Category Archives: Ageing

Guest Blog: The History Behind The Bidet by Ponte Giulio

Tall Bidet for the elderly

Ponte Giulio Bidet

The bidet. A strange object shaped like a guitar

Some countries are introducing it in private homes (Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil) others such as Japan, already use it but integrated with the WC.

A journalist of an important British network stressed the utility of the bidet. The article she wrote was so successful that it led to a survey, where 30% of participants declared they had used it when on holiday. Many of those Britons though, never had the idea of having the bidet in their own home and many others, probably the remaining 70% of them, never even thought to use it even on holiday, considering it as a strange object and not very useful.

But why? The answer has historic reasons. The history of bidet and its diffusion are old and controversial. The name dates back to ponies, or better the position you adopt to ride it.

Going back to the history of bidet, the first time we came across it was in France, towards the end of XVII century and the beginning of the XVIII century. It’s possible inventor, Christophe Des Rosiers, installed it in the home of the French royal family, even though it was never used.

Only during the second half of 1700 the Queen of Naples, Maria Carolina D’Asburgo-Lorena wanted one in her private bathroom at the Caserta palace.

After the unification of Italy, the officials of the Savoys had to draw an inventory of the objects in the Palace and when seeing the bidet they described it as an “object for an unknown use and shaped like a guitar”.

During the early years of 1900, with the spread of water pipes inside private homes, the bidet along with the WC moved from the bedroom, where it used to be placed, to the bathroom.

As for the diffusion of the bidet it is used only in a few countries. Italy tops the chart, with 97% of its population using it according to a 1995 survey, followed by Portugal with 92%, France 42%, Germany 6% and the UK with 3% of users.

Some countries such as the USA even consider the bidet improper. It seems the first time Americans came across the bidet was in brothels during the Second World War, so they associate it to something weird and inappropriate.

Many non Italians admit having used it on holiday even for unusual purposes – fish tank, ice holder, shoes holder or dish washer – some countries are beginning to introduce it in their private homes (Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil) while others such as Japan, use a version of it which integrates it with the WC in private homes and hotels.

Too few people still value the utility of the bidet in our opinion. It is especially handy for the elderly, who have difficulty in taking a shower and could use the bidet and the washbasins as an alternative. The same applies to people with motion difficulties.

Ponte Giulio also offer the bidet among its wide selection of products. We offer higher bidets, 500 millimetres, to make it easier to use by non self-sufficient or aged people. Together with the hygiene, comfort and safety is granted with the provision of Ponte Giulio grab rails next to the bidet.

We are sure that little by little many more people in different countries will value the benefits of the bidet and will start using it.

This article has been supplied by our Italian partners Ponte Giulio,

designed2enable do not currently stock Ponte Giulio Bidets, but inquiries are welcome, via our contact page 

 

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

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.

 

 

Product news: Safety Gadgets for Walking Sticks

Clip on torch light for a walking stick / cane

Torch Light for a Walking Stick / Cane

Our two new handy, safety gadgets for walking stick users are very useful for fall prevention.

If you are unsteady on your feet and use a walking stick or cane, it can be too easy to trip up in the dark.  A  torch light that can be attached to your cane can be a great asset, particularly in the middle of the night when you need to get to the toilet and you don’t want to wake the whole house! Simply clip on the torch light and press the top button when you need to light your way.

Wall hung walking cane holder

DropMeNot Walking Stick / Cane and Crutch Holder

Most walking sticks tend to have the frustrating habit of falling over when you rest them up against something. Retrieving a stick from the floor can be very difficult and dangerous for the user – often resulting in a fall.

Canes that have an inbuilt grip in the handle, like the Sabi canes or the Top & Derby canes, can be safely propped up against a wall, but other canes may need a DropMeNot walking stick holder, a relatively new device, which can be secured to any wall around the home, to hold a walking stick or crutch when it is not needed. The holder can be positioned next to a favourite chair or by the bed, where it will be regularly needed.

For further information on our walking stick and canes and our complete product range visit our shop at designed2enable.co.uk #StayActiveWith Style

 

Robots as Companions and Carers

Robots for care homes

Robots programmed to help elderly residents in care homes

The idea of robots as companions, housemates or therapists is something we imagined as children when the future seemed very distant, but 2016 is apparently the future, and here they are.

ENRICHME (ENabling Robot and assisted living environment for Independent Care and Health Monitoring of the Elderly) is an international collaboration involving the University of Lincoln in the UK. They have developed a range of robots specifically for use inside the homes of the aged community, to help them maintain health and wellbeing – both mental and physical.

The robots are being integrated to work with ‘smart home’ technology, to provide 24-7 feedback to carers and health professionals from the inside of the person’s home. The robots are currently being used mainly as a big mobile phone or mobile assistance – giving reminders to take medications, locating lost items around the house, and enabling video chat with family and friends so that members of the elderly community are able to stay in touch with people via modern communication.

