Dry January is an annual event in which people choose to abstain from alcohol for the month of January. The campaign, which originated in the United Kingdom, encourages participants to give their bodies a break from alcohol and to reflect on their relationship with drinking.
The health benefits of abstaining from alcohol for a month are well-documented. Alcohol is a major contributor to liver disease, and giving the liver a break can help to reduce the risk of developing these conditions. Abstaining from alcohol can also improve sleep quality and help promote weight loss. It can help save money. Additionally, taking a break from drinking can help to improve mental clarity and reduce stress.
Participating in Dry January can also be an opportunity for individuals to reflect on their relationship with alcohol. Many people use alcohol as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, and other emotional issues, but this can lead to a cycle of dependence that can be difficult to break. By abstaining from alcohol for a month, individuals can gain a new perspective on their drinking habits and determine if they need to make changes to their relationship with alcohol.
However, it is worth mentioning that for people with certain medical conditions, history of alcohol use disorder or those who are recovering from addiction, the decision to take part in Dry January should be discussed with a healthcare professional.
In addition to the personal benefits, Dry January also serves as a way to raise awareness about the negative effects of alcohol on health and society. The campaign encourages people to think critically about alcohol and its role in their lives, which can lead to long-term changes in attitudes and behaviors.
Overall, Dry January provides an opportunity for individuals to improve their health, reflect on their relationship with alcohol, and raise awareness about the negative effects of alcohol. It’s an annual tradition that allows people to start the new year with a healthier lifestyle and a new perspective on drinking habits.
I have decided to take a break from drinking alcohol for the month of January in the year 2023, starting on the 2nd. I know a few others who are on this journey with me. I consider it a reboot or reset of sorts. I am already well into the experience and I am reaping the benefits. I will report back in more detail when my 31 “dry” days are behind me.
You can start at any time. Who else wants to give it a go?
Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW
Written with the help of ChatGPT, chat.openai.com.
Who can you trust to provide you with services and products that tried, tested, and true? Who do you call when you need professional services, products, or advice? If you are not sure, I have the answer for you!
I am proud to announce I am now a member of the Quality Senior Servicesnetwork of trusted professionals in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Who are we?
Our brochure and website lists an impressive variety of professionals, including:
Disability Tax Credit Advisor
Licensed Insolvency Trustee (Accountant)
Clinical Social Worker (me!)
Speech and Swallowing Therapy (SLP)
Private Home Care
Home Medical Supplies
Professional Movers, Transition Specialists, and Estate Sales
Many of our members provide mobile or home visits. Accessibility is key. We know.
Our membership is always evolving and we are open to having new members who provide services to older adults and their families. All service providers are vetted and trusted, whether they are health sector, quality of life, or general professionals. We all come with a wealth of experience.
You will see us out at the “Pros Know Expos” and we are always willing to chat with you about your needs.
Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW
Clinical Social Worker for Quality Senior Services
For more information on QSS or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here in Canada, January is Alzheimer’s Awareness month. To commemorate this event, I am thrilled to announce the release of my newest book, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss: A Helpful Guide for Caregivers (2022). This book has been in the making for a few years now and I am pleased with its completion. It is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and ebook (Kindle) format.
Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss is a fully revised and expanded version of my book, Caring for a Husband with Dementia. Caring for a Husband with Dementia, written in 2015, has been my number one seller and this new book is sure to enlighten everyone. It is written in gender-neutral language and will be relevant for all care partners and those who provide assistance and help to those struggling with cognitive decline and neurocognitive disorders.
My idea for this book came to me not long after I published, Caring for a Husband with Dementia. I had people asking me, “Where is the book for us husbands?” and “Where is my book? I am a child of a parent with dementia.” This got me thinking. So I started by having men who were caregivers look over the book. I had one man who was unable to complete his mission. So I had to continue to search for the right person(s) to help me.
Dubbed the “first aid kit” and “quintessential survival guide” for caregivers.
