Tag Archives: Older people

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.

How To Measure Your Walking Stick / Cane

Top & Derby walking stick stylish

Top & Derby Chatfield Canes

When buying a new cane or walking stick, you need to ensure that you are buying the correct size. Buying the wrong sized cane can result in a stressed shoulder or elbow joint. The length of the walking stick is not determined by your height, but by the distance from your wrist joint to the floor. You will find that the correct length of walking stick will be more comfortable and more efficient when you use it.

When sizing your cane, it is best to have someone to help you.  Put on a pair of shoes that you most frequently wear and stand upright, letting your arm hang loosely by your side, with your arm very slightly bent. The person helping you should then measure the distance from the floor up to your wrist joint. This measurement will determine the ideal length of cane for you. If you are purchasing a cane that is pre-cut in various size options and your measurement falls between two sizes, we recommend purchasing the cane that is the size above your measurement.

size-guide-for-top-derby-walking-sticks

Sizing guide for walking stick measurement

If you have bought a cane to cut to size yourself, again, having a friend to help measure the size would be helpful. In this case, remove the ferrule and turn the cane upside down, so that the handle is resting on the floor and measure up to the wrist joint and with a piece of chalk or a pencil, make a mark on the shaft of the cane at this point. You will need to factor in the measurement of the ferrule and then using a small saw,  cut the cane to customise it to your size. You can then replace the ferrule onto the end of the cane.

If you already have a cane that you feel is the perfect height for you, then simply measure the length from the bottom of the cane to the top of the handle and repeat as above.

If you are buying a walking stick as a gift for someone and you are unsure of the length of walking stick to buy, an adjustable height walking stick would be the safest option and these are widely available as either a telescopic/height adjustable walking stick or a folding height adjustable walking stick.

folding adjustable walking stick black

Flexyfoot folding height adjustable walking stick

A new cane need not be dull, if you purchase one that has some style or flair it can be used as a fashion statement, just like a pair of trendy glasses that says something about who you are.  So be brave and bold and let your cane say something about who you are #StayActiveWithStyle.

colourful stylish funky canes

Sabi Classic Canes

At designed2enable, we have an enviable collection of stylish, trendy, funky and contemporary walking sticks and canes that will help you stand out from the crowd. Click HERE for our full range.

 

 

Iris Apfel, Style Icon

4e37cfaa-3606-11e5-_949112b

image credit: thetimes.co.uk

Iris Apfel first came onto our radar a few years ago when she was featured on Advanced Style Blog. At the grand age of 94, most people are slowing down in life but Iris is an incredible woman who has become a ‘geriatric starlet’, known for her iconic style and creative brilliance.

A former interior designer, Iris and her husband Carl Apfel; a textile merchant who died earlier this year, landed a contract consulting on the interiors for the White House and were well known within the New York design circles.

815b7406-029d-43fb-b486-d514e2f7ce6d-2060x1236

Iris & her husband Carl. Image: Rex

Her career as an interior designer and textile creator took her around the world. Through her travels to the far corners of the world, she collected her eclectic mix of vintage and designer clothes and costume jewellery which was exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.  This exhibition was a turning point in her career. Apfel styled the show herself and through word of mouth became a new fashion sensation, more or less overnight.

photo_02 (1)

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Iris is celebrated in countless style magazines covers and insists that her appeal is due to the glamour that is missing in life these days and the fact that people like her because she is different. She is a master at mixing something cheap with something chic and manages to create her own style. She engages with all sorts of people, of all ages, from all walks of life and shares with them her excitement about living.

Loved for her no-nonsense attitude, she is well known for her ‘Irisisms’ where she shares her pearls of wisdom and her style inspiration:

“Fashion you can buy, but style you possess”

“When you don’t dress like everyone else, you don’t have to think like everyone else”

“I don’t see anything wrong with a wrinkle. It’s kind of a badge of courage”

“There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self expression and above all, attitude”

This year has seen the launch of Iris, a documentary film about Apfel’s life. Iris is living proof that keeping active is the key to ageing gracefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Product News – Folding Walking Sticks by Classic Canes

Camel Check folding walking stick

Folding Camel Check Cane

Folding canes are a great solution for when you need to keep your walking stick to hand but also like to pop it away out of sight when it is not required.

