Category: News

Engaging with the world

 

There are very few of us who truly can’t make a difference to family, our neighbours or the wider world. If you are not already active in the world think about what you can do.

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

This is about finding the joy and energy of ‘serving’ whatever it is that gives you value and developing both ‘who’ and ‘how’ you want to be.

Many people find helping others gives purpose, social contact and teaches new skills.

Of course, you should not exhaust yourself and you need to get the balance right.

Whatever you believe in or stand for, there will be groups who will appreciate your help, however full or limited it is. Seek them out and find out what you can do. It could be a morning in a charity shop, letter writing for Amnesty International or to MPs (or even local papers).  

 

The next section looks at Choosing appropriate exercise.

Healthy Active Ageing

This blog post is an excerpt from Healthy Active Ageing, a series of mini-guides that together cover most of what we can do as human beings to make the later stages of our lives as positive as they can be. If you complete the details below we’ll email you one of the guides every until you have the full set. You will know a lot of the information but there is nothing wrong with a reminder every now and then; and there may even be some information which is new to you.

 

Lifelong learning

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy

~ Hamlet by William Shakespeare 

Tandem Skydiving

Life long learning

Why learning

You have survived with what you know, so why should you learn more?

Learning can be great for mental agility and keeping your brain age young, staying positive, improving your social life and of course if you are learning a sport or fitness, like yoga or dance, then it can keep you fit too.

Approaches to learning

Reading

There are lots of ways to approach learning. Possibly the easiest (and laziest) is to read, perhaps a good start might be reading a book which you enjoyed years ago and would read with fresh eyes.

There are lots of resources for getting more reading material. If you have a library near you then you should be able to take out books for free. Some library services also ‘lend’ ebooks through apps that you can get on a smartphone, tablet or iPad. These can even be audio books which are read aloud to you so if reading is difficult for whatever reason you can still enjoy literature.

If you are registered blind it could be worth exploring the free talking books service from the RNIB whilst others who have difficulty reading due to illness, disability, learning or mental health difficulty can get audio books (streamed, downloadable or on CD) from the listening books charity which has annual memberships from as little as £20.

Listening books also cover lots of curriculum books which could make studying for qualifications possible for some.

Reading groups are a great way of meeting people and introducing you to new books.

The Internet

The Internet can be great for finding out about new things. To find out about things you never knew you never knew, TED Talks can be amazing, RSA Animate have a fascinating way of representing serious subjects through cartoons and there are many more opportunities. Youtube and other sites have a vast amount of material but suffer from not being curated and so it can be difficult to find the needle in the haystack.

Saying ‘Yes’ to new things

When opportunities arise do you take the adventurous option?

Unless there is a good reason not to, try saying ‘yes’.

Get in touch with your local council or Tourist Information Office and get listings of what is going on.

You could also contact Museums, Heritage sites, historical and other local societies. There are online sites that will tell you about formal and informal groups that are happening near you.

Meet-up.com is very handy, and some of the groups are for no other purpose than to create community, for instance in my town there is a group for people who are new in the area to meet once a month with no other requirements.

If you are of retirement age or above then U3A (University of the Third Age) is great for doing things with like minded people in your vicinity. It is set up as a cooperative for learning, exercising, community and whatever the local members want to do.

Talks & lectures

You can explore things you didn’t realise existed. Sometimes they will be boring, sometimes fascinating but nearly always engaging and may open new areas to you.

The next section looks at Engaging with the world.

Healthy Active Ageing

This blog post is an excerpt from Healthy Active Ageing, a series of mini-guides that together cover most of what we can do as human beings to make the later stages of our lives as positive as they can be.
If you complete the details below we’ll email you one of the guides every until you have the full set. You will know a lot of the information but there is nothing wrong with a reminder every now and then; and there may even be some information which is new to you.

 

Managing your finances

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

~ Mr Micawber in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Are you comfortable? Or do you have some financial worries you’d like to address?

Like most of life, worries are best dealt with head on and often the worst course of action is to pretend nothing is wrong and hope for a miracle. It will work for a few people each year, but the odds of it working for you are very long indeed.

