Cooking a homemade meal for your loved ones can provide you with a great feeling of accomplishment. Having your favourite people around you, enjoying food that you've made from scratch; why should this be a one-off thing? Have you considered taking up cooking as a hobby?
For older people it's important to have as many hobbies as possible, in order to combat any feelings of loneliness and to keep fit and active. Cooking can provide you and your loved ones with plenty of benefits, and there are many guides and recipes out there to help you perfect your meals.
Let's look at some of the benefits of taking up cooking as a hobby.
It's highly likely that the food you create in your kitchen will be much healthier than the processed foods you find in supermarkets. Likewise, you can ensure that it's lower in calories and more nutritious than the meals served up in restaurants and fast food outlets.
You have complete control over the recipes that you choose to follow and the portion sizes that you serve up. This will lead to a much healthier diet and will reduce the risk of obesity and the medical conditions that come with it. Cooking at home can also boost your mental health. For more information, read our list of the top 6 mental health benefits of cooking.
2. Happy Happy Happy
Cooking the perfect meal is going to bring a smile to your face. You could be in the foulest of moods beforehand, but once you taste your food and see the reactions of your loved ones eating it, your frown will be turned upside-down.
There have been studies which suggest cooking is a therapeutic activity. According to the Like to Cook blog, this is because:
"When you cook, you stimulate your senses. The feel of the new flour you bought at the market, the smell of those fresh strawberries, the sound of the whisk beating, all those things can stimulate your senses, which contributes to get more endorphins, those feel good hormones that put a smile on your face."
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, cooking will also provide you with a great feeling of accomplishment. By the end of your session you'll be left very proud of the meal you have made.
3. Brings the Family Together
Everybody loves a good homemade meal. It's important for older people to see their family as much as possible, in order to avoid feeling lonely, and cooking a masterpiece for them is the perfect way to do so.
Cooking can become a family activity too. Perhaps your grandchildren can help with the ingredients or by setting the table. Or maybe they can read out the instructions given to you on the iPad recipe that you're using.
When the food is ready, and the table is set, everybody comes together to discuss their lives. Food encourages talk and positivity.
4. Expands your Knowledge of the World
Cooking as a hobby means that you're going to read several recipes and online guides from around the world. By doing this, you're going to learn more about different cultures and tastes from different countries.
Learning about food can be a true eye-opener as you discover meals that you may not have even heard about before. Who knows, your love of food may lead to you expanding your bucket list and visiting new places each year.
5. Cooking is a Money Saver
Going out for a nice meal isn't cheap nowadays, especially when you add in the price of drinks and transport to get to the restaurant. Likewise, the prices in the frozen food section in the supermarket are also on the rise - for small portions too!
It's going to work out much cheaper if you buy all your ingredients and create your own meals at home. You can plan ahead and work out which ingredients you're going to need for the month ahead, and the meal sizes you're hoping to have.
Of course, if you choose to grow your own fruit and veg in the garden you will save even more money.
6. Time Management Skills
Cooking at home will require you to master your time management capabilities. It's possible that you'll be setting different timers for different parts of the cooking process. You need to ensure that you have those ingredients out on the table with enough time to cook before dinner.
This means that you are constantly using your brain to work out the next stage of the cooking process. Of course, keeping your brain active is important in the fight against dementia.
7. You Avoid Food Allergies
As you're choosing the ingredients that go into your meals, you're ensuring that you're avoiding any potential food allergy reactions or sensitivities. Some of the most common allergies include nuts, gluten, and shellfish, and these can be missed in restaurants or processed food.
By cooking at home you're giving yourself control over this problem and can cook the foods that your loved ones are able to eat.
8. Confidence Booster
If you're lacking in confidence, cooking might be a good option for you. Perfecting several different recipes from around the world proves that you have the ability and skill to try new things and present your "work" to friends and family.
Cooking is a challenge, but when you create a masterpiece your confidence is going to improve.
9. Food Safety
We've already discussed that you're going to avoid any food allergies or sensitivities by cooking your own food, but by doing so you're also lowering the risk of any food-related illnesses. Food poisoning is an all too common problem for those of us who eat out at restaurants or fast food outlets.
By using your own ingredients and skill to cook the meals you're eating, you can rest assured knowing that your food is safe to eat and won't make your loved ones ill.
To minimise any risks in your kitchen, check out our article on kitchen safety tips for older people.
10. Leads to a Clean Kitchen
You want to make tasty food which won't put people in any medical danger. Therefore, you're naturally going to keep your preparation areas clean and tidy. Without even realising, this will lead to you cleaning your kitchen on a daily basis.
Your worktops will be wiped down and cleared away, as will your table, and your plates and cutlery will be washed and stored away ready for the next cooking session.
Personal Alarm Information
For more information about our life-saving personal alarm service, please get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Editor's Note: Updated on 24th June 2022 to reflect current information.
People with high blood pressure are at increased risk of developing other health conditions. Amongst these are heart attacks and stroke. However, around a third of adults have high blood pressure; many do not even realise it. This makes it important to do everything you can to lower your blood pressure.
Identifying High Blood Pressure
Generally speaking, people will not be aware that they have high blood pressure unless they are tested for it. Otherwise, it will be picked up on when other conditions are developed.
Adults over 40 are advised to get their blood pressure checked at least every five years. This can be done by your GP. However, it may be worth getting tested more regularly if you are in any of the following risk categories:
- Exercise irregularly
- Regularly drink alcohol or caffeine-based drinks
- Poor sleeper
- Black African or Caribbean descent
- Are over 65
If you are found to have high blood pressure, your doctor will offer advice on bringing your blood pressure back down. You will likely need more tests to keep track of your blood pressure until it's at normal levels again.
Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
Most of the time, blood pressure can be lowered by making lifestyle changes. However, some people will also be given medication.
The speed at which lifestyle changes will lower your blood pressure varies. Some can bring it down within a few weeks. Others will take longer. However, the following changes could return your blood pressure to safe levels.
