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Earlier this week a post popped up in my news-feed about a truly inspirational woman called Harriet Thompson, who lives in Southern California, USA. ROCK ‘N’ ROLLING AT 91 At 91 years old, having just completed the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon (26.2 miles) and broken a world record in the process, her key message to the reporters who spoke with her just after she had crossed the finish line was “it’s never too late”. Harriet went on to explain that exercise makes her feel wonderful… Looking at Harriet, you would probably place her somewhere in her 70’s, she trains regularly, so she is in super shape and her energetic personality positively beams from her.  Exercise certainly appears to be agreeing with her! LOW IMPACT…

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Stories circulate via the internet, in much the same way that they are passed from one person to the next by word of mouth. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad. Some we connect with more naturally than others and these meaningful tales are the ones we tend to remember and pass on. A FINAL FAREWELL A few years back I came across a story online where a mother and daughter were being observed in an airport saying a final goodbye to one another. The story describes a tearful farewell and the parting words before the daughter walks away towards her boarding gate are “I wish you enough”. The mother is elderly and unwell, she knows that this is the last time she will see her daughter because she…

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Reading about the amazing Harriet Thompson who ran 26.2 miles to complete the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon at the age of 91 got me thinking about age and some of the barriers we place on ourselves and others. Athlete Jackie Joyner–Kersee once said “Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.” Perhaps she has a point. Our age is just a number after all and it does not necessarily have to stop us doing the things that we love and feel passionate about. Let’s take a look at a few other inspirational elders who have proven this point beyond all doubt with their accomplishments; MINORU SAITO This incredible man circumnavigated the world eight times in total; the last trip at…

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A growing problem affecting the UK’s elderly population is type 2 diabetes with an increasing number of people now being diagnosed with this condition. Providing diabetes is diagnosed early on and kept under good control, it is possible to pursue a healthy lifestyle free of health related complications for many years. However it can be difficult to spot the telltale signs in our elderly population because symptoms are often masked by a combination of the usual age related changes we have come to expect. Sadly this means that many people live with this condition for several years without receiving a diagnosis or treatment. THE SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 2 DIABETES Unexplained weight loss without dieting Nausea and vomiting Dizziness Fatigue – when diabetes is not diagnosed the…

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When we think about our health, the focus tends to be on keeping the body in good shape and maintaining our physical health and fitness. Over time, the phrase “mens sana in corpora sano”, (words extracted from a poem by the Latin satirist and poet Juvenal), have come to mean that only a healthy body can sustain a healthy mind – and vice versa. Only a healthy mind can sustain a healthy body. We should of course strive to maintain our physical health but we must also focus on keeping our minds healthy. AGE RELATED CHANGES TO THE MIND Growing older does not have to mean that you must accept an inevitable decline in your mental abilities and suffer issues with memory loss. There are lots…

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Do you love gardening? If you do enjoy spending time gardening then you’re in luck, because it is possible to avoid or at least reduce many of the symptoms of physical and cognitive decline that are associated with aging, simply by continuing to do something you already know and love! STAY IN SHAPE Gardening is a wonderful form of exercise and despite the fact that it may not be an obvious way to stay in shape and look after yourself, it is actually an effective option. Whilst planting, weeding, digging and pruning, gardeners are stretching, bending and exercising without even realising they are doing it! STIMULATE THE SENSES On top of the obvious benefits to physical health, being outside in a natural environment provides a wealth…

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At present in the UK, drivers are required to reapply for their driving licence when they reach the age of 70 and then every three years they must do the same. But this process does not involve being ‘tested’ and the responsibility for declaring yourself unfit for being behind the wheel, ultimately lies with the individual. The trouble is, that whilst lots of elderly people will willingly hand over their car keys and hang up their driving hat when they realise they are no longer safe on the road,  lots of others are not quite so willing to give up this precious independence… For many elderly people who have been driving for decades, the thought of giving up their car and licence is simply unimaginable. The…

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When an elderly person begins to suffer the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, they are often unaware of the changes they are experiencing, so it is often the people around them who initially recognise the changes and subsequently play a fundamental role in the detection of the disease. Early Detection Early diagnosis will give medication the best chance of success because it is most effective when administered during the early stages of the disease. If you suspect someone may have Alzheimer’s due to changes you have noticed relating to their behaviour, moods, or memory loss it is wise to take action early on, rather than wait for the symptoms to become more serious. Managing Your Own Fears and Emotions Depending on the individual, their personality and your…

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As we grow older, it is all too easy to become less active, particularly after retirement age when we are no longer running around after children and struggling to keep up with busy schedules. We all know the benefits of regular physical activity, but sometimes forget that it is every bit as important to remain active as we grow older. A lack of physical activity can lead to a significant deterioration in not just our physical health but our mental health too. Elderly people who remain physically active tend to experience a greater sense of wellbeing and an overall improved quality of life. Staying in shape does not need to involve a gym subscription or rigorous exercise; just making small changes to increase the amount of…

