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Growing up back in the 40s, 50s and 60s was vastly different to how people grow up nowadays. With no social media or access to their friends and family’s virtual lives 24/7, more time was spent valuing real-life encounters and relationships. One of the ways in which people used to socialise back then was to go to local dances together, in order to have a good time and often meet a potential future partner. However, people would gather at such venues for one thing over everything else: A collective love of music.

According to the British Geriatrics Society, evidence shows that four in ten older people living in nursing homes in England are depressed. One way to combat depression in older people is with a technique called music therapy.

The British Association for Music Therapy explains: “Everyone has the ability to respond to music, and music therapy uses this connection to facilitate positive changes in emotional wellbeing and communication through the engagement in live musical interaction between client and therapist. It can help develop and facilitate communication skills, improve self-confidence and independence, enhance self-awareness and awareness of others, improve concentration and attention skills.”

More specifically, music therapy can be a brilliant aid for those living with dementia. An article published by the NHS describes music and memory as powerful connectors. “Music lights up emotional memories – everyone remembers songs from their past – the first kiss, the song at a wedding, seeing their parents dance and we often use music to remember people at funerals.

“Music can have many benefits in the setting of dementia. It can help reduce anxiety and depression, help maintain speech and language, is helpful at the end of life, enhances quality of life and has a positive impact on carers.”

According to Aging Care, music is particularly beneficial for people struggling with memory loss “because it’s easier for them to access the memory of a melody than to recall a person’s name or a past event. ‘The memory of the song stays with them much longer than regular memories’”, says Snyder-Cowan, director of the Elisabeth Prentiss Bereavement Center for Hospice of the Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio.

The elderly often fall into the routine of not being as active as they should be if they find that they are stuck indoors a lot and can become demotivated by feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. The NHS states that many adults aged 65 and over spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group.

However, there is some hope. It is a well known that regular exercise has been scientifically proven to delay the effects of ageing on the body, and introducing music therapy can encourage older people to get up and moving to their favourite songs. Regular exercise can lower the risk of getting heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia.

In an article published by Age UK Mobility, Retire at Home comments: “It has been found that even such minimal movement as tapping a foot or clapping hands is enough activity to release pent-up mental and physical stress, and bring a little joy into the room. For many seniors who are able, dancing to music is a wonderful way to exercise. Being swept into the rhythm of music can lower blood pressure and stimulate organs in the body.”

Music therapy can also encourage social interaction between lonely, older generations. As we mentioned in the introduction, dancing is how many used to socialise years ago, and so introducing music therapy can be nostalgic for lots of older people, a joy which they can all share together. Music therapy can initiate dancing, laughter and sharing stories – all being great ways to communicate and to keep the brain ticking.

The website of Bethany Village explains that music is known to bring people together. “In music therapy programs, older adults are encouraged to communicate and connect with other members of their group, often making new friends in the process. The social aspect of music therapy helps seniors alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.”

Although the number of people who smoke has dropped significantly by 1.6 million over the last six years, according to Chemist 4 u, more than 15% of over 18s in the UK still currently smoke while 5.5% vape. “Current records state that smoking is responsible for around 96,000 deaths in the UK every year, and smoking-related diseases cost the NHS £2 billion a year.” The website adds that over 60% of current smokers want to quit.

If the majority of smokers want to quit, why is it so difficult for them to do so? The British Lung Foundation explains: “Tobacco smoke contains over 5,000 chemicals, including nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive, and smokers will develop a level of physical dependence to their use of tobacco. Nicotine is thought to be as addictive as heroin and cocaine.

“Some people who smoke also have a greater physical dependence on tobacco than others. This may be because they smoke more cigarettes or have smoked for a long time. Those people will experience more extreme withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit.”

It’s true that quitting smoking is difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible. There are lots of reasons to want to quit smoking, but the most pressing would be for its health implications. The NHS says that smoking causes around 7 out of every 10 cases of lung cancer. It can also damage your heart and your blood circulation, increasing your risk of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.

Additionally, smoking can worsen or prolong the symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma, or respiratory tract infections such as the common cold, and in men it can cause impotence because it limits the blood supply to the penis.

