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Gadgets Gizmos & Robots

Gadgets Gizmos & Robots

Gadgets, Gizmos and Robots!

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Technology.

Does the word fill you with dread and loathing?

Are you a ‘technophobe’?

Or do you love all the gadgets and gizmos out there?

Most people probably fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, perhaps a little cautious to adopt new technology but nevertheless recognising the advantages!

Progress

Stop and think for a moment just how much things have changed since the 1950s and 60s when technology really began to become a part of everyday life.

Were you an early adopter?

Do you remember the excitement of your first TV? And then further excitement when you were able to upgrade to colour!

What about washing machine, a spin dryer, a refrigerator and freezer?

With the exception of the spin dryer (more likely to be a tumble dryer these days) all of these items are commonplace nowadays, and indeed most people probably can’t imagine life without these kitchen appliances.

Back in the 1960s though, they were all NEW technology, and comparatively speaking, very expensive.

Can you imagine going back to a time when you had to boil water on the stove; handwash your clothes, or use a ‘boiler’ over a wood fire; rely on open fires for warmth and cooking?

No?

Well, younger people similarly can’t imagine having to exist without all the ‘tech’ they have!

Gadgets and You.

Whether you are a technophobe or not, you probably have a TV.

If you have a TV you are used to looking at a screen – a personal computer (PC) is not so very different…except you dictate what shows up on the PC screen, not the broadcaster! A computer can be used for entertainment purposes, for education and for staying in touch with friends and relatives (especially those overseas).

Types of PC’s

Until quite recently most home users would have a ‘desktop PC’ which has a base unit (where all the ‘innards’ are) and a separate screen, keyboard and mouse (a device that allows you to select things on the computer…not a small furry animal). 

An alternative to this is a ‘laptop’ – at one time they were prohibitively expensive for the home user but nowadays you can pick up a decent quality laptop for around £300 (a lot less if you look for refurbished models).

A laptop takes up a lot less room than a desktop PC, which makes them ideal if space is limited.

Once you have your PC or laptop – then what?

Well, you could of course faff around by yourself, get fed up, angry and vow to ‘chuck it in the bin’; OR, you could look for a local class to teach you the basics. A willing grandchild could also come in handy! Check the Sheffield Directory, at the time of writing there were 20 ‘computers for beginners’ courses in Sheffield, many held in local libraries.

To get the most out having a computer at home you will also need to be connected to ‘the internet’ and to do this you need ‘broadband’. Think of this as a telephone connection for your laptop which allows it to ‘talk’ to millions of other machines.

What if you can’t afford a computer or broadband?

Many local libraries have internet enabled PC’s which are free to use. There are also ‘internet cafés’.

Mobile Phones

You can probably remember the first mobile phones…they were the size of bricks and just as heavy.

The first commercially available handset first hit the scene in 1984. In less than 40 years mobile phones have metamorphosed into what are effectively hand held computers, complete with high definition screens.

They are everywhere…in fact walk down any street in the UK, or sit in a café, bar or restaurant and it’s a fair bet that at least every other person will be staring at the screen of their phone!

Now there’s no denying that a mobile is considered essential for most people, and they are a great way of being able to keep in touch, wherever you are, but the small screen (often touch screens) may not be suitable for an older person with eyesight or hand mobility issues.

Computers and mobile phones may be the first things you think of when you hear the word ‘technology’ but there’s so much more out there!

Virtual Reality (VR)

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Virtual Reality, or VR, sounds like something from a science fiction movie, and in some ways it is. The concept of wearing a headset and immersing yourself in a game or a film does seem a little ‘out there’ but research has discovered that VR can be amazingly positive for older adults, and in particular those living with conditions like dementia.

VR can help improve memory recall by recreating scenes and images from the past…take a look at this video if you don’t believe us!

Voice Activated Technology

Amazon’s Alexa device and Google’s Home fall into the ‘voice activated tech’ bracket. In the simplest of terms, they are speakers (and sometimes screens too) which are connected to the internet and operated by voice only.

They can be used both for entertainment, playing music, or a radio station for example: as a reminder – as they can be set to alert when meds are due, or as a timer if you are cooking: but they can also be used to talk to other people. This means your children and grandchildren could talk you via the device without incurring phone bills.

They can be a pain to set up (ask a grandchild!) but once they are up and running – and you get used to talking to them – they are surprisingly useful.

