Category: Healthy Active Ageing

Spirituality

 

Creativity and spirituality

The previous parts of this guide is aimed at ensuring you can age healthily by being best placed to meet your ‘physiological needs’ over the longer term, however the guide would not be complete without exploring creativity and spirituality.

Three standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. …”

~ Marrianne Williamson (full quote below)

Creativity

Creativity is exploring how to do things differently, like an artist adding more techniques. Probably they will never revolutionise their established way of doing things but from time to time they might find that their exploration re-engages them with how they were doing things before and changes things in a nuanced way. Some may find things they enjoy and bring it into a portfolio of work or like Picasso you might find what you do transformed from time to time. It is never too late to join a choir or write a memoir.

The Arts are great ways of getting creative and there are so many things to see and to do yourself. The Arts can demand that you stretch yourself emotionally and can give you new ways of seeing the world. If you can, commit to seeing or visiting two things a month for the next six months and set aside two hours a week to learn a new creative skill which demands your invention and engages your emotional side. Painting, pottery or writing are suitable but crochet, where you are following a pattern does not engage your creativity in the same way.

Travel can also be a fine way of expanding your horizons (literally) and seeing how others live their lives gives us permission to see our own lives differently.

Spirituality

For millions of people, their religion or spirituality is a core part of their being. Many would not use those words, yet they too face the big questions of life – Do I have a purpose? How do I live well? What do I owe other people?

We can have different ideas about many things, but most of us accept that our life on this earth will end. Some people may simply dismiss all this and concentrate on enjoying life, helping others, and sorting things out so as not to leave a muddle when they do go. There are far worse approaches to life. However, as we get older, this may spur you to think more deeply.

Here are some thoughts for those who want to go further.

Your religion and its community may become more important to you and it might be a time to become more involved. Questions may be thrown up which take you exploring in other directions. People who ‘gave all that up at school’ may revisit that decision.

The majority of us don’t belong to an organisation with a formalised system for exploring how to live. Even those who do may differ very much from each other in terms of how they live. It is worth remembering that for many people familiar practices, festivals, and the community of the faith matter more than the fine detail of beliefs.

Wherever we start, we are on our own journey, and even if we find answers, they may not be those other people find.

 

“Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.”

~ Muhammed Ali

 

Many religious organisations have formal worship, social activities, or courses to find out more. Some might enjoy Evensong or Taize singing without being committed church goers.

Some offer a safe space or community for you to explore your thoughts and do not have expectations of beliefs.

You can consider a practice which takes you out of yourself through physical exercise and has spiritual aspects which makes no demands on what you believe. Yoga and Tai Chi are good examples. Some people like solitary reflective practice outside such as walking in a park, the countryside or by the sea.

Meditation and mindfulness etc are often taught as techniques without much emphasis on the underlying philosophies.

If entering a new group, is it friendly and open? Are allowances made for new people? If the emphasis of the group seems to be money, laying on guilt, or exerting pressure, then be wary. Ask trusted family and friends for recommendations.

You could also consider:

    • Philosophy groups
    • Lectures or discussion groups, or good courses on science or history.
    • Walks and simple activities where you attempt to be more ‘present’ than usual and notice what is around you.
    • Book Groups
    • Yoga groups: try gentle ones if you are starting out, and ideal for keeping fit too.
    • Tai Chi
    • Art groups
    • Communal singing
    • Local places of worship and set yourself time limits when you will review your experience and see if this is nourishing.
    • A pilgrimage or retreat: this does not need to be of a group that you particularly agree with but being in a group of people with a shared intention is powerful and may move you on your journey.

The point of this discussion is simply to say that thinking about life as the end gets a bit closer is natural. We have choices how we live, which affect us, our immediate surroundings, and the community. Every stage of life has opportunities, and you may have time to explore. Fortunately, we are not all required to think or be the same.

 

The full quote from Marrianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Healthy Active Ageing

This post is the final section 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.

 

 

Reducing Stress

 

Identifying and reducing stress

“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”   ~ Fred Rogers

Important: health warning If you think you are currently in an emotional crisis you could contact the Samaritans. You can call them free at any time from any phone on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or you may have a branch near you that you can visit (see samaritans.org/branches).

