This week ahead of International Day of Older Persons, we are shining a light on some of the fantastic 734 older people’s projects we have funded over the last five years. In this blog Nicola Hanssen of Roar – Connections for Life Ltd tells us why Lottery funding has been so crucial in helping older people in Renfrewshire stay fitter for longer.
My grandparents were old when they married because she was ‘in service’ and only had one day off a week and he was down the mine in West Lothian. After a labour intensive life it seemed entirely appropriate that retirement would mean a rest and offering them a chair ‘to take the weight off their feet’ was a kindness. Our expectations of their aging was that old people got frail and old people fall. However times have changed and so has our understanding of aging. Roar – Connections for Life Ltd works across Renfrewshire with growing numbers of older people who are still enjoying busy, active lives well into their 90’s and through the help of Big Lottery funding we are able to help people take more control over how they manage their aging and stay fitter longer. One of the biggest areas of change to come from the work we have done is challenging the myth that falls are inevitable in old age – they are highly likely!! But they can be avoided if you take action on a number of areas of life.
Our journey to making this bold statement started with an Investing in Ideas grant in 2014 where we developed our research into the emerging evidence around frailty as a reversible or avoidable condition. We learned that there are lots of factors that make home fires more likely which are similar to the factors that often result in falls so what better way to tackle this than by joining up with the fire service and working on tackling this together – so we did. We also learned that muscles can be rebuilt and balance re learned no matter how old you are if you follow some exercises and small life changes so what better way to tackle this than by joining up with Glasgow Caledonian University Institute of Applied Health Research, School of Health & Life Sciences Centre for Living – so we did. Amongst all of this we became aware that because of changes to NHS podiatry older people were no longer routinely getting their toenails cut and that this was having a very detrimental effect on their ability to do their exercises, stay mobile and look after themselves or their home – you know what it feels like when your feet hurt! So what better way to tackle this than to set up a Foot Care service with help from NHS Podiatry – so we did! And our Feet, Falls and Fires was born but we haven’t stopped there because through our work with people we identified that it’s all very well being fit enough to go out but that doesn’t help much if you have nowhere to go or no one to go with. So what better way to tackle this than help people overcome their fear, link them up with others and provide a menu of fun things to do and people to do it with. I’m delighted to say that a further Big Lottery Fund grant has allowed us to do just that. This is the future of active aging – help us move with the times!