Personal Best: There’s no place like home

Pat Black rediscovers one of the many things she loves about living in the North Okanagan

I am still away, staying in Aurora, a suburb of Toronto. On Mother’s Day, May 12, it rained, snowed, hailed, sleeted and was sunny for 10 minutes and the Leafs won the hockey game.

This sort of describes Toronto: a hodgepodge of activity, the eye of tumultuous weather, an ongoing, energetic, constantly moving centre of activity. There must have been a ton of energy expended by the thousands of fans that stood outside the hockey arena in downtown Toronto watching the game on a huge screen while being drowned in the savage weather.

I am writing this column May 14 and last night the Leafs lost and tens of thousands of fans stood and cried outside the arena in freezing weather. Such is the nature of hockey in the big smoke.

The world here evolves at a dizzying pace and I am reminded again of all the reasons why I wanted to get off and finally left this metropolis for the beauty and peace of the Okanagan. Toronto is a great place to visit, etc.

For many years senior’s advocates in B.C. have been advocating to increase home-support services to assist people to remain in their homes longer, a worthy goal that would benefit many seniors emotionally and the province financially. But we should be aware that if some health services are increased others will be reduced.  A case in point being the recent Ontario provincial budget which is moving to expand home-care services by increasing that budget to $4.56 billion while hospital budgets are frozen to $17 billion, the same as last year’s. Some hospitals are now downsizing by cutting beds, staff and services to meet the new budget demands and this will certainly increase wait lists for any elective surgeries such as knee replacements which now, according to the Ministry of Health, run to an average of eight to 14 months in Toronto depending on the hospital. Here, at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, wait lists for knee replacement are approximately 13 months for 90 per cent of people and we certainly do not want these wait lists to increase. It is a dilemma. Which way do we go when resources are limited?

Prevention is the best way to reduce health care costs, and looking at our own health needs and improving our lifestyles improves our quality of life as well.

For instance, how many cups of coffee do you drink daily and do you know what the recommended levels are?  Dietitians of Canada report that moderate intake of caffeine is OK, but too much might make you feel nervous and irritable, increase your heart rate, interfere with sleep and cause headaches. Health Canada recommends we get no more than 400 to 450 mg of caffeine per day, equivalent to two to four cups of coffee (depending on the size of your mug).

If you are pre-diabetic or are looking at preventing type 2 diabetes, the Mayo Clinic’s latest newsletter found that in a recent study, modest lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes by 71 per cent. Some changes they recommend are eating in a healthier way by eating minimally processed foods and including less fat and fewer calories in your diet. Performing exercise equivalent to brisk walking for 150 minutes a week — an average of 30 minutes a day for five days a week. They also recommended that overweight people who might be prone to type 2 diabetes aim to lose seven per cent of their body weight. For someone weighing 200 pounds, that’s 14 pounds. Seems like a reasonable amount to lose to prevent a serious disease like diabetes.

If you have any questions or comments you can e-mail me at

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

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