Stressed man

Identifying the cause of your stress

Whatever event or situation is stressing you, there are ways of coping with the problem and regaining your balance. Sometimes a therapist can help you to identify what is bothering you and help you to regain your life balance. Sometimes simply considering matters yourself in a moment when you are more relaxed will reveal your issues and potential solutions. These are some of the most common sources of stress for you to consider:

Stress at work

While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and performance, impact your physical and emotional health, and affect your relationships and home life. It can even mean the difference between success and failure on the job. Think about what you can do to protect yourself from the damaging effects of stress. There might be simple things like wearing headphones to cut out noise, or getting a headset to make phone calls easier, or it could be that you are at a stage where you are ready for a different challenge. If you find yourself stressing about work the day before you are returning then speak with your Human Resources department.

Retirement & unemployment stress

Losing a job is one of life’s most stressful experiences. It’s normal to feel angry, hurt, or depressed, grieve at all that you’ve lost or feel anxious about what the future holds. Losing a job is far more than just losing income. It can be a change of identity and a loss of purpose which can rock your sense of purpose and self-esteem.

While the stress can seem overwhelming, there are many things you can do to come out of this difficult period stronger, more resilient and with a renewed sense of purpose. If your change is due to retirement then try activities that give you a sense of purpose. These could be projects in your home & garden, helping your family, volunteering with a local charity or project or if you have business or other relevant skills offering to be a trustee. Many people who retire can find a renewed sense of purpose and drive and also that they have less free time than when they were working.

Caregiver stress

The demands of caregiving can be overwhelming, especially if you feel you’re in over your head or have little control over the situation. If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind — eventually leading to burnout. There are charities that can offer support and also put you in touch with respite opportunities. Using a suitable device such as the Assure can give you more day to day freedom. knowing the person you care for can alert you if they need to, gives you more time out, perhaps catching up with friends, than if you are constantly worried when you are out on a task.

Grief and loss

Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest stressors. The pain and stress can feel overwhelming. Many people experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. There are ways to cope with the pain and emotion of loss. Cruse Bereavement Care has excellent advice and resources for those who are having emotional difficulties due to loss.

Financial stress

This can be caused by having too much as well as too little money and typically results from a lack of financial planning that can lead to debt. It is easy to lose control of your finances and this can lead to stress. Managing your money can be a complicated task so either take the time to learn how to do it or seek expert advice. Most importantly, do not be taken in by any ‘get rich quick’ schemes.

Addiction/dependency stress

This is a specialised area but many people have suffered from addictions and help is available. The ‘Anonymous’ networks (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) have a tried and tested system or your doctors should be able to point you in the right direction. Mind.org.uk maintain a list of addiction and dependency services which you can visit by clicking www.acticheck.com/dependency

Event/situation based stress

Often people find themselves under stress because of illnesses or conditions they find themselves or loved ones with. Usually there are specialist charities where people understand the stresses related to particular medical conditions or life events. Seek them out and speak with them. They will be able to point you towards resources that others in a similar situation have found helpful both emotionally and for extra costs associated with a condition; and it is good to know there are others in the same boat who are willing to support each other and who understand.

Trauma stress

At the moment of a crisis such as a fall or sudden incapacitating pain there will be an adrenaline rush and though the event will have been highly stressful your body has a way of getting you through the immediate aftermath.

More damaging for many is the aftermath of such a situation if they are not found and don’t know how long they will have to wait to be found. Even diligent neighbours have been known to take 4-5 days before looking through windows, such is the British reserve and respect for personal space. The waiting and not knowing whether help will come before your demise can be far more traumatic than the initial shock and many people don’t make it home after this type of experience. 13 people aged over 65 die every day through a fall and there are 600 emergency hospital admissions every day. You can eliminate the trauma of a long wait by making sure you have an alert system to get help in case you need it.

Loneliness stress

Some people are happy in their own company whilst others with a similar level of contact describe themselves as lonely. It is all very well to say you should ‘get out more’ and this guide offers lots of possibilities but there are other ways. There is a far more complete list of stresses at www.helpguide.org

Reducing unhealthy stress

Identifying the causes of stress may have already set you on a path to reducing unhealthy stress and you may have committed to a course of action. Often that can be supported by making small changes to have an evolution to becoming less stressed. The following actions could help:

Connect with your existing support network

A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against stress. When you have people you can count on, life’s pressures don’t seem as overwhelming. Families are more dispersed than ever however technology can help bring them closer. Here are some commonly available free technologies that are great at keeping people in touch

