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Stay Hydrated

Stay Hydrated

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Well June may not have been the sunniest or warmest of months for most of us but, now we are into July we should (hopefully) see some pleasant summers days.

 

We all know how important it is to stay hydrated, the ‘experts’ bombard us with messages telling us to drink more water – often litres a day – and this is even more important for the older person, especially during warmer weather.

 

Did you know that the human body is roughly 60% water and that during an average day we can lose 2-3 litres of that water.

 

Our brains and heart are apparently composed of 73% water, and our lungs are about 83%. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even our bones are watery at 31%!

 

Water is vital to our good health, it:

 

  • Is needed by our brains to make hormones and neurotransmitters
  • Helps regulate our temperature (via sweating and respiration)
  • Helps our cells grow, reproduce and survive
  • Lubricates our joints (especially important as we age)
  • Makes saliva
  • Flushes out bodily waste (urine)
  • Acts as a kind of ‘shock absorber’ for our brains and spinal cord
  • Aids our digestive process
  • Keeps our mucous membranes moist

 

As we age the water content in our bodies does actually begin to decrease, as does our thirst. This means that you may not actually feel thirsty BUT your body STILL requires an intake of fluid in order to keep functioning at optimum efficiency.

 

Not feeling thirsty (or rather not recognising the feeling of being thirsty) is especially common in people with dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment, so if you are caring for someone with these conditions it is vital you keep prompting them to drink.

 

Not taking onboard enough water can lead to dehydration, and this can happen more easily and rapidly in older adults.

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Effects of Mild Dehydration

We can probably all recognise the feeling of mild dehydration:

 

  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Decrease in urination (wee) and when you do go, your wee is darker than normal
  • Headache
  • Even muscle cramps

 

Hopefully upon recognising these feelings we would all act on them and drink some fluid.

However, someone living with dementia (and other cognitive problems) may not recognise that they are becoming dehydrated. Without close supervision it can be very easy for them to slip into severe levels of dehydration.

 

Effects of Severe Dehydration

 

  • Not weeing at all or having VERY dark wee
  • VERY dry skin
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Sunken eyes
  • Confusion
  • Fainting

 

If you recognise these signs in yourself or a loved one, please seek IMMEDIATE medical help. Dehydration at this level is life threatening and requires treatment.

 

“Urinary Tract Infections” – UTI’s which can lead to confusion, agitation and other changes in behaviour are often exacerbated by dehydration. The sufferer feels the urge to wee more frequently and so limits the amount they drink in order to minimise the need to visit the loo. Unfortunately reducing the fluid intake will only reduce the body’s ability to flush out toxins, which then build up and increase the confused state of mind!

 

How Much Should You Drink Per Day?

There are so many confusing reports around just how much you need to drink in a day in order to avoid dehydrating.

 

Some ‘experts’ recommend at least 2 litres of water per day ON TOP of your other fluids (tea/coffee etc).

 

Others even more.

 

The problem is that TOO much water is actually BAD for you as it can dilute the level of sodium in the blood!

 

In a healthy body, your brain will detect when you are becoming dehydrated and will initiate thirst to stimulate drinking. The brain will also tell your kidneys to save water by concentrating urine. Of course, as noted above, a person with dementia may not recognise the signals of thirst, so a carer will need to be especially vigilant.

 

Studies have also shown that completely avoiding even the mildest states of dehydration – i.e. not even getting to the stage when your brain initiates the thirsty feeling -- could actually support brain function. It’s difficult to see how anyone could guarantee that they ALWAYS keep well hydrated but it is worth trying.

 

The NHS currently recommends drinking between six to eight glasses of fluid per day, which can include, lower fat milk, sugar free drinks, tea and coffee.

 

Tips to Staying Hydrated

Assuming you are reasonably fit, healthy and not currently living with dementia or another cognitive impairment, TRUST your body and drink when you feel thirsty, rather than trying to consume vast quantities of fluid to a schedule.

 

Hunger and thirst feelings are closely linked, so, if you have just eaten but still ‘feel’ hungry, try having a drink.

 

Although other fluids count towards the NHS recommended 8 glasses per day, plain water is best – if you can drink it.

 

If you are one of those people who doesn’t enjoy plain water, why not try some of the sugar free water flavourings out there? There’s lots available and being sugar free, they are low or no calorie.

 

In hot weather consider filling a drinking water bottle with water and adding fruit such as lemons, limes or berries. Keep it with you and sip on it as required.

 

There is no need to buy bottled water in the UK (adding to plastic waste) but it may be worth investing in a water filter, especially if you live in an area with hard water.

 

If you are caring for someone and want to ensure they stay hydrated, you will have to remind them to drink and ensure a supply of suitable drink is to hand. Often those living with dementia will not think to ask for a drink so you will need to pre-empt them!

 

Remember too that people with dementia often experience a change in tastes – some drinks may taste really sour to them, so try to provide flavours they will enjoy and remember tea and coffee can count towards their daily fluid intake. Even an ice lolly will help with hydration and they can be very tempting on hot days!

Find out here how a young man realising his grandmaother was not drinking enough Creates Jelly sweets to help with rehydration  

In care homes, staff are supposed to record fluid intakes in order to prevent situations where dehydration can occur – it may be worth following this protocol at home too – for yourself as well as the person you are caring for.

 

Finally…

Staying hydrated shouldn’t be difficult…

 

  • Pay attention to the way you are feeling – if you feel thirsty HAVE A DRINK.
  • Keep a supply of fruit at hand to ‘jazz up’ a glass of water
  • Have some ice lollies in the freezer
  • If you spot any of the signs of dehydration in yourself or others, take action before it gets worse
  • Remember you may need to up the fluids on hotter days
Hydrated, Older People And Hydration, Water, Summer
Hoildays and the older person

Hoildays and the older person

Are holidays important? 

What do holidays mean to you if you are retired? They are no longer a way to avoid the rigours of work for a few weeks each year – those glorious intermissions in your working lives – but they are still needed…

Everyone needs a change of scenery every now and again, a change is ‘as good as rest’ – or so they say. This applies equally to those who have retired as it does to someone in employment.

