The truth about Coronavirus - COVID-19

The truth about Coronavirus - COVID-19

covid-19-.png There’s a lot of scaremongering going on in the media at the moment over ‘coronavirus’ – in particular the strain causing COVID-19 (named because the first instances of the disease emerged in 2019).  We’re going to try and cut through the hysteria and provide you with simple, clear facts and ways you can minimise your own risk. 
What is coronavirus? 

Well contrary to the portrayal in the media, coronavirus isn’t just one contagion, the name actually refers to a large group on viruses which includes the common cold. 

The new (or novel) coronavirus discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019 is the cause of the infectious disease which has been named COVID-19. 

Coronaviruses are common in animals and can be transmitted to humans but despite what you may have read in the media, there is no confirmation that COVID-19 was passed to humans via eating snakes or bats. The source of the virus in Wuhan has not yet been established. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

This is where it could get confusing because the symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to those  you would experience if you were ‘starting with a cold’. 

  • A fever, tickly dry cough and generally feeling unwell are the first signs that you may have been infected. 
  • A runny or blocked nose and body aches and pains have also been reported along with a sore throat.  
  • So far – very much like the common cold. 

For at least 80% of people who contract the virus, this is as bad as it gets, in fact some people can be infected but have no symptoms at all.  

About 1 in 6 of those infected may become more ill and may develop breathing difficulties requiring hospitalisation, but again most will recover. 

How is COVID-19 spread? 

The disease is spread person to person via what the medical profession called ‘respiratory droplets’ – in non-medical parlance, what you expel when you cough or sneeze. 

These microscopic droplets land on surfaces, other people touch these surfaces and then their own faces – eyes, nose mouth, thus transferring the virus into their own system. 

It is also possible to breathe in these droplets if an infected person sneezes or coughs close to you and doesn’t cover their nose and mouth. 

Simple steps to protect yourself 

WASH YOUR HANDS…often and thoroughly.  That is the single most effective preventative measure. 

  • Use normal soap and wash for at least 20 seconds making sure your entire hand is well lathered and rinsed.  
  • Don’t share towels – even amongst family members. 
  • Antibacterial gels are useful if you are out and about and don’t have access to washing facilities BUT regular soap and water work just as well so don’t panic if you can’t get hold of hand sanitiser! 
  • Keep your distance from people who are coughing and/or sneezing, try to stay at least 1 metre (3 feet) away. 
  • Try to avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. 
  • If you do feel the need to sneeze or cough do so into a paper tissue and then immediately dispose of the tissue in a bin. 
  • If you don’t have a tissue to hand, sneeze/cough into the crook of your elbow – NOT into your hand. 

Stay at home if you start to feel unwell. DO NOT visit your GP or go to A&E. If you’re worried about yourself or a family member call NHS 111 for the latest advice. 

What about face masks? 

According to most experts, wearing the type of disposable masks that we the general public can purchase, WILL NOT prevent us catching the virus. This is because A) the virus is small enough to pass through the mask and B) we would still need to remember not to touch our faces (eyes) even if wearing one.  

The World Health Organisation stresses that wearing a disposable mask is a waste UNLESS you are caring for someone with the disease OR if you are ill yourself and are coughing and sneezing. 

Who is most at risk from COVID-19? 

As we said earlier, most people will only experience mild symptoms and will recover fully. The complications and deaths reported around the world so far have been in older people, particularly those with underlying medical conditions. 

If you, or a loved one, have high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes, it is important that you minimise your risk of exposure as far as is practicable. Follow the advice above, stay away from places that are packed with people and keep a close eye on the way you, or they, are feeling.  

Other important info… 

The incubation period of COVID-19  (that is how long it takes from initial infection to developing symptoms) is reported as being anything from 1 to 14 days.  

This means you could be contagious and spreading the disease around without even knowing it. That’s why some countries have imposed ‘lockdowns’, shutting schools, restaurants, sporting facilities etc and why ‘self isolation’ is recommended should you feel you have been exposed to the COVID-19. 

Stopping the rapid spread of the disease is the best way for our health service to ensure they are not overwhelmed with cases. It is accepted that the number of people with COVID-19 in the UK is going to increase – the hope is that it can be ‘delayed’ i.e. managed. 

Antibiotics are not effective against COVID-19 so don’t ask your GP for them! 

What to do next… 

The situation is changing all the time, so the best advice is just to keep an eye on things BUT do not be panicked by what you may see on social media or in the tabloids. There’s a list of reputable websites at the end of this article which we would recommend you check. 

If you were planning to travel, on holiday or for business, go to and also double check your insurance policies.  

Department of Health and Social Care Twitter page which is updated at 2pm every day:

Style in older age - Just rock it!

Style in older age - Just rock it!


Who says you stop caring about the way you look when you get older?