If all of that isn’t enough to help you quit, here are some additional tips to help you give up the cigarettes for good in 2020:

1. Let others know of your plans to quit

If everyone knows that you are trying to quit smoking then they can hold you accountable if they spot you with a cigarette in your hand. If there is societal pressure on you to quit you are more likely to stick to it.

2. Talk to your doctor first

Your doctor can offer advice on the best ways to quit according to your own individual health needs. They can suggest aids such as nicotine patches and gum, or suggest you take up vaping instead to ease the transition.

3. Focus on why you want to quit

Think of the implications of smoking on your health as listed above. Make a list of your own reasons for quitting and place it somewhere visible so that you can read it when you are feeling like you want to give up. This will motivate you to keep going when things get difficult.

4. Consider altering your diet

The NHS says that a US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. “Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, make cigarettes taste terrible. So swap your usual steak or burger for a veggie pizza instead.

“You may also want to change your routine at or after mealtimes. Getting up and doing the dishes straight away or settling down in a room where you don’t smoke may help.”

5. Same goes for drinks

The NHS adds that “fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. So when you’re out, drink more water and juice. Some people find simply changing their drink (for example, switching from wine to a vodka and tomato juice) affects their need to reach for a cigarette”.

6. Hang out with people who don’t smoke

It’s much easier to turn down a cigarette if you are with people who aren’t nipping outside every 20 minutes for a smoke. Explain to your smoker friends that it’s nothing personal, you are just trying to distance yourself from temptation to smoke.

7. Exercise!

The NHS also says that if you want to quit smoking, it helps to get moving. “A review of scientific studies has proved exercise, even a 5-minute walk or stretch, cuts cravings and may help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals.”

It also helps to have another healthy habit to distract you from wanting to smoke, so why not try different sports, go walking with friends or join a local sports team. If you’re busy you can delay your urges to smoke more easily.

With the ravaging fires currently consuming Australia being watched by the world, it’s difficult not to consider the dangerous effects of air pollution and what this silent killer can be doing to our bodies without us even knowing it. We know that in China they are big on wearing face masks to protect themselves against the odds, but do we in the UK need to go that far? Should we be worried?

Pollution tends to be worse in big cities, with more people and higher volumes of traffic. According to Big Think: The worst spot in London for pollution is Marble Arch – as levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) here are five times the EU norm – the highest in the city. Almost as bad is Tower Hill, which is 4.6 times the EU norm and Marylebone Road is 4 times the norm.

Our Government has said that “air pollution has a significant effect on public health, and poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. In 2010, the Environment Audit Committee considered that the cost of health impacts of air pollution was likely to exceed estimates of £8 to 20 billion”. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to air pollution reduces life expectancy, and this is mainly due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and lung cancer.

They add that: “The UK Health Forum and Imperial College London, in collaboration with and funded by Public Health England (PHE), developed a modelling framework and estimated that a 1 µg/m3 reduction in fine particulate air pollution in England could prevent around 50,900 cases of coronary heart disease, 16,500 strokes, 9,300 cases of asthma and 4,200 lung cancers over an 18 year period.” So there is hope!

The impact of air pollution on our bodies is frightening, as according to Clean Air Day it can spread from your lungs into your bloodstream and reach many organs. “Air pollution can affect us all – from asthma and stroke, diabetes and dementia, pregnancy loss and cancer – it increases the risk of a range of health problems and makes some existing conditions worse. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK.”

More specifically, air pollution potentially increases the risk of getting dementia, can also cause heart disease and is linked to high blood pressure. It increases the risk of heart failure, heart attacks and stroke, especially in older people and those with existing cardiovascular conditions. As for our lungs, there is a strong link between air pollution and the worsening of asthma symptoms and it also plays a part in causing asthma in some people.

Vulnerable people are particularly susceptible to being affected by air pollution, especially babies and young children due to their developing organs and immune systems. Clean Air Day adds that exposure to air pollution, both during pregnancy and after birth, can affect children’s lung function development.