People who smoke are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, every cigarette will temporarily increase your blood pressure, and continued smoking makes it harder for your body to return to normal levels. Therefore, stopping smoking can help to lower blood pressure.
Regular exercise helps to keep your cardiovascular system in good shape. This means your body will find it easier to pump blood around your body, which will aid in lowering blood pressure. During exercise, it is normal for blood pressure to rise. As a result, though blood pressure returns to normal levels after exercising, people with high blood pressure should exercise with caution. Consult your doctor before taking up any exercise regimes; they may be able to prescribe medication to reduce any risks.
According to Blood Pressure UK, the following exercises are good for your blood pressure:
Being more active will likely contribute to a loss of weight. Fortunately, losing weight is another effective means of lowering blood pressure. People who are overweight have an excess of fat in their circulatory system, which can affect the flow of blood. Losing weight takes pressure off your circulatory system, which in turns lowers blood pressure.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy diet is important for everyone, whether they have high blood pressure or not. It is also an effective means of losing weight. When trying to lower blood pressure, it is important to keep fat intake low, as this can settle in veins and arteries.
Another important part of eating a healthy diet is reducing your salt intake. People with high blood pressure should aim to be consuming no more than 6g of salt per day - roughly a teaspoon. One way of lowering your salt intake is to prepare your own meals and use different forms of seasoning. Many of us think that salt is necessary to add flavour, but you can experiment with healthier herbs and spices instead. Even something as simple as making your own tomato soup instead of a store-bought can could drastically reduce your salt intake.
Drink Less Alcohol
We are a nation of drinkers, and it has become normal to drink a pint of bitter or a glass of wine at the end of a long day. However, drinking regularly can increase your blood pressure. To lower your blood pressure, you should cut down how much you drink. It's okay to drink small amounts during the week, but you should remain under the advised limit. Regular drinking can cause your blood pressure to remain high even once all the alcohol is out of your system.
Drink Less Caffeine
Caffeinated drinks also contribute to high blood pressure. Like alcohol, you should try to consume less caffeine as part of your diet. This means drinking less coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks. Focus on low sugar juices and squashes instead.
Lower Blood Pressure with Medication
If you have high blood pressure, lifestyle changes alone may not always be enough. In some cases, you may be given blood pressure medication to help lower it.
Under-5ss are likely to be offered an ACE inhibitor or ARB. These relax the blood vessels to lower blood pressure. They may cause headaches or dizziness; if you experience side effects with ACE inhibitors, your doctor is more likely to switch you onto ARBs.
Over-55s, and people of African or Caribbean origin, are more likely to be offered a calcium channel blocker. This medication widens your blood vessels, helping to reduce blood pressure. You may experience swollen ankles or constipation while using this medication. Grapefruit juice has been reported to worsen these symptoms.
Beta blockers used to be prescribed as treatment for high blood pressure but are used less often today. This medication slows your heartrate to lower blood pressure. They will likely only be provided if other treatments have failed.
Peace of Mind for People with High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, you may be worried about the potential effects it could have on your body. Though you can reduce these risks by making certain lifestyle changes, we recognise the importance of peace of mind. A personal alarm from Lifeline24 means you can call for help at the press of a button if you feel unwell or have a fall.
The Lifeline24 personal alarm connects you to our 24/7 Response Team at the press of a button. They have been TSA Accredited to ensure you are always in safe hands. When your alarm is activated, our professional team arrange help by informing your emergency contacts and, when necessary, the emergency services.
For additional peace of mind, purchase our fall detector plan. In the event of a fall, the pendant will automatically alert our team. If you feel unwell, it can be activated the same as our personal alarm pendant.
To find out more about the Lifeline24 personal alarm service, read our detailed guide. If you have any questions, call us on 0800 999 0400 to speak to our friendly customer service team. Order your Lifeline24 personal alarm today.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition affecting around 4.5 million people in the United Kingdom. That means more than one in 16 people have the condition. According to the NHS, the number of people with diabetes has nearly trebled since 1996. By 2030, they estimate that around five million people will have diabetes.
The Facts and Stats report from Diabetes UK, released in 2016, says that around 700 people receive a diabetes diagnosis every day. This is equal to one person every two minutes. They also estimate that there are around 1.1 million people living with undiagnosed diabetes.
Given that the numbers are constantly growing, we've compiled this diabetes guide. You may have seen our in-depth guide to the medical conditions which affect older people. Today’s article focuses on diabetes, as we look at the symptoms, treatments, and possible causes of the condition.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes causes your blood sugar (glucose) levels to become too high. We all need glucose since this is what gives our bodies energy. The job of the pancreas is to detect glucose in the blood and release insulin. Insulin allows glucose to enter our cells. When you have diabetes, your pancreas might not make any insulin at all, it might not make enough insulin, or the body might not be able to use the insulin that it makes. This means that, without treatment, glucose is left to build up in the bloodstream.
There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is the most common form of Diabetes and around 90% of all adults with the condition have this version. This type is when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin for the body, or when the insulin produced doesn't work correctly.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to produce any insulin at all. To help give you a further understanding of the two types of diabetes we will now go into detail about each one.
Type 1 Diabetes
As mentioned previously, Type 1 diabetes occurs due to there being no insulin inside your body. This is because the body's immune system has attacked and destroyed the vital cells that produce insulin. The cause of Type 1 diabetes is currently unknown; however, it has been discovered that it is not caused by your lifestyle choices.
Other names for this condition include Juvenile Diabetes and Early-Onset Diabetes due to the fact that it is more common in people under the age of 40 and usually affects people during their teenage years.
Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include:
- Weight loss - Your body will begin to break down its own fat and muscle, causing you to lose a lot of body weight.
- Dehydration - A reaction to symptom number one, your bloodstream can become acidic causing you to feel extremely thirsty and dehydrated.
- Needing the toilet more - This is especially concerning if you are constantly getting up throughout the night to go to the toilet.
- Tiredness - You may feel constantly weaker and tired throughout the day.
- Blurred vision.
- Itching in your genitals.
