With Allergies Week among us, we have decided to look into certain allergies than can affect many people, including the elderly.

Allergies and intolerances to certain foods can develop at any time in your life no matter how old you are. Although most allergies do start in childhood and can often disappear in adolescence, they can return as an adult and stay permanently.

Food Allergies diagram

You may have spent many years enjoying a certain food and now more recently, you have found yourself feeling uncomfortable after eating them and developing symptoms similar to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Unfortunately, there is no clear reason as to why allergies develop but they can be managed.

Food allergies and intolerances can often be confused with each other. Both are a reaction caused by food but an allergic reaction causes your whole immune system to respond dramatically. Whether it is a rash, swelling, trouble breathing or anaphylactic shock, any amount of a certain food can cause these allergic reactions.

Dairy products

Intolerance has very different reactions and usually not life threatening in any way. Consuming milk, soya, wheat and certain additives to foods can cause digestive discomfort for many people and the effects are usually gradual rather than sudden. Feeling bloated, stomach cramps, nausea and headaches are just some of the common symptoms experienced by those with lactose, dairy and wheat intolerance but these can be managed by just making some swaps.

If you are lactose intolerant, which is intolerance to the sugars found in dairy, there are lactose-free products available in most supermarkets. Cheeses, milk, creams and yoghurts have been developed especially for people with lactose intolerance and still contain calcium and vitamins found in dairy products. Lots of foods contain lactose and dairy including crisps, olive oil spreads and some sausages so always check the label before purchasing.

Bread containing gluten

If you have recently found out that you have wheat intolerance, or you are sensitive to gluten which is the protein found in wheat and various other grains, you may be feeling a little bit lost and confused about what you can and cannot eat. There are more foods than you think that contain wheat such as pasta, breakfast cereals, tinned soups and some yoghurts too. If you are struggling to pick the right foods for your diet or you are not sure what you can and cannot eat, speak to your GP or search for specialised gluten-free substitutes in your supermarket.

If you have had experienced any reactions to foods or you think you may have an allergy, speak with your GP and they can conduct a simple test to determine what allergy you have and how to manage it.


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According to a report in the Mature Times, Britons on average have seven major regrets throughout their lives.

The main list of regrets are made up of decisions that should or should not have been made in a person’s life such as not going to college, achieving better grades in school, taking up smoking, being too adventurous or not being adventurous and not keeping in touch with friends and family.

But, should we let the decisions we have made in the past haunt us forever?

Cave of regret comic

One regret that a lot of people have mentioned on the list is never going to university or college. What I find most interesting about these two is there is still time to get into higher education or take up a course at any age and there are no limits! According to a report in the Guardian, universities minister David Willetts has said that older people should return to higher education.

Taking the step back into education towards the end of one career could open the door to another and also bring new skills which you may have never dreamed possible. Taking up a course in the day or evening is a great way to make new friends too, especially if you’re feeling lonely and want to take up a new hobby.

Making choices to stop smoking, cut down drinking and lead an overall healthier life can benefit everyone and the choices to get married, have children too young, too late or not at all or even buying a house should never be a regret, if it has helped mould you into the person you are today and you are happy then it was only ever a good decision.

Negativity is never any good for anyone and remembering that no matter what you do in life, there will always be a few regrets here and there but if we spent time dwelling on them, we may regret the time we have wasted thinking about them.

Seeing as today is International Happiness Day, I think it is a marvellous opportunity to reflect on the life changing choices made over the years and how happy they have made you!

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Jim Clements is the oldest member of staff in his officeImage | BBC

I have recently read about a 100-year-old man from Essex who says he has no plans to give up the job he started 34 years ago after becoming “bored” with retirement.

Jim Clements, who lives and works in Harlow, said he started the role at Active Security after his wife told him to get a job.
He said: “My wife got on to me because I kept moaning and didn’t know what to do with myself.

“I shall hate it when I do pack up, but it’s got to come one day.”
Mr Clements turned 100 on 20 January and spends two mornings a week at work; filing, shredding and making tea.

Before he took retirement, Mr Clements’s used to make torpedoes!

