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Writer-s-Bloc

How's your quality of life?

By Donna J. Franz

Three things to think about on the home front this year are:

  • Quality of Life.
  • Why do we need to plan for quality of life?
  • What are the benefits of planning

Quality of Life

Health is on our minds in 2021. Globally, health is considered to be the most valued human asset. We believe our health means quality of life, but quality of life is greater than our health alone.

In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) coined the definition of “health status” as a “complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely absence of disease.”

WHO recognizes that quality of life is also cultural, social, environmental, wealth, and life satisfaction. Today, we are feeling the effects of our loss of quality of life due to COVID -19 — loss of cultural, social and environmental freedoms.

WHO developed a Quality of Life Scale that asks how safe your physical environment is:

  • Do you have enough energy for your every-day activities
  • Do you feel safe, do you have access to information
  • Does pain prevent you from doing what you need to do
  • Are you able to concentrate, enjoy life, and feel your life to be meaningful?
  • Are you able to get around
  • Do you have enough money and opportunity for leisure?

Why do we need to plan for quality of life?

To create a safe environment that prevents:

  • Social isolation
  • Changes in function
  • Loss of independence

To ensure quality of life, we need to create a safe environment for ourselves in our home, where we can remain as engaged, productive, active, happy, and healthy.

Social Isolation

In 2020, we learned about, or better understood, the deleterious effects of imposed social isolation, which is a “risk factor” for the development of disability or disease.

Many of us did not experience social isolation prior to COVID -19; however, many seniors and persons with disabilities were familiar with social isolation and are now feeling it to a greater degree.

Social isolation undermines health and quality of life, which is created by preventing or minimizing the effects of social isolation.

Ask yourself: Do I use Zoom, Microsoft teams, iPhones etc. to the fullest extent and regularly connecting with isolated family and friends?

If no, what are your next steps?

Will I find a way to connect loved ones with resources on the internet — education classes with the Society for Learning in Retirement?

Changes in function

During this pandemic, many people are thinking about home renovations and diverting funds from travel to the home front. Many of our homes are not designed for us to age in place. Remax’s 2021 Outlook informs single family homes are in limited supply, prices are rising, and housing inventory in Kelowna remains low.

Would you be able to age safely in your current home? Provided in-person gatherings are safe, would a senior using a walker be able to visit your current home?

Would a friend who requires a wheelchair be able to join you for a dinner party? How easy would it be to get your grandchildren’s stroller in and out of your house?

Is your home VisitAble?

Studies show 90% of people want to age in their homes, versus moving to assistive living or long-term care. Stairs can become unsafe as our senses change — low vision, reduced balance. Bathrooms without safety features such as grab bars can be hazardous.

Barrier-free homes allow us to safely and gracefully age in our environments. Hiring an Aging in Place Home Modification professional assists you with making optimal decisions.

Aging in Place Home Renovations offer optimal social interaction, the antidote to social isolation, and create access to nature and clean fresh invigorating air.

As we age quality of life may change, unless we plan for our changing needs. Not planning for changes in one’s health, vision, hearing, balance, mobility, pain, strength, and function, on a temporary or permanent basis, is an example of not planning for and choosing quality of life.

Loss of independence

Those diagnosed with COVID-19 and have shared the challenge they faced to with fatigue and the ability to breath. Planning for quality of life means planning for those days when we need help. When we need help, we need space in our homes for caregivers and equipment that optimizes independence.

Ask if there is enough room in your bathroom for equipment and a loved one to help you with bathing?

What are the benefits of planning?

Renovations are expensive. Redoing or retrofitting five or 10 years later to make a home safer and easier to use, is an expense we can all do without. Assisted Living for $2,700 a month will cost $97,200 in three years.

For this amount, you can renovate a bathroom and kitchen, which adds value to your home. Hiring Aging in Place professionals will help you thrive in your future.

Like any great expedition planning is required to ensure safety and maximize opportunity. Life is just an example of a great expedition. Not planning and preparing our homes for our future is asking for our resources of energy, time, and money to be unnecessarily taxed.

