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Archive for category: Original Posts

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Better Sleep O-Tip of the Week: When it Comes to Bedding, Sharing is NOT Caring

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Statistics Canada estimates that approximately 3.5 million Canadians struggle with sleep, an important daily occupation that is vital to our physical and mental health.  Therefore, for the month of September we will be providing some of the best OT-Approved solutions to help you get a good night’s sleep. 

Sharing a bed with a significant other can be disruptive, especially if one partner is tossing and turning throughout the night.  Instead of sleeping separately like the Flintstones, a better way to avoid being disturbed by your partner’s sleeplessness is to use separate blankets.  Whether you use a duvet, comforter or quilt you may find it more restful if each partner has their own.  Not only can this work wonders for your sleep quality, but for your relationship too!

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Will You?

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I always assumed that as per Murphy’s Law, if I made a will, I would get hit by a bus as I leave the lawyer’s office after signing it.  Well, I have been through the will process twice now (revised when I realized my first will was created before my last three children were born), and good news, I am still here to write about it. 

I had a great conversation with a lawyer the other day about wills.  A very low percentage of the population actually have one, and if they do, half the time they don’t tell the family where to find it.  I was astonished to know that there is no “will registry”, and that upon your death your family could just make your will “disappear” if they didn’t like what was in it.  That is why it is important to provide a copy of your will to your executor and provide the name of your lawyer to family. 

My dad told me an interesting story of a man whose mother had died.  His mother never liked his sister’s husband, and in her will wrote out the sister, leaving everything to him as her son and executor.  His sister asked him about the will.  His response was “she left everything to us, 50/50”.  He went against his mother’s wishes in order to maintain the relationship with his sister and to prevent ill feelings after her passing.  Interesting.  But it begs the question, why write a will if people won’t follow it anyway? 

Wills are important for many reasons.  First of all, they do outline your wishes, even if not followed or contested.  They are your last chance to have the last word (literally).  But they also importantly outline who you are assigning as your Power of Attorney (POA) for Personal Care or Finances, should you become unable to make such decisions.  This is essential.  I have received many files where I am dealing with the POA until my client becomes able to resume their own decision making.  Accidents happen, and you should be prepared.

This Globe and Mail article speaks very clearly about the importance of a will, and offers some great pointers to consider:

A legal will is worth the time and money

So, will you?

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What Makes a Building Truly Accessible?

There is a greater awareness in society that our buildings and spaces must be more accessible to the greatest majority of people.  But what exactly makes a building accessible?  Take a look at this fantastic blog care of the Rick Hansen Foundation that discusses how there is more to accessibility than just the physical space. 

Rick Hansen Foundation: From Where I Sit: Five Traits of a Meaningfully Accessible Building

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Better Sleep O-Tip of the Week: Adjust the Temperature

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Statistics Canada estimates that approximately 3.5 million Canadians struggle with sleep, an important daily occupation that is vital to our physical and mental health.  Therefore, for the month of September, we will be providing some of the best OT-approved solutions to help you get a good night’s sleep. 

Attempting to sleep in an environment that is too hot or too cold can be difficult and disruptive.  Experts state that a bedroom temperature of 66 degrees F is the perfect temperature for quality sleep.  If you have a programmable thermostat schedule this in, or manually adjust the thermostat about an hour before getting into bed. 

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Foster Independence with Memory Mantras

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Being an Occupational Therapist can also be a curse when it comes to parenting.  As an OT, the goals are always functional independence.  As a parent, I am no different.  I remember a video I watched in OT school.  This was of a boy (young adult) with cerebral palsy and he was putting his coat on.  The video was probably 20 minutes (or it felt that long).  As I watched this boy struggle with his coat for what seemed liked eternity, I wanted to jump through the TV to help him.  Clearly, with some help, this could be done faster and easier.  But in the end, it was not about that.  It was about independence.

As parents, it is often faster and easier to do things for our kids.  Or, we feel the need to continuously protect our kids from failure by ensuring that we are their second brain.  But is this the right choice when the goal is to create people that can manage on their own?

