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W i n t er

2013

Boost Your Eyesight 7 Ways to Boost Your Heart Health

Keeping Warm this Winter

What You Didn’t Know About…

dates for your diary + The big Knit + Greenfingered grandma + much more


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15 Contents List Winter 2013 Keeping Warm this Winter ..............6

Some information on what you can do to stay safe and ward off the winter chills.

The Big Knit .............8 Three years and counting, producing small knitted hats.

4 | Winter 2013

Basic Money Management Sessions...................9

A series of basic home budgeting sessions in Bedford

Meet the Team.........9 This issue we meet Jo Cascella, Trading Officer.

Christmas.................10 The history of the festive period and maybe a few things you might not know.

7 Ways to Boost Your Heart Health....12

Cardiovascular disease is still the biggest killer in the UK.

Pre-Retirement Course...13 A series of courses are coming to Bedford.

Useful Numbers‌....13 For you to fill in and keep all those numbers to hand.

Boost Your Eyesight... 14 As we grow older, our sight tends to change and not for the better.

Greenfingered Grandma..................15

Offering her top tips for your garden in these winter months .

www.ageuk.org.uk/bedfordshire


Cover Image © SergeyIT, shutterstock.com

Meet the team… Editor

Amanda Jones Tel: 01234 360 510 Email: amanda.jones@ ageukbedfordshire.org.uk

Sub-Editor

Klaudia Len Tel: 01234 360 510 Email: klaudia.len@ ageukbedfordshire.org.uk

Age UK Bedfordshire

Head Office 78 - 82 Bromham Road Bedford MK40 2QH Tel: 01234 360 510 Email: voice@ ageukbedfordshire.org.uk

Designer

Chris Keller Email: chris@ lancepublishing.co.uk

Sales

Laurence Rowe Tel: 01536 526662 Email: laurence@ lancepublishing.co.uk

Publisher

Lance Publishing Ltd 1st Floor Tailby House Bath Road Kettering NN16 8NL Tel: 01536 512624 www.lancepublishing.co.uk

Home Help Service... 17 Need some help around the home or to do the shopping?

What You Didn’t Know About…........... 18 This quarter we ask Frank Toner, Executive Director of Adult & Community Services.

Charlie Chuckles........ 22 Will he be able to make you laugh?

Printer

Lance Print Ltd Tel: (01480) 492183 www.lanceprint.co.uk

This magazine is produced on behalf of Age UK Bedfordshire by Lance Publishing Ltd. All rights are reserved by the charity and no part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of the charity. Age UK Bedfordshire will accept no responsibility for, or necessarily agree with, any claims made or views expressed in this publication, nor does the mention of any product, service or advertisement imply a recommendation by Age UK Bedfordshire. Reg. Charity No. 1090535

working hard to improve life for older people

Foreword from the CEO It is difficult to imagine that we are now heading into Winter and the lovely Summer that we experienced this year is a distant memory, although it did not come without some concerns during the heatwave.

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e are now in the throes of fog, rain, falling leaves and the thought of Christmas and a New Year. This is a very busy time of year for Age UK Bedfordshire with all the support and help that our clients need during the winter months, the Christmas parties for isolated, lonely older people to organise, the manic rush to ensure all is shopped, cooked and prepared on time but the results being happy smiling faces and lots of pleasure. We all need to think about keeping warm and safe during winter and also to ensure we stay healthy and make the most of some of the lovely bright sunny albeit cold days that come with the Winter months. Those crisp frosty mornings with the sun

shining, reflecting on the cobwebs in the hedges, the lovely colours that abound in the trees as they turn and fall. In this edition we give some advice on keeping warm and safe in winter, an article on seven ways to boost your heart health, a useful numbers page to fill out and keep by the phone, our usual gardening article, recipe, and Charlie Chuckles to make us all laugh. Take a look at our question and answer section with Frank Toner, Bedford Borough Council and so much more. Take care and enjoy.

Karen Karen Perry CEO, Age UK Bedfordshire

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Keeping Warm this Winter Here are some things you can do to stay safe and ward off the winter chills.

Image: © blindfire, shutterstock.com

General Tips and Advice

• Have your heating system serviced and your chimney swept, or ask your landlord to do this if it’s their responsibility. • If you have wood-burning, coal or gas heaters, make sure there’s adequate ventilation. Never block air vents, and get your boiler serviced every 12 months by a gas engineer. • Check with your energy supplier for further advice to help you prepare for winter. • If water pipes freeze they can burst, so you need to be able to turn off the water at the main stopcock. Make sure you know where your main stopcock is and check that it’s easy to turn. If it’s jammed, you may need to get it replaced. • Have your electric blanket serviced – this should be done at least every three years. • Make sure that your smoke alarm is working. You can ask your local fire service to check your home for fire safety. It’s free and you may be eligible to get free smoke alarms fitted. • Make sure you claim all the financial support you can to help with heating bills. Contact us if you need advice on this.

