5 Ways to Improve Your Sense of Freedom as a Wheelchair User

The determination and independence of Paralympic athletes is something to be admired. It can be challenging to know where to start in gaining a fully independent life or even know where to find the right information on getting started. We have put together some ideas on ways to achieve more independence and ultimately give you a new sense of freedom.

Disability symbol on a parking space

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Top Tips to Keep You Warm this Winter

The weather outside may be starting to get a little chillier, but that shouldn’t stop you getting out and about in the winter months. We have put together some top tips for keeping warm when venturing out, or even staying in, during the winter.

Gloves holding a cup of coffee whilst looking at high quality mobility scooters

Layer Up

Rather than just wearing one thick layer, like a big jumper, it is better to wear several thin layers of clothing, as they help trap the warm air close to your body and keep you warmer for longer. Also, when out and about in windy weather it is important to layer up, so you are less exposed to the cold. Go for material made of wool or fleece, as they will keep you warmest.

Cosy Feet

It is sometimes said having warm feet keeps the rest of you warm, so it is important to keep your feet as cosy as the rest of you, especially if you are not using them when getting around with a mobility scooter. Invest in some thermal socks, and sturdy footwear when outdoors, and have some cosy slippers and some fluffy socks for when you are at home. The air is coolest at ground level, so getting a footstool is good so you can keep your feet away from the floor and keep them toasty.

Hats, Scarves and Gloves

Most of our body heat is lost through the head and neck, so a hat and scarf are essentials you shouldn’t leave home without. Scarves should also be able to wrap around your lower face too, as when it is icy cold, it helps warm the air you are breathing to prevent a nasty shock to your lungs when breathing in. When it comes to gloves, mittens are sometimes better at keeping your hands warm, but they are not as dexterous. Also, if you are feeling cold at home, you can pop a hat or scarf on indoors!

Blankets and Shawls

Sitting down and not moving means you get colder quicker, so a blanket or shawl is needed to keep you snug, even when heading outdoors. You can get blankets that are slightly waterproof for using in wheelchairs and mobility scooters outdoors, but at home, a big cosy blanket or shawl you can easily wrap around you will be sufficient.

Bedtime

When heading to bed, you may want to put on some thermal underwear or bed socks, which will help you keep you warm through the night. A soft hat or cap might also be needed, as your head is the most exposed to the cold. A hot water bottle is a simple but effective way of keeping warm in the evening and in bed too – get one with a fluffy cover for extra snugness!

Hot Food and Drinks

After being outdoors in the cold, there is nothing which will warm you up quicker than some hot food or drink. A carb-rich and slow energy release meal, such as porridge, soup or stew are recommended, as your body will warm up as it burns off the food. When outdoors, having a warm drink in a Thermos flask is an excellent idea, as it can keep you warm when you’re on the go.

Make sure you follow these top tips to stay warm if you are feeling chilly this winter or if you’re planning on going out in the cold in one of our high quality mobility scooters.

5 Tips to Help Keep Your Brain Healthy in Later Life

Even if our bodies need assistance, with walking sticks or high quality mobility scooters, our brains have the capacity to strengthen and reduce the signs of aging. This is by neuroplasticity, our brain’s ability to develop with new learning and experiences; throughout our lifetime our brain will continue to go through this development process.

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There is a lot of negative associations with aging, with many people feeling a need to reduce the symptoms of age and many companies cashing in on this. Cognitive aging refers to the developments and/or changes in our cognitive abilities as we age, and this varies from person to person. However as we develop from infancy to adulthood our bodies and mind go through a multitude of changes, which are usually embraced when we are younger.

Getting older we can expect several differences in the way our brains work. Common changes include a slower processing speed and reduced abilities in our working memory which can cause issues. It is established in current society that poor memory is just part and parcel of getting old, however this could be detrimental shared viewpoint to have as it discourages people from investigating the changes in their cognition. With such focus on the negative changes age brings to our mind the positive ones are often overlooked. As we get older our level of wisdom and knowledge increases, with our knowledge becoming useful in late adulthood. It has also been shown that as we age our levels of happiness can peak as our capacity for appreciations and happiness increase, whilst stress and anxiety will tend to decrease.

