The Best Mobility Aids To Invest In As You Get Older

Getting older can be difficult. As people age, they can often feel like life is passing by too quickly. They can also feel worn out a lot more easily, and struggle to carry out activities that they used to. Driving can become tougher, and day-to-day routines can feel boring.

There is one thing that individuals don’t have to suffer with as they age though, and that’s staying mobile. If you’re worried about getting older and not being able to move about as easily, you can now turn to the likes of Mobility Solutions to invest in a range of mobility aids and products that will help to keep you active. So, what are some of the most common and useful mobility aids that you can buy to help improve your daily life?

Supportive footwear

Are you experiencing pain in your feet when you’re out for your daily walk? If so, it could be because your footwear is not supportive enough. There are so many designs to choose from today, from easy-fastening to shock-absorbing soles, so ensure that you invest in some well-fitted outdoor shoes as soon as possible.

Dressing aids

If you struggle to put on socks, fasten buttons or wash your hair, dressing aids are designed to ease the strain of getting ready for the day. Remove the stress of bending and stretching and choose some of these convenient products instead.

Joint support

Do you feel pain carrying out simple activities? If so, it could be time to pick up supportive aids. From elbow to ankle supports, everyday tasks will become a lot less painful with these handy products.

Walking aids

Move around your home with ease – or get some extra help on your trips out to the shops – with a cane, walking frame, rollator or Zimmer frame. You’ll feel a lot more confident with that extra support in front of you, and you will be able to maintain your balance.

Adjustable bed

If you find it difficult to relax in bed at night, it could be time to look at getting an adjustable bed. Easily operated by remote control, you can get your mattress to the perfect position for a good night’s sleep.

If you’re watching the years fly by, you might be worried about not being able to do the same things that you used to be able to. This doesn’t need to be the case with all the useful products listed above.

How to Prepare for Old Age

No matter who you are or where you were born, we are all faced with the same unavoidable consequences of getting old. For some, it’s a terrifying thought to process as it means giving up a lot of things that you used to do and love and replacing them with a quieter lifestyle. It’s completely normal to have fears about getting old, however, there are ways that you can prepare for your old age to make your life that much better. This is not something to fear, but something to embrace, just like all changes in your life. Here are some ways that you can prepare for old age.

Retirement Homes

While people hate the thought of moving out of the house they have come to know and love, there comes a time when you struggle to do all the basic things around the house that are necessary for upkeep. While you might have kids that can come and help, you don’t want to be a constant burden on their life. This is when you can look and consider moving into a retirement home.

When looking at a home to move into, it is important that you find one that meets your standards of care and also has amenities that interest you. The last thing you want to do is move into a place you hate and spend the last years of your life there.

There are retirement homes all over the world as well, from New York City to Brisbane, allowing you to get the care you want and need wherever you are. The experts of https://arcare.com.au/aged-care-brisbane/ state that a good care centre will not only improve the quality of your life but also improve the quality of life of your family members around you.

They will no longer have to worry about what you are doing around your house or have to worry about having to help with basic tasks. They are free to visit without the stress of having to do chores around the place. The last benefit of a retirement home is the amount of company you will have. If you live alone, you might find you get lonely often, however, with a retirement home there are tons of people your age around you. You can spend every day talking to people around you and never have to worry about being lonely. Retirement homes are a great idea and a great way to prepare for old age.

Saving Money

Once you reach retirement, you are going to be losing out on a large amount of income. Yes, you are entitled to your pension which will pay out for a large period of time, however, it might not be enough if you plan on doing lavish things and travelling once you have retired. Therefore, it is absolutely important that you start saving money and putting it aside so that when the time comes, you have the money to do whatever you want.

You don’t have to put aside large amounts of money either, simply taking a small percentage of each paycheck and putting it in the bank will do wonders over a large span of time. It might hurt at the moment, but you will be thanking yourself down the road when you’ve reached old age. Make sure that you are always putting money aside for when you retire.

Have a Plan

Many people reach their later years and find themselves bored. They are so used to having a structure in their life with a daily job and now that is all gone. Not only that, but they have nothing to do anymore and just sit at home all day.

One of the best things that you can do to prepare for old age is to make a plan of what you want to do – whether it be taking an amazing retirement trip around the world, or doing something small in the house like learning a new skill.

Finding a way to spend your time will help keep you occupied and not leave you regretting your age. A large majority of people in their old age spend their days reflecting on their younger days and being sad that they are gone. While you cannot relive your old memories, you can make new ones even in your old age. Have a plan of action on things that you are going to do once you retire and hit your old age.

Don’t let old age be a negative thing that you are constantly running from. There are so many ways to prepare and make it a much better experience. Remember to always have a plan of what you want to do and with proper saving, you can easily make all of it a reality. Once living alone becomes difficult, don’t be afraid to move into a retirement home and spend time with people your age. How will you prepare for old age?

Aids to make life in lockdown easier

In this period of lockdown, (which for many of us feels like it’s been going on forever!), it has brought into focus for many, how we can sometimes find the indoor tasks and activities in the home becoming more difficult.

Daily Living Aids are a range of products that have been designed to help around the home or garden, usually, for those ordinary areas of living we don’t give that much thought to until they become more difficult.

