Laughter Yoga Therapy

Credit Richard Duszczak

Credit: Richard Duszczak

The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj”, meaning to yoke, to integrate, to harmonise. It means union, or connection – with your own body, with your thoughts, with the world around you, your environment, and also your breath. Your breath acts as a bridge between your mind and your body – a constant exchange of energy, a mirroring between your physical and mental being – when you deepen your breath, you calm your body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. When you calm your body, you calm your mind, and when both your mind and your body are at ease, then you start to become more relaxed in the present moment. This ability to be fully present in “the now” is the key to finding happiness, because we can only experience happiness in this present moment. We cannot feel an emotion in the past or the future, only now. Being present allows us to forget about the emotions of our past and the anxieties of the future, and enjoy simply being.

The practice of yoga asana, which is what most of us would recognise as yoga, is a means of using the unity of mind, body and breath to find joy in the present moment, as are meditation and mindfulness practices. Laughter yoga, however, takes a slightly different approach – there are no physical requirements or limitations to practicing laughter yoga, which makes it a universal option for people seeking a happiness practice but who are unable to practice hatha yoga.

Laughter_Club_India

Laughter Club India

 Scientific research has proven that laughter has a documented positive impact on mental and physical well-being, as a form of complementary preventative and therapeutic medicine. In March 1995 Dr Madan Kataria, a GP from Mumbai, India, was curious about the practice, having researched the benefits and discovered a man who claimed to have recovered from a terminal illness by using laughter yoga as his main form of therapy. Kataria began a laughter yoga group, starting with just 4 people and growing to over 50 people, encouraging his participants to release their inner childlike playfulness out of its learned confines. He started with sharing jokes and anecdotes, but the jokes soon became tired and old, and then he realised that if just one person was laughing, the others were more likely to laugh – not necessarily because the joke was funny, but because they enjoyed seeing another person laugh. As they say, laughter is contagious, and he realised that there didn’t need to be something to laugh ABOUT – the magic lay in the act of laughing itself. They started making up mime and other laughter exercises – doing normal daily activities in the group but laughing the whole time. Madan’s wife, Madhuri Kataria, suggested the addition of some breathing exercises in between the laughter exercises, which incorporates the yogic connection.

 The groups started small, then began to expand in size as people began to reap the benefits. The behaviour was undeniably strange, but the health benefits were real, so more and more laughter clubs started up. Nowadays there are thousands of laughter clubs around the world, and there are also a number of organisations encouraging laughter yoga as a means of finding peace and happiness, of developing a positive community, bringing together people from all walks of life, and healing physical and emotional illnesses.

We are happiest and when we are playing, and to laugh means to be in the present moment fully, free from anxieties and fears. We’ve all heard it before, and there’s nothing like a good belly laugh, but now we know: laughter really is the best medicine!

For more info:

Action for Happiness is a movement for positive social change, bringing together people from all walks of life who want to play a part in creating a happier society for everyone. actionforhappiness.org

R x Laughter develops & implements projects that examine the positive health benefits of entertainment to reduce or alleviate the trauma of serious physical and emotional issues of children and adults. www.rxlaughter.org

 www.laughteryoga.org is the site of Dr Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga.

INDESmed Walking Sticks / Canes – Fit for a King!

INDESmed-carbon-fiber-cane-King of Spain

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain

Our new INDESmed walking sticks have been given the royal thumbs up by the suave King Juan Carlos of Spain, who was seen sporting his carbon fiber cane when he recently visited Norway with Queen Sofia, his elegant wife, to attend the joint 80th birthday of King Harald and Queen Sonia.

King Juan Carlos looks dapper in his tuxedo and bow tie, accompanied by Queen Sofia who looked just as stylish in her long elegant dress and golden shoes which were complimented by her pashmina shawl in soft neutral tones. Unfortunately, the weather was not lending itself to the occasion and an umbrella was needed to protect them against the rain, which fortunately did not appear to dampen the occasion.

INDESmed baston carbono carbon walking cane stick black and orange tucan

INDESmed Carbon Fiber Walking Canes

INDESmed carbon fiber canes are ergonomically designed and incredibly lightweight and stylish. INDESmed are a Spanish company, created by a young and enthusiastic team of engineers specialising in bio-engineering and medical devices.

aluminium walking sicks

INDESmed Aluminium Walking Sticks

A range of aluminium walking sticks with ergonomic soft-grip handles are also available in four fun colours and 4 size options. INDESmed canes can also be customised upon request to the users size.

