Health and Wellbeing

Back Pain Advice

Five Easy S.T.E.P.S.
To a Healthier Back

Back pain affects millions of people in the UK.

Low back pain accounts for as much as 44% of all chronic pain in women and 37% in men1,2  and it affects the work, leisure and family lives of sufferers.

#MINDYOURBACK is a simple management programme developed by the muscle and joint experts at Mentholatum to help you manage your back pain and help prevent future problems.

Deep Relief Anti-inflammatory Gel and Deep Relief Joint Pain Gel are medicines for muscular aches and pains. Always read the label. Deep Heat Pain Relief Heat Patches, Deep Freeze Pain Relief Cold Patch and Deep Freeze Pain Relief Glide-on Gel are medical.

As spring gets into full swing we want to get out and be more active again, walking, sprucing up the garden and tackling all those DIY jobs which have been waiting over the winter.

But it’s all too easy to let enthusiasm get the better of us and overdoing things can lead to stiff, sore, aching backs.

Backs were designed for moving, but they need a little TLC, so make sure you Mind Your Back with Mentholatum’s five simple S.T.E.P.S. which cost little in time and even less in equipment!

Stretch – Five easy to follow stretches to help ease tight back muscles and keep you mobile.

Therapy – When life gets in the way and you can’t fit in all the S.T.E.P.S. use hot or cold therapy to ease the aches and pains.

Exercise – Go for a walk, a swim or a cycle ride, just start slowly and build up gradually.

Posture – Could you draw a straight line between your ear, shoulder and hip when sitting down or ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle when standing? No? Then it’s time to pay attention to posture.

Strengthen – Five more exercises, this time to strengthen your core muscles and help prevent back pain. A strong core means a stronger back.

You can do your stretches anywhere at any time, no need for special equipment or the full-on Lycra-clad gym experience. Just listen to your body and take it slowly at the start, never over-extending or pushing yourself too hard and stop at once if you feel any pain.

Back care’s a step-by-step marathon, not a sprint!

You’ll find more information and videos featuring yoga instructor Celest Pereira showing the five S.T.E.P.S. at www.mindyourbackuk.com *

Jillian Watt, director of Marketing and New Product Development at Mentholatum says, “Rest and painkilling tablets used to be the recommended treatment for muscular back pain, but that advice has been turned on its head and it is now widely recognised that exercise should be the first recommendation for treating low back pain.

“It is a key recommendation in the latest advice from NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence)1,2 .  And the Self Care Forum recommends topical treatments such as hot or cold therapy and topical painkillers to help ease pain in the lower back muscles.

“We have developed #mindyourback to give back pain sufferers clear, key advice in a one-stop shop making it easier to manage their back pain with five simple S.T.E.P.S. which can fit into the busiest lives. We are delighted to have the support of health and exercise professionals including physiotherapist and yoga instructor Celest Pereira.

“You may be ‘getting your five a day’ – now it’s time to ‘do your five a day’ with #mindyourback.”

Social Media

Twitter: #mindyourback

Website: www.mindyourbackuk.com/

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/MentholatumUK

References:

1. www.nice.org.uk

2. National Guideline Centre (UK). Low Back Pain and Sciatica in Over 16s: Assessment and Management. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK); 2016 Nov. (NICE Guideline, No. 59.) Appendix A, Scope. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books

*Before starting, check that there is no medical reason why the exercises may not be suitable for you. They are not suitable for people who have a serious back injury or an underlying health condition.

The Mentholatum Company is the UK’s number one seller of topical analgesics**, accounting for more than three of every ten topical analgesic products sold in the UK**. It is the company behind some of the nation’s best-known and most trusted brands such as Deep Heat and Deep Freeze and the ibuprofen and levomenthol gel Deep Relief.