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Living alone in their own home can become difficult for many elderly people who may suddenly find themselves no longer able to cope with the demands of running their household and keeping on top of everything. You may find yourself in a position where you realise that a loved one is struggling to cope and changes need to be made in order to endure that they are safe and looked after. Providing you have sufficient space, one option is to move your relative into your own home in order to give them the additional support they need, but this is a huge decision that must be properly considered. This sort of arrangement can work extremely well for some families, but in order to work it must…

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Is care at home always better than going to a residential care home? Well of course it depends on the level of care and the individual’s needs, in particular any health and safety considerations. However, high quality live-in care offers so many advantages and is still relatively unknown as a truly cost effective alternative to going into a care home. A good care home with 5 star accommodation, engaging residents and stimulating activity at an affordable cost must be a good option for our later years. Unfortunately very few care homes manage to pull this off. And the message we keep on hearing is that we want to maintain our independence for as long as possible. Maintaining independence requires joined up thinking from a legal, financial…

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Leonard Cheshire Disability said that “Flying 15 minute care visits are a disgrace”. I am sure we all agree but when there are insufficient funds – and there is a chronic lack of funding – who decides what the priorities are? “We’re actually introducing an amendment to the Care Bill this week which will require councils to focus on an individual’s wellbeing when they’re organising care on their behalf…” was the hardly comforting response drawn from Norman Lamb, care minister. However another dimension to the discussion, which will not get much press coverage is that of the carer. At the end of the day, how would a true caring person feel having spend significant time travelling between 15 minute client visits – potentially leaving their elderly…

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“Thank you for all your help. You make what is a potentially daunting task into unknown territory so easy and pleasant. The quality of individuals you put forward is very high indeed and the potential matches to the brief are spot on.” When there is all this worry and uncertainty about failing (CQC) regulation of hospitals and care providers, surely the answer must include excellent self regulation associated with protecting a great reputation. Of course, this is essential where patients / clients have a genuine choice. At Heritage, we need to spend more time putting testimonials on to our website so I thought that the testimonial above (just in), was worth sharing as a good example of promoting self regulation!

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A growing number of elderly people who understandably wish to remain at home, in close proximity to their family and friends are now opting to engage their own live-in carer rather than leave their own familiar surroundings to move into a residential care home. Choosing to remain in your own home environment, enables you to continue living your life in the way you choose and continue with your own established routines, rather than being bound by the structured environment of a residential care home. It is easy to see the appeal of live-in care and thankfully, engaging your own live-in carer through a company like Heritage Independent Living is an incredibly cost effective way to access tailored, high quality and continuous care, in the comfort of…

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Well done to Sara and the other 2,000 participants who rode in the Thames Bridge Cycle Ride. The event was organised for the Stroke Association which supports 150,000 per year in the UK who suffer a stroke. The 34 mile (stop and start) route from Southwark Park to Hampton Court crosses 16 London Bridges. Sara raised over £300 for the Stroke Association (and more importantly beat my total raised in the Bath Half Marathon for Alzheimer’s Society!)

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Potentially a step in the right direction to free up beds at hospitals but if patients do not need to be in hospital, why not give them the (paid) option of high quality care at home? Instead of investing in new “hotel” facilities the money could then be spent on the carer and the quality of care. While some people will need hospital care, some will need nursing care close to a hospital and others would benefit from quality care at home, the answer has to be to offer patient choice.

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An article published a few days ago by the Good Care Guide revealed that almost a quarter of reviews rated homecare agencies as providing sub standard care – the feedback on quality of care in care homes was also poorly ranked. It is a challenge for us all to be uncompromising in the quality of carers we provide and the respect and sensitivity that our carers need to give, as they fulfil a very valuable role in society.

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I like the “win – win” nature of Live-in care. Let me explain: our clients have the benefit of a Carer living in with them around the clock (one win) and our Carers do not have to pay for accommodation (a second win). So it was with absolute delight to come across a lady (Elizabeth Mills) who runs a charity called Homeshare International. which promotes the concept of homeshare around the world. Homeshare is a simple concept – it is the exchange of accommodation for help. A potential solution for individuals who do not need much care but can use their house to good effect – another win-win?

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Cramp in both legs but very pleased to have finished the Bath Half Marathon in 1 hour and 46 mins – thank you to all who sponsored me and the other 107 runners for the Alzheimer’s Society.

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With one of our directors raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society and running in the Bath Half Marathon and another director cycling for the Stroke Association, it prompts the question of how best to allocate limited funding to two different and worthwhile causes?

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