- Cuts taking longer to heal.
The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes develop quickly over a period of three or four weeks. You should visit your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.
If you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes you will need regular insulin injections throughout your life in order to keep your glucose levels normal. When you are first diagnosed you will be taught how to do this and how to match the amount of insulin with the types of food you eat and the amount of exercise you do.
Injections are done using an injection pen and most people need to do this between 2-4 times a day. An alternative to the pen is an insulin pump, which offers more flexibility and control over your condition. Diabetes UK say the following about the insulin pump:
"An insulin pump is a battery-operated device that provides your body with regular insulin throughout the day. The insulin is provided via a tiny, flexible tube (cannula), inserted under the skin. The tube can be left in for two to three days before it needs to be replaced and moved to a different insulin injection site."
Alongside the injections, those with Type 1 also need to check their blood sugar levels throughout the day. This is done by doing a quick finger prick blood test to ensure that your levels aren't too high or too low. Again, your doctors will explain what your ideal blood glucose levels should be.
Type 1 diabetes can put you at an increased risk of other medical conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, and a stroke. In order to reduce your risk, you may be advised to take medicines to help control high blood pressure, a statin to reduce high cholesterol levels and a low-dose aspirin to help prevent a stroke.
Living with Type 1 Diabetes
If you're diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes you will need to stick to a healthy diet that is high in fibre, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and low in fat, salt, and sugar. It's important to regularly eat and include starchy carbohydrates such as pasta. A special diabetes dietitian will sit down with you personally to help you through your eating plans.
It's also very important to exercise on a regular basis, to help keep your blood glucose level down. It is recommended that you aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week. You should always speak to your doctor before starting a new activity.
If you're a smoker or heavy drinker, you will also need to cuts these habits out of your life. Diabetes already increases the risk of heart problems, but smoking can increase this risk even further. Alcohol, on the other hand, can have an adverse effect on your blood glucose levels and can also affect your ability to carry out your insulin treatments.
People living with Type 1 diabetes will also need to be extra careful with their feet. The condition is linked to poor blood circulation in the feet and the blood glucose can damage the nerves. You will be at greater risk of developing problems such as foot ulcers and infections. To help reduce this risk you should:
- Wear shoes that fit properly.
- Visit a foot care specialist regularly.
- Check your feet for cuts, blisters, or grazes.
- Visit your doctor if you have a foot injury that doesn't begin to heal within a few days.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 occurs when there isn't enough glucose being produced, and any that is produced ends up not working correctly. We need insulin to help move glucose out of our blood and into our cells, so we can use it for energy.
This form of the condition is often linked to obesity and, unlike Type 1, is more common in older people. Other factors which can cause Type 2 diabetes include family history, age, and your ethnic background. According to Diabetes UK, 12.3 million people are at an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Why not read our article on Common Causes of Type-2 Diabetes for more details on your risk factors?
The symptoms of Type 2 are very similar to Type 1. However, they don't develop as quickly or strongly, which means you may have the condition for many years without even realising. Diabetes UK offer a 'Know Your Risk' test online to help to determine your type 2 diabetes risk level.
As always, if you feel that you may have some of the symptoms linked to this condition you should book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
After being diagnosed with Type 2 you will be told by your GP to make lifestyle changes in order to look after your health. The three major areas that you'll need to look at and make changes to are:
- Healthy eating - Increasing the amount of fibre and reducing your sugar and fat intake.
- Losing weight - Do this by gradually reducing your calorie intake and becoming more physically active.
- Exercising regularly - It is important to keep active by completing a range of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
As this form of the condition gets worse over time, these changes may not be enough. Eventually, you may be required to take medication to help control your blood glucose levels. To begin with, this will usually be in the form of tablets or injections.
The first medicine commonly used to help treat Type 2 is known as Metformin. This medication reduces the amount of glucose released into your bloodstream by the liver, and makes your body's cells more responsive to insulin. Other types of medication include:
- Sulphonylureas - This increases the amount of insulin produced by your pancreas.
- Pioglitazone - This makes your body's cells more sensitive to insulin, so that more glucose is taken from your blood.
- Gliptins - These work by preventing the breakdown of a natural hormone known as GLP-1, which helps the body to produce insulin in response to high blood glucose levels.
Your risk of heart disease, suffering from a stroke and kidney disease does increase if you have Type 2 diabetes so it is advised that you take other medicines such as anti-hypertensive medicine to control high blood pressure. Further treatment and dietary information can be found on the NHS website.
Living with Type 2
As previously mentioned, you will need to make various lifestyle changes once you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Your well-being and health should be your focus, and you will need to live a healthy lifestyle in order to look after your body.
Once diagnosed you will be given a diabetes Response Team who you'll be in regular contact with. They will check your eyes, feet and nerves regularly because they can also be affected by diabetes. Various tests will also be carried out at least once a year to see how well your condition is being controlled.
As well as following the tips given in the treatment section of this article, you will also need to have your eyes screened once a year to check for diabetic retinopathy. This is an eye condition where the small blood vessels in your eye become damaged. This happens if your blood glucose level is too high for a long period of time. If this is left untreated you may suffer sight loss.
Did you know that around three in five cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed? The best way to reduce your risk is by eating better, moving more, and losing weight if you're overweight.
If your doctor places you at risk of the condition, you will be given plenty of advice on the types of foods you should be eating and the amount of physical activity you should be taking part in each week. You should take this warning very seriously if you are to prevent being diagnosed.
The healthier and more active you are, the lower risk you have of diabetes. The best thing to do is to set yourself clear goals: How much weight do you want to lose by a certain date? What weight do you wish to lift by this date?
You should always try your best to plan ahead when it comes to your meals, especially if you work full-time. It's too easy to choose a takeaway when you get home from work after a long day. Take a look at the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme for more useful tips.
Diabetes qualifies you for VAT Exemption when you order a personal alarm system from Lifeline24. HMRC state that a product that has been “designed or adapted for a disability” qualifies for VAT exemption.
For a person to qualify they must meet certain criteria set by HMRC. These criteria state that the customer must have a long-term illness, a terminal illness, or a disability in order to qualify.
Staying Safe at Home
A personal alarm can help protect people if they suffer from medical conditions like diabetes. If one of our alarm users feels unwell or suffers a fall, they can press their pendant button and help will be arranged immediately. By opting for our fall detector plan, an alert will be sent automatically if they have a fall.
For more information on purchasing one of our life-saving personal alarms, please speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 22nd June 2022 to reflect current information.
Dementia affects thousands of people in the UK. In general, the word 'dementia' refers to a range of symptoms relating to memory, language and understanding. According to current statistics, dementia currently affects around 850,000 people in the UK. But are you aware of the different types of dementia? Most people have heard of Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia. However, there are several other types to be aware of too.
In today's post, we'll look at the different types of dementia, including their symptoms and treatments.
This is the most common type of dementia, with an estimated 500,000 people affected in the UK. Alzheimer's disease is most common in people over 65. It affects slightly more women than men.
Your chances of an Alzheimer's diagnosis increase as you get older, with the condition affecting around 1 in 14 people over the age of 65. This goes up to 1 in every 6 people over the age of 80.
What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's?
Lots of people use these two words interchangeably, but dementia and Alzheimer's aren't quite the same. Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms including memory loss, difficulty with speech and communication, and issues with visual perception. Think of it as an umbrella term; there are several different kinds of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is one form of dementia. In other words, Alzheimer's is a specific brain disease that causes dementia symptoms.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive medical condition. Therefore, symptoms develop gradually and become more severe as time goes by. Commonly, the first sign of the condition is minor memory problems. For example: forgetting recent conversations or the names of places and objects. You may struggle to remember new information. This is because the disease usually affects the parts of the brain that deal with learning first.
Over a period of weeks and months, your memory may worsen and other symptoms may develop, such as:
- Speech and language problems.
- Personality changes.
- Confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places.
- Low moods or anxiety.
- Hallucinations and delusions.
Due to the slow progression of Alzheimer's disease, it can be hard to notice that something is wrong. This is especially the case in older people; many feel that memory problems are just a part of getting older.
For more information on Alzheimer's symptoms, see our guide to the symptoms of dementia.
An early diagnosis gives you the best chance to prepare for your future, including any treatments and support. Therefore, if you're worried about your memory or you've experienced any of the symptoms we've discussed, you should make an appointment with your GP.
No single test can diagnose Alzheimer's, but your doctor will ask several questions about your symptoms. They may also do some tests to rule out any other medical conditions.
A doctor may refer you to a specialist memory assessment service, where professionals from multiple disciplines can help the diagnosis. A common test at this stage is the mini mental state examination. The NHS explains:
"One widely used test is the mini mental state examination (MMSE). This involves being asked to carry out activities such as memorising a short list of objects correctly and identifying the current day of the week, month and year. Different memory clinics may also use other, longer tests. The MMSE isn't used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, but it's useful to initially assess areas of difficulty that a person with the condition may have."
Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. However, there are treatments that can slow its progress and relieve symptoms. People in the early to mid-stages of Alzheimer's can take a group of drugs called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine). Only specialists like psychiatrists, neurologists, and geriatricians can prescribe these medications.
Anybody with Alzheimer's disease will eventually need plenty of support to live safely at home. An occupational therapist can help you identify problems and risks in your everyday life, in order to find the right solutions. You may wish to install a personal alarm system to give you and your loved ones peace of mind. Having a personal alarm can also help you to stay independent in your own home for as long as possible.
Psychological treatments, such as cognitive stimulation, can improve and maintain your memory, problem-solving skills, and language ability.
This type of dementia accounts for around 20% of diagnoses, roughly 150,000 people. Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to your brain and is often the result of a stroke or series of mini-strokes. It is most common in those aged over 65.
Vascular dementia can either start suddenly or appear slowly over time. Look out for the following symptoms:
- Problems with concentration.
- Personality and behavioural changes.
- Difficulty with planning and understanding.
- Slowness of thought.
- Feeling disorientated and confused.
- Difficulty balancing and walking.
- Memory and language problems.
In many cases, those with vascular dementia will also have Alzheimer's disease.
For more information on vascular dementia symptoms, see our guide to the symptoms of dementia.
Diagnosis & Treatment
If you think you are showing early symptoms of vascular dementia you should see your doctor. An early diagnosis could help to slow down the condition and limit its effects.
Before a diagnosis, you will have a series of assessments. This will include an assessment of your symptoms, full medical history (including questions about conditions linked to vascular dementia, such as strokes and high blood pressure), an assessment of your mental abilities and a brain scan.
Currently, there is no cure for vascular dementia. However, treatment can sometimes slow down its progress and limit the damage to brain cells. There are also plenty of lifestyle changes that can help you in the fight against several types of dementia, such as:
- Exercising and keeping active.
- Stopping smoking.
- Cutting down on alcohol.
- Losing weight.
- Eating healthily.
Medications to treat hypertension, lower cholesterol, and to prevent blood clots may also be helpful. Just as with Alzheimer's disease, support and therapy are key to helping make your everyday life easier. Speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy can all make a huge difference. Installing a personal alarm system can provide reassurance - in the event of an accident or medical emergency, the user can call for help with just the touch of a button. There are also automatic fall detectors for those who may not remember or be able to press their alarm button.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
This is a slightly rarer form of dementia, affecting more than 100,000 people in the UK. Dementia with Lewy bodies represents around 15% of all dementia cases. Like with most types of dementia, this condition is common in those aged 65 and over.
The Alzheimer's Society gives the following definition of Lewy bodies:
"Lewy bodies are tiny deposits of a protein (alpha-synuclein) that appear in nerve cells in the brain. Researchers don't have a full understanding of why Lewy bodies appear, or exactly how they contribute to dementia."
