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Staying mobile at home – out and about

As we age, our bodies change, and moving around isn’t as easy as it once was. The best way to stay mobile is to not stop in the first place. We can’t always control what happens to our bodies – genetics, long term health conditions or trauma can change our abilities to stay mobile. It’s really important that you don’t give up and keeping looking for ways that work best for you to keep you as independent as long as possible.
There are several common factors that can lead to an inability to get around. Reduced mobility due to an existing medical condition, illness or injury. Older age, low physical activity, obesity, impaired strength and balance can all play a role. Some of the less obvious factors can include depression, memory problems, recent hospitalization, fear of falling.
Let’s first work out how mobile you already are before making a plan – ask yourself these 2 questions:

1 For health or physical reasons, do you have difficulty climbing up 10 steps or walk outside for a quarter of a mile?
2 Because of underlying health or physical reasons, have you modified the way you climb 10 steps or walk outside for a quarter of a mile?

If you answered yes, and climbing stairs or walking any distance is hard for you, don’t stop but accept that this is difficult. Start thinking about what can be done to avoid further restrictions to you daily moving and how to allow yourself or, if you are looking after someone, them more time to adjust to their surrounds and age safely in place.

Balance can become an issue as we age. We just aren’t as steady on our feet as we once were, and it makes falling more likely. Maintaining an active lifestyle and a healthy weight can help. Strength training is also a good way to improve your balance.

If exercise has been part of your daily routine since you were young, then make sure to keep walking, running, swimming – whatever it is – that keeps you moving. It’s not just about maintaining your health, it also helps ensure your independence for a lot longer.

Some falls can result in bumps or bruises, others lead to broken bones. Either way, it’s not something you want to do. Certain diseases, like diabetes, can make you more prone to fall.
Serious health events like a stroke can also make falling more likely. But sometimes, staying on your feet may be as simple as understanding the side effects of the medications you take. Some drugs can cause dizziness on their own or when coupled with another. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have fallen recently, feel dizzy often or are unsteady on your feet.

The Good News
There are some simple ways to protect yourself from falling at home:
– Make sure you have plenty of light in your house, so you can see where you are going.
– Keep your floors clutter free and either secure or remove loose rugs.
– A healthy balanced diet with plenty of vitamin D and calcium will help keep your bones strong.
– It’s also important to get your eyes checked annually. A change in your prescription can cause you to not see as well as you need to and take a tumble.

If you need something to help you get around, you’re not alone. Over 2 million households in the UK have some form of equipment adaptation and nearly one in four of the population over 65, will regularly use a mobility aid such as a walking stick, walker or rollator, wheelchair or scooter. And it’s not uncommon for someone to use more than one device.

What are some quality everyday devices for staying mobile?

Walking stick, cane
You can use a walking stick to give you extra support and help with your balance. It can give you the confidence to keep moving and make walking less painful.
There are many different types so be sure to check you choose one that is the correct height for you. Do you want left handed or right handed? Would a seat be useful so you can rest? We recommend you contact your local GP surgery and talk to your Doctor or Nurse.

Walking frame, zimmer frame or rollator
More support than a walking stick, these can be used around the home or out and about. You can borrow walking frames from the NHS so speak to you your GP, local hospital or healthcare professional. Visit your local mobility dealer who can also give specialist advice and let you try before you buy.

Wheelchair
If you struggle to get about, recovering from an injury or are disabled, you can use a wheelchair. Short term use after an injury, you may be provided one free by your local hospital. There are local organisations like the Red Cross or Motability schemes who you can hire from.
When looking got purchase consider if you are going to push yourself or have someone else to help. How often and where you will need to use it – indoor, outdoors or both. Cost involved to maintain and repair.

Scooter
A mobility scooter can be useful if you struggle to walk and need to travel a long distance. These are not available on the NHS. The Motability scheme can help if you want to hire or buy a scooter. It allows some people to use their benefits to pay for one. To find out more visit www.motability.co.uk

Stair lift
If climbing or descending your stairs has become difficult, there are a number of options that can make your life easier. The least popular choice is to consider moving to a single floor accommodation so that stairs are no longer part of your daily living.
A stair lift can be a practical and far more cost effective and long-term option. Choosing a stair lift should be done carefully as there is a lot to consider. What will fit your staircase, what type of stair lift will suit your needs, how much budget do you have – it is a good idea to speak to your GP or the healthcare professional you regular see as well as talking to your family. Friends may be able to recommend from their own experiences.