See the full ranges at:

www.mentholatum.co.uk

www.deep-heat.co.uk

www.deepfreeze.co.uk

www.deep-relief.co.uk

** Source: IRI data, units sold 52 w/e 27 January 2018

Groundbreaking Surgery

Eyelid Surgery at Spire Leeds Hospital Saves Grandmother’s Vision

Jennifer Holroyd from Cleckheaton

Droopy upper eyelids (ptosis) affects around 2% of adults in the UK and can sometimes lead to loss of vision when the eyelid covers the pupil. Famous sufferers include Charlotte Rampling and Hollywood actors Renee Zellweger and Faye Dunaway.

It cannot be prevented and corrective surgery is often the only solution. What’s more, drooping eyelids can also have a psychological and social impact causing sufferers to look tired all the time or even thought to be drunk. Ptosis can affect one eye or both eyes and in severe cases the drooping eyelid can cover part of or all of the pupil and significantly impact vision.

In the case of Jennifer Holroyd, 73, a grandmother from Cleckheaton, her problem was more than just cosmetic. Affecting both eyes, it was impacting her vision to the point where she had to give up driving and had difficulty with daily activities.

Jennifer says, “I’ve had droopy eyelids since childhood, however, as I got older I found it was getting progressively worse. The right eye was worse and I had to hold my eyelid up to watch television. My eyelids felt heavy and would worsen when I was tired. I hated that sometimes people would think I looked sleepy all the time or even drunk.”

She decided to look into having corrective surgery. “It was not just about vanity, it was severely affecting my vision,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer chose Spire Leeds Hospital, where she had undergone ELVR lung surgery for emphysema back in 2013 and her husband and several relatives had also had successful surgical procedures previously.

She was referred to Prof. Bernard Chang, consultant ophthalmologist at Spire Leeds Hospital in June 2017. He explained the corrective surgical procedure to Jennifer and together they decided to go ahead with a ptosis repair and blepharoplasty to lift and tighten the upper eyelid. Jennifer had the right eye done first and a couple of weeks later had surgery on the second eye.

Prof. Chang explains, “There are no other long-term solutions for ptosis except upper lid surgery to strengthen and retighten the levator muscles that lift the eyelid. In Jennifer’s case her eyelids were so droopy that the top lid was covering her pupil and severely impairing her vision. If she had not had corrective surgery her upper lid would have continued to drop down and eventually the pupil could be covered totally and she would not be able to see through that eye. Her problem was more than just cosmetic, as there was a strong functional element.”

The condition may be present at birth or develop more gradually with age. It’s more common in the elderly.  Problems with the sympathetic nervous system (Horner’s syndrome) can also cause ptosis.

Jennifer underwent the surgery under a local anaesthetic and was conscious throughout the 45-minute procedure, which involved the removal of the loose skin before the levator muscle was tightened to lift the eyelid.

“The advantage of a local anaesthetic procedure is that you can check the lid lift and adjust the lift so that it’s not too low or too high,” says Prof. Chang.

Jennifer was able to return home the same day and was supplied with eye drops to administer daily for the next few weeks. She is very happy with the results.

“I’m delighted the surgery has not only restored my sight, giving me back my ability to drive and to live my life to the fullest.  It has also made me look younger and more wide awake. Yet it’s a natural and subtle effect.”

About Ptosis

Ptosis can be congenital. About eight in 100,000 children can have ptosis and in adults, around 2% can develop the condition. The problem is more common in the elderly and in contact lens wearers due to continuous insertion and removal of lenses, especially those who wear hard contact lenses. It can also be the result of a stroke or other brain injuries.

Spire Healthcare is a leading independent hospital group in the United Kingdom, with 39 hospitals, 12 clinics and two Specialist Care Centres across England, Wales and Scotland, treating insured, self-pay and NHS patients.  The Group delivered tailored care to more than 270,000 in-patients and day-case patients in 2015, and is the leading provider by volume of knee and hip operations in the United Kingdom.