So what can we do to protect ourselves and our families against pollution? Here are some tips from The British Lung Foundation (BLF):

• Reduce or avoid strenuous, outdoor exercise. If you have a lung condition, exercise has many benefits, so if possible, keep doing your exercise indoors in a well-ventilated room or gym.
• Stay away from pollution hotspots such as main roads and busy road junctions.
• Try to get to work a little earlier before rush hour has begun and levels of pollution have built up.
• If you cycle, run or walk as part of your commute, use back streets away from the bulk of vehicle congestion.
• Make sure you carry your reliever inhaler with you if you use one.
• If you have asthma, use your preventer inhaler regularly.
• If you find your condition is getting worse, or if you’re getting wheezy or coughing from walking outside, get in touch with your doctor.

Lastly should we be wearing a face mask everyday like the people of China? The BLF explains that “at the moment there’s very little evidence to recommend the use of face masks. Sophisticated masks with active charcoal filters can help filter out nitrogen dioxide, but these don’t keep out the smallest particulate matter which is most damaging to your health.

“Also, many people find wearing a mask very uncomfortable, and some people with a lung condition report finding breathing more difficult when there’s something covering their mouth.”

It’s 2020, which means both a new year and a new decade have arrived. It’s a fresh start and a chance to reinvent yourself if you so wish, finally achieve the goals you have been putting off and become the best version of yourself.

Although some people believe that resolutions are nonsense – and they could have a point considering that a study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton found that 23% of people quit their resolution after just one week and only 19% of individuals are actually able to stick to their goals long term – there are some who benefit from writing down exactly what they want to achieve and thinking it into reality.

This could sound a bit “The Secret” to sceptics, but an article published by Dr Michael Moore on the Daily Mail says that New Year’s resolutions can be great for our health. He explained: “Researchers in the US recruited 159 people who had made a resolution to lose weight, quit smoking or exercise more, and 123 who had similar goals but hadn’t yet made a firm resolution to change. Six months later they checked up on them. Perhaps surprisingly, almost half of the firm resolvers had been successful in achieving at least part of their goal, compared with just four per cent of the non-resolvers.

“Another myth is that we have to be ‘realistic’, and make small, manageable changes in order to stick to them. Again, the science doesn’t back this up, at least when it comes to losing weight – again the No 1 resolution this year. A few years back, University of Minnesota researchers followed 1,800 men and women on a weight-loss programme. Those with the most ambitious targets were those who achieved the greatest weight loss after two years.”

Whether your goal is to lose weight, run more or just eat in a better way for optimal brain health, it looks like setting ambitious resolutions and giving them a good old go this year could be the key to an improved mind and body.

Here are some healthy resolutions to consider for becoming a better you:

1. Improve your diet

Maybe you’d like to lose weight, or just get more veggies into your diet. Now spells the perfect time to get started, so forget all those diets you have failed (or rather that failed you) in the past decade and finally get to where you want to be.

Start by writing a food diary and checking in with the unhealthy parts of your diet you would like to change. Make gradual changes, like adding in more fruit and veg or cutting out heavily processed food. You’re more likely to stick to it if you change your eating little by little rather than all in one go.

2. Get a sexual health check up

When was the last time you visited your doctor and asked for a sexual health check up? Many of us neglect this aspect as our health as we find it embarrassing or in some way shameful, but you can walk into a gum clinic anywhere and get treatment (or hopefully the all clear) and we should take advantage of this luxury in the UK.

It’s worth doing as chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK and is easily passed on during unprotected sex. It’s also symptomless, so lots of people aren’t aware they can have it. According to The Sun, in 2013 more than 200,000 Brits tested positive for the disease – and nearly 70 per cent of them were under 25.

Chlamydia can affect your fertility, but thankfully is easily treatable.

3. Eat better for your brain

Did you know that blueberries are good for your brain? Or that the way we eat could decrease our risk of getting Alzheimer’s?

Heavily processed oils and other foods can mean that our brains are not able to function properly, which can cause real issues as we grow older. Read Genius Foods by Max Lugavere for more on this.

4. Take up a sport

If you hate the idea of the gym, try out a sport and see if you like it in 2020. If you don’t, try another. You’re more likely to stick to exercising regularly if you actually enjoy it.

5. Floss

No, not the dance.

Flossing your teeth prevents gum disease by getting rid of pieces of food and plaque from between your teeth. Get into the habit of doing this once a day.