What other adaptive aids can help you around the home

There are a host of other gadgets that can help you stay in your home for as long as possible. Grab bars are fairly easy to install and you can put up as many as you like in your home. Usually fitted in the bathroom, near the toilet or the bath. The handles can be fixed permanently on the wall, or you can choose a type that uses suction cups, so you can take them with you when you travel. Not sure which grab rail is right for you – 2 handy guides to read
Simple home adaptations – which grab rail to choose
Where to fit a grab rail in your home

The bath can be an area of concern – getting in as well as getting out – and being able to change position whilst you wash. Bath board or shower boards allow you to sit over the bath whilst you wash. We’ve also introduced a range of shower seats that fold neatly out the way if someone else uses the bathroom too – click here for more information

Keep active keep moving

Maintaining your ability to move around freely or with little help doesn’t just help keep your independence. It’s good for your mental and emotional health. Not being able to go to the grocery or to another room in your house can really take its toll. Restricted mobility can easily lead to depression and isolation because we don’t like to be dependent on others for help. The truth is – there are people who love you and are willing to help you if you ask. Please don’t be afraid or too proud to get a device if you need one. It could be the difference in being able to stay in the home you love for longer.

How can a reacher/grabber help you out & about?

When we’re affected by reduced mobility, and routine daily tasks can become too difficult and more time-consuming to complete, we could all do with a helping hand.

It may be something as simple as struggling to put on your socks, coat or shoes, or reaching for a jar from the cupboard, but the frustrations these basic challenges create can waste time and energy which would be much better spent enjoying your life.

As a family-run business, we have always taken great pride in helping people who might be struggling to manage everyday tasks to regain their independence, dignity and free up time to spend on more rewarding activities.

The original reachers were crafted in wood and today, with over 13 million customers worldwide, they continue to deliver a lifetime of reliability and quality.

Around the home 5 most common ways to use a reacher

1 – A key part of your independent living kit recovering from a hip or knee operation

2 – Avoiding bending, twisting and straining when getting dressed

3 – Reaching an object that’s fallen behind the washing machine, cupboard or sofa

4 – Perfect TV remote grabber, pick up the paper and post in the morning

5 – An essential kitchen aid when gripping jars and tins from the cupboard shelf

Maintain your independence out and about

Off on your travels to visit friends and family? Going to the shops to do your grocery shopping? Here are the results from our 2019 survey of the top 19 ways you ensure your time out & about is enjoyable, stress free and without having to ask someone else for help:

1 ‘Pick up the dogs ball, we play for hours’ John, Suffolk

2 ‘I take my folding one with me every time I go shopping, I don’t need to ask the store assistants for help’ Margaret, Hereford

3 ‘It was a godsend last autumn to collect fallen fruit in the garden without bending down’ Sheila, Worcester

4 ‘I like to see the birds in my back garden so I use mine to hang up the bird feeder’ Peter, Swindon

5 ‘I’m forever dropping my keys down the side of the car seat and the door but just can’t get my fingers in the gap to pick them up’ Scott, Devon

6 ‘Going out for my daily walk, I can hold my boots upright so I don’t need to bend down’ Phil, Norfolk

7 ‘Perfect to hang up the garden lights for our summer party’ Julie, Surrey

8 ‘It was perfect to get the frisbee out of the tree when the grandchildren came to visit’ Chris, Malvern

9 ‘Pick up my post every morning along with the newspaper’ Richard, Oxford

10 ‘Ever since my stroke, I find it hard carrying and lifting with one hand – I even use my grabber to pick up the milk bottle off the doorstep’ Gill, Somerset

11 ‘I want to manage by myself which can be difficult in my wheelchair but I can pull the washing off the line with my reacher’ Anne, Nottingham

12 ‘The ticket machine at my local shopping centre is such a nuisance to reach – bought a folding grabber which I keep in the car and now I don’t have to get out the car John, Aberdeen

13 ‘I struggle with back ache on a daily basis. Even reaching into the boot of the car to get my shopping bags is easier’ Sheila, Coventry

14 Snake catcher – I’m not joking! Peter, Pembrokeshire

15 ‘I live on my own and have had a fall so don’t like to use steps. I can hold a cloth to wipe the top of the windows and the oven hood’ Jane, Sussex

16 ‘Pull down the awning in the back garden’ Alison, Aberdeen

17 ‘The neighbours cat keeps coming to see if any fish in my pond but he knocked over one of the ornaments the other day. It splashed right into the water. I have an extra long Helping Hand for outside’ Tom, Lancashire

18 ‘Hang up the netting over the fruit bushes’ Helen, Perth

19 ‘Take my folding one with me when I go to stay with my daughter so I don’t have to ask her to help me. The grandchildren think it is great fun’ Mary, Devon

 

Do you have a top tip that could help someone else – give us a call on 01531 635678 or email [email protected]

Driven by a passion to make a positive difference in people’s lives, we take pride in helping you maintain your independence wherever you are

Top 23 ways to use your reacher/grabber around the home

1 Grab where I can’t reach from my wheelchair

2 The magnet is ideal to pick up my hearing aid battery

3 Stick clip is brilliant, I can clip my hand torch to it to shine a light on what I want to pick up

4 Easy to reach the remote control when I am sitting down

5 The soft jaw on the Handigrip means I can even pick up coins off the floor

6 Much easier for me now to open and close my curtains

7 Open kitchen cupboard to get food

8 Reach into the medicine cupboard to get my pills

9 I’d just sat down but left my reading glassed on the coffee table, managed with my reacher!

10 Use it every day to pick up and put down my cats food bowl

11 Managed to catch a spider

12 Picking up the grandchildren’s toys

13 Pulling up my socks that keep sliding down

14 Grab my trousers off the chair to get dressed

15 Pick up my other reacher

16 Reach behind the sofa to get loose change

17 Hold cloth to wipe the top of the cooker hood

18 Pick up my drink whilst feeding the baby

19 Open and close the window

20 Reach my coat & dog lead off the hook

21 Load/empty the washing machine

22 Hold sponge to clean top of windows

23 Pick up post off the mat

 