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• Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in each room that has a gas appliance. • Dress in plenty of layers and make sure that you have some warm shoes or boots with non-slip soles. • Keep a mixture of salt and sand handy to put on steps or paths in icy weather. Some councils provide free bags of the mix, if you or someone else can pick them up. Otherwise you could try a local DIY store. • Consider fitting a grab rail if you have steps at your front or back door. Ask us for more information. • Keep simple cold, flu and sore throat remedies in the house. Your pharmacist can make suggestions and also advise you on how to manage minor illnesses. • Follow up your GP’s invitation to have a flu jab. • Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, particularly if bad weather is forecast. • Ask your local pharmacy if they offer a prescription

pick-up and delivery service – this could be helpful if you can’t leave your home. • Keep basic food items in the cupboard or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping. You could also do your food shopping online and get it delivered to your door. • Eat healthily and keep as active as possible. • Ask your family, neighbours or friends if they could call or visit you more often if a period of cold weather stops you getting out and about. • Keep a battery-operated radio, torch and spare batteries handy in case severe weather causes a temporary power cut. Keep your mobile phone, laptop or tablet fully charged, so you can use the battery power if there’s no electricity. • Keep a list of emergency numbers, such as your utility companies, by your phone.

Staying Healthy

Cold weather means the beginning of the flu season

and can cause particular difficulties if you have breathing and circulation problems. To help you stay well, it’s important to keep warm at home and outdoors, follow as healthy a lifestyle as you can, and have a flu jab.

Keep Moving

Staying active is not only essential for your general wellbeing and fitness – it also generates heat and helps to keep you warm. When you’re indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour. Get up and walk around, make yourself a warm drink and spread any chores throughout the day. Chair-based exercises are helpful if walking is difficult, along with moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes.

Eat Well

Hot meals and drinks help to keep you warm, so eat at

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least one hot meal each day and have hot drinks during the day. Include a good range of foods in your diet and aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, so that you’re getting plenty of nutrients and vitamins. Remember that frozen vegetables are as good as fresh. It’s important to eat enough, especially in winter. If you’re worried about a poor appetite, speak to your GP. Having a hot drink before bed and keeping one in a flask by your bedside are good ideas too.

Protect Yourself Against Chilblains

Chilblains are itchy red swellings that occur when your skin gets cold and you try to warm up too quickly, often by sitting close to a radiator or other source of heat. If you suffer from these, dab the swellings with calamine or witch hazel to reduce itching, but don’t scratch them as this could cause an infection. To help prevent chilblains, keep your whole body warm at all times – have a look at the tips on the pages that follow. Wear trousers, socks or thick tights and a scarf, hat and gloves whenever you go out in the cold. Speak to your pharmacist for advice on treating chilblains and to your GP if you get them regularly or have diabetes.

Keep Your Spirits Up

It’s not unusual to feel a bit down in winter – particularly when the days are short and it can get dark by 3.30pm. Try to keep to your usual routine and if you can’t visit friends or family, make sure that you phone them regularly for a chat. It helps to do something you enjoy every day. If possible, go for a short walk in the middle of the day, if it’s not too cold, or

at least go outside while there is daylight. If you feel down for several weeks and it’s stopping you going out, making you feel listless and lacking in energy, it’s very important to share these feelings with someone, perhaps a friend or your GP.

Keeping Your Home Warm

Most of us spend a lot of time indoors in winter, so it’s important that you are comfortable and safe there. And it’s essential that you keep your home warm. Low temperatures increase the risk of flu and other respiratory problems and can raise blood pressure. Blood pressure takes longer to return to normal in older people after being out in the cold and this puts us at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes. The colder your home, the higher the risk to your health. • The recommended temperature for your main living room is around 70°F/21°C, and the rest of the house should be heated to at least 64°F/18°C. • Get to know how the timer and thermostat on your heating system work. If it’s very cold, set the timer to switch the heating on earlier, rather than turning the thermostat up to warm your house quickly. If you have individual thermostats on your radiators, make sure they’re set at the right temperature in the rooms where you spend time. • Close the curtains at dusk and fit thermal linings if you can. This will keep the heat in. • Put guards on open fires, and be careful not to hang washing too close to the fire. • Don’t block up air vents, as fires and heaters need ventilation. Good ventilation also helps to prevent condensation. Test your carbon monoxide alarms. If you don’t have any alarms,

working hard to improve life for older people

you need to get one fitted in each room that has a gas appliance, as there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if air vents become blocked.

Keeping Warm Indoors and Out

You’re at risk of a heart attack, a stroke or even hypothermia if you’re exposed to a cold environment for a long time, or to extreme cold for only a short time. • Keep your bedroom window closed at night when the weather is cold. Low temperatures raise blood pressure which takes longer to return to normal in older people. This puts you at greater risk of a heart attack or a stroke. • Make sure you keep your hands and face warm. If they get cold they can trigger a rise in blood pressure which puts you at risk of a heart attack. As well as wearing gloves and a hat, always wrap a scarf around your face when you go out in cold weather, even for short intervals. This helps to warm the air you breathe. • Several thin layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thick layer, as the layers trap warm air. Clothes made from wool or fleecy synthetic fibres such as polyester are a better choice than cotton. Start with thermal underwear, warm tights or socks. • If you’re sitting down, a shawl or blanket will provide a lot of warmth. Try to keep your feet up, as the air is cooler at ground level. • Wear warm clothes in bed. When very cold, wear thermal underwear, bed socks and even a hat – a lot of heat is lost through your head. • Use a hot-water bottle or an electric blanket to warm the bed, but never use the two together as this can be dangerous. Check whether your electric blanket can be

kept on all night or whether it’s only designed to warm the bed before you get in. Get it checked every three years by an expert. Local trading standards departments often offer free testing, or you can ask at the shop where you bought the blanket (they may charge). If you have any continence difficulties, talk to your doctor before using one. • Don’t sit or stand outside for long periods, as you’ll quickly get cold. As we get older, it’s harder to notice if our body temperature is dropping and it takes longer to warm up. • Keep your feet warm. As with your hands and face, cold feet can trigger a potentially dangerous rise in blood pressure. Choose boots with non-slip soles and a warm lining, or wear thermal socks. These type of boots keep you safe if the ground is slippery and keep your feet warm. • If you get wet when you’re outside, change into dry clothes as soon as you go back indoors. • Check local news and weather forecasts for advice when bad weather is forecast, or visit the Met Office website at www. metoffice.gov.uk.

What Extra Money Could I be Eligible For?

Many of us worry about rising fuel costs, so it’s important to make sure you’re not missing out on any benefits or discounts you’re entitled to that will help you keep your home warm. Most people born before 5th January 1952 are entitled to the Winter Fuel Payment in 2013/14 to help with heating costs. This is a tax-free payment of between £100 and £300 paid to you between November

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and December. Previous recipients should get the payment automatically, but if this is the first year that you are eligible, contact the Winter Fuel Payments helpline to ensure that you don’t miss out. If you receive Pension Credit, or certain other benefits, you’re automatically paid a Cold Weather Payment when the temperature is at 0°C (32°F) or below for seven days in a row. You may be entitled to a Warm Home Discount on your electricity bill if you receive Pension Credit or if you’re on a low income. It’s a one-off discount usually made between October and March. Check with your energy supplier or ask us. Find out more at www.gov.uk/the-warmhome-discount-scheme

Heating Your Home Efficiently

Energy prices are high at the moment, but heating your home is easier and cheaper if it is well insulated and your heating works properly.

Image: © Vaidas Bucys, Melica, shutterstock.com

• Draught-proof doors and windows, insulate the loft, lag the hot-water tank and

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pipes, and consider getting cavity-wall insulation. These measures will help to keep your home warm and your bills down – and you may be able to get financial help to put them in place. The Energy Saving Trust or Home Heat Helpline can advise you. • Have your heating system serviced each year and check that it’s working before the cold weather starts. Gas heating must be serviced by a Gas Saferegistered engineer – ask to see their Gas Safe ID card, or note down their licence card number. Visit the Gas Safe Register website or call the free helpline to find out how to check their licence, or to find a registered engineer in your area. • Ask your energy supplier about their Priority Services Register, a service for older and disabled people. Services include the option of having bills in Braille or large-print text and (if you meet certain criteria) free annual gas safety checks and alternative facilities for cooking and heating if your energy supply is interrupted.

The Big Knit The Big Knit started over three years ago as a partnership between Smoothie, Sainsbury and Age UK.

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ere in Bedfordshire we have taken part every year and had a gallant band of knitters, working away with the needles and wool to produce little knitted hats that are then counted, packaged up and sent to the distribution warehouse. During November each year the little hats appear on the Smoothie drinks in your local Sainsbury supermarkets. Some of the proceeds from the purchase of the drinks is then given back to the Age UKs who have participated in the Big Knit. There have been various patterns to knit, some official and some non official, but all have produced wonderful hats that have filled us all with joy and admiration for the knitters. The band of knitters here in Bedfordshire have included staff, volunteers, trustees, friends, families, carers, older people, and clubs and groups. We have had elephants, crowns, hats with pigtails,

pineapples, strawberries, and so many more, too many to count. This year we surpassed the target set and have actually despatched 3,350 hats to go on the shelves. So look out in Sainsbury’s for your little Smoothie bottles wearing knitted hats and buy one to donate 25p to your local Age UK. The funds from this venture are used here to help us to put on our Christmas parties for isolated older people in Bedfordshire. These parties make a huge difference to the attendees and help us to ensure that lonely people know that we care. If you would like to help knit then please contact amanda.jones@ ageukbedfordshire. org.uk for more information. Last but not least, thank you all Knitters. Keep up the good work.

www.ageuk.org.uk/bedfordshire


Image: © Lisa S., shutterstock.com

Basic Money Management Sessions Age UK Bedfordshire, with support from the Big Lottery Fund are able to provide a series of Basic Home Budgeting Sessions in Bedford.

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hese sessions are especially designed for older people who are having difficulty making ends meet or who, perhaps due to bereavement, a partner with dementia or through divorce or separation now find themselves having to manage the household budget alone. The session will show you how to put a plan

Meet the Team In this edition we are introducing our readers to Jo Cascella. Jo is our insurance arranger. Her official title is Trading Officer.

(budget) together, so you can see where you are and where you are going. We can make sure you are getting all of the benefits you are entitled to. Over £5 billion of benefits older people are entitled to, go unclaimed every year! That is a staggering amount of money. Some of it could be yours. There have been many changes in the benefit system recently, and more to come. Don’t lose out through lack of information.