There isn’t a ‘magic age’ when you suddenly look in the mirror and think -  “Nah…I’m past it now, time to stop trying to look my best”!

We live in a youth obsessed society (at least in the West) and it could be very easy to allow ourselves to fade away into the background as we get older…merge with the wallpaper so to speak.

 Some people dare to turn their back on the ridiculous idea that to grow older means you can’t continue to embrace style in your own unique way.

 A growing tide of older adults are pushing back against conformity and uniformity and unashamedly, gloriously, flaunting their personal style via the very 21st century medium of Instagram and social media.


Suzi Grant is a 70 year old blogger from Brighton who is using social media, particularly Instagram (she’s sometimes referred to as ‘Instagran’!), to share her own unique style. She says, it’s not about looking younger but looking the very best you can and she’s on a mission to get people out of beige and into vibrant colours.

 “Staying relevant, not being invisible, not being ignored” – Suzi Grant

Suzi has an amazing blog - where she shares not only her fashion style and tips but also articles on nutrition, travel and lifestyle. Her Insta handle is alternativeageing

Heading further up the age scale (in numbers if not attitude!) is Iris Apfel who became a fashion icon at the age of 83 after the  Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute (New York) hosted an exhibition featuring her vast collection of clothes and accessories.

 Iris makes the very salient point that fashion designers create outrageously expensive garments based on the body shape of teens and twenty somethings – the very people who are least likely to be able to afford to own them. She believes that designers need to start considering the older demographic and actually create beautiful pieces that over 60s will want to own and wear.


 Now 98, Iris is still rocking her own very distinctive style and is the first to say that her dress sense is not for everyone. In fact she says  "What I think is what I think. If people try to look like me they'll look ridiculous," and goes on to make the point that these days everyone is indentikit, there is little individuality.

 Find Iris on Instagram

 If the youth won’t change that homogeneity, won’t rebel and stand out then it’s down to us ‘oldies’!

Gone are the days when women disappeared from view once they reached their 50s and beyond. Pick up any magazine or newspaper these days, or look online and at film and TV and you will see a raft of amazing older women – doing things THEIR way.

Here’s just a few – look them up and see how all these ladies are looking good well into later life…


  • Helen Mirren – 74, and arguably more glamorous, more stylish than in her 30s
  • Judi Dench – 85, rocking close cropped white hair and embracing a timeless elegance and a particular love of scarves as an accessory.
  • Debbie Harry – 74, still making a statement with leather, bodycon and bright, bright colours.
  • Tina Turner – 80 and ‘Simply the Best’ in her tight jeans and leather.
  • Gladys Knight - 75, and looking ultra glamourous at her 75th birthday party. 


For a peek at a gallery of photos of 60+ people from around the globe who are defying everything we’ve ever been force fed about fashion in later life, take a look at this website.

Proof, if proof were needed, that you are never too old to be stylish IN YOUR OWN WAY.

One thing that shines out when you start to look at the photos in the gallery mentioned above and at all the other people mentioned in this article is COLOUR! No one is ‘fading into a beige old age’, they’re embracing the use of colour in their clothes, hair and make-up.

You may not want to start dressing like Iris Apfel (although why not…she’s awesome!) but start introducing flashes of colour with scarves, maybe a bright lipstick, a neon handbag etc.

You’ll feel ‘lifted’ and may want to start exploring your own personal style a little more.

Don’t be afraid to stand out and be different. One of the benefits of getting older should be the self-confidence to be YOU and if that means purple shoes and a red dress go for it…it’s your life, no one else’s.

Here’s a few websites and articles you may like to explore to help you channel your inner style icon…

Dealing with Dementia

Dealing with Dementia


Dementia in its various forms – Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia – is one of those conditions we all hope won’t affect ourselves or our loved ones. Sadly though, statistics from 2015 show:

· 850,000 people (at least) in the UK are living with some form of Dementia.

· 52% of the British public know someone who is living with Dementia.

· 1 in 3 people born this year will develop some form of Dementia in their lifetime.

· 1 in 14 people in the UK over the age of 65 have some form of Dementia, which equates to 1 in 79 of the general population.

Those are scary, scary statistics aren’t they?

And here’s something really frightening - In the UK, Dementia is the only condition in the top 10 causes of death without a treatment to prevent, cure or slow its progression.

Given the increasing prevalence of Dementia cases in the UK (and around the world) are there ways to help those living with the condition?

Well, yes, is the short answer to that question. Technology is certainly taking centre stage and there are various gadgets around which can help those who are currently able to remain in their own homes.

From simple devices like telephones with large clear keypads, to robotic technology, there is probably a gadget out there which could help someone stay in their own home for longer.

We’ll have a quick look at some of them before moving onto other ways those living with dementia can be supported.

