The first day of spring… 2012

March 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s officially the first day of spring and I couldn’t be happier to see flourishing daffodils and lambs bounding around fields as I’ve always felt that spring has a wonderful way of naturally uplifting people’s spirits.

For me bright and early spring mornings are splendid not only because they make me feel refreshed and revitalised but because they give me a chance to get up early and run errands before I get to the office.

Spring Daffodils

Spring has finally sprung

And I’m not the only person who feels a sense ‘get-up and go’ when spring finally arrives as often older people feel a sense of relief to see the end of winter and a start to spring because they find it easier getting out and about.  Whether it’s tending to the brightly coloured flowers which have recently popped up in the garden or going for a light stroll around a National Trust park that really do start to bloom at this time of year.

Read my guide to easy access gardening for elderly and disabled people which is full of useful tips on how to enjoy time in your garden this spring and summer time.

Lucky for us there are lots of things to look forward to in spring. Easter will shortly upon us, which means Easter egg hunting for us grandparents, and we can also look forward to May’s bank holiday weekend- a chance to have a good spring clean before a busy summer celebrating The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympic Games.

Spring Google Doodle

Today's Google Doodle

The joy of the first day of spring has even spread to the internet as search engine Google have dedicated today’s Google Doodle (created by fashion brand Marimekko) to spring. True to the season the doodle is brightly coloured and features flowers, butterflies and birds. It boldly captures the spirit of spring which has sparked a storm of positivity online as thousands of people have commented on the eagerly anticipated arrival of spring on both Twitter and Facebook.  

I’m happy to say that there is a glimpse of spring sunshine peering through my window, fingers crossed it will last until the weekend when the clocks go forward one hour which means summer won’t be too long away!

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Myfriends Online Week- what do you love about the internet?

March 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This week Age UK are hosting Myfriends online week (19th -25th March 2012) an annual initiative that encourages older people to see the benefits of using the internet particularly focusing on how the internet can keep you socially active.

During this week Age UK will be holding Myfriends online week events across the country, helping people who don’t use the internet to take their first step in doing so and explaining the countless benefits that the internet has to offer.

To kick start Myfriends online week Age UK took to social media platform Twitter this morning, asking people why they love the internet and they have received all different sorts of answers. Some people love the internet because it’s so convenient, other like that they can shop online but most people love how they are able to keep in touch with friends and family via the web.

lady-with-laptop-

Age UK's Myfriends online week 19th-25th March 2012

I love the internet because it is so multi-functional. I use the internet in both my professional and personal life and it has become hugely important. Not only is information available at the touch of a button but so are my customers and friends and family.

Over time I’ve learnt how to use all different sorts of online platforms to keep in touch with people and I’ve benefited hugely. Like most people in business I e-mail constantly and have found Facebook to be a great area for both personal and business purposes. However, I’m most fond of using Skype’s video calling service as it completely free and a great way to see my family and friends who are dotted across the globe.

I really couldn’t recommend social platforms as Facebook, Twitter, E-Mail and Skype highly enough as they truly do enable people to become more sociable and are all free and easy to use once you know how- check out a local Myfriend online event for extra help!

But my online guilty pleasure has to BBC iPlayer which stores television programmes shown across all BBC channels and allows internet users to watch whenever they like. It’s perfect if you forget to tune into your favourite programme or forgot to press record.

Take a step and go online!

No Smoking Day 2012

March 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Today is No Smoking Day and the British Heart Foundation is encouraging smokers to give up the habit for good.

nosmoking_day_2012I know that giving up smoking is incredibly difficult and often it takes several attempts but it really is worth persisting with as not smoking can dramatically change your life.

For older people quitting smoking can be more of a challenge because it’s a lifetime habit. But older people are likely to see the benefits more than anyone else. As well as endless positives on your health, older people will see a huge improvement in quality of lifestyle.

So if you’re trying to give up smoking for good use the No Smoking Day website as a resource for helpful tips and contact. There are plenty of services available to people looking for help quitting including your local GP.

My top tip is to look realistically at how not smoking can change your life. Work out how much money you’ll save in a month. If you can manage not smoking for this period of time treat yourself to something special or save the money for a special occasion- a holiday, weekend break, new car.  

I’d like to wish everyone the very best of luck quitting and a healthy future!