Stopping work should be an opportunity to enjoy the ‘me’ time that the routine of getting up and leaving the house for 8 or 9 hours per day tends to cramp. However, retirement can come at a cost…a reduced income and a shrinking of your social circle. Meaning that now you finally have the time to do the things you always dreamed of doing you no longer have the money nor the friends to do it with.

It’s also possible that you may have mobility or health issues to consider when planning a trip.

It’s around this time of year (June) that the adverts for holidays seem to ramp up again (January being the other month that we are bombarded by images of beautiful, usually young, people cavorting on perfect beaches!). The long school summer holidays are almost upon us and those without children are planning their get-aways BEFORE the schools break up.

Whilst it is certainly much cheaper, not to mention quieter, to travel in school term time, it still doesn’t address the issue of reduced budgets and travel companions.

When it comes to holidays then, what do you do? Do you still have the traditional two-week summer trip in mind? Or should you consider alternatives that may not only result in cost savings but will widen your experiences?

Think Outside the Box

If you have access to the internet, run a search for travel companies claiming to offer holidays for older people – there are more than just the most well known one! The AgeUK website is a great place to start as they have partnered with a specialist travel advisory group who could help you plan the perfect break taking into account any mobility or illness issues you may have. They can also help with planning a break for those living with dementia.Travelling alone over 60? Here are 5 holiday ideas

However, rather than the traditional two week break why not consider several shorter ones spread over the course of a year (remember ‘change is as good as a rest’!) and don’t restrict yourself to the more usual locations. The world is your oyster – no matter what your age.

How about combining a break with one of your passions? Love to paint? Look for breaks which incorporate some teaching or practice in a certain specialty.

  • Got a snazzy camera hidden away that you only ever use in ‘point and shoot mode’? There are short breaks which offer some basic tuition which could see you expanding your knowledge and skills and may even open up a new hobby.
  • If you look online you will find many different breaks combining a trip away with some form of course. These offer the added bonus of the possibility of making some new friends who will already share in one of your interests.
  • Talking of friends…if you have found your social circle shrinking, perhaps you have lost your spouse and are loathe to consider a holiday alone, why not take a look at some of the travel companies who specialise in travel for single people. They aren’t just for the 18-30 brigade you know!
  • Even if you hate flying there are endless possibilities, organised coach trips for example which will take you either to a fixed hotel for the duration of the break, or will offer the opportunity of touring an area stopping in different locations every day. Tour of the Highlands of Scotland? Exploring the Yorkshire coast? How about South coast? You can even take overseas holidays by coach – no hanging around in crowded airports.
  • Cruises are often associated with the more mature traveller and the large sea going vessels offer unrivalled facilities, sometimes combined with the opportunity to include planned programmes of learning as well as numerous different stops. River cruises seem to be becoming increasingly common too and may be (slightly) easier on the budget.

If you don’t personally have access to the internet at home, local libraries sometimes offer facilities to get online. If you have a local community centre ask there - they may know of special so-called ‘silver surfer’ classes. Friends and family (especially the younger ones!) will also be able to help you out – even just using their smartphones (no computer needed) they should be able to help you narrow down some ideas.

There are also lots of ‘personal travel advisors’ around these days. Basically, self-employed individuals, usually part of a franchise, who can offer you dedicated one on one time to find your perfect holiday.

Don’t Want to Holiday?

      • But what if you can’t afford, or don’t want to take a holiday at all…are there any alternatives which could help provide a change of scenery but without masses of travel?
      • Of course there are – it just depends on what you want or need.
      • Hop on a bus to an area you haven’t been to before.
      • Take a picnic to the local park or nearby countryside (weather permitting!).
      •  If you have access to the internet check sites such as Groupon who offer cut price restaurant deals, spas, hotels. Or get a family member to help.
      • Re-arrange your furniture, buy (or grow!) some fresh flowers, treat yourself to some new cushion covers…anything that will alter your day to day surroundings will (almost) feel like a change of scenery!
      • Join a club or group that will get you out of the house.
      • Visit relatives.
      •  Consider a house swap for a week or so (there are companies that can help with this).
      • How about doing some volunteering?

Even if you are housebound there are ways to bring the world to you! Technology has developed in leaps and bounds and modern day TV screens are of such high resolution that watching a film of a coral reef (for instance) can become really immersive.

For the most technically minded (or those with family who are!) you can even experience far flung destinations via a VR (virtual reality) headset! Check out this video for some idea of just how amazing VR tech can be…and it’s only going to get better!

Holiday’s - love them or loathe them, there is no doubt that a little bit of change is good for you…even if that change is just having something different for tea. Step out of your comfort zone every now again - it’s good for you! Even the planning and researching stage can be fun. You don’t need to travel far or spend a fortune to enjoy a change of scenery.

Older Peoples Holidays
Brexit – Why/How/When – and How Could it Affect You

Brexit – Why/How/When – and How Could it Affect You

You would have to have been completely cut off from TV, radio and social media since June 2016 not to be aware of the fiasco that Brexit has become. Amidst all the arguing, claim and counter claim, how many of us really have a grasp on how the UK’s proposed departure from the EU could affect us as individuals? 

Now we’re not claiming that we have any of the answers here at SCCCC but we have been scouring the internet and have put together this article to try and address the issues – both WHY the vote was so close 2016 and HOW leaving could affect you…

Let’s look back to why and when the ‘leave the EU’ saga actually began.

In 2013 David Cameron promised that the British electorate could "have their say" on Europe as he pledged an in/out referendum if the Conservatives won the 2015 election.

Duly elected, the Tories in their 2015 manifesto say people's concerns over Britain's membership of the European Union have been ignored, and they promise an in-out referendum by the end of 2017 at the latest.

In February 2016 Cameron says the UK Government would formally recommend to the British people that the UK should remain a member of a reformed European Union and that the promised in/out referendum would be held on 23 June 2016.