6. Wear suncream

Make a habit of wearing suncream everyday. Not only does it keep you looking young, but sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. You can burn in the UK too, even when it’s cloudy.

We Brits love to solve all of life’s woes with a hot cup of something. It’s the first thing we offer when we welcome someone into our home and it’s the lubricant for which awkward conversations are facilitated.

Although we are well-known tea drinkers – drinking approximately 165 million cups of the stuff a day – we love our coffee too. But which is better? Taste is down to preference, but in terms of our health, which should we be drinking more of and which should we be leaving on the shelf?

One of the aspects of drinking tea and coffee that we are constantly told to be cautious of are their caffeine contents. The NHS explains that caffeine is a stimulant. “Drinks containing caffeine can temporarily make us feel more alert or less drowsy. Caffeine affects some people more than others, and the effect can depend on how much caffeine you normally consume.”

For context, a cup of brewed coffee has around 92 milligrams of caffeine, a cup of brewed black tea has 47 milligrams of caffeine and a cup of brewed green tea has 29 milligrams of caffeine.
The NHS advises that pregnant women should limit their intake of caffeinated drinks and that they are also unsuitable for toddlers and young children.

They add: “It’s fine to drink tea and coffee as part of a balanced diet. Bear in mind, though, that caffeinated drinks can make the body produce urine more quickly. Some people are more susceptible to this than others, but it also depends on how much caffeine you have and how often you have it. If you have problems with urinary continence, cutting down on caffeine by changing to low-caffeine tea and coffee, fruit or herbal teas, or other types of drinks can sometimes help.” Going to the toilet more often could make you dehydrated.

Another thing to be cautious of is added sugar when it comes to tea and coffee. They explain: “If you drink tea or coffee with sugar or you have flavoured syrups in your coffee-shop drinks, you could be unwittingly damaging your teeth and adding unhelpful calories to your diet.”

In favour of tea, health.com says that tea is rich antioxidants and helps to fight inflammation. “Tea drinkers have a significantly lower risk of stroke and heart disease, and tea is known to boost brain health. One study, for example, found that compared with older adults who drank less than three cups a week, those who drank more than two cups of green tea a day had a significantly lower risk of age-related declines in memory.” It’s been found that regular tea drinkers also have higher bone density levels and slower rates of bone loss and tea has also been associated with anti-ageing.

However, tea isn’t all great. Unfortunately, it can impact your iron levels due to the tanins in it, which is a type of antioxidant that interferes with the absorption of non-heme, or plant-based iron. In one study from 1982, drinking tea with a meal resulted in a 62% reduction in iron absorption compared to 35% for coffee.

The BBC adds that tea is also staining for your teeth. “Most dentists seem to agree that tea’s natural pigments are more likely to adhere to dental enamel than coffee’s – particularly if you use a mouthwash containing the common antiseptic chlorhexidine, which seems to attract and bind to the microscopic particles.”

So what’s good about coffee? health.com say that “a brand new Harvard study found that those who drink about three to five cups of coffee a day may be less likely to die prematurely from some diseases than those who drink less or no coffee.” Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants and has also been linked to protection against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, and certain cancers.

However, in some cases coffee has been shown to raise cholesterol levels slightly. Also, coffee is more acidic than tea, so if you have stomach or digestive issues, tea might be more soothing for you. health.com adds that “coffee has long had a reputation for bone issues, but it remains unclear how significant the effects are”. One study found that a high intake of coffee reduced bone density by 2-4%.

Another con of drinking coffee is that due to it’s high caffeine content it could leave you feeling overstimulated, jittery and anxious. If you have high blood pressure, you should limit your caffeine intake because it can cause a dramatic spike in blood pressure. The BBC adds that coffee can negatively affect your sleep quality more so than tea. They said that University of Surrey researchers found that coffee drinkers tend to find it harder to drop off to sleep at night because of the higher caffeine content.

The conclusion seems to be that neither coffee or tea are particularly harmful to your health if consumed in small quantities (like everything). It’s more dependent on taste preference and lifestyle choices as to which you’d rather drink more of.

