Winter can be a tough time of year for everyone. The days get shorter and the nights get longer and colder.
This can drain you and leave you longing for summer, flicking back through your holiday photos or planning your next getaway.
That’s why the Danish concept of Hygge, a form of self-care specifically in the winter months, has recently become popular in the UK. Hygge (pronounced “hooga” in case you were wondering) is one of those Nordic words which doesn’t have an exact literal translation in English. It actually comes from a Norwegian word which means “wellbeing” but has since been adapted by the Danes for a more specific context.
Hygge is designed to help you deal with the winter by seeking comfort, warmth and cosiness. Hygge revolves around being warm, cosy and happy, particularly with life’s simple pleasures. In essence, swapping the harsher edges of the colder months for roaring fires, mugs of gluhwein or cocoa, big jumpers and other such classic winter treats.
Hygge is sitting beside a roaring fire, Hygge is being surrounded by your loved ones, Hygge is the domestic contentment you can only get from lounging on the sofa with a cup of tea. Hygge could come from spending time with family and friends at home, or getting wrapped up and heading to a Christmas market. It’s just about winter wellbeing.
When you put it all together like this, Hygge is probably the reason why Danish people are reported to be the happiest in the world.
In Denmark the traditional Christmas meal is very hearty and consists of any of a range of meats, plus potatoes, gravy and vegetables. For dessert everyone has a rice pudding, one of which has an almond inside. Whoever gets the rice pudding with the almond inside is given a very special “almond gift” to celebrate Christmas.
Hearty meals are a perfect way to enjoy winter, not only are you indoors while you’re cooking up a storm, but you get the satisfaction of dining out on the meal you have created afterwards. What could be more Hygge than that!?
With thanks to DFDS and Steph Fox.
Too many people and not enough money to go round. It has been like this for a very long time. Money will always be found for war, but there’s never enough for peace. Growing old is a curse that all must come to – if they survive long enough. Being valued for what you have contributed throughout your lifetime is no longer relevant. If you’re old – you’re a nuisance as soon as you need those regular visits to the GP or hospital.
About ten years ago there was a vibrant older people’s movement holding enthusiastic annual rallies at Blackpool that engendered little or no coverage by the national media. Neither the much publicised Joan Bakewell, Tony Blair’s appointed Older People’s Champion, nor Ruth Marks, the Older People’s Champion appointed by the newly devolved Welsh Assembly Government, considered it worth making the effort to do more than send representatives rather than appear in person when invited to attend.
As for the NHS, it’s been a gradual descent for a once great concept into the current chaos since Barbara Castle was Health Minister and started tinkering with a system that was working reasonably well. Sadly, successive ‘Health Ministers’ have considered it their duty to add their own five-pennyworth of tinkering ever since – until we are now faced with a mire of bureaucratic paperwork, mismanagement, and wasted money that probably began with the catastrophic mistake of getting rid of matrons, deputy matrons, almoners and the chairman of the board of governors who oversaw the day to day running of every hospital and then replacing them with a plethora of clerks, secretaries, receptionists, administrators, managers and chief executives; all of whom have to be paid – some with exorbitant salaries – instead of providing the necessary number of nurses and doctors so vital to an effective service.
Nurses used to be trained in their own hospitals – and were excellent at their job – they had to be or matron would have descended on them like a battle-ship in full sail. Nowadays, too many new nurses have degrees first, then start nursing. They are adept at pressing the right computer buttons, but appear to be sparing with the actual caring-for-patients that might involve menial tasks like washing and tending to the very personal, but basic side of nursing as we knew it. This might of course be because numbers are too few, or because those with degrees consider themselves too well qualified for such demeaning tasks; either way, patients suffer – with often fatal results.
Why warmth matters
I don't normally share this sort of information on DropBy as it is only of relevance in Surrey. However, after reading about a member's mother who has been poorly, I thought it might be helpful to post this news item..... I am sure most counties will be running similar programmes, even if they are not funded by Scottish Power!
"Thanks to funding from Scottish Power, Surrey Community Action is launching a new ‘Warmth Matters’ project, which will give practical advice and support to families on tight budgets to help make their homes warmer and healthier.
