Getting Online at 85

The 13th – 19th of October is “Get Online” week! Our Digital Communications Officer Emma Bisset visited a computer club held by Keeping in Touch Edinburgh (KiTE), to find out how the organisation is helping older people overcome their fears of technology and getting them online.


Technology has been part of my life for some time now. I’ve had to use email and the internet for work for years, and I regularly do my banking and shopping online. For many people going online is second nature, so it’s easy to forget that some older people never used a computer during their working lives. As an increasing number of services move to being more focused on their online activities, there is a fear that these people will be left behind.

That’s why organisations like KiTE are so crucial. KiTE work with older people to introduce them to the benefits and fun of being online, and work to alleviate their fear of technology. They offer a structured beginners course, 1-2-1 sessions and a more relaxed computer club. Viewpoint Housing Association provide funding for Old Farm Court Sheltered Housing to host a regular computer club, which residents can attend for free. I went to visit them recently to find out more.

Computer club members ably helped by EleanorI first spoke to a lady in her mid-eighties called May. She had never used a computer while working but is now a regular attendee of the computer club, having had a 1-2-1 session to get over her initial reservations.

She has now signed up to Facebook, which she uses to stay in touch with a friend in Ohio and share information with other older friends who are also members. “My hearing isn’t what it was and I need the telly on really loud, which probably disturbs my neighbours. I got free headphones for the telly from DeafAction which have really helped, so I put on Facebook that they did that so my friends knew as well. It’s great for letting people know your news and what’s going on.” May’s next goal is to learn how to make Christmas cards online so she can personalise and print off cards for everyone this year.

I also spoke to a gentleman called Jimmy who said the club has helped him find his way online. He goes online to plan trips down south. “I got a better deal on train tickets because I checked online so it’s good for that.”

Gina, 75 has found being online helpful for sharing things with her granddaughter. “She’s five and visited one day when it was raining. There wasn’t much to do and she was bored so we went online and watched the live camera of the panda in Edinburgh Zoo. She loved it and it’s something we can do together.”

One lady who was attending the club for the first time still had her reservations and said she found the session rather overwhelming. I noticed how the other members rallied round, reassuring her that they had felt the same on their first visit.

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There is a real sense of the members being supported as they find their own way, with some members bringing their own laptops and even iPads. Some had clearly built up some confidence, only calling on KiTE volunteers if something unexpected happened, while others sat with a volunteer, being talked through a process.

People of all ages differ in how much they use technology and what they go online for. It’s great to see organisations like KiTE working to tackle the fear some older people have, and explain the benefits of the internet and digital technology to generations that are just discovering them.

One lady approached me at the end of the session to say “I always ask a lot of questions, but these volunteers are worth their weight in gold.” She chatted with the volunteers before packing up her laptop to leave, shouting as she left “Just remember, don’t get old!”001

Visit KiTE’s website to find out more about their work.

 

Power of Attorney – Our National Campaign

Rebecca Dickson, our Power of Attorney Project Officer, kicks off our national campaign to get Scotland talking about Power of Attorney.


We all plan in some way for the “what ifs” of tomorrow.POA logo We might set aside some rainy day savings, make a will, or have a discussion about what we would want to happen should life not go according to plan. Power of Attorney can form part of that discussion. Appointing one or several Attorneys provides us with an opportunity to have a think about and express what our priorities and wishes are in relation to various areas of our lives. This could include instructions regarding financial affairs or even how we would like to be taken care of if we become ill.

Granting a Power of attorney is something which can give you peace of mind. Knowing that you have expressed your wishes as to what you would like to happen in a situation you may find yourself in, should you no longer be in a position to make such a decision yourself. Financial affairs can also be managed for you even if it is for the reason that you are due to be out of the country for a period of time or you feel that a trusted person is perhaps better suited to managing a particular aspect of your affairs on your behalf.

Handpick who makes decisions on your behalfForward planning is the key to granting a Power of Attorney given the fact that it must be granted by someone who has been deemed to have full capacity to make such a decision. An Attorney may never be needed, but if they are then you can have the peace of mind knowing that they are equipped with the knowledge and legal authority to make decisions according to what is important to you and in your best interests.