I have previously blogged about Dolly Saville, a 98-year-old barmaid who also has no intentions of giving up her job too.

I love all these stories about people still living their lives fully and not letting old age get in the way , earlier this week, I also read about three sisters whose ages add up to 304! Eirwen Roberts, who has celebrated her 104th birthday and shared the joy with her sisters, aged 101 and 99.

While Eirwen lives in a care home in Chester, her sisters Eluned and Carys live independently in Rhyl, North Wales.

According to Eirwen’s family, she has always been too busy to think about her age and the sisters put their long lives down to eating well and always being busy and active.

At Bath-Knight we strongly believe in independent living and from starting the company all those years ago, it still amazes me today to see how much my father’s invention helps people and keeps them independent in their own homes. I also agree that the secret to a long and healthy life does seem to be doing what keeps you happy and busy. Keeping fit and healthy along with a great diet is also the key to being young at heart.

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Plummeting temperatures and wintery showers have affected much of the UK over the past couple of days and forecasts published this morning predict that a band of heavy snow will hit most of the country on Friday.

These wintery conditions make life difficult for everyone but elderly people suffer the most because of the impact that freezing temperatures have on their health. Sever cold temperatures can raise the blood pressure and increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke.

spread the warmth elderly lady

Image | Spread the Warmth with Age UK 

Many elderly people find keeping the house warm during periods of prolonged cold weather very difficult and some end up sitting in cold rooms, which can sadly lead to conditions such as colds and flu and in more severe cases hypothermia.

Age UK believes that in excess of ‘200 older people die every day’ due to the cold weather and for a number of years they have campaigned for the government and general public to take action and help the elderly with their ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign.

I’ve featured the campaign on my blog numerous times before but I felt that with the current weather conditions helping the elderly couldn’t be more important- I wrote a Top Tips article just before Christmas which you can read here.

Stay warm logo

Image | Age UK 

In addition to Spread the Warmth campaign, Age UK are also encouraging neighbours, milkmen, postmen and delivery professionals to be vigilant of elderly people who might be struggling in the community. Suggestions include knocking on to make sure elderly neighbours are okay, helping get extra blankets or bedding from cupboards or the lofts, offering to collect medicines from the pharmacy or food essentials from the supermarket.

Helping collect things which elderly people may need is really helpful because they don’t have to venture out. I know from walking my dogs and driving into work this morning that roads and pavements are very slippery and these conditions increase the chances of an elderly person falling; something which is preventable with the help of friends and neighbours.  So if you are an older person who doesn’t feel confident please don’t be afraid to ask for help this winter.

Read more about Age UK’s Spread the Warmth campaign and learn about fall prevent here.

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Dementia affects over 700,000 people in the UK and with an aging population raising awareness of dementia is crucial. Shockingly one in three people over the age of 65 are diagnosed with dementia yet the general public’s understanding of the illness is limited.


Today the government called the lack of dementia awareness ‘a national crisis’ and promised to spend both time and money on creating a better understanding of dementia, an illness that is expected to affect double the amount of people within the next 30 years.

By 2015 the government want to have recruited one million ‘Dementia Friends’- people who take the time to learn more about dementia. Dementia Friends will be able to spot signs and symptoms of dementia and generally understand how the illness affects its sufferers. This awareness will enable people to help dementia sufferers carry out general day-to-day tasks and make life that little bit easier.


The Dementia Friends scheme is encouraging everyone – not just those who have a family member with dementia –to become a Dementia Friend so that there is somebody who can offer a helping hand wherever a dementia suffers goes. Having a Dementia Friend in a supermarket, bank, post office or local library means that people with dementia can live more independently. They can get out and about with the peace of mind that if they get confused or forgetful somebody will understand why, and be able to help.

I think that the scheme is a brilliant idea and with the correct support and backing from the government I’m hopeful that Dementia Friends will have a positive impact and help raise much needed awareness of dementia. More importantly the scheme could significantly improve the lives of people who live with dementia.

Read more about Dementia Friends including how to register to become a Dementia Friend by visiting the Dementia Friends website.

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