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology simply means any device that helps to maintain, or improve, one’s ability to do something. To a degree, all of the items we’ve already mentioned in this article fall into this category, but there are more specific pieces of tech.

For example telecare alarms which work by placing sensors around the home of a vulnerable adult to track movement (such as getting out of bed, going into the kitchen etc). An alert is sent to a central monitoring point if no movement is detected during a specified time period, or the bath has been left running or the gas not turned off.

This technology can enable someone to stay in their own home for longer and gives them and their families some peace of mind, without the need for intrusive home visits.

The same kind of technology can be used for telehealth devices which are pieces of kit for the home monitoring of things like blood pressure, heart rates, blood sugars etc. The user is provided with the appropriate items and the results are sent directly to a healthcare professional enabling a close eye to be kept on ongoing conditions without the need to attend GP or hospital appointments.

Personal alarms, GPS trackers and fall detectors, are all examples of wearable technology that come under the category of assistive technology.

So do such things as phone handsets (both mobile and landline) with larger keypads and buttons and also TV remote controls adapted for ease of use.

Robots!

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Believe it or not, robots are already used quite extensively in care home settings.

Now obviously we aren’t talking about ‘Robbie the Robot’ or any of the other robots popularised in 1950s and 60s sci-fi! But there are several small, and dare we say ‘cute’, robots out there which do seem to help those living with dementia.

These range from simple cuddly toys which react when stroked, through to more complex machines like MiRo, a dog like robot which was actually developed here in Sheffield. MiRo can be programmed in a number of ways and responds to the spoken word.

Taking the concept of robots in care one step further, would you trust a robotic doctor? A report from February 2019 notes that a new artificial intelligence (AI) system matched a human doctor’s diagnostic performance. You can read more about that here.

Perhaps the thought of interacting with a robot, any kind of robot, is still a step too far for many of us to consider just yet but we may have to resign ourselves to the fact that one day soon we may not have a choice!

Already AI and robotic technology is assisting surgeon with things like micro surgery when the surgeon actually controls tiny instruments actually inside a patients body via remote control! Robots can also be used to take away the routine tasks which take up staff time – check this video.

Robots can also be used to help alleviate loneliness by providing companionship there are several robots already out there which interact with the user in various ways.

One of these is Pepper, a humanoid type robot whose cameras, microphones, and software enable it to perceive smiles, frowns, tone of voice, and body language (apparently).

Pepper can then respond in an ‘emotionally intelligent way’ to the person ‘she’ is interacting with.

The Future…

Whether we like it or not, barring a catastrophic implosion of society in general (well anything is possible these days!) technology is here to stay.

Love it or loathe it.

Use it or run from it.

Tech is all around us!

Never too late to learn

Never too late to learn

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As we push through into Autumn, the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness (or damp and cold if you are feeling less charitable) it may seem a strange time to start thinking about education. After all, the school and Universities have been back for a while now…and in any case you’re too old to learn something new - aren’t you?

NO! Of course you aren’t!

In fact learning something new is a great way to keep your brain active and the rest of you feeling younger. We touched on the benefits of learning a new skill in a a previous blog and taking up a course of study is no different.

Many of us assume that our memory will automatically deteriorate as we age, and to a degree that is true. Older adults often perform less well in cognitive tests than younger people. However there is increasing evidence that our brains retain their ability to learn and retain information – in other words the brain remains its plasticity well in to later life.

This so called neuroplasticity is most evident in older adults who continue to learn and grow…it is definitely a case of ‘use it or lose it’!

Like every other part of the body, your brain needs to be exercised and well nourished. If you are eating a diet heavy in processed foods, sugar and empty carbs and watching endless reruns on daytime TV then both your body AND brain will suffer.

Here’s just 5 good reasons never to give up on learning:

1. You will feel younger if you are interacting and socialising with a wider age range of people

2. Your self esteem will rise as you accomplish new challenges

3. You’ll keep up to date with the world

4. Learning new things could help stave off dementia

5. Your brain will become healthier (the production of myelin increases)

What Could You Study?

Anything you want – providing you can source a study provider!

Now whether you opt for something academic, or a more hands on skill, is entirely down to personal choice…in fact why not attempt more than one new thing? The more you stretch your mind, the easier it becomes.

As SCCCC is Sheffield based, we’ll concentrate on areas of study that can be accessed here.