INDESmed have also designed a cool range of ‘No Click’ aluminium and carbon fiber crutches which can be seen HERE

You can find out  more about our fabulous range of stylish walking sticks and canes and other INDESmed products  HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspirational People – Maud Lewis, Folk Artist

Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis

Maud Lewis

The story of artist Maud Lewis is one that has touched the hearts of many, due to her facing of formidable challenges throughout the duration of her life, and creating art that embodies the simplicity and colour of a happy life in rural Nova Scotia in the 1900s. Through newspaper and magazine articles, as well as an upcoming film this year about her life and art, “Maudie”,  Maud has become a unlikely inspiration and sensation.

Maud suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), a type of arthritis that causes joint inflammation and stiffness in children, and it continued to plague her during her life, deteriorating as she aged. JRA is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body mistakenly identifies some of its own cells and tissues as foreign. The immune system, which normally helps to fight off harmful, foreign substances such as bacteria or viruses, begins to attack healthy cells and tissues. The result is inflammation — marked by redness, heat, pain, and swelling. Progressive rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints causing a painful swelling that can eventually result bone erosion and joint deformity.

The renovated house of Maud Lewis folk artist

Maud Lewis’s House

maud-lewis-house-inside

Inside Maud Lewis’s home

She lived a life that wouldn’t be considered enviable by many. She was born in 1903 in the town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and reportedly spent a solitary childhood, due to her physical differences to other children her age. Maud received her first art lessons from her mother, who taught her to hand-paint Christmas cards, which they then sold to neighbours, to bring in some money. She also learned to play the piano, but had to stop when her rheumatoid arthritis ravaged her fingers. Her physical disabilities brought her some early grief: classmates teased her cruelly, which may be one reason why she dropped out of school at 14, having completed only Grade 5. But it was reportedly a relatively happy childhood, until her parents died in the late 1930s, and her older brother, Charles, claimed the family inheritance and sold the family home where she had lived all her life.  About the same time, Maud fell pregnant and gave birth to a child. As Maud was an unmarried woman in her late 20s, the baby girl was put up for adoption and Maud never saw her again.

Not long after, Maud married Everett Lewis, a fish peddler, after responding to his advertisement for a housekeeper as a means to support herself. Upon moving in with him, she began to paint the entire house with colourful images such as butterflies, birds and flowers, which were nostalgic of Nova Scotia in the early 1900s, her happiest childhood days with her parents, and seemingly showing an inner contentment in her life with Lewis, despite reports that he scrounged away her supplies and income from her paintings. It eventuated that she wasn’t physically able to do the housekeeping, due to her arthritis, so she spent her days sitting by the window and painting. She brought in money with her artwork, with a sign on the road advertising “paintings for sale”, and Lewis kept the house. They seemingly lived a quiet, peaceful life.

Maud Lewis art

Maud Lewis Folk Art

Painting Maud Lewis disabled artist

Known as a folk artist, Maud was mostly self-taught, and lived most of her life in poverty without the money to buy painting supplies. She painted on the walls, on scraps of wood, card, plywood, the windowsills, anything she could get her hands on. She painted scenes and objects from her every day life – wildlife, flowers, trees, fishermen, simple colourful scenes that were filled with joy.

Maud passed away in 1970, having developed emphysema on top of rheumatoid arthritis in advancing years. Like many great artists before her, her work has received much higher acclaim after death, with some of her paintings now selling for over $125,000.

Maud Lewis painting arthritisMaud Lewis Folk art arthritis disability

Perhaps her art is experiencing a revival and has found a new audience in the present day because of our desire for simpler lives, for a return to nature, for creativity as an outlet for overstimulated brains in a world of technology. People are drawn to the naiveté and nostalgia of Maud’s work, and she serves as a timely reminder that a return to colourful childhood simplicity can be the greatest source of comfort in these modern times.

A film has been made about Maud Lewis and the trailer is available to watch below.

 

Opting into exercise improves knee osteoarthritis – Arthritis Digest Magazine

Arthritis-Digest-masthead-low-res-web

Choice is key when it comes to improving osteoarthritis symptoms through exercise, highlights a new study in Clinical Rheumatology.