Jars with different level of coins

Taking a snapshot of where you are and comparing it with where you want to be can be really useful. The moneyadviceservice.org.uk have a great online budget planner which can help you to compare your income and expenditure to see whether in Mr Micawber’s words you’re on track for happiness or misery.

There are two sides to improving your financial situation. The first is to ensure that you are getting the best from your assets and that they are generating enough income to cover your activities both now and in the future. The second is to review your spending to see whether you can save a few pounds by shopping around.

Getting the most from what you have

Maximising returns from your financial assets can be complex. There are so many options available that ‘doing it yourself’ can be really tricky. The Money Advice Service is a great place to start for a wealth of information about what is available for your hard-earned money, and who you might get to assist you in making decisions. They also have some excellent advice on how to avoid those who will seek to separate you from your money. Click our shortlink to visit their webpage acticheck.com/findadvisor.

Claim what is rightfully yours

Many people do not claim all they can in the form of benefits: do not be shy, you’ve earned your retirement income, every penny, and there may be a few more pounds available if you look. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) should be up to date regarding your options and be able to tell you about any local initiatives in place to help as well as any national ones.

One thing which can really help is if you can benefit from discounts related to your age or health many organisations will offer a discount if you only go at a certain time, whether it’s your local gym, or travelling by rail or bus. Even local shops will often offer discounts to certain groups, including the retired, as they want your business. Make them earn it!

The next section gives tips on how to get the best value from your money and what to do if you still can’t make ends meet.

Healthy Active Ageing

This blog post is an excerpt from Healthy Active Ageing, a series of mini-guides that together cover most of what we can do as human beings to make the later stages of our lives as positive as they can be.
If you complete the details below we’ll email you one of the guides every until you have the full set. You will know a lot of the information but there is nothing wrong with a reminder every now and then; and there may even be some information which is new to you.

Fit & forget: Mission accomplished

This is a very personal post but I hope relevant.

Many moons ago I set out to create the Assure after a conversation with my mother and looking for the appropriate way to look out for her as she lived in her home by herself (with pets) and was not, as the saying goes, getting any younger.

Exploring the traditional pendant alarm approach, I found they were limited in their function and that they have impediments to being worn all the time, and apart from that people tend to not wear them. The new Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring expects certain behaviour and can report when something doesn’t happen but you may have to wait for an expected event to be missed to find out that someone needed help 12 hours before – which I didn’t think was good enough. So we set about creating the Assure, finding talented partners and investment and developing the stay-connected wristband to make sure you could have cover throughout your home and garden 24/7.

In the early hours of yesterday morning I got a call from the system saying my mother had called for help. I looked on the portal and could see that she was moving, but had definitively called for help. Though I didn’t have to look, I just wanted to double check.

I live some distance (about 3 hours drive) away and so I called an ambulance which arrived a short time later. It seemed that she had gone downstairs for a bathroom break in the middle of the night and slipped or fallen as she started up stairs back to her bedroom. She is now ensconced in the Royal Bournemouth hospital where she has been diagnosed with a broken ankle. None of us know when an emergency will occur and we were lucky that it was not a particularly cold night and that she was found quickly. But had she had any other system it could have taken hours, or she could be lying there still.

Karl

Being good neighbours in cold weather

Advice given out by some local councils can help us be good neighbours during these colder times.

Sometimes a reminder is handy to show us that small actions can have large consequences.

Two friends together

Seeing people
If you know someone who lives alone, make sure you pop in from time to time. If you have neighbours who are willing you could set up a rota so you can visit a few people once a week, when it suits you. If you can only make one visit a week try and make it on the night the bins go out, that way you can do it rather than have them risk slipping on a cold night.

Are they warm enough?
If possible you should make sure the house is warm enough.  21 degrees is a good minimum for a sitting room (i.e. a room where they may be sedentary for a long period of time) and 18 degrees in sleeping rooms (where bedclothes will provide warmth). Falling below these temperatures could create long term health issues.
Of course ‘the Assure’ can help you monitor temperature and even send an email if the house seems too cold while the wearer is at home.

Make sure there is food in their cupboards
If getting to the shops has been difficult they may be running low on stocks. Are there some easy, nutritious and warming snacks about, like soups?