Investing time and energy in planning for quality of life is a kind and thoughtful way to take care of yourself.

Donna Franz is an occupational therapist at Design 4 Accessibility.



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How do you talk to yourself?

By Michael van Soest

You have a potential that no one knows about.

It’s time to rise out of bed, put on your clothes, brush your teeth and get ready for work, it is another day and yet no one knows how it will unfold.

Astrology can say one thing, the news another, but only you know how you feel.

This is not about anything more than you: how you vibrate, how you feel.

Have you ever walked into a room with a couple of people who just finished having an unresolved argument? You don’t know what their argument was about, but you can feel the tension? Or what about walking into a room with a bunch of people laughing and have no idea what they are laughing about, but can’t help smiling?

We are magnificent sensitive beings of frequency.

When we are expressing with words, we generate emotion, which generates feeling. This is how your words, especially self-talk, can affect your energy, which affects the energy around you.

Here’s a short experiment that will help you comprehend how your words create and shift the way you feel.

Say out loud; “I Love, I love, I Love, I Love.”

Tune in to how you feel. Some may feel more peaceful, loving and calm.

Now shift and say out loud to yourself: “I Hate, I Hate, I Hate. I hate.” Tune in to see how you feel. Did you notice a difference?

Again, say; “I love, I love, I love, I love.” How does that change your energy?

When we are absorbed in conversation, we naturally use emotion and feeling with our words to influence our expression. Even if we are just saying words, we are still subtly generating emotion, even if it is so little that we don’t even realize it.

Resistances and personal limitations are things we say to our-self and come to believe. Beliefs are things we say to our self with continuous repetition. (Repetition that eventually anchors into the depth of our subconscious.)

Just imagine walking about with your normal daily self-talk. What words are you saying to yourself? Why are you saying them? Is your self-talk positive or negative?

Now imagine if someone you may be a great candidate but when they get close to you, they get a weird feeling from you that you have generated from your own negative self-talk and they decide last minute to avoid you.

Not only Identifying your self-talk, but also changing your self-talk, will change your life. This goes for talking out loud or in your head.

We are continuously surrounded by information. The great news is only you can influence you. The information around you is only an option.

This last statement if taken seriously and reviewed every day for 60 days can transform your life.

You are connected to a field of energy scientist are only beginning to comprehend. There are many phenomena and miracles that take place every day, however, from what has been studied, they mainly happen when we are in an already great state of vibration.

You have a beautiful potential every day you wake up and you’re the one who gets to decide how you feel.

May you align your day.

Michael van Soest is a Kelowna hypnotherapist. Visit: https://consciousharmonics.ca or email i[email protected].



The virus in your computer

COVID-19 dangers go beyond common symptoms

By Orest Protch

The last year has changed the way Canadians spend their time.

  • Online shopping is up 99.3%
  • Social media use has increased 72%
  • Postings have increased 43%.

Raise your thumb if you count yourself in these numbers. Point your thumb down if you have done nothing to take steps to protect your laptop, cell phone or tablets that you use to go online with from malware, viruses and trackers.

Several hundred million app of Zoom, TikTok and Pokémon have been downloaded even as companies around the world ban their use at work due to hacking worries. Now, add in Facebook and Twitter number increases.

Now, raise your thumb if you use public Wi-Fi to go online when you are out and about. Back when the Westbank water treatment was started, I was one of two operators hired in 2007 to help commission and run it.

We could go to any public Wi-Fi, log into the plant system on our laptops and run and potentially fix problems when the site computer would dial out to let us know there was a problem. Scary stuff. But it was sanctioned and allowed by the district, so we did our job.

The following are just five ways hackers can use public Wi-Fi to steal your identity, your passwords and credit card information and yes, even remotely take over a water treatment plant.