I have created two memory mantras that are used in our house to ensure my kids are seeing the big picture and are developing some executive functioning (note I also use these mantras with my clients who suffer from memory impairment):

  1. When leaving the house our mantra is:  WHERE AM I GOING AND WHAT DO I NEED?  When my children ask themselves this question, they need to stop and think “I am going to X and thus need Y (water, shoes, birthday present, tennis racquet, money)”.  This prevents them from showing up at X unprepared.
  2. When leaving a place in the community our mantra is:  WHAT DID I COME WITH AND WHAT DO I HAVE?  By asking themselves this question, they quickly realize that they came with X and thus need to bring X home (coat, shoes, water, bag, lunch).  This prevents them from leaving things behind.

The success is in hearing my children repeat this to themselves when on their way out the door.  Recently, at a sporting event, we heard a teenage boy blame his mother for forgetting his water.  She was profusely apologetic and rushed out to find him a drink.  My children (who were younger at the time) turned to me and said: “shouldn’t he remember his own water”?  My thoughts exactly.

Originally posted June 2013

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Is Hitting Snooze Bad for your Health?

We have all been there.  The alarm goes off and you would give anything for just 10 more minutes… thank goodness for the snooze button.  Some people go as far as to set their alarms up to 30 minutes early just to have the satisfaction of pressing snooze multiple times.  However, as great as hitting snooze may feel in the moment, it may not actually be the best decision for your health.  Learn why in the following article care of the Cleveland Clinic. 

The Cleveland Clinic: Is Hitting Snooze (Once, Er, Maybe Three Times) Bad for Your Health?

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Better Sleep O-Tip of the Week: Banish the Blue Light Before Bed

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Statistics Canada estimates that approximately 3.5 million Canadians struggle with sleep, an important daily occupation that is vital to our physical and mental health.  Therefore, for the month of September, we will be providing some of the best OT-approved solutions to help you get a good night’s sleep. 

Did you know that the use of technology, even having a television on in the bedroom, can disturb the amount and quality of sleep you achieve?  Powering down at least an hour before bedtime can help to ensure a better-quality sleep.  If you simply can’t live without a round of Candy Crush or an e-book before bed, try using a blue-light filter app to reduce the amount of blue light emitted.  Learn more about the detrimental effects of technology on sleep in our post, How Technology is Ruining Your Good Night’s Sleep. 

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Summer Vacation has Come to an End: Time to “Just Get ER Done”

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Often I am asked by others how I balance the many aspects of my busy life.  My answer is that I just “get er done”.  In fact “get er done” is a mantra I use regularly to motivate me to knock things off my list.

For example, if I am driving and realize I will arrive at my destination 20 minutes early, often something (or several things) will pop into my head about how I should spend that extra time (stop into the bank, drop by the post office, grab that birthday present, stop at the store for some fresh veggies, etc.).  Then, my head starts negotiating with itself (“no, just keep driving and you can check email for 20 minutes in the parking lot”, or “I don’t feel like doing that right now”, or “I don’t need that present until next week anyway”).  Really, we can talk ourselves out of anything (mostly healthy eating, getting out of bed earlier, and exercise), but success comes from being able to hear through the noise to make the best decision.  Learn more about how to take advantage of that extra 20 minutes in our post Don’t Multi-Task, Multi-Purpose – It’s Better for You. 

In my case, when my head is conflicted by the devil and angel arguing on my shoulders, I apply the mantra:  “Julie, just get er done”.   Every time I say this, it springs me into action.

I remember watching a YouTube video by Mel Robbins that clearly explained that thoughts are just thoughts and to turn them into action, we need to attach a physical component.  We have five seconds to turn a thought into an action or it won’t happen.  So, when hearing the alarm, we have five seconds to throw off the covers and put our feet on the ground, or the “thought” of getting up will turn into the action of not.  Same with the thought of exercising:  if, within five seconds of thinking “I should go for a good walk” you have not gotten up and moved towards putting your runners on, chances are another thought will tell you to stay put.

So, turn those thoughts into action.  Use mantras and physical responses to your thoughts to just “get er done”.  

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Get Back to Routine with These Helpful Resources

Summer vacation is coming to a close and the kids are heading back to school!  Due to vacations, sleepovers, and the unstructured nature of no school, daily routines are often disrupted over the summer months. A consistent daily routine for kids is critical to them learning responsibility, time management, and so they get a good sleep.

Therefore in September, it is important to re-establish what morning, after-school and bedtime time should look like.

While growing up, in our house, we had each of our girls “daily routines” typed, laminated and posted in the back hall. Though each differed slightly, they included:

Morning: 

  • wake up at 7:00 am
  • make beds
  • get dressed
  • eat a healthy breakfast
  • brush teeth and hair
  • pack lunch and backpack
  • out the door by 7:40


After-School: 

  • shoes and back-packs away
  • lunch boxes emptied
  • dry snacks and water bottle packed for the next day
  • paperwork from school in the “in box”
  • have a healthy snack
  • do any homework
  • then play (no technology)!


Before Bed:  

  • dinner dishes put away
  • play areas and bedroom are tidy
  • shower
  • healthy bedtime snack
  • reading time
  • lights out at 9:00 pm

Use our great free printable that can be customized for your children. This will help them to stay on track each day in the morning, after-school and before bed. Be sure to review this with the kids before implementing, confirm the expectations, and get their commitment.  You’ll be well on your way to creating a less stressful and more organized home!  

Check out more of our FREE printables for both children and adults, available on our website!

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Functional, Yet Fashionable Clothing for All

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)
Co-Written with Jacquelyn Bonneville, Occupational Therapist

As occupational therapists, we often see clients experience issues with dressing after an injury or as a result of a disability.  How do you dress when you have one arm?  Or, how can you don pants, socks and shoes when you have not feeling or movement in your lower body?  What about managing zippers and buttons with reduced fine motor control?  Spasms, reduced range of motion, the inability to stand for dressing, or body changes that make clothing options limited?  There are many reasons why dressing can become a problem.

As a society, we use fashion for several reasons – to manage the weather, for privacy from sensitive parts, and as an expression of ourselves.  Clothing and clothing choices are important.

Business-wear and athletic wear are two areas of fashion that are generally limiting for persons with dressing challenges.  For this blog, we wanted to introduce some simple, but still fashionable and functional, adaptations that can help manage the task of dressing if this has become difficult!

Lock Laces or Elastic Shoe Laces

Elastic and lock shoelaces are permanently tied, and allow for stretch of the shoe when putting it on or taking it off. This makes it a functional, inexpensive solution for anyone who doesn’t want to worry about their laces coming undone (especially athletes!), or for people who struggle with tying their shoelaces tight enough, or with the intricacies of actually tying the laces.  Note that often these are great in combination with a long-handled shoehorn.

Nike Flyease Sneakers

Nike has a line of slip-on ‘wrap-around-fasten’ shoes that are fashionable, including running shoes, kids shoes, and basketball style high-top sneakers (designed with basketball superstar LeBron James). Though designed for young adults with Cerebral Palsy initially, these shoes are suitable for anyone who wants some stylish sneakers, without the hassle of laces.

Under Armour Magzip

Zippers are often an integral part of our Canadian Fall and Winter attire to help secure our clothing to keep us warm. Zippers can actually be very challenging to co-ordinate for many reasons, and Under Armour tackled “fixing the zipper” in 2014 with their Magzip technology in a variety of unisex athletic-wear styles. The bottom part of the zipper is magnetic, meaning that it is far easier to ‘thread’ and pull up than a standard zipper, without sacrificing athletic hoodie style. See the press release for more information and a video explaining the technology.

IZ Adaptive Jeans

Jeans are a staple of many wardrobes, but they certainly shift and move when people are sitting or standing. For people who spend a lot of time sitting, including office workers and people who use wheelchairs, jeans can be extremely uncomfortable; jeans regularly have rivets on the back pocket which can cause discomfort while seated, they have the same rise around the waist so when you sit they are either too low or bunch up, and the front button can dig into your waist when you sit down.

IZ Adaptive has designed a line of jeans designed for wheelchair users that offer an easier ring to work the zipper, a clasp instead of a front button, and are overall designed with the different body position of a person while sitting instead of standing. Be sure to look online for other companies offering similar adaptive jean designs!

Part of the role of Occupational Therapy is to have insight and knowledge about products that will help an individual function independently, without sacrificing style, priorities, or efficiency. For more information about customized products that may work for your individual needs, speak with an Occupational Therapist!

As a last inspiring thought, check out this link to the story of a beautiful model with Down Syndrome, Madeline Stuart, who is changing perceptions of disability, while being stylish at the same time.

Previously posted January 2016