The Seniors’ Situation Room Edition 2 by Dawn Ford – August 28, 2012

– A few years ago, I was talking to the manager of a seniors’ residence about seniors and their nutrition. It seemed to me that a lot of women were saying they were fed up cooking. They had burned out and just didn’t feel like cooking very much any longer. She told me that the main reason people leave a seniors’ residence is that they don’t, won’t or can’t cook any more for themselves for a variety of reasons. For some it had become such a chore and they were not eating properly.

I remember one lady telling me that her doctor had told her to stop eating frozen dinners. She was going to give Meals On Wheels a try. Another woman told me that when four o’clock comes, she doesn’t feel like getting out the pots and pans, cook and then sit there to eat by herself every night. One lady said her arthritic hands made handling pots a painful experience.

Some men who find themselves alone and have not really had to cook very much in the past, other than putting some meat on the BBQ, find it is a new and sometimes frustrating experience. One fellow told me jokingly that he could make very delicious salmon sandwiches. I remember the day my mom told me she didn’t really want to be bothered peeling potatoes and what she called “doing all that cooking stuff”. I was shocked. She had probably been cooking for fifty years maybe at that point but that didn’t really occur to me at the time. I got another shock this week when one of the best cooks I know told me she was tired wasting food, cooking for one and eating alone. I thought I had a few good years ahead enjoying her great stew; maybe not.

I know some families worry about how well their loved ones are eating on a daily basis. And there are all those heavy grocery bags to lug. Some solutions have been offered. One is to have the government (maybe under the Keep Seniors in Their Homes Program or other grants and programs) adapt the existing kitchen areas in the seniors’ residences into makeshift cafeterias with tables and chairs when a meal is offered. Hiring a cook would give employment to a few people and provide nourishing meals for the residents each day. Another idea is to have a caterer for the residents, even five days a week to also offer a full course meal. In this way, the residents would have nourishing meals as well as company to eat with them. Both would be offered at a reasonable price. If you have any other solutions, please let me know so I can pass them on to our local MPP.

After my Tai Chi class, a couple of friends and I go to a Hamburger Harry’s type of restaurant to gain back all the calories we have just lost exercising for an hour. Recently, while we were into the munchies, I looked down at my top and there was the big “Oh! No! No!”…the dreaded yellow mustard stain on my white Tai Chi shirt.

My friend Pat piped up and said that when you are sixty-five you dribble. The nerve of that woman! I am not sixty-five and I have never ever dribbled in my life. I told “Miss Smartypants” that she had used my Tide To-go Stain Removal Stick more that I did and it was about time she bought me a new one. I also reminded her of the big spaghetti sauce blob she had dropped or probably dribbled on her lap last week.

I guess it was too much. It looked like we were coming to blows. I was getting ready to deck her (I think that is what my brothers call it). A melée between two women in Hamburger Harry’s would have made front page in the newspapers. It would have been a sight to see.

But my other pal Marie intervened to save the day and the friendship before the fists started flying. She is a mother of six and when she speaks, it is all wisdom and experience. Marie said all I had to do was soak the spot in shampoo. It seems there is a protein in shampoo that removes grass stains, grease, the dreaded yellow mustard blob, you name it…any stain a mother of six children would have had to handle. The shirt and the friendship were going to survive after all. I put away my sore little ego that had been called a dribbler and a sixty-five year old and smiled sweetly at old “Smart pants” (she is probably older than I am). We all walked out of the place as friends. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two of the restaurant’s staff whispering to each other and looking at us. For a minute I wasn’t sure why and then it dawned on me that they were probably remarking that we were three lovely looking ladies. Shakespeare said “All’s well that ends well.” In this case, it was true.

I know another lady, a widow, who has fourteen children. She has quite a repertory of “what to do when” but I don’t remember hearing about using shampoo for anything other than washing hair. She lives in another town now, but I will let her know about this latest advanced technology in shampoos. We once talked about second marriages, but she just laughed and said no one would probably want to marry someone with fourteen children and some pets. At the time I thought that she was probably right. Now there not only fourteen grown up children but there are in-laws, grandchildren and pets. I am hearing rumours of a new man in her life; maybe even wedding bells in the future. Must be quite a guy to take this big family into his life. She has chosen to love once more and to let someone love her…kids and all. It seems like we are never too old to love again. I’m glad.

There are lots of wonderful people in this world. Here are some you might enjoy knowing about.

In one of our seniors’ residences, is a terrific man named Bob. I cannot tell you his full name because he is a very humble man and he wouldn’t like it. He does not want credit of any kind. If you ask Bob for any help his answer is “yes”. There is no hesitation. There is no put off to maybe next Tuesday. Just a yes. He will not take any money for his help regardless of what it is. I think it is a spiritual thing for him. It is certainly love-in-action for the people he helps. Thank you, Bob.