For further information please visit www.spirehealthcare.com/leeds

Spring Wellbeing Advice

Worrying Is Just Dreaming About What You Don’t Want

Mark Bristow explains how EFT can help you stop worrying and start enjoying life

“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened,” Michel de Montaigne

How much time do you spend each day worrying about things that may or may not happen? Or about a task that you must perform? Or about finances, health, relationships or anything else that you choose to focus on?

Worrying increases our stress levels and worrying without doing anything about it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The action of constantly worrying about something is the direct opposite of positive thinking and is the same as manifesting what you want but in reverse.

Leading EFT practitioner, author and broadcaster, Mark Bristow says that often our habit of worrying and constant fears about what might or might not happen are often driven by unconscious beliefs formed in childhood and have nothing to do with what makes us habitually worry.

Mark, who runs a successful EFT coaching practise says that, Emotional Freedom Technique, or “tapping” on various pressure points on the body can help uncover subconscious beliefs that keep us stuck in a cycle of worrying.  EFT is a non-invasive treatment that can help us make major shifts and can change the way we look at the world. It is becoming increasingly mainstream in the UK, and in the US, with Boots the Chemist recommending EFT as a great modality for treating stress and worry.

Brian Tracy, the most listened to audio author on personal and business success in the world today states that “You become what you think about, most of the time”. Tracy points out that successful people spend more time focussing on what they want and taking action and following their dreams rather worrying about what might or might not happen.

So how do we stop ourselves from worrying? A great starting point is to learn some EFT techniques, Mark has free advice on his website about how to “tap” and you can watch a free demonstration of EFT videos by clicking here

Mark says, “Firstly, we need to determine whether we can do something about the situation or task of which we are worrying. Is it realistic to be worrying? If you are frozen in worry and procrastination than these three steps can give you some tools and help you beat the negative impact of worrying”.

Action

If you can do something about the situation or task you are stressing about, then do it.  How many times have you worried about performing a task, only to find it wasn’t half as bad as you initially thought. Make a list, put them in order of difficult to easy and set about tackling each task/situation. Some people start with the most daunting as you feel so much better when you’ve accomplished it and it makes the other things on the list seem less onerous.

Visualisation

A little tip to entice you into starting a task is to imagine how you will feel once the task had been completed. This will help you to move away from the pain of starting said task and towards the pleasure of completion. You can go through each item on the list and imagine how you will do each task, put as much detail into as possible into the visualisation, so it seems like a rehearsal, so that when you actually do the task it will seem easier.

Let Go

And if you can’t do anything about it, then does worrying make the situation any better? Absolutely not, so stop worrying. Let it go. Try meditating or talking to a friend, or even some fresh air to clear your head, and of course find something positive and pleasurable to focus on instead of things you can’t control.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that 85% (yes – 85%) of what we worry about never happens.

So how about looking for that old metaphorical kit-bag from that old song, and pack away your worries and make space to bring in the good things in your life?…And smile, that’s the style!

Find out more about Mark Bristow and coaching at markbristowcoaching.com

Menopause Help and Advice

Easing Menopause Woes Naturally

Advice by Dr David Edwards, Trudy Hannington and Suzie Sawyer

Around a third of the female population (13 million in the UK) are currently going through the menopause and women are 31% more likely to go through the menopause early if they started menstruating before their 12th birthday.

Facts & Statistics

Women usually start experiencing menopause symptoms between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline. However, in the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51.

Most women going through the menopause experience typical symptoms caused by a natural dip in oestrogen levels, the most common being hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, low mood or anxiety, reduced sex drive (libido) and problems with memory and concentration.  For some women, these symptoms continue for up to 15 years.

The usual advice on contraception is that a woman should wait one year after her last menstrual period before she stops using it. If her last period occurs under the age of 50, she should use contraception for a further two years.

Commenting on the trials and tribulations of the menopause, GP, Dr David Edwards, Psychosexual Therapist, Trudy Hannington and clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer share some of their tips and bust a few myths.