Eventually, I developed a friendship (through an online caregiver support group) with a man named Brent Hoag, whose wife Sally had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years prior. He was very keen on helping me and agreed to review the book from a male caregiver’s perspective. He is a prolific writer in support groups and online, so I knew he would be a great choice. His contributions to this book project were so valuable that I included his name on the front cover!
Brent’s contributions to Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss include a chapter on humour and his words of wisdom, experience, and advice are sprinkled throughout the book. You can sense the love for his wife in his words and the challenges he endured and how he handled them with loving care.
In this expanded volume I include special chapters on delirium, drinking, driving, and doggy dementia. In the seven years since I wrote my first book on dementia, caregivers have come to me with some very challenging situations that are unfortunately more common than we realize. The dementia-affected brain can pose so many difficult situations for caregivers, so this book is sure to shed some light on how to cope and manage.
Getting a Diagnosis
Asking for Help
Practical and Emotional Support
Caregiver Burnout and Self Care
Humour as a Coping Strategy
Long-Term Care Placement
Loss, Grief, and Bereavement
Communication (includes Therapeutic Reasoning®)
Coping with Difficult Behaviour (the biggest chapter with tons of tips!)
Abuse and Neglect
Legal and Financial Preparedness
Delirium and the Older Adult
Problem Drinking and Dementia
These 210 pages are full of support, tips, and advice that everyone can learn from whether you are a informal care provider or a formal caregiver. Problems with one’s memory and recalling recent events is often one of the first signs of dementia. I have included the term “memory loss” in the title in case a failing memory is the main problem one is having.
If you would like to purchase a copy, I always have some available on hand, or you can purchase the book online from Amazon. Contact me for any other inquiries, or click on these links to go to Amazon (USA – change country if needed):
Angela G. Gentile is a clinical social worker who has worked with thousands of clients and their families. She has a specialization in aging and has been working with older adults for more than 25 years. Angela is married, has two adult children, and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
I would like to tell you about my recent therapy experience. I believe in order to be a good therapist, one should be seeking therapy as needed to deal with their own issues. Even the best therapists need a therapist occasionally! To optimize my emotional and psychological health, I occasionally seek outside help. With this in mind, I saw Clinical Social Worker Ruth B.Z. Thomson of Winnipeg, Manitoba, for a therapy session. She used a therapy technique called “Brainspotting” (BSP) which was new to me and which I was very curious about.
By the way, bi-lateral and BIO-lateral are two different things. It sounds confusing, but here is a way to explain the difference. Also, there is a link between brainspotting and EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing).
After filling out forms and consenting to treatment I entered Ruth’s beautifully decorated and comfortable office. She said I could choose any chair to sit on. There were about six chairs. I scanned the room, chose a chair, sat down, and got comfortable. I rearranged the cushions and used a little step stool. She sat across from me. She told me after a brief talking session, I would be listening to music with headphones, and she would use a wand for me to look at and focus on. The wand looked like one of those telescopic back scratchers and it had a dark blue handle.
We chatted for a bit to discuss my issues and then she told me we were going to get started with the brainspotting treatment. She passed me the headphones and made sure I could hear the music in both ears. It was not too loud as she also wanted me to be able to hear her. She said she was going to be watching me and I was to focus on my physical and emotional responses related to the issues I had presented to her with.
The music she chose for me is called “bilateral” and it’s not exactly music. It was calming peaceful sounds such as chimes, waves, and birds chirping. The sounds alternated between the left and right ears.
The music was very relaxing and calming. I noticed a yellow “glow” around the wand. (It almost looked like a magic wand!) Ruth held the wand to the left of her, almost at an outstretched arm’s reach, at eye level and I stared at it. She moved the wand slowly and watched my physical reaction. Sometimes I blinked more or fidgeted or took deep breaths. She also watched my facial expressions.
After a few minutes she moved the wand and asked me to follow it. She moved it to the right of her body. It was about eye level. Very slowly and methodically she would move the wand up or down all the while watching my reaction.