Dementia with Lewy bodies will typically cause the same symptoms as other types of dementia. However, there are a few specific symptoms that can distinguish it from other conditions:
- Slow movement, stiff limbs, tremors and shuffling when walking - just like with Parkinson's disease.
- Marked swings between alertness and confusion or sleepiness.
- Disturbed sleep.
- Difficulty swallowing.
If you think you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
For more information on Lewy body dementia symptoms, see our guide to the symptoms of dementia.
Diagnosis & Treatment
As there is no single test to diagnose dementia with Lewy bodies, your doctor will need to assess your symptoms and your mental ability. You will also have blood tests to rule out other medical conditions with similar symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia with Lewy bodies, nor any treatments that will slow the condition down. However, there are treatments that can control and relieve some symptoms for several years.
Other medication will also be available to help with any movement problems, depression, disturbed sleep, or challenging behaviour changes. Other common dementia therapies will also be available, such as occupational therapy.
People with Lewy body dementia may be more prone to falls and accidents. We would strongly recommend having a Fall Detector alarm system in place to give the user and their family maximum peace of mind.
This is one of the rarer types of dementia. Frontotemporal dementia makes up around 5% of dementia cases in the UK. It commonly affects the front and sides of your brain (frontal and temporal lobes) and can lead to problems with behaviour and language. Unlike other types of dementia, frontotemporal dementia usually affects slightly younger people, with most people receiving a diagnosis between 45 and 65.
The frontal lobes of the brain are responsible for behaviour, problem-solving, planning, and the control of your emotions. The left frontal lobe also controls speech. The temporal lobes have several different roles. The left lobe deals with the meaning of words and names of objects, while the right temporal lobe helps you recognise faces and familiar objects.
The Alzheimer's Society explains the causes of Frontotemporal dementia:
"Frontotemporal dementia occurs when nerve cells in the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain die, and the pathways that connect the lobes change. Some of the chemical messengers that transmit signals between nerve cells are also lost. Over time, as more and more nerve cells die, the brain tissue in the frontal and temporal lobes shrinks."
The symptoms of frontotemporal dementia include:
- Language and speech problems.
- Personality and behaviour changes.
- Problems with mental abilities.
- Memory problems.
- Slow or stiff movement.
- Difficulty swallowing.
Acting impulsively or inappropriately, sometimes appearing selfish or unsympathetic, can be a symptom of this kind of dementia. It is also common for those affected to neglect their personal hygiene and have a lack of motivation.
For more information on frontotemporal dementia symptoms, see our guide to the symptoms of dementia.
Diagnosis & Treatment
To diagnose frontotemporal dementia, doctors will assess your symptoms and mental abilities, as well as carrying out blood tests and other assessments. However, there is one test that is different: the lumbar puncture. This involves testing spinal fluid to rule out Alzheimer's disease as the cause of your symptoms.
Currently, there is no cure for this type of dementia, nor any treatments that will slow the condition down. However, there are treatments that can help to control your symptoms, such as:
- Occupational therapy.
- Speech and language therapy.
- Support groups.
To control the loss of inhibitions, a doctor might prescribe antidepressants known as SSRIs.
Other Types of Dementia
- Young-onset Dementia - a term for dementia in those under the age of 65. An estimated 42,000 people are believed to have young-onset dementia.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease - a rare but fatal condition that affects your brain.
People with dementia are eligible for VAT Exemption when they order a personal alarm system from Lifeline24. This means that you will not have to pay any VAT on your Lifeline alarm if you have dementia yourself or are buying an alarm on behalf of someone else with the condition.
To find out more read our guide to VAT Exemption here.
Personal Alarm Information
A Lifeline24 alarm is a great resource for somebody with dementia. Our life-saving personal alarm service helps elderly and disabled people remain independent and continue living in their own homes. With a Lifeline alarm, the user can call for help whenever they need it with just the touch of a button. For additional peace of mind, purchase a fall detector alarm. This will activate automatically if the user experience a fall.
For more information about the personal alarm service, please get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, send an email to email@example.com or fill in our Contact Us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
You can order your new Lifeline alarm online today.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 20th June 2022 to reflect current information.
Asthma is a long-term medical condition that affects the lungs and airways. With millions of children and adults affected, it is one of the most common medical conditions in the United Kingdom.
According to Asthma UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for the condition. Of those affected, 4.3 million cases are adults and 1.1 million are children. These figures mean that asthma affects one in every 11 people, and one in five households across the country.
"Every 10 seconds somebody is having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack in the UK. Each day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack." - Asthma UK.
Sadly, more than 1,300 people in England died as a result of asthma in 2018 (the most recent available data). These statistics can be quite frightening, but research has shown that two thirds of asthma-related deaths are preventable with the right treatment and understanding.
You may have seen our in-depth guide to the medical conditions which affect older people. Today’s article focuses specifically on asthma. We'll look at the symptoms, treatments, and possible causes of the condition.
What Causes Asthma?
Sometimes, substances like pollen, dust, or smoke can irritate our airways. However, the airways of asthmatic people are already inflamed and sensitive to begin with. Therefore, irritants (triggers) can cause several reactions in sufferers:
- Inflammation and swelling of the airways
- A build-up of sticky mucus or phlegm in the airways
- Tightening of muscles around the airways
All of these reactions narrow the space through which air can flow, which is what causes many of asthma's core symptoms.
These reactions can occur as a result of asthma triggers, or at random. Common triggers also include animal fur, pollution, chest infections, certain medications, and even the weather. Asthma UK recognises several different categories of asthma:
- Allergic: triggered by allergens like pollen and dust
- Seasonal: flares up at certain points in the year, often depending on weather and temperature
- Occupational: a result of the work you do
- Non-allergic: a rarer form of asthma, unrelated to allergy triggers
Luckily, medication can be very effective at managing symptoms. However, around 4% of asthmatic people have 'severe asthma' which does not respond to the usual medication.
Anyone's asthma can change over time, becoming more or less severe. Lots of mildly asthmatic children often find that their symptoms subside as they get older.
There are several symptoms of asthma, which vary from mild to more severe. Not everybody will experience every symptom all the time. The most common symptoms are:
- Wheezing - A whistling sound whilst you're breathing
- A tight chest
Sometimes, your symptoms can become worse for a short period of time. This is commonly known as an asthma attack. These attacks can happen suddenly or gradually over a few days. They can be fatal, so it's very important to be aware of the signs.
Symptoms of an Asthma Attack
- Your usual symptoms (coughing, wheezing, tight chest) are getting worse.
- Your reliever inhaler is not helping.
- You struggle to speak, eat, or sleep due to breathlessness.
- Your breath is getting faster/you feel like you can't catch your breath.
What To Do If You Suffer an Asthma Attack
Every 10 seconds, someone in the UK has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. Research has shown that, with the correct treatment, you can control your symptoms and reduce the risk.
If you think you're having an asthma attack you need to follow these steps, suggested by the NHS:
- Sit upright and try to take slow, steady breaths. Do not lie down. Try to stay calm; panicking can make it worse.
- Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (blue) every 30-60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs.
- Call 999 immediately if you don't have your inhaler with you, if you feel worse despite using your inhaler, if you don't feel any better after 10 puffs, or if you're worried at any point.
- If an ambulance has not arrived after 15 minutes, repeat Step 2.
If your symptoms improve and you don't require hospital treatment, you should still make an urgent appointment to see your GP or an asthma nurse.
Should you go to hospital, you will need to see your GP within 48 hours of being discharged. 1 in 6 people who receive treatment in hospital for an asthma attack need hospital care again within two weeks. Therefore, it's very important to discuss how to reduce your risk.
There is currently no cure for asthma. However, there are several effective treatments that help alleviate symptoms.
The most common form of treatment is an inhaler. There are two main types of inhalers:
- Reliever Inhaler - These can relieve symptoms for a short period of time. They are commonly blue.
- Preventer Inhaler - These reduce the inflammation in your breathing tubes. They need to be used twice daily in order to be most effective. They are commonly brown.
Some patients may be prescribed a 'combination inhaler'. This includes a combination of a long-acting reliever and a corticosteroid preventer.
By using your inhaler correctly, you can manage your condition and reduce the chances of an attack. Taking your inhaler correctly will help with everyday tasks, such as walking up and down the stairs.
Your doctor or nurse will be able to show you the correct way to use your inhaler. You need to use the right technique for the device to actually work effectively.
If your inhalers aren't helping with your condition, your GP might prescribe additional medicines to help. The most common tablets used to help treat asthma include:
- Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists - These are taken once a day to help stop your airways from becoming inflamed. These tablets are also available as granules or syrup for children.
- Theophyllines - These help relax the muscles around the airways, helping you breathe more easily.
- Steroids - These can be used as a short-term treatment for an asthma attack or a long-term treatment to control your symptoms.
Living with Asthma
With the correct treatment, most asthmatic people can live normal lives. The most important factor is to keep your symptoms under control, by using your inhalers correctly and avoiding your triggers.
It's important to work closely with your GP or nurse to make sure you're using the proper inhaler technique. You should also be aware that some other medicines may put you at risk. For example, some aspirin and ibuprofen may not be suitable for asthma sufferers. Always check the packet.
If you smoke, it is crucial that you quit immediately. Smoking is a known asthma trigger, which can cause severe and frequent symptoms. For help quitting, see our Stop Smoking guide.
Did you know that sports stars David Beckham and Bradley Wiggins have asthma? Regular exercise is a great way to manage your condition.
By raising your heart rate, you boost your lung power and improve stamina. While you might feel breathless in the short term, frequent exercise can actually reduce how often you feel breathless overall. A healthy fitness regime also reduces the chances of a cold or cough, due to a boost to your immune system.
If you're a little apprehensive, or if your asthma has been playing up recently, it may be best to stick to moderate-intensity activities. These include swimming, walking, yoga, or team sports which allow you to take a rest between bursts of movement.
Before taking part, you should also make sure that:
- You have your inhaler with you.
- The people you are exercising/playing with know that you have asthma.
- You warm up and cool down thoroughly.
If you notice your symptoms spiking at any point, you should stop, take your inhaler, and wait until you feel better before re-joining your activity.
If you are overweight, research indicates that losing weight could help you manage your condition. Losing excess weight can reduce symptoms and lower your risk of an asthma attack. In addition, losing weight and having a healthy lifestyle can also reduce your risk of other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Staying Safe At Home
A personal alarm can protect people who suffer from medical conditions such as asthma. If one of our alarm users feels unwell or suffers a fall, they simply need to press their pendant button. Our 24/7 Emergency Response Team will answer the call and send help immediately.
For more information on our life-saving personal alarms, please speak to one of our friendly advisors on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our Contact Us form and we will contact you as soon as possible.
Having asthma qualifies you for VAT Exemption when you order a personal alarm from Lifeline24. If you are asthmatic (or you are buying an alarm for somebody else who is) then you will not have to pay any VAT on your Lifeline alarm.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 13th June 2022 to reflect current information.
If there’s one place we should feel relaxed and comfortable, it's in our own homes. Unfortunately, as we get older, safety at home isn't always guaranteed. Changes to our mobility, vision, balance, or memory can make staying safe at home a little trickier than it used to be.
Despite these challenges, there are a few simple things older people can do to stay safe, comfortable, and happy at home. Here are our top home safety tips for older people. By following this guidance, you can create a safer home environment, allowing you to carry on living independently in the home you love.
Falls are perhaps the biggest risk that older people face in the home. In fact, according to the NHS, one in three people over the age of 65 will have a fall at home each year. Statistics show that falls are sadly the most common cause of injury-related deaths in people over the age of 75.
Therefore, preventing falls is essential when it comes to home safety for elderly people. Here are some useful fall-prevention tips for older people:
- Don’t rush - Falls often happen when people are rushing to answer the phone. If you're worried about missing a phone call, you'll move faster than you normally would. Instead of rushing, get a cordless phone that you can keep nearby. Alternatively, let the call go to voicemail and give the person a call back.