GP, Dr David Edwards and a specialist in male and female sexual dysfunction notes, “Prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a popular choice for women to help manage menopausal symptoms.  However, there are many women who, either for medical reasons or personal choice, prefer not to take HRT.  These women, or indeed those already taking HRT, may find it helpful to try the following lifestyle and supplementation tips.  Most importantly, don’t suffer in silence and always consult your GP for a one to one consultation if you are at all concerned. Here are a few of my tips:

Move It – Any exercise that stresses the bones such as skipping, can slow down the loss of bone density associated with the menopause. Brisk walking or aerobics release endorphins, the feel-good hormones in the body which can help alleviate low mood and anxiety, common feelings during the menopause years. Pilates and yoga are good for flexibility while pelvic floor exercises help protect against urinary incontinence as you age.

Stay Cool – Hot rooms can aggravate flushing so keep your house and bedroom temperature cool. Cutting back on caffeinated drinks and topping up with plenty of water may also help.  Also, reduce intakes of caffeinated drinks and top up with plenty of water – all these tips can help with flushes.

Try Herbal remedies – Traditional herbal medicines containing Black Cohosh and St John’s Wort have been clinically proven to help relieve common menopause symptoms.  Some women find concentrating and copying with stressful situations particularly difficult during the menopause.  Rhodiola rosea has been shown to help relieve symptoms of stress without causing sedation or a foggy brain.  Make sure you choose one which carries the THR kite mark as this guarantees quality, safety and includes approved dosage information in-pack. 

A leading Psychosexual Therapist, a former Chair of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy (COSRT) and committee member for the British society of Sexual Medicine, Trudy Hannington notes, “Female Sexual Dysfunction is a common problem that has been ignored and affects one in two women after the menopause. Most sexual problems have more than one cause.  I regularly see women going through the menopause who start to experience sexual and relationship problems such as low sex drive, arousal problems and, in many cases, feelings of no longer being attractive or desirable to their partner.  A few tips I have include:

Book a ‘Date Night’ – Use the time to get know each other again and discuss what makes you both feel good. Switch off phones and other electronic devices so that you can give each other your full attention.

Be touchy –  Improving foreplay and taking time with sensual massage can help improve communication. Kissing, touching and exploring each other’s bodies can help to boost libido.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer adds, “Diet and supplementation become even more important during and after the menopause.  This is because the hormonal system is interlinked throughout the body, therefore blood sugar imbalances caused by stimulants or eating highly refined foods will exacerbate fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels.  This, in turn, may worsen menopausal symptoms. Here are a few of my tips to help ease some of those menopause woes:

Eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly broccoli, sprouts and carrots, is the cornerstone to maintaining healthy hormone balance.  As important, is including soya lentils, chickpeas, flaxseeds, oats and wholegrain rice which all contain phytoestrogens.  These are plant-based foods which help to balance hormones and provide oestrogenic ‘activity’ where required.

Increase your intake of essential nutrients.  Calcium can help to keep bones strong as well as reducing the risk of bone fractures in post-menopausal women.  Therefore, eat plenty of calcium-rich foods including fish with bones such as sardines, leafy green vegetables, and some dairy foods.  However, avoid eating too much cheese as this is very acidic and can encourage calcium loss from the bones.  Try Alive! Calcium with Vitamin D Soft Jells.

Vitamin D and Magnesium also help maintain bone health.  Our skin produces most of the vitamin D we need when it’s exposed to sunlight, but you can also find it in oily fish, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals.  Magnesium, which aids the absorption of calcium, can be found in nuts, pulses and green, leafy vegetables.  Try Alive! Ultra Women’s 50+ Wholefood Plus tablets.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be really beneficial for many women during the menopause, as they help to maintain a healthy heart and flexible joints, thereby reducing the need for NSAIDs.  Most importantly, they’ll help to maintain youthful-looking skin. You can increase your dietary intake by eating oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and herring.  Flaxseeds are also a great source of omega-3s.

