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Independent living made easier

There are currently 11.6 million people aged 65 or over living in the UK. Many are experiencing what it is like to live with conditions commonly associated with being older, either because it’s happening to them or for someone they are caring for.  

Experiencing a deterioration in health, whether it’s a sudden change from a fall for example, or a physical frailty, disability or cognitive issue, can leave an individual feeling fearful, useless or overwhelmed. Family members may have had little or no experience in caring for an older or disabled person and suddenly they need to become an expert in this area which is new to them.

Many won’t know how they’ll cope, so they muddle through as best they can. Some may go into care, unaware there are simple solutions available that could keep them independent for longer.  And if they are aware that there could be products out there to help them, with such a huge range of equipment and advice available, searching for products that can suit an individual’s specific requirements can be daunting at the best of times - some find it hard to even know where to start looking.

DLF has been providing impartial advice and information on daily living equipment and assistive technology for nearly 50 years, helping and empowering individuals, their families and professional carers alike. The charity continues the legacy of its longest serving Vice-President and social reformer, Alf Morris, by helping individuals ‘add life to years through practical help’.

It is generally the case that people are happier staying in their own home and DLF’s website, Living Made Easy, has helped around two million people a year do just that, by providing a comprehensive database of over 10,000 daily living products from 1,000 national suppliers. Living Made Easy is used predominately by disabled and older people, or their relatives and friends, who are looking for equipment to make everyday tasks easier. 

We know from tracking enquiries to our services that it’s increasingly common for family members to be long distance carers and having access to a wide range of advice and products can help individuals and relatives make informed decisions and relevant life style changes suitable to the changing needs – all of which can help an individual remain independent in their home, and provide the carer with peace of mind.

It can be hard to find specialist products and many are wary of being sold items that may not meet their needs or that are over-priced. We know that people using our services like to be able to research and compare a range of products and read unbiased, expert advice and information about equipment before contacting suppliers.  

Cost can often be a key limitation for some, and it isn’t always necessary to go out and buy expensive gadgets - simple DIY solutions can often help in the first instance. Mrs Jackson for example, told us that she enjoys cooking for her husband but finds the task difficult due to arthritis in her hands, which means she can’t hold or carry items very well. She has accepted her limitations and is working with what she can still do. For now, a simple cost-free solution of moving crockery and essential ingredients to a lower height has been beneficial by cutting out the need to stretch her arms to reach items. She has purchased some relative low cost products including a lightweight travel kettle, kettle tipper and a two handled pan set - these have helped her to maintain independence in the kitchen.

Many will deny aging and do not plan ahead – typically they will only seek advice after an event or crisis has occurred, by which point a situation could be all the more distressing of those involved.  That’s why DLF’s work is so important: our impartial advice and information provides individuals with options rather than just opinions – we show how daily living equipment can help people continue to live their lives with dignity and stay independent for longer. 

Whether you’re finding certain tasks a bit more difficult as you get older or you are caring for someone in this situation, we’re here to help. Visit our website at http://www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk or call our Helpline on 0300 999 0004.

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