  • Shoulder-Surfing. This is data theft where cybercriminals steal personal information or confidential information by peering over your shoulder. This act is much more common than you would ever imagine.
  • Sidejacking (Session Hijacking). The attacker uses packet sniffing to read network traffic between two parties to steal the session cookie.
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attacks. This is an attack where a third party intercepts communications between two participants.
  • Fake Wi-Fi Connections. When you check your device to see if a coffee shop or mall has Wi-Fi and it shows green on the icon, but there are no signs posted on counters or walls showing that there is, this is a good indication to run away.
  • Packet Sniffing. Your internet activities are transmitted through many routers and switches en route to their destination. Those packets are susceptible to collection and analysis at each of those points.

If you do a quick internet search, you will find free hacking apps that allow you do all the above. Maybe if you have kids, ask them to show you theirs.

I know of hospitals, clinics and lawyers offices that have been victims of malware. Demands for money after locking up your device. None of your friends or employers will brag about having their devices and systems locked by malware until they cough up anything from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands.

U.S. Homeland Security and Interpol list water-treatments plants second in line for terrorist attack dangers after nuclear power plants, for potential attacks. And yes, water-treatment plants are being hacked and chemical additions manipulated or stopped.

In Calgary, a water treatment plant may have war-zone razor/concertina wire on top of the fence surrounding it to keep the general public and intruders out, but not around its operator computer terminals.

In the years since leaving the Westbank Powers Creek water treatment plant, I have had to use touch keypads to get behind the razor wire fences at various sites.

Have you ever shared a USB with a friend or relative or taken one to work to copy files?

Do you ever run daily security checks on your USB before you do so?

Most companies and government departments have policies against personal memory devices being used at work. But how many follow the rules? Even Canadian government departments such as CRA have been hacked as well as B.C .Health this past year.

Every year, there is an international hackers convention called DefCon. I have a friend who goes every year. A P-Eng. The convention is huge.

But if you think high school had snobbish cliques, it can take years to get included into some of the convention's inner circles of the secret societies that make up international hacking cells, both private and government.

The U.S. military attends these conventions yearly. Yes they have hackers in their own secret departments as well as the defence contractors having their own. But no one in-house can have all the most recent coding information and keep up to all the new hacking techniques, new viruses or malware programs or know all the backdoors into computer system programs.

So the U.S. military has contests. Contests to hack into their most secret systems. They even have, just like the game show Jeopardy on TV, pre-entry tests to qualify to participate.

In 2019, at the Las Vegas convention, the U.S. Air Force brought along an F-15 fighter-jet data system to have hackers find serious vulnerabilities. They did.  The USAF was so pleased with the result that it decided to up the ante.

Last year, they were planning on bringing a satellite. The USAF wanted to let hackers try to hijack an orbiting satellite. But COVID cancelled the convention.

And, yes, kids at these convections show how easy it is to get into voting machines.

Next time, you go to use a public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, mall or airport, be aware that someone is probably watching, seeing and recording what you are doing. It could be an employee or the teenager at the other table.
Never ever bring a USB or other memory device to your place of employment. And the reverse is true.

Your workplace computer system may already be hacked and you will bring home an exploit waiting to get into your system as soon as you push in that little USB stick.

Nothing sucks more than your device getting locked or even crashed.

Every day, my wife and I run anti-malware, data tracking, sniffer finders and antivirus programs on our devices.
COVID-19 protection is not just about you wearing a mask in public.

Your internet devices need a mask too.

Orest Protch is retired, but was in Ottawa in March 2020 putting on a week-long engineering seminar for a special projects team of the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND).



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Persons with disabilities day

By Donna Franz

The United Nations marked Dec. 3 as International Day for Persons with Disabilities.

International days create opportunities for us all to share information, provide education, discuss concerning social issues, and mobilize political awareness, about global health and wellness.

On internationally marked days, we are all encouraged to think about our local community and global friends and neighbours, and the challenges we face. In the case of Dec. 3, we are asked to turn our focus to those of us who have visible and non-visible disabilities that can create added challenges in life.

“Persons with disabilities remain one of the most excluded groups in our society,” says the UN, and are hit the hardest when crisis strikes.