The merry-go-round therefore really began in February 2016 and appears to have had us all spinning around in circles ever since!

It’s clear from Cameron’s Feb 2016 announcement (above) that he really (really, really) didn’t expect the UK would actually vote to leave the EU. It also seems likely that he proposed the referendum simply to appease Eurosceptics in the Tory party and to fulfil the promise made in the run up to the 2015 election.

The Campaign 

We’re sure, that like us, you would struggle to recall a more divisive period of campaigning than that which we were subjected to in the run up the June 23rd 2016 referendum.

All parties lied (perhaps some more than others) but what none of them did is lucidly and simply explain the pros and cons of leaving or remaining. Instead they played on the sensibilities of various sectors of our society – with the result that the UK became more divided than most of us can probably ever remember.

In areas of high immigration, the leave campaign played up the ‘immigrants are taking jobs’.

Remain campaigners claimed there were as many UK citizens living in the EU as EU citizens living in the UK.

And, of course, there was the infamous ‘£350mill per week could go to the NHS if we left’ claim week painted on the side of a bus!

So many people went into vote on 23rd June without any real idea what they were voting for.

Was the Referendum Binding? 

Now this is where it gets interesting and not a little murky, because in UK law referendums are ‘advisory’ Parliament does not HAVE to accept the outcome…

And, in fact nowhere in the European Union Referendum Act 2015, does it mention actually implementing the results of the subsequent vote!

The High Court was asked to examine this topic, post referendum and came to the conclusion that the referendum was not legally binding guided by “basic constitutional principles of parliamentary sovereignty and representative parliamentary democracy”.

In a parliamentary democracy, as barrister Rupert Myers put it, “the people are not sovereign”.

The Exit Negotiations 

The (very) close vote in favour of exiting the UK undoubtedly came as a major shock to the Government and could help to explain why, almost three years later, no mutually acceptable exit has been agreed – no one expected it to happen and so no real thought (appeared) to have gone into the HOW to make it happen.

Cameron resigned, May was elected and called a snap election in 2017, apparently convinced she would be rewarded with the majority she would need to push Brexit through Parliament once she triggered Article 50 (the ‘opt out’ document).

Of course, her plan backfired spectacularly as she failed to gain the majority needed to rail road plans through!

The UK’s exit was supposed to be 29 March 2019 – it now looks like it will be October 31st at the earliest…

May has one more chance to get her ‘deal’ ratified through parliament on 22 May but having already tried three times, this doesn’t seem likely. Technically we could leave without a deal but this is not favoured by politicians (even though it may seem the best option to some of those who voted to leave).

International Trade 

You’ll all have heard some politicians and businessmen saying the UK will be fine when we exit the EU as far as international trade goes because we’ll just be able to trade under WTO rules.

WTO rules – World Trade Organization – only mean that countries cannot normally discriminate between their trading partners. Grant someone a special favour (such as a lower customs duty rate for one of their products) and you have to do the same for all other WTO members.

Brexit optimists say the EU cannot treat products from the UK differently under WTO rules than it did before Brexit, because the UK’s rules are the same on day one. This ignores the fact that the EU has categorically stated that they intend to treat the UK as a so called ‘third country’ (meaning we have no preferential rights) from the day we leave (day one).

In any case, WTO agreements don’t give anywhere near the same level of protection to exporters as the UK currently has under existing EU trade agreements.

It is this uncertainty over trade which is going to cause us all the most headaches – we may find some previously easy to obtain items become scarcer and more expensive and our exporting businesses will find it harder to get their goods to market.

Unfortunately, few, if any, countries are entirely self-sufficient and international trade is a necessity not a nicety. The UK imports more than it exports – the 2018 trade deficit was £138 billion, partially offset by the trade in services (banking and finance mainly and how Brexit will affect this is unclear).

How Could YOU be Affected Once the UK Leaves the EU? 

Let’s assume that ‘the wishes of the people’ prevail and the UK does leave the EU at some point – does anyone know what will happen, really definitively happen?

Of course not – nothing like this has ever happened before!

The impact will presumably be different depending on whether the UK leaves with or without a negotiated deal but in any case, transitional arrangements will be in place until Dec 31st 2020 (probably longer given we still haven’t exited). During the transition period the UK will need to abide by existing EU rules but will lose membership (including the ability to affect any decisions).

For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume that the UK leaves (whenever that may be) with NO DEAL (as this is ‘worst case scenario’) however it is equally possible that all the following will apply if we leave with a deal…we just don’t know!

What could affect you:

  • The price of food (particularly fresh fruit and veg) could increase as import taxes could go up and transport delays could happen. In fact, the head of the Bank of England estimates a 10% increase in a worse case scenario. 
  • Travel may become more difficult – you won’t need visas to travel to the Schengen area countries (see this list) and stay for up to 90 days (out of any 180 day period) BUT you may do if you intend to stay for longer.
  • You’ll need to ensure your passport has a minimum of six months validity remaining before you travel to the Schengen area.
  • Using UK bank cards overseas may be more expensive as reciprocal arrangements may change. 
  • The EHIC health card would cease to exist so there would be no reciprocal health agreements – meaning you would have to pay for treatment. 
  • You may need an international driving licence if driving in the EU.
  • Medicines may become expensive and/or scarcer meaning the NHS may struggle to keep up the supply of drugs to patients. 
  • Goods in general may become more expensive – the UK IMPORTS more than she EXPORTS from EU countries. 
  • Housing prices could fall – they have already stagnated due to the current uncertainty, this may affect your retirement and pension plans.
  • Mobile phone roaming charges could rise. 
  • There could be delays at ports and airports due to increased customs checks – particularly on freight. 

Concentrating specifically on what the effects could be on older, more vulnerable members of society, it would be remiss not to touch on the potential loss of EU workers.

Politicians rattled the cages of those who feel that there are too many non UK citizens in the workforce. What they singularly failed to do was to point out that actually we NEED EU workers – particularly in the care sector.

