dōTERRA Essential Oils & Aromatherapy in Winnipeg, Manitoba


doTERRA Essential Oils Sample, Winnipeg, Manitoba

My first experience with essential oils was when an older man I was assessing told me he was using “Tea Tree Oil” on his toenails as he had developed a toenail fungus. He applied this essential oil to his toenails at night and he said it was helping restore his toenails back to a healthy state.

The next time I heard about essential oils was when my husband was given an oral spray made with oregano essential oil that he could use for his acid reflux. How could this help, I wondered?

Then I started to hear about room sprays. Some were chemically-based, while others had pure, natural ingredients. The spa I visited had “lemongrass ritual” essential oils infused into the air. The massage therapist used “Japanese mint oil” on my back. Thermea uses many different types of essential oils, such as orange and pine. I’d see them (and smelled them!) in the mall at Saje and Escents. I started to have an aversion to products with “fragrances” from places like Bath and Body Works. I started learning more about toxic chemicals.

My love affair with learning more about natural plant-based products was born!

I have been learning a lot over the past year about different essential oils and I am amazed at their emotional and physical health benefits. Whether it’s lavender to help you sleep or lemongrass to help uplift your spirits, these natural plant products have scientific backing and their popularity is growing. There are many therapeutic properties in the natural essences of plants and flowers, too many to mention here!

The problem is, as a person new to essential oils, you can become very overwhelmed with information on the internet. There are different qualities of oils as well. I have purchased the most inexpensive ones at the drug store and off eBay, only to find out they don’t work and who knows what’s in them!

My search was on for a reputable company. I looked at Young Living Essential Oils. I compared. I read. I watched videos. Finally I found a company that was right for me – dōTERRA (pronounced doe-terra which means “Gift of the Earth”). Their products are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG).  They came to Canada (June 2016) and the company has been in operation since 2008.

As a Wellness Advocate for dōTERRA essential oils here in Winnipeg, I would love to speak to you about how essential oils can help you. I offer free consultations and classes and I have a website you can go to to see the products guide.

If you want more information on dōTERRA, or essential oils, please let me know! I’d love to share my knowledge and products with you!


Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW – Wellness Advocate for doTERRA Essential Oils.





Finding a Cure for Sleepless Nights is Not An Easy Task – Tips for Better Sleep


Image courtesy of theerapong82 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I believe one of the most important foundations of a healthy and happy life is adequate and regular sleep. Our day starts the moment we wake up. Waking up from a night of good quality sleep is very different from starting our day after a night of restless, interrupted, insufficient sleep.

Finding a way to help you with sleeplessness can get frustrating. There is so much information out there. Forget about counting sheep, research indicates it may in fact take you longer to fall asleep!

I asked some of my Facebook friends to give me some ideas on natural sleep aids, and they were very eager to share their tips with me. I’ll include them here as well.

Ages and Stages of Life

Everyone has different sleep habits and routines. It depends on your lifestyle, life stage, personality, and overall physical and mental health. For example, a busy and socially active teenaged university student may have many late nights going out with friends or studying, causing her to need to sleep in later in the day. Another example is a middle-aged full-time employee who works Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. The sleep habits of this mature person is most likely very different from the younger student. An anxious person may also have problems falling asleep.

Ages and stages cause us to have changing sleep needs during our lifetime. When we are very young, as babies, we need a lot more sleep than when we are adults. Older adults need about 7-8 hours sleep a night.

Problems occur when we have trouble getting the required sleep to “recharge” our batteries. The occasional restless night usually isn’t that much of a concern. We can usually catch up the next night. Chronic, long-term issues with either falling asleep or staying asleep can cause other problems in our lives. Sleep deprivation can cause us to be disorientated, agitated or less able to handle the stressors in our lives. Insomnia is often a serious health condition that requires intervention. Research tells us that women over the age of 60 are at higher risk for having insomnia.