Christmas is an incredibly exciting time for most; especially if you have young children (or are one). However, having to spend Christmas alone – whether you’ve been widowed or estranged from your family – can be very difficult.

According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, loneliness can even impact your physical health, as it increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%. The effect of loneliness and isolation on mortality is comparable to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity, and has a similar influence as cigarette smoking. Loneliness is also associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke and can increase the risk of high blood pressure.

Loneliness can also affect your mental health, as it puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline. Lonely people have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia and are more prone to depression.

In 2016, the mental health charity Mind found that one in 10 people aged between 25 and 34 admitted they didn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with, compared with just one in 20 older people.

Research from Age UK showed that nearly a million (928,000) older people unsurprisingly feel lonelier at Christmas time and almost 1.4 million older people surveyed by Age UK admitted that Christmas isn’t a special day for them and just passes them by.

“The charity estimates that getting on towards a million (873,000) people aged 65 and over don’t see or hear from someone for days on end over the festive period. And at Christmas time, on days when older people do not see or hear from anyone, over half (55%) rely on the TV for companionship.”

If you are concerned about lonely older people during the festive period, there are things you can do to help. The Independent suggests getting in touch with Contact the Elderly, who run monthly tea parties during which groups of people over the age of 75 come together to socialise.

“You can also reach out and befriend older people by working with organisations such as Friends of the Elderly. The website offers a variety of opportunities, including the chance to become a Visiting Friends volunteer.”

Another way to help a lonely older person is with a phone conversation. At Independent Age, volunteers spend around 20 to 30 minutes a week speaking on the phone with older people who may not otherwise have many opportunities to engage in conversation with others. The charity explains that talking with an older person regularly on the phone can “empower them, improve their wellbeing and help build their self-esteem.”

The role involves talking on the phone on a weekly or fortnightly basis, ideally for a minimum period of 12 months.

If you are reading this as the person worried about spending Christmas alone – whatever age you are – here are a few ideas for how you could spend your Christmas Day to stave off feeling low.

1. Very Well Mind suggests hosting an Online Christmas

“Do you have online friends? Do you have long-distance relatives? Host an online Christmas by setting up a Skype chatroom or Facebook group. People can drop in and out as they please, and you don’t have to cook, clean, or even get off the sofa.

“As an added bonus, you’ll have a chance to practice your social skills as you welcome new people to the group and catch up with old friends.”

2. Why not volunteer?

Very Well Mind adds that one way to gain a better appreciation for the good things in your life is to get involved in volunteering. “Volunteering during the holidays is a way to connect with others, boost your self-esteem, and bring joy to people who are less fortunate. Consider offering to help serve dinner at a soup kitchen, bring gifts to a children’s hospital, or visit lonely residents at a nursing home.

“If you feel nervous about doing these social activities, all the better; it’s a chance to test your boundaries and expand your social skills. In fact, research shows that practising kindness may reduce your tendency to avoid social situations.”

3. Take part in a group run

The Guardian suggests taking part in a Christmas Day race as a way to feel connected to others. “Parkruns take place in parks across the UK, with most starting at 9 am. After this, all you’ll need to think about is recovering.”

Alternatively, if running isn’t your thing, you could scope out the local country walks nearby and see who you could bump into on the way. Plus physical activity is great for endorphins and clearing your head.

4. Eat out

The Guardian adds that “Christmas Day is a great time to visit and eat at restaurants in Chinatown, and areas with large Bangladeshi, Indian, Turkish and Vietnamese communities. Rebel against traditional Christmas turkey and eat a Turkish lahmacun.”

Don’t forget to book in advance though!

5. Use this opportunity to do whatever you want

This is potentially the one day a year where you can do whatever you want undisturbed. Treat yourself to whatever you enjoy most, whether that’s listening to music, having a bath or people watching. The world is your oyster!

6. Be brave, tell someone

If you can’t stomach the thought of being alone on Christmas Day, tell someone. Contact a friend and ask if they wouldn’t mind accommodating you for a meal. There is no shame in reaching out for help. Perhaps you could contact someone else who you know might be lonely this time of year too to see if they’d like some company too.