The project aims to help people living in fuel poverty, particularly young families, by providing free impartial advice and practical ideas to keep their homes warm and healthy and save them money.
Fuel poverty is the result of high fuel prices, low incomes and high fuel bills due to energy inefficient homes. Families and older people who are on low incomes and who live in older properties which are hard to insulate often have to choose between heating their home or paying for food.
Living in a cold house can cause a variety of health problems. Being cold for long periods can increase blood pressure, putting people at risk of a heart attack, stroke or hypothermia. For people with chronic illness being cold can make conditions worse, particularly breathing or cardiovascular problems. There is also evidence that children who live in colder homes find it harder to concentrate at school. Living in a cold home can also cause mental health issues as well as making it harder to recover from illness and hospital treatments.
Claire Dawson from the ‘Warmth Matters’ project is running free group sessions at centres across Surrey to help people find the best fuel deals, get their homes warm even on a tight budget and help keep families as healthy as possible over the winter. There will also be opportunities after the group session to meet Claire to discuss individual concerns such as bills, grants and any specific problems about heating.
For more information or to book a Warmth Matters advice session for a group of your beneficiaries please contact Claire Dawson via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01483 566072."
A guest blog from Max Gottlieb at Senior Planning based in the USA.
Although the exact number is unknown, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that nearly eleven million Americans are providing care for a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. They also estimate that this voluntary group contributes around eighteen billion hours of care per year, totaling $220 billion of unpaid labor. That doesn’t even include the foregone wages they could be making if they weren’t caregiving. All of these numbers are expected to rise with the coming tide of baby boomers.
With no cure and no real means of prevention yet, Alzheimer’s will continue to place a heavy load not only on those who are directly suffering, but on friends and relatives as well. Anyone who is familiar with Alzheimer’s knows that caregiving is not even the hardest part. Caregivers are forced to see those they love become entirely different people, sometimes losing their very essence. Although this sounds extremely bleak, there are many people going through the same thing, and as a result, there are resources available. Below are five resources that every caregiver should be aware of:
1. AgingCare.com AgingCare describes itself as “your partner in caregiving.” This site is for caregivers of all types. It ranges from people dealing with diabetes, to Parkinson’s, to Alzheimer’s. It’s a rich resource that can answer most caregiving questions, whether the questions are financial or emotional in nature.
2. Alzheimers.org.uk This is the homepage of the United Kingdom’s Alzheimer’s Society. It has tons of helpful articles as well as ways to get involved with finding a cure. It also has very active forums which allow anyone who is affected by dementia to participate, whether you’re a friend, caregiver, or suffering from it yourself.
3. ALZConnected.org The Alzheimer’s Association in the United States runs this site and it has forums dedicated to caregivers or those suffering from dementia. The community is very active and incredibly friendly.
4. TheAlzheimersSpouse.com This site was founded by a woman named Joan Gershman whose husband died in June 2015 after a twelve-year battle with the disease. Self described as “a place of comfort for spouses who are trying to cope with the Alzheimer’s/dementia of their husband/wife,” this site specifically focuses on the issues of dealing with the disease as spouse. Since these issues are unique, this is an incredibly helpful website in finding likeminded people who are going through the same thing.
5. HealthUnlocked.com HealthUnlocked is one of the largest social networks for people with health concerns. It supplies answers to all of your health questions, latest news, and support from people in similar situations. Since it’s not specifically devoted to Alzheimer’s, it’s beneficial for those who want to discuss the disease in the context of other health issues that may be present. Caregivers will find support and answers to any questions they may have.
September is world Alzheimer’s Month, but for those dealing with the disease, the concern exists year round. With Alzheimer’s prevalence, those dealing with it need not feel isolated or alone. There are many resources available beyond the five I mentioned so if you have any favorites don’t hesitate to mention them in the comments.
Max Gottlieb is the content manager for Senior Planning. Senior Planning provides free assistance to seniors or the disabled and specializes in long-term care; including memory care, at-home care services, and applying for state and federal benefits.