Product Recommendations from Schwabe & Nature’s Way

Black Cohosh is found in MenoHerb Black Cohosh Menopause Relief, a traditional herbal medicine used for the relief of menopause symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats and temporary changes in mood such as nervous irritability and restlessness, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy.

Available in Boots, Holland & Barrett, Ocado and all good pharmacy and health food stores or visit www.menoherb.co.uk    Price is £10.20 for 30 one-a-day tablets.

MenoHerb is suitable for vegetarians and free from gluten, wheat, sugar and soya.  Always read the label.

The unique combination of Black Cohosh and St John’s Wort can found in MenoMood Menopause Mood Relief, a traditional herbal medicine used for the relief of menopause symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, slightly low mood and mild anxiety, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy.

Available in Boots and Holland & Barrett and all good pharmacy and health food stores or visit www.menomood.co.uk  Price is £16.99 for 30 one-a-day tablets.

MenoMood is suitable for vegetarians and free from gluten, wheat and soya.  Always read the label.

Rhodiola rosea can be found in Vitano® Rhodiola tablets, a traditional herbal medicine used for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion and mild anxiety, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy.

Available in Boots and Holland & Barrett and all good pharmacy and health food stores or visit www.vitano.co.uk Price is £6.99 for 16 two-a-day tablets.

Vitano® is suitable for vegetarians and vegans and is free from lactose, gluten, wheat, soya, corn and sugar.  Always read the label.

ALIVE! Calcium with Vitamin D Soft Jells

Calcium, Vitamin D and Phosphorus for maintenance of normal bones, teeth and for normal growth and development of bone in children.

Contains a unique dried blend of 26 fruits and vegetables

  Delicious strawberry natural fruit flavour: made with only natural fruit flavours

Available in Boots, Holland & Barrett, Tesco and all good pharmacy and health food stores or visit www.natures-way.com  Price is £14.99 for 60 two-a-day soft jells.

Suitable for vegetarians and is free from gluten, soya, dairy, yeast, artificial flavours, colours and preservatives.   

NEW ALIVE! Ultra Women’s 50+ Wholefood Plus

25 vitamins and minerals with adjusted levels to meet the needs of women over 50.

A unique dried blend of 26 whole fruits and vegetables

Daily greens blend of 14 botanicals.

A digestive enzyme blend including bromelain to help ease protein digestion

A cranberry concentrated extract for urinary tract health

Additional flax lignans with phytoestrogens for hormonal balance

Available in Holland & Barrett and all good pharmacy and health food stores or visit www.natures-way.com Price is £24.99 for 60 one-a-day tablets.

Suitable for vegetarians and is free from gluten, soya, dairy, yeast, artificial flavours, colours and preservatives.

Difficult Health Decisions

Choosing Care for
a Loved One 

When a family member requires levels of care which you are unable to provide, choosing an adequate care service which they are comfortable with is a big responsibility, and can be a source of stress.

In fact, recent research by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that 52% of people who have been responsible for choosing a care home found it to be one of their most stressful life decisions.

To help make this decision a little easier, CQC have provided some top tips that make choosing a care home less stressful.

1. Start early

Many people avoid thinking about nursing or residential care until something unexpected happens, which often leads to having to make a rushed decision as they are forced to find a care home at short notice. This can be stressful and could mean you don’t make the most considered choice. Start early and think about what is important so that you can agree priorities.

2. Get informed

As a first step, you should speak to your GP and your local authority social services department, so you can ascertain your loved one’s requirements. If your loved one has a medical condition like dementia, you will need to consider the provision of more specialist care and location is also a key factor for most people when choosing a care home. Advice from charitable organisations such as Age UK can also be a supportive resource.

3. Compare your options

Once you have determined your priorities, you should review the care services which fit your desired criteria, making a list of your options. At this stage, CQCs reports and ratings of care homes or care in the home services in your area can be used to compare your options with the help of CQC’s rating map. CQC is responsible for regulating health and care services in England. They inspect and rate care services as either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate, and after each inspection produce a report which sets out their findings.