Talk of politics and heated discussions about Brexit have been consuming the lives of everyone living in the UK over the past year (or more), and things appear to be changing from an anxious simmer about the uncertain future of our country to a fiery boil, as we approach a general election on Thursday 12th December. No one seems to know what is going on or what the best for the fate of the UK is, yet thanks to democracy anyone aged 18 or over who is a British, Irish or EU citizen is eligible to vote, but you have to register. This of course includes those living with disabilities.

Sadly people with disabilities are still face problems when it comes to voting, as they aren’t always aware of their voting rights. The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 made it illegal to discriminate in respect to employment, services, education and transport based on someone’s disability. Many do not have the confidence to go and register to vote, while others face issues when they go to a polling stations. Mobility issues can make accessing polling stations in person difficult while learning disabilities can make it all the more difficult to understand the voting process.

Mencap say that “learning disability issues are regularly discussed by members of the main political parties. In the last six years, learning disability has been mentioned in debates or official letters from MPs over 1,200 times. That is over three times a week.” Over 150 MPs supported Mencap’s last campaign to encourage people with a learning disability to vote. In 2010, almost 1 in 3 people with a learning disability voted, which is progress.

The first step for a disabled voter is to register to vote. Enable Magazine explains that you can register to vote online by yourself or with the help of a trusted carer or loved one. You will be asked where you live, when you were born, your name, address and contact information.

On voting day, our government has a responsibility to ensure all polling stations have a polling booth adapted for wheelchair users and that there is large print versions of ballot papers are available in every polling station, along with aids to enable blind voters to mark their ballot papers without help.

According to the Electoral Commission: “Local authorities now have to take proactive steps to ensure that polling stations don’t disadvantage disabled people. All voters have a right to vote independently and in secret. A person who is registered to vote or who has been officially appointed as a proxy voter cannot be refused a ballot paper or the opportunity to vote on the grounds of mental or physical incapacity.

“Polling station staff must ensure that disabled voters are not offered a lower standard of service than other voters and should be able to explain what assistance is available to disabled voters wishing to vote in person at a polling station.”

Disabled voters are also entitled to the right to request assistance to mark the ballot paper., and this can be done through the Presiding Officer. Alternatively, they can bring someone with them to help them vote; providing they themselves are eligible to vote. If an elector is unable to enter the polling station because of physical disability, the Presiding Officer may take the ballot paper to the elector. If you have any problems on election day, you should call your local authority to try to resolve this.

It’s well worth knowing that if you don’t want to go to the polling station to vote – because you find it difficult going out and about or have a disability that makes this impossible – voters with a disability can have a permanent proxy vote. Voting by proxy means choosing someone else to vote for you. All you need to do is fill in a new form to choose who will vote for you. This person can visit a polling station or apply for a postal vote in order to vote on your behalf.

There is also the option for you to vote by post. You will be sent a form similar to the registration form when voting by post and you should fill out the postal vote application and send it to your local electoral services team. Before elections, you will receive a ballot paper in the post. It will tell you where and when to post it.

If you’d like more information about accessibility to voting, you can call the Electoral Commission on 0333 103 1928 or the Welsh language line on 0333 103 1929 for further guidance.

According to NHS England, wheelchairs are used by approximately 1.2 million people in the UK. The majority of wheelchair users are aged 60 or more – they account for more than two thirds of all wheelchair users in the UK – and nearly 1 million people are believed to have learning disability in England alone.

When so many people use wheelchairs, why then are we so awkward about how to interact with them?

It’s human nature to know how to greet someone, however, when greeting someone with a physical disability, it can be confusing for people who aren’t familiar with wheelchair etiquette, so here are some tips (with credit to KD  Smart Chair, United Spinal and Karman Healthcare) for how to interact with and respect wheelchair users:

1. Ask before you help them

Just because someone has a disability it doesn’t mean they need your help. Adults with disabilities want to be treated as independent people, so only offer assistance only if the person appears to need it. A person with a disability will often times communicate when they needs help.

Some people with disabilities depend on their arms for balance, and so grabbing them, even if your intention is to assist, could knock them off balance. Never touch a wheelchair or wheelchair user without a direct invitation to do so. It is both demeaning and rude. Most wheelchair users consider their wheelchair an extension of their own body, so avoid leaning on, pushing or otherwise handling their chair without their permission.