We can also check to ensure you are getting the best deal from your energy providers and perhaps help you to insulate your home for FREE! Our sessions are presented in a friendly and easy to follow format by people who really understand that even a small amount of extra

J

o works from our Bedford Office 10am 2pm Monday to Friday. She is just as happy helping customers on the phone as she is to see them face to face in our Bromham Road office. Jo has been with us for over three years and has her home in Bedford. She has a young daughter and has been in customer services for 15 years. In her spare time she enjoys dancing, listening to music and reading. (I thought I would leave out most of the other interests like wine tasting and military uniforms!) Age UK Bedfordshire, in partnership with Ageas Insurance Limited, can provide a range of insurance

working hard to improve life for older people

products. These include Home and Contents, Motor, Motor Breakdown and Travel. All of our products are designed specifically for the over 50’s and older people. If your existing insurance policy is due for renewal shortly, why not give Jo a call. Jo does not sell insurance. She will give you the facts including

money each week can make a big difference. For more information of dates and times, please ring 01234 360510 and ask about ‘money management.’

costs and benefits and if you decide to go ahead, she will arrange it for you. There is no high pressure sales and no follow up badgering phone calls. As you would expect from Age UK Bedfordshire, our priority is providing you with a first class service, regardless of whether you choose to take out an insurance policy with us. Jo can also discuss and arrange funeral plans, personal alarms, gas and electricity and a whole lot more. In fact why not give us a call on 01234 360510 and we can make an appointment for Jo to ring you back or for you to visit her here.

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Image: © Matthew Benoit, shutterstock.com

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feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide, which ends after the twelfth night. Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season. While the birth year of Jesus is estimated among modern historians to have been between 7 and 2 BC, the exact month and day of his birth are unknown. His birth is mentioned in two of the four canonical gospels. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25th, a date later adopted in the East. The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived, or with one or more ancient polytheistic festivals that occurred near southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice); a further solar connection has been suggested because of a biblical verse identifying Jesus as the “Sun of righteousness”. The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6th, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. As of 2013, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar. Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25th and January

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become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

The Origin of Christmas Tree

Christmas

The History of Christmas and a few things you might not know Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25th by millions of people around the world. 6th, which on the Gregorian calendar translate as January 7th and January 19th. For this reason, Ethiopia, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7th. Eastern Orthodox Churches in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland, and the Orthodox Church in America celebrate Christmas on December 25th in the revised Julian calendar, corresponding to December 25th also in the Gregorian calendar. The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of

the holiday include gift giving, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has

Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the Church sanctioning “Christmas Trees.” Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them, and this observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.

The Origin of Mistletoe

Norse mythology recounts how the god Balder was killed using a mistletoe arrow by his rival god Hoder while fighting for the female Nanna. Druid rituals use mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim. The Christian custom of “kissing under the mistletoe” is a later synthesis of the sexual license of Saturnalia with the Druidic sacrificial cult.

The Origin of Christmas Presents

In pre-Christian Rome, the emperors compelled their most despised citizens to bring offerings and gifts during the Saturnalia (in December) and Kalends (in January). Later, this ritual expanded to include gift-giving among the general populace. The Catholic Church gave this custom a Christian flavour by re-rooting it in the supposed gift-giving of Saint Nicholas.

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Autumn 2013 | 11


meaning that the best thing to do is limit your consumption. Drinking too much booze can cause abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, damage to the heart muscle and other diseases such as stroke, liver problems and some cancers.

Drink Coffee

7 Ways to Boost Your Heart Health Cardiovascular disease is still the biggest killer in the UK, but you might be surprised by some of the ways that can help to keep your heart healthy…

Image: © S_L, Marcel Mooij, shutterstock.com

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lthough mortality rates are falling, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the UK’s biggest killer. In 2010, almost 180,000 died from CVD, with around 80,000 of these deaths being from coronary heart disease and 49,000 from strokes. Eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day, taking regular exercise and stopping smoking will all help to improve heart health. Of course, we all know that this can be easier said than done. But fortunately, there’s plenty we can do to reduce our risk without having to give up all the things we enjoy. Research suggests that making just a few simple tweaks to your daily routine really can make a difference.

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Snack on a Handful of Nuts

‘Walnuts are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to decrease inflammation in the arteries and protect the heart,’ explains British Dietetic Association spokesperson Gaynor Bussell. ‘Nuts in general can help to lower cholesterol levels and they will also help to fill you up. But don’t have more than a handful as they are high in calories.’

Meet up with Friends

According to social psychologist John Cacioppo from the University of Chicago, loneliness is linked to hardening of the arteries, which leads to high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. He claims that loneliness also raises the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can interfere with circulation, making the heart work harder. His research shows the fruit flies that are isolated have worse

You might have heard that drinking coffee is bad for your health, but new research from the American Heart Association suggests that the opposite might be true. Researchers in Boston have found that moderate coffee consumption - the equivalent of about two coffee-shop coffees per day could reduce the risk of heart failure by as much as 11%. But don’t get too carried away - research suggests that drinking much more than that could increase the risk of developing serious heart problems.

Learn How to Meditate

health and die sooner than those that interact with others. So if you’re feeling lonely, try to reconnect with old friends or find a new hobby or join a club or class to help you get out and about and meet new people.

Cut Down on Booze

There are regular reports in the news that moderate drinking – specifically of red wine - may be beneficial for your heart, but the key word here is ‘may’. There’s still no conclusive proof carried out in controlled studies of the benefits of alcohol on heart disease –

Scientists have discovered that people with heart disease who practised Transcendental Meditation - which was made popular by The Beatles in the 1960s - can cut their risk of heart attack and stroke by half, compared to those that don’t. This is thought to be because meditation helps to lower blood pressure - a major risk factor for CVD. In the most recent study, from the University of Iowa, scientists found that practising this type of meditation for 20 minutes per day was enough to make a difference. Deep breathing exercises and yoga breathing are believed to have similar benefits.

Sprinkle on Some Flaxseeds

‘Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are little seeds

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Lose 5% of Your Body Weight

We all know that losing weight can improve our health - and just a few pounds can make a big difference. ‘Experts have found evidence that losing just 5-10% of your body weight if you are overweight or obese improves your metabolic profile. This means that if you have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, these levels come down,’ explains Gaynor Bussell. ‘Eating fewer calories is the only way to successfully lose weight and this is best coupled with some exercise. Don’t lose weight too quickly, 1-2lb per week is fine. ‘Experts believe that one of the healthiest types of diet to follow is the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables and pulses, along with some meat, fish, nuts and seeds, a little olive oil and a glass or two or red wine daily but no more than this!’

Pre-Retirement Course With funding from the Big Lottery, Age UK Bedfordshire will be presenting a series of three hour long courses, over the next two years, in Bedford.

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he courses aim to provide answers to all the questions people considering retirement may have. They say there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. But for most of us retirement should probably be added to that list. Retirement is probably one of the seemingly most frightening things that we are going to encounter in our lifetime. For 40 years or more, if we are lucky, we get up in the morning, go to work, and arrive home in the early evening. Our days are filled, we feel valued, we are a part of “what’s happening” in our community and we earn enough to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. Then, up until recently, we reach a certain age and society, a society that we have been an active member of, says STOP! We all moan about our jobs at times, or moan about our boss or the people we employ or the colleagues we see more of than our family,

working hard to improve life for older people

so why aren’t we rushing headlong, at full speed, with joy in our hearts towards retirement? If you are one of those fortunate people that have good health, good friends and a tidy sum in the bank and have been able to afford a good pension, well done and please accept our very best wishes for the future. This course is not for you. However, if life has not been quite so kind and you are concerned about your future life once you have retired or indeed have already retired and are still finding your feet, the course could be very beneficial. Attendance is free and so are the refreshments! To find out more, please email, quoting ‘Pre-Retirement Course’ together with your name and telephone number to: enquiries@ ageukbedfordshire. org.uk.

Useful Numbers Cut out and keep by your phone with all your numbers to hand. Age UK Bedfordshire ................................ Local Police Station ................................ Doctor ................................ Optician ................................ Gas ................................ Electricity ................................ Water ................................ Telephone ................................ Local Council ................................ Landlord ................................ Home Insurance ................................ Car Insurance ................................ Travel Insurance ................................ Vet (if pet owner) ................................

Autumn 2013 | 13

Image: © Pressmaster, shutterstock.com

that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. So, like nuts, they can help a little in lowering cholesterol,’ explains Gaynor Bussell. ‘They are sometimes added to foods in order to help with constipation as they increase fibre intake, and having more fibre in the diet can also help to lower cholesterol.’ You can buy these small ground seeds from health food shops, and sprinkle them on breakfast cereals or salads or add to yoghurt. ‘If you want to try them, start with half a teaspoon and build up to about two teaspoons a day,’ says Gaynor. ‘The slow build up is advisable, as they can cause flatulence and bloating if you’re not used to them.’


Boost Your Eyesight As we grow older, our sight tends to change and almost everyone over the age of 65 needs to wear glasses, whether for reading or to help with general vision.

Image: © baranq, racorn, shutterstock.com

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egular eye tests and suitable glasses will increase the chances of your sight remaining good. Unfortunately, some people’s sight will continue to get worse so that they have difficulty seeing even with glasses. But if you get the right help and advice, worsening sight shouldn’t stop you from leading a full and independent life.

Eye Tests

An eye test is not just a test to see whether you need glasses; it is a vital check on the health of your eyes. Eye diseases can often be detected at an early stage, usually before you have even noticed anything is wrong.

1 4 | Autumn 2013

This is very important as early treatment may stop the eye disease getting any worse and prevent the damage it would cause to your vision. You should have an eye test at least every two years, and more often if you notice any change in your vision. The test also looks for age-related changes as well as eye conditions such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma, which can lead to sight loss. These conditions can be detected at an early stage, usually before you’ve even noticed that anything is wrong. This is very important as early treatment may stop an eye disease getting worse and prevent the damage it would cause to your vision.

It’s recommended that you have an eye test every two years if you’re between the ages of 18 and 69. If you’re aged 70 or over, you’re advised to have an eye test every year. You should have a regular check, regardless of whether you live at home or in a care home, even if you think your sight is fine. If you notice any changes in your vision, it’s vital to have your eyes checked as soon as possible.

You can have a free NHS eye test every two years if you’re 60 or over, and every year if you’re 70 or over (except in Scotland, where everyone is entitled to a free test, regardless of age). If you need an NHS eye test at home because you have an illness or disability that means you can’t leave home on your own, you shouldn’t have to pay any extra costs for it. Some people under 60 are also entitled to a free eye test.

You Will Qualify for a Free Eye Test if you: • Receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, incomerelated Employment and Support Allowance or, in some cases, Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit (your partner and children will also be entitled to free tests) • Need complex or powerful lenses • Are registered blind or partially sighted • Have diabetes or glaucoma • Are aged 40 or over and have a close family member with glaucoma • Are a war pensioner, and need an eye test because of a disability for which you get a war pension • Have an HC2 or HC3 certificate through the NHS Low Income Scheme. If you have diabetes, you should also have a special eye check every year to look for signs of an eye condition called diabetic retinopathy. Your GP or hospital clinic should arrange this for you. If you care for someone who is unable to recognise or communicate sight problems, for example, someone with dementia,

www.ageuk.org.uk/bedfordshire


Image: © Alexander Raths, shutterstock.com

remember to arrange for regular eye tests (ask the optician about using special non-verbal tests) and encourage them to wear glasses if they need them.

Tips to Keep Your Eyes Healthy There are several simple things you can do to keep your eyes as healthy as possible: • Have regular eye tests and wear the right glasses. Take advantage of free eye tests if you’re eligible for them. • Protect your eyes from the sun. Strong sunlight can damage your eyes and may increase your risk of cataracts. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or a pair of sunglasses with a CE mark or UV400 label to protect your eyes from UV rays. • Stay a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, which can lead to serious sight conditions. • Stop smoking. Smoking can increase your chances of developing conditions such as cataracts and agerelated macular degeneration. • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. This is good for your overall health and may help keep your eyes as healthy as possible. • Use good lighting. This makes tasks less tiring for your eyes. Increase the amount of natural daylight in your home, and make sure you have enough electric lighting.

Gardening With…

Greenfingered Grandma As I now sit looking out over the garden with the seasonal changes and colours I thought it would be a good idea to let you all have my list of top tips for winter gardening.

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hese are my regular jobs which I hope you may find useful in order to keep your garden in tip top condition through the colder months. Each month I carry out these few chores and then look forward to Spring when the garden will come to life again.

tender plants to over winter. Prune the blackberry bushes.

November

Now is the time to take hardwood cuttings like laurel, privet, flowering currants and honeysuckle. Prune the wisteria now. Spring clean

Still time to plant bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Don’t forget to sort out your greenhouse ready for the

working hard to improve life for older people

December

Prune the gooseberry bushes and fruit trees. Keep a check on pests and continue to spray to avoid problems in spring. Do some light digging to turn the soil and expose snail and slug eggs to give the birds a treat.

January

the greenhouse ready for getting seedlings planted for summer flowering.

February

Dont forget to sweep up leaves throughout winter to stop the lawn suffocating and to keep paths from being slippery. Start sowing some early seedlings in the greenhouse. Start sowing vegetables such as some beetroot and onions. Move shrubs that are too big or need a different environment to flourish. I hope the above may be of some use to readers. The other important thing to remember is our wildlife. Don’t forget that winter is hard on the birds and some simple bird feeders filled with nuts or seeds can make the difference to our small friends like the robin, blue tit and others that remain with us through the cold weather. They are a pleasure to watch and very entertaining too!

Autumn 2013 | 15


For all your travel arrangements, local & long distance, UK & Continental

16 - 57 Seat high quality vehicles

01296 661604

email: info@masonsminicoachhire.co.uk 2014 Excursions Brochure Available Now Please contact us for your free copy.

www.masonsminicoachhire.co.uk

CHICKSANDS PRIORY Near Shefford, Bedfordshire

Chicksands Priory, the only standing remains of the Gilbertine Order, is open to the public, by appointment, on the first and third Sunday afternoons of each month, from April through to October. To book your tour, please email: tours@chicksandspriory.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you

1 6 | Autumn 2013

www.ageuk.org.uk/bedfordshire


Need some help around the home or someone to do the shopping?

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f you or someone you know and care about is finding it increasingly difficult to keep their home neat and tidy and to carry out day to day chores such as ironing, doing the laundry, vacuuming or shopping our home help service can help. We directly employ over 80 home help workers throughout Bedfordshire, who visit older people in their own homes on a regular basis to do housework and shopping or ironing and laundry. You may simply need someone to pop in once a week for an hour to make sure the kitchen and bathroom are spotless and to dust and vacuum through. Or perhaps you need a home help who can do all of the above as well as prepare a light meal or do the weekly shop - you can go with them if you want to. All of our home helps are selected not only for their home making skills but also for their helpful and friendly nature. The service is designed to help older people live in their own homes, in a dignified and independent manner for the rest of their lives.

will visit you at home without any obligation and discuss with you (and if you prefer a friend or family member) what you want and how frequently you want it done. There is only one stipulation, which is that the minimum service we can provide is one hour a week. Your home help will be trained, vetted, DBS checked and fully supervised. We will provide a home help who is cheerful, friendly, efficient and has a helpful nature. Many of our home helps have been with us for over ten years. You can expect them to treat you with respect, to carry out your wishes and to be open and transparent in their dealings with you. In the most unlikely event, that you have a complaint,

What Can I Expect From the Home Help Service?

We provide a service designed around your needs. Therefore, a trained assessor

working hard to improve life for older people

How Do I Pay?

