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Healthy Ageing - Staying Independent and Healthy

​​older man smiling with fruitWe are generally living longer these days, but growing old doesn't have to mean losing your independence or becoming less active.  

Healthy ageing is about making sure your are getting the best possible help and advice so that you can remain an active part of the community and enjoy an independent and rewarding quality of life.

We want to show you how ageing does not need to decrease your ability to contribute to society. Treat getting older as an opportunity – concentrate on what you can do, rather that what you cannot!

Here are some tips on how to stay healthier, stronger and happier...​​

  
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​​The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease or a series of strokes. Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse.

Roughly 45% of our customers are aged 55+ and Warrington has an ageing population so dementia is a growing concern for us in GGHT.  We are also aware that dementia is not a natural part of ageing and also younger people can be affected by the condition. 

Free support, information and advice is available for anyone affected by dementia through a new dementia service developed by Warrington Borough Council and the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust- and provided by the Alzheimer's Society.

For more information and advice please contact the service on 0151 420 8010.

GGHT are members of the Dementia Action Alliance and we are working together with other organisations to radically improve the lives of people living with dementia and their carer’s

You can find out more useful information on the Alzheimer’s Society website and on the Warrington Action Alliance website.  

Books to help people with dementia in LiveWire libraries
LiveWire has launched its new Books on Prescription scheme, as part of a ground-breaking national initiative. Each of the 11 public libraries in Warrington now has a collection of books to support and inform people with dementia, their carers, family & friends.

It is hoped that this will help in the development of dementia-friendly communities and build understanding and awareness of the condition. Health professionals can recommend the books, but people can also just borrow them for free from their local library. The books have been chosen with healthcare experts, people with dementia and carer groups. The scheme is supported by Carers UK, Dementia UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and others.

The new scheme builds on the success of the Books on Prescription collections in libraries for people with common mental health conditions, which has been available since June 2013.  For more information go to www.livewirewarrington.co.uk/dementia


  

​If you have fallen and are fearful of falling speak to your GP.  As you get older, physical changes and health conditions and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions make falls more likely. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. Still the fear of falling doesn't need to rule your life. Instead, consider these top tips to reduce the risk of having a fall:

  • Keep active. You are more likely to fall if you have weak muscles and poor balance. Taking regular exercise like walking, housework and gardening can improve both.
  • See clearly - Eye tests are free if you are over 60. Get your eyes checked regularly.
  • Switch lights on at home when it gets dark. Change your light bulbs from 60 to 100 watts.
  • Manage your medicines - Some medicines can make you dizzy and increase your risk of a fall. If this is the case or you take more than four different medicines, ask your GP or pharmacist to review them.  Don’t take more of your medication than you are prescribed.
  • Look after yourself - Take your time getting out of bed or up from a chair because if you stand too quickly your blood pressure may drop suddenly making you light headed.
  • Make your home safer - Remove clutter on stairs or places where you walk and make sure there are no trailing wires. Mop up spills at once. Have hand rails by the toilet and bath and on the stairs. Store things you use a lot in places you can get to easily. Make sure there are no frayed edges on carpets.

If you do fall:

  • Try to get up: problems people have following a fall are often from lying on the floor for too long and getting cold. If you can, try and get yourself up off the floor, use a piece of sturdy furniture to try and pull yourself up if it helps.
  • Get help: try not to panic; try to attract attention by banging on the floor or wall. Use your personal alarm or call 999 if you can reach a phone.
  • Keep warm; if you're unable to get up tense your arm and leg muscles and cover yourself with a coat or whatever you can find.

Survival on the floor pack - Always be prepared! 
Get together your ‘survival kit’, keep it accessible and make sure it includes:

  1. Blanket
  2. Bottled water or carton drink
  3. Night light or torch & batteries
  4. Pendent alarm or whistle
  5. Plan how you will summon help

Falls Emergency ‘GRAB BAG’
If you are aged 65+ and  have a history of falling or have a high risk of becoming a faller,  be prepared by obtaining a FREE Emergency ‘GRAB BAG’ The bag enables you to be prepared in an emergency situation.  Contact: NHS Resource Department on 01925 843730 for your FREE Emergency Grab  or email resources@warrington-pct.nhs.uk.

Exercise Programme & Health Education for Later Life (for patients aged 65+) 
Stay On Your Feet is aimed to improve physical activity, muscle strength, balance, flexibility, posture and falls prevention.  It is aimed at patients who are able to stand unassisted and walk unaided.