Research has estimated that 130,000 new care workers are needed EVERY year just to cope with current levels of demand. There are more than 100,000 vacancies in the care sector and 3 out of 10 care workers will leave the sector each year.

Despite the ‘UK jobs for UK workers’ rhetoric, the fact remains that there aren’t enough UK citizens willing to work in caring roles given the historically low pay within the profession. Without an influx of EU workers in the future, it is entirely possible that millions of us who WILL require some level of care in our older lives will NOT be able to access it.

The same can be seen in our beloved NHS – currently there are 41,000 nursing vacancies and since the Brexit vote more than 7,000 nurses and midwives from the EU (and the European Economic Area comprising Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) have left the NHS. More UK citizens could be trained to fill these positions BUT training takes time (at least 3 years in the case of nursing) which does not address the current shortage.

To add a further level of concern, once we leave the EU (unless special agreements are made) the UK will lose access to many of the networks, approval systems and databases that allow drugs and medical equipment to flow freely between countries. We may even become low priority when it comes to launching new drugs and products, meaning UK patients could miss out on the latest developments in medicine.

Another issue that has not been addressed is the rights of UK retirees living in the EU. No one knows what is going to happen to pensions, access to health care etc. If expats return en masse because their rights to live in the EU are severely altered, this will put additional pressure onto an already stretched social system.

Doom and Gloom 

It’s very difficult to be positive about a situation that no-one really has a complete handle on. So much of what we do know is speculation, which makes planning ahead difficult for businesses and individuals alike.

We see our politicians squabbling like children, totally unable to make decisions.

We were presented with inadequate information in 2016 to enable a rational choice over remain or leave.

Whether we personally voted IN or OUT is almost inconsequential now as nearly three years of uncertainty has hobbled growth and divided the country…

Whatever the ultimate outcome, surely no one is going to look back at this period of British history with any fondness!

Brexit, Older People And Brexit, Impact Of Brexit
Serving Older People in Sheffield for over 50 Years

Serving Older People in Sheffield for over 50 Years

Easter, being one of the most important times in the Christian calender, seems an appropriate time to reflect on our history as we were founded by a partnership of churches in Sheffield.

SCCCC was established in 1966. Our original name was Sheffield Churches Committe for Community Care.

The name remained the same up until 1971 when it became Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care. By this point we had developed the Good Neighbour Scheme as well as a network of volunteers and liaison officers. All with the aim of supporting and working alongside statutory workers in the health and social services. There was still a strong relationship with local churches. 

Over time our name became shortened to SCCCC (or S&4C) and we have become a secular organisation in recognition of the fact that Sheffield is a multi-racial and diverse society. We do not wish anyone in the city to feel that they are unable to access the important services we provide because of their religion or even non-faith. 

Our links to the church may have lessened but we still operate under the principles of giving and helping others. Our services are ALWAYS free to our users and we continue to get donations from a number of churches in Sheffield of which we are extremely grateful. 

From small beginnings we are now able to offer a comprehensive range of services to older members of the Sheffield community. From our Good Neighbour Scheme which helps match our volunteers to people who need a friend; through to arranging loans of high seat chairs and specialist equipement. 

Here is a brief run through of what SCCCC provides:

joseph-and-vijay.jpg Good Neighbour Scheme 

The scheme is designed to alleviate loneliness in the over 65's. Our Good Neighbour co-ordinators take referrals from a variety of sources including; hospital professionals, GP's, Community nurses, social workers, family members and the person themselves. These service users, if suitable for the scheme are matched with suitable volunteers. 

Our volunteers can help with:

  • Regular or occasional friendly (social) visits 
  • Short term check ins whilst a carer or relative is on holiday. 
  • Rearranging furniture to enable greater mobility around the home. 
  • Occasional sitting to give a carer time to attend an appointment.
  • Escorting to hospital appointments (any fares are payable by the user) 
dan-&-ot-student-shopping.jpg Hospital to Home Scheme 

The Hospital to Home Team helps people before they go into hospital, whilst they are there, and immediately after they leave. The support can often extend to family and friends of the patient. Our team undertake a huge range of tasks and we are often able to respond on the same day. This can be particularly reassuring when a frail older person is suddenly admitted to hospital; knowing their home can be made secure, pets fed, relatives notified etc can reduce the stress of a sudden admittance. 

  • Amongst other things, we can;
  • Arrange for basic shopping to be delivered and put away pending release from hospital.
  • Deliver and fit small home aids and adaptations such as commodes, bed levers and chair raisers
  • Collect older people on discharge and help to settle them in at home
  • Feed pets 
A&E to Home 

We help older people who may have needed to visit A&E but are deemed well enough to be sent home. We take the patient home, settle them in, ensure that the property is heated and they have a warm drink etc. 

Equipment Loan 

We have a number of temporary key-safes which can be loaned out until a more permanent one can be installed. This may mean a person can be discharged earlier as carers will be able to access the property to provide the necessary aftercare. 

A limited number of high seat chairs, for patients of hip or knee surgery, are also available for periods of between six to eight weeks. 

Looking to the Future 

SCCCC is building for the future and intends to be around for many years serving older people across Sheffield. 

Our hard work has been recognised as we have won several prestigious awards, the most recent of which is The Duke of York Community Initiative. The assessment for this award is based not only on the good work a charity does in its local community, but also on how well it is managed. 

doyci-mark-&-prince.jpg

Other recent awards/recognition include;

  • 2018 received the Together for Sheffield - Faith Action Audit Award for Outstanding contribution to the community. 
  • 2018 became Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Charity of the Year.
  • 2018 received the Highly Commended Award for Sheffield Volunteering from Voluntary Action Sheffield's Making a Difference Awards. 

Today SCCCC can offer a network of services that supplement the wide range of health and social care resources in the city. Our aim remains the same - we work with our partners in churches, the statutory sector and the community to support and improve the wellbeing of older people in Sheffield. 

Spring into Health

Spring into Health

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It is now March, we are officially in spring. The days are getting longer and (hopefully) the temperatures will improve, and we will soon see some sunshine. 