Our new range of women’s folding sticks by Classic Canes are real fashion statements, designed to co-ordinate with many an outfit.  Lightweight, attractive and height adjustable, the folding canes can be stowed away discreetly when in a restaurant or on a plane and will fit neatly into your bag or glove box of your car for when you need it.

Multi Tartan folding walking stick

Multi Tartan folding cane

The traditional derby handle offers excellent support to the hand as it can slip neither forward or back and may be popped over your arm when not in use. The sides of the handle are rounded for comfort and the strong, aluminium shaft folds neatly into four sections.

Floral black folding walking stick

Floral black folding cane

The adjustable height of these canes make them a safe, stylish, considerate and affordable gift for family and friends.

You can see our full range of walking sticks here

 

How Should We Care For Our Ageing And Disabled Population?

The Alf Morris Lecture Logo Colour 7

Many of us know what it is to be older, or to have a disability, because it has happened to us or to someone close to us. The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) is a national charity providing impartial advice, information and training on independent living since 1969. The DLF website is a valuable resource for sourcing equipment and providing options to enable people to continue living independently at home.

The DLF has recently launched the Alf Morris Fund for Independent Living, which was set up to honour a man who made a difference to the most vulnerable members of society.

This Fund will help people find out about the resources available to keep them independent, and to help them make choices. Its purpose echoes Alf’s vision, in his own words, “adding life to years” rather than just years to life.

Known as the ‘quiet revolutionary’, Alf Morris, who died in 2012, became MP for Wythenshawe, then the world’s first Minister for Disabled People and later Lord Morris of Manchester.  A man of purpose and intent, Alf was a true social reformer who made a genuine and enduring difference to the world around him. His achievements included the passing of The Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act (1970), the first to recognise and give rights to disabled people. Adapted as a template by other nations, it transformed the lives of millions of disabled people in the UK and worldwide. And his legacy lives on.

“DLF’s mission to help older and disabled people live independently at home has long been my priority of priorities.  I believe there to be no worthier cause, nor one which makes such a tangible difference to so many lives.” The late Alf Morris who  had links with the DLF from 1969 and was its longest serving Vice-President,  remaining active in that role until his death in August 2012.

In support of the fund, the Alf Morris Lecture; Daring To Care: The Enduring Legacy Of Alf Morris Through The Eyes Of Sir Harold Evans, takes place at the Shaw Theatre, Euston Road, London at 7pm on Tuesday 10 March 2015

Sir-Harold-Evans-008

Sir Harold Evans

 

The inaugural Alf Morris Lecture will be delivered by renowned journalist, historian, writer and social commentator, Sir Harold Evans. Taking as its theme the issue of securing an independent and dignified future for our ageing population, the lecture covers one of the key debates in May’s General Election.

Sir Harold is no stranger to controversy. His distinguished career includes a 14 year stint as editor of the Sunday Times where he uncovered the thalidomide disaster and exposed Kim Philby as a Soviet spy.  He championed a style of investigative journalism that brought stories, scandals and social issues to public attention and his powerful influence changed the way civil cases were reported in Britain.  Now based in New York, Sir Harold is making a rare trip to the UK.

A personal story as well as a lecture, Sir Harold will share experiences and memories of his friendship with Alf Morris which began at Brookdale Park School in Manchester (where he was labelled ‘Poshie’ by Alf as he was the only boy in the school whose father owned a car) and was strengthened by their mutual quest to campaign for the victims of thalidomide.

Tickets for the Shaw Theatre, Euston Road London, on the evening of Tuesday 10 March 2015 start at £25 with concessions available. Guests can choose to attend a drinks reception before the lecture at 6.00pm and there will also be a celebratory dinner afterwards at 8.15pm in the Pullman St Pancras hotel (tables still available) with all monies raised donated to the Alf Morris Fund for Independent Living.