So, what is important to you? Imagine you became unable to accurately express your wishes: What is it that you would want people to know about you? Perhaps you are a vegetarian and want to ensure none of your meals contain meat products; or you would like your bills paid two days early, because that’s what you have always done; or maybe you would like someone to know your feelings about certain medical treatments in the event they will be something you may want to consider.

We are encouraging Scotland’s older population to be thinking about what is important to them and to consider expressing this in a Power of Attorney document. There are many situations in which individuals find themselves which may have been avoided or eased if there was someone around who had the legal authority to make a decision on his or her behalf.  This is one of several reasons behind Age Scotland’s Power of Attorney Campaign.

As part of our campaign and in my role as Power of Attorney Project Officer, I will be connecting with local groups and communities to raise awareness and promote the use of Power of Attorney. I will be delivering presentations, facilitating workshops and liaising with professionals and other organisations in order to spread the word.

Rebecca at her latest POA event

Rebecca talking about POA at an event in Tranent

If you feel there is an event or group that would benefit from more information or a presentation, please let us know. Similarly, if you have an experience you would like to share with us in relation to Power of Attorney, please email communications@agescotland.org.uk

Visit Age Scotland for more information, where you will find a Power of Attorney Information pack and our handy Mythbuster. Alternatively you can call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90 (8am-8pm, Monday to Friday).

Mental Health and Older People

Today is World Mental Health Day – a day the world celebrates mental health education, awareness and advocacy. Guest blogger Karyn Davie, Age Scotland’s Health & Benefits Project Worker, shares her findings from recent group discussions on mental health and older people, and the barriers to people seeking help.


Earlier this year I met with some of Age Scotland’s member groups to talk about mental health and wellbeing; access to treatments, and their own personal experiences.

It was clear that self-stigma remains a strong barrier to people in older age seeking help to mental health issues, with individuals being concerned about being judged by others.

‘My neighbours didn’t know why I was in hospital- it would be different if it was a heart attack or something, they would stop me in the street and ask if I was ok- but they would look strange and think I was a ‘loony’ who had been in a ‘loony ward’. I couldn’t cope with that’.Man_Garden_006

Another common theme that was discussed by the groups was loss of social networks and the effect this has on self-esteem, and sense of social standing. One gentleman told me: “I have been to four funerals already this year- that’s my social life! I worry there’ll be no one left to come to mine”.

Other Common Losses discussed were:

  • The impact of retirement, and the loss of structure to the day
  • Moving home; close friends or family moving away;
  • Living on reduced income
  • Not being able to take part in activities enjoyed for many years because of difficulties getting there, health problems or hearing/sight problems that affect them
  • Sense of vulnerability due to sudden health changes i.e. stroke or heart attack

All of these losses were discussed as having a significant impact on the person’s self-esteem, with many people advising that they made them feel isolated and lonely.

While visiting the Mood Project in West Lothian, the Men’s Group were very honest and open about issues for them. They made the following observations:

  • Men don’t generally pick up leaflets to seek advice unless; directly given to them by a health professional; forced to by a partner; or it says ‘free’ on the cover!
  • Men tend to talk about ‘problems’ rather than emotions.
  • They would rather be actively ‘doing things’ rather than talking i.e. walking groups, outings, men’s sheds.
  • Mental health problems affect their sense of masculinity- they should be the strong one; the protector and provider and this is challenged by feelings of being ‘weak’.

Many people I spoke to that described physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and headaches that don’t go away were unaware that the way they felt could be due to their mental health. They also preferred to use terms like ‘funny turns’ rather than panic attacks.

Much of the terminology used in modern day mental health services such as ‘mental resilience’ or ‘coping strategies’ was unrecognised, and had a very negative impact. There was also very little awareness or understanding of treatment options such as psychological therapies, and social prescriptions. Both of these factors presents a real barrier to people seeking help, as the fear remains that it will lead to admission to a psychiatric hospital.