January has traditionally been the time of year that we all make resolutions to get fitter, healthier and more active. However, the dreary cold at the beginning of the year is not really conducive to eating salads and starting a new exercise routine. Hardly surprising then that most of us, despite our good intentions, will have well and truly fallen off the wagon within a very few weeks. 

With the advent of longer, lighter and warmer days perhaps spring, would be a better time of year to kickstart your health and fitness goals. 

We're not talking about joining a gym, although if you can afford it and, more importantly, will use it, that may not be such a bad idea (more on this later) but small changes can make a big difference. 

Exercise - some of us love it, others loathe it but what options are available to an older person? 

man-on-outdoor-bench.jpg

Walking 

If you have reasonable mobility, get out in the fresh air for a walk as often as possible. Walking is free, you can do it at your own pace and even 10 minutes outside, walking around the block for instance, is better than nothing. 

Once you have built up some stamina and can go a little further, take a bus (or drive) to the countryside or a local park. The time you spend out in nature is as valuable as the exercise. 

Check to see if there are any local walking groups you could join. They may organise transport to new areas and you will also develop a new social network. 

Swimming 

Swimming is a non-weight bearing form of exercise, making it easier on the joints. Many municipal swimming pools have sessions aimed at the older person. There are usually concessionary prices too. 

Can't swim? Check to see if lessons are available - learning a new skill is a proven way of improving your brain health too! .......so it's win win! 

Aqua aerobics is also worth considering, the water supports you as you are taken through a routine of exercise (often to music). 

Yoga 

You may think that yoga is all about twisting and bending your body into seemingly impossible positions, but there are actually many different types of the practice. 

Seated yoga (or Yin Yoga) is becoming increasingly popular with older people because, as the name implies, you remain in a seated position during the entire session. Positions are held for between 45 secs and 2 mins and gravity does most of the work for you. 

Restorative Yoga focusses more on relaxation, both of the mind and body. Traditional yogo poses are modified, making it easier for beginners to follow. 

For the bendier amongst us, Hatha Yoga is perhaps the best known of yoga practices and classes are available for all levels. Hatha classes are slow paced and in addition to the actual movements, emphasis is given to your breathing. 

Meditation 

A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body and meditation is one way to help you clear the 'busyness' of your mind. 

Guided meditations (where you listen to someone's voice) are widely available online. Focussing on one thing (in this case the voice) enable you to clear your mind of distractions, resulting in a calm relaxed state. 

Meditative practices often go hand in hand with yoga and sessions will often begin/end  with a relaxation period designed to introduce meditation. 

dance-class.jpg

Dancing 

There's something about dancing which makes (most) people happy. The combination of music and movement is a match made in heaven. 

Whether you choose to dance alone in your kitchen; take up Salsa, Ballroom or even Street Dance, you will increase your heart rate, your flexibility and your strength. You'll also release endorphins (as with all exercise) that will improve your mood and mental health. 

Look for classes in your local area and don't think that you have to attend with a partner, plenty of people will be there alone too. 

Join a Gym 

You may feel you are too old for a gym, but many older people are finding a new lease of life through a gym membership. 

It needn't be as expensive as you may fear either, as many council run facilities offer reduced rates for older people. Attending during the day, when many other users will be at work, also means that you will benefit from quieter sessions. 

A trainer should be able to help you develop a programme tailored specifically for you and your abilities and they will show you how to safely use the equipment. 

Your Diet and Lifestyle

Have a look at your diet. Is it heavily swayed to one food group or another? Are you eating enough fruit amd veg? 

Eating healthily need not be expensive, frozen vegetables are cheaper than fresh and , in many cases, have been proven to be more nutritious. Try adding vegetables to dishes like chilli and bolognaise sauces which you could make in bulk and then freeze for those days when you don't feel like cooking. 

Make simple swaps; for example; switch white bread for wholemeal, sugary cereals for porridge, a piece of fruit instead of a sticky pudding,vegetable oil instead of animal fats like lard  or goose fat when cooking. Watch out for too many pastries, biscuits and carbohydrates, as being aware of your sugar intake is important if you suffer from diabetes and can cause no end of additional health problems. Join your local weight lose group, not only will you learn great tips on how to eat healthily but you will make new friends too! 

Try to eat a couple of portions of fish per week, including oily fish like mackerel - tinned is fine but look out for the salt content.

If you do smoke, why not cut back? Your GP can advise you on suitable nicotine replacement therapies and you might see a real inprovement in your over all health as well as your bank balance. 

As with most things in life, it's all about balance and depriving yourself of something you enjoy will only make you crave it more! So indulge but in moderation, make things an occasional treat as opposed to an everyday item. 

Give it a Go......

It's never too late to improve your health and fitness and you never know, along the way you may just make some new friends. 

Help us spread the love

Help us spread the love

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February - the shortest month of the year and often the coldest, wettest and darkest one!

However February is also supposedly the most romantic month of the year, given that Valentines Day falls smack bang in the middle of it. 

This article then is going to be all about LOVE....not the romantic hearts and flowers type popularised by card manufacturers but the TRUE meaning of love.....caring and helping others. 

SCCCC is the very embodiment of a caring organisation, we have a small number of paid staff, but we rely extensively on our fabulous band of volunteers, who are the heart of our charity, without whom we simply could not function.

Here are just a few of the things our volunteers and staff have been involved in recently: 

Case study 1

We received a referral to fit a bed lever at a property for a lady who was having difficulty getting in and out of bed. Dan (a member of the Hospital to Home team) and a volunteer, went to complete the job. 

Whilst there, the lady's husband said he would like a chair moving for his wife as he was unable to do this himself. Our team were able to assist the gentleman to move the chair into a more suitable location within their home. 

The husband was also concerned about some existing toileting equipment; we were able to demonstrate how the equipment could be altered, and also advise the gentleman to seek advice from his wife's Occupational Therapist. 

