Safety vs Happiness?

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Your right to peace of mind vs your parent’s right to independence

One of the dilemma’s that we face with ageing parents is balancing the need for them to be safe against their desire to be in their own home. Living in your own home isn’t just about wanting to stay put and refusing to accept change, it’s about hanging on to that all important independence.
So, how do we get the balance right between giving our parents the independence they desire and is key to their wellbeing whilst feeling reassured that they are safe and well.

Pippa Kelly in her blog post titled Risk vs Silent Harms explores the pursuit of adventure in people living with dementia to get away from “a downward spiral of low energy, low self-esteem and loneliness”.

“A Department of Health report encouragingly titled, “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained,” explores the role risk plays, and should be allowed to have, in the lives of those living with dementia.

“One person’s idea of unacceptable risk is another’s raison d’etre – take away the element of risk in someone’s life and you take away part of his or her self.”
One of the Canary team has recently had to face into this dilemma with a close relative who presented an eloquent, spirited and articulate argument as to exactly why she wanted to stay in her own home. The focus of the argument was about her right to happiness and acceptance that, yes she might fall, but she took responsibility for that and would accept the consequences.
Each situation is different and must be treated as such. However, surely a person’s right to happiness must not be ignored; and that happiness if often acquired through being able to make their own decisions, their own choices and remaining in control of their own life for as long as possible.

Reassuring families

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An Occupational Therapist who has been using Canary has summed it up perfectly:

“As an occupational therapist, I look for ways to empower clients and to regain or maintain their independence wherever I can. Canary is much more than just a monitoring system, as it can allow elderly people to stay in their own home; reassure caring friends and family that their loved one is mobile, comfortable and functioning; and ensure that the most appropriate level of care is given by services, which can be targeted at the specific areas of need. Risk is an inevitable part of life, but this system can help elderly people live much more safely in their own homes, with it.”

Great times together

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With a bank holiday and half term coming up, Grandparents and Grandchildren may have the pleasure of spending some long sunny (we can hope) days together.

Here is our list of ‘Top 10 fun things to do together’ to give you some ideas:

1. Make a scrapbook of things you and the family like to do

2. Get out all the old and new photos and create a family tree

3. Teach each other something new: chess, knitting, Candy Crush…….

4. Make lemonade, sit in a favourite part of the garden….and talk and listen

5. Plant flowers or vegetables in the garden or in a window box

6. Make paper planes and see whose goes the furthest

7. Make puppets from socks and put on a show

8. Go on a nature walk and find bugs, birds, fossils, butterflies. Take binoculars and a camera

9. Do some baking together then have a picnic

10. Make a time capsule together and bury it in the garden

 

We’d love to hear your ideas too

Have fun and create some great memories!

 

Photo courtesy of The Age Action Alliance

Let the testing begin!

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Here at Canary, we are on a mission to find products that make the lives of older people happier and easier.

We are therefore going to be testing a variety of things that older people might like.

As our first step into the world of testing was individual puddings, there was no shortage of volunteers at Canary HQ to taste the puddings and a non-orderly queue soon formed to try Waitrose’s Profiteroles, Tiramisu and Limoncello from their Essentials range.

Stuart wolfed down the profiteroles with the eagerness of a labrador declaring them to be “delicious”.

William, more generously, took his puddings home to enlist the help of his family reporting back with:

  • Tiramisu “Wow, really tasty”, great coffee flavour, good chocolate topping, “If you like coffee, you will love this”
  • Limoncello “Zesty, light, lemony, fresh and sweet”, “ Brilliant for grandmothers”
  • Profiteroles “Scrummy, delicious, quite creamy….very indulgent….not an everyday pudding- quite a treat!”

T’other Stuart, our resident techie, was “not impressed with the lemon one. Quite tart and a bit false really. Had to get Liz to finish it and she wasn’t keen either”. However, he thought “the profiteroles were nice though. Good consistency on the choux pastry and plenty of cream and chocolate sauce. Couldn’t fault it – would buy again.

Both desserts were of a good size for someone on their own and the packaging was easy to remove, which is always a bonus with my arthritic fingers”.

Jamie plumped for the Tiramisu declaring it to be “excellent, a great treat for kids and adults alike!”.

So, a very positive response all in all with the jury still out on the Limoncello.
* we tested of our own free will and without incentive from Waitrose

Making life easier and brighter as you get older

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If you’ve ever tried to buy a product that might make the life of an older person easier, you may have experienced that sinking feeling that you are entering a depressing world of badly designed mobility aids that don’t seem to have moved on since the bakerlite phone.

We are used to living in a world where products are effortlessly easy to use, designed with the user in mind and take minimal effort to set up and go….but, until now, it seems that products to help older people just haven’t caught up. If you are buying for a baby, you are bombarded by ‘must-have’ products where changing bags and buggies are desirable and even coveted! So, why can’t we buy things for older people that are a joy to look at and use?

That’s why we were delighted to discover Spring Chicken – a fabulous new website packed full of well-designed products from around the world that look good and work well so that older people can carry on loving their lives. From walking sticks to clever, easy to use gadgets that help with hearing, reading and keeping in touch, everything on Spring Chicken is designed to make lives better with brilliant products and advice.

Anna James – Founder of Spring Chicken told Canary “We are a young business aimed at older people and set up with the simple aim of pairing the best products in the world with the best advice. We want to make life easier and brighter as you get older”

Let’s demand more for older people so that they feel uplifted and their lives can be enhanced by the products they use….they don’t deserve to be banished to a world of beige!

http://www.springchicken.co.uk

Food sharing – yum or yuck?

We’ve talked on here about the benefits of organisations like the Casserole Club – where a heart and body warming meal is delivered by a friendly neighbour to someone who might not always cook for themselves – as we love the idea that an older relative could enjoy some delicious home cooked food and have a nice chat with a neighbour.

Now, foodsharing websites and apps are popping up so that your leftovers or edible perishable food can be passed on to someone who can make use of them.

With developed countries apparently wasting up to 40% of their food, it seems like a great idea. It’s taken off in the US and Germany and has now arrived here in the UK. But for some people, taking leftover food off a stranger makes them worry about hygiene. Would you be happy for your parent to take food off someone they didn’t know?

So, it’s maybe not for everyone but could it be the next Freecycle for Food?

 

The Great Brew Break

Canary loves the RVS’s ‘Great Brew Break’ (28 April – 4 May); a week where people across Great Britain raise their best (tea) cups to the nation’s older people and raise much needed funds for older people’s services. Over 140 events up and down the country will take place during the week, including a Mad Hatter’s Tea Tasting Party, Vintage Tea Dances and ‘throw the tea bag’ competitions.

Canary raises a cup of tea to RVS!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOi1NEqO1fg

Simple pleasures are the key to happiness

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Whilst younger people gain more happiness from extraordinary experiences, for older people ordinary experiences produce as much happiness as extraordinary experiences, this report shows:

http://brown.edu/academics/philosophy/ethical-inquiry/sites/brown.edu.academics.philosophy.ethical-inquiry/files/uploads/Mogilner%20Happy%20Experiences.pdf

So, it might sound obvious but it’s a useful reminder that time spent with our older relatives doing the simple things they enjoy is what will bring the greatest pleasure

 

photograph provided courtesy of Age Action Alliance