She asked me what I was feeling and thinking. I shared my thoughts, then she took the wand and moved it back to her right side.
The music was very calming. I processed some feelings and thoughts. At one point I felt mad, and this was a bit of a revelation. This was good!
She then had me talk it out some more until I was done with my observations and feelings about the issue at hand.
Then Ruth had me close my eyes and brought the wand closer to me. She had me open my eyes and I followed the wand, and she brought it back to her right then circled downward and back up closer to me. She repeated this closeup – back to the right – downward swoop movement in a fluid moderately paced motion about 4-5 times. It was like drawing a sideways “D” in the air with the wand. We then paused for a bit.
She then had me do a relaxing visualization. I found myself on a hammock in Hawaii! All the while the bilateral music played quietly in my ears, alternating between left and right.
After the guided imagery was over, she had me take off my headphones. There was a long pause as we sat in silence. She then asked me for my thoughts.
I told her I like analogies to explain things when I can’t quite put my feelings and thoughts into words. I told her it felt like I was put into a long, dark tunnel and now I’ve come out of the tunnel and I’m not quite sure where I am. I’m looking around, but I’m not quite sure what just happened and where I ended up. It feels good though. I told her I think it’s going to take me a little while to process what just happened. She agreed and said that it will take a few days for the neural pathways to change. She told me to drink lots of water and gave me a couple pages to read on brainspotting.
SKULL: Power to think, ward off illness, strength, intelligence. The symbol of the skull reminds us to live life to its fullest. Encourages is to reflect on our mortality. While the skull acts as a reminder of death, it also carries an important message. Your time is limited, so you should make the most of it. Seize every day you have and live life to the fullest. Skulls can also symbolize the power of life. Skulls can be a symbol of toughness.
SNAIL: Self-Assurance, healing, change, fertility
SNAKE: Fertility, rejuvenation, rebirth and the cycle of life, immortality, heightened perception, wisdom, and healing
SPOON: Strength; It’s okay to say No. Some people living with chronic illness, mental health issues, or neurodivergent diagnoses use something called Spoon Theory to manage energy levels on a daily basis. This Spoon Theory “Spoonie” charm is meant to symbolize your strength, but it is also meant to serve as a reminder that it is OK to say “no” because you just don’t have enough spoons in one day. In the disability community, wearing a spoon necklace can mean solidarity.
STAR: Courage and purity of spirit, to reach for the stars with dreams and desires
STARFISH: Patience, Healing, sensitive
SUITCASE: To help reduce your problems
SUN: Healer of people, uplifting, positive life giving, happiness
SUNFLOWER: Adoration, loyalty, and longevity
SWALLOW: Love, safety, security, compassion
SWAN: Dreams, love, grace, union, partnership
SWIMMER: Get to know, appreciate yourself more
TAPE MEASURE: Evaluation, judgement
TEETH: Change in emotion, helps you to stay away from harmful people
TIGER: Ability to trust yourself
TRAIN: To help you stay on track
TREE OF LIFE: Life, family, generations, growth. Family strength and ties, link between heaven and earth
As a good luck charm: This wise, gentle, kind, and strong little sea turtle is a natural navigator and will help you navigate life, bringing you good luck.
UNICORN: Purity, innocence, and enchantment
RAINDROP: Raindrops represent renewal. Raindrops symbolize getting rid of unhelpful ideas and feelings. Water symbolizes purification, rejuvenation, and rebirth. Water may erase previous mistakes and help you discover your real self.
It’s an amazing feat to publish your first book at age 76! I am very proud of my friend, Cheryl Cels, who has self-published her first children’s book which took her four years to complete. It stars her two grandchildren, Jake and Hudson, and takes them on a historical Canadian time-travel adventure.
What a Journey! is a work of historical fiction. The story is about two young teen siblings who fall into the river, magically taking them back to the early days of the Red River Settlement in Manitoba, around the year 1815. Their lives are saved over and over again by Chief Peguis and his family and the Anishinaabe people who are very hospitable and supportive.