Older adults who participate in new learning experiences are shown to be healthy ones, as this strengthens cognitive abilities. Healthier, older individuals all tend to share the same characteristics which include high energy and activity levels, regular exercise, balanced diet, lower cases of chronic medical conditions, have regular check-ups and a good and diverse social life.

To become an optimum ager we recommend these 5 tips:

Regular exercise

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Regular exercise can have a great number of benefits for you, including the release of endorphins that improve mood and studies showing that moderate physical activity can improve your cognitive abilities.

Exercise guides and plans can help you organise the best route for you and your needs.

 

Reducing Risks

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Reducing the risks of diseases is a great way to manage your health as you get older. Exercise regularly, as advised by your doctor, and eating a healthy, balanced diet can be some of the most effective ways to manage your health. Other ways include managing stress, regular engagement in activities that boost your mood, meditation and seeking medical advice when needed.

 

Reviewing your health

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Self-managing your health can be an effective way to managing a healthy mind. Understanding how your health may affect your brain can be the first steps to preventing damaging aging processes.

 

Maintaining a good social life

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Maintaining a good social life in older age can be an effective way to keep your mind healthy and staying happy. Joining a club that relates to a hobby or passion can be a great way to learn something whilst making new friends.

 

Good night’s sleep

Senior man sleeping soundly while lying in bed in the morning with his wife asleep behind him

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting a good night’s sleep helps our brains recover after the day and can promote overall well-being.

What benefits should you be receiving?

With many government benefits it can often be a bit difficult to navigate the all the information available to find the information that relates to you; this can often mean you are missing out on benefits that can really help you. Whether you are just off sick from work or are in need of all terrain mobility scooters and unable to work, here’s a simple and easy to digest information to the benefits you are entitled to.

If you are between the ages of 16-64 and have been dealing with a long-term health condition ability that is affecting you, you should be able to claim a benefit called the Personal Independence Payment.

Filling in benefits forms because of disability and needing use of all terrain mobility scooters.

For those under 16, with a health condition or disability that has resulted in the need for more care and supervision than those of your peers, there are benefits called Disability Living Allowance. Alternatively, on the other end of the scale, if you are aged 65 or over with care needs, there are benefits called Attendance Allowance which would be suitable for your needs. Whilst carers should look into claiming for Carer’s Allowance to help maintain a comfortable financial state while they care for someone who is severely sick or disabled.

Disability Living Allowances and Personal Independence Payments cannot be claimed at the same time.

For those that are employed and have had to take a substantial amount of time from work because of an illness or disability you can look into claiming Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance which can help you financially while you are off work. Workers who are financially struggling may also be entitled to Working Tax Credit, so be sure to see whether you are entitled to this.

Disabilities and illnesses that were caused either through serving in the armed forces or an injury or disease caused directly from work will also be entitled to benefits to help ease financial burdens.

If you have looked and claimed for all benefits and are not eligible you may be able to receive national insurance credits because you are unable to work or because you are caring for someone who is sick or disabled.

Benefits are usually paid directly into your bank account, building society or Post Office card account. If you do not have an account, benefits will be paid onto a Simple Payment card that will be issued to you. You can then collect this money from any pay points that display a simple payment sign.

Benefits for disabled individuals doesn’t just mean extra financial support, if you are disabled you can also look into getting cheaper public transport, disabled badges for the car and practical help from the local council in terms of care.

Citizens Advice Bureau is a great organisation to speak to as they will be able to help find resources that will make life easier. They have experienced advisers who will provide free and personalised advice.

Other places you can contact include the disability benefit helplines who will be able to give you more information on the benefits and whether you would be eligible for these benefits. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have a helpline dedicated to the Disability Living Allowance. Whilst on the phone they will be able to help you fill out the claim forms.  There are two different phone numbers dependant on your age.

If your birthday falls on or before the 8th April 1948 phone: 0345 605 6055

If your birthday is after this date phone: 0345 712 3456

Helplines are open during the working week, 8am – 6pm.

Be sure that you are getting accurate advice on your payments as you may have to pay a civil penalty, if you have filled in the information wrong or have not provided all the information they need, and this has resulted in an over-payment. Be sure to give accurate information as best to your knowledge as providing incorrect or misleading information, as well as failing to report a change in circumstances, may lead to you being investigated for fraud. If you are unsure about any of the information on the benefit forms make sure you consult an adviser, whether that is at your local Citizens Advice Bureau or through a disability allowance helpline.