Ongoing developmental research is gathering data on how effective these robots are for the elderly community, but early research shows that they are of particular benefit to people with mild cognitive impairments, such as the early symptoms of the onset of dementia, but with bodies that are still physically able and healthy.

The European Research Project ‘Robot-Era’ recently concluded the world’s largest real-life trial of robot aides for the elderly. The four year trial was funded by Apple suppliers, Robotech and the European Commission, and are said to be ready to be released for commercial sales in 2017.

One of the biggest drives behind developing robotic care for elderly communities is to reduce strain on the healthcare system and care staffing. Mario, a European company developing robotics for elderly care, funded by the European Commission, intends to commercialise cost-effective robots by 2018 that healthcare providers can integrate into the care system, which benefits both the patient and the system.

Robot lifting patient

Robot being used in healthcare to lift patients

The way to commercialise the robots and get them into healthcare facilities is to prove that they are effective at improving senior quality of life, and at the same time reduce the cost of caring. There is  a large stigma attached to the idea of robots in our home, probably spurred by science fiction films of robots taking over the human population and controlling us. The care industry and robotics industry have work to do to get people to realise that robots are not to completely remove human interactions, but rather to complement them, reduce the load on carers to the elderly, and improve quality of life, giving peace of mind to their families in case of emergency. Mario doesn’t consider robotics an answer to everything, but if it can help elderly people to stay safe and comfortable in their own homes for longer, and at a more affordable cost, isn’t that a great thing?

paro robotic seal for elderly

Paro robotic seal for elderly and dementia patients

Another smaller-scale robot that has been well-received in care homes recently is Paro, a robotic seal. In studies, Paro has traditionally been brought to nursing homes where older people (often suffering from dementia or mental decline) hold the robot and interact with it. Positive effects include a general improvement in mood and reduction in depression. And Paro is really cute!

Of course, there are many mixed feelings, including some hilarious opinionated words from the ageing community. An article in the Guardian cites robot care for the elderly as “another way of dying miserably”. Europe’s Mobiserv project has been researching a “social companion robot” called Nadine, to encourage old people to eat healthily, exercise, and let them know when they haven’t spoken to anyone in a while – as if they hadn’t noticed!

The article ends with a reference to our ingrained fear of robots taking over the world; “who cares if Nadine and her kind go haywire and get rid of us? Will the other humans even notice?”

Robotic advancements are happening, and I suppose as elderly people, children or relatives of those elderly people, all we can do is ensure that the proper level of care and a degree of compassion is  a part of these “companion” machines. But is that worse? If they have…. feelings? Will they help themselves to cups of tea and biscuits from the pantry? Will they leave the toilet seat up? Only time will tell.

Product News – Blys™ Warm Night Light for Adults

blys warm glow night light for adults and helpful with dementia

Blys Warm Nightlight for adults

As the nights are drawing in and the mornings and evenings are darker for longer, the Blys™ Warm Night Light is a handy device, which provides comfort during the dark hours. Blys™emits a soft comforting glow of light in the bedroom which, on awakening provides a focus in the room and reassurance for anyone who is elderly or who suffers from sleep anxiety, insomnia or dementia.

During the night, Blys™ softly glows with a low level light which allows uninterrupted sleep. Upon awakening, there is no need to switch on the main bedroom light as the Blys™ table top light is sufficient to allow spectacles, water glass, alarm clock and other items to be identified.

blys-controls-72dpi

Touch panel controls for dimming the night light

The night light is controlled by a simple touch panel on the side of the tray. Hand contact anywhere along the main edge of the unit switches it on or off, and the brightness can be adjusted by touching two small ‘bright’ and ‘dim’ zones. Blys™ remembers its previous light setting when it’s switched off. There is no problem with it being left on all day as it uses very low energy and the unit itself does not get hot, which is another benefit when it is being used by someone with dementia. The top surface that emits the warm glow is scratch resistant and spill proof so there is no need to worry if you spill your drink on it.

The benefits of Blys™ goes further than it just being a night light. Often the elderly prefer to sleep with the light on due to anxiety, but usual household lighting left on for sleep can promote ill -temper and poor health, which can in turn accelerate dementia.  The focussed comfort and security of Blys™ helps with spacial awareness and it can reduce falls and injury.

Winner of the UK Building Better Healthcare Award for Best Furniture Project, the Blys™ concept is derived from findings of ‘SomnIA’; a four year research programme undertaken by a consortium of universities as part of the ‘New Dynamics of Ageing’ initiative. The main research partner was the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (now called Designability).

Blys™ is a practical, sleek looking bedroom accessory that may help those with insomnia and even young children who need the comfort of a light to settle them to sleep.