4. Take a tour

Before making a decision, it is important that you visit your shortlisted care home options in person. This always pays off, as it gives you the opportunity to get a feel for the place before you make the big decision – in fact, 72% of people surveyed by CQC found that visiting the care home was the most influential factor when choosing a service. To get a real sense of the home, think about doing a ‘spot-check’ and dropping in unannounced for a visit. In the best care homes, the staff will welcome you and be keen to show you around even if you turn up without prior warning, as they will be confident in the level of care they are providing around the clock.

5. Ask questions

Whether you’re choosing a nursing or residential service, prepare a list of questions you would like to ask so you don’t forget something important. You can look for inspiration about what questions to ask on CQC’s campaign website, or using the helpful content from Which? Make sure you talk with the manager of any care homes you visit – the way the care home is run has a crucial impact on people’s lives. Also, do ask the residents and the visitors to give you their honest opinion of the home – as visitors (residents’ friends and relatives) especially will be able to provide you with a good picture of what the home is like.

When facing this decision, remember there are numerous organisations and charities who are available to help you, so always utilise their services and resources to support you in making the best decision for you and your loved one.

For more information visit www.cqc.org.uk

Dementia Care and Finance

Caring for Someone with Dementia

Caring for someone with dementia? Dr Tim Beanland, Head of Knowledge Management at Alzheimer’s Society, tells you what you need to know.

Caring for someone with dementia can be rewarding, but also very challenging – with so many practical, legal and financial concerns it’s hard to know where to start. Alzheimer’s Society helps hundreds of thousands of people affected by dementia to answer these questions and access the support available. Do reach out for help and not feel you have to do this on your own.

Lasting Power of Attorney 

Many people with dementia eventually reach a point where they’re unable to make some decisions, known as lacking ‘mental capacity’. When this happens, someone has to act on their behalf – and if you’re caring for someone with dementia, this may well fall to you.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal tool that lets people with dementia pick someone they trust to make certain decisions for them. Making an LPA starts important discussions about wishes and personal preferences and it can be reassuring to have a plan in place for the future.

There are two different types of LPA: one for property and finances, and one for health and welfare. The former covers paying bills, managing bank accounts, collecting income and selling property. The latter covers day-to-day details like living arrangements, medical treatment and diet. People can make one or both types, appointing one ‘attorney’ or several different attorneys. It’s also possible to limit the decisions an attorney can make or place conditions on what they can do.

The person with dementia must choose to make their own LPA, so it’s best to act sooner rather than later because if they lack mental capacity, they won’t be able to make an LPA and then you’ll need to become a deputy in order to make decisions on their behalf.

Making an LPA means sending a signed form to the Office of the Public Guardian. It costs £82, with reductions and exemptions for people on low income or certain benefits. You can pay a solicitor for support, or Alzheimer’s Society has trained volunteers who can help complete the forms online.

Paperwork takes a few weeks to be registered, and you can’t use an LPA until this is done. There are no rules about how soon to register an LPA, so some people choose to wait, but it can be reassuring to do this straight away so that everything is ready if/when it’s needed.

Sorting the finances

LPAs are just one way for people affected by dementia to plan ahead. Other things to consider are making a will, or updating one that’s already been made, and getting personal finances in order.

If you’re caring for someone with dementia, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Credit, or extra money in other benefits you claim like Income Support or Pension Credit. The person with dementia may also qualify for state support such as Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payments or Employment Support Allowance.

Having low income and receiving government benefits could also mean you’re eligible for support with things like rent, mortgage interest, Council tax and NHS costs.

There are complex criteria to meet before the government gives you financial help. You may need to be persistent to get what you need, so do seek professional advice when applying for benefits – from your social worker, local Citizens Advice, or other charities like Carers UK.