Everything you need to know about employment if you’re disabled

Recently we reported on the concerning rate of employment rates for disabled individuals and the difficulties in finding employment. If you’re suffering from a visual impairment or physical impairment, that requires you need a motorised scooter like the TGA mobility scooters, you should still have the opportunity as everyone else.

guide to everything you should know if you’re disabled and looking for work.

Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful for any employer to discriminate against disabled individuals. Employers cannot discriminate against an individual because of a disability, they must also make adequate adjustments to prevent disabled individuals being placed at a disadvantage. Look out for the disability symbol when looking at job advertisements and application forms, this is the disability symbol, with two ticks and the phrase ‘positive about disabled people’. This is awarded by the Jobcentre Plus, and recognises organisations that have made positive contributions toward the employment of disabled people.

As today’s world advances, with computers and high-speed internet connections, there is a multitude of career options for individuals who need and desire flexibility within their employment. That is why working from home can be a preferred option for people with disabilities, who need the flexibility that some places of work may not currently be offering. Whilst this is something that every employer should be addressing, at the moment the limitations faced by disabled individuals can cause some unjust complications for people seeking employment.

This should, however, not limit what job roles and career paths you want to pursue. Many people face obstacles when it comes to occupational goals, but it is important to remain positive and persistent whilst taking up every opportunity to learn new skills, receive support and progress.

If you’re seeking a flexible job, that allows you to take more control of your work schedule and saves you from commuting, there are many jobs that allow you to work from the comfort of your home. ‘Telecommuting’ is the process of working remotely, this is an arrangement with your employer that you do not have to commute to a central place of work in order to complete your role within the business. There are many names for this type of employee, such as ‘telecommuter’, ‘teleworker’ or sometimes referred to as ‘home-sourced’ or ‘work-at-home’ employee. These type of workers are able to work from home or can use mobile means to work from coffee shops or other more preferred locations. A work at home arrangement can differ from a teleworking arrangement in the fact it does require the employee to stay connected to a communication source during business hours.

Working from home will require you to have certain skill-sets that include computer literacy, good communication skills and the ability to self-discipline yourself to work regularly, avoiding the distractions around the home. Computer literacy can easily be learnt if it is needed for a new career, with computer lessons readily available and tutorials easily accessible, whilst the other skills will need patience.

If you like the idea of taking more control of your work and schedule, why not look into making your own business? If you have a great idea for a new business, self-employment may be a great option to pursue. Becoming self-employed can give you the freedom of control whilst allowing you to find the optimum times you work best. You can also adjust your work environment to how you like and need it without having to consult anyone else. There are also a number of organisations and means to help you set up your new business including The Association of Disabled Professionals which are providing networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, whilst sharing good practises and advice on setting up a business for self-employed disabled individuals.

If running your own business sounds a bit daunting, there are many businesses that look for freelance employees, including content marketing businesses, who look for freelance writers. This can be a great way to provide some income, whilst working at home, if you are a talented writer and enjoy learning and writing about a variety of content. If you have great communication, and want to be able to talk to people throughout the day, you can work for a call centre dealing with customer service calls.

If you want to get out of the house and need some extra income you can sign up to be a mystery shopper. The amount you will be paid for this will vary on who gives you the work, so be sure to check before you sign up to do it. You will be asked to fill out a survey and given certain questions to ask the staff, with a rate score to indicate their performance. If you enjoy doing this you can also sign up to doing surveys, both online or in person, as brands continually look for opinions from focus groups for their products.

If you are unsure about the type of work you would like to do, it’s always best to seek the advice of career advisers who will determine your skill-sets and guide you in the right direction.

There are also a number of disability groups that can offer you support while you seek employment- these include:

-Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID)

-Blind in Business (BIB)

– Disability Now

-Leonard Cheshire

-Papworth Employment Programmes

-Prospects

-Remploy

-Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

-Scope

-Shaw Trust

-Trailblazers

Seeking employment shouldn’t be a battle, regardless of your disability. Make sure you know your rights and if you need more advice and support seek personalised support from an advisor who can equip you with all the skills and knowledge you need.

Image credit:  neetalparekh, Available under Creative Commons.