2. Don’t make assumptions about why a person is using a wheelchair

Many, if not most, wheelchair users are not paralysed and can get up if they need to. Don’t make assumptions about why they have to use a wheelchair or about their capabilities. In addition, don’t assume the person can’t understand you or can’t hear you, try instead to view wheelchair users as what they are – regular people who happen to be using a different tool to get around.

3. Speak directly to a wheelchair user

Don’t disrespect a wheelchair user by speaking to the caregiver instead of them. Just because their legs or back doesn’t function as well as yours, doesn’t mean their brain is any less capable than yours. Making small talk with a person who has a disability is great, so just talk to them as you would with anyone else.

Also, don’t comment on the wheelchair. There’s no need to discuss, question or even compliment the wheelchair. Talk to the person about yourself, themselves, or anything else – but not about their wheelchair. It’s inappropriate and often uncomfortable to highlight their use of a wheelchair or make it the focus of your discussion.

4. Don’t use their parking spots or restroom stalls

This is a real no no. Even if it’s just for five minutes and even if there are no wheelchair users around, you don’t know when one will show up, so please don’t deny them of their right to park closer to a venue or go to the toilet.

5. Sit down for long conversations with a wheelchair user

Don’t make wheelchair users crane their neck for long periods of time so they can speak to you. Take a seat and let the conversation flow more naturally.

Additionally, bending down to speak to a wheelchair user is patronising and should be avoided at all costs. If you find it difficult to maintain eye contact while standing, pull up a seat.

6. Don’t ask for a go in their chair

You’d think this one would be obvious…

7. Teach your children about wheelchair users and how to treat them

Children are inquisitive and have a habit of saying exactly what they are thinking out loud. It’s important to educate them about disabled people and explain to them about wheelchair users and why someone might need to use one, so they will grow up to be kind and considerate of others.

Did you know that almost half of the world’s population don’t receive full coverage for the essential health care services that they require? Or that near 100 million people are being pushed into extreme poverty due to not being able to pay for their healthcare?

The UK is lucky to have the NHS, however, most countries don’t have the same luxuries as we do. We are capable of providing training for Nurses and Healthcare assistants to provide the highest quality of care required to ensure our country doesn’t fall to a similar fate to others. As a country we are fortunate to be able to provide live in carers and domiciliary care to individuals who struggle to leave their homes on the other hand poorer countries are required to travel miles in order to see a doctor to provide them with medication or receive treatment for any illnesses they may have which can cost a wealthy amount.

Universal health coverage (UHC) allows communities the opportunity to receive healthcare services for a small cost ensuring that individuals are able to get better without having to suffer from financial hardship. There services include health promotion to prevent, treat, rehabilitate and offer palliative care. With this in place their services are easily accessible to everyone who shows the more significant causes of diseases or death and assures that their good quality allows improvement to the individuals who receive these services.

As nation we are lucky to receive the healthcare that we are provided. With allied healthcare professionals at hand to query a mild cough to extreme diseases we have a healthcare service in place to ensure we are constantly healthy; whereas poorer countries are required to rely on UHC to help with their health. World Health Day is today, and we are asking you to cherish the healthcare industry as much as we do as we are a fortunate nation to receive such luxuries other countries aren’t able to receive. Thank your doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants for the service they provide; don’t take advantage of the national health services in place see your local pharmacy instead because the doctor’s appointment you’ve booked may be more useful to another individual.

On the 24th March 1882, a Doctor name Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacterium that causes Tuberculosis which still affects people every day. World Tuberculosis Day (TB) is a way to spread the word in relation to the economic, social and health significances caused by TB. Due to this day over 130 years ago, we were able to open the doors in investigating a cure for the disease.

With nearly 30,000 people being affected by this deadly infectious disease each day, around 4,500 people lose their lives to this illness every 24 hours. With the contributions from around the world since the year 2000, healthcare professionals have been able to defeat and save around 54 million peoples live from TB.

This year’s theme for World Tuberculosis day is ‘It’s time.’ We never know when something could change in our lives. So, value your time with the people around you, enjoy every moment you have and live every second to the maximum.

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