A total of 69 older people with knee osteoarthritis were split into groups: a supervised community-based or unsupervised walking programme. Six months later, people who expressed a preference, either for the supervised or unsupervised programme, and who were assigned to their preferred choice of programme were more likely to continue with the walking sessions, compared to those who did not obtain their preferred choice of programme.

After nine months, people who had been given the group they wanted had improved levels of stiffness and function compared to those who did not get the group they wanted.

The researchers conclude:
“We show this approach promotes long-term adherence to a community-based walking program, while ensuring the maintenance of clinical benefits of walking, among older adults susceptible to avoid or not properly engage in physical activity.”

Keep up to date with the latest arthritis research news by subscribing to Arthritis Digest Magazine

Our Ponte Giulio Factory Visit for Accessible Bathroom Acccessories

Orvieto, Italy

Orvieto, Italy

We recently had the pleasure of being invited to visit the factory of Ponte Giulio, one of our accessible bathroom suppliers, which just happens to be in Italy! They didn’t have to ask us twice (well, actually they did because we didn’t think we had heard correctly the fist time)!

We flew out on the Thursday afternoon and were met at the airport by Marco and Massimo who then drove us the one and a half hour journey to their beautiful historic town of Orvieto, which is just north of Rome, built high on a cliff top, with five ancient gates in and out of the town. We arrived early evening and were immediately whisked off to dinner to a traditional Italian restaurant across the road from our hotel. We were joined by Enrico, the owner of Ponte Giulio who warmly welcomed us as friends, as well as business partners and we learnt more about the hugely successful family business which was started by his father, Emidio Carloni.

We were up early the next morning and taken to the factory which is a short distance from the main town of Orvieto and were initially driven around the property which is impressive in size. The business employs 50 people and is run as a warm and friendly family business. The founder Emidio is in his 80′s and retired but still visits the factory on a daily basis, keeping a watchful eye and we had the great pleasure of meeting him.

manufacturing plant for Ponte Giulio grab rails and shower seats

Ponte Giulio Factory

The morning was spent meeting the employees, touring the factory and watching the manufacturing processes, which in many cases were automated with robotics. The rails are bent, cut to size and polished by machinery but the anti-bacterial vinyl covering on the grab rails is completed with a manual process, to enable it to be applied to the rails.

Their very stylish acrylic basins are made manually, using one slab of an acrylic based material, which is then placed on top of a mould and gently smoothed into place by hand. They are then placed in a vacuumed environment to complete the process and to set the acrylic to a hard finish.  The acrylic basins are a show stopper, very contemporary, smooth and elegant, they are pore free, easy to maintain, with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Some basins have an integral grab bar at the front which can provide extra stability for the user, if they are unsteady on their feet or a point to pull against for a wheelchair user to manoeuvre themselves under the basin. The rail can also be used as a towel or flannel rail.  The basins do not have an overflow and so the drain is free flowing, but an overflow can easily be added upon request.

grab rails shower seat and sink

Ponte Giulio Range

We broke at lunchtime with a quick dash into town for a delicious lunch of mixed seafood and roasted vegetables and a glass of their very special Ovieto Classico wine, which is very easy on the palate. We were then treated to the stunning panoramic view of Orvieto (see image top of page) on our way back to the factory, to discuss business and to look at their research and development area and exciting new products in the pipeline. Ponte Giulio trade internationally with distributors in many countries, and have a strong presence in the  U.S.A. The UK is a relatively new area for them and so it was interesting to discuss the opportunities that are available for us both here in the UK.

Outside the Ponte Giulio factory in Italy

Factory visit Ponte Giulio

At the end of the day, we said our thanks and farewells to Enrico (above centre) and arranged to meet Marco Ragno (above right) for dinner. The food in Orvieto is heavenly; cake, fruit, cured meats and cheese, bread and croissants for breakfast. We loved the antipasti selection for cured meats, cheese, olives and bruschetta. The other delights that we sampled were wild boar, rabbit kebabs, pasta with hare, seafood , fried chickpea pancakes ( these were amazing) and fish of the day with olives, cherry tomatoes, oranges  and dauphin potatoes. This was our last meal and the powerful taste of the sweet oranges stayed with me all the way back to the UK!