An estimated one billion people identify as having a disability and it is anticipated that by 2050, the world population will grow to 9.9 billion from 7.8 billion in 2020, a 25% increase.

Stats Canada (2017) found that 26% age 65 and older report pain related disability.

Indigenous people experience higher rates of disability (36% of women and 26% of men in Canada, excluding those on reserves).

Persons with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty.

The UN encourages us all to become more “aware” so that we can look at building strategies that we can implement to reduce barriers for persons with disabilities; barriers that create poverty, discrimination and exclusion.

On Dec. 3, will you plan to learn more about the discrimination and harassment persons with disabilities face in the workplace and how unemployment is leading them into financial distress?

On Dec. 3, will you seek to learn how COVID-19 has further isolated persons with disabilities? Imposed social isolation due to the pandemic has hit all of us to some degree and we have been frustrated. For many persons with disabilities isolation was every-day occurrence before COVID-19.

COVID-19 has been additionally catastrophic for persons with disabilities, who are typically the hardest hit in any crisis, especially with respect to fatalities. For them COVID-19 has created challenges accessing available healthcare providers, and care attendants are in short supply. Some people with disabilities rely on care attendants for daily living support every day.

On Dec. 3, will you plan to come together with persons with disabilities to talk and share information, stories, and solutions to problems persons with disabilities face on a day-to-day basis?  Solutions to barriers like entering a building that only has stairs, sitting with friends in pubs have inaccessible washrooms, watching videos that don’t have closed captions, and reading websites that don’t have alt text.

 “I wish for a world that views disabilities, mental or physical, not as a hinderance but as unique attributes that can be seen as powerful assets if given the right opportunities,” said Dr. Oliver Sacks, best-selling author (Awakenings) and professor of neurology

What do artists Claude Monet, Agatha Christie, and Frida Kahlo have in common? A disability.

  • Monet, the French impressionist painter, was diagnosed with cataracts and almost blind by the end of his life. His admired water lily series was painted while losing his sight. You might wonder if his vision loss predisposed him to exceptional impressionism.
  • Christie, a British crime novelist, was considered the “slow one,” by her family. She had difficulty writing, called dysgraphia, and found spelling challenging. She dictated all her thrilling material to a typist. You could say her typist was her assistive device.
  • Mexican artist Kahlo is famous for her expressive self-portraits. As a child she developed polio. At age 18, she was seriously injured in a bus accident and subsequently suffered chronic medical challenges and pain for the rest of her life. You might say that suffering creates passionate creativity and creative ways of dealing with disability.

Many would not likely have guessed these famous artists had a disability, but they did. It appears their disabilities created unique artistic expression that created possibilities.

These famous artists with disabilities contributed significantly to the art world. These artists benefitted from help. People with disabilities may need your help and they most definitely need to be recognized for their abilities and innovations and be treated with dignity.  

With awareness communities will be more helpful and welcoming for persons with disabilities. Plan to install ramps, remove tripping hazards, provide helpful way-finding signage, provide closed captions on videos and alt text on websites, and fund universal designs that work for all. With full accessibility to environments, communication, art, employment, music, businesses, social gatherings, care, and park/playgrounds/ trails, we can help support and harvest a wealth of untapped talent and potential.

This International day for Persons with Disabilities is an opportunity for us to learn more about persons with disabilities from persons with disabilities.

On Dec. 3, will you observe your environment, your biases, your fears, and your own limitations, and then look at ways to remove barriers for all, so that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve optimal self-expression with dignity?

By commemorating Dec. 3, we will help bring to awareness a vision, for a new world that welcomes the uniqueness of all individuals, as a source of wealth called diversity. Accessibility will help create inclusion, which achieves diversity.

Will you be part of a global community on Dec. 3 by enhancing your awareness and building your openness to learn new ways to welcome inclusion and diversity in this artistic world?

Donna Franz is an occupational therapist at Design 4 Accessibility.



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Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

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Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of Castanet. They are not news stories reported by our staff.



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