I go to the Glen Stor Dun Lodge every week to visit a relative. On the first floor is a bird cage and I have been known to talk to the two little birds in the cage. I would rather open the cage and let them go free, but it is not my right to do that. There is a budgie and a canary in the same cage which I thought was a bit strange…until I saw them kissing each other and cooing – not so strange.

One day several months ago, I met a sweet lady named Norma who is in a wheelchair. She was talking to the birds. She told me the birds’ names are “Yellow Rose and Mr. Blue.” From that day I look forward to the moments I get to spend with her and her two little pets. She makes sure they have enough water, food and company. About six-thirty p.m., she puts the cover partially over the cage and tells them that she will be back in the morning and to have a good night. It seems they talk back to her ‘ because there’s a whole lot of tweetin’ goin’ on.’ She loves this interaction and obviously so do the birds. Then, after their little talk, she covers the cage completely. I like being there for this bed-time ritual. Thank you Norma for caring about two little birds.

At one of the seniors’ residence, two beautiful women arrive every Wednesday at supper time with lots of food. Carolyn Bourdeau and Jennifer Kennan run Catering2kids (for young and old). They are pleasant and nice to everyone and the food they have prepared for each repast is always delicious. There is one of the residents who has some food allergies. She told Carolyn and Jennifer about them but also told them not to worry. She would ask each time if there were any of her four food allergies in any of the supper. They don’t listen to her. They ignore her plea. If they make a pineapple dessert, they make her one with strawberries which she can eat. If they make baked ham and pineapple, they cook a separate piece of ham that never saw a pineapple, just for her. They go out of their way when she has made it very clear that they don’t have to. They don’t want her to be left out of any of the great food. I think they are very special women who care about their clients. Thanks Carolyn and Jennifer.

I decided to try Yoga because of the exercise and meditation, which apparently has enormous health benefits. One day I saw an ad for the Spirit Tree Yoga Center. What caught my eye was the offering of one of the classes for which the usual fee was waived and a donation could be given. It meant that someone who could not afford the usual fee for a lesson had the opportunity to learn Yoga. And, (this was an even bigger surprise) all the money donated would be given to charity. I didn’t know the owner, Lisa Blanchard, but I liked her already. If this is the kind of center that cares that much about people, it will be the Yoga center for me. When I met Lisa at my first lesson, I liked her even more. She is a very pleasant intelligent woman who I think is also very spiritual. The last donation money which she calls a “love offering” amounted to about five hundred dollars and was given to Hospice and Baldwin House. The next amounts donated in August and September will go to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Thanks Lisa for caring about those less fortunate.

If you go past Beek Lindsay Seniors’ Residence about six a.m. any morning, you will probably see Ernie Appleton in the garden making beautiful things happen. He is a resident and volunteer gardener. He works non-stop hoeing, pruning, planting and arranging lovely flowers and shrubs. In the early evening he can be seen lugging the hose to give all this foliage a good drink of water. Once I asked him about all the hours of work, but he just laughed and said that it is a long winter. When he is not doing all that gardening, he is helping others in the building. Thank you, Ernie, for bringing all this beauty into other people’s lives and for all your kindness.

I received my Child Haven International newsletter for the Summer of 2012. There are so many inspirational articles to read. Child Haven International was founded by Bonnie and Fred Cappuccino and Dr. Nat Shah many years ago to provide an orphanage for little children in India. Today there are ten orphanages and they are now accepting refugee children from other countries. In this particular issue there is a wonderful love story like no other and it is really worth reading. There is also a picture of a lovely elderly Indian lady. The words under her photo touched my heart. It reads: “Senior orphan Pattammal, who lives with several other seniors at the Home (Kaliyampoondi). They are orphans because they have no offspring to care for them in old age. ‘Cousin-grandmothers’ are a treasured resource for the children”. It reminded me of the late Jack Layton’s words about building a better country “where no one is left behind”. Seems almost like a motto of Child Haven. Look them up on their website You will be glad you did.

To all these wonderful and inspiring people: Kudos

I would like to share this short beautiful video with you.  It is called “Deer for Breakfast”.

Have a great week,



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  1. Another good one , Dawn with interesting subject matter.

  2. Dawn Ford is the most wonderful person that you could ever meet. She is too modest to admit all that SHE does for others.Kudos to my friend and I don’t dribble!

  3. Thank you very much for the positive and uplifting column, I had a nice chuckle at your dribble story- it takes alot of guts to get older doesn’t it and who wants someone poking at you about it?
    I too love Lisa Blanchard, she is a wonderful person and a community builder. Hot yoga has made my life so much better and led me to a much more flexible body.
    Looking forward to you next offering.

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