The history presented in the book has been well-researched and Cheryl states the facts are accurate. The information is based on published accounts of the early days of the Red River Settlement. Cheryl adds, “It’s not a boring story though, because it’s about two fun-loving young teens who the readers like to learn about as they follow them on their amazing journey.”
Cheryl states this easy-to-read book is very timely. People are opening their minds and their hearts to Indigenous people – wanting to know more about what they battled through. What a Journey! provides an opportunity for understanding with lots of good information. The photos and illustrations help bring the story to life.
Cheryl started writing her book in 2018. She took a class at McNally Robinson to learn how to write children’s books. She then was inspired by her two grandchildren, Jake and Hudson, who are the main characters. In real life, they currently live beside “The Passage” in Charleswood (a neighbourhood in Winnipeg, Manitoba) which is referred to in the book.
Cheryl ran into some roadblocks in getting her book published. Prior to hiring an editor, she had sent the manuscript to a few publishers, but it was rejected. Cheryl got discouraged and so she put it away. She hadn’t touched it for a long time.
Her breakthrough came when Jamie Maes, a grade five teacher, asked her if she could read the book aloud to her class as part of the social studies curriculum. She found it helped her students learn about the Red River Settlers, the Hudson’s Bay Company, the NorthWest Company, and the Indigenous people who were so kind and helpful to the main characters, Jake and Hudson. Cheryl states, “Jamie Maes got me going again, and that’s when I finished it! If she hadn’t helped and encouraged me, this book would never have happened.”
Cheryl’s hopes are that the book will be widely enjoyed by all ages and she would love to see it used in Manitoba schools. Teacher are encouraged to put more Indigenous content into their classrooms and this book has Anishinaabe language, characters, and truth. It describes how very kind and helpful they were to the settlers.
Cheryl Cels is a University of Manitoba Social Work graduate, and has lived in Winnipeg most of her life. She has always enjoyed writing and has a strong interest in Canada’s history.
To purchase a copy of this book (for $20), you can contact myself (by using the contact form below) and I will get you connected with Cheryl.
I went to my first official Reiki session and it was fabulous! The experience left me feeling more happy, settled, and confident, right down to my soul. Priscilla Robert, certified Medium, Reiki Master, Crystal Therapy Practitioner, delighted and thrilled me in a one hour Reiki session.
Priscilla practices out the the “Just for Today Reiki and Holistic Services” clinic at 806 Osborne Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Once I found the place, I had a little trouble finding parking. I found a free parking spot on Clare Avenue, which was nearby.
The door was open when I arrived. To the right was a small reception desk with lots of interesting items for sale. The sign painted on the wall, “Just for Today”, set the mood. The sign reads: “Just for Today. I will not be angry. I will not worry. I will be grateful. I will do my work honestly. I will be kind to every living thin.”
The second thing I noticed was the smell of burning incense. I am not sure what the fragrance was, but it was pleasant. Not too overwhelming. I hadn’t smelled incense for years, so that was a real treat!
Priscilla greeted me and she was getting the treatment room ready (there are two). I told her a little about what I was dealing with and what kind of help I was looking for. She explained to me that she was going to do a combined treatment, depending on what she felt was needed. There could be a combination of mediumship (spirits, both past and present, around me that have messages for me), Reiki (energy healing), Crystal Therapy, and Chakra balancing. She may be touching my head, but most likely no other body parts would be physically touched. She added that in terms of mediumship, sometimes she sees more than others, so it will all depend on how things go.
The clinic room was warm and had dimmed lights and some candles burning. There was some pleasant, relaxing, instrumental music playing. The volume was very low. She showed me the massage table and said I would be laying on my back. There was a pillow for my head, and one for under my knees. There were sheets and a weighted blanket. The eye pillow would also be used, as she pointed out.