The University of Sheffield has a Department for Life Long Learning which runs various tasters and introductory sessions for those of us who have been out of education for a while. The next session is 19 November 2019. The University offers The Discover Course, giving you a chance to take part in a range of small group activities and discussions. It also provides vital information, advice and guidance such as how to apply to university and how to finance your studies.

Sheffield Hallam University  is also extremely proactive in its support of the more mature students. The Sheffield College which covers four sites in the city also has provision for adult learners. Another learning provider in the city is WEA with courses ranging from Astronomy to Studio Production and Engineering. Funding or reduced fees may apply to some of their courses. The Sheffield Directory is also a great place to search for adult education courses. In this quick run down of learning providers we shouldn’t miss out The Open University. The OU is celebrating its 50 years anniversary in 2019. Offering lots of distance learning courses including what it calls its ‘Access module’ – specifically designed for those who have been out of education for a while and maybe don’t have previous qualifications.

Case Studies

Anne Scott is 85 years young and lives in Melbourne, Australia. She is studying for a PhD on the ‘Confluence of humans and smart machines: imagining a future world’ and is due to graduate in 2022!

Here’s what she has to say "When I think of my brain, I think use it or lose it. Being old does not mean being irrelevant. People my age are in nursing homes, and here I am studying a PhD. I think of study and learning as anti-ageing therapy for me," 

"I want to set an example for senior and retired people that learning is lifelong and you’re never too old to study."

(information courtesy of Swinburne)

At the Open University, 11 per cent of students are over 55 and 3 per cent over 65. One of these students is Tom Markson who at the age of 73 earned a BA (hons) in history from the Open University, and then embarked on a BSc in international studies!

His history degree took him seven years to achieve, working on it for around 15 hours per week

63 year old Donald Upshall started his learning journey with a Level 3 Music course at North Lindsey College before being accepted by the Echo Factory in Leicestershire to study for a degree in music performance.

The Aussies seem to really embrace the idea that leaning is for everyone – here’s another example. Lorna Prendergast graduated from the University of Melbourne, at the age of 90. She had never studied before and completed the entire degree via online study!

68-year-old Basho Dunsford works as a mental health nurse after graduating with a BSc Hons in Mental Health Nursing in October 2018! His previous roles included hairdressing and running a café but he always wanted to work in mental health. Still need a bit of inspiration to get back into learning? Check out this article 10 oldest-people to earn a degree

Lifelong Learning

Hopefully this quick wizz around education in later life has given you a bit of inspiration to take a look at how you could incorporate some kind of further learning in your life.

Remember, although collecting a degree would be a massive achievement, it needn’t be the reason you begin your studies and in fact you don’t have to study for qualifications at all.

Pick something you have an existing interest and perhaps a bit of knowledge in already, or really challenge yourself by opting for something completely new.

Whether it’s a hands on skill or a purely academic subject, pushing outside of your comfort zone and really testing your brains capabilities can only be a good thing…as 85 year old Anne Scott says above – ‘use it or lose it’!

Age Concern UK has some great information  to help you on your journey to learning.

We’d love to hear from you if you, or someone you know has returned to studying later in life…email your stories to [email protected]

#education, #olderlife
How to protect yourself from scammers

How to protect yourself from scammers

cyber-security.jpgDon’t Become a Victim of the Scammers!

There was a time that losing money meant simply misplacing your purse or wallet – or falling victim to a pick pocket or burglar.

Then everyone began to use banks to ‘keep their hard-earnt money safe’ and for many years, banks, building societies and even the post office WERE safe repositories for our cash.

Then came the advent of credit and debit cards and internet banking.

Suddenly we could access our cash whenever we wanted to AND use cards to pay for a multitude of things online.

New problems began…

Because new breeds of tricksters, fraudsters and thieves quickly worked out that they too could access OUR money whenever THEY felt like it by manipulating us the consumer!

This article is going to run through a few of the most common tactics employed by these fraudsters and offer up some hints and tips to keeping your money safe online.

We met up with Lizzie Wilson a Community Banker at Nat West to pick her brains about the type of scams that go on. Here’s what she said about her current role:

“ I have worked for NatWest for over 18 years in branch, as. Business Specialist opening accounts for non-profit groups and for the last 18 months working with groups, clubs, societies, schools and South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield Trading Standards to inform and protect people of all ages from scammers. 

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I love my job and am passionate about protecting people from the financial and emotional consequences of falling victim to scammers. The emotional side is often overlooked but that is what drives me to be a Community Banker.”