Calendars and Clocks

Let’s face it, all of us get a tad more forgetful as we grow older! Keeping track of the days and appointments is easier than ever though thanks to things like electronic calendars on smartphones and PCs/tablets/laptops. Audio and visual reminders can be set as prompts…even for simple things like ‘make a cup of tea’, ‘it’s lunch time’ etc.

Clocks can be purchased which not only show the time, but the day of the week, what the weather is and even if it’s daytime or night time (some people with dementia can lose track of time).

Pill Dispensers

There are dispensers which can be loaded up with a week (or a months’) supply of meds and set to sound an alarm at a specified time during the day to prompt the person to take them. Some of them will actually only open when the alarm is switched off.

The personal experience of this writer (parent with Alzheimer’s) is that these are great in the early stages and work well as a reminder to take meds but become less effective as the disease moves on. I’d find the box in the laundry bin, wardrobe, even the garden, because the alarm had sounded and mum had NO idea why, nor how to stop it ‘making a noise’!

Smart Devices

Devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home can be useful ways for family members to keep in touch with relatives via the messaging capabilities. But these devices, with addons, can be used to control many general household functions such as heating, hot water, lighting etc.

There is also an Alexa ‘skill’ called My Carer which can remind a person living with dementia what to do throughout their day; by providing step by step guidance.

It’s likely that ‘smart’ interactive devices will develop even further, but again they are really only going to be suitable for the person who is still able to care for themselves to some degree.

Robots We touched on these in a previous article, the most basic machines provide a type of companionship to those living with dementia. They interact with the user in a very direct way – responding to touch and/or voice prompts.

No doubt, as the technology develops even further, someone will create a machine which can be the eyes and ears of a relative (i.e. monitoring the individual with dementia in their home) whilst also providing some sort of practical help like making a cuppa!

Other Ways to Support Someone Living with Dementia

Dementia affects everyone differently, but the overarching effect is to cause increasing memory loss…especially short-term memory, i.e. the ability to process and then recall something. This can be as devastating to the individual living with the condition as it is irritating (and sad) for their relatives.

Some of the gadgets mentioned above can help with this, as can sticky notes, to do lists and lots of patience.

In contrast to the effect on short term memory, long term memories seem to become more like everyday reality. Often the person with dementia will be able to recall minutiae from their past – colour of the curtains in their bedroom as a child, their favourite sweet or TV program – whilst being entirely unable to remember what the remote control in their hand does.

Reminiscing about the past can actually help restore a sense of calm and balance. The Museum of Branding in London has developed an interactive exhibition of old-time packaging and brand labels – the likes of Typhoo Tea, Kit Kats, and Surf, amongst others. Those living with Dementia are encouraged to visit, and touch, hold and smell replica products to see if memories are sparked.

You can do something similar at home by digging out the old photo albums and sitting with your loved one as you go through them together.

More high-tech ways of utilising the power or reminiscing include the use of virtual reality (VR) which we’ve talked about in a previous blog.


There’s something about music that gets through to just about everyone, whether that’s helping to spark old memories, or make new one.

Research has shown that music is special in that it stimulates many different parts of the brain at the same time. Even if parts of the brain are irrevocably damaged by Dementia, other parts will still recognise and respond to familiar music.

Play Lists for Life are a charity founded in 2013 by writer and broadcaster Sally Magnusson after she lost her own mother to dementia. She believes that everyone with dementia deserves a personal playlist. There are some lovely video clips on the website which demonstrate how much enjoyment listening to music can give someone living with Dementia.

It’s easy to create a personalised playlist for your loved one using today’s technology. Download specific songs/tunes onto a device like a phone, or tablet so they’re always to hand. Or store on a USB stick for playback anywhere that you can plug it in!

Alternatively get hold of pre-recorded CDs

The Play Lists for Life site has 100 Years: A Century of Song with each year of each decade of the 20th century having a corresponding playlist which is accessible on Spotify. Take a look – you’ll be hooked!

If you want more information on how to help someone you love live better with dementia, visit the websites we’ve linked to in this blog, or directly from the links below:

Re - evaluating a commercial Christmas

Re - evaluating a commercial Christmas

Re-evaluating Christmas 


Is it just us, or does Christmas seem to start earlier and earlier with every passing year? 

As soon as the gaudy Halloween decorations come down, it feels like the Christmas ones go up and the never-ending adverts peddling ‘all you need for a perfect Christmas’ appear on the telly. 

Without wanting to come across like the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge, do any of us really need the rampant consumerism that infects this time of year? 

Whatever happened to simple pleasures? Things that don’t cost a fortune, aren’t made of plastic and won’t end up in the bin early in the New Year? 

Do you know that the average cost of Christmas for a UK family is estimated to be £868 – which includes presents and festive food. Can you, or anyone you know afford that kind of money? According to the Money Advice Trust, a whopping one third of us will borrow money and use credit cards in order to pay for Christmas – debt we could still be paying off when Xmas 2020 arrives! 