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Off on your travels…

Going to visit a loved one – never travelled alone – off to explore… Getting older or reduced mobility does not mean we cannot keep travelling and exploring new places. UK or abroad there is a wide choice of accessible holidays and providers. So after all the excitement of deciding you are going, now comes the planning – here are a few hints and tips to ensure a fun, safe & comfortable time.

1. Plan ahead

A) Get insurance! Whilst travel insurance is important for everyone it truly is essential for older travellers who are more at risk of falling or hurting themselves, getting ill or needing extra medication if travel is delayed.

B) Going somewhere you have not been before, it is a good idea to check if there are any customs/immigration or regulations you need to apply to. The flight attendant will be able to answer question and help you fill out forms.

C) Make sure your passport is up to date.

D) Staying somewhere new, check accessibility to the accommodation and getting around your room. Booking through your local travel agent, ensure you let them know your requirements and you can always contact the resort/hotel direct to confirm.

E) Allow extra time to get to the train station, airport, connections. There are likely to be lots of other travellers and finding your way to the right platform or gate may take a little time. Travel is part of the adventure so give yourself time to get there and enjoy it, people watching can be a lot of fun too. If you need extra assistance or wheelchair access, it is always a good idea to call ahead to ensure you arrive at the right entrance.

F) Keep hydrated and have a few handy snacks too. Depending on the mode of transport, you may be able to buy food whilst you travel but having a few things you like to hand is easy to do – for example nuts, dried fruit, cereal bar, hard sweets. Make sure they are secured in a small container and do not exceed travel operator restrictions on volume.

G) Think about how much you need to take – experienced travellers learn to pack light. If you do need to take a lot, ensure you luggage is easy for you to move – a suitcase with wheels. Your hand luggage should have all the essentials you need for the duration of your travel – consider a spare pair of glasses too.

2. Take care of yourself while on holiday

You have arrived and have lots you want to see and do – or maybe not, but allow yourself a couple of days to adjust. Jet lag can be hard on your body and disrupt sleep patterns. Keep hydrated and if you are unsure on the local water supply, drink bottled water and when you wash your teeth!

Try not to let others demands to do things effect what you want to do – a jam packed itinerary and you will be ready for another holiday when you get home!

Watch what you eat – as we get older, our tummies can become more sensitive. Be mindful of heavy or spicy foods and any conflict with medications.

Stay safe on your feet – off exploring for the day wearing comfortable shoes is not only sensible but will also keep you steady on your feet.

Travel safe – it is not a good idea to have your valuables with you at all times, only take what you need with you and leave the rest safe where you are staying. And remember, a smartphone can take pretty good photos nowadays.

3. A few extra safety precautions

    1. Keep medicines handy… have a couple of days’ worth in your hand luggage so it will be with you all the time. Travel plans can get disrupted or delayed.
    2. If travelling across different time zones it can be easy to lose track of what to take when, so having medication in specific named day sets will ensure you maintain your routine.
    3. Print and share your travel plans, keeping them handy with you. Let the people you are visiting know your schedule and perhaps a friend or neighbour whilst you are away should they need to contact you in an emergency.
    4. It’s a really good idea to have a copy of your passport, travel visa, insurance and any relevant medical notes in your hand luggage in case your checked luggage gets mislaid.
    5. Travelling long haul, choose an aisle seat so you can stretch out your legs and easily get up and move around without disturbing those around you. Travelling with someone, how about having an aisle seat opposite each other to keep you close but enable your own mobility.
    6. Stand and stretch often! One of the most critical risks for senior travellers is DVT or deep vein thrombosis – it can cause death during and after a long flight simply because a person did not move about or stretch often. Chat with your doctor before flying. They may recommend you take half an aspirin (150mg) on the day of your flight or suggest you wear compression stockings during the flight.Flying for many hours, it’s critical to wriggle, stretch, stand, and move about when you can. Even if the seatbelt sign remains on – and you aren’t supposed to get up and stroll about the aisles, you can stretch your toes up and back, rotate your ankles, bend your knees. Avoid crossing your legs.

A travel company can help you to organise your accessible accommodation, flights, transfer, equipment hire and more. If you have decided to book direct, do check with your Airline as their services do vary. Priority boarding, accessible seating, wheelchair provision – it is important to ask how they will be able to help with your particular needs. Here are some helpful links:

Special assistance at the airport – what is available

Best airlines for accessible travel article

British Airways

Easy Jet

FlyBe

KLM

Lufthansa

Virgin Atlantic

Bon voyage!

 

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