Orvieto food

Orvieto food

As a wheelchair user, I did have slight trepidation in staying in Orvieto, with the one in 4 hills and cobbled streets, but I took my Freewheel with me and all was good. We had the weekend to explore the town which is full of shops, cafes, restaurants and so much history. The Duomo stands proudly at the top of the town, towering majestically over Orvieto.

Italian cathedral / Duomo Orvieto

Duomo Orvieto

The shops offered an interesting array of designer leather bags, ceramics and sculptures, olive wood homewares and small fashion boutiques, which made it very easy to wander around and take in the atmosphere. It was also lovely to sit in the sunshine and enjoy a coffee and people watch.

streets of Orvieto

Streets of Orvieto

Just before we left, we happened to spot a lady walking past with an OMHU cane. OMHU was then bought by Sabi, who re branded the canes. designed2enable are the UK sales agents for Sabi canes and pill boxes ( as we also were for OMHU),  so it was a real treat for us to see our canes in use in the small town of Orvieto. The lady was visiting all the way from Hawaii and she kindly let us take a photo – see below, and said how much she loved her cane.

Hawaii lady OMHU cane Orvieto

Lady with an OMHU/Sabi Cane

Sadly our time came to an end on Sunday afternoon and Massimo drove us back to the airport for our journey home. Needless to say it was typically cold and raining when we landed. Boo hoo!

Trees Please – Forest Bathing for Health & Wellbeing

John M forest 3

image: John Mundy @golfphotostore

Shinrin-Yoku is the medicine of simply being in the forest. As a remedial tonic to the over-stimulation of modern life, this practice of “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”, of taking a walk, breathing in the fresh air, opening our senses and feeling contact with the earth and our natural surroundings has become a cornerstone of preventative health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

What kind of sickness can be cured from walking in the woods? An age old remedy to get some colour in your cheeks, as Grandma would say, it’s now scientifically proven that getting outside can help you heal and increase your vitality. We all recognise that we feel better and generally more alive when we step away from our technology and screens for an hour (or a whole day) and just practice being mindful of our surroundings, opening our senses of smell, sight, sound, hearing, taste. We have more energy, we feel more inspired, more in touch with our surroundings, we make healthier choices, and we develop a closer connection to the natural world around us, more aware of how our individual choices have an impact on our environment.

John M forest 8

Image: John Mundy @golfphotostore

In the last several decades there have been a number of scientific studies on the healing effects of simply being in wild and natural areas. It is no coincidence that this comes at a time when the popularity of outdoor adventure, environmental consciousness, adventure tourism, and alternative therapies such as wilderness therapy for troubled or at-risk youths are increasing ten-fold. A number of organisations are creating programs incorporating mindfulness meditation, hiking, just being outside. People are recognising the importance of our natural world to the health of our internal landscapes. This scientific research proves that our plants and trees are designed to heal. There is an incredible life-supporting synergy and cycle in the natural world, and forest therapy places us as humans amongst this healing environment. Many trees give off organic compounds which support our ‘natural killer’ cells – an integral part of our immune system’s way of fighting off cancer.

Other benefits of spending time in nature? Reduced stress, better sleep, increased recovery from illness, reduced blood pressure, improved mood, increase in ability to focus on one thing at a time, more energy. Opening our senses to nature also develops our intuition –  we learn to contact the world around us in new ways and in turn listen to what our bodies are telling us – messages that can be clouded by technology, mixed messages and distraction. When you spend too long in the city and all you want is to lie in the park, this is your cells sending you a message about what it needs. Other long term benefits on a more personal level include better relationships, increased flow of life force energy, overall increased happiness, a better understanding of the land on which we live, and the condition of our natural environment.

john M forest 1

Image: John Mundy @golfphotostore

One of the most significant problems in our age of connection is that, ironically, we are becoming more and more disconnected from reality. We develop relationships over social media rather than in person, we hide behind our technology, we don’t understand that our actions have a knock-on effect in the world. The more technologically wired we are, the more isolated we become, to the extent that we don’t need to leave our house all day. We order food online, we talk to our friends online, we work online, we shop online, we entertain ourselves online.  By stepping out of our homes, walking into the forest, we are aligning ourselves with nature and taking a step towards healing the chronic modern illness of disconnection.

