved flexibility and enhanced overall mobility.

Though consistency is key it is also important to switch things up now and again. Try activities such as balance exercises and chair exercises like chair yoga. For seniors with limited mobility or balance concerns, chair exercises offer a safe and effective alternative.

Seated stretches can target various muscle groups, providing the benefits of flexibility without putting stress on joints. Balance exercises, including stretches that involve balancing on one leg, are vital for seniors. These exercises enhance stability and reduce the risk of falls, a common concern in the senior population. As seniors embark on their journey to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, incorporating these stretching tips into their daily routine can be a game-changer. At Carefor retirement homes in West Ottawa and Pembroke-Renfrew Country we provide a full activities calendar to our residents which features many opportunities for our residents to exercise and stretch to help them maintain their mobility and flexibility. Through these activities and others including bingo, cards, and trivia games we aim to create a welcoming environment that will help foster a sense of community.

Imagine that you cook for yourself every single day. For years, you make breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Then, one day, you find that you no longer have the physical energy to cook so often, and you’re forced to find another way to get food. Or maybe someone cooked for you, someone you cared about, and when they pass you don’t know what to do. This is a reality for a lot of seniors, who need consistent access not only to nutritious ingredients, but feasible ways to prepare them.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to the plight of food insecurity. In a world with ever-rising food prices, seniors also have to contend with other barriers, such as an inability to stand over a stove for extended periods of time or a lack of transportation to stock up on groceries. Food insecurity isn’t just about food prices, there’s the complicated factor of accessibility, especially for vulnerable communities.

In Pembroke-Renfrew County, where many seniors experience food insecurity, Carefor’s frozen meal delivery service has been a valuable resource. For over two decades, Carefor has been a pillar of support for vulnerable communities, particularly seniors and individuals with disabilities facing isolation and limited access to fresh food.

By sourcing from local provider Griffith Farms and lovingly crafting meals before flash-freezing them, Carefor’s frozen food delivery ensures both convenience and nutritional quality. The service proves beneficial, especially in rural areas where traditional grocery shopping is often impractical due to transportation challenges.

“We’re always looking to fill a gap in the community,” says Janna Wood, coordinator of the delivery program. For her, the importance lies in giving seniors an easy option for nutritional meals, something that can be accessed with little physical or mental effort. This allows seniors and adults with disabilities to remain independent for as long as possible, helping them stay in their homes and avoid long-term care or hospital stays. Ultimately, it gives people choices.

However, the stark reality of escalating food prices underscores a harsh truth: while Carefor’s service addresses immediate hunger, its cost may create barriers for those most in need. Ultimately, while it provides a vital buffer against food insecurity, long-term solutions demand systemic changes, such as governmental subsidies and community-driven initiatives.

Essentially, Carefor’s frozen meal delivery service represents resilience in the face of adversity, offering sustenance and dignity to those grappling with food insecurity. It’s a testament to compassion and community solidarity, striving to bridge gaps and nourish spirits in uncertain times. If you’re in Pembroke-Renfrew County, this might be a helpful option for you.

To learn more about Carefor’s frozen meal program and to place an order, visit the Carefor website.

A lot of people struggle with isolation and feelings of loneliness. Seniors in particular are at risk, with 1 in 5 people over the age of 65 reporting that they lack companionship.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most people had an easier time maintaining their social life. The lockdowns and social distancing during the pandemic disrupted this, and many people had a hard time reconnecting after lockdowns were lifted. This has been especially impactful to seniors, who often lack a means of transportation and are less familiar with virtual socializing.

Social isolation can be very harmful to your health. Studies show that social isolation and feelings of loneliness can contribute to:

  • Depression
  • Poor sleep habits
  • A weakened immune system
  • Worsened cardiovascular health

Forging connections with people is essential to your health. Forming community is more than just a warm fuzzy feeling; human beings need it. If you’re a senior looking to build new relationships and don’t know where to start, here are some resources that might be helpful for you.