Most of our customers pay by monthly invoice. If a member of your family is helping you to look after your affairs, we can, if you prefer send the invoice to them. However, if you wish you can pay your home help by cheque at each visit. Unfortunately, for operational reasons, we do not accept cash payments. Our rate is £12 per hour.

Are There Jobs the Home Help Can’t Do?

Home helps are not insured to move heavy items of furniture or to work off anything higher than a step ladder. Neither can they undertake any work if they

consider it constitutes a risk of harm to themselves or the customer. For example cleaning outside windows on a step ladder placed on an uneven or slippery surface. We do not allow home helps to work in a smoky environment and ask customers to refrain from smoking in the same room that a home help is working. We do not provide personal care, this includes assisting clients to dress, wash or take medication.

What Have Existing Clients Said About Us… In a recent survey 98% of our customers said they thought the service was either good or excellent. Here are selection of some of the comments we have received: “Without Mary’s help I would never have been able to remain in my own home, she is wonderful.” Mrs T, Biggleswade. “What a lovely person. Nothing is too much trouble. I really look forward to seeing her each week.” Mrs O, Bedford. “She is like a family friend, a real boon. I am much more cheerful since Olive has been my home help” Mr E. Houghton Regis. “I live in Nottingham, and can only get to visit mum and dad, who are both in their 80’s, on a weekend. I would not be able to sleep at night if it were not for the wonderful service your home help provides to them both”. Mrs P, Nottingham. More information on the Home Help service in your area please call 01234 360510 or Email debbie.copperwheat@ ageukbedfordshire. org.uk

Autumn 2013 | 17

Image: © Alexander Raths, shutterstock.com

Age UK Bedfordshire Home Help Service

you can expect us to treat it seriously, to listen to you and to act upon it in order to bring about an outcome that is to your total satisfaction. Your home help is fully insured against accidents and accidental damage. We know how difficult it is to trust a stranger and to invite someone unknown to you, into your home. With this in mind we aim to ensure that the same home help visits you each time, on the same day of the week and at the same time of day. A record of your home help’s visit and what work they did, will be left with you immediately after each visit.


What You Didn’t Know About… Frank Toner Executive Director of Adult and Community Services at Bedford Borough

Image: © Africa Studio, Sandra Cunningham, shutterstock.com

This is a where we ask a prominent local person a series of questions that aim get behind their public persona. This quarter we have invited Frank Toner.

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rank Toner has been the Executive Director of Adult and Community Services at Bedford Borough Council since 2009. Frank has 33 years social work experience, and has become a leader in social care.

Q: Who has been the biggest influence on your life? A: My father was the biggest influence in my life and taught me that the measure of any man is the contribution he makes to his family, his friends and his fellow man.

1 8 | Autumn 2013

Q: What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life? A: It is better to be kind and be right, and it is important to work hard if you wish to be successful in your chosen field. Q: If you could hold on to just one memory from your life forever, what would that be? A: My one memory would be my wedding day which was the happiest day of my life. Q: What are your hopes and dreams for future generations? A: I hope they build on the successes of current and past generations, and discover a cure for life-limiting illnesses like cancer. I also hope that older people will receive greater respect for their wisdom and experience from the younger generations. Q: How would you like to be remembered? A: As someone who tried

hard to improve the lives of vulnerable older people during my time as Director of Adults Services. Q: Where did you grow up? A: Newry, in Northern Ireland which was an interesting place as my childhood was during the troubles. Q: How has being a parent changed you? A: It has made me more tolerant and understanding of the challenges that today’s modern life presents to families with young children. It has also made me realise the important role grandparents can play in supporting their children and grandchildren. Q: What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? A: Initially, I wanted to be a pilot, but in my early teens, after doing some voluntary work, I knew I wanted to be a Social Worker.

Q: If you could wave a wand and make one significant change on the planet what would it be? A: The elimination of life-limiting disease. Q: Do you plan on retiring ever? A: Yes, I do, but I will be retiring from work, not from life, as I have a long list of places I want to see and things I wish to do. Q: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in life? A: That experience is what you get 20 minutes after you needed it. Q: Who was the last person you hugged? A: My wife, just before I came to work this morning. Q: Which radio station do you listen to more than any other? A: I listen to Radio 4 every morning to get the

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national news and BBC Three Counties radio for the local news. Q: How much is a pint of milk? A: 49p at Sainsbury’s

Important Dates for your Diary

Q: Do you get nervous before making a speech? A: Yes, always, but I find preparation helps enormously.

24th December Christmas Eve

Q: Are you a cat or dog person? A: I am definitely a dog person. We had a large black Labrador called Buster who the kids adored when they were growing up. Buster was an integral part of our family.

26th December Boxing Day

Q: Do you have a sporting hero? A: When I was growing up George Best was my sporting hero, who was once described as the best footballer on the planet, despite all his troubles.

25th December Christmas Day

31st December New Years Eve 1st January 2014 New Years Day 14th February Valentines Day 4th March Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day! 5th March Ash Wednesday

working hard to improve life for older people

Autumn 2013 | 19


Puzzle Page Solutions to all three puzzles can be found on page 22

Sudoku The Game of Logic Place each of the digits 1 to 9 in each row, column and 3x3 box. There is only one solution.