Help can be required for many reasons, sometimes it’s as we’re getting older and our grip, balance and general coordination are not what they were, or sometimes it’s due to a disability, or recovering from a recent injury can be the cause.

The good news is, that there are literally thousands of these aids on the market that can help you make life in and around the home and garden easier.

Given that you’ve probably been spending many more hours within your four walls, you may have a little list of things that are becoming a niggle for you where a little help is needed.

Alternatively, you may have elderly or disabled relatives, where you are aware that they struggle with certain activities and tasks around their home and you’d like to investigate possible solutions on their behalf.

A good example of a useful product is the ever-popular Folding 2-Step Stool this stool helps with reaching for higher areas in the home, or even outdoors or in the garage, both easier and safer.

The 2-Step Stool has been designed to reduce the effort needed when stepping into a car, bath or doorway. For highest levels of safety, the 2-Step Stool has non-slip grips and both steps have a large platform.

This help to maximise user stability. It has a patented design, with an integral carry handle.

It makes this versatile Step Stool highly portable whilst its compact folded size makes it exceptionally easy to store.

Sometimes, and again you’ll probably notice this much more while we’ve been stuck in lockdown, there are areas in your home where you feel like a balance aid would really help give you security and confidence.

This may be in your bathroom, or in areas like utility rooms or even for outdoor areas where you’re having to change levels or bending down to reach items.

The Chrome Suction Grab Rail is such a useful addition to your home, as it is not only fully portable, so can be moved around depending on where needed, but it is also a very secure rail when in place, easily accommodating your weight and aiding balance and coordination.

The Chrome Grab Rail is easy to install without the need for any tools, it also comes with indicators, so you know when it is attached securely.

When placed on a flat, smooth surface and fixed with the two pressure levers, the suction cups create a strong vacuum to keep the grab rail firmly in place.

When not required, the rail can easily be removed by lifting the pressure levers, which is a quick and easy process.

If lockdown has led you to do more reading than usual, you may have been noticing that you’re sometimes struggling to read the newsprint on your newspaper, books or magazines.

This, in turn, can result in headaches and eye strain as you try to read the text but have difficulty keeping focus.

This may also apply to recipe books and labels on products in the kitchen if you’ve been doing lockdown cooking or baking, then you’ll know that sometimes the labels can be very hard to read.

The Reading Sheet Magnifier is lightweight and features a ‘soft-touch’ frame to allow for easy positioning and comfort. Very easy to use, you simply place the Reading Sheet Magnifier over the small text you’re trying to read e.g. small print or maps and the 2x magnification will allow you to read the text without having to move your hand along the text.

When not in use, the magnifier is compact enough so you can easily store away, keeping it handy for next time you need it. A great little aid that the whole family will use to magnify things they need to be able to read.

The above are just a few ideas from our large range of daily living aids, if you’d like to take a look at hundreds more, then take a look at our daily living aids section on our website for loads of ideas and innovative inventions.

Phil Ashforth is a staff writer for Mobility Smart, an online retailer of health, wellbeing and mobility equipment to help you recover from injury, recuperation and protection of joints and muscles when exercising or just helping you in normal daily life, you’ll find their website here.

Quick Tips To Buying A Stair Lift

As the years pass, it is only natural that we find certain everyday activities, such as climbing the stairs, becoming increasingly difficult. For someone with limited mobility due to injury, disability or chronic diseases such as arthritis and angina installing a stairlift is a low-cost common-sense solution.

For those of us juggling childcare with elderly care and doing all we can to keep our parents living independently in their own homes, looking at stairlifts makes sense where there is insufficient room to relocate a bedroom downstairs or there are no bath or shower facilities.

Readers of this blog will know that mum broke her hip in 2018 and has struggled with her mobility ever since.  My parents are both in their 80s and, although I live a few minutes away from them, I am ever mindful of the need to ensure that they can live safely in the comfort of their own home.

Anyone in my situation will understand the need to ensure that the risk of a trip to the hospital must be minimised at all costs – particularly during COVID-19!

There is a huge range of mobility aids and in-home adaptations available these days and stairlifts provide more than just a means of getting from the ground floor of a house to the bedroom – they also represent mobility and independence to an ageing generation.

These days, advances in design and technology mean that nearly every home can be fitted with a stairlift, even if it has a curved staircase. Before you go ahead and purchase your stairlift make sure you use a professional and approved company with experience in this field.

Your quick and easy guide to buying a stairlift:

It may well fall upon you to sort this out for your parents if they are willing for you to get involved.  I know that these days, mum and dad are happy to accept help and advice, particularly since they do not have internet access and dislike using the telephone.

If you are unsure about what kind of stairlift is suitable for the home in question, get some independent advice from the Occupational Therapy Department of your local social services.

Read sales literature and brochures or go online to find out about the different brands of stairlifts and the models available.

Make sure you get more than one quote from a range of companies to compare prices and find the stairlift that suits your budget.  Quotes should be for the same or similar models.

Don’t forget to factor in any advice you received from Social Services or your occupational therapist.

Make sure the quote covers the supply, fitting and ideally maintenance and servicing of the stairlift. If maintenance is extra, be sure to factor this into your budget.