For those of us women who are menopausal, we have other issues to contend with such as hot flashes and night sweats. Hormone changes can cause sleep disturbances, and a visit to a health care professional is highly recommended.

Caregivers of people with dementia often have trouble getting enough rest. As do new parents, especially mothers.

Sleep Hygiene, Sleep Aids and Other Tips

The basics for a good night’s rest include a comfy bed/mattress, the perfect pillow/s, sheets and blankets that provide just the right amount of warmth. If you don’t have these basics, you will need to get those things sorted out. If you have a bed partner, make sure they don’t take up too much room, snore too loud or steal your covers! (Some people have sleep apnea and this is a serious condition that requires medical assessment).

There are many articles and books written on how to get a good night’s sleep by implementing some lifestyle changes and habits.The term commonly used is “sleep hygiene.” Some ideas to try include:

  • Avoid caffeinated beverages such as colas, coffee and tea too close to bedtime
  • Participate in some kind of physical activity during the day but not too close to bedtime
  • Get some sunlight and/or fresh air on a daily basis
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal right before going to bed
  • Keep your room cool, dark and quiet
  • Manage stress to help keep a relaxed mind
  • Meditate, pray, breathe deeply, practice yoga or listen to music before bed
  • Avoid blue light found on cell phones, tablets and computers at least one hour before sleep
  • Avoid long naps during the day

For those who are looking for a “sleep aid,” these can come in many forms. A medicated sleep aid can be prescribed by a doctor or other healthcare professional. Home remedies can be tried. Products found in nature can also be tried, such as herbs and essential oils. Tools such as sound machines or white noise can work, too. Some ideas to try include:

  • “Sound Machine” with white noise or nature sounds
  • Apps for your smart phone or tablet such as “White Noise”
  • Turn on a bathroom fan to drown out other noises if it’s close to your bedroom
  • Essential oils such as lavender (lavandula angustifolia) – in a diffuser, rubbed on your feet (put socks on after if the oil is in a carrier oil or lotion!), sprayed on your sheets or on a cotton ball by your head
  • Herbal tea to take before bed such as Sleep and Relax Tea or Nighty Night with ingredients such as chamomile, passionflower and/or valerian root
  • Supplements such as “Super Sleep” also known as Melatonin Plus from Webber Naturals or those that contain melatonin, 5-HTP and/or L-theanine; or Healthy Sleep supplement by Jamieson that contains melatonin, skullcap, rhodiola, rosavin chamomile and L-theanine (be aware melatonin can cause depressive symptoms in some people)
  • Herbs such as ashwagandha are also helpful for some people
  • Amino acid such as gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) can help you feel calmer
  • Magnesium can help people relax
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) has been known to help in some cases (ask your healthcare practitioner about this)
  • Gentle massage with aromatic essential oil such as peppermint or lavender
  • Bath with Epsom salts
  • A glass of milk

Other ideas to help you feel calm and relaxed include:

  • Get an easy-to-do crossword puzzle book or do some light reading right before bed
  • Write in a journal, include things you are grateful for
  • Avoid the news, especially if it upsets you
  • Try eating some kiwi before bed

Medicated sleep aids to be used with caution include:

  • Zopiclone (by prescription, not to be taken long-term)
  • Gravol for nausea (contains dimenhydrinate which is an antihistamine and anticholinergic and can cause drowsiness)
  • Benadryl for colds (contains diphenhydramine HCl, an antihistamine which can make you feel drowsy)

Caution: Older adults are advised to avoid medicated sleep aids as mentioned above as they can increase the risk for confusion, falls and car accidents.

Some not-so-common ideas to consider:

I would recommend a trial-and-error approach to finding what works for you. What worked for you when you were younger may no longer work for you now. Ages and stages create different stressors and needs.

When you find something that works, use it for only 3-4 nights in a row and alternate with other methods. Your body will get used to it and you will benefit from switching it up.

And remember, never go to bed angry.

