Age and mental attitude count

Age and mental attitude count

Photo by Cristian Newman – on Unsplash

What we are seeing now is more of a discussion around what ‘older’ means and when it starts.

Age and mental attitude really does count in tackling age discrimination. 

People are resisting lumping all ‘over 70s’ together, acknowledging the massive variety of experience in different people’s lives from ages 70 to 100+.

As a result it’s as impossible to lump together this whole group as it is to put people from age 10 to 40 in the same category.

Therefore, assuming teenagers have the same life experiences as 30+-year-olds is clearly ludicrous. Yet creating a lumpen group that puts 70-year-olds with 90-year-olds isn’t met with the same degree of automatic derision.

However, if anything, we become more diverse as we age, given the variety of our experiences across the lifespan.

So yes, take a moment you self to consider that age and mental attitude really does count because it really counts for everyone!

Inspired by Alex Rotas, photographer of older competitive athletes, writer, and activist.

Read ‘Mental attitude is all that counts’ at >

Interview by Stefania Medetti

“In a society that values youth as the only desirable condition, The Age Buster decodes what we think about aging.

Here you can find ideas for a meaningful, self-directed and rewarding life forward.” >

Remember that age is also about making personal choices >

Positive ideas offers a collection of news stories of people and organisations improving the wellbeing of older people >

Should we all be wearing masks?

wearing masks

Well, should we all be wearing masks or not?

The question of should we all be wearing masks has been argued since the beginning of the coronavirus in January 2020.

“So you get people who say, well, it’s not going to work. But you try having three big, huge football players who are rushing for lunch through a door at lunchtime—they’re not going to get through. In the latest data I saw, the mask provided 5x protection. That’s really good. But we have to keep the hospitals going and we have to keep the health professionals able to come to work and be safe. So masks should go where they’re needed the most: in taking care of patients.”

Source: Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, Wired magazine 19 March 2020

Masks really are an important tool for fighting the coronavirus 

The N95 mask is a particulate-filtering facepiece respirator that filters at least 95% of airborne particles.

Source: Wikipedia

“The N95 mask itself is extremely wonderful. The pores in the mask are three microns wide. The virus is one micron wide. The mask pores are 0.3 microns wide; the virus is 0.12 microns.

“So you get people who say, well, it’s not going to work. But you try having three big, huge football players who are rushing for lunch through a door at lunchtime—they’re not going to get through. In the latest data I saw, the mask provided 5x protection. That’s really good. But we have to keep the hospitals going and we have to keep the health professionals able to come to work and be safe. So masks should go where they’re needed the most: in taking care of patients.”

Source: Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, Wired magazine 19 March 2020

So where are we in the uk?

Well as of May 12 2020, the UK Government recommends homemade face coverings in shops, on public transport and in enclosed public spaces.This is what Boris has to say in story from the Guardian titled ‘What is Boris Johnson’s advice on coronavirus and masks?’.

And here’s a Nurse in the USA that didn’t just create her own replacement N95 mask—hers works better >>

So if you now feel really inspired to have a go yourself, here are some useful links on how you too can make a face mask:

From the BBC > Coronavirus: How to make your own face mask

Form the Sun > How to make a coronavirus face mask – all you need is an old T-shirt

From Good Housekeeping > How to Make Face Masks for Yourself and Hospitals During the Coronavirus Shortage

The Scotsman > How to make a face mask: ideas for creating your own face coverings at home – and where you can buy them online

From the Guardian > How to make a non-medical coronavirus face mask – no sewing required

Should we all being wearing masks

Face masks could be a better defence against Covid-19 than hand washing The Telegraph – 12 June 2020 >

From costume designer to face mask designer. A story of how one person decided they needed to help during the pandemic. By Petra Storrs >

Pillow Talk

pillow talk

A touching moment of kindness, reported in the Lancashire Post has gone viral…

Play Video

Pillow Talk for a care home resident 

Second World War veteran Ken Benbow, 94, was overcome with emotion as he was filmed by staff at Thistleton Lodge Care Home in Preston, as teenage carer Kia Mariah Tobin, gave him this touching gift of a cushion featuring a picture of his late wife, ‘beautiful, caring wife Ada’. a sentimental cushion featuring a picture of his late wife. The couple were married for 75 years before her death last year.

