This blog began as a journal of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Award visit to the USA to study how Lifestyle Redesign could be used in Occupational Therapy to improve the hospital/home interface for older people. It has continued to record developments and inspiration gained from that experience since returning from Los Angeles early in 2012.

3 Reasons to follow this blog...

Be Inspired-
WCMT travel awards are open to all British citizens

Be Involved- learn about Lifestyle Redesign programs and contribute to the discussion about the potential of this approach.

Be Information Technology savvy- just learning how blogs work is a new skill for many of us!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

blue Zones



The final post in this year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge and fittingly it is a subject that looks to the future. My theme for the month has been ‘Age Proof Your Life”. My posts have included ideas that we can all do as individuals as well as some that work at the level of a whole community or government policy.

I began this blog because I was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travel award in 2011 and it is also satisfying that my final post is inspired by the work of another Churchill Fellow, Jan McClory. I heard Jan speak at the recent AGM of the Scottish Association of Churchill Fellows. Her subject was “Old and Healthy? Can Scottish Communities ever become Blue Zones?

Jan is a Social Worker based in Scotland and spoke about the factors that contribute to Scotland’s poor health record- now being recognised as more complex than the oft mentioned issues of poverty and poor diet. She explained that there has been a lot of research into the factors that are present in communities around the world that have long life expectancy- and perhaps more important, healthy long lives. Examples of communities that have been studied are in parts of Japan, Costa Rica, Sardinia, Greece and Loma Linda in California.

These communities with healthier, happier and more productive older citizens have become known as Blue Zones. Pilot projects are being carried out in the US to see if the same can be achieved in communities there. Pilot sites are Minnesota, Iowa and Beach Cities, Los Angeles. Very specific methodologies are used and all aspects of life within the community are included- home, work, the town, friends and so on.
 Jan’s full report will very soon be available on the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust website and can be found by following this link (not yet live at the time of writing this post):

I am very much looking forward to reading the full report.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on the posts in this series. I hope you have enjoyed reading them and that you have found some inspiration to help you Age Proof your life.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Young at Heart



Young at Heart

Frank Sinatra, written by Riley B King.

Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you're young at heart.
For it's hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you're young at heart.

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in your heart, or on it's way.

Don't you know that it's worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.
For as rich as you are, it's much better by far
To be young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you'll derive out of being alive!
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

Perhaps the definitive ‘age proof your life’ lyrics...

Saturday, 27 April 2013

X... Let's Talk About...



Let’s talk about…

Has anyone seen the bittersweet, sad and funny film Song for Marion? It is one of many films in recent years that have older people starring in roles that portray real life issues and some of the realities of getting older.

In the film Vanessa Redgrave plays a seriously ill woman who gets much enjoyment from singing with her local (and somewhat unusual) community choir. Her grumpy husband (Terence Stamp) is completely unimpressed. The film follows the changes the choir makes for him and their family as their story unfolds.

One of the highlights of the film is the choir performing the Salt n Pepa hit “Let’s Talk About Sex” to an astonished and delighted audience.
The film has lots of messages about Age Proofing your life. For a trailer follow this link:

And for Salt n Pepa’s brilliant 1991 original, here is another link:

1991? That’s 22 years ago. Hope S & P are thinking about age proofing their lives now….

Friday, 26 April 2013

Walk in Our Shoes...




Walk in Our Shoes…



                                                                                          ….Act on our issues

Age Scotland and Generations Working Together have collaborated to produce a pack designed for use by community groups, schools and others. The pack helps the group to identify things within their own neighbourhood that are barriers to older people being included in the community. It also advises on how to get help to do something about it.

The Age UK website has lots of helpful resources for any group wanting to use the pack.

Walk in our shoes is another great example of how communities can work to Age Proof the lives of older people- and help other generations understand the issues older people may face.

More information is available by following this link:

Thursday, 25 April 2013




‘Occupation can create new visions of possible selves’ (Mandel et al 1999- see Books tab at top of page)

The Lifestyle Redesign® approach in Occupational Therapy includes using occupations, or activities, to help individuals create new ‘visions’ of possible future selves. In a simple way, we can all relate to this if we think about the way we feel as we begin a new fitness regime, have a wardrobe clear out or de-clutter our desk at work. In the process we imagine how we will behave and how our daily life will be different as we adopt the new habits we have embarked on… we can also all relate to the fact that sometimes several attempts are needed before the vision becomes a reality!