Priscilla said she would leave me for a minute or two, and asked me to get comfortable on the bed. I have had many massages over the years so I had to remember to lay on my back, not my front, as would be required if I was getting a massage. The weighted blanket was a nice touch. I felt safe and secure.
Priscilla came back shortly after and put the eye pillow on me then started the treatment. She walked me through every step of the way. She started with a pendulum, and said she was checking my chakras. If the pendulum went in a circle, that meant my chakras were good.
A big portion of our time together was her use of her gift of mediumship. There were many special messages passed along to me from people who I had been in contact over the years. It was very emotional, touching, enlightening, and sometimes it brought a tear to my eye. There was even a discussion about fairies!
The crystals were also used. There was mention that I should put a big piece of rose quartz near my bedside. I just happened to have purchased a piece of rose quartz so that was perfect advice!
The Reiki portion of the session was very short. She did not touch me, but placed her hands just above my body. I have taken Reiki Level 1 so I understand how this type of energy treatment helps promote balance and healing.
I left with many good words of advice and a clear focus on what I needed to do. I felt enlightened.
Priscilla works with all people including those who have a history of trauma. She said many people who have trauma tend to hold it in their stomachs and a few sessions with her can help heal that trauma. Priscilla is currently accepting new clients.
If you are at all interested in learning more about energy healing, or if you are curious and want to give it a try, I would highly recommend Priscilla Robert. Her bio can be found at ReikiToday.ca. Follow Just for Today Reiki on Facebook. She has a new crystal shop called, “Crystals and Beyond” here in Winnipeg. Contact Priscilla to book an appointment or to find out more about how she can help you.
TELUS Health eClaims enables Canadian counsellors, therapists, social workers, and many other allied health professionals and clinics to submit claims on behalf of their clients to over 25 insurers including Canada Life and Manulife. Registration with eClaims allows me to validate and submit claims directly with clients whose insurers have joined eClaims. Clients of insurers who have integrated with the TELUS Health eClaims network no longer need to pay for the full cost of treatment up-front. Payment comes directly to me. All you need to do is pay the balance (if anything is owed). Easy-peasy. Less stress for you. Less paperwork.
I helped coach a caregiver and his friend through what was a very stressful and horrible day. It ended well, but the experience leaves me angry and I thought I should share it, in the hopes that it will help someone else.
This is a true story of a father and son. Names and other identifying information has been changed to protect identity and confidentiality. I will call the father Mr. Smith, the son Donald, and the friend Krista.
Mr. Smith, 62 years old, was diagnosed with dementia about five years ago. He and his family learned about this diagnosis while he was a patient at the hospital. His son had told the hospital staff that he and his partner at the time couldn’t look after his dad at home any longer and there was no other family members who could look after him. The hospital told the son that if he didn’t take his dad home, he would be sent to a homeless shelter. This didn’t sit right with Donald, so he took his father home.
Fast forward five years later. Donald calls me to say his father has been needing increased care and supervision. He needs to be fed, showered, dressed, and on three occasions he has left the home without notice and was unable to safely return due to his declining cognition. He was unsafe to be left alone for long periods of time. More recently, Mr. Smith left the home and the police were called. Mr. Smith was found on a bus. He didn’t know where he was or where he was going. This was the last straw for Donald. He knew it was time to have his father placed into long-term care.
I advised Donald that he could call Home Care and get the ball rolling for either home care services (which they tried in the past but had failed) or an assessment for long term care, such as personal care home admission. Donald said that it was getting too difficult for him to manage and that he needed this dealt with, urgently. I then advised that he should take his dad to the hospital and tell the medical professionals that his dad is not safe and he can no longer safely and adequately care for his father at home. Donald is the only care provider and told me that any other family members who are aware of the situation agree with the hospitalization and potential admission to personal care home.
Donald and his friend Krista took Mr. Smith to the emergency department that had a shorter waiting time than the other hospitals. They arrived at 9:00 am with an anticipated three-hour wait. I had coached Donald on what to say when he and his dad arrived at triage. That seemed to go well.