Medicines
Likewise, if trips out are tricky are they running out of any medicines they need? Unless you know their regime it may be that asking them about their stocks is the only way.

Medical appointments
Is anything being missed because they don’t like travelling by themselves in the bad weather? Bear in mind there is often community transport available to take people to and from medical/health appointments.

Snow clearing and salting icy paths
If you are clearing your path consider if your neighbour would benefit from your help clearing theirs too.

 

Probably unrepeatable…but worth repeating.

One of our users got in touch with us to say they had recently taken their mother on holiday and that they had left her Assure band ‘somewhere safe’; so safe, in fact that it could not be found.

Could we help her find it and another thing she had noticed was that on her online dashboard sometimes it could be seen and other times not. It looked to her like the battery might be fading.

We thought it odd that the battery could be fading, many of our bands last well over a year before the battery starts to fade.

People in conservatory in evening eating

We don’t have a find my band feature and so we set to work behind the scenes using engineering clues from how the band reports back to us. One colleague replied that the battery seemed fine but there were definitely issues with the band connecting to the base station almost like it was in a metal box and another strange thing was that it was reporting far greater temperature swings than the base station. The suggestion was that perhaps it was in a metal box in a conservatory.

I was telling my wife about this detective work but before I could mention the metal box in the conservatory she said ‘So it’s in a car then’. This explained why sometimes the band was out of range and fitted the other circumstances perfectly. We suggested that the glove box was explored. And there it was.

Whilst we are unlikely to be able to repeat finding lost bands quite so precisely we thought the story at least was worth repeating.

Are we a caring culture?

Councils are being urged to deliver a culture of care in the ‘Helping people look after themselves’ report. Acticheck can help.

We believe there are many people who are able to cope in their own homes most, if not all, of the time. Often there is a natural network of people – family, friends and neighbours – who would be willing and able to help, if they knew help was needed.  No-one is invincible and knowing that help will be to hand if needed can be a great comfort, helping people live with confidence.

We like to think of these networks as communal care and whilst some people might have a plentiful network to call on others might use ‘co-managed’ care with a professional care provider as their fall back position whilst others might just use the professionals.

carer alarm system

Our award winning wristband is designed to give home & garden coverage and be worn 24/7 ; after all you never know when help might be needed.

Our Assure system has the usual SOS button plus other really useful alerts – fall detection, our unique ‘wellness check-ins’, household temperature warnings and system down warnings. We can even let chosen people know when everything is good by giving daily ‘up & active’ emails.

Importantly, it is simple to set up remotely through an online dashboard. This is a boon not only to family members who might want to set it up at home and install it on a weekend visit but also to hospitals and clinics that want to send people home to a safe environment. An extra night in hospital costs £250 – when the person would prefer to be in their own home. The Assure costs less than that for a full year and can be set-up in 10 minutes, given to the person when they are sent home and be plugged in, verified and working within 60 seconds.

This means no more overnight stays in hospital waiting for an installer to visit the vacant home before the patient can return!

Why create the Assure?

Why create the Assure?

A while back I was speaking with my mother and she asked why there wasn’t a service that could phone you up every day and make sure you were OK. She was not in poor health but sometimes it would be days without anyone visiting her and she just wanted the reassurance that if anything should happen she would get help soon and if the worst was to happen that her pets would be taken care of without delay.

The problem with the existing services was that they only work if you can guarantee to be by your phone when they call. If you lead a modern lifestyle where you don’t know when you are going to be in and out then there would be too many times when she’d come home to find a panicking friend. Times have moved on but essentially the telephone check still suffers from a lack of knowing whether you should be able to answer the phone or if you’ve gone out. There are generally override measures but they all ask the user to let the provider know rather than simply ‘knowing’ and that doesn’t suit everyone.

Technology has improved hugely and there are all sorts of internet based devices that look to see what is happening in the home and then make assumptions from that; this is called the ‘internet of things’. They tend to be complicated to set up and work on the basis that people follow a regular routine. Some of them will only raise an alert when they spot something out of the ordinary, so if you fall over putting the rubbish out one night it might be 9.00 the next morning, when you haven’t made a cup of tea, that the alert is raised. This didn’t seem good enough cover for my mum.