Public Libraries

Libraries are a great place to meet people and make friends. They’re not just for checking out books; most libraries host social events and clubs as well. In Ottawa libraries you can find writing groups, knitting groups and book clubs, among other things. Look at your local library’s website and there will be a section for clubs and events.

Senior Community Centers

Community centers often host events to get people more involved in the community. Senior centers are also designed to be fully accessible. The activities offered usually include card games, exercise programs and congregate meals. Check out your local community center online or by phone to see what they have to offer.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to reduce isolation and meet new people. You don’t need to come away from the experience with a best friend; it’s just nice sometimes to spend a day among people sharing a desire to make the world a better place. A great place to look for opportunities is Volunteer Ottawa, the City of Pembroke and on the Carefor website, where we’re always looking for people to make our clients’ days a bit brighter.

Connect with family and old friends

One of the great things about the internet is it allows you to connect with people from your past. Whether it be through social media sites like Facebook or sites that help you find friends from your school days, there are many ways to find old friends.

Connect online

For those who might be dealing with mobility restrictions or who live far away from family and friends, the internet is a great way to connect with and find new social networks around things that interest you. Connecting online might be intimidating but luckily there are resources available to support you.

Carefor

Carefor offers several ways for seniors to stay connected. Depending on your location, we have services and programs to choose from that meet different needs. Adult Day Programs for people living with dementia (Ottawa and Eastern Counties), the Companion Program (Pembroke-Renfrew County) and Seniors Group Exercise (Eastern Counties) are all great opportunities to meet new people.

If you cannot access the mentioned services due to a disability, consider checking out OC Transpo’s Para Transpo service or Carefor’s transportation services. Carefor also offers one-on-one social visits that can take place in your own home or over the phone.

Additionally, if you require some extra help around the house with cleaning or personal care, Carefor offers Personal Support and Homemaking Services. These can be more than just some help and can offer social connection.

Finally, Carefor also operates retirement homes in Pembroke and a retirement home for women living with dementia in Richmond in west Ottawa, which allow people who are unable to or choose not to live at home anymore the ability to connect with new friends.

To see which Carefor services are in your area or find more resources, visit our website.

With spring here, it’s a great time to start thinking about developing new habits and routines. Volunteering can be a great way to dive into something new while having a real impact on your community. It’s also an opportunity to make new friends, make good use of your time and challenge yourself. Those who volunteer see many benefits, such as:

Physical Health

Volunteering can be a great way for people over the age of 50 to stay healthy. Research shows that seniors who volunteer see lower rates of physical decline compared to seniors who didn’t volunteer. Getting up and out of the house on a regular basis is good for your body, and volunteering can help you stay active.

Cognitive Health

The same research showed that the benefit wasn’t just to physical health, as cognitive health was also maintained in seniors who volunteered. Volunteering takes some mental effort, especially in planning and organizing. Staying mentally active like this can help maintain mental acuity for longer.

Emotional Health

It feels good to give back. As Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  Often when people retire, they lose a sense of purpose and drive both of which can be maintained through volunteering. What’s all the better is you have the power to choose exactly how you want to help others. It’s also a great way to meet new people and find the joy of connection.

Community Impact

One of the main reasons people choose to volunteer is a desire to give back and help others in their community, and in the process making their community better. Without volunteers, so much of what not for profits do wouldn’t be possible. Whether serving meals or cleaning a park, the impact of your actions will be felt by many.

As an organization that serves thousands of elderly people and those living with disabilities across Eastern Ontario, Carefor is always looking for volunteers to help increase the reach and quality of our programs. We are so blessed with the volunteers that we have but admittedly have struggled to find many after the pandemic.

If you’re curious about how you can volunteer in a way to help make someone’s day brighter whether it be friendly visiting, meal delivery, at our hospice or day programs, go to our website to learn more.

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