What happens if the stairlift breaks down?  How quickly can it be repaired?  Is this covered in any maintenance contract?

If you have a curved staircase, ask the company to assess your staircase and give you a personalised quote.  During COVID-19, it is possible to have a video consultation.

If you are thinking of purchasing from a retailer rather than directly from the manufacturer, check that the company is an approved supplier, otherwise, they may not be able to obtain spare parts.

In Lockdown, of course, salespeople are unable to visit your home but when things return to normal and home visits are on the cards, it is sensible to never buy a stairlift from someone pushing to close a sale that day, even if they offer a large discount.  Take your time and make sure you pick the model that’s right for your parent.

Some other things to look out for when buying a stairlift

Choose a stairlift which offers at least a 12 months full UK parts and labour guarantee.

Look for stairlifts with individually tailored seat and footrest options.  Is the user able to sit, for example, or would they prefer to stand?

Select a stairlift which is quiet so that other residents of the home are not disturbed.

Pick a stairlift model which offers a wide choice of upholstery colours to blend in with the home’s decor.

You will find that installing a stairlift will give access to the whole of the home once again which is a much better option than having an elderly parent restricted to one room.  Anyone would get bored to death of staring at the same four walls all day!

Installing a stairlift is also a more cost-effective option than paying to convert your existing home, relocating to a bungalow or ground floor flat or, ultimately, having to consider residential care.

Currently mum is able to get up and downstairs, but if things change, a stairlift is definitely a home improvement we will be looking at.

Have You Budgeted For Your Parents Care Home Fees?

As a ‘baby boomer’ (born in 1964) I knew that having children late in life meant I had to budget not only for my pension but also for the costs of university fees for my children.

What I suspect many of us born in that era did NOT expect was that the cost of our parents care home fees might also fall to us.

This is not an issue whilst our parents remain well and able to live relatively unassisted in their own home. But, once a care home is needed, the costs involved are significant.

Currently, the average cost of nursing home care in England and Wales is over £800 a week (or over £41,000 a year) per person.

This figure can be even higher in certain parts of the UK or where the elderly person’s needs are particularly severe or they need to go to a specialist Elderly Mentally Infirm home (for example if they have dementia).

Parents care home fees – what will they need to pay?

According to Age UK, currently, if your capital and income are above £23,250 it is likely that you will have to pay your care fees.

If your capital and income are under £23,250 you may get some help from your local council, but you will still need to contribute towards the fees – and the family home may be included in the calculation of assets depending on your circumstances.

To give you an idea, the value of your home will be included if your relative is going into permanent care – but not if, for example, their partner will remain living there.

And, as above, even if you do get help from the council, you may have to contribute to the cost of care from your capital until your assets fall to £17,000.

Even then, when this level is reached, you may still have to contribute something towards ongoing care costs.

You will, in any case, be subject to a means test to work out what you can afford – and this will depend on any income you currently receive.

The total amount you may have to pay is currently capped at £72,000 for the over 65s, but this amount is based on what your local health authority calculates the care is worth and does not include board and lodging costs.

You can find a good explanation here.

You can see that an individual’s entire life savings and assets can be spent in just a few months.

What is your parent is ill?

In the event that a parent suffers from a chronic, or life-threatening illness, funding may be available from the NHS which currently offers Continuing Health Care Funding which will pay the full cost of care
where the person’s need is primarily health-based.

The second type of NHS funding called “funded nursing care” is available where the individual has nursing needs and is looked after in a registered care home that employs registered nurses.

The NHS-funded nursing care rate was increased to £183.92 from 1 April 2020. This is the standard weekly rate per person but this will not cover all of the cost of care.

Care home fees vary depending on the area that you live in, the individual care home itself, plus your own personal financial circumstances. Costs average around £600 a week for a care home place and over £800 a week for a place in a nursing home.

Obtaining funding depends, of course, on meeting stringent NHS criteria.

What happens when the money runs out?

For most of us, we are looking at the sale of the family property and relying on our parents’ assets to be sufficient to give them the best quality care possible.

Once these assets have been used up, it is likely to be us who bear the financial burden, although some assistance may be available from your local authority.

You can see that if one of your parents needs to go into a care home but the other is well enough to stay put, there is a clear dilemma about whether or not the family home has to be sold.

Does the healthier parent come to live with you with all the extra costs that this would entail – extra heating, lighting and food costs, not to mention the cost involved in adapting parts of the home to make them safer for your mum or dad?

Balancing your monthly outgoings may be much more of a challenge and cutbacks will probably have to be made.

You may need a loan

Should you need financial assistance to help you carry out these home improvements and adaptations, you can consider borrowing up to £7,500 with a guarantor loan from a credit company.

A guarantor loan is a type of unsecured personal loan where you get a friend, colleague or family member to back up your application.  They must be someone who is willing to step in to pay your monthly repayments if you can’t pay.  You may find this additional safety net reassuring with so many demands on your purse from so many different directions!

Planning for the future

We never know what is around the corner and I think it is sensible to have a conversation with your parents as early as you can about their wishes and the financial implications of requiring residential care.

Having looked into the funding of care home fees, I am aware that this is something I will need to research in much greater detail so that we can make some sensible financial decisions as a family and consider how this may impact our budget.