Please share your tips on how to get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep well, my friend. Sweet dreams.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

For a more information on insomnia, check out this Mayo Clinic article.


Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two adult children. She is passionate about all things related to Aging Well. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com


Aging Specialist Offering Two New Courses This Spring (Winnipeg)

7fd3c75caf166af80aef7cb58709152dWinnipeg, Manitoba – There are two new courses being offered by Angela Gentile, a registered clinical social worker. Angela has a Master’s degree in Social Work and a graduate specialization in aging. She has worked with many older adults and their families and she has written two books and an app. She is passionate about helping people and exploring what it means to age well. Attend these informative and interactive sessions and get Angela’s professional advice. Come away feeling confident and empowered.

10 Tips for Graceful Aging

Learn what you can do to help yourself thrive in your middle years and beyond. The dimensions of wellness will also be covered.

►Date and Time: Tuesday April 25, 2017; 7:00 – 9:00 pm.

►Location: St. James Civic Centre, 2055 Ness Avenue, Winnipeg Manitoba.

►Fee: $25.00

When a Loved One Has Memory Loss

Are you living with or do you know someone who has been experiencing memory loss and you’re not sure how to help? Get some information and tips on how to approach this sensitive and difficult topic.

►Date and Time: Thursday May 11, 2017;  7:00 – 9:00 pm.

►Location: St. James Civic Centre, 2055 Ness Avenue, Winnipeg Manitoba.

►Fee: $25.00

Registration Information:

Both courses are listed in the City of Winnipeg Leisure Guide, Spring/Summer 2017 pages 69 and 70. See page 4 of the guide for registration information which begins Wednesday March 15, 2017 at 8:00 am. It can be done online, by phone, or in-person. Limited spots available!

Contact Angela toll-free at: 1-(855) 974-4219 or online at www.AngelaGGentile.com for more information.

Eternal Love


Image courtesy of Ben Schonewille at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


As a geriatric specialist, I hear all kinds of stories. A nurse colleague told me this touching love story (I have changed the details to protect anonymity). – Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW.


One time I was speaking to a man who told me the love story about his parents Gerald (82) and Mary (80) who both had dementia. They had been married for almost 60 years.

Gerald’s dementia was more advanced that his wife’s so he was moved into a Personal Care Home. Mary moved into a seniors’ residence, which was attached to the long-term care centre.

Soon after, Mary’s needs progressed to the point where she needed to be moved into the Personal Care Home as well.

Gerald had no memory of his wife, but soon fell in love with his new neighbour, Mary (who was actually his wife.) He spent every waking minute with her.

One day, Mary needed to be rushed to the hospital. Not long after her hospital admission, she died.

After having no luck finding his love again, Gerald gave up. He died 37 days after Mary’s death.

It looks like eternal love is possible after all.



Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two adult children. She is passionate about all things related to Aging Well. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com


Alzheimer Caregivers Need Help, Too



Courtesy of the Fort Frances Times

I enjoyed presenting at the Alzheimer Society Forget Me Not Dinner in Fort Frances, Ontario. It was my first out-of-town request to be a guest speaker. It was a sold-out crowd and they raised over $4,000.00.  Duane Hicks did a great job of covering the story. The only thing I would like to correct is that I have two children, a son (Lorenzo) and daughter (Simone). Lorenzo is the app developer for the mobile app, “Dementia Caregiver Solutions.”



Courtesy of Fort Frances Times/Duane Hicks

Above is a picture of my husband, Agapito, and I getting ready to dig in! He was a big help to me as he drove the whole way (4 hours one way). He was my official assistant during my presentation as he advanced the slides for me.

If you would like more information on my services or products, please check out my website, www.AngelaGGentile.com.


Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Learn About Burnout at the Transform Conference


From Burned Out to Fired Up!