Case study 2 

An urgent referral was made from the hospital for a gentleman who was due to be discharged. He usually has good family support from his sisters however, his mother was at end of life and his sisters were at her bedside and therefore unable to support the gentleman on discharge. 

An Occupational Therapist (OT) at the hospital made a referral asking us to assist by doing some shopping and delivering a piece of toileting equipment. The gentleman had no access to money so, it was agreed that we use some funding we had available to pay for the shopping. 

Later in the day, the OT called again to explain that the gentleman was ready for discharge, but he had no access to his door key as this was with his sister. SCCCC agreed to collect the key from the sister, deliver the shopping and toileting equipment to the property and then bring his door key to the hospital to facilitate his discharge home. This minimised the stress on the entire family at such a difficult time. 

Case study 3

We received a referral from a gentleman with Dementia who is normally supported at home by his wife. She had fallen and fractured her hip and her husband had been admitted into respite care whilst she recovered. 

The couple had no immediate family support so SCCCC were able to ensure that the gentleman had clothing and toiletries during his stay. 

After his wife had been discharged, she rang to thank us as she said there was no one else who could support them. 

As you can see, there are LOTS of situations where, without our help, people could have been at the very least inconvenienced and at worst, either unable to leave hospital OR receive the support they needed to stay at home. 

Now you've heard what we do, would you be willing to become one of our volunteers? 

Here's an idea of what we need:

Good Neighbour Scheme 

If you can commit an hour a week you could visit a lonely and isolated older person in your community. You may also be needed to escort someone to hospital or to sit with an individual whilst their carer attends an appointment. 

A DBS check will be carried out, references will be required and we will provide a full induction.

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We always try to 'match' our volunteers to our service users so that there will be a common bond and therefore something to talk about. 

Currently, despite having over 105 volunteers, we have a waiting list of lonely older people who would love to have regular visits. The S35 area of Sheffield is particularly difficult for us at the moment as we currently have 7 people who would like a visit but no volunteers in that area. 

Hospital Aftercare Team 

Could you spend a morning, afternoon or full day helping on the Hospital Aftercare team? You would always be supervised by a member of staff and tasks could include:

  • Delivering mobility equipment for patients discharged from hospital. 
  • Putting up a temporary key-safe at a person's home to allow access to the property for carers and family. 
  • Feeding pets for those patients admitted to hospital who have no-one else to take care of their beloved pets. 
  • Moving furniture to make way for a hospital bed for a patient who is going home. 
  • Emergency food shopping for a person recently discharged from hospital who is unable to get out and has no one else to do it. 
  • Collecting of belongings from a patient's home if admitted to hospital in an emergency.

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Fundraising 

We are always looking for volunteers to help us raise funds to continue our work. It costs £904 a day to keep the charity running. 

  • You could organise an event, for exmaple a tea party, cake sale or bucket collection. 
  • You could set up a 'Friends of SCCCC' group to organise events throughout the year raising awareness and funds. 
  • You could attend community events such as 'Peace in the Park' to help spread the word about the charity and support the Fundraiser.
  • You could even do a challenge event and get sponsored for doing it, for example the Sheffield Half Marathon, an abseil, walk up Snowdon or walking on hot coals. 

For more ideas download our A-Z of Fundraising

Admin support 

If you have office experience perhaps you could spare a few hours a week to help with tasks in our office. This may include filing, envelope stuffing, updating records on the CRM system and sending thank you letters. 

Help us spread the love this year by becoming one of our volunteers. There are a lot of lonely older people out there who need your help. 

Winter Pressures

Winter Pressures

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Christmas has been and gone, the decorations are packed away for another year and the New Year's Eve parties are fading into memory.....

Yes it's January, the month we count the cost of the festivities and make resolutions (which we probably won't keep!). 

January, February and even March are also usually the coldest months in the UK- remember the 'Beast from the East'? In this article we are going to address the winter pressures which affect us all, but particularly the more elderly in our communities, at this time of year. 

Heat or Eat? 

Sadly, even with the winter fuel allowance, this is a conundrum many older people face. 

Some may be living in properties with inadequate central heating systems (or none at all) with poorly fitted single glazed windows and doors and they struggle to maintain a suitable temperature. 

In these instances, it may be worth checking in with the local council or organisations like Friends of the Elderly as there may be grants available to improve the property and/or help with bills. 

Keeping Warm

If you, or someone you know, are struggling to heat your entire house, concentrate on keeping one room cosy and warm during cold spells. The recommended minimum temperature is 18° Celsius. Try to keep the room you spend most of your time in at at least that level. If you're largely inactive then a higher temperature would be more comfortable. 

Keep doors shut and use draft excluders to minimise the chill. It may even be worth while keeping the curtains shut in the room you are trying to keep warm. 

Hot water bottles are comforting and cheap but be careful not to scald yourself! 

If your kitchen is chilly, fill a flask with hot tea (or coffee) in the morning when you make your breakfast, so you needn't go back in there until lunchtime. 

Dress warmly in layers and have a duvet, blanket or even a sleeping bag that you can snuggle under if you need to. Take heed though! If you're using a source of heating which has a naked flame or perhaps an electric fire, be very careful, keep your blanket/duvet well away from the heat source. 

Try to eat warming comfort foods, soups and stews for example, that can be quickly heated through - especially if you have a microwave. If you have a freezer, keep stocked up with nourishing prepared meals which can be heated through from frozen. 

Keep Well 

Have you had your flu shot? You could still get one via your GP or pharmacist if you haven't. 

Whether you have had the shot or not, at the first sign of coughs or sniffles pay a visit to your local pharmacist. They are highly trained individuals and will be able to asses if your symptoms warrant a GP appoinment or, if over the counter medicines are all that's required. 

If you need regular prescribed meds, are your prescriptions up to date and do you have a sufficient quantity to see you through a cold snap when it may be difficult to get out? Many GP's and pharmacists now work togehter and it may even be possible to have your medications delivered. It's always worth asking.