The information I have given here is the tip of the iceberg and, as we know from previous UK budgets,  schemes such as this are prone to be frequently changed and thresholds altered.

This is a far better approach than having to deal with a sudden illness or even a bereavement whilst trying to decide whether their family home has to be sold or worrying where the extra money for your parents care home fees is going to come from.

As things stand, that anniversary cruise or funding your teen’s gap year may have to be put on ice, if the needs of your parents are greater – unless you prepare for the extra expense right now.

Don’t Let the Fear of Falling Lead to Isolation

A wise lady in her late 80s once said with a laugh that getting older is “better than the alternative.” Still, there is no denying that with advancing years come new challenges, and some of these can have life-altering consequences. Reduced mobility and some deterioration of motor skills are inevitable as we get older. We all know that someone in their 80s is at greater risk of falling than someone in their 60s. In fact, my dear mum (now 81) fell and broke her hip over a year ago and is still struggling with her mobility. Indeed, it appears she had a narrow escape as the NHS has cited falling as the most common cause of injury-related death in over-75.

Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

Yet sometimes it is these statistics in themselves that present the biggest problem. For those who are feeling less steady on their feet than they used to be, the fear of becoming another NHS statistic can be more debilitating than any physical condition. That is particularly the case under current circumstances when we are all conscious of the existing pressure on NHS workers and emergency responders.

Mobility and mental wellbeing

It stands to reason that if an older adult is worried he or she might fall, they will be likely to go out less, and ultimately might be reluctant to leave the house at all. According to researchers from Bringham Young University, loneliness is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Clearly, maintaining mobility is as much a part of mental wellbeing as it is related to physical health. Fortunately, there are more resources available today to help maintain mobility than ever before.

Walking sticks

Most seniors who feel the need for a little extra stability and confidence start out with a cane or stick. There’s a huge choice of walking sticks on the market, in different styles and sizes. As a guideline, a stick can support around 25 per cent of a person’s weight. It is appropriate when balance impairment is minimal, or when there is a specific weakness in one leg. Using a stick requires moderate hand grip and strength.

Walking frames

 A walker is the perfect option if a stick does not provide sufficient support and, just as importantly, confidence. Again, walking frames require moderate grip and arm strength, but they can support up to 50 per cent of the user’s weight. The traditional walker is often known as a Zimmer frame after manufacturer Zimmer Holdings, in much the same way as we call a vacuum cleaner a Hoover. These feature four solid legs and are best suited for indoor surfaces such as carpets.

A wheeled walker is a better option for getting out and about. These have small wheels on the front legs, making them more convenient to move along as there is no need to lift the entire unit with each step, only its rear half. They are designed to aid balance as opposed to bearing a significant proportion of the user’s weight.

Tri-Walkers and rollators

These walking aids have three and four wheels respectively and provide stability and balance aid, but with more manoeuvrability than a walking frame. Each has its pros and cons – the tri walker is the more manoeuvrable, while the four wheels of the rollator provide better stability.

With these, and indeed with all walking aids, deciding which is right very much depends on personal circumstances. It is therefore vital to try out all the options to make the best possible choice.

Is It Time To Get A Stairlift?

When you are caring for elderly relatives, you always walk a fine line between helping them lead an independent life at home and deciding whether, in fact, it is time to consider residential care.

Which is why I am all for anything that will make life a little easier for the elderly and the less mobile to keep them in the home they love and surrounded by all that is familiar and dear.

Many of the family homes we left, however, are two storey and traditionally designed so that the sleeping quarters and bathrooms are upstairs.

In an ideal world, of course, we would all have the funds to convert a downstairs room into a bedroom, together with ensuite washing facilities but few of us have that luxury.

A compromise is to get a stairlift so that you can get upstairs quickly, safely and without necessarily having to rely on a carer.  In fact I have even seen people install them for a pet pooch who struggles with mobility!

If you’re like me, though, you’ll have a few key questions to be answered.

  • How much should you expect to spend?
  • Which type of stairlift should you choose?
  • Are stairlifts easy to install?
  • How much maintenance does a stairlift need?
  • Will your loved one need assistance to use them?

Let’s look at each.

Cost

There are, surprisingly, quite a few types of stairlift and the price varies according to the type you choose and your installation requirements.  As a guide, a basic stairlift for a staircase with 13 steps is around £2,000 brand new.

Bear in mind that you may be able to apply for a local authority grant called a Disabled Facilities Grant and if you are eligible, your local council may be able to help towards the cost of installing your stairlift and any other home adaptations required.  You may also be exempt from paying VAT.  Check with your council first would be my advice.

Types of stairlift

You can choose from the following types of stairlift

  • seated stairlifts
  • perch stairlifts which have an adapted seat to give extra support for those who find sitting uncomfortable
  • straight stairlifts which can be seated or standing
  • curved stairlifts for curved bannisters
  • outdoor stairlifts which come with a waterproof cover
  • transfer platforms straight stairlifts (where you have a landing breaking the staircase)

Before you choose one you need to consider the mobility of the user and it might be a good idea to consult an Occupational Therapist before making a decision.

Are stairlifts easy to install?