And the idea, in returning to nature, is not to achieve anything, which is exactly the opposite of the demands of our daily lives. We are conditioned to always be achieving, working towards something. In the forest, Forest Bathing masters do nothing, and gain illumination. As Einstein wisely proclaimed,

“I think 99 times, and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me”.

So just be with the trees –  no need to count your steps, track your calories – just sit, or meander around, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything.

John M forest 7

Image: John Mundy @golfphotostore

The healing power of nature isn’t a new scientific discovery. John Muir, also known as “John of the Mountains”, an American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States, recognised this as early as the 1800s. He wrote “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” So we’ve known it for centuries, but age-old wisdom brings new significance in modern times, as a remedy for modern illness.

And on that note, I’m going to step away from my computer and get back to nature, back to where I came from.

You didn’t come into this world.
You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.
You are not a stranger here.” 
Alan Watts

100 Best Blogs for Disabled People and Carers

 3d Grandpa with his walking frame works online on laptop

Blogging is a great way to share stories, information, personal experiences and practical advice from all corners of the world. It can bring people together in remarkable ways, particularly when the article is uplifting, inspiring or even when they touch a nerve and are hard to read for their brutal honesty.

When a blog is written about something personal, such as dealing with a medical condition or life changing experience, good or bad, it gives the reader an insight into an area that they may not have experienced themselves and by sharing the information, it gives others a greater understanding of the issues and the challenges faced.

In many cases, disability can be isolating and to read a blog written by someone that has had a shared medical condition or disability and to see how they are dealing with it can be hugely reassuring, just to realise that you are not alone. For family, friends and carers, it can also provide greater understanding for the person they care for and the physical and emotional impact of their condition, that they might otherwise find difficult to discuss.

Blogs can also be a great resource for a host of providers, such as travel, holiday accommodation, places to go and things to do, reviews on products and services which can be invaluable.

We were recently contacted by StairliftsReviews, informing us that we have been included in their listing of the 100 Best Blogs for Disabled People and Carers, which of course, we were delighted with  - we are number 19 in the list. The list has some really inspiring blogs, showing you how much some of these bloggers have achieved, along with a whole range of practical advice from finance to travel. So enjoy reading and perhaps follow your favourites to keep up to date with what they are doing.

 

 

Product News: Flipstick Foldaway Adjustable Walking Stick

Flipstick Folding Adjustable stick with seat

Flipstick in Dayglo Pink

Flipstick could become your perfect travelling companion, taking the strain when your legs are tired or you need a short rest.  Whether you are standing in a queue, waiting for a bus or enjoying an outdoor festival or concert, Flipstick is there to support you.

The comfortable walking cane handle doubles as a seat and the whole unit fits easily into the carry bag that is supplied when you purchase your Flipstick. The rubber-grip ferrule is suitable for indoor and outdoor use and the seat/handle is available in either stunning dayglo pink, navy blue or black.

Flipstick folding adjustable walking cane with seat

Flipstick Navy Blue

Folding Adjustable Flipstick walking stick with seat black

Flipstick Black

The shaft of the stick is made from aluminium and is therefore strong and sturdy and there is the facility to adjust the height of the stick from 87.6cm to 91.5 cm, which make this a great gift –  idea for friends or family. Flipstick is easy to use, when the cane is released from the bag, it almost assembles itself for you.

You can read more HERE

Guest post: CRG Homecare Services – Improving Quality of Life for Disabled People

CRG logo

How Homecare Services Can Improve Quality of Life for Disabled People

Living with a disability can make everyday tasks challenging. Regular daily routines can be strenuous or tricky – things like getting dressed in the morning, cooking meals, and bathing might not be possible without help.

For many disabled people, homecare provides the ideal solution, allowing them to retain much of their independence while also benefiting from the support and aid of a care worker.

Regular Support When It Is Needed

The nature of homecare means that it can be adapted specifically to suit individual needs. The person may only require help on a short-term basis, such as once a week to do their grocery shopping or cleaning; or they might benefit from more regular care at specific times of the day, such as mornings or mealtimes.

Unlike in supported living environments, homecare provides continuous one-to-one attention and support for a person at a time of their choosing, ensuring personalised care as and when it is needed. Care workers can dedicate their full attention to the individual’s needs, around a structure that works for them.

