Self-care

Simple things like thinking about your posture can make a difference to you staying healthy:

Sitting & standing comfortably – especially relevant if you are now home-working

 

Sensible lifting Use machines and aids rather than lifting weights if you have a choice. Learn to lift properly and how to stand and sit with proper support. It may seem that ‘lifting’ is not an issue for you at home or work, but if you don’t lift regularly you’re probably in a more vulnerable position if you do so on an odd occasion compared with someone who handles heavy weights on a daily basis.

Loads carried nearer your spine create less strain on the spine.

 

Ergonomics is about improving the match between your job (at work or home) and your physical ability and workload capacity – taking into account comfort, health and productivity. You can minimise the likelihood of triggering back pain by looking at your posture during your working day, and sticking to sensible lifting of any loads. Postural strains may be due to the working position required because of the furniture used. Look at the tips in the picture. Think of how you sit at your computer- the chair, footrest, screen:

 

 

           

Good posture is all about maintaining your spine and other joints in positions which create the least strain. Aim to preserve the natural

curves of your spine with how you sit or stand. Then you’ll hopefully

reduce the chances of compressing your intervertebral discs or straining ligaments of your joints.

 

A one off stretched position might be fine like bending down to knee height to reach for a document in a drawer but that same movement could place an unreasonable strain on your back if you did it continuously for even ten minutes.  Postural strains may be related to the pace of your work too or lack of rest.

 

Regular exercise Prevention is better than cure. Do regular exercise like walking, swimming, cycling but avoid sudden unaccustomed exercise which might start off a bout of back pain. Increase your fitness and strengthen your back muscles to guard against back pain recurring. 

 

Watch out for ‘red flags’ There are warning signs that someone has a serious back problem such as a prolapsed disc pressing on major nerves that operate their bowels and bladder. So anyone who loses control of their bladder or bowels or is numb around their buttocks and between their legs, or becomes very unsteady on their feet – should seek urgent medical help.

There is so  much that older people can do for themselves to be more healthy, without going to a gym, or buying expensive equipment . One idea is to find simple inexpensive items in local shops, and use them inventively:

Keep your mind and body as fit as possible

 

Play cards

  • Revive memories of when you used to play cards as a child – with your friends and family.

  • Play solo like the card game patience – makes a change from reading or watching TV.

  • Handling the cards will help your fingers exercise.

  • Take a pack of cards with you when you next catch up with friends and get them to play whist or rummy or bridge- like you used to do.

  • Play snap with your kids or grandchildren – helps your memory by thinking quickly and it’s a great way to engage with them.

 

Take a photo and put it in a frame

  • Capture what you did yesterday that you enjoyed and put it on your mantelpiece to remind you.

  • The picture will remind you of the exercise you did – and help you make your next goal.

  • Use it for a picture of you and a special friend to remind you of happy times together.

 

Colour postcards (available in several stationery shops)

  • Adults enjoy colouring too- try it.

  • Colour the postcard and post to a friend inviting them round for tea.

  • Use bright colours and send to a friend you’ve not seen for a while – keeping up with your friends is important.

  • When you’ve finished colouring it, put it on your wall to remind you how artistic you are!

 

 

Pedometer (cheaply available in many shops or online)

  • Everyone knows they should walk more- so do it.

  • Try walking to the shops instead of going in a car.

  • Look at how many steps you’ve taken each day and do at least 100 more tomorrow.

  • If it’s raining and you stay put, see if you can do at least 3000 steps (or whatever you set as a goal) inside your home.

  • The best advice is to try and walk 10,000 steps per day- but if that’s far too much for you, do your best and what suits your mobility.

 

Magnetic list pad

  • Make a list of the exercise you are going to do each day for a week and tick it off when you’ve done it.

  • Use the note pad to remind you to do things you forget these days – like putting the bin out for collection.

  • Write down each evening something good that you’ve achieved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get active and stay fit (mind and body!) – whatever your age or ability

 

Get a balance

  • You may not have done hopscotch for many years- but give it a try for a few minutes.

  • Swinging exercises your arms, shoulders, hips, knees, feet – great!

  • Be careful not to trip when….

  • Use a rope to help your balance- just lay it on the floor as a V-shape and step sideways over each triangle.

 

Stay hydrated

  • Whenever you exercise, drink enough fluids to stay hydrated.

  • Water has no calories- which all helps when you’re trying to keep your weight down.

  • If you’re out walking take your water bottle with you – it’ll save you money.

 

Pedometer

  • Everyone knows they should walk more- so do it.

  • Try walking to the shops instead of going in a car.

  • Look at how many steps you’ve taken each day and do at least 100 more tomorrow.

  • If it’s raining and you stay put, see if you can do at least 3000 steps (or whatever you set as a goal) inside your home.

  • The best advice is to try and walk 10,000 steps per day- but if that’s far too much for you, do your best and what suits your mobility.

 

Solar light

  • Put a light outside by your front door so you don’t trip on dark evenings.

  •  If you don’t have a garden stick it in a plant pot outside your front door – it’ll look pretty.

  • These days, saving every penny helps – make the most of the sunshine during the night.

  • The solar light will give your home a welcoming feel for you and friends.

 

Magnetic list pad

  • Make a list of the exercise you are going to do each day for a week and tick it off when you’ve done it.

  • Use the note pad to remind you to do things you forget these days – like taking your water bottle with you when you go for a walk or cycle.

  • Write down each evening something good that you’ve achieved.

 

 

 

 

 

Look after your wrists and hands

 

 

Playing cards

  • Handling the cards will help your fingers exercise.

  • Shuffling cards will be a good exercise

  • Try making a ‘house of cards’ with five triangles of cards at the base.

 

Ibuprofen gel

  • Try and see if this helps pain in your wrist or hand.

  • You don’t a prescription from a doctor for this gel – you’re in charge.

  • If you use it on your skin, you absorb very little into your bloodstream compared to taking ibuprofen as a tablet.

  • Try it out on your joints at night and see if they feel better in the morning.

 

Wrist support

  • See if wearing the support helps reduce pain in your joint.

  • You might feel more confident carrying something with the support.

  • You can use the support when you’re doing housework or gardening to protect your joint.

 

Hand grip spring

  • Build your muscles up in your hand and forearm with five squeezes.

  • Hold each squeeze for ten seconds or even longer as you get better at it.

  • Use it separately for both hands even if one is stronger than the other.

 

Hand grip spikey ball

  • Why not try it whilst you’re watching TV – gripping the ball.

  • Use it for massage on other parts of your body eg your neck.

  • Throw the ball into the air, clap your hands and catch it- that will help your coordination.

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Back scratcher

  • Good for shoulder exercises reaching up behind your neck to rub your lower back or under your shoulder to access your upper back.

  • Use both arms to do these back scratching exercises.

 

Wooden puzzle

  • Using your hands for doing a puzzle will get you doing fine movements using finger and hand muscles that you don’t usually use.

  •  Whilst you’re exercising your brain doing the puzzle, you’re activating your fingers at the same time – a double win!

  • Doing this puzzle will remind you of the fun you had playing games and doing puzzles when you were younger; and hopefully trigger you to do more – instead of just sitting about.