Types of ‘Cons’

Conmen haven’t really changed the basis of their techniques for exhorting money, it’s simply the way they access the cash that has evolved…

Approach One:  YOU HAVE WON!

Now you could receive this message in one of several ways…

  • Letter through the mail
  • Phone call
  • Email

You will be led to believe that you have won…a substantial sum of money, a car, holiday whatever…”All you have to do is send a handling fee/buy a qualifying product”

The earliest of these scams would ask for a cheque to be sent in order to release your prize. Now they are more likely to ask you to make a payment over the phone or online.

Hearing you have ‘won’ something IS exciting and it could be quite easy to get carried away.

No matter how tempting the offer may seem DO NOT part with ANY cash to claim a prize.

Stop and think for a minute – have you actually entered any competitions? If you haven’t then why are you being told you are a winner?

Rip up the letter. Hang up the phone. Delete the email.

Approach Two: There’s a Problem with…

We bet that most people reading this will have received at least one of those annoying phone calls, claiming to be from:

  • Internet provider
  • Bank
  • Government Dept
  • Even Apple or Microsoft

The caller will claim that there is a problem with your service/account or perhaps that you are due a refund.

They may appear to know something about you, who you bank with for example, which may lull you into a false sense of security. Of course their ultimate aim is to gain access to your bank account.

You may even question yourself…’Did I pay that bill?’ ‘Could my account be hacked?’ – seeds of doubt will be sown in your brain making you more susceptible to the callers’ suggestions.

Depending on the particular scam, you may be told:

  • You need to pay £xx in order to ensure your broadband/phone is not cut off
  • Your bank account is unsafe and you need to transfer your funds to a new account to protect it
  • You need to provide your bank account details (and often other info) in order for a ‘tax’ refund to be made to you
  • You need to allow remote access to your PC/Laptop/Mac in order for ‘an issue’ to be resolved

The callers are usually very persistent, often keeping their potential victims on the phone for ages and tricking them into giving away all sorts of information. They will always be professional sounding, polite and helpful. They have to be convincing or you would not believe them. Remember if you don’t believe them they won’t get your details. Finally on this point if they weren’t convincing the UK economy wouldn’t lose £BILLIONS to scammers every year.

If this type of scam is carried out via email it is known as phishing.

An email pops into your inbox purporting to be from your bank/service provider/HMRC – on first glance it looks legitimate. The email tells you there is some kind of problem and that you need to ‘log on’ to your account in order to rectify it.

Helpfully a link is included for you to click…DON’T! Clicking the link will take you to a fake website which will collect the details you enter – potentially allowing the fraudsters access to your online banking.

Another variation on the email theme is to prompt you to open an attachment…doing so then infects your computer with a virus which could allow a scammer to log into your machine and access any stored online banking information (and indeed anything else on the computer).

Yet another way spammers target people is via text messages (known as smishing). A message pops up on your phone claiming to be from your bank saying there is a problem with your account. The message will go on to provide a phone number or a link to a website where you will be encouraged to enter your bank details as if you were logging onto your account.

Of course the site is phoney, and the fraudsters simply collect all the details you type in – meaning THEY are now able to access your bank account.

Keeping Yourself Safe Online

Reading the above could lead you to think that keeping your money safe online is nigh on impossible – that’s simply not true. Banks and financial institutions have all sorts of technology designed to thwart fraudsters but you have to take responsibility too.

Phone calls

Have caller display operational whenever possible so that you can see the number that is calling you.

If it doesn’t seem familiar – don’t answer it!

If you do answer and the caller purports to be from your bank (or indeed any other institution) and they are asking for information such as account numbers/PIN numbers etc HANG UP. No bank will EVER ask for these details in their entirety from their customers!

To be doubly sure, ring your bank (use the number on the back of your credit or debit card) but WAIT for at least 15 mins after hanging up as the scammer may ‘hijack’ your phone line – you’ll think you have reached your bank but the reality could be it is still the original caller.

If the caller claims to be from a telephone or broadband supplier saying that your line is going to be disabled if you ‘’don’t press 1 to speak to someone” HANG UP. UK phone and broadband suppliers would not contact you this way and they most certainly would not ask for money over the phone in order to prevent disconnection.

Likewise with the “I’m calling from Microsoft there’s a problem with Windows” phone calls…just hang up!

Letters

Any letter that appears to be offering a prize in return for you parting with money should go straight into your recycling bin!