- Wear non-slip footwear - This is especially important on hard surfaces like lino, tiles, or wooden flooring. If you don't want to wear shoes inside, invest in a good pair of slippers or house shoes. Choose sturdy soles with a good grip to avoid slipping over.
- Make sure your floors are well lit (including night lights if needed) and clear of obstacles - Common trip hazards include rugs and shoes left on the floor. You can tape rugs down to stop them from moving when you walk on them. Put shoes away in a cupboard or shoe rack as soon as you take them off.
- If you have stairs, use the banister when climbing or descending - If you only have a banister on one side, we'd recommend installing another one so you can hold on with both hands. Alternatively, if you're struggling with the stairs in general, consider a stairlift.
- If you use a walking stick or frame, use it at all times - Don’t rely on holding on to furniture for balance - it can give way, or you can lose grip which might cause a fall.
- Try and stay active - Regular exercise will help you to maintain your fitness, balance, and coordination. Exercise needn't be strenuous; a gentle walk can have a huge effect on your overall health and well-being. You can even exercise while sitting down! Read our chair exercise guide here.
- If you think you might be at risk of a fall or have recently fallen, speak to your GP - They may be able to recommend exercises to improve your strength and balance or refer you for tests if necessary.
It’s also important to realise that not all falls can be prevented. Accidents can happen no matter how prepared you are, so you should always have a system in place. The best solution for this is to use a personal alarm.
When it comes to staying safe at home, personal alarms are perhaps the most helpful tool you can use. A personal alarm allows you to call for help in an emergency. There are a few different kinds of alarm, but the most common is a monitored pendant alarm. These alarms usually consist of a base unit and a small pendant, which the user can wear around their wrist or neck. Whenever they need assistance, they can press the button on the pendant to raise the alarm.
Once activated, the button sends a signal to an alarm base unit. Most alarm units, including the Lifeline24 Personal Alarm, use a landline connection to call on a 24-hour Response Team, who will respond by contacting nominated friends, family, neighbours, or carers to come and assist the user. If it is a medical emergency, the Response Team will also contact the emergency services.
A personal alarm system is helpful in so many different situations. Here are just a few common reasons why people activate their alarms:
- A sudden health problem such as chest pain or a seizure.
- Concerns about a potential intruder or unwanted visitor.
- Detecting a fire or flood.
- Suffering from a fall and needing assistance to get back up.
In these situations, a personal alarm ensures that an older person can get the help they need when they need it. Personal alarms save lives and support independent living, providing peace of mind to older people and their loved ones alike. They're also a big help to the NHS.
"Statistics show that, in the UK, falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75."
Older people are more vulnerable to house fires than younger people. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, older people are generally less likely to keep up with household jobs like testing a smoke detector regularly or replacing the batteries in it. These jobs might seem small, but they are an essential part of safety at home.
Secondly, older people can find it more difficult to detect a fire when it happens. This might be because they tend to have more sensory impairments than younger people. Certain medications can also affect your ability to detect fire, and mobility issues can add to the danger if a fire ever does occur.
Here are five fire prevention tips to help older people stay safe at home:
- Look out for damaged cords on electrical appliances.
- Don’t plug an extension lead into another extension lead. You might overload the socket which can cause an electrical fire.
- Don’t leave lit candles unattended.
- Avoid smoking indoors and ensure that you stub out your cigarettes completely (or try quitting smoking altogether).
- Avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking.
- Install a smoke detector and test it at least once a month. Smoke detectors are the most effective way to protect yourself from fire. Read more on the fire service website.
If you ever detect a fire in your home, don’t attempt to put it out yourself. Call 999 immediately and leave your house as quickly as possible. If you can't get to your phone, activate your personal alarm if you have one. Don’t go back for belongings or valuables; you are the most valuable thing in your home.
The smallest room can present some of the biggest hazards for older people. The combination of hard, slippery surfaces and water can increase the risk of falls and injuries. On average, we use the bathroom seven times a day. With so many trips to and from the bathroom, it's important to make things as safe as possible.
There are a few simple steps you can take to make your bathroom safer:
- If you have a shower over your bath, place a rubber mat in the bathtub to prevent slips.
- Install grab rails in your bathroom. Grab rails by the toilet, shower, and bath can help you keep your balance on slippery surfaces.
- If you struggle with balance, consider investing in a shower seat. These are a great alternative to standing in the shower and minimise the risk of slips.
- If you have a personal alarm, make sure the pendant button is water-resistant. By keeping your pendant on in the bath or shower, you'll be able to call for help quickly if you need it.
All Lifeline24 Alarm systems include a water-resistant pendant for safe use in the bathroom. Whether you choose our standard Lifeline24 Personal Alarm and Pendant or the Fall Detector Alarm for extra peace of mind, you'll be protected in every room of the house.
Nowadays, it is impossible to talk about safety at home without addressing electronics. Unfortunately, many accidents involving electricity can prove fatal, so it is absolutely vital to make your home as safe as can be.
Here are some electrical tips to help you stay safe at home:
- Ensure that electric cords are in good condition e.g. no fraying cables or cracks in the casing.
- Inspect your sockets regularly - there should be no visible damage and they shouldn't make any noise.
- Keep all electrical appliances far away from water to prevent electric shocks.
- Turn off or unplug any small appliances when you leave the house.
- Be careful not to overload extension leads - make sure you know the maximum current rating for the lead.
- Don't daisy-chain extension leads together.
If you have any worries about the electrics in your house, we recommend contacting an electrician to come and do a safety check. This way, you can address any potential hazards before they become too dangerous. Being proactive is key to ensuring safety at home.
Bear in mind that electrical appliances can get hot, so keep them away from anything flammable such as aerosols and curtains.
Lots of us enjoy cooking as a relaxing pastime, but the kitchen has its own set of risks to consider. Burns, slips and injuries are all too common in the kitchen, particularly for older people.
