“Looking After You” – February’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.

February’s theme is “Keeping mentally well” and offers tips on dealing with stressful events and challenges. In this blog, Age Scotland’s Karyn Davie looks in more detail at some of the things people should be aware of with their own mental health and wellbeing.

Your mental health is like an escalator, you can go up or down depending on life’s events. When things are going well you might move up, but if something comes along to upset the balance, like changes to physical health, relationships problems or worries about family or money, you might find yourself sliding down.

Sometimes, there’s no clear reason why we feel like this. Changes in our mental health can happen to anyone at any age and, sometimes, regaining the balance can prove difficult.

The stigma around mental health means people don’t always talk about it.  Many older people find it particularly hard to talk about their feelings, perhaps due to a sense of shame or embarrassment, not knowing why they feel the way they do, or simply not wanting to admit they’re aren’t coping.

Men, and older men in particular, typically hide or deny mental health problems, preferring to keep feelings to themselves or not to reveal perceived signs of personal weakness.

We often find it easier to talk about physical health problems than the way we feel.  Anyone can experience a mental health problem, so talking about it really is important.

If you notice a friend or family member withdrawing, try understanding what they’re going through. Their difficulties may be only temporary. If you’re concerned, you could ask (in your own words):

  • How are you feeling?
  • I’ve been worried about you, how are you?
  • You seem down, is there anything I can do to help?
  • Avoid cliché phrases like ‘Cheer up!’ or ‘I’m sure it’ll pass’.

Give them time and space until they’re ready to talk and ensure they know they can contact you when they’re ready. Just knowing they don’t have to avoid the issue with you is helpful.

Remember that the person hasn’t changed, they’re just going through a bad patch with their mental health, so keep talking about the things you always talked about. Just spending time with the person lets them know you care.

Further information can be found from the following organisations:

If you don’t have access to the internet, or if you experience feelings of loneliness and don’t have the social contact you feel you need, contact Silver Line Scotland for help 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”
  • “I do not think you could do any better. This is wonderful”
  • “Thank you for caring”

Download yours today!

Age Scotland hosts first national conference on wellbeing in later life

Age Scotland’s first national conference took place in Perth yesterday. Later Life: Tae Mak it Worth Bein’, saw more than 300 people from across Scotland come together to discuss and debate the issues around wellbeing in later life. Here, Age Scotland’s Katrina Coutts outlines the day.    

As a nation we’re living longer, but are we living well? That’s what we wanted to discuss at our first national conference yesterday at Perth Concert Hall – and what a day it was.


The auditorium at Perth Concert Hall

Paul Adams, Chair of Age Scotland, kicked off proceedings, explaining how this year – the fifth since the Charity was formed following the merger of Age Concern Scotland and Help the Aged in Scotland – had been a fitting time to bring together members from right across the country for the first time.

The day was chaired by Pennie Taylor, BBC Scotland’s first health correspondent, who got amongst the audience to discuss questions throughout the day including, ‘what words sum up later life in Scotland’, ‘how can we improve later life’ and ‘how can we ensure the contribution to society of those in later life is recognised and valued’.


Pennie Taylor gets amongst the audience to gather people’s thoughts on later life in Scotland

Guests, who had travelled from as far afield as Orkney and Arran, were treated to a mix of presentations from speakers who not only informed, but had us laughing, getting involved and even balancing on one foot.


Bob Laventure, suggested balancing on one foot while brushing your teeth is an easy way to incorporate activity and improve balance.

Physical activity expert Bob Laventure inspired many with his call for a social movement of older people to make exercise a normal part of our lives.

Scotland’s Makar, Liz Lochhead, tackled the day’s subject in her own unique way, including both fantastic poetry and, perhaps less expectedly, extolling the virtues of leopard-print.

Carol Craig, Chief Executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-Being, shared stories about her experiences with her parents as they aged.

In the afternoon former footballer Jim Leishman MBE took the stage by storm with an uplifting message that we’re each in charge of the positivity in our own lives.

Speaking duties were brought to a close by Professor Ian Deary from the University of Edinburgh who shared some of the many findings that his team has so far made into differences in people’s cognitive and brain ageing. Just so you know, Professor Deary explained their is no ‘magic bullet’ that can ensure you stay mentally able in later life, but instead many factors have relatively small effects. We’ll be sharing more about this with you in our next edition of our Advantage magazine, but tying nicely with Bob Laventure’s earlier presentation, he explained there is strong evidence that physical fitness boosts the brain as well as the body.


Age Scotland’s Chair Paul Adams (l) and Chief Executive Brian Sloan (r) with guest speakers Liz Lochhead and Brian Sloan.

The overwhelming feedback from the day was that it had showed later life in a positive light, and we hope guests went away energised and full of ideas to spread around their groups across the country.

We’ll be sharing more details from the day’s presentations and discussions over the coming weeks, but for now I’ll leave you with the closing remark of our Chief Executive Brian Sloan. “Let’s fill this half glass that’s always referred to. Let’s make it full.”

Guests discuss the day's questions.

Guests discuss the day’s questions.

Photos by Louis Flood.

Improving allied healthcare for older people

In February Yolanda Strachan joined Age Scotland as an Allied Health Professions (AHPs) National Consultant, a post she’ll share with Jenny Ackland.  She explains what Allied Health Professions are, and why her role matters.  


Jenny and I are Allied Health Professionals (AHPs). Jenny comes from a Podiatry background and I come from a background of Speech and Language Therapy. Most people encounter the AHPs through exposure to services as part of their NHS and/or social care, for example Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy.

The AHPs are increasingly placing emphasis on providing person-centred care with the growing realisation that health and well-being stretch way beyond physical needs.

The AHP family currently consists of;

  • Art Therapists (Music, Drama and Art)
  • Dietitians
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Orthoptists
  • Orthotists
  • Paramedics
  • Physiotherapists
  • Podiatrists
  • Prosthetists
  • Radiographers (Diagnostic and Therapeutic)
  • Speech and Language Therapists.

Ours is a national role, funded initially for two years by the Scottish Government through our Chief Health Professions Officer.  This is the fourth such role to be established in Third Sector with AHP colleagues already in post at the Care Inspectorate, Alzheimer Scotland and the Alliance.

Having spent most of our working lives in the NHS, we are thoroughly excited to be bringing that knowledge and skill base directly through the door of Age Scotland, and to be carrying the messages and focus of Age Scotland to the AHPs.

Please follow our progress on Twitter using #AHPLoveLaterLife.

Yolanda (L) and Jenny (R)

Yolanda (L) and Jenny (R)