Government statistics show that there are approximately 11 million people in the UK who are living with some form of disability. That equates to one in six people, a ratio that increases with age, reaching almost 50 percent of those above retirement age.
By far the most common form of impairment are conditions that affect mobility. We all know someone who is living with restricted mobility, and we accept that the price we pay for living into our 70s, 80s and beyond is that we will not be as agile as we once were.
Impaired mobility presents more than just physical challenges. When you find it difficult to get around, the simplest day to day tasks can become a trial. For many seniors, the biggest concern is to lose independence by becoming dependent on the help of others. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here, we take a look at some of the resources available to help Preston’s senior population retain that all-important sense of independence without putting their personal safety at risk.
Finding support in difficult times
According to data from Preston Guild Council, the city is home to around 20,000 over-60s. Recent months have been even more challenging for those over retirement age than they have for the rest of us. However, the city has a wealth of resources available to provide both physical and psychological support in these challenging times.
Loneliness among seniors has been a growing problem over recent decades, as fewer families remain geographically clustered than was the case a generation or two ago. Inevitably, that problem has been amplified by the lockdowns and shielding that have been taking place over the past 18 months or so.
Organisations like Age UK Lancashire have been working tirelessly to ensure that none of the city’s elder residents feel isolated or alone. Services like lunch clubs, coffee mornings and social events have been tailored and adapted to comply with Covid restrictions. One of the most valuable initiatives to come out of the past year has been the drive to get seniors online. Silver surfing is nothing new, but record numbers of seniors are now engaging with friends and loved ones through social apps like Zoom. This is an initiative that will have a lasting effect on reducing loneliness and isolation among seniors long after the pandemic is over.
There are dozens of other charitable organisations that have also pushed the boat out to ensure the most vulnerable members of our community have received the support they need during these strange times. Only last month, the Mayor of Preston presented Galloways, a sight loss charity, with the Coronavirus Pandemic City Hero Award. Other organisations that have worked equally tirelessly include ICann, Intact, Disability Equality NW and many more.
Help getting around
The importance of the work carried out by the charities and institutions mentioned above cannot be overstated. But it is also vital that the elderly have the physical tools they need to get around in safety. Earlier this year, a new mobility aids provider set up shop in Preston, providing a range of mobility aids and other gadgets to make life easier around the house.
CareCo is a specialist supplier of mobility and living aids that has been expanding nationwide over recent years. The company’s new outlet on Blackpool Road is its first shop in Lancashire.
Being able to get out and about is absolutely fundamental to living a rewarding life in later years. It’s often the case that fear of falling can be as debilitating as physical frailty, and sometimes more so. CareCo’s showroom literally has something for everyone when it comes to mobility aids. The range goes from walking sticks for those who just need a little extra support, right through to mobility scooters with a range of 15 miles or more.
Other products we noticed at the new outlet included an intriguing array of gadgets for use around the house. Managing in the kitchen and bathroom can be real bugbears as we get older, and can present a huge challenge to remaining independent. Non-slip kitchen tools for safely handling boiling water or for opening cans with one hand are just a couple of examples of what is available.
Recent months have been difficult for all of us, but the challenges have been toughest of all for the older members of Preston’s community. It is great to see how local charities and businesses have risen to the occasion.