Responding to these approaches will lead to you receiving more and more of them.  In one extreme example, 83-year-old Rita lost her entire life savings after replying to scamsters who bombarded her with letters.

You will NEVER win the prize.

Any ‘freebies’ you receive or goods you are tempted to buy in order ‘to qualify’ for a prize draw will be of dubious quality.

Emails

So called ‘phishing’ emails can sometimes be difficult to spot at first glance.

The scammers will go to some trouble to replicate the genuine article in terms of fonts, logos etc BUT what they can’t do is send from the correct email address. Take a look at the ‘from’ address bar at the top of the email – it may look similar to the real email address but look more closely. There may be random numbers or letters in there…e.g. [email protected]

If the address doesn’t look valid BIN the email – preferably without even opening it.

If you do open it DO NOT click on any links or attachments.

DON’T be tempted to reply to the email or use a phone number shown in the message.

If you are concerned there may be a problem with your account either log on to it directly or phone the supplier on a number they provide on their website or literature.

Forewarned is Forearmed!

This article is not intended to frighten anyone, rather to ask you to be careful – either for yourself or someone you are caring for.

It’s human nature to be concerned about the safety of our money. Similarly we can’t help but be tempted by the prospect of getting more!

It is also human nature to trust those we perceive to be in positions of authority – like our banks and other service providers.

That’s what scammers and fraudsters are counting on – the twin pillars – Greed and Trust.

The best advice is to use your common sense…

  • If you didn’t enter a competition you haven’t won a prize
  • If your broadband is through Sky*, why are Virgin* allegedly calling you to say you have a problem? (* substitute any supplier you can think of!)
  • If you aren’t expecting a tax refund why would HMRC be emailing?

Just stop and think…

Finally, never be embarrassed if you have fallen for a scam. They rely on people being too ashamed to share what has happened to them, meaning other people aren’t warned about new and emerging scams. Scammers are very clever, ruthless and convincing people. Always let your bank and/or supplier know immediately if you think you have given your details to a scammer and let the police know too. 

Useful Web Pages

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/types-of-scam

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/scams-fraud/

Hobbies & activities to keep you busy

Hobbies & activities to keep you busy

Hobbies and Activities to Keep You Busy

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As we age it can become all too easy to fall into the habit of slumping in our favourite chair in front of the telly…

It’s easy. It’s familiar. We don’t have to think about it.

BUT…that sort of inactivity of both brain and body simply isn’t good for us. Have you ever seen someone retire as a physically fit individual and then seem to almost ‘shrink’ into retirement?

Keeping your brain and body active is the best way to ensure you don’t become ‘old before your time’, and one of the easiest ways to do so is to take up a hobby or craft.

  • Did you have a passion for drawing when you were younger?
  • Perhaps you were handy with a needle and thread or were a good knitter/expert at crochet.
  • Maybe you were skilled at DIY or woodwork.
  • Whatever it was that you used to enjoy in the past consider picking it up again.
Benefits of having a Hobby
  • Believe it or not, studies have shown that having hobbies at any age can have a positive effect on your immune system. Keeping your mind alert by practicing a hobby you are already familiar with or taking up a new one, has a positive effect on your overall well-being which helps your immune system.
  • Many crafts and hobbies, although solo activities, often have groups and clubs associated with them. Going along to one of those has the added benefit of lessening any feelings of social isolation (as well as being somewhere to share your knowledge and experience or learn new ones).
  • Practicing your hobby/craft will also have a great impact on cognitive abilities…you are using your brain as well as your hands and, in many instances, you are relying on memory recall.
  • Doing something you enjoy reduces stress levels.
  • Being good at something (or getting better at doing something) is a great self-esteem boost.
  • You may even find your sleep improves if you are more active both mentally and physically.
What sort of Hobby?

We’ve alluded to a few above but there are literally thousands of things you could do, either picking up on something you are already familiar with or being daring and trying something brand new.

Physical Hobbies

In no particular order…

Golf – there’s obviously a cost involved in this, although there are a few public golf courses around where you can hire clubs etc if you don’t have your own. You can even book lessons.

  • Benefits:
    • Outdoor exercise
    • Your social life will improve
    • Improve/maintain strength and flexibility

Dancing – from ballroom to ballet, disco to dubstep (no we’re not sure what that is either!) there is a dance out there for everyone.

  • Benefits
    • Music is good for you
    • Increased heart rate and improved stamina and flexibility
    • You’ll improve your social life.

