Blog

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 on 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 safetly 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 diabeties 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.

 img_5391.jpg margery-&-ann.jpg 

We always try to 'match' our volunteers to our volunteers to our service users so that 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 pateints 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.

gav-and-star.jpg sarah-key-safe.jpg shopping.jpg

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

cost-of-aging.jpg

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 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 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

elderly-man-staring-out-window.gif

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 a 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. Whilst 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

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.

Donate Today

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and events from the SCCCC community.