A standard straight stairlift can be installed in as little as 2 hours.  You’ll have a visit from a surveyor to assess exactly what is needed and they will look at things like

  • the width of your staircase and whether there are obstructions such as a radiator
  • can you bend your knees and travel sitting down or would a standing stairlift be better?
  • if you do choose a standing stairlift, will there be enough headroom?
  • do you have the manual dexterity to operate the remote control or would you need something like a joystick or toggle?

Make sure you choose a reliable provider and don’t be pressurised into buying anything that isn’t right for you or your loved one.

You should be given a written quotation which includes installation.  Bear in mind, also, that you don’t necessarily need a brand new stairlift.  A reconditioned one may do just fine and it will be cheaper too.

Stairlift maintenance

Most companies will offer warranties (usually a one-year warranty) and an aftercare service to cover repairs and maintenance.

Brand new stairlifts should be serviced once every 12 months but if you have a reconditioned model, it is advisable to have them serviced every 6 months, especially if the stairlift is in daily use.

In order to keep your stairlift in tip-top condition, you should adhere to some basic common sense rules such as keeping the rails clear of obstructions, keeping children away from them and cleaning rails with a dry cloth once a week.

You’ll also need to ensure you don’t exceed the weight limit for your particular type of stairlift.

Helping your loved one to use them

For lots of us, this last point is actually the most important because unless your loved one is fully on board (to use a pun!) your stairlift may stay unused and unloved.

As with any aspect of caring for a loved one or elderly relative, communication is key to ensure that they like the idea and will be willing to use the mobility aid.

Choosing the right company and taking your time to ask questions and choose the right stairlift for your relative is crucial.  This is not a ‘rush purchase’ but it is one that could dramatically improve your loved one’s life at home and relieve them from spending all day staring at the same four walls.

And for that reason alone, a stairlift is well worth considering.

 

Giving The Elderly Their Freedom Back With Mobility Aids

One of the sad facts about growing old is we truly start to rely on the people around us to provide us with support when it comes to getting around. However, there are ways that we can ensure the elderly keep their independence and don’t always rely on us to get them around.

There are a number of ways you can do this, taking some of the pressure of you and the worry off them. So, if you have an elderly relative then take note of this blog and it could dramatically improve yours and their way of life, giving them some of the independence back that they so desperately crave.

Wheelchairs

The most traditional way of transport for those with mobility issues, wheelchairs were specifically created to allow you to keep that independence. Certain wheelchairs can be pushed along independently by the user without the need for help from a carer. There’s a wide variety available whether you’re looking for a transportable lightweight wheelchair which can be self-propelled by the user, or an electric wheelchair that takes minimal effort from the user.

They can be particularly useful if you go on a day out with an elderly relative. This allows them to transport themselves around and gives you the opportunity to keep your eyes on the children and your hands free for any bags that need carrying or children that want to hold your hand. This is where electric wheelchairs are great, but also transportable wheelchairs if you are going on a day trip to the seaside.

Mobility Scooters

Mobility scooters are great for more long haul journeys that don’t involve just nipping to the shops. They have a longer battery life than a standard electric wheelchair, and at times are road legal so can be used a bit like a pedal bike, keeping them off narrow paths.

There’s a wide range of options available depending on the needs of the user. There are light-weight mobility scooters that are easily transportable in the boot of a car, so these are ideal if you are looking at heading out on a day trip with an elderly relative. If you are needing a scooter with an extended battery life, then mid-range scooters will be what you are looking for as they have an extended battery life.

Walking Aids

Walking aids, as the name suggests, aid the user to keep them on their feet. They take some of the pressure off when walking around and can be particularly useful for more short term trips to places like the supermarket.

One of the most popular walking aid is a walking frame, which can sometimes be referred to as a Zimmer frame. They are both practical and cost-effective, providing the user with additional support and safety when moving from point A to B. There are also heavy duty walking frames available to provide support for users of all shapes and sizes.

The other popular option is rollators, they are very similar to walking frames but provide additional support to users who struggle lifting walking frames. They come on wheels so can be pushed along by the user, saving them the effort of having to lift them off the ground. They also give the user peace of mind free from the concern of losing their balance.

There’s a huge range of options out there to ensure that our elderly relatives have full freedom of movement and are able to keep their independence. One of the hardest parts of growing old is the stress of reliance on other people, so using one of these aids will take that stress away, and gives people their lives and their freedom back.

Review: Welbeing Personal Alarm Service: Help At Hand For All The Family

#AD  This post is a review of the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service.

One of the big challenges for my generation is balancing childcare with the needs of our elderly parents.

It’s easy to find yourself pulled from pillar to post and, if your parents are still mobile and living independently, you may find yourself making numerous unscheduled trips to check that they are OK or to help with chores and tasks they are no longer able to do for themselves.

Welbeing Personal Alarm Service

Generally, we all get by, don’t we – until the point at which illness or a long-term medical condition enters the picture.

When that happens, your parent may experience a loss of independence and rely on you more for help and contact with the outside world.

Nobody wants to put their parents into a home or few have the funds to move immediately into sheltered accommodation.

But there are times when, with the best will in the world, you can’t be there or rather, you can’t get there quick enough.