To buy a ticket, please call 020 7432 8006, email alfmorrislecture@dlf.org.uk  or visit www.alf-morris-lecture.org.uk

 

Future-Proof Housing For The Elderly

Grandmother and little girl making salad

As people get older, many think of downsizing.  With the ageing population, are builders really taking on board the needs of the ageing market? Is the construction industry fully aware of the need for accessible housing and does it have the knowledge to build properties that are accessible?

Regulations now require that all new-build properties have level access to the front door and a downstairs accessible toilet.  A friend recently purchased a new build house, which does comply with the regulations but once you get past the downstairs toilet there are a set of steps to negotiate, which really negates the planning of the toilet and front access!

Access for all should be a key consideration for new-build houses.  Properties that are adapted for wheelchairs can fetch a premium as they are few and far between.  We recently experienced two major leaks in our house and it was suggested that we move out and rent for a couple of months to allow the builders to repair the property.  I am a wheelchair user and the nearest adapted rental property that we could find was 25 miles away which was an impossible option with family commitments.

The issue is highlighted by the recent problems with ‘bed blocking’ in hospitals; partly attributed to some elderly patients being unable to return to their homes, which have become unsuitable for their needs.  This can result in elderly patients being placed in nursing homes, miles away from the support of family and friends.

Many elderly people lose their mobility and need to rely on wheelchairs or walkers to move around. To move house can be an extremely stressful event in the life of an older person; therefore if new build properties are designed for all, to include the needs of the less mobile, this will enable them to stay independent for longer, which will in turn lessen the pressures on the looming housing crisis.

There are several basic factors that should be considered when building a new property to allow someone to stay independent in their property for longer.

Ramped, level access and level thresholds for all doors and widened doorways, to accommodate wheelchairs, should be incorporated where possible.  The installation of a wet room ensures that a bathroom is easy to adapt with the addition of a shower seat and grab rails. Installing toilets to a reasonable height, not too low, can make it easier and safer to get on and off the loo as you get older.  Staircases should have a deep steps and hand rails for maximum support and safety.

Stair lifts or through floor lifts can make the difference to someone remaining independent but these can be added as the need arises  Grab rails, alarms, door chains and locks to keep residents safe, can all be added as they are required. Your local GP should be able to refer you to an Occupational Therapist who can assess your needs to ensure that you can remain as independent as possible in your own home.

If you do need to move or downsize as you get older, there are a number of possible housing options to consider:

Retirement Apartments:

Buying a property within a retirement development gives you the security and peace of mind of a house manager who oversees the running, maintenance and security of the development.  Different levels of care can be organised, depending on the property that has been purchased. Retirement developments offer the option of an active social life but if you prefer your own company, you have the privacy of your own home.

Sheltered housing:

There are many different types of sheltered housing schemes available. Each scheme usually has between 20 and 40 self contained flats or bungalows which are available to buy or rent. Many schemes have community areas and run social events for the residents. Some schemes will have a warden and all schemes should operate a 24 hour emergency help through an alarm system. Extra-care schemes are available which provide meals and personal care to allow you to stay in your own home for longer.

Cohousing developments:

Cohousing is a community which is founded and run by residents. It is a way of combating the loneliness and isolation that many people experience today and can be created using empty homes or by building new. Each resident has a self-contained and private home within a household but residents come together to share meals, activities and to manage their community. Households can usually sign up on a social housing, leasehold or freehold basis. Accessible housing within a cohousing community would however depend upon the individual development.

Further information and advice on housing needs for the elderly can be found at the following websites:

Housing Care  http://www.housingcare.org/housing-advice.aspx

Age UK  http://www.ageuk.org.uk/home-and-care/housing-choices/

First Stop  www.firststopcareadvice.org.uk.

