23 February 2017

Safety Tips for the Elderly At Home

Following on from my post last year about safety tips for the elderly in winter last year, today I wanted to talk about how the elderly can be safer in their homes, particularly when living alone.

This is a subject that I often ponder; particularly as I have a 76 year old mother myself who is thankfully mobile, independent and very capable of looking after herself.  But this is not always the case, particularly when people get to 80 and above and are living alone.

There are many things that can be done for an elderly family member to live safely on their own by just making some small changes to their home, and by putting routines in place that can keep them independent and not feeling reliant on their family.  This can mean so much as many elderly people would do anything to avoid being a burden.

Safety Proof Your Home
Six out of ten falls occur in the home.  Our home is our safe space and we rarely think about the dangers of falling.  Ensure that all floor surfaces are non slip, perhaps putting matting in strategic places if you do not want to go to the expense of changing your flooring (but tape them down so that they are secure).  Any wiring should be tired away and keep away from the floor surface.

One hazardous area for falls, particularly when you are elderly is the bathroom.  One idea would be to put safety bars in next to the toilet and the shower.  Many homes have a bath which is precarious to get out of at the best of times, let alone when you are elderly, perhaps unsure on your feet and have the challenge of climbing out of a bath.

How about looking at a wet room cost?  Having a one level room with perhaps a seat in the shower could be invaluable.

Share Your Keys
When my mum is home alone, she always locks the door to the house, which is important for security.  But if your relative is living alone and has a fall, it is imperative that you and the emergency services if needed can gain access.  I would recommend giving a copy of the house key to at least three people as many have busy lives and do not always have access to their phone at the right time.  An alternative would be to have a lock box outside of your door, with your family and your local doctor being given the code.

Check in with People
As I have said earlier in this post, the last thing that elderly people want to be is a burden.  But a simple call from a relative each day, even to just say hello is so beneficial; particularly if they worry about calling you as they don't want to bother you.

Interaction with fellow neighbours is also important and can be a great mutual support system.  We  have a neighbour who needs a little extra help and I know that the visits my mum pays her make all the difference.  

Create an "All Weather" Kit
As we all know, we can never rely on the weather in the UK.  One day it is sunny, the next we could have four inches of snow.  A good idea in the winter months would be to stock up on tins, make sure that there is a working flashlight and that medication is kept in good stock.

Many elderly people have to take a plethora of pills every day.  A list kept in the kitchen or somewhere easily accessible of all medication that they are taking is important to ensure that they do not run out and thereby preventing any emergency trips to the pharmacy.

I hope that these tips and ideas have been helpful.  Our elderly relatives are often though that have looked after us throughout our childhoods and these small tips and ideas can go a long way in ensuring that they can maintain a happy, safe and independent life in their twilight years.

*Collaborative post

21 February 2017

Lung Leavin' Day

Today is my monthly charity of the month post.

When I decided to start this series, I decided that I wanted to try and support charities, causes and forms of illness that were lesser known to the general public; in order to raise more awareness.  One of my posts like this is for Ugly Mugs

Today I wanted to talk about a rare form of cancer called Mesothelioma.  I think most of us knows someone or has had a family member who has had cancer.  There are many types of cancer that are well publicised and get great fundraising from the public, such as breast cancer.  I have never heard of Mesothelioma before now, until I talked to a very special lady who was diagnosed eleven years ago.

Mesothelioma is rare and aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs or the abdomen.  Unlike many forms of cancer that occur naturally, Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos.  It has no known cure and the prognosis can unfortunately be bleak.  You can learn more about this cancer and the dangers of asbestos here.

One thing that I had seen in cancer patients, both young and old is an utter resilience.   A refusal to let cancer beat them and a force of will that is powerful to watch.

It is that resilience that got Heather Von St James to the stage where she has now reached eleven years of survival after a diagnosis of malignant pleural Mesothelioma which the doctors told her could take her life in as little as fifteen months.  Faced with a dire prognosis with a three month old baby girl at her side, Heather decided quite simply that she was going to live.  There is nothing stronger than a mother, determined to watch her child grow up.

You can read about Heather's incredible story here which is quite frankly awe inspiring.

After having her left lung removed, Heather and her family created a memorial to the event by starting the Lung Leavin' Day.  This day is celebrated every year by Heather, her family and friends gathering together, writing their biggest fears on a plate and smashing them into a bonfire.