Angela G. Gentile MSW, RSW

I am honoured to be one of six guest speakers at the Transform Conference to be held on February 21, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I will be presenting on my knowledge and experience with job burnout and compassion fatigue. In addition to discussing the issues of the costs of caring too much, I will share my personal story of burnout. I will offer advice, tips and solutions to nurses, social workers, healthcare professionals, students and other helping professionals on how to recognize, cope and survive in the demanding yet rewarding field of healthcare.

What better way to learn. Be inspired. Some consider it a gift from a wounded healer.

You may also want to read my eBook, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival“. Paper copies will be available at the conference.

For more information on Transform, the conference, please visit Sycamore Care.




When the Going Gets Tough: A Best Practice Guide for Caring for People Living With Dementia


Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Alzheimer Society of Canada website states that in 2011, there were 747,000 people living with some form of cognitive impairment, including dementia. This number is expected to double to 1.4 million by 2031. This means that many of us will be affected by dementia in some way, if we haven’t been already.

The Canadian government and health care sectors are well aware of the need for improved dementia care strategies, and a lot of research has been done on how to best serve this growing population. In some cases, dementia can affect a person such that his or her behaviour becomes very difficult to manage. Agitation, aggression, sundowning, and repetitive vocalizations are some of the most challenging behaviours to manage. In many of these cases, people living with dementia are over medicated or inappropriately managed which often results in other problems which can be quite disconcerting.

The Government of British Columbia has produced a document titled, “Best Practice Guideline for Accommodating and Managing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia in Residential Care: A Person-Centered Interdisciplinary Approach” (2012). In this 16-page document care providers at all levels will find ways to help improve the quality of care for people living with dementia, which includes better engagement with the person’s advocates and family members. The appropriate use of antipsychotic drug treatment is discussed, and it stresses that the first steps to best practice care are to look at environmental and behavioural modifications as well as psychosocial interventions.

In terms of pharmacological management, antipsychotic use in the older adult population comes with its own set of risks. In fact, there is a “black box” warning, as it is a well-known fact that there is increased mortality risk as well as other side effects that can be quite serious. Other psychotropic drugs, such as anxiolytics or benzodiazepines can also cause increased risk for falls and confusion. These medications should be used with caution. Other ways of managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia are now strongly encouraged as we are encouraged to shift away from using medication as a first line of defense. A risk and benefit analysis of the use of these medications is always recommended.

Person-centered care is now recognized as the most appropriate and effective way to care for people affected by dementia. It means that we consider each person as an individual, with his or her own unique history, personality, strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. It means that we take the time to learn about the person, which makes our care towards that person special, unique, and most effective.

For example, if there is a problem with a man who is up at night wandering the halls, we may want to look into his social and work history to find out what may be going on. We learn by talking to his family that he was a night shift supervisor for a large factory. This helps us learn more about his routines and lifestyle as he may be “back there” in his mind. This person-centred approach can be applied in all situations with every person we deal with. Many care providers believe that there is a reason for every behaviour. It is up to us to find out what the person is trying to communicate to us through their actions.

Another useful tool that is referenced in the aforementioned document is the concept of the person-centred “P.I.E.C.E.S. (TM)” approach. The cornerstones of this approach include looking at the following aspects of the person: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Capabilities, Environment, and Social. I am a P.I.E.C.E.S. trained assessor and these concepts help provide the best assessment and interventions from a person-centred approach.

A person-centred approach to the care of those with dementia or other related cognitive disorders takes into account aspects such as the person’s likes, dislikes, cultural and religious preferences, medical health, as well as their social history. An interdisciplinary team approach to care which includes professionals, non-professionals, family members and others with a vested interest is highly effective and recommended. Proper assessment, symptom management and ongoing evaluation is needed in order to continuously improve and manage a person’s care, especially as their dementia progresses and challenging behaviours present themselves.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW


The Alzheimer Society of Canada: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/What-is-dementia/Dementia-numbers