Hitting the gym aged 55 plus- Gym visits increase with age

March 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In the midst of British Pie Week it’s easy to feel as though you need to get a little more active (just to counteract the goodness of so many pies). Although I’m admittedly not a gym bunny- I would prefer to keep fit in the great outdoors- I feel inspired by new research that has found older gym members visit the gyms more regularly than their younger counterparts.

The research found by Nuffield Health and featured in an article on Age UK’s website, revealed that ‘older members make 20 extra visits on average, on an annual basis’. This surge in activity amongst senior gym goers suggests that not only are they actively maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle but also getting great enjoyment from their gym or fitness centre.

Shifting your mind away from the dreaded thought of heavy gym equipment and fitness fanatics that are 20, 30 or even 40 years your junior can be a little difficult. However, once you’ve got past this milestone gyms really don’t seem too bad.

Fitness classes for older people

Fitness classes for older people are great places to make friends

In fact many gyms including Total Fitness, DW Sport and Nuffield Health & Fitness offer senior membership packages exclusive for members aged 55 or 60 plus. More often than not these gyms also run scheduled fitness classes designed for their older members- toning, aerobics, swimming etc. These classes are made with you in mind, they don’t overstretch your body or stamina levels and are great places to meet people who are a similar age and looking to get fit too.

All in all gyms don’t seem too bad. Although I won’t be giving up walking my dogs, Toffee and Summer, for exercise any time soon I will be considering my local fitness club as an option for the future. I’ve even been told that many gyms have excellent coffee lounges now-a-days, which is an added bonus.  

Do you visit a local gym with a ‘senior’ membership? I’d love to hear more about what you enjoy about the gym and how often you go along. Leave a comment in the box below.

Richard Wilson On Hold

January 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As a businesswoman I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve, build and strengthen customer relations. This usually means keeping up with modern technology and employing them appropriately within my business. Whether it be updating our website or joining social networking sites.

However, the technology which I’ve always opted out of is automated telephone systems. Mainly because I believe that customer don’t want to talk to a machine; instead they desire human contact with someone who can help them solve a problem quickly and efficiently.

Richard Wilson On Hold

Last night Richard Wilson, better known as grumpy Victor Meldrew fronted, ‘Richard Wilson On Hold’ a documentary which investigated so called convenience services, such as automated telephone services, self-service checkouts and pay by phone parking meters.

Unsurprisingly the result of his investigation displayed how these supposedly ‘convenient’ services are in fact the complete opposite. Instead of helping consumers they infuriate them making them wait for long periods of time, charging them more money and generally driving the customer to feel utterly stressed.

As the documentary filmed Richard struggling with a cinema’s automated phone system, which failed to recognise his Scottish accent, I couldn’t help but feel his frustration. Then watching him make five attempts to simply pay for parking via an automated telephone service was even more annoying. I won’t even begin to mention the problems presented by supermarket self-service tills…

Richard WIlson on Hold

The most unforgiving convenience service was undoubtedly automated telephone service. In his quest to analyse how inconvenient these services actually are Richard set up his own call-centre. With the help of Age UK volunteers and students they discovered the extent to which consumers are blighted by queue waiting and machine messages. It took one volunteer over 58 minutes to speak to a human being whilst on the telephone to energy provider Eon, which is utterly unacceptable for any business.

So as we sit and wait for these corporations to answer our calls (and make money from us whilst we’re doing so) what do these services do to our wellbeing? It would appear more harm than good in most cases. Test on the show revealed that for the majority of people the frustration caused by automated telephone system raises the blood pressure significant causing stress and anxiety.

Richard Wilson on hold

Although some may argue that these gadgets are money savers- salary and training costs are said to reduce dramatically- I will most certainly be sticking with the traditional method of manned telephones by human beings who’ve I’ve trained. Working in an industry which often works with older people I understand that for many of our customers a telephone conversation is greatly importantly. Not only for customer service purposes but also for social interaction- I believe that this is something which should never be under estimated.

I’m a great believer of free phone numbers call Bath-Knight on 0800 1 690 690

Cold Weather Alerts Service

November 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Last year we experienced the coldest winter in 100 years and despite efforts from various organisations to keep vulnerable sectors of society safe thousands of older people died simply due to the cold weather.

In an attempt to tackle the estimated 27,000 unnecessary winter deaths a ‘Cold Weather Alert Service’ has been launched today.