UK Cohousing Network  http://www.cohousing.org.uk/

 

Author: Katherine Pyne, designed2enable.co.uk

 

Guest Blog by Move It or Lose it!

MIOLI (203)

We’re often told we have to exercise more and yet just the word can put people off! But what about the people who would like to exercise but can’t? The ones the fitness magazines with their six-packs and perfectly toned bodies often overlook? Those with disabilities and conditions which make getting out of bed, washed and dressed seem like running a marathon?

I’m used to trying to persuade the ‘reluctant’ to exercise – I was a secondary school PE teacher! Now I’m teaching people who would love to exercise but think they can’t, or have problems which prevent them from accessing traditional forms of exercise.

After retraining to teach exercise for older people and those with disabilities, I soon realised that all the theory in the world counts for nothing if people don’t enjoy themselves. Coming along to a class, especially when you’re fearful of what to expect or of doing more harm than good, is a giant leap of faith, so creating an atmosphere of inclusivity and warmth is vital. Then you can start to focus on doing exercises which will help with everyday life.

 

MIOLI (202)

So, how did it all begin? Well I began to set up classes in the West Midlands for older people and those with health problems. I specialise in chair-based exercise which is ideal for less mobile people as they’re still able to join in and improve their fitness. But, key to my success, is making the routines so much fun that they don’t even realise they’re exercising.

Everyone who came to my classes couldn’t believe how much they enjoyed themselves and how much they could improve just by working out in chair! They were desperate to continue the exercises by working out at home too. So, I was persuaded to make a DVD of the exercises. They helped with the choice of music, got involved with the filming and they even came up with the name –Move it or Lose it!  It was vital to make the exercise routines safe, enjoyable, effective and accessible to everyone whatever their ability. Our DVDs are made by real people for real people and all endorsed by The Centre for Healthy Ageing Research (at the University of Birmingham).

Despite the success of all 5 of my DVDs and the amazing customer feedback I get, I know nothing can compare to a class! The benefits of working out in a group are endless – the camaraderie, friendship, motivation and support they all offer one another is fantastic! Each class becomes a little community, which is so lovely to see when all you hear in the press is the loneliness and social isolation that many older adults face in today’s society.

I know there’s still a desperate need for more classes across the UK, so I’ve set my sights on spreading the magic of Move it or Lose it! into more local communities. I get countless letters and emails from customers asking where their local classes are. So, with the Centre for Healthy Ageing Research, we’re now training more people and translating the latest research ensuring our Chair-based exercise instructors are part of a highly respected network. We’re looking for more people who are passionate about helping older adults to stay fit for life! Empathy, humour and patience are all a must! But, it’s the most rewarding job, seeing people who think they can’t do something actually achieve success so they can live life to the full.

Find out more about Move it or Lose it! at www.moveitorloseit.co.uk/careers or call 0800 612 7785.

By Julie Robinson, Move it or Lose it!

To Help Or Not To Help? – Offering Assistance To Someone Elderly or Disabled

 iStock_000017225406Small

My teenage daughter has grown up with a mother with a disability and is therefore always ready to help me when I am struggling or find a physical situation particularly challenging.  I guess she is tuned in to recognising when I need help.

I am always proud of her but particularly so recently.  We had parked outside our local farm shop and she had gone in to the shop on an errand to get a few provisions for me. She has been doing this since she was 5 years old and I always justified it by hoping that it taught her certain life skills such as responsibility,  listening to instructions and to watch that she gets the right change!

She took longer than usual and then an elderly lady who was stooped over and walking with the aid of two walking sticks, came out of the shop with her shopping, which was carried by a shop assistant.  When my daughter finally appeared, she got in the car, apologising for the delay and explained that she had done the shopping for the elderly lady. She had seen the lady trying to push a trolley whilst managing her walking sticks and she appeared to be struggling.  There were several adults in the shop and a two shop assistants but no-one had offered to assist her.  So my daughter put herself forward and offered her help, which was gladly taken.  The lady had been very grateful of her help and kept expressing her thanks by saying “Bless you”.  My daughter got huge satisfaction from being able to help her and to have made a difference to someone’s day.

This experience made us both wonder why people are hesitant to help someone that they can see may be struggling?  Perhaps people are apprehensive to offer to help in case, somehow, they offend the person? Perhaps they see it as an intrusion, or are awkward with disability or maybe people are just to busy and wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t even see it?

From my own perspective, I really appreciate it when someone offers to help me.  I am an independent wheelchair user and have to dismantle my wheelchair and then lift it across me onto the passenger seat when I want to go out in my car.  I do have a system for doing this, which can be tricky if people want to help but I am always very grateful for assistance when it comes to the final lift to get the frame across onto the other seat.

I have always found that people are really willing to help when I ask for assistance, which is usually when I am out shopping and I need help getting something from the top shelf.  Sometimes, I am offered help and may not really need it but accept it anyway as I don’t want to discourage them from offering help to someone who might really need it on another occasion.

So in future, if you see someone who might be in need of a little assistance, your offer of help may be appreciated. They can always decline but it is good to look out for others and you may get that feel-good feeling from knowing you have made a difference to someone else’s day.

 

By Katherine Pyne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are multigeneration houses the answer to a happy old age?

This recent article in The Guardian proposes Britain takes a look at a style of social community centre being used in Germany to improve quality of life for young and old, and to strengthen intergenerational links within a population that is ageing fast.

The article says that “the number of over-65s in Britain is expected to almost double by 2030, and childcare in Britain is more expensive than almost anywhere in the world.”  It asks if both problems be tackled in one swoop?

The Mehrgenerationenhaus, literally a “multigeneration house”,  is a blend of kindergarten, community centre, day care for the elderly and citizen’s advice bureau for anyone seeking advice from those who have been there, done that.

How this model would function in Britain is yet to be assessed – at this stage we’ve found no evidence of working examples, but the Institute for Public Policy Research recently tagged this idea in a report entitled THE GENERATION STRAIN : COLLECTIVE SOLUTIONS TO CARE IN AN AGEING SOCIETY. 

If you’re interested in thinking about how young families manage ever increasing child care costs, how we shift our care of the elderly to a more inclusive, compassionate and uplifting model, and how we break down the division and create mutual respect between young and old, then this model is worth considering. It’s only in the last 100 years or so that we have created the single generation silos that we call modern homes – grandparents aging alone, young parents living the both-working-to-pay-the mortgage- and-childcare nightmare, and we are none the richer for it. If multigeneration houses do become part of our community landscape it will be a swing of the pendulum  that will bring meaningful interactions, joy and humanity to the lives of many, young and old. I’m all for that.

80 Minute Game Video Shoot

Yoga can change your life

As our bodies age we need to work harder to keep supple and mobile. Health becomes a far more valuable asset the older you get. Good mobility enables social engagement, fun and adventure, things that are hard to do if you can’t move around easily. Never forget that once you are past child bearing/rearing age, mother nature is not really your friend – she’s trying to get rid of you to make room for the next generation. Yoga might just give you the edge!

Regular yoga practice is a gentle way into exercise with excellent benefits, even if you don’t start until you retire. Just getting out of the house and into a village hall with a few other people of your own age and gently stretching will give you social and health benefits far beyond being able to bend over and tie your shoe laces. You’ll get increased muscle tone, better balance, stronger limbs and improved mobility. And maybe a few new friends, some laughs and fun along the way.

Regular exercise reduces death  and disease rates for all ages. Yoga is low impact, and can help you gain or maintain mobility to help you continue with other activities such as biking and walking longer than you would otherwise be able to.

Have a look at this article on yoga for seniors to understand the different types of yoga and decide which would be most suitable for you

Read this article in the Huffington Post on the benefits of yoga for the over 50s

And be inspired by this article in the Telegraph about seniors who have benefited from taking up yoga late in life.

Namaste!