Kia, 17, from Blackpool, who has moved into the home to assist during the pandemic, was inspired to order this very special gift after noticing Ken would take a framed photo of Ada to bed each night. She said: “He would take this picture in a metal and glass frame off the wall every night. Knowing how important it was, I just thought there has to be a better and more comfortable way.”

She and the staff had no idea how far reaching the special moment would travel and just wanted to record the presentation as a heart-warming memory for Ken and the staff to remember this time.
“It was just an idea I had to do something comforting for Ken and when I brought it in and showed the team, my manager suggested we should record his reaction.

“Ken is fantastic, so wonderful, he speaks so much of Ada and how much he loved her, – in a strange way I know her without having ever met her just from the way he talks of her. He’s a real character and it’s the people I’ve met that have made this job so rewarding for me. It was my own grandma who suggested I give it a go.”

Ken, from Garstang, was just 17 himself when he joined the Navy. His service saw him take part in most of the important theatres of war including D-Day and in the Pacific for the preparations for the invasion of Japan, just before the US dropped the atomic bomb which ended the war. He left the Navy in 1946 and was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by the French Government in 2016.

He met Ada while out dancing, just one week after he moved to Liverpool – “I can still see that post she was leaning against with her friends.” The couple courted for two months before making plans to get married. He described proposing to Ada at a dance, adding: “We were always dancing. I used to fling her over my shoulder and we would jitterbug. It was lovely! She was the most caring, beautiful wife anyone could ever wish to have. She never did a thing wrong in her whole life.”

Kia added she hoped the attention from the video would help to put a spotlight on the role of carers during the pandemic and the work behind the scenes to keep the vulnerable safe. She said: “The NHS are amazing in what they are doing but we know so many carers and home care workers who are too doing their bit working every day to go place to place to make sure people are protected and looked after.

“It’s not an easy time and that needs to be recognised. Care homes are dealing with this too and the support is vital.”


If you would like to do the same thing for a friend, you can do it here:


Here are more positive ideas and a collection of news stories of people and organisations improving the wellbeing of older people during the Coronavirus pandemic >

Meaningful conversation is one key to happiness

Talking makes people happy.

When my mother was in the care homes she lived in for the last seven years of her life, I was keen to ensure that she was engaged in meaningful conversation by carers as much as possible, so that when the family could not be there, she felt stimulated and happy.

She had dementia and I observed was that the more advanced her dementia became, the less staff were likely to engage in conversation with her. Often this was because the younger carers had no training in how to start or maintain a meaningful conversation with a person living with more advanced dementia – and of course, their life experiences were so different. It was this observation that largely prompted me to develop Many Happy Returns conversation trigger cards and REAL Communication workshops.

The workshops focus on a range of communication issues, including overt and unspoken language, body language, voice, tone and inflection, the complexities of memory and how it works, compassion and empathic engagement, why listening is so important to us all and how to do it better and the vital importance of a person’s life story and why it matters quite so much to any older person with dementia as well as those caring for them.

Self-care is part of communicating with oneself and more awareness of this and of self can help reduce the well-documented incidences of professional and unpaid carers’ burn-out.

As far as I know, there are no other conversation trigger cards like ours, which include carefully researched images from social culture with contextual background information and conversational prompts. Our REAL Communication workshops are unique. Both are based on research evidence. The following research results contribute to our work.
According to research from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Arizona, outgoing, gregarious people who fill their lives with deep, meaningful conversations are lucky to have one of the keys to a happier life.

People who spend less time alone and more time talking with others have a greater sense of personal well-being, suggests the study, published in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science.


“Having more conversation, no matter how trivial, appears to be associated with a greater sense of happiness among the people in the study,” 

“Having more conversation, no matter how trivial, appears to be associated with a greater sense of happiness among the people in the study,” co-author Simine Vazire, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University.However, the happiest people were those who often engaged in more meaningful and substantive discussions, as opposed to idle chit-chat and small talk.