Best Practice Guideline for Accommodating and Managing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia in Residential Care: A Person-Centered Interdisciplinary Approach (2012): http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2012/bpsd-guideline.pdf

P.I.E.C.E.S. – http://piecescanada.com/


Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two adult children. She is passionate about all things related to Aging Well. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com


How to Improve Your Sense of Belonging: The lifelong desire to feel connected and accepted by others


Image courtesy of xedos4 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the basic needs of humans (other than food and shelter) is the need to feel loved and like we belong. Belonging in the sense that we feel connected and accepted by others. We all have a different level of need. Some want more, some want less. I have seen many people who feel lonely, and I believe it has to do with the fact that they don’t feel like they belong. This drive for belonging never goes away, and is present at all stages of our lifespan. Sometimes our motivation for belonging lacks due to mental health problems like depression or dementia. Sometimes loss can trigger our sense of connectedness in this world. We can work on improving our need for belonging by becoming self-aware and taking a good look at our life. It may mean we need to make some changes or seek some professional help.

The need for belonging evolves across the lifespan

If we are fortunate enough to be born and raised into a family that helps us feel loved and cared for, that is one thing. However, if we are born into a family that lacks the love and protection we need, we may feel abandoned. Renowned psychologist Matthew Lieberman studies “social pain” and he believes the drive to alleviate or relieve our social pain is more important than the basic needs of food and shelter.

Those of us who feel abandoned in our younger years may not develop a sense of what “love” is. We may crave and search for that feeling of being accepted and cherished. We may search for this in relationships that are presented to us, such as in teachers, other relatives and peers. Sometimes these relationships are good and helpful. Our needs can be met in a positive way through these other relationships as long as they are healthy and free from abuse.

Sometimes we find the comfort, acceptance and connection through unhealthy relationships. Until we are mature enough to figure out what is healthy for us, we may end up learning the hard way. That is why it is so important for families (no matter what the family consists of such as a single parent) to pay attention to the basic needs of their children.

As we mature, we learn what is healthy and not healthy for us. As teenagers we may end up in troubling relationships to gain the love and acceptance we are innately or instinctually craving. We may end up getting involved with the “wrong crowd” because they are the only ones who seem to understand and accept us.

The need to feel like we belong never goes away. Just like our need for water and safety. We are social beings. We depend on others. We do things in groups. Our connections to others changes as we grow and become wiser. The basic personality traits remain the same, but our values and morals may change over time. Having children and starting our own families usually wakes up our moral compass. What is right and wrong suddenly becomes clear.

Our own innate need for belonging is often met by having children. Young children usually offer us unconditional love and acceptance (things may and will change as they become more independent). Our small and sometimes growing family helps us meet our needs for feeling loved and like we belong. For those of us who don’t have children, pets, other relatives (nieces/nephews) and friends can also provide a sense of belonging.

How do we help others feel like they belong?

Fostering a sense of belonging goes both ways. For example, if we go to a family gathering or a social outing, we may or may not feel like we belong based on our actions or the actions of others. For example, do you feel “connected” to others there? Do you feel “accepted”? Do you willingly and freely accept those in the group or do you tend to disconnect? Do you accept others as they are or do you judge or avoid?

I find that those who feel a sense of belonging have good connections with others through family, friendships and other social connections. They also know who to avoid based on the way they are treated. When we consider adults, I think about workplaces and clubs such as cultural or religious based. Friendships and family relationships can be, and need to be, fostered and nurtured.

With respect to older adults (those 65 and older) families are often a main source of love and belonging. If this is not possible, or if a person feels they want more, there are clubs and other groups that can help fulfill these needs. Examples of groups and other social opportunities for older adults include:

  • Seniors Centres
  • Retirement Communities
  • Church/Synagogue or other Spiritual Based Groups
  • Cultural Clubs
  • Women’s Groups (e.g., Red Hat Ladies, Crown Jewels of Canada Society)
  • Men’s Sheds

Feel like you don’t belong?