Swimming – there are lots of swimming pools around and many offer ‘over 55’ sessions and classes. As swimming is a non-weight bearing exercise it’s good for even those with mobility issues.

  • Benefits
    • Exercise is good for you
    • Increased heart rate and improved stamina and flexibility
    • You may meet other swimmers and form friendships

Gardening – if you have a garden getting outside and keeping it in good order is great for your physical and mental health. If you don’t have a garden, why not offer to help someone who does?

  • Benefits
    • Fresh air
    • Physical exercise
    • Nurturing plants is good for you!

Walking – the easiest way to get fitter and out and about. All you need is some decent shoes, a route to follow (even if only round the block) and a bit of time. Look out for walking groups too.

  • Benefits
    • You’ll get fitter
    • It will get you out of the house
    • You may improve your social life…if you can find a group to join

 

Of course, there are plenty of other physical type activities you could get involved in, but what if you are housebound?

Crafts and Non-Physical Hobbies

Whilst we are busy working or raising a family it can sometimes seem impossible finding the time to take up new hobbies (or even to continue with ones we already have). In later life however, one thing you do have is free time…use it wisely.

If you gave up a hobby (for whatever reason) resurrect it – you may still have all the ‘stuff’ you need to get straight back into it.

Perhaps you fancy trying something new? Ask friends and relatives for some suggestions – they may have ideas that you haven’t thought about.

Here’s a few ideas for you.

Knitting - this is something which seems to have become ‘fashionable’ again over recent years with high profile young celebrities being pictured needles and yarn in hand. This article in The Guardian has some weird and wonderful ideas for ‘creative’ knitting – you can of course stick to knitting jumpers too!

    • Benefits
      • Knitting is great for hand to eye co-ordination
      • You will be producing something, useable or decorative
      • It can help your mental health

Embroidery/sewing/needlecraft – just like knitting, sewing skills are making a comeback and because of TV programmes like ‘Sewing Bee’ more and more of us are trying to making our own clothes.

You’ll need a sewing machine to start dressmaking (or shirt making) plus patterns, threads etc – so it may be an expensive hobby to start up. There are places like this shop in Sheffield which offer classes and workshops.

Embroidery and other needlecrafts may be a cheaper option – although you will obviously still need materials. If you are lacking in the design department, then you can purchase ‘embroidery/tapestry/cross stich kits – which come (usually) with the outlines printed on the fabric plus all the necessary threads etc.

    • Benefits
      • Embroidery is great for hand to eye co-ordination
      • Making (or maybe altering) clothes could be a money saver
      • Needlework can be soothing and relaxing

Scrapbooking – is something a little bit different, a personalised way to display cherished photographs for example. A scrapbook will make most of us think back to childhood, but there is a growing interest in the craft, which involves so much more than simply sticking your photographs and other memorabilia into an album.

Take a look at this website which includes all the different skills and crafts which could be incorporated into creating a scrapbook, for example – calligraphy, decoupage, embossing and many others.

    • Benefits
      • You could create a ‘family heirloom’
      • Learning new skills is great for the brain
      • A great hobby to have when the weather is awful!

Whittling and Carving – have you ever thought about making something out of wood (we don’t mean a piece of furniture!)? There is a difference between whittling and carving – with the former you use only a knife, whereas carving requires the use of different tools, including powered ones.

Take a look here for some ideas on how to create some (relatively) easy projects.

    • Benefits
      • Great for hand to eye co-ordination
      • Being creative is good for the brain
      • Working with wood is therapeutic and relaxing

Music – whether that means simply listening to your favourite tracks or playing an instrument, music is definitely good for the soul!

Many of us harbour a secret longing to play an instrument, perhaps older adulthood is a good time to take those guitar or piano lessons you always promised yourself?

    • Benefits
      • Listening to music reduces stress and anxiety
      • Learning to play an instrument is good for your brain health and has been shown to improve cognitive abilities
      • Taking music lessons can be a way to make new friends

 

We hope we have given you a few ideas of hobbies and pursuits which could help you both physically and mentally.

Remember, if you have access to the internet, there are lots of ‘how to’ videos available to help you start or develop your hobbies.

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.

glass-of-water-.png 

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

women-with-fresh-veg.jpg

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

helping_hand.jpg

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. 

Donate

Make a donation today to assist SCCCC to maintain the level of care that all of our friends and families deserve. Your donation will go a long way to improving the level of care across the region.

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