Personal Best: Make your wishes known

Pat Black said a free community program offered by North Okanagan Hospice Society is a great place to start those difficult conversations

Some of us spend a large amount of time and effort trying to avoid thinking of death or dying. I know because I am one of those. They don’t call me “Queen of Denial” for nothing. It runs in my family.

When my son Terry, the epitome of health and good living, had his very surprising heart attack a while ago, it took two days before he would believe that he actually had had a heart attack and only after we urged his doctor to tell him again, in front of us. So it is somewhat natural to avoid coming to grips with our end and what we would like to see happen, although we know that it is the one life experience we all have in common. We keep putting off the “discussion” with ourselves and others because it makes us focus on the reality of our passing and that is painful.

Putting our heads in the sand will not make it go away and I think as I approach the 80-year mark that it is time to look ahead and make some plans. I certainly don’t want to be heroically revived in emergency if my other organs have failed or if I will not be able to live a life of quality and unless I have a legal document prepared and a person designated to fill my wishes, this will likely happen. It doesn’t have to cost much to make sure your voice and wishes are respected. We just have to know how to go about it and how to deal with this difficult subject with our relatives and friends.

North Okanagan Hospice has again come to the rescue with their new free community program, “Living Well / Dying Well,” for those of us who need some guidance and support to make sure we know the options and can then make plans for that final adventure. The sessions are available for those who have a chronic illness, family members and health care professionals with the goal of enhancing quality of life. There will be seven sessions held in various locations in Armstrong, Lumby and Vernon from Dec. 3 until March 5, 2015. Although the sessions are free you must reserve ahead as seating is limited. Topics will be, Your Wishes for Health Care; Advance Care Planning; Self Care First; Collaborating in Your Care; Let’s Work Together; Health Care Options and Working Effectively with Families. You can sign up for any or all sessions. For more information and to register, call Hospice at 250-503-1800, ext.101.

With winter we tend to hibernate more and stay indoors but even a small amount of exercise can help us live longer and healthier lives. Most seniors in B.C. would benefit from as little as 10 minutes of physical activity, three times a day. Physical activity can also improve our mental health, help us manage chronic diseases, and help to prevent illness and disability. In the long run, it will also give more energy, increase self-confidence and help us stay independent. Even stretching or doing yoga from a chair at home is beneficial.

Exercise programs tailored to the needs and abilities of seniors are available through the Schubert Centre, The Recreation Centre, Halina Centre and for those with chronic health problems the long-running “Yoga in a Chair” at People Place, held at 1 p.m. on Monday and noon on Friday, facilitated by Melissa of Blue Eagle Yoga; and where you pay by donation is a godsend to people on a fixed income.

If you have any questions or comments e-mail:

Pat Black writes about issues of concern to seniors in the North Okanagan, appearing every other Sunday.