BrewMonday

Brew Monday

This is an idea about how we can combat Blue Monday. Today is officially meant to be the most depressing day of the year (at least things can onlly get better). The Chritsmas decorations are down, the days are still short and it is a long time until the next significant break for many of us.

London Underground notice board poem about Brew Monday

Just to compound matters we have just started a cold snap. The forecaster’s advice is to check on older or vulnerable people and make sure they are OK.

There is an increased risk of stroke in the cold. Bear in mind that, even if the person is wearing extra jumpers, if the air they breathe is consistently below 18 degrees C they will become more susceptible to respiratory infections. If someone has a broken heating system this is when it might become apparent. With an Assure system you can look online to make sure that the home is warm and even set an minimum temperature so that if the person is at home and the temperature drops below this minimum you will get a message to let you know – we call it the ‘cold at home’ alert.

Many in our communities have fading eyesight as they age making them less confident about going out at night and the long dark evenings can leave them feeling isolated.

Brew Monday

So far Blue Monday doesn’t sound like a bundle of laughs, but ‘Brew Monday’ does its best to ‘turn that frown upside down’. If you were passing through some London Underground stations you might have seen this poem on a notice board.

Instead of feeling blue, connect with someone. Ask a neighbour over, put the kettle on, brew some tea and have a chat. It doesn’t need to be over anything important. If you don’t know what their favourite pasta shape is that could be a starting point. If they are uncomfortable coming out at night, take some cake around and ask if you can share it.

As the poem suggests, it doesn’t need to be at home (is there someone who might appreciate a trip to a pub for a different kind of brew?) and it doesn’t have to be today – but today is as good a day as any!

It is important in the colder weather and long nights that those of us who can look out, for those who need it.

As the Zulu idea of Ubuntu proposes, we are defined by how we relate to those around us (they say ‘I am because we are’). So let’s put in a bit of effort to connect – over a brew.

To find out more have a look at the Samaritans information page.

 

Age Apartheid

Age Apartheid

A new report by ‘United for all ages’ (https://www.unitedforallages.com/) highlights that the UK is one of the most age segregated countries in the world. Intergenerational living, either in the same house or local area, was not unusual. Close proximity could mean seeing elderly relatives several times a week.  In recent times this has become rarer resulting in more older people reporting feeling lonely and generally excluded from their community.

Teenage Boy Helping Senior Woman with Shopping

There are benefits being missed by the younger people too. Being able to pop home for a meal and a chat or having someone who might have the time to wait in for a delivery when you can’t. How many of us enjoyed spending times with grandparents when we were very young? and how helpful was that for our parents.

One of the reasons for this drift (the young to the cities) is that working aged people often find employment in the large urban centres, resulting in them both living and socialising there. They may also prefer the social life afforded by a city. On the other hand, retired people can find a lifestyle they prefer away from the city. They might also find that by swapping their city property for a country one they have more money in their pocket to enjoy.

These tendencies to have been around for some time but have got greater over the last decade as service industries based in offices have dominated employment compared to manufacturing based in factories which were more geographically spread.

What can be done

No doubt there are structural issues in society which could be addressed. With better transport infrastructure more people could stay where they grew up and commute. Even in areas like London, which have good transport coverage, there is difficulty coping with demand. Roads are highly congested and public transport very crowded. Other parts of the country are lacking public transport. Better public transport would enable some workers to live further from their workplace and closer to their family.

What you can do

In the meantime, we have the benefits of the internet age to help keep us in touch. Skype and WhatsApp both enable video calling on a laptop or smartphone. If someone you’d like to feel more connected with doesn’t yet have any IT then Portal from Facebook might be worth exploring.

The point of the report is not be fatalistic but to highlight the sorts of things we can do to improve intergenerational integration. Though families may be dispersed there are still ways of encouraging mixing between the generations with our localities.

Some interesting ideas include:

Our own experience at Acticheck is that there is a massive amount of neighbourliness and people are generally happy to look out for and after each other.

If you’d like to see our communities more linked across the generation do consider signing up for the United for all ages network (www.unitedforallages.com/join-us). This will keep you in touch with what is going on and offer support with local projects.

 

Artificial intelligence

Using Artificial intelligence in triage

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an automated way of processing information. In this case, a computer system has been taught about medical conditions their symptoms. It asks questions to narrow down the possible causes and decide the priority the medics should give to it.

Human machine analysis

If you speak to someone on NHS 111 they will be using AI to take your answers and to ask the next question, until the system makes a recommendation. You can also do this yourself online at www.111.nhs.uk whenever you feel worried about a condition.

The at-home service will become even easier as the NHS has entered an agreement with Amazon so their Alexa platform will be able to answer your health queries. You will get advice just by talking to Alexa. (read more on this here)

There is some debate about how much Alexa should guide an individual’s health. Should it listen for indicators of suicidal thoughts (more here); and what does that do for individual privacy. Even the most ardent protector of personal privacy might soften if someone they loved was saved by an intervention because of ‘listening in’.

Some hospitals, such as Birmingham University Hospitals, are encouraging patients to undertake a two minute “artificial intelligence triage” before they consider attending hospital. This could instead direct people to their pharmacist or possibly advise people to call 999 for rapid assistance (read more here). Some hospitals have booths set up so when you first arrive you can enter your symptoms.

Spotting hidden urgent conditions

Many people have been surprised by the effectiveness of these AI systems.

A&E is often operating under pressure and humans naturally will go towards the obvious need. However, there are a number of conditions that don’t present dramatically but where speed of treatment is vital. For instance, strokes and sepsis are two conditions where early intervention can dramatically improve the outcome and where delay can cause life changing outcomes or even death. You may have heard of the ‘golden hour’ for strokes but many patients may present with cuts & bruises after a fall and not realise they have had a stroke. Likewise Sepsis (www.sepsistrust.org ), which kills 52,000 people a year, often presents as a general lethargy and occasionally people can be sent home to rest when they desperately need medical assistance.

With the pressures on A&E departments, many are missing their targets to see patients within 4 hours, when for some patients being seen immediately is paramount. Having pods where patients go upon arrival to fill in an electronic questionnaire may seem impersonal but it is a very efficient way of getting the information, perhaps because the machine will not get side-tracked by chatting about the weather, last night’s football scores or ‘Strictly’.

Other than the speed of collecting the right information, the major advantage of AI is it has machine learning and can scour through millions of individual’s records for combinations of symptoms that match. By tracking the eventual, confirmed diagnoses of patients with matching symptoms there is a stronger idea of your diagnosis. This is particularly impressive when separating out symptoms that may be due to overlapping issues.

Evin if your pattern of responses to the questions has only been seen 5 times throughout Europe, AI will find them all in seconds and include their end diagnoses and prioritise you accordingly.

Once you are in the NHS system you will then be cared for by professionals (humans) but AI can help get you to the right starting place faster and more reliably.

Staying warm at home

Knowing how warm a house is saves lives

Even if you feel ‘warm enough’, if the air you breathe is less than 18C respiratory infections become likely. A major problem at this time of year is people not realising their home is too cold. The NHS give some useful advice (below) and Acticheck have a ‘Cold at home’ warning which can help.

A forest in winter.

NHS England ‘How to stay warm and well in winter gives the following advice:

  • if you’re not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, heat your home to at least 18C [optimal temperature is 21C]
  • keep your bedroom at 18C all night if you can – and keep the bedroom window closed
  • use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed – but do not use both at the same time
  • have at least 1 hot meal a day – eating regularly helps keep you warm
  • have hot drinks regularly
  • draw curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts
  • get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional

Why monitor?

People don’t always realise when they are getting too cold and so the Acticheck ‘cold at home’ warning indicates when there might be a problem. It could be the thermostat needs adjusting or there is a problem with the boiler. If the wearer is at home and the temperature is too low their responders will get an email. In addition, by enabling the ‘frost monitor’, the wearer and all responders will receive a warning email if the temperature falls below 5C when the wearer is not at home.

How to make use of the Acticheck ‘Cold at home alert’

  1. Go to MY BASE and then look at the bottom right of the screen (see below),
  2. Turn the ‘Enable room temperature monitor’ on,
  3. Set your minimum temperature*,
  4. Set the time window to be monitored,
  5. Then press Save (top right).

Settings for Cold at home

*Bear in mind the base station reports on its ambient temperature and you may need to make adjustments if it is not representative of the general household level. You can see the general temperature trend on the chart in MY BASE.

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.

 

IdentifyingStress1

 

Mental health matters

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
~Winston Churchill

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).

Mental health always needs care and sometimes needs fixing

Very few people will get through life without having a mental health issue, but so few seem willing to talk about it that we can all think that something is unique to us. An important thing is to assess whether you are reasonably well prepared to cope with everyday life.

Mentalhealth.co.uk have ideas for Positive Mental Health and how you can improve yours. at: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/looking-after-your-mental-health

Keeping a healthy level of stress

Stress is healthy as long as it is managed. It is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defences kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”

In emergency situations, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and can save your life— giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.

Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges. It’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the gamewinning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV.

Unhealthy stress

But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.

If you tend to get stressed frequently your body may be chronically stressed which can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. As well as suppressing your immune system, upsetting your digestive and reproductive systems, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speeding up the aging process, it can leave you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

The symptoms of unhealthy stress

The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar — even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.

Look at the following list of symptoms and underline any that you are aware of:

  • Cognitive symptoms: Memory problems, Inability to concentrate, Poor judgment, Seeing only the negative, Anxious or racing thoughts, Constant worrying.
  • Emotional symptoms: Depression or general unhappiness, Anxiety and agitation, Moodiness & irritability or anger, Feeling overwhelmed, Loneliness and isolation.
  • Physical symptoms: Aches and pains, Diarrhoea or constipation, Nausea & dizziness, Chest pain/rapid heart rate, Loss of sex drive, Frequent colds or flu.
  • Behavioural symptoms: Eating more or less, Sleeping too much or too little, Withdrawing from others, Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities, Using alcohol cigarettes or drugs to relax, Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing).

How much stress is too much?

Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, it’s important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is “too much” differs from person to person. Some people seem to be able to roll with life’s punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on stressful excitement, otherwise no-one would ever do a bungee jump.

Looking at the list above, does the number of things you underlined in the list above worry (stress) you? If so you should probably do something about it.

 

The next section helps you identify the causes of your stress and has some ideas about what you can do about it.

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.

 

Personal alarms are an excellent way to help people who live alone to feel safer and more secure. They provide family members, and the elderly person, with the peace of mind that they would be contacted in the event of an emergency. There are several different types of personal alarm systems available, including the Assure®, so it is important to make the right decision for you. 

Why are personal alarms so important? 

Many accidents often happen in the bathroom or on overnight visits to the toilet, which is you should choose a system are designed to be worn at all times. Falls are the most common cause of injury-related deaths in people over the age of 75. Studies show that longer a person stays on the ground following a fall, the longer the length of their recovery time and the lesser the extent of their recovery – which can be detrimental to a person’s life. However, by receiving immediate help, this dramatically increases the chance of a full recovery.

How do personal alarms give the elderly greater independence? 

  • They can live by themselves

Having a personal alarm system allows the senior to call for help when they require assistance. They are free to live in the comfort of their own home, with the confidence that help is available if required. With automatic fall detection, the alarm can generate a call if the wearer is unable to push the button for any reason, perhaps because of loss of consciousness or disorientation from an accident. 

  • No heavy technology 

Fall alarms are portable, lightweight devices which are a comfortable accessory for the elderly wearer. For example, the Assure™ is a wristband design that fits with a modern, vigorously independent lifestyle. This wristband is designed to be worn all the time and it allows you to call for help by simply squeezing the band and can monitor for falls, while still allowing regular No Response checks at times of your choice during the day. Some are designed for use in the home, some for outside whilst the Assure can do both.

  • Un-assisted showering

As many personal alarm systems are waterproof, including the Assure®, this allows for elder family members to still continue with their daily routine. Slips and falls commonly occur in the bath or shower, which can cause concern about calling for assistance without having in-house care. This system avoids that level of worry, as should an accident happen, the alarm is still able to generate a call for aid.

How can the Assure® help you? 

Here at Acticheck, we have developed the Assure® wristband which is a must-have for anyone who spends a significant amount of time alone – especially the elderly. It is a very intelligent system which utilizes automated calls, emails and texts, giving those who care the information they require when they need it. It is waterproof and has a battery that lasts for over one year so there is no recharging. The online dashboard system allows anyone, with permission, to set up and manage the Assure® and its optional settings from anywhere with internet access.

If you would like to purchase our excellent Personal alarm and monitor for the elderly, please feel free to visit the shop on our website. However, if you would like to have a chat with a member of our team – give us a call on 0345 25 75 080. Alternatively, send an email to info@acticheck.com and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

How To Avoid Fall Risk In The Elderly

One of the biggest worries that family members face about their elderly relatives is their risk of falling and sustaining severe injuries. As a person grows older, their body’s is more prone to bruising and pressure sores whilst their ability to heal gradually slows down, so the injuries resulting in a fall can be very serious. Falls can not only lead to severe injuries and disability, but they often are the reason behind a loss of confidence and increasing dependence on other family members – or even moving into a nursing or care home.

Of course, you are going to want your loved ones to avoid this situation as much as possible, which is why we have compiled some ways that you can prevent falls from occurring. 

Regular check-ups 

Ageing friends and family members should always have regular, full checkups so that any medical conditions can be quickly diagnosed and treatment can be promptly started. Visits to GPs should be very much encouraged, as well as loved ones just checking upon them in their home. You should always ensure that their body is functioning adequately and their vision and hearing are not getting impaired, as this can cause many problems down the line. 

Check their home

Your elderly loved ones need to be living in a safe space, free from any trip hazards. There are many changes you can make to their home that will help them avoid falls and ensure their own safety. Small furniture and everyday clutter, such as bags, pet bowls, small decor, electrical and phone cords, or even throw rugs can cause falls. 

For example, on the stairs, there should be non slip treads and handrails are on both sides. In other rooms, all carpets and large area rugs should be firmly fixed to the floor to avoid tripping – as well as ensuring that adequate lighting is maintained throughout the premises. 

Invest in a monitoring system 

Personal alarms which implement fall monitoring technology are an excellent way to help prevent the risk of serious injuries from falls. Here at Acticheck, we have developed the Assure® which allows the wearer to gently squeeze the sides of the smart band to call for help and is also monitoring for potential severe falls. It is waterproof and has a battery that lasts for over one year so there is no taking off to recharge, which means the wearer can have it on them all the time, even overnight and in the bathroom when most falls happen.

If an alarm is triggered and you do not respond when the system calls you, it will automatically call the people you choose– friends, family or neighbours  or the monitoring centre – to help. All this comes in a stylish, easy-to-wear wristband that is designed to be worn 24 hours a day with great home and garden coverage because you never know when you might need help, so it really is the perfect fall monitor for the elderly.

About Acticheck

The Assure™ was conceived by Karl Gibbs, after having a discussion with his mother when he asked there was a way of confirming she was OK each day. Karl was soon hit with the realization that many other families have been searching for a personal alarm for seniors who are in the same situation as his mother. The opportunity then came about to explore with local business people and experienced engineers whether his vision of a smart wristband could be made real – and if it was something worth doing.

Our team at Acticheck understand that family and friends might like to know and be able to help in an emergency situation even if they are not with the person for the critical event. Therefore, if you would like to understand our product in more detail, have a browse through our website and find out the many more ways we can help your relatives who live alone. You can also telephone 0345 2575 080 or email info@acticheck.com where we are on hand to offer our assistance wherever we can.

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