Similarly, if one parent is in the role of carer to the other, their own personal freedom is likely to be vastly curtailed and they won’t want to venture far on their own in case something happens to their beloved partner.

My parents have been married for 56 years and are now both in their 80s with a variety of health conditions between them.

Last year, mum fell and broke her hip.  She has made a full recovery but her mobility has been affected and she is not as speedy on her feet as she once was.  She also suffers from temporal lobe epilepsy which generally gives her mild seizures but, on occasion, these are large, lengthy and severe enough to require hospitalisation.

It’s fair to say that the family copes as best it can from the different parts of the country in which we are situated – and I’ll bet our family set-up is replicated right across the country.

The Welbeing Personal Alarm Service

We have been trialling the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service which is a quick and simple way of getting help at the touch of a button in case of accident or emergency at home.

Welbeing is a Doro company so you can expect simple to understand and user-friendly technology.

The service offers 24 hour, 365-day a year monitoring to allow independent living to continue as long as possible.  The service costs from £15.96 per month.

Who is the service designed for?

The service is not just for the elderly.  It is designed to offer reassurance and immediate assistance to anyone living alone – whether they are suffering from medical conditions such as dementia or heart disease, a long-term condition or are just vulnerable and worried about safety and security.

The service can even help those suffering from epilepsy if their seizures are of the tonic clonic type.

How does it work?

The actual alarm is a piece of wearable technology which connects to an alarm unit linked to your home telephone landline.

The alarm comes in the form of a pendant which can be worn around your wrist or neck.

With the touch of a button, the wearer is able to contact a call centre with trained staff who will talk to you via the alarm unit.

The alarm unit is similar conference call technology where at two-way conversation can be held without needing a phone handset.

The operator will then contact either a designated family member (a keyholder) on their mobile or the emergency services – depending on the circumstances.

Ordering

Setting up the pendant was incredibly easy.  You complete a basic sign-up form explaining who the user is, their general medical requirements and who will be the emergency contacts.

There are no intrusive questions to answer – just a general outline of the types of medical condition that the emergency services or the family doctor would need to know about.

Welbeing Personal Alarm Unit & Pendant

Set-up

Once you have completed the form, you receive your alarm unit and your pendant.

You will need to complete the direct debit form as the pendant is paid for on a monthly subscription of £15.95 per month and return it to Welbeing.

The alarm unit plugs into an electrical socket and a landline telephone socket.  All the cables you’ll require are supplied in the neat little box.  There’s a full instruction booklet that is easy to understand.

You can connect the box to a landline or also to your home WiFi but as I’ve never managed to persuade dad to get this, a landline was the only choice!

Then you press the button on top of the unit to connect to the call centre so that they can do a test call.

Extra services are available at an additional cost.  For example, the alarm unit can work with a range of wireless sensors in the home to detect gas, smoke, flood or a person falling. You can even have a local audible alarm – in addition to alerting the key holder or emergency services.

For the purpose of our trial, however, we just tested the basic service and the response aspect of the pendant.

Pendant design

The pendant itself is a simple oblong unit with a push button which, when pushed, telephones the call centre remotely from up to 150m away.

It can be worn via a belt clip, around the wrist or around the neck and you simply slot the relevant pieces supplied into the pendant.

The unit is solid and functional to withstand daily wear and tear and it has a large central button for the wearer to press quickly and easily.

Mum’s type of epilepsy cannot be identified by the sensors offered as part of an additional service offered by Welbeing mentioned above and we focused our trial on mobility issues such as slips, trips and falls.

How it works in practice

My parents’ house is topsy-turvy in that the bedrooms are downstairs and the living rooms upstairs.  It was considered all the rage in the ’70s.

As an example of how the personal alarm service works, we asked mum to push the button from her bedroom downstairs and, reassuringly, the operator rang mum’s landline 5 times whilst calling her name via the loudspeaker.

This particular test was carried out around midday on Easter Sunday.

The speaker volume, incidentally, is very loud – as it needs to be – but you can ask for it to be reduced somewhat. Welbeing also advises that you don’t place the alarm unit right next to the telephone as this may result in high pitched interference.

We obviously explained that mum was fine and the operator explained that if, after 4 or 5 attempts to contact mum direct there was no response, she would escalate the call to the first emergency contact (me) and, if she couldn’t reach me, would telephone the emergency services.

It is important that whoever is the designated emergency contact has keys to the house on them at all times.

The operator, a lady, had a lovely soothing voice and was very gentle in her approach.  Important if someone is scared or in distress.

The benefits

Aside from the practical aspect of knowing that, if dad or I leave the house, mum can contact us at the push of a button, the reassurance that the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service gives both wearer and their carers or family members is considerable.

When you are caring for a loved one you are never entirely off duty which is not necessarily a good thing for the health and stress levels of the one in the role of carer.

And, in the event that the emergency services are needed, the call centre will be able to at least give some guidance as to the other medical conditions the wearer may suffer.

 

In summary

We thought the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service was a brilliant idea for relieving the anxiety and stress often experienced by both wearer and the people who care for them.

Having help on hand at the touch of the button is particularly freeing for carers like my dad who can do their daily errands without feeling as if they have to rush back in case something has happened.