Occupational Therapists using this approach use activities and the seemingly ordinary, everyday narrative that naturally develops to help an individual explore possible new ‘visions’ of the person they might be in the future. If someone has a medical condition that seriously impacts on their daily life, or has had a life changing injury, this process can help to build a self image that ‘bridges’ the old self and the new. 

We are what we do and the process of developing a vision of a future self is something to consider when Age Proofing your life. Talking about the present and future changes in your life, trying new activities and generally following some of the ideas from this A-Z series of blog posts will help to support you in the process of exploring possible new ways of being through doing.

Even when life is changing and we cannot do all that we used to, engaging in daily activities and routines that have a sense of meaning allow us to experience a vision of a future worth living.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


Age UK….

…is the registered charity formed from the merger of the former Age Concern and Help the Aged.  Age UK works to “improve later life for everyone by providing life-enhancing services and vital support”.

I have mentioned Age UK several times during the A-Z Blogging Challenge so I thought it really ought to have a post all to itself. It is such a fantastic source of information and advice on anything relevant to older people. It provides services, advice, products and training as well as carrying out research and campaigning to improve older people’s lives (see my S post about the Still Waiting campaign).

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are represented by Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI, all of which are merged with the umbrella organisation of Age UK.

Age UK has a brilliant website that covers a huge range of topics, from money to health to lifestyle and travel and much, much more. If you scroll down the right hand side of this page you will see a link to the Age Scotland blog under “Blogs I am Following’.  By visiting the Age UK website you can also sign up for newsletter, download podcasts or just make contact with your local branch.

If you are thinking about how to Age Proof your life, I cannot recommend Age UK too highly.

Follow this link to their website to find out more:

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday...


Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that combines deep breathing and relaxation with gentle physical movements. It is widely practiced by people of all ages in Eastern countries and is becoming increasingly popular in the West.

Tai Chi has received a lot of attention in the press with claims being made that it can do everything from reducing heart disease to preventing falls in older people. There have been numerous research studies carried out looking at these claims and sometimes the results have been exaggerated in the popular press.

Research has clearly established that improved strength and balance reduce the likelihood of falls and Tai Chi is certainly a form of exercise that will develop your strength and balance. Research continues to investigate the benefits of Tai Chi.

Tai Chi does not involve contact or fast physical movements so can be an ideal form of exercise as you get older. Joining a class also gives the benefits of meeting new people and learning in a safe environment with an instructor to guide you. If you are interested in Age Proofing your life, some form of exercise is recommended, and Tai Chi might be the very thing for you.

Follow this link to the NHS “Livewell” page that will give you more information to help you decide if Tai Chi could be for you:

Monday, 22 April 2013

Still Waiting...


Still Waiting…

If you are aged over 60 in Scotland you are entitled to a free bus pass that can be used on local and long distance services under the ConcessionaryTravel Scheme. Many older people however live in rural areas where buses are few and far between. Even in urban areas public transport often does not meet the needs of older people. Being able to travel within the community is an important factor in maintaining independence for older people and allows participation in many of the social and leisure activities that are now recognised as so important for health and wellbeing. 

Age Scotland’s ‘Still Waiting’ campaign urges the Scottish Government to extend the Concessionary Travel Scheme to include Community Transport services. These are often run by local charities, are not for profit and help to fill the gaps where public transport does not provide an adequate service. Commercial bus companies may withdraw unprofitable routes and at present, Age Scotland believes that the funding provided to Community Transport services is dwindling due to current financial constraints. The Still Waiting campaign argues that extending the Concessionary Travel Scheme to include these local initiatives and ensuring they are reimbursed for fares would help ensure their survival and support the travel needs of older people in local communities.

As for the previous post (Ready for Ageing…) this campaign is an example of action that can be taken to Age Proof the lives of older people at a community and policy level.

To find out more or to support the campaign follow this link:

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Ready for Ageing...



Ready for Ageing…

…is a report recently published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change. It applies to England specifically but the issues it covers are relevant in the rest of the UK, and indeed, in any country in the developed world.
The committee took a holistic approach and the report highlights key issues and aims to encourage public debate. It focussed on the implications of the ageing population for the near future, specifically the decade from 2020-2030. It is expected that there will be:

  • 51% more people over 65 than in 2010
  • 101% more people over 85 than in 2010
  • more than 50% more living with 3 or more long term conditions
  • over 80% more with dementia
  • And- over 10 million people in Britain can currently expect to have inadequate retirement incomes.