Get support for you too

It’s all too easy to ignore your own needs when caring for someone else, but you matter too, and it’s easier to cope if you look after your own health and wellbeing. Alzheimer’s Society offers lots of practical and emotional support, like our Dementia Advisers and Dementia Support Workers, who help carers as well as people with dementia. Our Dementia Cafés and Activity Groups aren’t just communities for people with dementia. They also give carers a chance to socialise and relax.

When caring for someone with dementia, you know them better than anyone, so if they need help it can be hard to have someone else look after them. To give you confidence when your loved one is in someone else’s care, we created ‘This is me’ – a practical tool to record personal needs, preferences, interests, likes and dislikes. Supported by the Royal College of Nursing, it can help staff understand the individual and deliver person-centred care, and reduce any distress the person with dementia may feel about being in unfamiliar surroundings.

Go to www.alzheimers.org.uk or call our National Dementia Helpline (0300 222 11 22) to get advice about caring for someone with dementia, or to talk to someone who understands. Ask them about The dementia guide or subscribe to our magazine. You can also visit our online forum Talking Point for help and support from people with similar experiences.

Independent Living Advice

Get Practical About Independence

Rollator from Topro

Ageing is a fact of life. We all need to prepare for it but too few of us do. As people age, changes in their bodies affect their abilities. Failing eyesight, hearing, and impaired mobility make it harder for people to lead active lives and maintain their chosen lifestyle. This reality is hard to accept; many people resist it, and ‘soldier on’ as if nothing has changed.

While some mature people live in a state of denial about aging, others are so accepting of it that they, too, do too little. ‘Why fight it?’ is a common line of reasoning around old age. 

As a society, we need to get real about aging. A change of mind-set is required. Being practical can help. Embracing and using everyday supports to daily living before things become critical can lessen the psychological impact of ageing. This can be very positive.

Rollator from Topro

A lead can be taken from other counties. In Sweden, for example municipalities planning housing and residential areas are required to ensure that they meet the needs of elderly people and those with disabilities. In such homes, accessibility is a priority. Some are newly built, while others are regular homes that have been made more accessible as part of conversion or renovation work. For details see https://sweden.se

The UK has a large proportion of older housing stock and a combination of adaptations and use of suitable assistive technology can significantly extend the viability of those homes in later life.

DLF knows all too well that most people wait for a crisis before researching and considering such options. A fall, an accident involving a carer, an urgent need to return home from hospital, these are the typical scenarios that lead to a call to our helpline or visit to our websites.

Stairlift from Stannah

Research carried out by Age UK several years ago found that there can be profound psychological barriers to adopting assistive technologies (AT). As with many independent living solutions, the use of AT can be seen by some as ‘giving in’ to the inevitable where as in fact it is designed to help prolong a person’s independence.  The study found that despite a wealth of information on inclusive design, some AT is still either poorly designed or not easy to operate. 

So, given good design, older people welcome technology provided they can see it will help them live their lives the way they want. These technologies can be anything from pendant emergency alarms and telecare to blood pressure monitors and electric wheelchairs.  The usual explanation is that older people just won’t use technology. However, this research project gathered data from older people, health and social care professionals, and commissioners came to different conclusions.

Then there is the perceived cost of these solutions and the challenges of using it every day. These challenges can make the user feel even more out of touch – even inept. Studies have found that some AT is packaged with instructions that can make the technology hard to use – especially for someone with compromised vision. Such problems can combine to further reinforce the psychological barriers to the adoption of AT.   However, DLF is determined to address this by making people aware of the thousands of AT solutions which are available and the benefits they can bring in helping with everyday life.

Addressing practical issues around ageing proactively it can be beneficial to all concerned, and by acting well before the issue becomes a crisis, people can learn how to integrate the equipment into their everyday lives sooner. Living Made Easy can help.

Stairlift from Stannah

Director at Living Made Easy Ed Mylles says, “Attitudes to ageing are changing; but not quickly enough, given the realities of demographic shift. One of DLF’s founders Lord Morris talked about ‘Adding Life to Years’ through use of equipment many years ago.