After your children move away and you return to life without them, things can start to feel quiet. You’re suddenly left with long stretches of time, and without some of the responsibilities that might have kept you busy in recent decades.
It’s in these long stretches of time that you might sit down and begin to take stock, of how you’ve changes since you first became ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’.
The parenting years are a whirlwind. They do take their toll physically and mentally, but once they’ve over they feel like they were almost a break from reality. Before and after your children, you’ll feel like the same person but will have aged quite significantly. In the space between, you were an on-the-go parent managing temper tantrums, school runs and graduation days. Until you stop, a mobility scooter probably isn’t even on your radar.
Are mobility scooters just for the disabled and the most elderly?
With all of your new free time, you might find a new lease of life. Suddenly you’re free, once again, to enjoy your own hobbies and interests. It’s a nice place to be, once you properly embrace it. But you might find that things that you used to do are no longer possible like they were – a long day of shopping might take its toll on your joints, and walks in the countryside could simply leave you aching and out of breath.
A mobility scooter isn’t something to put off until you consider yourself to be ‘elderly’. Instead of seeing it as an enemy, look at it as a friend and companion. If a mobility scooter would help you to enjoy more independence right now, or if it would reduce the amount of pain that you’re in, then what have you got to lose? You could even purchase a folding mobility scooter which packs neatly away for storage, so that it need not take up too much space in your home.
You’ve raised children. You might even be the one that gave birth to them, and whilst the years of raising them have seemed to race by, the fact is that decades will have passed and that you will be a different person.
As an empty nester, you deserve to enjoy all of those activities that you stopped finding time for when you were tending to grazed knees, chaperoning on school trips and offering a shoulder to cry on during the years of young romance. A mobility scooter shouldn’t be seen as an obstacle, but an aid.
When is the right time?
Most people choose their first mobility scooter when they realise that their natural mobility, or at least their lack of it, is beginning to affect their lifestyle. They might start planning trips around how far they can walk, or may begin to feel worried about the need to take a stroll to the shop. Alternatively, for some people, the trigger is a holiday away from home where getting around independently becomes particularly important – it’s in situations like these that people might consider a folding mobility scooter that can be packed into the car boot or taken onto a plane.
Remember that you don’t need to use a mobility scooter full time. In fact, it’s recommended that you keep up an active lifestyle as much as possible, to avoid any further deterioration. You can choose just to use your new mobility scooter on your longest days out, or when you expect to have things to carry and would benefit from the help of somewhere to sit and a handy shopping basket for your belongings.
Getting a mobility scooter isn’t a final decision that stops you from ever walking again. It’s just a decision to get something new that you can choose to use occasionally. If you don’t know that a mobility scooter is right for you, and if you’re worried that you’d be wasting your money on something that you might not use, then why not start by borrowing or hiring one instead? That way you can see if it will fit into your lifestyle, and if it will make things better for you, before you commit to the investment.
This is a guest blog on behalf of Mobilty Smart
A STAIR gate has proved to be a successful barrier to a baby, a pet dog and a grandmother.
Tom Logan installed the gates at the top and bottom of the stairs to protect his one year-old daughter and prevent his young labrador from getting upstairs, but they have also managed to trap his 62-year-old mother-in-law Mary Fisher.
Logan said: “Mary popped round so I said I’d stick the kettle on while she went to the loo. When I came back a few minutes later I saw she had got her foot stuck while trying to climb over the gate.
“She was clinging onto the banister in a rather haphazard fashion while asking me about my job.
“I asked her why she didn’t just ask me how to open it and she said she ‘didn’t like to make a fuss’. We’re going to put that on her headstone.”
Logan added: “When I went back to the kitchen I suddenly remembered the other gate at the top of the stairs. She had managed to get one leg over and was leaning forward while gripping onto the top of it. She looked like she was on a racehorse.”
Mrs Fisher said: “I don’t like to make a fuss.”
Who would you trust more to prescribe medicine, your doctor or the phamacist?
While your family physician may know what the health problem is, would he be more knowledgeable about the prescription medicine he is prescribing for you, or the pharmacist? I think i would trust the pharmacist opinion, over my family physicians, as he would know more about the prescription medicine than the physician. I would be interested in your thoughts on this.