I think the system would work to optimum effectiveness, however, with the input of the wearer’s GP and/or medical team particularly if the wearer suffers from different medical conditions and is treated under different consultants.

Mum’s particular medical conditions are too complex to rely solely on the personal alarm for the simple reason that some of these are unpredictable and happen out of the blue.

That said, for most of the time, we found her wearing of the pendant was a massive weight off our minds.

I felt the monthly subscription fee was reasonable and I think you have to adopt a pragmatic approach to caring for your elderly relatives.  There will be costs involved to ensure that independent living can continue for as long as possible in terms of all sorts of mobility aids.

Personally,  I would prefer to keep going along this route for as long as possible so that mum and dad can stay together in our family home.

For more information on the Welbeing Personal Alarm service visit www.welbeing.org.uk. You can also call them on 01323 644422 or email them at info@welbeing.org.uk.  You can connect with them on Facebook @dorocare and on Twitter @wel_being.

Adapting The Home For Elderly Care

I was recently commissioned by Premier Care to give my thoughts on home adaptations.

Those of us with elderly parents on the one hand and children at home on the other are often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’ and it is easy to see why. We have so many people relying on us, don’t we?

It is often difficult to address the challenges your parents may be facing without causing hurt feelings.  Nobody wants to acknowledge the fact that they are no longer coping but the thought of a care home is beyond the pale for many – and it is certainly I hope I don’t even have to contemplate for many years to come.

Mum fell and broke her hip last year which means she is decidedly less mobile these days.  Although her hip has healed and she did not need a hip replacement, she still requires some assistance around the house.

So we have started a gradual program of home renovations to make her life a little easier – and safer for my dad too as mum celebrated her 80th last January and dad has his in September.

The trick is, I think, to introduce changes slowly whilst allowing your relative to get used to each one.  This obviously depends on their level of health and how much help they have around the home.

Here’s what we have done so far.

Safety rails along the side of the drive

My parents have a sloped paved driveway which is dangerous in icy weather and steps down to the front door.

We have put metal railings down the length of the drive and the steps.

These were relatively quick and easy to install.

A ramp up to the front door

Steps at any level can be tricky for someone with limited mobility so a basic wooden ramp has been installed.

An additional bannister for the stairs

If you are unsteady on your feet, having a sturdy wooden bannister on both sides of the stairs can be reassuring.  Unfortunately, we don’t have enough room to install a stairlift and mum wouldn’t want one in any case.  It is important that she keeps moving as much as possible.

A lower bed

Climbing in and out of a high bed can be an ordeal and there is also the risk of falling out of bed and sustaining another fracture – the last thing we would want for mum.

When making adaptations to the house, it is just as important to consider the wishes of the carer – in this case, my dad.  It is a delicate balance because you don’t want to imply that things might be too much for the carer whilst acknowledging that they too may have their own health issues.

A walk-in bath

One of the biggest challenges, we found, was bathing and keeping clean in general.  After a hip operation or a hip replacement, the NHS advises that you avoid having a bath and shower for the first two weeks following your operation in order to keep the wound and dressing dry.

Thereafter, bathing can be a challenge because you will likely need assistance getting in and out of the water. We currently have an extra grab rail installed but this isn’t ideal.

Photo courtesy of Premier Care Bathrooms

One of the things next on our list is the installation of a walk-in bath.  These offer low-level entry (no high stepping required) and easy access for the carer, as well as grab rails, slip-resistant surfaces and thermostatic bath fillers.

The risk of getting into scalding hot water is very real, particularly where your relative suffers from occasional confusion.

Today’s walk-in baths are certainly not spartan affairs, boasting sleek design and some pretty nifty spa features and some styles combine both a bath and a shower in one unit.

Some have reclining seats and some have power-lifted seats for those with more limited mobility.

I particularly like the idea of the combined bath and shower as so many of us prefer to wash our hair in the shower, or at least use a shower attachment to rinse off the shampoo.

Of course, it is not just indoors that changes are needed.  Although there is a wide range of options for outdoor mobility, walking sticks are not always accepted and wheelchairs even less so.

Again, it is balancing the needs of your relative with that of the rest of the family.  On bright sunny days, it would be great to take the whole family out but if your relative can’t walk very far, this often does not happen.

The same thing applies to changes around the house.  Open communication and a gentle approach are needed, no matter how frustrating it can be to see how much of a difference for the better some simple adaptations can make.




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Is It Time To Start Looking After Your Parents?

One of the most distressing problems that come with old age is losing your independence. For those that are in their senior years, it’s difficult when life gets a bit too much to handle. Perhaps you have elderly parents who are now less mobile.

It’s hard to acknowledge that those sprightly figures that taught you how to ride your bicycle without stabilisers may now be a little rocky on their path. How do you know it’s your turn to look after your parents?

Look after your parents - picture of an elderly gentleman
Image credit: Pixabay

Signs that it’s time for you to look after your parents

A Change In Mood 

Old-age can be a big downer as aches and pains kick in, and nap times become more frequent. Perhaps their flexibility has now depleted. Their energy levels may be waning and you find they’re sleeping more.

These old-age signs are perfectly normal, but if their mood also starts to change, it may be a warning sign. They might become reclusive. Or they may seem more grumpy every day. If their mood is low, they may be feeling isolated, lonely or worthless.