An important part of a care worker’s role is to build a strong relationship with the people they visit. As such, visits are designed not only to support individuals and relieve the pressures of their disabilities, but also to offer a friendly face and some companionship. This can be especially good if the individual can’t leave the house regularly to visit friends and family.

CRG Homecare Services

The Little Home Comforts

One of the major benefits of homecare is that it lets individuals still enjoy the small comforts of living in their own homes. They don’t have to adjust to an unfamiliar environment or community, and they don’t have to move away from their family and friends. Whether living with a permanent or temporary disability, continuing to live at home can be far more beneficial for the individual’s health and happiness, because they stay among their treasured possessions and fond memories.

With various technological advances and creations, it is now easier than ever to find ways to accommodate disabilities. There are plenty of gadgets that can be fitted into homes, making various tasks far easier, especially during the times when care workers are absent. These home modifications can support mobility and accessibility, such as getting up and down the stairs or navigating the bathroom.

Installing simple but effective mechanisms such as bathroom grab rails, bath steps or shower seats can also make life much easier for disabled and vulnerable people, ensuring that they can remain independent for longer.

Safety in Case of Accidents

When living with a disability, accidents can easily happen. Homecare offers that extra peace of mind in the case of accidents or emergencies. The individual can feel secure and safe in their own home by having access to care and support should they need it. People can also enjoy the benefits of around-the-clock care if they need that intensive level of support.

Modifying a home to meet accessibility needs can help to prevent accidents, but the individual may want to also consider fitting personal fall and panic alarms. This way, if something does happen, they can rest assured that a carer will be able to reach them, as these systems are constantly monitored.

Real Life: How Homecare Has Helped Jane

Jane is 82 years old and a widow with no children. During the last two years, she has started to struggle with her mobility, resulting in her having to walk with a stick. She was struggling to complete basic daily tasks, and became increasingly house bound because of the pain in her hips, and she feels unsteady on her walking stick.

She started to struggle with basic personal care and was going for days without showering. Being a proud woman, she hid this from her friends and neighbours. She was becoming more isolated and reliant upon a neighbour and her nephew and niece to get her shopping. As people were helping with her shopping, she felt it an imposition to ask for someone to take her out to lunch or to do the shopping with her, so she just stayed at home. When her surgeon suggested a hip replacement she decided to go for it, in the hope that it would improve her general health and wellbeing. She was admitted to hospital in quite a poor state of personal hygiene.

Once the operation had taken place, and plans were being made for her discharge, a hospital social worker came to see her. The nurse who had admitted Jane had raised concerns about self-neglect, and questioned Jane’s ability to go home and continue to live unaided. The hospital social worker suggested that it was time to get some help or think about moving into a care home – at this suggestion Jane broke down. She explained to the social worker that she was struggling to get washed and dressed and hadn’t been able to change her bedding in over a month. They discussed the options available to Jane, who agreed to give home care a try. It was agreed that Jane would have three visits a day to begin with, and four hours for shopping and cleaning the house.

Jane went home and CRG went round to meet her to formulate a person-centred care plan, with a re-enablement focus, to try and get some independence back. Jane worked well with her care workers and built up a great rapport with them. At the end of the six-week period, Jane’s confidence had been rebuilt and she was able to reduce to two calls a day and two hours of shopping and cleaning assistance per week. She is now able to keep on top of cleaning the house, and only needs assistance with changing the bedding, washing it and remaking the bed. Instead of someone going for her shopping, Jane and her care worker go out in a taxi to the supermarket, have a cup of tea and a scone in a café, and then go back and put the shopping away.

Without this support, Jane would either have continued to struggle and her decline would have been greater, or she would have ended up going into residential care. By her own admission, Jane now has a new lease of life and looks forward to seeing her care workers every day, and she especially looks forward to her weekly outing.

CRG Homecare Services 2

 Homecare Can Ease Your Disability

Disabled people needn’t struggle alone. Homecare offers a flexible way for disabled people to receive support and still enjoy the independence of living in their own homes. Whatever the level of care needed, care plans can be adapted to suit the individual.

CRG Homecare provides domiciliary care and supported living services, allowing vulnerable people to remain a level of independence in their own homes. Established in 2000, the company opened its first branch and delivered homecare services to vulnerable adults and children in St Helens, Merseyside. Since then the organisation has grown tremendously, now delivering one million hours of homecare services from 17 branches located across the UK, including Lancashire, London, the Midlands, Tyneside and Yorkshire.

designed2enable.co.uk provides a wide range of stylish mobility products and an enviable range of accessible bathroom accessories to help with independent living.