In general written resources are not age friendly, often using bright fonts with modern slang and terminology or advocating use of mobile apps or computer programmes which can isolate older audiences. Information is also not always presented in a way that takes into account differing needs due to sensory and cognitive functions.

We also found that concerned friends and family struggled to find resources about ‘how to have that difficult conversation’ and how they could help.

With the learnings from these visits, I am currently developing information resources for people who are concerned about their mental health, with the aim to make it more accessible and age appropriate.

For more information on Mental Health visit:

Or call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90

 

Age Scotland Awards honour Scotland’s champions of older people

This year’s Age Scotland Awards were held on UK Older People’s Day at a reception at the Scottish Parliament. The awards celebrate the tireless efforts of groups and individuals across Scotland who work to make a difference in their communities.


Brian Sloan, Age Scotland Chief Executive

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland Chief Executive, described choosing the winners as “a humbling experience.” He added “It is wonderful to see the amazing work going on around the country – both in support of our older population but also, often, being carried out by older people. I think our winners demonstrate the breadth of activity going on in communities across the country, which Age Scotland exists to champion and support.”

This year’s Volunteer of the Year was Andrew MacDowall, 82, who dedicates countless hours each week to driving, gardening and providing other help for older people in Argyll. Although he suffers from profound hearing loss and is waiting for a hip operation, this has not stopped his commitment to groups including Oban in Bloom, the local “Soup Group” and the Frail Walking Group.

Andy MacDowall, 82, wins Volunteer of the Year Award

Andy MacDowall, 82, wins Volunteer of the Year Award

Age Scotland Awards 2014

Andy accepting his reward

This year’s Services for Older People Award winner was the multicultural Milan Day Support Service, Edinburgh, which tackles isolation by providing information and social activities to vulnerable older people in their own languages.

Milan Ltd means ‘rendezvous’ or ‘friendly meeting place’, in the four languages of the community that the organisation caters to.

“Milan” means ‘rendezvous’ or ‘friendly meeting place’, in the four languages of the community that the organisation caters to.

A partnership between the Citadel Arts Group and Midlothian-based Community Links Dementia was recognised for improving the health and wellbeing of people with dementia. The groups’ Living Memory Project, which resulted in a play performed by local primary schoolchildren, helped it win the Patrick Brooks Award for Best Working Partnership.

Citadel Arts Group and Midlothian-based Community Links Dementia

Citadel Arts Group and Midlothian-based Community Links Dementia accepting their award.

Clackmannanshire Older Adults Forum was presented with the Jess Barrow Award for Campaigning and Influencing for its successful effort to preserve bus services to nearby hospitals and bring some healthcare services closer to the community.

Clackmannanshire Older Adults Forum

Clackmannanshire Older Adults Forum with their award.

NHS Lanarkshire, the Older People’s Employer of the Year Award 2014, is leading the way in actively supporting and training older people in the workforce, and helping employees prepare for retirement. Its pre-retirement seminars, run with Age Scotland, help people with financial planning, health and wellbeing issues and finding volunteering opportunities.

NHS Lanarkshire won our newest award - the Older Person's Employer of the Year

NHS Lanarkshire won our newest award – the Older People’s Employer of the Year

Merkinch Community Centre’s Singing for Pleasure group was named the best Member Group. With around 40 members, the singers perform regularly at theatres, churches and nursing homes, and featured on BBC One’s talent show, Last Choir Standing.

Singing for Pleasure

Singing for Pleasure win the Member Group of the Year Award

Singing for Pleasure treated guests to two songs on the night.

Singing for Pleasure treated guests to two songs on the night.

It was a wonderful night showcasing the fantastic services and projects happening all over Scotland that benefit older people.

Thank you to all those who entered, and congratulations to our winners from all at the Age Scotland team!

The awards are sponsored by Specsavers, Solicitors for Older People Scotland, David Urquhart Travel, and McCarthy and Stone.

Sedentary Behaviour – What “sit” all about?

There has been a lot in the news lately about sedentary behaviour and the effect this can have on our health.