Wordsearch Which One is Missing? Can you find which festive word is missing from the list below? Bauble Bell Carol Gifts Holly Sleigh Snow STAR Tree

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1. Which country annually donates the Christmas Tree that stands in Trafalgar Square?

3. In the Bible, what were the names of The Three Wise Men?

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Test your knowledge in our festive themed Quick Quiz.

2. List the three traditional colours of Christmas.

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Quick Quiz

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4. The poinsetta is indigenous to which country?

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6. What was the name of Ebenezer Scrooge’s underpaid clerk in A Christmas Carol? 7. Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn appeared in which festive film released in 1947? 8. Which monarch broadcast the first Royal Message in 1932? 9. Christmas Island is a territory of which nation?

Share Your Voice With Us…

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e are looking to publish a selection of articles where readers write into the magazine

2 0 | Autumn 2013

with their thoughts, views on topics raised in the magazine or support they have received from Age UK Bedfordshire. Please write to: The Editor, Age UK Bedfordshire,

Voice, 78-82 Bromham Rd, Bedford MK40 2QH or Email: voice@ ageukbedfordshire.org.uk. We look forward to hearing from you next time…

Remember the next edition will be available from early September so if you have any stories, events going on or photographs please send them in.

www.ageuk.org.uk/bedfordshire


Every issue Charlie Chuckles will do his best to make you smile!

Will You Marry Me?

t seemed as if the man was the only one eating. First his starter, then his main, and then finally his pudding. All the while with his wife just looking on, not even touching her food. Confused, I approached the woman and asked if there was anything I could get for her. “No thank you,” came her answer, “it’s his turn for the teeth!”

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While working the lunch shift at a local restaurant, I watched as an older couple eat.

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1. Norway, 2. Green, Red & Gold, 3. Melchior, Caspar & Balthazar, 4. Mexico, 5. 26th December, 6. Bob Crachit, 7. Miracle on 34th Street, 8. King George V, 9. Australia

2 2 | Autumn 2013

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The Food Looks Delicious!

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Answers&Solutions from page 20

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ne Monday morning he woke up with a funny feeling that something important happened last evening. It was during breakfast, that Bert finally remembered what it was. He had proposed to his date Gladys. But what she answered he just couldn’t seem to remember. Bert picked up the phone and rang her. ”Hello Gladys”, said Bert, “I have a funny question for you, do you remember last night when I proposed?” ”Oh my gosh” gushed Gladys, “I’m so glad you called, I knew I said yes to somebody but I just couldn’t remember who it was!”

ou look great John, how do you stay looking so young? Why you must be 60 already but you don’t look a day over 40!” Rob exclaimed. “I feel like I’m 40 too!” replied John. “That’s incredible” exclaimed Rob, “Does it run in the family? How old was your dad when he passed?” “Did I say he was dead?”

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asked John. “He’s 81 and is more active than ever. He just joined the local pub football team!” responded John. “Whoa! Well how old was your Grandfather when he died?” “Did I say he died” asked John. Rob was amazed. “He just had his 105th birthday and plays golf and goes swimming each day! He’s actually getting married this week!” “Getting married!” Rob asked. If he’s 105, why on earth does he want to get married? John looked at Rob and replied, “Did I say he wanted to?”

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One day, while strolling down the road, John bumped into an old friend of his, Rob, from school.

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The neighbours thought it was odd, but 93 year old Bert was dating again.

Sam’s Annual Check-up

When John Bumped into Rob

Sam goes to the doctor for his yearly check-up.

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verything is fine” said the doctor, “You’re doing OK for your age.” “For my age?” questioned Sam, “I’m only 75, do you think I’ll make it to 90?” “Well” said the doctor, “do you drink or smoke?” “No” Sam replied. “Do you eat fatty meat or sweets?” “No” said Sam “I am very careful about what I eat.” “How about your activities? Do you engage in thrilling behaviours like speeding or skiing?” “No” said Sam taken aback, “I would never engage in dangerous activities.” “Well” said the doctor, “then why in the world would you want to live to be 90?”

www.ageuk.org.uk/bedfordshire

Images: © Yayayoyo, lenetstan , shutterstock.com

Charlie Chuckles


Home Fire Safety Message Chimney Safety: Stay safe and warm this winter. It is important to make sure that you keep your chimney clean. ‘Clean Chimneys are safer Chimneys’. Make sure you use a fully insured chimney sweep that is trained and qualified, to ensure your chimney is maintained and safe for use. Stay safe Are your old Christmas lights still safe? Old electrical decorations that have been poorly stored and overloaded sockets can create unnecessary hazards at this time of year. Switch Christmas lights off before you go to bed or go out – even Christmas lights need a break! Stay safe Candles mark special occasions and create a special atmosphere. They also bring fire into your home so treat them carefully. Always extinguish candles before you leave a room. Don’t leave them burning and double check they are out properly.

Stay safe For information about Home Fire Safety and Electric Blankets please refer to: www.ageuk.org.uk/home-and-care/home-safety-and-security/home-fire-safety/ www.ageuk.org.uk/home-and-care/home-safety-and-security/electric-blankets/


Call our professional team on:-

Bedford Central Bedfordshire Luton

01234 211481 01525 713389 01582 380122

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