Design Museum – New Old Exhibition

Pop up exhibition on ageing

Photography by Luke Hayes

We recently had the pleasure of attending this intriguing pop-up exhibition at the new home of the London Design Museum in Kensington. London always poses a challenge for us in finding Blue Badge parking for my wheelchair, but we were fortunate on this occasion when a quick call to the museum before we left, allowed us to park right outside the door. They do not have dedicated parking for Blue Badge card holders and when we arrived, there was a little confusion with security but in the end, they kindly let us park.

The New Old exhibition is free admission and kept us busy for a few hours. Our sixteen year old daughter also came with us and she seemed to enjoy the experience too. The exhibition rethinks the design approach to ageing, and looks at how design can help the ageing population lead fuller, happier, healthier and more rewarding lives. The exhibition is Curated by Jeremy Myerson, and Helen Hamlyn, Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art.

The exhibition is organised into six sections – Ageing, Identity, Home, Community, Working and Mobility. Each section features a special design commission by a leading designer or design team, creating new solutions for demographic change as well as addressing the challenges of age.

There were a few activities, which encouraged you to participate in their research. One invites you to complete a card, stating your age and then what age that you considered people to be ‘old’, and any comments to support your thinking. You then displayed your card on a huge board with hooks for all to read. It was a really interesting exercise and you were able to read the cards and opinions of others. It did seem that the younger you were, the lower the age that you predicted old age to begin. It will be interesting to hear the results!

Scooter For life with shopping trolley

Scooter for Life

New Old showcases concept designs such as Scooter For Life by PriestmanGoode which encourages people to stay active for longer. The fun modern design is critical to dispel the stigma of ageing.

illustration of scooter for life

Credit: PriestmanGoode

Paro, a soft robotic interactive therapy toy was also on display, designed by Takanori Shibata of the Intelligent System Research Institute of Japan. Paro is widely recognised as one of the most therapeutic devices in the world, helping comfort older people with dementia.  Paro moves and behaves like a normal animal, it vibrates and winks and responds to being stroked. People with dementia form an attachment to it for comfort and companionship. The robotics industry is being fuelled by the Japanese, who have not allowed migrants into their country and now have an overwhelming problem of an ageing population with no-one to care for them.

Paro robotic seal dementia

Paro Robotic Seal

Arthritis Research UK are one of the sponsors of the exhibition and it is estimated that around 10 million people in the UK are affected by arthritis or related conditions and the number climbs as the population ages. Arthritis Research UK is not just active in supporting medical research for breakthrough treatments, but also encouraging  innovative design to meet the daily living needs of people with arthritis. The exhibition showcased some award winning products such as the Ezi-Plug which aids the ease of use for people with arthritis in their hands, also for those with sight loss. The socket switches off automatically when the plug is removed

Plug socket for arthritis

Award winning Ezi-Plug

Another design being exhibited was the Handy Fasteners, a set of magnetic buttons that can be retro-fitted to any garment, helpful for anyone with arthritis, parkinson’s disease and many other related or neurological conditions.

Maintaining mobility, social inclusion, universal design and adaptable housing are all vital for an ageing population and so the exhibition looks at the progress other countries are making in this area which may provide working models for the UK to follow.

The New Old Exhibition looks at how the Japanese transport system has set new standards in universal design when it opened in 2005 following ten years of development. Its spaces and services are wheelchair friendly and each station has its own colour, wall material and and unique symbol to help people with cognitive impairment.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian government has an ambitious goal to make the country more age-friendly and to better harness the contribution that older people can make to society. The exhibition shows examples of universal design projects in action in Norway, from healthcare to transport, and public space to learning.

As our population ages, the world really needs to work together, sharing ideas and experiments, to make our individual countries a more welcoming age-friendly space for the elderly. This will ensure that our older people remain independent, whether through design, technology or social inclusion. The New Old exhibition is really worth a visit to see the progress, concepts and ideas that are being explored and in many cases already implemented as a vision for the future.

New Old exhibition is at the London Design Museum, running until the 19th February 2017.