Jenny Ackland, one of Age Scotland’s Allied Health Professionals, talks us through the research and why, even with a background in health, she was surprised by just how much of an impact sedentary behaviour can have on our physical and mental wellbeing.

So what is sedentary behaviour?

Sedentary behaviour describes periods of time where you’re not very physically active, this could include watching TV, sitting reading a book or sitting working at a computer.

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What the evidence shows:

The research to date shows specific differences in the way sedentary behaviour can impact on our metabolism, physiology, health and wellbeing. It is now recognised that long periods of prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor for poor health outcomes.

The British Heart Foundation National Centre evidence briefing on sedentary behaviour highlights the following:

  • The adverse effects of sedentary behaviours apply even if you meet the physical activity guidelines
  • Public health guidance indicates that prolonged periods of sitting should be avoided
  • Sedentary behaviours have a negative impact on mental wellbeing
  • Sedentary behaviours are associated with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • Sedentary behaviours are associated with lower femoral bone mineral density in post-menopausal women
  • Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide
  • Patterns and behaviours established in childhood persist with age
  • Sedentary behaviours are more prevalent and sustained in older people

The point about meeting the physical activity guidelines is key. We’re all used to hearing that we should be doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, but the research tells us that even if you went for a 30 minute run, if you then sit on the sofa for the rest of the day, you are just as susceptible to the adverse effects!

What’s clear is that more research is needed to identify simple, effective ways people can reduce their sedentary time, and Age Scotland is involved in a major new study aiming to do just that.

The Seniors Understanding Sedentary Patterns Study

This three year study is being led by a team of high profile researchers from a number of universities, including Glasgow Caledonian University. It is funded by the Medical Research Council.

They plan to recruit 750 people from two major long-term Scottish studies from which they already have some clinical measurements and data. This data will be reviewed against new objective measurements on their current activity patterns. The researchers will also interview some participants to capture their views about sedentary behaviour and identify what might encourage people to become more active. Using this information, the aim is to design an intervention that will help to reduce sedentary behaviours.

Age Scotland is part of the Dissemination Advisory Group and we’ll be helping to share information about its work. We will also be raising awareness of the health risks associated with sedentary behaviours, not only with older people but with our own teams at work which has started already in our Edinburgh office!

What can we do at work to reduce sedentary behaviour?

The first step is just to take notice of the amount of sitting that you do in a working day and think about how you can be more active. Have a bit of fun with your team suggesting ways to reduce the amount of sitting you do and what would work for everyone.

Why not make a point of standing up when you answer the phone or have standing or walking meetings? The more active you are the better, but even just standing up for a few minutes in each hour can make a difference.

I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions to reduce the amount of sitting that we all do, so drop me an email at: Jenny.Ackland@agescotland.org.uk

Volunteering at the Commonwealth Games

John Stewart, 69, shares his experience of volunteering at the Commonwealth Games and why he would encourage others to volunteer.

When I was young, men slightly older than me who had enjoyed or endured National Service would offer the advice “never volunteer”. Perhaps that stuck with me, because up until the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, I had never volunteered.

Because I was retired and widowed and looking for things to do, and not least because it was in Glasgow where I live, I decided to put my name forward. When I heard that 50,000 had done the same and 25,000 were to be interviewed for 15,000 places I assumed that being 69 would rule me out.

However I was called to interview in early 2013. The process was very slick at the Commonwealth offices in Glasgow.  My passport was scanned, my picture taken and I responded to a standard set of questions. After that, I received a number of newsletters but heard nothing back so assumed that was that. Then in May of 2014, I found out I had been selected as a driver which had been my first choice. So I became a Clyde-sider.

Me and my grandson Ryan

Me and my grandson Ryan, who loved the mascot Clyde!

I attended two training days in June at the place that was to be the transport depot.  I was amazed to learn that there was to be over 1,100 cars available and 1,500 drivers, some of whom would be on shift and all of whom would be doing 10 hour shifts.  My rota extended over sixteen days with two days off.  At first that sounded a lot but they explained that during the ten hours would be broken up while we waited for clients that were attending meetings or events.