  • WhatsApp WhatsApp is a brilliant app for keeping families in touch. It is entirely private and you can share messages and photos with chosen individuals or groups and also have phone calls free of charge to people on your network or even video calls. It is not difficult to set up, and you can start with just two people and then build different networks from there. There is no advertising on WhatsApp either but you will need a smartphone.
  • Facebook Facebook allows you to build a social network and most things that are said are shared with everyone on your network. It is not as good at communicating one to one or with smaller groups but comes into its own when you want a wider forum, so think of it more as being in a market square.
  • Skype, Again this has free calls and video calls but is not as good at generally sharing photos as the others as it is focussed on realtime communications. You both have to be looking at Skype at the same time but it still offers you free calls worldwide.
  • Appear.in A really simple system where if up to 6 people visit the same webpage at the same time and turn their video cameras on (on phone, tablets or laptops) they will be in a conference call/chatroom. You make your chatrooms by adding a random set of words after the link appear.in, for instance www.appear.in/acticheckisgreat !

Connect to others

The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when you’re feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who make you feel good and don’t let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a Zulu word that translates as ‘I am because we are’. This highlights the idea that we are formed by our relations with others, that a child born in isolation would not grow into a rounded adult even if it were fed the same information and given the same knowledge as someone who has grown up in community.

Have you been clear about your needs? Don’t assume people know you are feeling lonely so make it clear. Some people will withdraw through loneliness and, to outsiders, it can be seen as a being aloof. Help them to help you by telling them how you’d like to relate to them and if someone comes to visit who you’d like to see more often be grateful for the time they have taken and don’t complain about how long it has been since you last saw them.

If your natural network still leaves you feeling lonely then you should speak to charities, your local council or your local GP who will be able to point you in the right direction. Do not suffer in silence! As well as ensuring you have people you are connected to, the radio can be a useful tonic at home. If you look online or on a smartphone or iPad app you can find internet radio stations like Radio 4 Extra which broadcasts archived repeats of comedies, drama and documentaries 24 hours a day.

Get moving

Upping your activity level is something you can do right now to help relieve stress and start to feel better. Exercise clatters your body chemistry which lifts your mood and can be a distraction from worries, breaking cycles of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully (focusing your attention on the physical sensations you experience as you move).

Engage your senses

Another fast way to relax can be to engage a single sense— sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centred? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.

Learn to relax

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing induce a state of restfulness that is the polar opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities can reduce your everyday stress levels and boost feelings of joy and serenity. They also increase your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure. There are lots of resources online, for example relaxlikeaboss.com has interesting ideas on using positive affirmations to control stress

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress while eating adiet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs. Get your rest. Feeling tired can increase stress by causing you to think irrationally. At the same time, chronic stress can disrupt your sleep which can in turn make you more stressed. Find ways to get adequate rest.   

The next (and final) mini-guide explores Spiritual Health.  

 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.

 

Memory maximisation

 

Keeping your memory in the best shape

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
~The Story Girl, Lucy Maud Montgomery

Important: health warning
If you have concerns about memory loss or not being able to identify people or things you know, see your doctor. Early diagnosis can dramatically slow deterioration for many of the ageing diseases.

Senior Man Doing Crossword Puzzle In Garden

Activities to maintain your memory

These ideas are useful practices to slow normal ageing memory decline.
There is an old saying that goes ‘Use it or lose it’. Playing and learning is good. You could try to:

Play games which use strategy
Chess, bridge or Scrabble are good as are crosswords, word puzzles, or number puzzles such as Sudoku.

Read newspapers or magazines that challenge you
Choose journals where you don’t always agree with their editorial position. If you don’t like reading go to debates.

Get in the habit of learning new things
Games, recipes, driving routes, a musical instrument, a foreign language. Take a course in an unfamiliar subject that interests you.

Improve existing skills
If you already speak a foreign language, commit to improving your fluency. Or if you’re a keen golfer, aim to lower your handicap.

Get planning
Whatever the project, a garden, a drawing or a holiday, the planning is a good brain exercise.

 

The next section looks at mental health & stress.

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.

 

 

“Exercise should be regarded as tribute to the heart.”
  ~ Gene Tunney

Active seniors running outside in green nature

Some exercise possibilities

To help you choose a programme you can feel good about.

Cycling

Benefits: cycling is gentle on the joints. It burns plenty of calories and improves your cardiovascular health. It can also be built into your day as a means of transport.

Considerations: a good quality bicycle can be expensive however you can get just as much exercise on a cheap bike, you just won’t go so fast! Your bicycle will need regular checks for signs of wear & tear and to be fixed, if necessary. Protective equipment (including a helmet) is essential. Be traffic conscious and plan your route or join a cycling club.

Online videos or DVDs

Benefits: Used at home can give you the expertise of an instructor without the expense or inconvenience of attending a gym. You can also work out whenever you have the time.

Considerations: You may need to use a variety of online videos or DVDs to keep your workouts interesting. You might like to exercise with a neighbour, to break the routine. You also need to follow instructions carefully and include warm-ups to avoid injury. Make sure the instructors on the videos are qualified. Just because someone is a celebrity does not mean they have relevant qualifications or knowledge.

Gym membership

Benefits: Gyms stock a wide range of equipment and often offer classes such as aerobics or pilates. Taking full advantage of your membership should give you plenty of opportunities to improve your all-round health and fitness. Instructors should be on hand to help you use equipment correctly and reduce your risk of injuries.

Considerations: Gym memberships can be expensive and gyms can be very busy at peak times, such as after work. If you think you may feel embarrassed or intimidated working out in front of people, find out when the gym is less busy.

Top tip If you can focus your keep fit at non-peak times the price of membership plummets and classes are less crowded.

Home fitness equipment

Benefits: Exercising on home fitness equipment is ideal for people who have to take their exercise in when they can grab a few minutes such as parents of small children or carers. You can also watch TV or play your inspiration music up loud.

Considerations: Home fitness equipment is expensive and takes up a lot of space. Many people stop using their home fitness equipment within a short period of buying it. A qualified person must show you how to use the equipment, otherwise you risk injury.

Top tip Home exercise when no-one else is there is risky if you have an fall. Make sure you have a way of getting help if you are incapacitated.

Running

Benefits: Running is a weight-bearing activity so it helps to build strong bones. It’s one of the best ways to increase your cardiovascular fitness and burns lots of calories. The need for equipment is minimal, although it is recommended you buy a good pair of running shoes.

Considerations: Running-related injuries can be caused by the heavy load that running places on joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles throughout the body. It is vital that you build up your strength gradually from initial fast walking, through gentle jogging to running.

Swimming

Benefits: Swimming is a low-impact activity. The buoyancy of the water supports your body so the risk of musculoskeletal injury is small. Swimming strokes exercise the entire body but particularly the muscles of the back, chest and arms. Swimming is an ideal form of exercise for most people, particularly people who are frail, elderly or obese.

Considerations: Swimming is a learned skill. You may need to take swimming lessons if you are a beginner. Swimming is not a weight-bearing activity, so unlike activities such as walking or running, you will not strengthen bones or burn as many calories.

Top tip
Don’t go swimming in the sea if there is a shark warning!


Team sports

Benefits: Team sports offer friendship and fun. It is easier to exercise when you are enjoying yourself. Most team sports, such as soccer or netball, quickly build cardiovascular health because of the required running and quick bursts of activity.

Considerations: The stop–start nature of most team sports may put strain on the joints and ligaments, which can increase the risk of injury, particularly of the knees and ankles. Team sports tend to be seasonal (such as winter or summer), so you’ll need an exercise plan for the off-season.

Also consider if this is in your nature. Team sports are both collaborative (with your team) and competitive (against the other team). You need to enjoy and not be stressed out by both of these elements.

Walking

Benefits: Walking is an ideal exercise, especially for beginners. It is free, easy to perform and doesn’t require any special training or equipment apart from a good pair of shoes. You can walk alone, with a friend or you can join a local walking group, or even start by catching the bus from a different stop.

Considerations: Some people feel unsafe walking the streets alone. Remember there are alternatives such as walking with a companion or a walking group.


Strength training – free weights

Strength training includes training with free weights, body weight training, chair exercises and rubber resistance.

Benefits: Strength training is a weight-bearing activity so it strengthens bones, builds muscle and burns calories. Strength training involves not just the targeted muscles but surrounding muscles too. Strength training can help to improve and maintain your independence in any day-today activity.

Considerations: Strength training must be built up gradually. Incorrect technique or trying to use heavier weights than you can manage may put you at risk of injuries. Get professional advice from a physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or qualified fitness instructor.

Strength training – machines

Benefits: Like training with free weights, training with machines is a weightbearing activity. Each machine is designed to target a specific muscle group so this activity is ideal for beginners.

Considerations: You’ll need either a gym membership or home equipment. You will need advice on the best type of equipment to achieve your health goals and match your body shape, and to be taught by a professional to ensure your routine builds up progressively.

 

The next section looks gives you some tips to help your memory.

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.

 

Exercise for the body

 
“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres
Senior Alarm System

Identify your wants from physical activity

Do you like things organised or prefer a more casual approach? Do you like to do things on your own or to be part of a group-based activity? You are more likely to stick to something you enjoy or which gives a sense of achievement. Getting more exercise might involve getting off the bus two stops early or walking up escalators as well as something more complex. Considerations include:
  • Exercising alone – are you self-motivated? If so, this is a good option, especially if your busy schedule prevents you from planning a regular time to be active every day.
  • Training buddy – you may be more likely to commit to a physical activity routine if you are doing it with someone else, because you don’t want to let your training buddy down.
  • Team sports and group physical activity programs – organised activities offer the chance to widen your social circle as well as getting fit. It doesn’t need to be strenuous either, for instance at a walking football club you are disqualified if you run!
  • Mixing it up – some people like to combine two or three options. For example, you may choose to exercise alone on two or three days of the week, and train with a buddy or participate in a team sport on a couple of the other days.

Physical activity – decide on your health goals

While any type of physical activity is good for you, different physical activities offer different results. Deciding your health goals will steer you towards the right intensity of activity for you. Tips for choosing a physical activity
  • Try to choose an activity you enjoy and that suits both your goals and your lifestyle.
  • Choose an indoor activity if you are bothered by weather extremes such as heat or cold.
  • Enjoyment is the key to sticking to an exercise plan. Choose an activity you enjoy, not one you think is ‘good for you’.
  • Think back. Did you enjoy a particular physical activity as a child, such as cycling or basketball? If so, give that activity another go.
  • Keep your budget in mind. Some physical activities, such as skiing or sailing, can require a big financial investment.
  • Whatever activity you choose be realistic about your current health and level of fitness. If you are a beginner, the physical demands of certain activities (such as running) may be too much at first. Choose a gentler alternative and work your way up.
  • Don’t give up. The benefits of activity come over time and what starts as a chore will hopefully end up as pleasure.
  • Be realistic: if you have joint problems try and find a suitable non-weight bearing activity such as swimming or cycling.
  • Remember any old injuries and choose exercises that won’t aggravate them.
  • Ask the advice of your doctors’ surgery. There may be special clubs which would suit you and may be available on prescription.

The next section looks at some specific activities, their benefits & other considerations to help you find the right one for you.

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.

 

Staying safe at home

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

~ Jane Austen

Staying safe in your home and garden

Monthly Checklist

We all spend a lot of time at home and in retirement that may be an even larger proportion of your life. That is why it is so important that your home should be safe.

This checklist should help you keep safe.

  • Check and remedy any safety hazards around your home. These could include:
    • Trip hazards such as loose carpets, cables and general detritus,
    • Security of handrails and whether other safety equipment is functioning as intended,
    • Defective electrical cables and sockets,
    • Anything that gets hot (room heaters, kettles, ovens, …).
  • Check smoke alarms regularly (and fit if there are none).
  • Vacuum regularly to keep dust levels down.
  • Open windows regularly to get some fresh air into the house.
  • Keep at least one room warm during the winter
  • Keep warm in bed. Use blankets and possibly a nightcap during really cold nights, a suitable electric blanket can keep you warm overnight if you tend to get cold even in bed.
  • If you are at home for much of the day, try and use a room that gets lots of sunlight as this minimises the possibility of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which can leave you feeling depressed. You can also get SAD lamps that replicate sunlight to fight this type of depression.
  • Keep on top of home maintenance. A small job can turn into a big job if not dealt with promptly. Try and get someone you trust to come and look around your home and advise you on any jobs that need doing.
  • Make sure you have a way of calling for help if you are trapped in your home or garden and unable to get to the phone (e.g. because of a fall).
  • Make a plan for what to do in the event of a fire. Try and have at least 2 escape routes and if any route has a door with a deadlock, make sure you can get to the key.
  • If you live alone, consider fitting a keysafe so people can access your property in the event of an emergency. Remember to tell at least one trusted person how to open the keysafe.

The next section explores Lifelong learning.

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.

Balance

 

“No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.”
~ Maimonides

 

 

 

Why ideal weight is good for you

You are likely to live longer, with less time being impacted by health issues. It becomes easier to enjoy life and indulge in activities that bring you joy!
More specifically maintaining an ideal weight has the following proven medical benefits:

If you are overweight reducing your weight is likely to lead to:

  • Improved mobility
  • Improved blood sugar levels and decreased risk of diabetes
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Decreased risk of heart disease
  • Decreased risk of certain cancers
  • Decreased joint pain
  • Decreased risk of stroke
  • Reduced back pain
  • Decreased risk, or improvement in symptoms, of osteoarthritis
  • Decreased risk, or improvement in symptoms, of sleep apnoea

If you are underweight increasing your weight is likely to lead to:

  • Improved energy through decreased risk of malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, or anaemia
  • Decreased risk of osteoporosis
  • Improved immune function

Enjoying what you eat and drink

If you choose well what you eat and drink you should be able to enjoy it just as much even if you are trying to gain, lose or maintain weight.