It’s time to consider what effect the seasonal buying frenzy has on individuals, communities and the planet in general. 

Climate change is real, it’s happening all around us – you only have to look at the recent South Yorkshire floods to see that such events are no longer ‘once in a lifetime’, they are regular occurrences. Changing the way you behave at Christmas isn’t going to stop climate change, but it may lead onto other lifestyle changes for you and those around you, and something is always better than nothing. 

For example, we may love a cracker at the Christmas party but apparently most of the 40million Christmas crackers bought each year end up in the bin within the hour – and that includes all the daft little plastic toys which are part and parcel of the ‘fun’.  Many crackers, or wrapping paper for that matter, are not recyclable so what happens…more trash for landfill sites and more plastic waste which can make its way into our oceans. 

As for gifts, yes, it’s lovely to give and receive but is it necessary to spend a fortune? Is it even necessary to buy at all? 

Stop and think for a few minutes…when you, give or receive a gift, an obligation is created. If you receive (or expect to receive) a gift, do you feel obliged to reciprocate? It’s this cycle that needs to be broken as it’s what leads to so many people buying so much ‘stuff’ with money they don’t have, for people who don’t actually need it. 

More and more people are opting to either greatly reducing the number of people they buy for or are indeed stopping the exchange of gifts altogether. 

Is this something you could do? Talk to your family and friends about doing Christmas differently this year…you may be surprised by how many of them would be pleased to reduce their expenditure!  

If you still want to maintain the tradition of gift giving, why not consider a different approach? Here’s a few ideas for presents which won’t cost a fortune (or the Earth!): 

Buy Second-hand!  

Have a read at this article, yes it’s American, but the same principles apply. Seek out charity shops, online auctions, even jumble sales and look for ‘pre-loved’ items – call it shopping for vintage items if that sits better with you! As the article says, you could come across absolute gems which would be perfect for your loved ones.  

 It’s actually becoming quite fashionable to buy second hand and vintage, especially amongst younger people who are inclined towards backing the whole recycling trend – they will after all be the ones left behind to deal with the impact of climate change. 


Offer Services 

How about creating your own gift cards, even a ‘cheque book’ which can be redeemed for certain things? If you are cash poor but time rich (i.e. retired!) why not offer an hour or so of your time perhaps to house sit, look after the kids, help in the garden? 

 Perhaps you’re a fabulous cook or bake great cakes - offer to make something at a time of the recipient’s choice. 

 The possibilities are endless – use your imagination! Even little things like ‘I promise to make you a cup of tea every morning’ are special to the receiver. 


 christmas-blog.jpg Make something 

Put those cooking and/or baking skills to immediate use and make homemade goods…cakes/bread/a meal for the freezer… 

 How about jams and chutneys? 

 Sweet treats like biscuits, toffee and fudge. 

 With a little bit of imagination you could package all these things up beautifully in recycled jars etc and you could buy ingredients gradually over several months meaning no single big outlay of expense. 

 Don’t stop at edible things either…are you a whizz at woodwork, nimble with a needle or clever with a crochet hook? A bespoke something or other, could be a perfect gift and it will be unique too! 


Secret Santa 

Instead of everyone buying multiple gifts, start a family Secret Santa – everyone buys just one gift for one member of the family and a spending limit is applied.  

 This will take some advance planning as everyone will need to randomly select another family member (names in a hat maybe?). The givers need not be named either – think of the potential guessing games on Christmas Day! 


Donations and Charitable Causes 

Why not ask your friends and family to make a donation to a worthy cause instead of gifting each other presents? 

 Many of us have all that we need (note, that may not mean ‘all that we want’!) so wouldn’t it be a true reflection of the spirit of Christmas for us to help someone else and spread a little joy?  

 Crisis, the homeless charity run an appeal each Christmas asking for donations in order to fund a place for one homeless guest at one of their Christmas centres. Check to see if any local charities do something similar. 

 If financial donations aren’t your thing, why not donate your time instead? Check out your local press for Christmas events, lots of churches and local charities will be hosting Christmas lunches for the disadvantaged…offer to help. 

 You could even consider hosting a small Christmas lunch or dinner in your own home and inviting lonely neighbours around. 


A Final Word this Christmas 


Christmas should be all about caring, sharing and spreading the love. We think it’s time to hark back to simpler (and cheaper) times, to cut out all the unnecessary expense and to just enjoy the season as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family. And – if you are alone, we urge you to seek out charities in your locality…no one needs to spend the ‘big day’ alone. 


Gadgets Gizmos & Robots

Gadgets Gizmos & Robots

Gadgets, Gizmos and Robots!



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!


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?


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)


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.



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


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. 


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!


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.


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

Hobbies & activities to keep you busy

Hobbies & activities to keep you busy

Hobbies and Activities to Keep You Busy


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


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.


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.



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


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