Try and boost their mood by inviting them for regular dinners and including them in activities with the children. Suggest new hobbies such as chess or tai chi. Make sure they are eating healthily and taking low impact exercise classes if they can.

Losing Their Appetite

If you notice that your elderly relatives have lost their appetite, this can be a warning sign of underlying health problems. Our appetite does reduce as we reach old age, but if there are worrying signs, consider something may be wrong. There could be dental issues or indigestion problems. It may be down to the fact that they have lost the motivation to cook. Or perhaps they just don’t have the energy to do so anymore.

Falling Over & Vision Loss

Life expectancy has increased, and we are living longer. But elderly people are still affected by arthritis and osteoporosis. As bones become weaker, falls are more likely. If you have a parent that lives alone, you may be worried about falls. Bones break more easily the older we get, and the knock-on effects of this can be dangerous to those in senior life.

Macular degeneration is a common problem for those in later life. It can cause blurry vision and the inability to recognise faces. It can be a terrifying time for your parents.

Bone density loss and eyesight should be checked regularly. Earlier this year I wrote a post about my elderly Mum and on waiting for an ambulance. It was a frightening time and one that warrants thinking more about the care of our elderly parents.

Memory Loss

One of the scariest parts of getting older is the worry that you may lose your memory. We all forget things from time-to-time, even names of family members, or why we walked into a room. But if your parents are forgetting recent events, or are not thinking clearly, it’s another worrying sign. By 2025 it is estimated that there will be 1 million people with dementia in the UK, and it’s a progressive disease. If you are worried about a parent, make an appointment at the doctors straight away.

Decrease In Personal Care 

If you are noticing that your parents aren’t taking care of their personal hygiene or the way they keep their home, it’s a red flag. It could be a sign that they need more help than they want to ask for. Their health may be ailing, and they may not have the energy or confidence to take care of the house anymore.

Check the kitchen and bathroom for signs of lack of care. As distressing as it is it may be time to consider moving your parents/parent into your home. And if that is not possible, or if you have a fight on your hands, it could be time to consider a 24 hr Live In Care Agency.

Care agencies specialise in helping the elderly to have a rewarding life in their home, safe in the knowledge that care is on hand day and night.

We are all scared of getting older, losing our mobility and losing our independence. When our lives are so busy, sometimes we forget what is happening to others. But there are ways to keep elderly parents feeling wanted and respected. You just need to make sure you are aware of impending problems and find solutions that work for everyone.

 

The Top 4 Reasons To Invest In A Knee Scooter

Ever since time immemorial, crutches were the only tools to help people who had mobility issues due to an injury to the legs, a disease or even old age. They are cheap, durable and easy to use. However, using crutches requires a lot of upper body strength and there are also cases where people experienced irritation on the skin in the underarm area due to prolonged use of crutches.

Woman holding old man's hand - a knee scooter can give mobility back

Knee scooters are an alternative to crutches

Furthermore, turning and navigating through a crowd of people in walkways and sidewalks can prove to be a difficult hurdle with crutches aside from the large walk space it demands.

Fortunately, with the emergence of knee scooters or knee walkers, people now have a better alternative to the crutches and be free from the hardships that come along with crutches.

What is a knee scooter?

Knee scooters are basically wheeled devices that assist a person in moving around. It consists of a padded leg cushion for the injured leg, a handlebar that will serve as steerer for controlling directions and maneuvering around, and of course, a set of front wheels and rear wheels.

To explain the benefits and advantages of a knee scooter, here are the top 4 reasons on why people should opt for a knee walker instead of the traditional crutches brought to us by the mobility experts at www.UpliftingMobility.com.

A knee scooter

The benefits of knee scooters

Comfort

We all know how uncomfortable crutches can be even with padding. The pressure of our body’s weight is focused on our underarms and shoulders resting on the top bar of the crutches, so no amount of padding will be able to relieve that pressure.

Furthermore, over time, it is normal for extensive use of crutches to cause irritation to our underarms and even great fatigue to the arm muscles, especially on our shoulders.

Fortunately, with a knee scooter, all of these problems are removed. You can easily move around by just applying a soft push similar to using a kids’ scooter. And with the handlebar, you can easily manoeuver and control the direction you are going in.

Fast recovery

Another great benefit of the knee scooter is it aids the recovery of an injured leg. Doctors and therapists agree that having a padded seat that will allow the injured leg to rest and remain stationary whilst moving will speed up recovery.

No need for upper body strength

Everybody knows that using crutches requires upper body strength. While this can be a minor issue to young people, they are actually a big issue to the elderly or to children who don’t yet have well developed muscles.

Fortunately, with a knee walker, upper body strength isn’t a requirement, with the wheels, anyone can easily move around without the help of an assistant.

Frees the hand

A great disadvantage of the crutches is that it requires both hands to support the crutches. Whether walking or just standing still, crutches still require the hands to hold them to keep them in place.

On the other hand, with a knee walker, people will have their hands free. They will be able to use their mobile phones or reach into their pockets even while moving. This makes a knee scooter a great choice of walking aid.

With these 4 advantages, even with a more expensive price tag, getting a knee scooter instead of crutches is surely a better option.