In some ways, we are all pieces of a puzzle and we all want to “fit in.” If you answer yes to any of the following questions (modified from the Sense of Belonging Instrument SOBI-P), then you may want to explore some ways to seek connection so you feel a better sense of belonging:

  • It often feels like there is no place here on earth where I truly fit in.
  • I don’t really fit in with my friends.
  • I feel like a misfit in most social situations.
  • I don’t feel accepted by most people.
  • I could disappear for days and my family or friends wouldn’t miss me.
  • I tend to observe life rather than participate in it.
  • I feel left out of things.

Depression is linked to loneliness and isolation and can be reversed

We also know that loneliness and isolation are linked to depression. Sometimes it’s not clear what came first, the depression or the lack of connection to others. Sometimes depression is triggered by a loss. Some people need to see a health care practitioner or mental health specialist to assess if medication can help.

To end isolation and loneliness brought on by a sense of “not belonging” or feeling left out, it takes some effort and it goes both ways. To improve your sense of belonging, you need to help others feel like they belong to help that connection and acceptance grow. Here are some ways to help nurture a sense of belonging:

  • Call a friend or family member to ask HOW they are doing and tell you about WHAT they are doing (don’t just talk about yourself, your own family and your own life, ensure they talk about their life, too)
  • Join a social group for fun
  • Volunteer for a cause you are interested in
  • Find a job you enjoy with a boss and co-workers you can relate to
  • Try out a club that is focused on one of your interests and see if you feel like you belong
  • Contribute to newsletters and share your expertise with others
  • Plan an outing or a visit with someone you care about or would like to get to know better
  • Write a letter to someone who you think will write back
  • Join a social media site like Facebook and find some groups you are interested in
  • Join a support group
  • See a counsellor if you are stuck but want to make some positive changes in your life

Our basic human need and motivation for feeling like we belong in this world can be nurtured and supported by our actions. The reverse is also true. Think about WHO you belong to, WHAT you belong to and WHO and WHAT belongs to you. If you want to increase your sense of connection and acceptance it will take some effort. The same as getting food, water, shelter and safety. It doesn’t happen all on its own.

Please provide me with your thoughts on this topic. I’d love to hear from you.

Angela G. Gentile MSW, RSW




Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two adult children. She is passionate about all things related to Aging Well. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com


This Self-Help Book for Caregivers Educates, Supports and Comforts


When I titled my book “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide” (2015) I did not expect to have people mistakenly assume that I am a wife caring for a husband with dementia. The warmth and sympathy I receive from people who don’t know me personally has been incredible. I gently explain that I am not a wife caregiver and that the book is inspired by the experience I had in counseling eight amazing caregiving women.

When I was deciding on a topic for my master’s degree final project, I decided to focus on older women. I explored what issues are affecting them, and the subject of caregiving came up quite often. I did some research on the subject and discovered that there was very little written about women who care for husbands with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. My career as a geriatric clinician and social worker exposes me to many different mental health issues, and dementia is unfortunately a common one. I quickly became an expert in assessing and screening for dementia, and recognizing the symptoms of caregiver stress and burnout.

The short-term, individual counseling program I designed, implemented and evaluated with eight caregiving wives was very rewarding and successful. It inspired me to want to help others like the women I had learned so much from. What started out as a small booklet turned into a 16-chapter book. “Caring for a Husband with Dementia” was written specifically to help women who care for husbands who have been diagnosed with a dementing illness such as vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. I dedicated this book to caregiving wives, everywhere.

Writing this book came surprisingly easy to me. I called it a “Divine Intervention.” I received help from colleagues and other experts in the field who generously donated their time reviewing, editing and offering feedback. It is a unique, informative and therapeutic self-help type of book. The book offers opportunity to make it personal for the reader. There is space for self-reflection on important questions. Don’t know what to “Google” to find your local resources? I’ll help with that, too. There is a listing of helpful and important resources, plus more.