Eleven years on and this tradition is still going strong and is spreading.  You can write your own fear and smash your place here.  Here is what Heather has to say:

"Having so many people come out in support of us is incredibly humbling, and SO DAMNED COOL!!!!! It is so great to have a house full of people who love and support us. Some people I only see this one time a year, others are in our lives all the time. Having friends come from out of state come is really special and makes the event so much more than just a party"

Research into this rare form of cancer is incredibly important.  You can donate to the UK charity by clicking Mesothelioma UK or for my US readers, click on MARF

It is so important to share stories like Heather's.  The human spirit is a powerful thing and Heather is proof of that.  She celebrated her eleventh year of surviving this horrible disease.  I wish her many, many more years to come.

17 February 2017

Strong Women

One of the best decisions I have ever  made was joining the plus size blogging community.  At its core, the plus size community is an inspiration and a home for women and men who have been told by society that we are not enough because of our size.  

This community shouts back that we will always be enough.  That we deserve the same respect as everyone else.  It gives confidence and brings people out of their shell, letting them be the person that they were always meant to be.

I have met many amazing people in this community.  One of those people is the beautiful Em of Terrible Tumbles  I hope that she will forgive me for gushing, but Em is one of those people that lights up a room.  Not in a beauty way (although she is such a gorgeous girl) but the way her soul shines out of her. She is warm, caring and utterly lovely.  You feel instantly comfortable in her presence, even those of us who are awkward in social situations, like me.  You feel at home with her straight away.

I have cheered her on from the sidelines as I have seen her go from strength to strength with her blog and I was very honoured to be part of her most recent blog post, a series of two called "Too Much?".

As women, we are often put under pressure to act or be a certain way.  You have to be a certain size, have a certain demeanor.  The goal posts are forever changing and I for one, have struggled, and failed to keep up.  One day I realised that the only person who should set my my goal posts, is me.

The "too much" criticism I get is that I am too opinionated.  But after having no voice for most of my life due to a lack of confidence, a fear of not being accepted and a pressure to confirm to what society thought that I should look like, say and be; I decided that enough was enough.  I would be myself.  I have an opinion, about many things, that much is true.  I have a passionate in what I think and believe.  I learn and change every day due to conversing with others.  This is who I am.

I am very proud to be a part of Em's post, especially alongside so many strong women who are confident in who they are, are not afraid to be exactly who they are and unashamedly march to the beat of their own drum.

I cannot wait to read the second post in the series and read about other strong women.  Who runs the world?  Girls.

9 February 2017

Style Through the Decades

I get the same bus to work every day.

My journey to work is filled with people watching as the bus passes by people on the street and (discreetly of course!) looking around at my fellow bus passengers; trying to guess who they are and what their day holds from the way they are dressed.

There are two people that always catch my eye.  An old lady, must be at least 85 years old, gets on the bus every Wednesday morning.  Where she goes to, I do not know, but I am always fascinated by the way she dresses.

Her highly polished black court shoes with a tiny heel.  A little hat on her head with a beautiful hat pin. A smart coat (blue for Summer, red for Winter) and a black leather gloves.  She always looks immaculately dressed and like she has stepped right out of a 1950s novel.

I can imagine her in her younger years dressed like this:

Whilst I see the occasional elderly lady dressing this way, more often it is the elderly gentleman who have stuck to the more formal styles of the 1940s and 50s.  Everything from a suit with waist coat or a tie, to the jumper, tie and shirt combination.  There is one elderly gentleman who waits at the same bus stop every day; standing there with his bowler hat, beige coloured army style mac and a suit.  He is obviously far too old to be going to work.  Yet this is how he dresses every day.  I love it.

Back in the 1940s and 50s it was common place to look smart when you went out.  The hair was done, the shoes shined, the good coat on, the dress or the suit immaculate.

Years go by, society changes and styles evolve.  I remember asking my mum when I was 7 or 8 (and she was 46 or 47) why she did not wear jeans or trousers and her scandalized face that she would even think of wearing anything but a dress or a skirt.  For her, at that time, it was not the done thing.  

Whilst I am glad that times have now moved on to the point where my now 76 year old mother isn't adverse to wearing a pair of jeans or smart trouser;, I cannot help but mourn for the bygone era where you dressed up when you were leaving the house or going on a journey.

Each year I see less and less of the elderly women and gentleman with the smart clothing, dressed up to the nines; even if they were just going to the post office.

I look ahead towards the future and wonder what younger generations will think of us.  Will we be  the generation of  tracksuit bottoms?  I hope not.  I have made a pledge to myself that I will always dress smartly when I leave the house, whether I am 37 years old or 87.  We cannot let our grandparents' generation down.  Style is timeless.