Monday 8th October, 2018
Monday 10th September, 2018
A Dutch invention, Tovertafel translates to ‘magic table’ in English. It’s not actually a table at all; it’s a little box which can be mounted on the ceiling, providing a projection down to whatever surface is beneath it. As we’ve just invested in a Tovertafel for the enjoyment of our residents, we wanted to share a little bit about it with you.
What is the Tovertafel?
Tovertafel is essentially a ceiling-based projector, which shines multicoloured lights onto the surface below, usually a table. People can sit around the table and play with the lights, which respond to their movements and touch.
Games range from bouncing a beach ball across the table to helping flowers grow or chasing fish around a pool. Developed in the Netherlands, the Tovertafel has already been trialled in many care homes in the Benelux countries, to great success.
How was Tovertafel developed?
The developer wanted to create something which would reach out to those with mid to late stage dementia, giving their families a means of communication and engagement. All too many families spend the final months or even years with no means of interaction with their loved ones.
The Tovertafel breaks down these boundaries, giving those living with dementia an outlet. The design of the games is such that it doesn’t require any initiative from the participants. Instead, the energising, attention grabbing light invites them to play.
The research behind this product established that, even in the late stages of dementia, people can still experience the three main outcomes of play: Relaxation, sensation and reminiscence. The games that the designers have added to the Tovertafel so far are all tuned to elicit all three. There are no rules, there’s no way to ‘go wrong’ with the games and everyone can celebrate their abilities
How can the Tovertafel help people living with dementia?
The Tovertafel has been created to encourage play, even when mental barriers need to be overcome. Some of the benefits to people living with dementia include:
· Independent play: The simplicity of the games lend themselves perfectly to letting older people play independently, without requiring a care assistant’s supervision
· Physical activity: The games require moderate reaching, stretching and movement, encouraging physical activity in even the most reluctant of participants
· Interactions: Playing with the Tovertafel encourages valuable interactions with other residents, staff and visitors
· Suits all levels: The games can be tailored to suit people of varying abilities, making it a valuable asset for all residents
· No right or wrong: There is no failure here. If they don’t bounce the beach ball back, it simply bounces off the edge of the table. Everyone has a chance to shine and to be proud of what they can do.
We’re really excited to introduce Tovertafel in our homes and have installed them in both Blenheim House and Fernhill house for the benefit of our residents.
How will we use Tovertafel?
We’re hoping to design activities around the Tovertafel, as well as to simply allow residents free play with the device. Although designed for those in mid to late stage dementia, we’re sure that other residents will enjoy it too, and that it will stimulate valuable interactions between all of our residents.
We hope that when you come to visit, as well as younger members of the family, that you will have a play with our Tovertafel too. We’re thrilled to see how this new investment helps encourage engagement with residents, so do pop in and see what it’s all about!
Friday 7th September, 2018
We’ve all heard the popular saying, ‘laughter is the best medicine’, but could there be some truth is this cliched phrase? While laughter isn’t going to replace antibiotics any time soon, there could be more benefits than you think to a good giggle.
Recent research has suggested that sharing a laugh can have some significantly beneficial effects. Laughing stimulates both the mind and the body and has been shown to generate some positive outcomes for people young and old. Here’s how it works:
· Stress hormones are driven down
The American Physiological Society found that laughing reduced stress by driving down the hormones in the body responsible for increased agitation. Problems like stress, depression and anxiety can be common issues in older adults but sharing a good old giggle have been shown to lift the mood and improve their outlook.
· Tension is released
Over time, the build-up of tension can make our joints stiff and sore. In older people particularly, worries in their mind can translate to tension in their bodies. Laughing has been proven to provide an explosive release of this built up tension, helping muscles relax and worries melt away. Relaxed muscles can lead to additional flexibility, which is incredibly important to older people as this can help to prevent falls.
· Endorphins dull aches and pains
We’ve all heard of the ‘happy hormones’ endorphins, which generally get released after exercise, sex or chocolate. Well, they also flood our systems after a hearty laugh too, boosting our mood and supressing pain receptors. Although the natural pain relief endorphins provide is no substitute for prescription medication, it can provide some welcome respite from relentless aches that come with conditions like arthritis.
· It builds relationships and brings people closer
Nothing is better at growing a friendship and social bond between people than sharing a bit of hilarity together. Whether it’s watching a funny movie together, laughing at a good joke or simply giggling at something silly, when we laugh together, barriers are broken down and people become closer. Moving into a care home can be a frightening experience for an older person but sharing in the fun and laughter with their fellow residents is a great way to break the ice.
To help our residents enjoy a good laugh, we often put on shows, entertainment or fun activities designed to bring smiles to faces. Why not drop in and join in the fun for an afternoon. After all, we all need a good guffaw from time to time!
Friday 7th September, 2018
Recent research has shown that brisk walking for just 10 minutes each day could cut the risk of heart disease by as much as six per cent. Researchers stated that the exercise needed to be ‘moderate to vigorous’, but only needed to take place for a very short time in order to have an effect on health.
The results of this short burst of activity were incredible. Participants in the study exhibited reduced inflammation, reduced cholesterol and less biomarkers for blood clots. All of these reduce the risk of heart disease, which in women was knocked down by six per cent, and in men by 3.7 per cent.
The research, conducted by the University of Bristol, looked at groups of over 60s in relation to the amount of vigorous activity or light activity they did. Even light activities such as gardening or slow walking was found to decrease biomarkers for heart disease by 0.8 per cent.
How much should older adults exercise?
It’s clear to see from this research that exercise doesn’t need to be done for long periods in order to be effective. The key here was to do something every day, even if its just for ten minutes.
The NHS guidelines for adults over 65 says that everyone should do one of the following:
· 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (cycling, walking) each week alongside strength activities two or more days a week which work on all major muscles
· Vigorous aerobic activity such as running or tennis for 75 minutes a week as well as strength exercises on two or more days
· A mix of moderate a vigorous activity every week to a similar level to the above, as well as strength exercises at least two days a week
These guidelines are in line with those issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and reflect the findings of years of research into the subject. However, for many older adults, these types of activity levels are impossible to achieve, particularly where they have reduced mobility or other health issues to consider.
The benefits of exercise
Whether you’re up to playing 75 minutes of tennis a week or can just about manage a 10 minute walk each day, the important thing is to get up and moving. Being sedentary has been shown to be incredibly damaging to health, leading to issues with posture, circulation, obesity and more. Even a little increase in exercise from your normal levels can lead to a whole host of benefits for your body, including:
· Fall prevention: Strengthening your muscles as well as improving your balance and coordination can reduce the risk of falls. Exercise also increases bone density, and the WHO say exercising regularly could reduce the risk of a hip fracture by around 40 per cent.
· Reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke: Cardiovascular activity (basically anything that gets your blood pumping faster) can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. This could include brisk walking, light housework or cycling.
· Reduce risk of developing dementia: A sedentary lifestyle as you age can increase the risk of developing dementia. A study by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease studied more than 1,600 individuals over a five-year period and found this to be true.
· Confidence and independence: Being physically active can help people stay more independent too. Reducing the risk of falling means reducing fear of falling, which can make individuals happier to do things by themselves.
· Prevention or delay of disease: Many chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease can help to control the symptoms of these problems.
· Longer lifespan: According to the WHO, being sedentary is one of 10 leading causes of death or disability. Even undertaking gentle exercise on a regular basis can increase our lifespan by three to five years.
Here at our home, we encourage residents to take part in physical activity whenever possible. We regularly introduce activities and special events targeted at increasing physical activity and encourage families to come in and participate too. Why not talk to your care worker about what we’re doing to help your loved on stay fit and well?
Monday 30th July, 2018