All of the reviews and feedback I have received thus far has been very positive. Some of the more helpful feedback has been that this book is written not only for wives, but for all caregivers. I have been told this book is like a bible and it is kept at the bedside and is read every night. It’s a reference guide, a companion, and a source of education and support. It’s like a year’s worth of therapy all in one book.

I know this book has helped spouses and other caregivers. They have told me, “Everything I was thinking, feeling and wondering about was written in this book.” I am honoured to be able to help those who are struggling with the issues of diagnosis, getting help, difficult behaviours, grief and loss, legal issues and more. I have been at book signing events where even men say they want their wives to buy this book as they want them to be prepared – “…just in case.”

My hope is that this book reaches those who are in need of education, support and tips on how to survive the difficult task of caring for a loved one with dementia. It is also a great gift for someone in need.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Link to original article on #AlzAuthors, published 23 Nov 2016.




Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW. is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two adult children. She is passionate about all things related to Aging Well. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

Myths or Truths? A Guide to Achieving Retirement Community Gold Standard


Image courtesy of pixatawan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(This article was written in collaboration with guest Alan S. Wolkenstein, MSW, ACSW)

As an administrator or manager of a retirement community, you likely hold specific beliefs and understandings of the residents (or tenants) and the workings of the facility. These understandings may be ones that you have learned from others, or perhaps you have come to believe based on your own experiences. Sometimes beliefs about your retirement community can hinder growth and success due to the fact that they are myths (widely held false beliefs).

Myths can hold us back from achieving our full potential for success. While myths exist to help us explain and make sense of our experiences, they can be, and often are not helpful in that they simply are not true. Sometimes these traditional stories are widely held but are not based on facts. Taking our head out of the sand and taking a close look at reality can help us move forward.

Do You Hold Any Myths About Your Retirement Community?

It is important to identify if there are any myths you hold about your retirement community and those you serve. By asking yourself if there is truth or if it is simply myth to each of the following thirteen statements will place you in a more favorable position to exert constructive political, cultural or systems energy. By answering these statements honestly, you will be able to identify them as either truths or myths.

If you happen to recognize some of these statements as myths, you may come to realize that these untruths can inhibit the functioning of your retirement community in meeting the best needs of the residents (and families), staff and institution (bottom-line). The acknowledgement and examination of these falsely held beliefs can challenge you to take on the potentially arduous task of transforming them into truths.

There is a potential for great change in the overall success of your retirement community by focusing on challenging or debunking any myths and doing something about it. Myths are generally difficult to disbelieve due to your strong emotional attachments to them. For example, you may find it a bit troubling to realize your residents may or may not be provided all the services that are essential, available or needed.

Myths or Truths?                                            

While we have developed thirteen statements, we believe there will not be less. There may be some that have not been included that can be exchanged or added for conversation and potential action. They are not mutually exclusive, but designed in a way to encourage thoughtful reflection by individuals and for discussion within the staff or team at your retirement community.

Consider these thirteen statements and decide if these statements are myths or truths when it comes to your retirement community:

