No one should have no one at Christmas

On the 5th of December, Age Scotland launched their ‘No one should have no one at Christmas’ campaign to raise awareness of loneliness and social isolation among older people over the Christmas period and beyond.


Loneliness is a problem all year round but nearly 65,000 older people in Scotland say they feel lonelier at Christmas. Cold weather in winter months can prevent some older people from getting out to socialise and the emphasis society places on spending time with family and friends at this time of year can intensify the feeling of having no one.

So what can we do about it?

As part of our campaign ‘no one should have no one at Christmas’ we are encouraging everyone to think about what they can do to address and prevent loneliness in their local community. It can be anything from checking in on an older neighbour to see if they would like a cup of tea and a chat to volunteering with a local group or charity that supports older people.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon helped kick off our campaign, joining us for an intergenerational Christmas tea party at Port of Leith Housing Association. The tea party was the culmination of a project organised by the Pilmeny Development Project where young and older people have been learning about each other’s lives and taking part in social activities together.

The First Minister joined pupils from Drummond Community High school and tenants from the housing association to play pass the parcel, take part in a Christmas quiz, and chat over some mince pies.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP said: “Dealing with loneliness and isolation can be incredibly difficult, but at this time of year it’s especially heart-breaking to see that so many older Scots will spend Christmas alone. Age Scotland’s work to ensure that ‘No one should have no one at Christmas’ is vitally important, and everyone can play a part.

“By reaching out to older people in their street or community – by taking them out, doing a good deed or simply having a chat – people can have a hugely positive impact on the wellbeing and happiness of an older person.”

The First Minister also kicked off our #EndLoneliness pledge by pledging to drop in on an older neighbour over Christmas. We are now calling on everyone to share what they will do to end loneliness in their local community.

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A great example is little Evie who made Christmas cards at nursery and asked her mum if she could give them to people who wouldn’t be getting any this year. Evie and her mum headed down to their local day care centre in Prestonpans and spent some time handing out cards and hugs and making new friends.

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Many of the individuals at the day centre do not have any family and would likely not receive a Christmas card this year and Evie’s kind gesture went a long way.

What could you do to end loneliness in your local community? Share your ideas and plans with us on social media using the hashtag #EndLoneliness


Age Scotland works to eradicate loneliness and social isolation among older people in Scotland by supporting and developing local groups and projects and running a free helpline.

To support Age Scotland’s work in local communities, please text HUGS16 £5 to 70070 now to donate £5 or visit our Just Giving page to make a secure online donation. Thank you.

Learning from Japan about supporting workers who live with dementia

On 30 September trade unionists from across Scotland gathered in Glasgow to learn how to support workers affected by dementia; directly or as carers

A highlight of the conference, which was organized by Age Scotland in partnership with Scottish TUC and Alzheimer Scotland, was a video of an interview with Tomo; a visitor from Japan who is living and working with dementia, undertaken by Agnes Houston; a campaigner who herself has the condition.

At the conference Age Scotland launched a new free guide on Dementia and the Workplace.  While employers in Scotland are the main audience for this guide, it also proposes actions that everyone in a workplace can take to become more dementia aware, from occupational health professionals to customer facing staff.

You can download the guide at www.yourbrainyourjob.scot.

Living well with Dementia: diagnosis is key

Today kicks off Dementia Awareness Week in Scotland. Richard Baker, Team Leader of our Early Stage Dementia Project, talks tackling the stigma and how early diagnosis is key to living well with dementia.


This week Age Scotland will be joining Alzheimer Scotland and other organisations working for better support for people with dementia to promote the need for better support and early diagnosis.

This is a key concern for Age Scotland through the work of our Early Stage Dementia Project, supported by the Life Changes Trust. Early diagnosis for someone with dementia can make a huge difference to their ability to live well with the condition. The Scottish Government has made dementia a national priority, and as part of this has introduced a commitment to provide one year’s support for everybody who has been diagnosed with dementia for a year after their diagnosis. This support is provided by link workers who help people with dementia understand the illness, manage symptoms, maintain their connections with their local community and help them make plans for their future.

However, while there is a huge amount of work going on to raise dementia awareness and tackle stigma around the illness, there is still a huge amount to do. Depending on the measure used, either a third or a half of people who have dementia in Scotland have not yet received a diagnosis. A UK survey by the Alzheimer Society found that more than half of people seeking a diagnosis for dementia have delayed going to their GP by at least a year and nearly two-thirds of people fear a diagnosis would mean that their life is over.

But people can and do live well with dementia, and support in the early stages is crucial to ensuring this can happen. That is why it is so important to tackle myths and stigma around dementia and make more people aware of the benefits of early diagnosis. At Age Scotland we meet people with dementia who are still contributing to their communities and are the leading voices campaigning for improved dementia services. Their example shows that if people take early action if they are worried about their memory or struggling with other activities, they can still have a rewarding life even if they do receive a dementia diagnosis. Dementia Awareness Week is a great opportunity to highlight this message, and it is vital the work to make all our communities dementia friendly and dementia aware continues all year round.

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Age Scotland’s Early Stage Dementia Team

To find out more about Age Scotland’s work around Early Stage Dementia visit our website or contact Richard Baker at Richard.Baker@agescotland.org.uk

 

Taking control with Power of Attorney

Age Scotland’s Power of Attorney Project Officer,  Rebecca Dickson, explains how, by drawing up a Power of Attorney, you can retain control and a higher quality of living if you ever become unable to make decisions independently. 