Although it may be very tempting to stay snuggled up under a blanket, do try to move around a little. We're not suggesting you put on a fitness DVD and do a workout, but even walking on the spot, swinging your arms etc will get the blood circulating around the body. 

Loneliness 

During these dark winter months, especially if the weather is bad and you are unable to get out, loneliness can become a real problem. Ring us on 0114 2505292 to be refered to our Good Neighbours Scheme. This friendly visiting service is free and provides a friend for those who are lonely. 

If you are tech savvy and have a smartphone or access to a computer (with internet connection) you can connect to the outside world via social media. It's not all about Facebook and Instagram, there are online groups out there aimed directly at the older generations. 

https://www.silversurfers.com

https://www.ageukmobility.co.uk - has some useful links to sites for over 50's .

If you have a specific hobby or interest, it's always worth looking online to see if there are any websites devoted to the subject matter, they will often have forums or chat rooms where you will be able to talk with like-minded people.

Remember, the internet is for ALL age groups, don't bracket it as just being something for 'the kids'.

If 'going online' is not possible or simply not something you are interested in, are there any groups locally that provide transport to social events? Try Sheffield Community Transport. Your GP surgery will often have a notice board with details of luncheon clubs, coffee morning etc in your area. Try Sheffield Council lunch club directory.

General Advice For Everyone 

If you live near an elderly person, be they alone or not, check up on them regularly during the cold winter months. 

A friendly face and a chat over a cuppa and a slice (or two!) of cake can work wonders in brightening someone's day. It also offers the opportunity to find out if the person is well, has sufficient supplies of food etc and is keeping warm. 

Offer to do the weekly shop; maybe help with a spot of batch cooking; take them to social events etc. 

In short - be a good neighbour. 

Finally.....

Remember, winter doesn't last forever (although it sometimes feels like it!) the days are already beginning to get a little longer and before we know it spring will be making an appearance. 

We can all make a choice - simply endure the season, OR, embrace and enjoy it for what it is......a time to mimic the animal kingdom and (metaphorically anyway) hibernate until the warmer weather arrives.

Sometimes changing the way we view something can change the way we feel about it. 

Keep warm. Keep well fed and hydrated.

And remember - there is help available if you need it. 

Loneliness at Christmas

Loneliness at Christmas

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December is here and the countdown to Christmas has officially begun (although it seems to have been the season of goodwill in the shops since October!) For most of us this means a frantic few weeks of Christmas shopping and parties before the big day itself, when we sit down with our families and friends to over indulge in a slap up meal. 

However, for any of the estimated 2 million* people over the age of 75 in the UK, who live by themselves; this Christmas day, like every other day of the year, could be spent alone. Imagine, no gifts to open, no loving family to eat a festive lunch with; no one with whom to even pass the time of day. The 'season of goodwill', far from being a time of celebration, only serves to underline the isolation they experience on a daily basis. 

There are many reasons an older person may find themselves living alone, including the death of a spouse (or divorce). Couple this with the fact that families can be scattered all over the UK (indeed the world) and it's not difficult to see how easy it can be for someone to become isolated and lonely. Mobility problems and ill health, which make leaving the house difficult, only serve to exacerbate the problem. The recent Channel 4 docuseries, "Old People's Home for Four Year Olds" highlighted that even older people who move into sheltered accommodation, or a care setting, report feelings of social isolation, with some rarely leaving the confines of their own flats. 

Loneliness can be as damaging to physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; it is also associated with depression (and other mental health issues), can cause sleep problems and contribute to impaired cognitive health, heightened vascular resistance, hypertension and psychological stress.

So, what can be done to help prevent our older people slipping into a life of increasing solitude?

Number one on the list must surely be looking out for our own neighbours....small things can make a BIG difference (and not just a Christmas). If you are aware of an older person on your street/neighbourhood who lives alone, check up on them regularly. Pop in and put the kettle on, have a chat, see if you can do anything to help. It's a very British thing not to ask for assistance so, put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine what you would find helpful or useful. Maybe offer a lift to the shops to do grocery shopping or to take them to doctors/hospital appointments. Help with researching any clubs or activities locally that may be of interest - be their own personal 'Google'! 

Taking this one step further, why not become the catalyst for change within your locality? Encourage everyone to look out for their older neighbours and organise coffee mornings and other events that bring people together. Join The Great Get Together, inspired by the MP Jo Cox following her tragic death in 2016, or become a volunteer for one of the many charities (ourselves included**) that exist to help mitigate the effects of loneliness. 

Specific to Christmas, why not organise a festive lunch for people in your area? Contact Community Christmas for help with this. Reach out to local eateries and shops to see if they would get involved. Hire your local community hall, play carols and Christmas songs, serve mince pies and tea/coffee and invite everyone along. New friendships will be forged that will last well past the Christmas season. Check to see if your local schools put on a carol service and ask if they would do one specifically for the older people in your area or contact Sheffield Community Choir or any other choir in Sheffield, who may be able to help. 

In Sheffield we know of fantastic charities that organise Christmas meals for lonely and older people for example, Kindness & Co or perhaps you could invite a lonely person to share your Christmas day? Being part of a family setting, even if only for a couple of hours, could make all the difference to someone's wellbeing. 

Alleviating loneliness shouldn't be seen as just something to think about at this time of year; the reality is that many of our older citizens can sometimes go for days at a time with no human contact - that is not acceptable. Make this Christmas the one you reach out to a lonely person BUT, don't stop once the tinsel and trimmings come down, instead make it a long term commitment to see them regularly throughout the year(s). 

* https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/loneliness/

** if you are interested in becoming one of our volunteers please email us on volunteers@scccc.co.uk or ring us on 0114 2505293 for an application pack. 

A helping hand - helpful advice on care homes

A helping hand - helpful advice on care homes

Caring for older people 

The realisation that your loved one (or perhaps yourself) is no longer able to live independently is painful. The person who was once able to look after themselves and others now needs care themselves. Finding the right type of support for you or your loved one (daily help in the current home: live in carer: care home) can feel really difficult. The information is often confused, contradictory and hard to find, and negotiating legalities and finances is the last thing most of us feel able to do when faced with such a life changing event. 

Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care used to offer the Placement Support Scheme which aimed to guide people through this difficult time and help them identify the most suitable accommodation for their loved one. Unfortunately, funding restraints means we are no longer able to provide this service, so, we thought it was time we collated our knowledge into one easy to consume article. There are links to helpful charities and to the appropriate pages of the Sheffield City Council website (if you are outside Sheffield, your local council should have similar areas on their website).

Help to stay at home for longer 

Let's start with services that could help your loved one stay in their own home for as long as possible; these could include some adaptations like handrails on the stairs, grab rails and perching stools for the shower, walking frames and even possibly intercom systems for the front door. The first step is to call the First Contact Team on 0114 2734908 and chat to a member of staff. You will need to apply to the council for a home assessment there is a referral form on the page. You can also access Community Support Workers who may be able to assist in sourcing help and information that could enable your loved one to stay at home longer. They are usually based in GP surgeries and you need to call 0114 2057120 to initiate a referral. 

When it's time to consider a care home 

If you have reached the point where moving into a care home is the only viable option, then there are many things to consider. One of the most important is how the care will be paid for. You may also (if you haven't already done so) need to look at applying for a Lasting Power of Attorney (both financial and health). This is particularly relevant in the case of Dementia- without this it may be difficult to organise your loved one's finances and continuing care. 

There are somewhat complicated calculations involving the amount of capital (which may include property) that the person moving into care has, and we would recommend speaking to an Independant Financial Adviser. Anyone deemed to have capital above the prescribed limits is known as a 'self-funder' and may make their own arrangements directly with a home. 

For those under the threshold, Sheffield City Council may contribute a maximum of £463 per week. Very few care homes have fees at that level and therefore it may be necessary for a relative or friend to pay 'top up fees' (As an example, weekly fees for a resident living with dementia, residing at a care home run by Sheffcare, the charity which took over the running of homes formerly operated by the council runs to nearly £600 per week). 

Types of care homes 

Effectively there are two kinds of care home - 'a residential home' and 'a nursing home'. A residential home provides 24hr care which includes personal care (like bathing, dressing and using the toilet) along with all meals, laundry etc. A nursing home provides the same BUT with 24hr nursing provision - a particularly important consideration if your relative is suffering from a condition requiring more intensive support. 

It is important to note that your loved one may qualify to have their nursing needs paid for under the NHS Continuing Care Scheme. However, as you may expect, the assessment process is complex! Take a look at the the Beacon website or call 0345 548 0300 for help and guidance. 

How to find a care home

There are several web based resources that will help you narrow your choices. We would suggest you make a list of top requirements and use these to indentify 5 or 6 potentials. For example:

  • Location - near to where they currently live (for familarity) or nearer to family (makes visiting easier)? 
  • Own or shared bathing facilities?
  • Modern or older style building?
  • Are there gardens? 
  • What communal spaces are there? 

Use websites such as www.carehome.co.uk and www.careuk.com to find potential homes. Sheffield City Council have now produced a very useful document entitled  "A Guide to Residential and Nursing Care in Sheffield" which you can download for free by clicking on the link. The booklet covers everything from support at home to a list of care homes in the area and their contact details.

All care homes in the UK have to be registered by the Care Quality Commission and it is worth visiting the website www.cqc.org.uk to check a homes latest inspection.

Personal referrals are also useful, so ask friends, family and colleagues if they have any recommendations. 

Once you have shortlisted it is usually helpful to visit each of the homes. No care home should ever turn away a visitor, but some will be more welcoming and helpful than others! Sometimes what seemed perfect on paper will just "feel" wrong when you visit. It may be unscientific, but you are ultimately the best judge of what will be right for you or your loved one.  

Here are a few things you might like to think about;

  • Ensure you are able to view a typical room and the shared areas.
  • What is the interaction like between residents and carers?
  • Do the residents appear well cared for and happy?
  • What sort of activities are they able to do?
  • Are the visiting times restricted? if so why? 
  • Can residents bring in their own furniture - a favourite chair for example? 
  • Are they able to eat in their rooms if they prefer? 

Many homes will encourage a prospective resident to visit for a day, perhaps have lunch and join in any activities. Some will offer a trial period of up to 4 weeks. Use that opportunity if it is offered. 

Moving day 

The care home is selected and all the arrangements made....in some ways that is the easy part because now comes the reality of actually moving in. Make sure everything is done calmly and quietly. If at all possible, see if you can get personal possessions like photos, pictures, ornaments and bed dressings into the room before your relative is moved in. This will help the room immediately feel more homely and familiar. 

The home should have appointed a staff member to oversee the moving in and they should be on hand to ease the settling in process. See if you can stay for lunch or simply tea and biscuits, talk positively about the new surroundings and ensure that your relative doesn't feel abandoned. The staff know how to best do this and may ask you to leave to get them settled in. 

There is no doubt that the transition into care can be almost as hard on a family as on the new resident; there will be feelings of guilt (he/she looked after us, why couldn't we do the same?) and also the worry that the home won't be right, the relative will be miserable etc.

The best thing to do is remind yourself that your loved one is now SAFE and CARED FOR 24/7 - something you would be unable to do yourself. 

When you visit try and be positive and upbeat and get involved in enjoyable activities you know they enjoy; play some music, have a little dance, look at photo albums etc. 

Last words

We hope we've cast a little light on the whole care process- it can be scary and upsetting admitting that you or loved one need care....but it's important to remember that it's all about your loved one's safety. 

Here are a few more wesites (in addition to the ones linked to in this article) which you may find helpful. 

www.ageuk.org.uk

societyoflaterlifeadvisers.co.uk

www.alzheimers.org.uk

www.disabilitysheffield.org.uk

www.nhs.uk/care-homes

www.sheffielddirectory.org.uk

https://sheffieldcarers.org.uk

www.sheffield.gov.uk/factsheets

Advice, Carehomes

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