Are you ready for winter?

Ready Scotland is a campaign by the Scottish Government to help people across Scotland to think ahead and get prepared for winter. Recent research suggested that after a couple of milder winters, many people were not taking any steps to prepare for emergencies or severe weather. The Ready Scotland site brings together simple steps you can take that can make a big difference – with the help of their trademark dog!


 

For many it has been a good few years since daily life has been disrupted by waking up to find a few feet of snow has been dumped at their front door by Mother Nature or plans have had to change thanks to the impact of strong winds and rain.

Research undertaken by the British Red Cross and the Scottish Government found that the longer the time period since an individual has had to deal with the effects of severe weather the less likely they are to take steps to prepare. As the memories of the severe weather experienced in 2010 and 2011 fade so does the intention to be ready.

Unfortunately, severe weather doesn’t stick to a rota. Past performance by the weather is not necessarily an indicator of what to expect this winter.

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment & Cities Keith Brown said:

“If there is anything recent winters have shown us it is that Scottish weather is unpredictable. The unpredictability of weather patterns means we cannot simply hope that we will miss the worst of it. While we can’t stop the weather causing disruption, we can be well prepared to cope with it.”

There are 3 elements to think about when it comes to being ready for winter.

Firstly, there is staying informed. Whether through local news, radio, social media or by signing up to the Met Office alert service, it is important that you stay in the know about imminent weather conditions.

The second element is about being prepared. Whether in the home, at work or travelling out and about there are a simple actions that will ensure you are better prepared in the event they have to deal with severe weather.

It is also important to consider whether you are prepared enough. For example, having an ice scraper and de-icer might be fine if you are only driving a mile from your home. However, for longer journeys you will want to make sure you have a blanket and a hot drink in the car in case you and your car become stranded.

ready

Thirdly, think about others. Are there individuals in your local community who might not be as able as you to deal with the effects of severe weather? Consider what you can do to help them be ready.

David Miller, Director of the British Red Cross in Scotland, said:

“Making sure you are prepared now for winter can make a huge difference when extreme weather hits. At the Red Cross we know that severe weather, including snow and floods, can have serious consequences. However, with a few simple steps you can make yourself and others ready for the disruption it can bring.”

For more information on how to get ready for winter visit www.readyscotland.org.

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland – April’s “Hot Tips”

Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and how to make the most of later life.

April sees us team up with Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to bring you information about taking care of your hearing. In this guest blog, Delia Henry, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, explains how having your hearing tested is a vital first step towards getting the support you need


Delia Henry Action on Hearing Loss Scotland

Delia Henry – Action on Hearing Loss Scotland

Recognising that you have hearing loss can be an uncomfortable truth which many don’t want to deal with and people often confide in me that they are having difficulty hearing but are not sure what to do.

71 per cent of people of over 70-year-olds have hearing loss, with signs of deafness such as turning up the television volume, thinking others are mumbling and needing to ask people to repeat themselves.

With funding from the Scottish Government, Action on Hearing Loss Scotland and RNIB Scotland produced resources to help you recognise whether you have hearing or sight loss. The information cards and videos also provide useful deaf awareness and communication tips.

People can wait up to 10 years to take action from the point of first experiencing hearing difficulties but we encourage you to get your hearing checked regularly. Asking your GP to refer you to an audiologist for a hearing test is a vital first step on your way to getting the support that you need.

Good quality digital hearing aids are free on the NHS in Scotland and you can also choose to buy hearing aids from private dispensers too. Action on Hearing Loss and Which? have produced the ‘Best hearing aid providers: How to get the best hearing aid’ guide to help you to make informed decisions about which hearing aids are best for your individual needs.

Although hearing aids will help you to hear your conversations with friends and family more clearly, it can take time to adjust to wearing them. Community-based support from our Hear to Help volunteers, who have hearing loss themselves, in Tayside, Greater Glasgow and Ayrshire & Arran can make a big difference – especially for people who are housebound or have mobility difficulties. Our website has details of our drop-in sessions and contacts for home visits.

Hear to Help volunteer talks through the equipment

Hear to Help volunteer talks through the equipment

Learning to lipread can be also be a big help as the ability to identify lip shapes, patterns and facial gestures can fill in the gaps of conversations you have misheard. Details about what happens during lipreading classes, the benefits they bring and those running in your area can be found on www.scotlipreading.org.uk

There is also equipment such as personal listeners, hearing loops, amplified phones and flashing or vibrating doorbells to help people with hearing loss in everyday life. Visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/shop or call 0141 341 5330 to find out about the latest products.