Provided by the Met Office and Department of Work and Pensions the scheme principally works with the NHS and other agencies such as social services to help implement safe guards against winter deaths.

Cold Weather PosterUpon reports of significantly bad or server weather approaching the Met Office will now issue weather alters (ranging in levels dependent on circumstances). From there the NHS and other organisations involved take actions to ensure public safety.

Read a full report from the Met Office regarding the Cold Weather Alert Service here.

These actions involve ensuring that vulnerable older people receive a daily house call when the weather is particularly bad, providing human contact and ensuring personal safety, which is particularly reassuring.

It comes as no surprise that Age UK– the UK’s largest charity for older people are backing the weather alert service incorporating the service in their ‘Spread the Warmth’ winter campaign.

Personally, I think that the service is a positive step forward. However, it’s difficult to avoid the problem of ever increasing high cost of energy bills, which is ultimately causing significant problems. I think many would agree that until people can heat their homes significantly winter will continue to be a difficult time.

Keeping safe around Halloween

October 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Halloween is just around the corner and it’s an occasion which I know many people look forward too as it’s a great chance to dress up and have fun with friends and family.

For children the best part of Halloween is collecting lots of sweeties from their neighbours whilst showing off their scary costumes of course.

However, it’s important to remember that Halloween can bring unwanted guests for some as Trick or Treating visitors can cause real worry for older people.

No Trick or Treat Whilst driving to work earlier this week I heard about an incentive which is aiming to protect vulnerable neighbours from Trick or Treaters. Staffordshire Police along with constabularies  from across the country have designed posters, which residents can display in their window or front porch asking to not be disturbed by Halloween enthusiasts.

No Trick or Treat

I think the scheme is a wonderful idea as an unexpected knock on the door can cause genuine worry for older and vulnerable members of a community. The inconvenience of answering a Trick or Treat visit can be a real problem and cause unnecessary distress.

Older people with mobility problems may struggle getting to the door, others may be concerned about letting the cold in, whilst some may stress about what to give Halloween guests resulting in handing over valuable items or even money.

If you’ve got an elderly neighbour or family member who you think would benefit from not been disturbed then collect a poster from your local police station or download one here. They are a polite (and official) way to note that you would prefer not to be visited. Offering peace of mind to everyone involved. 

Worried that you won’t be able to offer a sweet treat to your young neighbours on Halloween? Why not send a pack of sweets into your local school and get the teaching staff to hand them out. Alternatively post some sweeties through your neighbour’s letter box when you’re passing- they’ll go down a storm as an after school treat!

Age UK searching for Internet Champion 2012

October 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Did you know that here in the UK 5.7 million over 65’s have never been on the internet? That sadly means that an awful lot of older people are missing out on the benefits that the internet offers.

Age-UK-Logo-WebCampaigners and internet advocates (including me) highlights these fantastic benefits because they really are tremendous; staying in touch with loved one, finding new hobbies, banking, paying bills, and finding bargains by shopping around online are all incredibly easy and instantly available via the web.

Though some over 65’s are apprehensive to try something new, others can’t wait to take on a new adventure and the internet is just that- a digital adventure which can take you to lots of new and exciting places.

So it’s great to see Age UK are once again acknowledging those people who have taken on the challenge of becoming internet savvy by searching for ‘Internet Champion 2012’; two people who have gained a lot from simply using the internet.

age uk the internet changed my life

This year the Age UK team are looking for people whose life has changed since getting online. They want you to share your personal stories about getting online including the ups and downs which you’ve encountered along the way. Explain the pleasure of the new skills you’ve learnt and how you would inspire others to get online (if you’re not doing so already).

Last year’s Internet Champions went down a storm, and since been crowned they’ve shared their victory with lots of internet users at various events throughout the year. By sharing their hints and tips they’ve helped others make the leap online.

age UK internet champions 2011

Personally I think it’s incredible to hear of how the internet has created positivity in people’s lives. As I understand how much of a lifeline the internet truly is. By using my blog alone I get to connect with people who I wouldn’t have before, along with being able to share my thoughts and opinions. It’s just one fantastic element of the online world which anyone can explore.

So if you know, or you are a King or Queen of the internet, then what are you waiting for? Age UK want to hear from you. Tell them how the internet has changed your life and you could potentially be Age UK’s Internet Champion 2012.

Apply online at Age UK.co.uk

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