You can minimise your risk of injury in the kitchen by following these safety tips:
- Wear appropriate clothing. Overly baggy clothes can be a fire risk - especially loose-flowing sleeves.
- Always wear sensible shoes. Look for sturdy soles with good grip and avoid open-toed shoes - it can be very easy to drop a knife in the middle of food preparation.
- Stir away from your body to avoid burns and splashes when cooking on the stove.
- Staying safe at home means keeping things clean. This means dealing with any spillages promptly to prevent slips and wiping down surfaces to kill bacteria.
- Always use oven gloves when removing hot things from the oven or microwave.
- Keep your knives sharp. Despite what you might think, a blunt knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. Always slice away from your body and go slowly until you are confident.
- It is a good idea to keep a small first aid kit in the kitchen. Make sure it is fully stocked with scissors, plasters, gauze and antiseptic.
Getting up and down those stairs can be difficult as we get older. You might lose your breath more quickly than you used to, or be a little unsteady on your feet. If you have asthma or joint problems due to arthritis or osteoporosis, then you may want to consider a stairlift.
Stairlifts allow you to get up and down the stairs safely and comfortably. There's no need to worry about tripping up or running out of breath. You can sit down and relax as you are carried up your staircase. By eliminating the risk of staircase accidents, staying safe at home becomes much easier.
A stairlift is certainly a big investment. However, there are grants available to help you cover the costs. You might even be eligible for a free stairlift through social services. However, if a stairlift isn't an option financially, then there are other ways to ensure staircase safety at home:
- Take your time walking up and down the stairs.
- Get a relative or friend to help you.
- Install a downstairs toilet to minimise trips up and down the stairs.
- Consider downsizing and moving into a bungalow.
8. Hot and Cold Weather
Very hot and very cold weather can be equally dangerous for elderly people. This is the case even if you stay inside and away from the heat or frost. However, there are plenty of things you can do at home to remain cool during the summer and toasty during the winter.
Safety at Home in Hot Weather
Heatwaves can cause dehydration, heat strokes, and overheating. High temperatures are particularly dangerous for those who suffer from heart or breathing problems. First of all, you should get out of the sun and into the comfort of your home. Next, follow these simple tips:
- During peak sun times (11 am to 3 pm) shut your windows and pull down the shades. Only open your windows when it is cooler. Keep your rooms cool by using light-coloured curtains and closing them.
- Have cool baths or showers. Splash your face with cool water if you feel too hot. Alternatively, soak a sponge or washcloth in cool water and place it on the back of your neck. Running cold water on your wrists can also be effective at reducing body temperature.
- Drink cold drinks throughout the day. Stick to water and diluted juice. Avoid fizzy drinks, alcohol and caffeine.
Safety at Home in Cold Weather
Cold weather can be lethal. Ensuring safety at home means keeping your home warm and comfortable. For lots of people, the cost of heating your home can be an issue, but luckily there is help available. Everyone who receives a State Pension is eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment. This is a tax-free payment to help you cover your bills throughout the winter.
Here are some additional tips to help you stay warm:
- Wear warm clothing. Layers are definitely the way to go because they trap warm air.
- At night, keep your socks on when you go to bed. Wear warm pyjamas and use a hot water bottle.
- Ensure your living room and bedroom are heated sufficiently.
- Keep your curtains and doors closed. This will keep draughts away. Draught excluders are also an affordable solution.
Age often brings with it some significant changes to our bodies. Make sure that you are visiting your GP regularly and taking the correct medication. Managing your medication is a crucially important part of staying safe at home and maintaining your independence as an older person:
- To avoid confusion, keep all medicines in their original containers with clear labels. Alternatively, if you are taking several different medications, consider investing in a pill organiser box.
- Be aware of expiration dates. Make sure any medication you are taking is still in date.
- Return any out of date or leftover medicines to the pharmacist for destruction.
- Make sure to store any chemical cleaning products separately from medicines.
Keep an up-to-date medication list and give a copy to your family. If you have a personal alarm, let the Response Team know about any medication you take. This information can be useful in a medical emergency and the Response Team can inform the emergency services. There are also apps available for your phone and tablet which can remind you when it's time to take your medication.
Crime is one of the biggest concerns for lots of older people. It's sometimes easy to feel vulnerable in your home, especially if you live by yourself. However, there are several steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
Here are our home safety tips for protecting yourself against intruders:
- Keep your valuable items out of view. Do not tempt potential criminals by advertising your desirable items.
- If you wish to leave a spare key for family members, purchase a secure keysafe. Never hide keys under doormats or plant pots.
- Always remember to lock your doors and windows whenever you leave your home.
- For peace of mind, consider installing motion-activated lights, security cameras, or a video doorbell.
If you ever feel frightened or suspect that somebody is trying to enter your home, call the police immediately. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Our final tip is potentially the best advice you can get when it comes to staying safe at home. By keeping in touch with the people around you, you'll improve both your quality of life and your mental health.
Loneliness can have major consequences on both physical and mental health. Feeling isolated can also make you feel more vulnerable at home.
Here are our top tips when it comes to staying in touch with those that you love:
- Try to meet up with family and friends regularly. You don't need lots of time or money - going for a quick walk will make a difference.
- Keep in touch the old-fashioned way - send letters and photographs to those who live further away.
- Don’t be afraid to give someone a ring for no other reason than to have a catch-up.
- Embrace new technology. Use social media and video calls to stay in contact with loved ones near and far.
- Invest in a personal alarm and nominate the people you trust as your emergency contacts.
By maintaining a strong support network, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you have people to call on if you need them.
More Help with Safety at Home
As you can see, there are lots of things to consider when it comes to staying safe at home. For anyone who wants to maintain their independence, we would highly recommend a Lifeline24 alarm. The Lifeline24 personal alarm system means you will always have somebody to call for help, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
For more information on our life-saving personal alarms, please don't hesitate to call us on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, fill in a quick contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
You can also order a Lifeline24 alarm online at any time. All our alarms are available with free next-day delivery.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 25th May 2022 to reflect current information.