We wanted something that gave the best persistent protection (after all, you never know when an accident will happen) with the least system management possible.

So we studied what was available and what the shortcomings were and set to work using the best of technology to create the ideal system for the thoroughly modern lifestyle. We developed the Assure to be about the ‘Internet of people’ – connecting the wearer with the friends, family and neighbours just when they need it – and giving the concerned responders confidence that the wearer is OK, without pestering them.

To achieve this the Assure wristband has the following unique combination of design features:

  • A one-year battery life, so no recharging
  • Waterproof for showering and bathing (and dancing in the rain)
  • Squeeze SOS buttons, so no accidental alarms
  • Comfortable to wear being made from super soft silicone
  • Comfortable to be seen wearing, winning a prestigious IF Design Award for its contemporary styling

When it is linked through the stylish base station you have complete home & garden coverage and the following comprehensive alerts mean that the Assure gives excellent overall protection

  • SOS alert buttons
  • Always listening for signs of a fall
  • Wellness checks: Proprietary timed checks when the wristband buzzes asking the wearer to confirm they are OK by pressing a single button on their band. Ideally one in the morning and one before bed (and maybe one in between) gives everyone confidence in the ongoing wellbeing of the wearer
  • If the system fails (e.g. a power cut or internet outage) an email will be sent to the wearer and their administrators

Now you can also have a system that is good enough for my mum.

Karl

(and please remember that if you don’t get on with it the Assure comes with a 28 day quibble-free guarantee.)

Cutting your own toenails improves your life

There is some great research by the Institute of Ageing at Newcastle University (www.ncl.ac.uk/ageing/) showing that our ability to live fully independently is reliant on us being able to undertake a variety of ‘activities of daily living’. What they have observed is that usually it is the ability to cut our own toenails that is the first activity for which help might be needed.

Getting the nail clippers out as part of a regular health visit seems a good idea however this is addressing the symptom rather than the cause – a decline in physical abilities. If someone is no longer physically able to cut their toe nails, it is likely to be not long before shopping, or walking a few hundred yards, becomes difficult.. The act of kindness with their toenails is allowing the first domino to start a cascade down the slope of decline.

The latest thinking is that ‘re-abling’ is the best in the long term – finding the right exercises to give enough strength, balance and flexibility to enable people to cut their own toenails – and will take them to the top of the slope adding to the quality of life. Some stamina exercises would help keep them be able to do other things too.

One easy way of finding suitable exercises is to look at NHS Choices suggested exercises at www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Exercises-for-older-people.aspx. Moving on from the basic exercises there are even video classes to help to build all round fitness for all levels of ability at www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-fitness-studio/Pages/welcome-to-nhs-fitness-studio.aspx and you don’t even need to leave home.

As always, make sure you stay hydrated (drink water) and we suggest you make sure you have a good method of getting help if you need it – you can guess which we recommend.

When coming second feels like a win

Yesterday the Acticheck Assure competed with 5 other finalists from across the world for the BT Infinity Labs ‘Consumer Tech’ competition – and we finished as runner-up.

BT runs ‘Innovation challenges’ to find the best of global innovation with a view to potential commercial partnership to bring the products and services to a wider audience.

This competition was about connecting Friends, Family & Neighbours and we’d like to congratulate Invoxia, a global company, who won with ‘Triby’. It’s a super stylish device for keeping people connected during their everyday lives (see: http://www.invoxia.com/triby/), in some ways the other side of the coin to the Assure which connects people when their everyday lives take a turn for the worse.

The judges commended the Assure for the unique and simple approach that we have taken in solving the wide ranging problem of keeping vulnerable people independent with the least intrusion in their lives. We hope to work with BT to spread the confidence that the Assure brings more widely.

  • Phone |

    0345 25 75 080

  • email |

    info@acticheck.com

  • Postal |

    Acticheck Ltd
    18 Hill Street
    Saffron Walden
    CB10 1JD

© Copyright Acticheck Ltd, 2019 | UK company registration: 08852416