  1. Our residents are a priority, and our retirement community has all the amenities, staff and services the residents need for enhancing their quality of life.
  1. We understand that older adults who have chosen to come to our retirement community may or may not have completed and successfully coped with their Family Life Cycle¹ tasks (such as launching adult children, retirement, widowhood, accepting bodily changes and dealing with the realities of their living arrangements), eliminated their intra-familial conflicts and made all important amends. They may or may not be emotionally and psychologically prepared to handle potential losses, grief experiences and transformation.
  1. Our retirement community adopts a holistic approach to care and has fully trained and specialized staff to identify, assess, treat and monitor the physical, emotional, psychological, cultural and spiritual needs of our residents. Administrative personnel and managers are up-to-date on the resources available and continuously strive for improvements in this area.
  1. Residents are properly screened and/or assessed by qualified personnel for anxiety, depression, mood and thought disorders and mental status (including Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias). If these services are not available in-house, staff are trained to identify issues. Residents and/or family advocates are encouraged to seek out advice from an appropriate health care or mental health professional.
  1. There is an active involvement with families and social/cultural communities of residents for continuity of attitudes, values and belief systems. In addition, all elders need connections with their significant others and our retirement community fosters and encourages these relationships.
  1. Administrators, managers and select staff are encouraged and trained to provide continuing adult education programming and support within our community to individuals and families in troubled elder-parent and adult-children relationships.
  1. Our retirement community welcomes and embraces the roles of residents’ advocates and an ombudsman in the holistic and total care concept of our residents.
  1. Our retirement community has sufficient and ongoing staff training opportunities, supervision and evaluation of all appropriate staff.
  1. If present, frequent staff turnover is vigorously addressed. We believe a disjointed or fragmented system can lead to a less than viable milieu for residents and staff morale. We strive for continuity and consistency. Satisfied staff leads to satisfied residents.
  1. Administrative personnel have a clear understanding of and methodology to deal effectively with staff burnout or impairments (permanent or temporary).
  1. Our retirement community has a Human Resource Department that is staffed with (or has access to) professional mental health personnel: those who can identify, assess, and refer for proper treatment (or other actions) staff who are troubled, deficient, show signs of burnout and impairment, and those in violation of local, state, federal and institutional laws and guidelines.
  1. Our retirement community understands and encourages interagency cooperation within our communities.
  1. Our retirement community interacts with educational and academic resources to foster community public awareness and psychosocial services for older adults within our community. This includes placement, internships and fieldwork for learners in the field of geriatrics and mental health services. All such learners are supervised and guided by specialists in eldercare from appropriate professions within the institution.

While self-imposed institutional denial that services are not lacking and provided, or rationalizing that if they were needed, they would be adequately provided, ultimately such institutional defenses are insufficient and hinder best care and utilization of accumulated knowledge and skills in residential care for older adults.

No retirement community consciously chooses to deny services to their residents and staff, but may be acting only from a strong and important fiscal basis. However, this is insufficient. Boards and administrators may be very good at their roles, but not sufficiently trained to assess the holistic need of their residents and staff. They may ultimately fear resources are not sufficient to turn any of the myths into real-time community truths.

If we believe we are functioning from a more enlightened perspective than the one that a retirement community is meeting all these beliefs as truths when they are not, then conceptual shifts are in order.

Your Score and What To Do About It

If you answered “Myth” to any of the above statements, then an action plan for remediation and change may be essential.

This action plan may include:

  • an examination of policy and procedures
  • reassessment of priorities
  • modification of scarce resources
  • finding and securing new funding to change some specific myths to truths
  • a review of long-range goals and objectives

Achieving Gold Standard

We have painfully learned that if a system remains profit and profit margin motivated and not sufficiently focused on customer/family/consumer needs and satisfaction, it will not survive in these difficult and challenging times. There will be intra-system anxiety when confronted with the two, apparently opposite, goals. Anxiety can be a powerful force in creating a milieu that fosters change, enlightenment and growth. If guided and properly mentored, anxiety can help individuals achieve their full potential. We believe this is also true for retirement communities.

It is a truth that a society is best measured by how it cares for its very young and very old. Let your retirement community be the gold standard of care for its residents and their families. Maybe now is the time to secure and support consultation to reach new visions for your retirement community.

Alan S. Wolkenstein, MSW, ACSW
Clinical Professor of Family Medicine (Ret.)
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Wolkenstein and Associates, LLC
Mequon, Wisconsin, 53092

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW
Specialist in Aging

¹ Wolkenstein, A. S., Lawrence, S. L., & Butler, D. J. (1985). Teaching “family”: The Family Medicine Chart Review. Family Systems Medicine, 3(2), 171-178.


Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW. is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two adult children. She is passionate about all things related to Aging Well. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com