Most services within charities, the NHS and businesses are moving towards a more person-centred approach in what they do, so all decisions about you and your life should be guided by your wishes and with your best interests in mind.

A Power of Attorney can help keep you at the centre of those decisions if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.

As part of Age Scotland’s Power of Attorney campaign, we are asking you to think about what it is that makes your life yours. What is important to you? What decisions do you make in your daily life that need to stay the same if you could not make them for yourself? A Power of Attorney should reflect your wishes, lifestyle and beliefs and be personal to you.

A Power of Attorney could include:

  • What you eat – perhaps you are a vegetarian or don’t eat certain foods because of your beliefs and you need your Attorney to make sure this is respected;
  • Medical decisions – do you feel strongly about certain medical treatments? As well as making your GP aware of this, put it in a Power of Attorney so that your Attorney knows what you think about treatment options;
  • How you look – an Attorney with financial powers can use your money to pay a hairdresser or barber to have your hair cut the way you like it on a regular basis.

Attorneys have a responsibility to make decisions according to your best interests and your wishes, as far as is practical. They also need to ensure that your skills and abilities are being used as much as possible. So, if you still have the ability to make some decisions they will support you in doing so, rather than make them for you.

A Power of Attorney should ensure that the quality of your life and the way you live it is not diminished even when your ability to make your decisions has faltered.

It is important to have conversations about what is important to you with people you trust and formalise it in a Power of Attorney so your Attorney can make decisions which enable you to live life to the full.

If you would like more information or advice on Power of Attorney, please call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90. The information pack is available here or Silver Line Scotland advisers can send you a free copy. If you are interested in having a talk or workshop on Power of Attorney for your group, please e-mail rebecca.dickson@agescotland.org.uk.

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).

Join the campaign for warm homes

As energy suppliers once more hike up their prices, Age Scotland joins the call for action to keep our homes warm.

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Fuel poverty is a national scandal, with more than half of single pensioners fuel poor.  At both Scottish and UK levels schemes have been established to tackle fuel poverty; the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) and the Westminster Government’s Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation. But there has been some slippage around implementing these, with the poor results so far for the Green Deal being particularly concerning.

Much of the cost of the UK Government’s schemes is levied as an added cost on household fuel bills, which means that those already struggling to pay their bills are disproportionately penalised.  This needs to change.

Part of the solution to fuel poverty is for the UK Government to use the money it gets from carbon taxes to help make homes super-energy efficient – with excellent insulation, renewable energy and modern boilers.  The UK Government taxes big companies for the damage their carbon emissions cause to people and the environment. These taxes are used by the Government to help combat climate change and wean the UK off dirty fossil fuels.  That’s a good objective, but the money the Government receives isn’t being used to help people use less energy to heat their homes – which would cut carbon emissions even further AND cut people’s energy bills.  The companies eventually pass these taxes on to consumers and they end up on our bills. Over the next 15 years Westminster will raise an average of £4 billion every year in carbon taxes.

Recycling carbon revenue to make homes super-energy efficient could bring 9 out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty. It could also be used to quadruple savings in carbon emissions compared to the Government’s new energy efficiency schemes and create up to 200,000 jobs – exactly what we need to support the UK’s economic recovery.

If you agree please send an e-message to your MP.

We can also make a difference by encouraging older people across Scotland to find out about, and take advantage of, existing help for cutting home energy bills.  Home Energy Scotland can carry out a free home energy check, no matter what your circumstances, or wherever you live in Scotland. 

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Don’t miss the bus

This Friday, 25th October, Age Scotland’s online petition calling for action to end isolation among older people will close.  Campaigns officer Doug Anthoney reflects on the campaign’s progress and next steps.

Still Waiting campaigners

In February we launched the Still Waiting campaign; which calls for action to stop older people becoming lonely and isolated due to lack of suitable transport services.  If you haven’t already signed our online petition, please don’t miss your chance to do so before it closes.

So far we’ve succeeded in putting the transport problems faced by many older people high on the political agenda.  38 MSPs signed up in support of the campaign; more than a quarter of the Scottish Parliament, including the leaders of each opposition party.  Many of these MSPs backed our call for action during a Parliamentary debate on Still Waiting .

The campaign was also reflected on by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee during its inquiry into community transport services.  They agreed with us that it was unfair that older people who are unable to use regular bus services, due to disability, ill-health or geography, end up out of pocket while their peers enjoy free travel.

But we’ve not yet succeeded in convincing the Scottish Government to adjust the National Concessionary Travel scheme so that older and disabled people can use their bus passes on community transport services.  Ministers say that demand and costs could prove too great, given our ageing population.  We say that, given our ageing population, the cost of inaction is even greater as older people who become isolated from their community are more likely to suffer ill health and need residential or hospital care. 

Community transport services provide a lifeline for older people who can’t use mainstream buses, but themselves need a funding lifeline if they are to thrive and meet growing needs.  The Government is considering additional funding for community transport vehicles, which would be welcome, but won’t in itself secure the future of these services.  Including them in the National Concessionary Travel scheme offers a more sustainable, long term solution.

So please sign the petition before next Friday, and encourage your online friends to add their support.

Still Waiting campaign