I hope that I have reassured you about the range of support that is available for you, if you are diagnosed with hearing loss but, if you need more information about Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s services, please visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/Scotland or email: scotland@hearingloss.org.uk

Print

Download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get information and advice throughout the year. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:

  • “Thank you for the calendar – useful & attractive”
  • “Invaluable, great help – used daily, all year”
  • “Brilliant information that I will pass onto family and friends”

Download yours today!

“Disability Benefits” – March’s Hot Tips

Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and how to make the most of later life.

March’s theme is “Disability Benefits” and aims to give a brief overview of the main disability benefits available to older people in Scotland. In this blog, Heather Smith, Age Scotland’s Information and Advice Manager, explains why this time of year is a good time to check your benefit entitlement. 


For benefits advisers, Easter isn’t just the time to eat chocolate, it’s also time to look at changes to benefit rates and encourage people to check their entitlements, as benefit rates change a little in the new financial year. Many older people do not claim the benefits they are entitled to, perhaps because of pride, or the negative stereotypes of “benefit claimants” in some media or because they have not understood the intricacies of rules and regulations. Some media outlets also try to stir up disputes between generations by saying that older people are “well off” – some older people are, but others have had difficult lives where the idea of saving for the future had to take second place to day-to-day budgeting to pay everyday bills and expenses.

The main benefits for older people are State Retirement Pension, Pension Credit and Attendance Allowance.

State Pension

There is still some confusion about State Pension Age. This used to be 60 for a woman and 65 for a man, but the age for women is increasing fast and is now 62 ½, which can be a shock to a woman who in the context of a busy life has not kept an eye on welfare reform changes. The main change at 60 is now the “entitlement card” for concessionary travel, which in Scotland is not tied to the changes in State Pension Age.  There will be changes to State Pension in April 2016 when the rate will become “single tier” and number of qualifying years will change – this doesn’t affect anyone who is already getting their state pension.

Pension Credit

The age for anyone claiming Pension Credit is pinned to the increases in State Pension Age for a woman, so many people may be unsure about when they can claim. Our helpline Silver Line Scotland can track down the relevant date for you and help you to have a look at whether your income, capital and other circumstances mean that you are eligible to make a claim. Call them for free on 0800 4 70 80 90.

Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is the benefit for people who are 65 or over who need help with care or supervision. Many older people who could be entitled do not make a claim because they want to feel independent or they are just getting by without help. Others who do claim may not explain their needs effectively. They may have made gradual adjustments to their expectations as their health has deteriorated and their need for care has increased.

Attendance Allowance is based on the care you need, not the care you actually have. It can be claimed regardless of your income and capital, and you can spend it how you choose to. For those aged under 65, there is a different benefit called Personal Independence Payment.

From the calls we have had to our helpline, Age Scotland knows that many people like to have the facts about benefits clear in their own minds before talking to an adviser or making a claim for benefit. If you think or someone close to you may be entitled to make a claim, get in touch and a Silver Line Scotland Adviser can talk you through your right, on 0800 4 70 80 90.

Download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get information and advice throughout the year. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:

  • “Thank you for the calendar – useful & attractive”
  • “Thank you for caring”
  • “I do not think you could do any better. This is wonderful”

Download yours today!

“Looking After You” – January’s Hot Tips

Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and how to make the most of later life.

January’s theme is “Looking After You” and offers tips on keeping active, healthy and happy. Age Scotland Allied Health Professionals Yolanda Strachan and Jenny Ackland expand on these themes in their guest blog.


A new year can give us a bit of encouragement to break the habits of the old one. So 2015 could be the perfect time to look at what you can do to improve your health and well-being.

Research is increasingly showing that too much sitting is having a significant negative impact on health.  It is linked to an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Inactivity can also impact on our mental health; lowering our mood and increasing the risk of depression.

Keeping active, keeping warm

Sitting too much is also a risk factor in contributing to falls.  New research shows that older women sitting in a cold room (at a temperature of 15 degrees C) for 45 minutes can have a remarkable loss in muscle power. This means it is more difficult to get out of a chair and will reduce walking speed.

632x305_smiling ladies on the couch

It is so important to keep warm and moving about, especially at this time of year, as it will help to warm up your muscles. Sue Lavery, an Occupational Therapist, has shared some useful hints that may help you keep warm in the cold weather.

  • Warm clothes – wear lots of layers that are easy to put on. If you need any help getting dressed, you can consider purchasing dressing aids, which are available here.
  • Warm feet – your feet are particularly difficult to warm up, so keep moving about and don’t let them get cold. Try wearing socks with high wool content and well-fitting shoes. Only wear slippers for short periods.
  • Warm room – if you can, programme your heating to come on before you get up in the morning. A remote control timer may help. Contact your energy supplier for information, or visit the Age Scotland website for more information.
  • Warm drinks and meals – establish a routine of making hot drinks, soup, porridge etc. The activity of making these will help keep you warm too. Visit our Spread the Warmth page for hints and tips.

Telehealthcare

Telecare also has an increasing role to play in helping people to keep warm.  A mobile phone controlled power sensor socket with temperature sensor contains a temperature probe to monitor room temperature. This also alerts carers by text message if for example a heater socket is switched off inadvertently. Click here for more information.


Download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get information and advice throughout the year. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:

  • “Invaluable, great help – used daily, all year”
  • “I do not think you could do any better. This is wonderful”
  • “Brilliant information that I will pass onto family and friends”

Download yours today!

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).

No question too big, no problem too small, no need to be alone

Jenny, Session Supervisor- Silver Line Scotland reports back from our Launch week:

Today was the official launch of Silver Line Scotland. The team had decorated the Helpline with silvery decorations and made Esther Rantzen a cake to commemorate the launch. We also dressed for the occasion in a variety of silver clothing, shoes and accessories.

Silver Line

We had a busy start to the morning with calls in the first few minutes of opening. The Silver Line is open 24 hours on 0800 4 70 80 90, but Silver Line (UK) manage the calls overnight from their centre in Blackpool, then Silver Line Scotland take the Scottish calls from 8am to 8pm on weekdays.

Esther came in to the Helpline at about 12.30 after meeting with press and photographers to speak about the service.  She chatted with the team about some of the types of calls that Silver Line had received through the pilot period and the types of calls the Scottish team have been getting this week.  We are all hoping that Silver Line becomes the first point of contact for older people in Scotland for any problem, question or just a listening ear which is summed up by our motto:

‘No question too big, no problem too small, no need to be alone’.

Age Scotland Helpline has been a trusted source of information for many years and calls have always been quite varied and unpredictable. We receive calls on subjects as diverse as care, housing, heating, benefits and everything else besides (‘How do I get my letter from the Queen when I turn 100?’, ‘I’m struggling to hear my phone ringing, what can I do?’)  but with the addition of Silver Line we have an extra dimension to our service.  Many of our calls this week have been from people wanting to chat, wanting to sign up to be a Silver Line volunteer, to have a Silver Line friend or just wanting to pass on their thoughts about the service.

Silver LineWe’ve had some great feedback on how excited people are that the friend service is available and how pleased they are that they can ring 24 hours to speak to someone.  We have still received our usual mix of calls about care, housing, benefits and older people’s rights, but we’ve also had people feeling lonely or isolated, or just wanting to get something off their chest.

It’s been a busy week for the Helpline and we’re looking forward to it carrying on as Silver Line becomes more well-known and grows from strength to strength.

Proudly presenting Silver Line Scotland

Silver Line Scotland in partnership with Age Scotland, launch a new 24 hour helpline offering information, advice and friendship to older people on 0800 4 70 80 90.  Esther Rantzen, founder and chair of The Silver Line, spoke to Age Scotland about this land-mark new service.

Esther with Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan.

Esther with Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan.

“We know from the experience of ChildLine that it is sometimes difficult to talk about serious problems like loneliness or abuse,” says Esther, who helped found that service in the 1980s.  “So with The Silver Line, we are saying to older people that you can ring us up about anything.”

For Esther it’s vitally important that the service is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.   “We get very important calls in the early hours of the morning, on Sunday mornings, and on Christmas day.  People can be sleepless, and with Sunday and Christmas dedicated to family they can feel particularly lonely on these days.”  

Silver Line Scotland is not just a number people can call in a time of crisis. “We learned from our pilot of the service that some people really enjoy speaking to someone on a regular basis, and that a Silver Line friendship can transform their life,” says Esther.  “They say that being able to talk to someone who is genuinely interested in them makes them feel valued and gives them confidence.  So as a result of contacting The Silver Line, one woman went on to join a book club, and we also spurred a man to go out and buy a new guitar.”

The inspiration to found The Silver Line came from Esther’s personal experience.  “Living alone for the first time at age of 71 I realised that, even though I had quite a good life, coming home to a dark flat with no-one to make tea for is pretty lonely.”

Esther feels that there are barriers that make it difficult for people who are lonely to ask for help.  “Many older people are determined not to be a burden, and they will often say that they know there are people far worse off than they are,” she says.  “There is definitely a stigma attached to loneliness; admitting to it can feel a bit like admitting that you are unlikeable.”

In Scotland The Silver Line is working in partnership with Age Scotland to deliver Silver Line Scotland.  “I went up to meet Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan,” says Esther.  “The idea for a partnership came from him, and it was such a brilliant one as Scotland’s laws and systems are slightly different and Age Scotland’s telephone advisers are experts in this.” Esther is “hugely enthusiastic” about the partnership.  “I have the greatest respect for the work of Age Scotland’s dynamic team and am delighted to be working with it.” 

Call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90