A variety of classes at various venues are offered including an 8 week exercise programme which is free of charge.  For further details please contact 01925 843715.

  

​As people are living longer, sadly partners may die or marriages break down. 

Many older people form new relationships, divorce rates are increasing so keeping and maintaining a ‘healthy’ relationship is important for your wellbeing.  

As people get older they may also experience an added strain on their relationship brought on by unavoidable life changes such as; retirement, financial constraints, family conflict, ill health and loss of mobility. 

Relationship Counselling is available so it is important to speak to your GP.​

Age UK have various factsheets on their website​ to help with relationships and family problems.

  

​​The weather is becoming more extreme, with ‘global warming’ and winters are colder and summers can be very hot. As you get older you still need to take care when the weather is hot, especially your skin and it is important to applying a high factor sun screen. Older people are still at risk from skin cancer and skin changes are sometimes overlooked by individuals and GP’s. It is important to look out for changes such as moles bleeding or changing colour or shape and report to your GP as soon as possible. When the weather is hot, stay in the shade, wear a hat and lose fitting clothing. Keep strenuous activities like housework, DIY or gardening to cooler parts of the day.  And remember to drink plenty of fluids like water and fruit juice even if you don’t feel thirsty

Drinking water is good for you.  As you get older your body’s needs and health concerns change due to increasing susceptibility to degenerative disease. Drinking water regularly can make a valuable contribution to healthy ageing.  Water is well known for its revitalizing properties. Even though water is essential to health, it gets frequently overlooked as one of the six basic nutrients, along with carbohydrate, fats, vitamins, proteins and minerals. The kidneys play a vital role in regulating the amount of fluid in the body, but their function deteriorates with age. Age related changes, such as alterations in hormone levels, also mean that water balance takes longer to be restored even after a drink has been consumed. Medical evidence for good hydration shows that it can assist in preventing or treating ailments.

Dehydration can lead to: Confusion, Urinary tract infection, Low Blood Pressure, Constipation and Heart Disease.  Tips for keeping hydrated.

  • Try to drink fluids regularly each day.
  • Start the day by drinking a glass of water when you get up in the morning.
  • Keep a check on your urine. As a general guide to hydration, it should be plentiful, pale in colour and odourless.
  • Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
  

​​As you get older, bodies change. On the outside you notice lines, wrinkles, extra weight. Your skin is perhaps not quite as strong or flexible as it used to be. On the inside you lose muscle, gain fat and break down alcohol more slowly.  This means that you become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. You also react more slowly and tend to lose your sense of balance. So, even if you drink the same amount of alcohol, as you get older it is likely to affect you more than younger people.

How much is it safe to drink?
The more you drink, the more likely it is that alcohol will harm your health; BUT there are “sensible” levels of drinking which, for most people, are unlikely to be harmful. For adults over 18 years old, the NHS recommends that:

  • Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day
  • Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day

However, the changes mentioned above mean that safe drinking levels for older people are probably less than this.  Older people tend to drink less alcohol than younger people, but even so 1 in 6 older men and 1 in 15 older women are drinking enough to harm themselves. As you get older balance gets worse even a small amount of alcohol can make you more unsteady and more likely to fall. 

Alcohol can also add to the effect of some medications, e.g. painkillers or sleeping tablets and reduce the effect of others, e.g. medication to thin the blood (warfarin) – this can increase the risk of bleeding or developing a clot or blockage in your bloodstream.  Check with your doctor about whether you can drink with your particular health problems or medication.

About a third of older people with drinking problems develop them for the first time in later life.  Bereavement, physical ill-health, difficulty getting around and social isolation can lead to boredom and depression. Physical illness may be painful.  It can be tempting to use alcohol to make these difficulties more bearable. It may then become part of your daily routine and difficult to give up. 

What can I do?
If you think that you have an alcohol problem, talk to your doctor. If necessary they can arrange for you see a counsellor, or refer you to an NHS alcohol team in your local area.  

Find out more about alcohol support here.

  

​​A healthy, balanced diet is needed to supply the body with energy, essential nutrients and fibre. An adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is important to maintain bone health, particularly as you grow older.