What age will you be in that decade?

The report emphasises that longer lives can be a great benefit, but that the Government and society are ‘woefully underprepared’. The contribution of older people to society includes the voluntary services, whether formal or informal, performed by older people who are also significant providers of care for younger children and for other older people.

The report calls for changes in society’s attitude and in Government policy to support and encourage this. Among other things, it covers employment practices, pension regulations and NHS & social care provision. It is recommended that to enable older people to live independently and well, health and social services need to be transformed and need to function 24/7.

The report states that:
The Government must set out the framework for radically transformed healthcare to care for our ageing population before the general election in 2015. All political parties should be expected to issue position papers on the future of health and social care within 18 months, and address these issues explicitly in their manifestos for the 2015 election.”

We can all do a certain amount individually to Age Proof our lives, but arguably the big changes need to take place at a policy level. If you are interested in Age Proofing your life, perhaps this is something to ask your local MP about when they appear on your doorstep looking for your vote…

To read the report, follow this link:

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Queen

   The Queen is an example to us all of someone who has successfully age proofed her life. Anyone over the age of 80 who can walk up and down a flight of stone stairs, wearing heels and without holding onto a rail (or anyone's arm), as the Queen is regularly seen to do, has to be admired.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

P is for Pledge



Physical Activity Pledge

Physical activity is increasingly being shown to be one of, if not the, most important thing that almost everyone can do to improve their health. More importantly, the benefits will stay with you and help to maintain good health and avoid problems as diverse as dementia, heart disease and diabetes- all of which become a higher risk as you get older.

The great thing is that doing more physical activity does not have to mean that you have to do high impact sports if you don’t enjoy them. Walking the dog, making short journeys on foot instead of taking the car, playing with the grand children, taking the stairs instead of the lift can all add up. Better still the amount of exercise being recommended to get all these benefits is only about 30 minutes a day, and that can be made up of 3 x10 minute slots if you prefer.

Occupational therapists are one of the Allied Health Professionals in Scotland who have signed up to the Scottish Government Pledge to get Scotland more active. You can read more about the Pledge by following this link

An occupational therapist looks at a person’s whole lifestyle and can help find ways to incorporate health promoting activities- such as exercise- into daily routines. They work with you to find ways of being more active that are manageable and enjoyable.

For a fun presentation that is under 10 minutes long follow this link- you won’t need any further persuasion!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Occupational Therapy



Occupational Therapy- what exactly is it?

The College of Occupational Therapists in the UK give the following definition:

‘Occupational therapy provides practical support to people with physical and mental illness, disability, long term condition, or those experiencing the effects of ageing, to do the things they need or want to do. It enables people of all ages to carry out practical and purposeful activities (often referred to as 'occupation'). This could be essential day to day tasks - such as dressing, cooking, going shopping, to the things that make us who we are - our job, interests, hobbies and relationships.

Occupational therapy considers all our needs - e.g. physical, psychological, social and environmental - and helps to increase people's independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.’

Occupational Therapists (OTs) have traditionally worked in rehabilitation and recovery situations, but their training and focus on the whole person and on occupation or activity mean they are ideally suited to work in health promotion and preventative settings too. As health care increasingly moves towards a preventative approach, this is an area that more OTs may begin to focus on. OTs are ideally placed to help you Age Proof your life...

For information on how to find an OT follow this link to the College of Occupational Therapists website. Similar professional bodies exist in most countries.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Never too late...

"It's Never too late to go healthy. Anybody, young or old, can successfully redesign the way they live to be healthier. While we don't have a say in our own genetic makeup, greater than 50 percent of our mental and physical health status is related to lifestyle. You can even start small: ride public transportation, reconnect with a long-lost friend, join a ballroom dance class, or follow guidelines on how to safely move around the community. The point is, try something new and be willing to learn."

Dr Florence Clark, University of Southern California

I love this quote from Dr Clark, key developer of the Lifestyle Redesign approach in Occupational Therapy. It emphasises the way in which a variety of things, such as socialising with friends contribute to overall health and well-being, not only the obvious things like diet and exercise. It also shows how being open to new ideas and ways of doing things can help to Age Proof your life.

This 'tip' was published in the Atlantic magazine last year. For the full article and all 5 Tips, follow this link: