Ageing, marginal gains and #BigitupforOTs


IMG_7292I suspect that part of the problem about aging is that it’s an insidious process; it’s not like you wake up one day and suddenly you are ‘old’. It’s a gradual process noticeable by a series of small incremental changes; stiffness when you get out of bed on a morning that wasn’t present before, a memory that just isn’t as good at recall as it used to be and a fondness for reminiscence. I also know that for some older member of my family time starts to get stamped by loss; funerals become less unusual and more routine, if you can ever say a funeral is routine. What I mean is they appear more frequently in your diary as you lose family and friends.

For me it is important that I stay as independent as I can. I’m trying to exercise more, eat well and lose some weight. But there is likely to be a time when I need to take more steps to maintain my independence.

Julopi

Gill on her Jalopy

My Mother-in-law, Gill, is one of my role models. At 85 she is still independent and despite increasing problems with her mobility and the occasional fall she is adamant she will do what she can to cope. She has had bi-lateral hip and knee replacements and now her ankles are the problem and she can’t face 3 months in plaster that a fusion would mean.  She also enjoys life most of the time and has a sense of humour.

 

So that’s why I encouraged her to have an Occupational Therapy (OT) Assessment. It seemed to me that OT’s are often brought into care far too late and after this assessment I am convinced I am right.

I asked Gill today what it was she wanted to achieve and she told me she didn’t want to fall and that she wanted to carry on doing things she liked to do at home, such as cooking meals for family and a bit of gardening. She is lucky; she already has help with cleaning but maintaining independence is more than existing, it’s also continuing to do things you enjoy, while staying safe.

 

IMG_7295So, what did the OT assessment show us?

It’s about marginal gains. There were no big shock recommendations just a reasonable list of things that collectively will improve Gill’s living experience; some handrails positioned correctly in the shower, removing all the loose rungs, a ‘perch stool’ in the kitchen, a small walker so she can carry things without risk of falling and some exercise classes in the local pool. She is going to try them all. A list of marginal gains that I hope will help her to reduce her risk of falling and feel safe.

Sadly we had to have a private assessment; this means other people who can’t afford this will miss out.  Keeping people safe and well in their own homes should be a priority. I luckily found Lucy Leonard on Twitter (@lucyOTL) and she was fabulous. Gill loved her and the fact that she did a full assessment. She respected her professionalism and so do I.

So, aim for marginal gains and big it up for OT’s. If you have an elderly relative and can possible involve an OT, like Lucy, I whole heartedly recommend it.

#BigupOTs

IMG_7294

Jazzy, Gill’s companion

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Post script blog: ageing well (Moves like Jagger)


Readers of my blog will know that a few days ago I posted about some of my personal reflections relating to ageing well. My reflections came from experiences that were not particularly positive.  This blog is to provide a counter-balance!

Last night I had the great pleasure to go with a group of women to a Michael Jackson tribute ‘thingy’.  We were in a restaurant so had food, some wine and then we sang our hearts out to songs most of us knew, because we were around when they were new.

But in addition to those of us who were gently starting to live our middle age (when does middle age actually start anyway?) I had the pleasure of the company of two wonderful women who provide a great role model for me.  Eileen and Pat are 86 and 85 years old respectively.  They were singing along with the rest of us until past 11 pm and much to my delight got up to dance with me.  And I mean dance!

Eileen in particular really likes to dance and I don’t mean tea dances either – I mean DANCE!  She explained that she had been dancing since she was 14 years old and told me she would go anywhere to dance; town halls, salvation army halls, church halls and she used to love to jive.  I loved dancing with her!  We danced to ‘Moves like Jagger’ and she can!

Eileen and Pat are sisters and whilst both of them have had sadness in their lives and I am sure like all of us have days where they are not so good they kept pace with all of us and I am sure enjoyed themselves.

My impression?  They don’t think they are old.  They see dancing now in the same way that they saw dancing then.  I was chuffed when Pat told me I was ‘quite trendy, wasn’t I?’  High praise indeed.

So, please take a look at these lovely pictures and I wish you the same joy and happiness I saw last night when we all sang together.