What didn’t go well was the three-hour wait turned out to be much longer. Mr. Smith was starting to get agitated. He didn’t understand why he was there. Donald didn’t know what to do so he asked me if I thought he should leave his dad there. I advised against it, however, Donald was getting very stressed and I suggested he talk to the nurse to let them know how he was feeling and to find out how long the wait was going to be.
Donald asked the nurse what would happen if they left. There were four people waiting ahead of Mr. Smith. The nurse at the time said, “Just let us know if you leave.”
Donald and Krista decided to wait another hour. When the hour was up, Donald called me again. He said, “We want to leave dad here, but are worried about what will happen if he decides to leave the hospital.” I said that now that he is in the hospital, he should be safe. The nurse had told you to let them know you are leaving, so if you must, just advise them and then go.
When he told the nurse (a different nurse as there had been a change), they told Donald that he can’t just leave his dad there. Donald said, “Well, you have two security guards at the door, so why can’t you just watch him so that he doesn’t leave. We don’t want him to get hurt.” They then told Donald that if he left his dad there, it would be considered “elder abuse.” Krista immediately responded with, “Don’t go using that term. You don’t know what we have been through. We are here because we want Mr. Smith to be safe. We don’t want a burnt out son and a possible mental breakdown on our hands.” Donald then said, “I have no legal authority over my dad. I have no Power of Attorney, I don’t run his life for him. He is not well, he has dementia, and he needs more care than what I can provide for him. I can’t take him home.”
I told Donald that he in no way would be guilty of elder abuse and that that was an absolutely inappropriate and unprofessional accusation by the person who said that. I told him the hospital have a very vested interest (and responsibility) in keeping his dad safe. I said, “Could you imagine the front page news tomorrow if, heaven forbid, your dad was injured or worse yet, killed, after he left the hospital under their watch?” It would not be your fault, it would be theirs. You have done all you can do and you are done. You are to be commended for the care and concern of your dad until now. It will take a team of trained staff to look after him. You can’t do it anymore.”
Soon after this, they miraculously found Mr. Smith a bed. Donald walked with his dad and the nurse to the emergency room bed. The nurse asked why Donald was following, and he said he wanted to make sure his dad was settled before he left. The nurse told Donald that there were going to be a lot of people seeing his dad, such as social workers, and other professionals and that this may take a while. Donald was satisfied, told them to call with any questions, and with that, went home.
The fact that Donald was accused of “elder abuse” is absolutely unacceptable. This absurd, unfounded accusation towards a burnt-out, stressed, grief-stricken son is horrific. I feel so badly for Donald. He had to basically “surrender” his dad to the healthcare system. One that has failed Mr. Smith and his son miserably. I sometimes wonder if the emergency departments do this on purpose in situations involving dementia – delaying the exam so long that the family decides to take their agitated, confused, frail loved one home rather than wait. Things have to change.
Donald went above and beyond over the last few years to care for his father at home, on his own. Home Care was tried, but it didn’t work for a variety of reasons. The healthcare system fails our family member caregivers time and time again. I see it and hear about it quite often.
For example, I know a dear older woman who is the wife of a man with dementia. She is also stressed and wanting to get her husband on the list for personal care home (PCH). She went through all the proper channels and she was told that he doesn’t qualify for PCH as he is “still able to do so much for himself.” She is burnt out, grieving, and at a loss for what to do next.
Our healthcare system here in Winnipeg, Manitoba needs to change. It needs to recognize the stress put upon the caregiver of a person with dementia. Our healthcare system needs to stop blaming caregivers, and telling them that they are guilty of elder abuse, when in fact they are doing the most difficult thing any loving family member can do (surrender their loved one to the long-term care program) to keep their loved one safe and cared for, while at the same time saving their own sanity. A caregiver already feels shame and guilt. Why add more pressure?
If you need any coaching, advocacy, or counselling regarding the difficulties associated with dementia care, please contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.