December 2014

A Gift of Memories -Reprinted from December 2013

When I was a child we walked two blocks to my cousins' house for Christmas dinner. There were aunts, uncles and grandparents but no great grandparents. We all lived in the same neighbourhood. Our moms didn't go out to work.

Today is different. Mom is in a personal care home and only knows who I am some of the time. My brother lives in BC. My son and three grandchildren live on the other side of the city. The last time my mom came to Christmas dinner, I drove across town to pick her up, helped her dress and looked after her at my son's home while helping to cook dinner. When the day was finally over I realized that I had spent almost no time with my own grandchildren.

Duck Pond 1949
I will see my mom on Christmas day but we will have a small family event at another time. Too many people and too many gifts are confusing and stressful for her. We usually have only one gift for her to open but we honour her by donating to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in her name as a way of carrying family memories from past generations to future generations of our family.
I have pictures of myself as a little girl feeding the ducks at the duck pond.
 I have pictures of my son as a little boy at the zoo. There are pictures of my grandchildren in the new children's' Nature Playground. Perhaps there will be pictures of their children with the polar bears.

My mom no longer has her memories. I carry hers and mine. These memories and new ones that we will build together are gifts I can pass on to my grandchildren. I can honour my mother (my past) by building the family memories of the future.

I hope all of you have a place that may pass your family's memories from yesterday to tomorrow.


Where Next? Tip

Where to find up to the minute wait times at Winnipeg Hospital Emergency Rooms
Emergency Department Wait Times | Winnipeg Health Region


Mark Your Calendar!
Caring With Confidence Conference
coming  January 23rd.



Top Sites for Caregivers to Visit in Manitoba

1. Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat

Description: The Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat is part of the department of Health, Healthy Living and Seniors. It acts as a central point of contact for seniors, their family members and organizations.
Rating: *****
Review: This updated site is a goldmine of information. Save it as a favorite! You will want to come back here again and again on your caregiving journey.
Focus: Caregivers of seniors
Where to start: Begin with the Home Page.
Don't Miss: The publications page. You will want to have your own hard copy of A Guide For Caregivers. Order it. Read it. Fill it full of Post-It notes.
Best Pages:
Who Knew?  That there is a Seniors Information Line, an information and referral line for seniors, family members and caregivers and professionals working with seniors. In Winnipeg: 204-945-6565 Toll-free: 1-800-665-6565 Email:

2. Safe To Ask Toolkit (Manitoba Institute of Patient Safety)

Description: The SAFE toolkit has information, tips and resources that can help people learn to be more involved in their healthcare.
Rating: ****1/2
Review: This site is about much more than safety. S.A.F.E. stands for Self-Advocacy for Everyone. It is full of information on how to advocate for yourself and others with our healthcare system. This site is essential for those who have been diagnosed with a serious illness.
Focus: All Manitobans
Don't miss: The Safe to Ask Medication Card
Best Pages: (Read the summary and the full article)
1. Know Your Patients Rights >>>
2. Choose Your Patient Advocate >>>
3. Know Your Healthcare Plan >>>
4. Access Your Medical Records >>>
Who Knew: That anyone can appoint a friend or family member to act as their Patient Advocate to help them navigate the system.


October  Caregiver Workshops  

Half Day Seminar
November 8th- Seine River Retirement Home 1:00 - 4:30 pm Fee: $20.00

Full Course (5 evenings)
         Mondays October 20th - November 17th 7:00-8:30 pm
         Sturgeon Creek I Retirement Residence Fee: $40.00

To register contact Wendy at

What participants say: 

"I just wanted to thank you for the workshop you presented in Brandon on April 12th.  The information you have collected and prepared is invaluable.    For me, it was also a place of support.  It was comforting to know others are in the same position and in need of support too. "

Thanks for the Tip

As caregivers we often learn as we go. Looking back over the 8 years I've cared for my mom, I thankful for the tips I've picked up along the way.

Thanks for TIP #1. Expect Resistance
I'm thankful for the obstacles I ran into while trying to find care for my mom. Her family doctor's unwillingness to diagnose her dementia, resulted in TIP #1. Expect resistance where you least expect it. Always have a back up plan. If I'd  been prepared, I wouldn't have left his office without knowing where to turn. Now I know that a referral isn't needed to have a senior's physical an mental needs assessed. Just call the Geriatric Central Intake Line: 204.982.0140 for an appointment.

Thanks for TIP #2 Visit the Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat website often.
The Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat is part of the Manitoba department of Health, Healthy Living and Seniors. Add this website to your favorites because it is the place for caregivers to find  help. This is where seniors and caregivers can find the best information and publications about:
  • Caring for a Senior
  • Housing & Rent
  • Transportation
  • Health and Wellness
  • Safety and Security 
Thanks for TIP #3 Talk to other caregivers.
I'm so thankful for all the caregivers I've met. Only someone who is living the experience truly understands. It was through other caregivers that I learned about:
  • The Disability Tax Credit
  • Lab tests that can be done in the home
  • the Patient Advocate Form
Thanks for TIP #4 Carry Thank You Cards
Along the caregiving journey you will meet some angels. It might be the young fellow at the triage desk in Urgent Care who moves your 90 year-old parent to the front of the line. It might be the music therapist in your parent's personal care home. It might be the home care worker who goes the extra mile. Be sure to thank them all. A thank you note or card goes a long way to support those who work in a difficult system but still give us that personal touch when we need it.

I'd also like to say a special thanks to Julie Donaldson and the Manitoba Caregiver Coalition and Syva-lee Wildenmann and Rupert's Land Caregiver Services. These are the people who are working on the frontlines to support caregivers in Manitoba.  Please join us.
And a special thank you to my mother, Marjorie Bremner who taught me to speak my mind and to know when  "No" was an unacceptable answer.