ADULTS have been urged to unlock their full potential by finding their ‘inner grown up’.
Psychologist Dr Tom Booker believes adults have lost sight of how to access their adult selves and has suggested a range of strategies to help people reconnect with their ‘repressed grown up person’.
Dr Booker said: “Instead of reading Harry Potter books, which are for children, read a book written about actual grown ups that doesn’t involve witches, zombies or goblins.
“Or you might consider watching a BBC4 documentary, or even tuning in to Radio 4, rather than watching Doctor Who, which, once again, is for children.
“Another way to encourage your inner grown-up is to read a long article in one of the broadsheets without whimpering ‘tl;dr’ and turning to a story about Kim Kardashian’s bum.”
Dr Booker also regards restaurants as ‘special venues’ where over-21s can ‘release’ the over-21 year-old person within by eating something other than chips or pizza.
He added: “And when asked if you want a dessert, don’t get all excited and order ice cream. You’re not 12 and it’s not your birthday.”
Dr Booker said the next level involves ‘taking responsibility for something’, but that was for advanced students only.
Note 'tl;dr' = 'Too long; didn't read'
Many of you reading this may think that coeliac disease is a fad and that someone with the condition is just a fussy eater. However, coeliac disease is not an allergy or intolerance to gluten; it is an auto-immune disease where the immune system – the body's defence against infection – mistakenly attacks healthy tissue and sees gluten as a threat to the body. This damages the surface of the small bowel (intestines) and disrupts the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food. To date there is no cure from the disease and it is estimated that one in 100 people have the condition although only 24% of those with the condition are currently diagnosed.
Symptoms of undiagnosed coeliac disease include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), hair loss, brain fog and anaemia. Once diagnosed, it is treated by following a gluten-free diet for life.
Gluten is found in three types of cereal – wheat, barley and rye – which can be found in many foods such as pasta, cakes, breakfast cereals, bread, sauces, ready meals and beer.
Most supermarkets and online companies have a range of gluten-free products, which is a help although they are costly but that is a whole different story! The gluten-free market is coming on in leaps and bounds and, although it is made up of a range of people, there will be quite a few of the intended recipients of gluten-free cakes who won’t eat them because of the fear of cross contamination – so they are making cakes for a reasonable market section that wouldn’t be able to eat them. It is a commercial argument to make to those who are trying to sell to people with coeliac disease and gluten intolerant folks - make sure you do it right or you will not sell any or may make us ill - as you will see from my own experience.
For a long time I have suffered with ‘tummy problems’ and it was only just over three years ago that I found out that I was gluten intolerant – which meant that I have to avoid gluten, although it is not quite so serious as having coeliac disease it does have its drawbacks.
I visit a lot of eating establishments within the area and I am aware that, although they have increased over the years and are selling gluten-free produce, many of them do not realise the full implications of how they are displaying their food. I would love to try some of their gluten-free cakes but inwardly I am thinking ‘they have gluten-free cakes but I can’t risk it because they are almost touching the other products, and oh there she goes, using the same tongs for both gluten and gluten-free cakes- that would definitely make me ill’. So you can see that just going for a cup of coffee and cake isn’t simple.
This also applies to cooked meals in a restaurant - I have to ensure that the chef understands exactly what the problem is, that the food should be prepared in a separate clean location to where something containing gluten has been cooked, otherwise there will be cross contamination and I will end up ill for a couple of days – which then spoils the purpose of going out for a meal.
Cooked meals that are made from ingredients that do not contain gluten should be cooked on a separate grill, pan or – in the case of chips – in separate oil to the one that you use for other products.
Coeliac UK is the national charity for people with coeliac disease. The Coeliac UK Awareness Week takes place from 9 – 15 May 2016 and will be asking people to consider their symptoms and ask Is it coeliac disease? An online assessment www.isitcoeliacdisease.org.uk allows people to complete a short questionnaire and to be advised if they should seek screening from their GP. Further information can be found on Coeliac UK’s website: www.coeliac.org.uk