More information on the Blys™ Night Light for adults and the elderly can be found HERE

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Fit And Active in Retirement

Petanque players

There are a number of inspirational older people in my life, who have managed to stay fit, healthy and active into their later years. Many of them simply attribute “keeping busy” as their long-living secrets, maintaining social engagements and responsibilities in a community, giving each day purpose and structure. Our physical health is directly correlated with our mental health – if we feel needed, important, and positive about things, our body is naturally happier, and works to keep up and maintain mobility. Getting together with others for physical activity can be the best way to get endorphins moving through the body, boosting physical and mental energy, increasing mood, and engaging in social interaction.

So, you want to get physical, or stay physical, as you move into later years. What are the best options for heart health, joint mobility, flexibility, strength, and getting out of your head and into your body?

 Walking /Rambling

Check with your local community organisers about local walking groups, weekend rambler gatherings, or perhaps just talk to your friends or neighbours about getting together a casual walking group a couple of times a week. Walking is wonderful for heart health, maintaining healthy weight, developing strength in the legs, promoting healthy circulation and can be a nice time to chat with your walking buddies. It’s also very invigorating for us mentally to be amongst nature, fresh air and in tune with our surroundings. Plus, if you have a dog, they will be a great advocate for this one!

Yoga

There is a vast range in styles of yoga, and one style will be great for one person, and not so great for the next. As an individual, you need to find the style that works for you. For older bodies, a slower, more restorative style may be the best option, with not too much dynamic flow.

  • Iyengar Yoga is a tradition of yoga strongly focussed on alignment, and uses props and tools to make each pose more accessible. Classes tend to move at a slower pace, working slowly into the pose using the assistance of props such as blocks, straps, cushions and the helping hand of  a teacher. This style of yoga is all about making each pose accessible to you – not trying to bend you into a certain shape.

  • Hatha Yoga is the classical foundation of yoga, based on a series of asana (poses) that focus on the breath, awareness, and moving mindfully. There are many different levels of hatha yoga, and teachers will often run 6-8 week beginners courses, moving through the practices mindfully and offering adjustments and assistance to students. This can be a great option for bodies with a lot of tightness – you don’t have to move too quickly, in fact, its better to slow down and observe the sensations.

  • Yin/ Restorative Yoga is a powerful, deeply restful style of yoga where you navigate into the pose, using bolsters, cushions, blocks and straps to find your way in, and then hold the pose for anywhere from 3-10 minutes, slowly transitioning to the next. The idea is to completely surrender into each pose, taking strain off the muscles and accessing deep physical and emotional tissue to release tightness in the body and the mind. This is a wonderful option for stiff bodies, allowing time to go deeply into a pose without placing strain on the joints or overexerting  the heart.

Swimming/ Water Aerobics

Swimming is a great low-impact option for exercise – good for improving and maintaining cardiovascular fitness without putting strain on the joints. Start slow with a few laps, and work your way up. Another good option is group exercise water fitness, such as water aerobics or aqua jogging, which involves wearing an flotation belt and walking up and down the pool, much like walking outside, but low impact, and wonderful for toning the legs and abdomen. It can also help to improve balance and prevent falls. Check with your local pool about swimming times and groups exercise schedules.

Dance/ Aerobics

Get the heart rate up, laugh at yourself and your friends, and develop a greater sense of bodily awareness and confidence in movement. An excellent cardio workout to maintain heart health, strengthening and toning for the body, and an inevitable mood lifter – try a zumba class at your local community centre. Dance and aerobics develops rhythm, and core strength which helps to maintain balance.

Boules

Throwing  or rolling big balls to hit little balls. Boules is  a wide category, including games such as lawn bowling and petanque. Beyond the concentration, skill and tactics required, boules forces all the muscles to work against resistance in order to ensure the balance and stability of the lower body. And despite a laid-back rhythm, and the preconceived idea that boules is only for the over-60s, you can burn up to 180 calories in an hour, making it a solid workout. A fun, social game, with a little heat of competition to keep you on your toes.

Bridge

A mentally challenging game involving memory, visualisation and concentration, which is discovered to be effective in preventing the onset of mental disorders such  as depression and Alzheimer’s. Much like the satisfaction of completing a cryptic crossword, bridge provides an intellectual challenge and problem-solving satisfaction, leaving the player on a mental high with a sense of achievement. Even better if it is repeated regularly on a weekly basis, providing social and intellectual stimulation.

Volunteering

Get out of the house and into the community. Volunteering is a good way to get involved in a project or cause close to your heart, develop your sense of purpose and self worth, and meet new people. Helping at an animal shelter, organising community events, or helping people in need, are just a selection of volunteer projects. Think about something you feel passionately about, and get involved in something you can call your “passion project”.

This is just a selection of ideas – check with your local community organisers and fitness centres and see what they have to offer. If all else fails, taking a regular walk in the fresh air and taking on the challenge of a crossword or sudoku in the daily newspaper  is a simple and effective way to stimulate your mental and physical body.