There is still a stigma associated with aids to independent living for the aged, however. We are determined to change this. We will do whatever we can to catalyse the social transformation that is needed to support people during the ageing process.

“We believe the government could do more to raise awareness about the equipment, support and funding that’s available. We are all too often contacted by people on behalf of someone who is suddenly in crisis who needs equipment immediately. We urge anyone with a loved one, friend or neighbour approaching the later stages of life to act now.”

It is vital that people remain independent for as long as possible and live in their own homes – not only from a financial point of view but also from a mental health perspective: it’s widely accepted that the longer people remain in their home the happier and healthier they are both physically and mentally. Early adoption of Living Made Easy AT can help to enable this.

Living Made Easy can reduce risk (and cost) caused by purchasing unsuitable equipment, and by providing impartial, expert advice on product types and a range of potential suppliers. 

Our website offers over 10,000 products from over 950 suppliers. We provide everything from small items (that make a world of difference) like grab rails and walkers, to more substantial technology like stair lifts and telecare monitoring systems. Please see www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk for more about our comprehensive AT products and services.

Alf Morris

Known as the ‘quiet revolutionary’, Alf Morris became MP for Wythenshawe. He went on to become the world’s first Minister for Disabled People – and later, Lord Morris of Manchester.

Alf was a true social reformer who made an enduring difference to the world around him. His achievements included the passing of The Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act (1970): the first Act to recognise and give rights to disabled people. Adopted as a template by other nations, it transformed the lives of millions of disabled people in the UK and worldwide.

Alf Morris was one of the UK’s foremost social reformers. He was also, we are proud to say, DLF’s longest-serving Vice-President. He was closely involved with the charity since its inception in 1969, and remained active in that role until his death in August 2012. He is missed by all who knew him. The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) coordinates the Alf Morris fund for independent living, which celebrates the life and work of Lord Morris. His legacy lives on.

About Living Made Easy

Living Made Easy is part of The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) a national charity that has been providing expert and impartial advice on equipment for independent living for nearly 50 years. Its mission is to help people live independently at home with dignity.  Living Made Easy offers free, impartial advice about daily living equipment, including information on where you can buy items, and details of local organisations that can help you.

The phone lines are open 10am-4pm Monday to Friday. Tel: 0300 999 0004.

You can also visit the website at www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk

Dementia Support and Advice

Dementia UK Launch Short Film ‘Together Again’

Dementia UK has launched ‘Together Again’, the charity’s first ever animated film. The film features three characters navigating the challenges of dementia, represented by a stormy sea: a woman, who has dementia; her husband, who cares for her; and the person who guides them back together: a dementia specialist Admiral Nurse.

Admiral Nurses are specialist dementia nurses providing expert guidance, one to one emotional support and practical solutions to families facing the complexities of dementia. Families with an Admiral Nurse have someone compassionate, knowledgeable and skilled by their side, helping them live more positively with dementia and face the future with more confidence and less fear.

Click here to watch the ‘Together Again’ film.

Chief Admiral Nurse and CEO at Dementia UK, Dr Hilda Hayo says, “We are excited about ‘Together Again’, and how this will increase awareness of Admiral Nurses. We want people who are looking after someone with dementia to know that there is specialist advice and support out there for them, in the form of Admiral Nurses.

“Nobody should have to face dementia alone. The Admiral Nurse in the film is able to bring the couple in the film together again for a few precious moments, through the specialist knowledge and skills they use to keep families connected to their loved one with dementia.”

There are currently 224 Admiral Nurses across England, Scotland and Wales, working with tens of thousands of families. But still not every family affected by dementia has access to the specialist support they need. ‘Together Again’ is part of Dementia UK’s vision to one day provide the specialist support of an Admiral Nurse to every family who needs it.

If you have concerns or questions about dementia call the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline 0800 888 6678, 9am-9pm Monday to Friday, and 9am-5pm on weekends

Or email at helpline@dementiauk.org

To find out more about Dementia UK or Admiral Nurses visit www.dementiauk.org

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