Based on the conversation patterns of 79 college-aged men and women was tracked over a four-day period, the study was conducted by Vazire and three colleagues at the University of Arizona.

Using an unobtrusive recording device that participants carried in a pocket or purse, researchers taped 30 seconds of sound every 12.5 minutes, amassing more than 20,000 audio snippets of sound from the daily lives of participants.

Members of the research team listened to the recordings and coded the number of conversations each participant had, and whether each conversation was substantive or small talk. Each participant’s happiness level was scored using standard psychological tools for gauging personality and wellbeing, including self-assessments and reports from friends.

Participants scored as “happiest” in the study spent about 25 per cent less time alone and 70 per cent more time talking to others, as compared with the unhappiest participants. The happiest participants had twice as many substantive conversations and one third as much small talk as the unhappiest participants.

“Overall, these findings suggest that meaningful interactions with others are important for wellbeing,” Vazire concludes.

“However, our research cannot determine whether meaningful interactions cause happiness, whether happiness causes people to have more meaningful conversations, or whether there is another explanation. We believe it’s likely that both are true – that happiness leads to more meaningful connections with others, which then produce more happiness – but this remains to be tested in future research.”

When we feel valued and appreciated, our sense of self improves and we are more likely to value and appreciate others more and in turn, this encourages them to value and appreciate us more. Nowhere is this ‘virtuous circle’ of value and appreciation more true and more obvious, than in care homes.
To conclude, meaningful conversations need inspiration.

When we inspire a person we are speaking with, we create a welcoming space in which they are encouraged to share, (but not required to). This gives them more freedom in how they respond. If you ask, “How was your weekend?” (an invitation), the person can only respond by answering your question.

Instead, if you share a story from an event you experienced at the weekend that may be relevant to the other person (an inspiration), then they can choose how they respond. It’s up to them. And that means it’s not up to you.

Weaving inspiration into our conversations frees us from the responsibility of knowing what to say next. Inspiration encourages us and the other person to ‘co-create’ a conversation together.

All we need is to be genuine in what we share, and share it in a way that encourages others to share as well.

A virtual choir brings the community together

We’ll meet again. Let’s hope.

Seldom have the lyrics to Vera Lynn’s song felt quite so poignant.

Last week, care home operator Shaw Healthcare hosted a virtual choir to lift the spirits of their residents and staff.

The company, which operates 75 homes across the UK, organised the online sing-along to cheer people living and working in them, in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents and staff joined together to sing, “We’ll Meet Again” together across England, Scotland and Wales, delivering a message of hope and positivity.

See the Shaw healthcare virtual choir sing ‘We’ll Meet Again’ >here

 ‘We’ll meet again’ – residents of Castle View Windsor sing out loud and strong.

Keeping their spirits high in the current situation and spreading a little joy and happiness, the residents of the new Castle View retirement village in Windsor have taken to their balconies to sing and exercise together, while maintaining a safe social distance from one another.

You can read the full Care Industry News article >here

Knitting through a Pandemic

B, 93 and truly an unsung hero! 

 Here is my beautiful and dear friend B, 93. Her porch is the perfect place to sit and knit with the front door open, protecting her in the warmth of the bungalow, but also allowing the sunshine in.

For many years, she has kept herself gainfully employed (for free) knitting and generously donating countless little hats and shawls, forearm sleeves and tiny comforters for premature babies at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Since Lockdown, she has been doing the same thing for the babies in Addenbrookes Hospital Neonatal Unit. Doing it gives meaning to her life and stops her from getting too bored. She has also knitted a number of wonderful jumpers for my grandson with great love – and which we love. With no Mum of my own to knit for him there is something super special about a surrogate Great Grandmum’s handiwork.

Whenever I visit B on sunny days, this is where I will always find her. She leaves a foldaway deckchair for me outside on the path and I sit (at a safe social distance of course) and we chat and laugh together for an hour or more.

She had a very sad and challenging upbringing and many more difficult experiences as an adult, many of which I have had the privilege of listening to, but I have never heard her complain once. She is full of wisdom, kindness and spirit and is a SuperAdult in every respect.

Sarah Reed, April 2020.