 

Find an ideal weight

In the UK, we have a rule-of-thumb to find the ideal weight range which is called Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a very rough guide and whilst it works well for most people the boundaries are quite broad and it doesn’t work the same for all body types.
Remember that an ideal BMI for one ethnicity may not be right for another.

This video www.acticheck.com/bmivideo  gives a good overview of why BMI can be a misleading measure.

We suggest that you search online for an ‘ideal weight calculator’ and explore what the various formulae suggest.
Pick a target weight, and if you are already there that is great, just make sure to weigh yourself regularly and check that you are not drifting from your target.

 

The next article in this series explores ‘Getting to your ideal weight and staying there’.

 


    If you have a critical issue bothering you, click here for some information about what you can do now.


    How to get the latest Health Active Ageing

    If you are looking for some regular handy tips to help keep you shipshape, you have some choices:

    1. The simplest is to fill in your details below and click on the ‘Get Healthy Active Ageing’ button
    2. Bookmark our blogs and visit is regularly, you will be able to navigate through all our posts
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    Senior man reading prescription label

     

    “The best doctors and medicine in the world can’t save you if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.”

    ~ Magic Johnson

     

     

    Keeping on top of meds

    Very few people like taking medications but not taking them can lead to medical problems. Medications fall into three main categories:

    Supplements

    Whilst not strictly medications, dietary supplements such as vitamins and fish oils are widely used. Much is written about the benefits of supplements but it is important to recognise they have not been tested to pharmaceutical standards. In general, supplements have no deleterious effects on your health as long as you follow the directions on the label, though for any beyond the most widely available, it would be wise to check with a dietitian.

    ‘Over the Counter’ remedies

    These medications are typically taken for the relief of pain or discomfort. They can be very effective as a short term remedy but should not be used to treat long term symptoms without prior consultation with your doctor. As with all medication, read the label before taking.

    If you have a symptom, speak to your local pharmacist. They are highly trained and can advise on a suitable medication.

    Prescription Medicines

    These medicines are prescribed by your doctor and are typically more ‘powerful’ (or expensive) than over the counter medicines and should be taken as prescribed.

     

    Here are five top tips to help your doctors to help you.

    1. Always take your medications as prescribed. The label will give details of times and special conditions (such as before a meal).
    2. Always discuss with your doctor any concerns you have about any medications you are taking. It is important to let your doctor know if you have decided, for whatever reason, not to take any of your medications or if you are taking additional over the counter medications.
    3. If your medications are having any effect (either good or bad) make a note so you can tell your doctor the next time you see them.
    4. If you are having a strong reaction call an NHS adviser direct on ‘111’ and they will advise you what to do or to call an ambulance if they think it is that urgent.
    5. If you have difficulty keeping track of your medications ask your pharmacist for your next prescription in blister packs. These are organised so that you pop the right pills out at the right time. There are also electronic pill dispensers that will sound an alarm when you should take your next medication.

    The next article in this series explores ‘Managing your weight’.

     


      If you have a critical issue bothering you, click here for some information about what you can do now.


      How to get the latest Health Active Ageing

      If you are looking for some regular handy tips to help keep you shipshape, you have some choices:

      1. The simplest is to fill in your details below and click on the ‘Get Healthy Active Ageing’ button
      2. Bookmark our blogs and visit is regularly, you will be able to navigate through all our posts
      3. Follow us on Facebook

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      © Copyright Acticheck Ltd, 2020 | UK company registration: 08852416

      If you know something is wrong then please contact an expert immediately.

      Your doctor can help with medical problems, or if you are in an emotional crisis you could contact the Samaritans. You can call them free from any phone on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or you may have a branch near you that you can visit (see www.samaritans.org/branches).

      If the cause of your crisis is feeling overwhelmed by a financial or legal issue then they may suggest a local legal centre or the Citizens Advice Bureau as a good first step to solving your issues.

      There is a Spanish phrase that says ‘Where there is a will, there are many ways’. Just because what you have tried so far has not worked does not mean there is nothing else to try and these people are expert at finding the right solution in a crisis, and they care.