It is very important to keep your bones healthy throughout our lives. The skeleton isn’t a dead coat hanger – it’s a living tissue which needs to be nourished and exercised to keep it strong. Like other parts of the body it has to be protected from diseases. Bones continue to grow in strength until our mid-twenties, at which point bone density reaches its peak. After the age of 35, old bone starts to be lost at a faster rate than new bone can be formed to replace it. In some men and women this bone loss is so severe that their bones become weak, fragile and liable to break very easily. This condition is known as osteoporosis. Fortunately, we can take measures to reduce the risk of developing the disease, enabling us to maintain strong bones through old age. 

If you are worried that you may have fragile bones (for example if you have fallen over recently and broken a bone, or you have noticed that you are losing height and developing a stoop), talk to your GP. Your doctor will be able to assess whether you are at risk of developing, or have, osteoporosis. If you already have fragile bones, your doctor will be able to advise you on suitable treatment which will prevent further bone loss.​

  

In a typical winter, temperatures are low enough to affect the health of vulnerable people. Cold snaps can happen suddenly, and rapid drops in temperature quickly affect vulnerable people.  So it is best to be prepared before cold temperatures are forecast – ideally by the beginning of November.  Follow these tips to keep your family warm and well during cold weather:

  • Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
  • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer).
  • Keep as active as possible.
  • Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use.
  • Keep your main living room at around 18-21C (64-70F), and the rest  of the house at least 16C (61F). If you can't heat all the rooms you use, heat the livingroom during the day and the bedroom just before you go to sleep.
  • Keep combustible materials, including furniture and curtains at least three feet away from the heat source. NEVER drape clothes over a space heater to dry.
  • Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Never leave children alone in the room where a space heater is running. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.
  • Be careful not to overload electrical circuits.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke detector in every room. Check and change batteries often.
  • Close curtains as soon as it starts to go dark.
  • Cover yourself with a blanket when watching television.
  • Invest in a hot water bottle or electric blanket. But do not use them at the same time.
  • Stock up on tinned and frozen foods to reduce the need to go out during extreme cold weather.
  • Ensure that you keep an adequate supply of any prescribed medication.
  • If you have a pre payment meter for gas or electricity, ensure that you keep as much credit on the metre as your budget allows.
  • Where possible keep a watchful eye on your neighbours and if you have any concerns contact GGHT free on 0800 25 26 27.
  • Make sure you are maximising your income, for a free benefits check call our Money Advice team​ on free 0800 25 26 27.

  

​​There is lots of information on our Staying Safe, Warm and Well in Winter page.  Also find more information on these useful links:

  • NHS Choices - keep warm, keep well
  • WBC - Top Tips for Older People During Winter
  • Direct.Gov - Staying Warm in Winter
  • Age UK - Advice & Support
  • WBC - Winter Gritting
  

​Flu jabs:
The FREE flu vaccination is offered to all people aged 65 plus and those under 65 who have health conditions. You can get your free flu jab at your GP surgery – it is really important that you get your vaccination to protect your health, you don’t want to be ill in the middle of winter and end up in Hospital.

Signs of depression:
Know the signs and symptoms of depression and dementia and seek help early. Signs of depression include a loss of confidence, avoiding people and no longer enjoying things that you used to do. If you're experiencing mental health problems and need support or treatment contact your GP who can help you.

Health screening:
Make sure you take part in health screening for example Bowel Cancer Screening – it could save your life. Please make sure if you are contacted for a screen, you take up the offer – screening is about picking up very early changes to your body and being able to do something quickly  – the earlier the health service finds something irregular the quicker they can treat you - which as to be a good thing.

Regularly review your medicines:
Make sure you are having your medications reviewed regularly especially if you take four or more. This can be done by your GP or your pharmacist can give you detailed advice on your medicine, provide treatment for common health problems and give healthy lifestyle advice.Involve yourself in the community.

Keep yourself active and involved in your community:
This will help stop you from becoming isolated and lonely. Your community centres will be a good source of information.  You can also get invovled with GGHT - click here to find out more.

Check your benefit entitlement:
Have your benefit entitlement checked – just to make sure you are receiving all the income you are entitled to. Many people think that they automatically don’t qualify for any financial help but you may be surprised by what is available. Local organisations such Age UK and CAB services in Warrington will be able to give you further advice on benefit checks.  You can also find out more from our Money Advice Team.

Independent Living: 
Independent Living. Get support to live independently and in your own home for as long as possible. The Warrington Borough Council Access Social Care team are there to help you can call on 01925 444239.  Click here to find about our retirement living options.​