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Unity representing strength stands in direct contrast to the concept of divide and rule.

In the unforgettable words of Madiba himself:

“Unity in Diversity" is a phrase we use often in South Africa, which is also a country of widely diverse peoples and cultures. These differences were misused by apartheid in order to divide our nation. But today our diversity is a source of strength. We are a nation of many colours and cultures, but forming a harmonious unity like a rainbow after a heavy storm.”

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It is only when we truly“ know and understand that we have a limited time on earth, and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it were the only one we had.”

- Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

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To care and be cared for forms the very foundation of a balanced life as a human being.  Without the necessary quantity and quality of it, no form of achievement can ever truly equate to success, because something will always be missing. Care transmits interest, empathy, comfort.  Without it, it is impossible for any of us to truly thrive.   

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Physical touch forms the very foundation of human communication, bonding, and health.  Most of us take it for granted as a common part of our daily lives. Not so the lonely or isolated.  Research demonstrates that, especially amongst the elderly, touch deprivation is a very real problem that can have a powerful negative impact on the human psyche, preventing us from experiencing happiness or wellbeing. 

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Fitness is a coin with two sides; it is a concept we associate primarily with the body, but it is also an attitude which can be either restrictive or liberating.

As for the “golden years” – in order to find fulfilment, no matter our age, it is important to break out of the mental set that makes us think of our age first and our potential for contentment and wellbeing second.

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A smile, a hug, an unselfish thought…

The concept of kindness is as wide as the range of beneficial effects it can engender.  Any one definition of it would never be sufficient to house its many rewarding qualities.

For a start, let’s consider this long list of synonyms which all reflect kindness:  

benevolence, charity, generosity, courtesy, hospitality, friendliness, goodwill, goodness, grace, tolerance, understanding, gentleness, helpfulness, assistance.

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Water is our most important natural asset. After South Africa’s worst drought in decades, we are even more aware of this precious commodity – saving on garden watering, household use and definitely the topping up of pools! 

But water is more important than just a life-giving factor of human, animal and plant existence – water is one of our most important factors contributing to psychological wellbeing and physical strength. 

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“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves” – Horace Mann

Our volunteering program here at HSFA is crucial to the wellbeing of the people under our care. We would therefore like to honour International Volunteer Day that takes place on 5 December. The day serves as a platform for the celebration of the efforts of volunteers, the underlining of the importance of volunteerism and the mobilisation of volunteers globally. In line with this, we thought it apt to use this opportunity to highlight the value of volunteering in communities in general and among the elderly population specifically.

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The Helderberg Society or the Aged (HSFA) has been in the limelight recently, both in the printed as well as social media, mostly for the wrong reasons.

I wish to put the record straight about Libertas in particular, and the HSFA in general.

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Loneliness can hardly be considered the prerogative of the elderly. And yet it is precisely within this age group that we find it most prevalent. The combination of old age and the incumbent problems of aloneness are often perceived as insurmountable by people already compromised by their situation and powerless to seek help. This sense of isolation is no more acutely felt than during holidays and the festive season.   

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“The very purpose of our life is happiness, the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” ~ Dalai Lama

Everyone, whether they realise it or not, makes a bucket list in life. It’s called dreams. What we dream is sometimes mere fantasy, totally unattainable, but often we are circling a range of possibilities that, if we only made plans, sacrifices and determined decisions, we could actually add to the experience of our life with joy and satisfaction.

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We give thought to those afflicted with Alzheimer’s on World Alzheimer’s Day on the 21st of September. As we age there is one disease that we fear more than any other – and that is the gradual unravelling of mental capacity that whittles away at memory, identity, the most basic sense of self. There are variations of dementia but Alzheimer’s is the most common and also the most feared because of the loss of independence, control of one’s life, and ability to make decisions – along with the tragic disconnection with loved ones. 

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Playdates, meetings, cooking, counselling, caring. The life of a woman can be challenging and full, to say the least. For many of us, ‘wearing many hats’ comes naturally, but it can become difficult when we try to wear all our hats all at the same time.

Why do we do this? Sure, society puts excessive amounts of pressure on women to be everything to everyone. To be the world’s best multitaskers and to successfully (and obviously gracefully) juggle everything. That's all so unrealistic and unfair. In reality, to be ‘successful’ in the eyes of the world is something completely different to what success looks like in the life of each individual.

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Mental fitness is not really about what you think about all day. You might think you’re mentally fit because you’re shopping, driving, finding parking, carrying parcels, planning the evening’s supper, working through business meetings – but even with all that engagement you may mentally exhausted, running on auto with your mind cluttered with other chores, commitments or intractable problems. The result of all your busyness may be something forgotten, a mistake in calculations and some confusion over an arrangement, or depression about a range of circumstances in your life currently. Sound familiar?

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Being forgetful is not necessarily due to age. You can be forgetful at any age. Stress can make you forgetful or poor eating habits or lack of exercise or even hormones going awry can reduce the ability to recollect quickly. Depression, strokes, side effects of medication, and even alcoholism can lead to memory loss. But none of it means you have dementia or the first signs of Alzheimer’s.

Despite all of this, as we age, forgetting things can become frustrating and worrisome.

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They say that grandparents enjoy their grandchildren more than they did their own children – and that is because the engagement is all about fun and real relationship value – and it’s not a 24/7 responsibility. When granny’s tired, she can go home.

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Supplements have become big business in the last couple of decades. No matter at which stage of life you are, ensuring you have the right nutritional intake is important. But there is some argument as to whether it is merely a matter of good diet, or if supplements do truly boost our energy and immune systems. For older people however, there is definitely evidence to suggest that as we age, a good diet on its own may not be enough.

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Some say that keeping young mentally is more important than bodily fitness as you age. That’s not entirely true. To ensure mental fitness in old age, you also need to keep physically active. Physical fitness contributes to both mental agility and good physical health. Being as active as possible is the critical key to all-round health in movement, outlook and energy.

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smiling

 

Self love is not just about you. It’s about your unique perception of yourself and your place in the world, but more specifically how that place relates to others. The way you feel about yourself reflects everything about the way others will feel about you – and is therefore a measure of your ability to interact effectively with others. Self love doesn’t flow inwards, it radiates outwards, and transfers the essence of you to friends, partners, colleagues, family. Self love is the way you find inner strength. Self love is the way you give and receive love. Self love is the way you can be as generous to others as you can to yourself.  

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active old people

There is a curious idea, especially among younger folk, that when you retire or become too old to engage in the many pastimes of youth, that you end up with nothing to do. Of course, there are those who mange to achieve this with either satisfaction or a considerable amount of grumbling. But either way, the human condition is not designed for ‘nothing’ and people should understand well in advance, the importance for planning their older years – and the consequences of not doing so.

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