Outsize Pipers

Outsize Pipers in George Square in Glasgow

My role was to be what was called a T1 driver.  This involved being assigned to a specific car and a specific client who would be part of what was called the Games Family.  For the most part these were representatives of the Commonwealth Federations of the 71 countries competing.  Before the Games started I had most of three days driving between the various locations in Glasgow where events were to be held until the routes were well known.

HRH Prince Tunku Imran, his wife and I

HRH Prince Tunku Imran, his wife and I

Clients were arriving at different times so I had some days at the beginning of the Games where I was a support driver, waiting for my clients to sign on.  During that time I chauffeured for the Bahamas, Swaziland and Australia until my client from Guyana arrived.  As well as driving there was time for me to chat to the other drivers at the depot and everyone had a story to tell.  Many had volunteered at the Olympics in London and had travelled from many parts of England and stayed at their own expense, simply because they had enjoyed the experience so much.  Meeting other drivers and sharing their experiences all added to the enjoyment.

Most of the driving was taking the clients from their hotel to a Games venue, moving between venues or to the Athlete’s Village.  A massive bonus was that with my type of car pass I could park close to the venue and my personal pass allowed me into the events to watch from the back.  I saw Rugby at Ibrox, Boxing, Netball and Gymnastics at the Scottish Conference Centre and the icing on the cake was three evenings watching Athletics at Hampden.

Hampden

Panoramic view of Hampden on 28th July 2014

So what have I taken away from the experience? I found I could speak easily to complete strangers and I intend to keep that going.  I now find I will engage people in conversation in queues and in cafes.  During the games the uniform gave that licence but I realised people are often happy to chat. I found that I was still able to do a full 10 hours without getting weary and I am now avoiding daytime telly in favour of doing things. I golf twice week and my son and daughter have found lots of D.I.Y. to keep me amused!

I found volunteering gave me a great sense of worth. One of the Glasgow clients I had in the car works for a local hospice and invited me to get in touch about doing something for them so I did.  I have a set of forms to fill in and hopefully they will find a role for me which may well involve driving or perhaps administration or IT which was my work pre-retirement. I would thoroughly recommend volunteering. Although there is a commitment, it is on your own terms and, as I have found, there is something for everyone – whatever
your age and capability.

To find out about volunteering opportunities in your area, visithttp://www.volunteerscotland.net/

Step up for Age Scotland

Are you a runner, jogger or general challenge-setter whose looking for a new target to aim for? Then Alisdair Caulfield, Age Scotland’s fundraising manager, may have just the ticket for you – and you’d be helping us at the same time.

It’s the time of the year again that thousands of serious athletes, running enthusiasts and superstar fundraisers have been waiting for. Entries for Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015, Scotland’s largest running festival, are now open!

Now in its 13th year, this popular and ever-growing marathon festival takes place in Scotland’s capital city on 30/31 May and continues through East Lothian offering stunning views and an unforgettable running experience. With its fast and flat route, this marathon is one of the fastest in the UK so can deliver that elusive personal best for runners! Edinburgh Marathon joined the world’s elite road races in 2012 by becoming the first marathon in Scotland to be officially recognised by the IAAF, the athletics governing body. The IAAF bronze label puts the race among the top 75 in the world, making it a pivotal part of the sporting calendar for runners.

The Edinburgh Marathon Festival is Scotland’s largest running festival of its kind with more than 30,000 runners expected to take part in 2015. There are seven races on offer over two days including the marathon, half marathon, team relay, 10k, 5k and junior races. So there really is something for everyone.

thinkstock photo_running family 14_07_14 (2)

Have you ever dreamt of completing a marathon? Do you and friends fancy taking part as a team? Do you want to make a difference to the lives of older people in Scotland? Do you think you have what it takes to tackle the Edinburgh Marathon Festival?

If you answered yes then why not join team Age Scotland and make a real difference to the lives of older people in Scotland today and take part in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015! Entries are now open and to register your interest in joining Team Age Scotland you can sign up now http://www.edinburgh-marathon.com/ or you can speak to our fundraising team on 0845 833 0200 or email fundraising@agescotland.org.uk