The importance of hearing to your general health

There are an estimated 10 million people in the UK with some degree of hearing loss, and research suggests this will have grown by 4.5 million by 2031. This ranges from a moderate loss to total deafness, and while some sufferers will refuse to let it affect their lives, and others wear hearing aids through processes such as Hidden Hearing tests, there will be others whose lives have been severely disrupted.

If our hearing capabilities diminish through age, genetics or accident, then our ability to deal with external factors in our lives can be dramatically affected. General health can be damaged or ruined if we suffer an accident that could have been avoided with good hearing. Crossing busy roads and negotiating cities is a nightmare, driving skills are compromised, and manual work becomes considerably more dangerous – especially work where loud sounds are part of the routine.

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According to the Guardian there is a significant volume of research that shows hearing loss can lead to a raft of other health issues, such as increased falls, Alzheimer’s and even sight loss. In addition many workers lose their jobs, as phone calls, Skyping, face-to-face meetings and other means of communication become largely impossible. The Guardian states that of 300,000 working age people in Britain with severe hearing impairments, 30% were unemployed or unable to look for work.

Just as important as physical health are the mental and social issues that accompany hearing disorders or disabilities. Activities that we take for granted such as attending gigs, playing sports, going to the cinema and simply having a pint with friends at the pub become potential sources of distress.

People with hearing loss may suffer embarrassment in social situations, and/or anxiety, paranoia and worst of all social isolation, which can also lead to depression. This then spirals when the sufferer becomes scared of leaving their home and seeing others. In the case of the elderly, combine the loss of hearing with faltering eyesight, mobility and strength, and you have a recipe for total social deprivation.

The saddest element of the problem is that, in many cases, hearing loss can be cleared up or tackled with an aid. The tiny devices are now so discrete that they can barely be seen.

But here’s another thing that you may never have considered before – the costs of untreated hearing loss, in terms of both time and money. According to the Ear Foundation, as reported by NCHA, untreated adult hearing loss could cost the economy as much as £30 billion a year in lost productivity and unemployment.

Worst of all, this figure could rise further if NHS organisations go ahead with potential plans to ration hearing aids. Hearing loss affects us all if we live long enough, but some of us are unlucky and suffer at an earlier age. That loss can then spread to other aspects of our health, and even other peoples’ and the results can be devastating. The conclusion is clear – get your hearing checked, as it could save your overall health.

Do family holidays make a difference to a child’s development?

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The Family Holiday Association has spent the past 40 years helping disadvantaged families holiday with the ones they love. Why? Well, parent founders Joan and Patrick Laurence believe a family break can enrich lives long after the suitcases are unpacked and feel strongly that getting away for a few days can assist a child’s development. Travel is a form of education, after all, so here are several ways a vacation can help your little ones learn and grow.

They’ll learn about different countries and cultures

There are many things you can’t fully understand until you see them for yourself – such as how people live in different countries and cultures. One of the best ways to make sense of the world is to get out there and travel and with a wide range of luxury family holidays available, it’s easier than ever to take your children with you. This is great news as not only will your little ones learn about the world around them in an interactive and fun way but they’ll experience sights, sounds and smells that’ll stay with them forever.

So, whether you fancy staying close to home with a weekend trip to Devon or jetting off into the sun to somewhere like Thailand or Dubai it’s well worth researching a break that’ll suit your entire brood. Resorts across the world offer family friendly facilities to suit all ages and don’t be put off going to exotic places as there are holidays available that’ll meet your needs.

They’ll see and do different things

Many families follow a similar kind of routine: waking up early, heading to school/work, coming home, eating dinner, watching TV/playing then going to bed. While structure and order is an important part of daily life, it’s good to get away and do something different from time to time. Going on holiday for a week or two (or even a weekend) will not only stimulate the brain but it could help you and your kids to feel reenergised and refreshed.

To get the most out of your break, however, and to ensure your children are both educated and entertained, it’s a good idea to research your chosen destination and to come up with an itinerary of things you want to do and see. Perhaps you could even create an online holiday bucket list to work through together?

They’ll get to enjoy quality family time

With so much to do on a daily basis, it can be easy to lose track of what’s important in life such as spending quality time with your family. If your children only see you in the evenings after work, they’ll surely love seeing you splash in the pool or play with them on the beach and will appreciate the special moments you spend together. Of course, we all have to earn a living and make sacrifices in the process, but holidays are the perfect opportunity to bring your family close together and make memories with the ones you love.

What’s more, as the Family Association has shown, holidays can help whole families reconnect after a tragic incident. Last year, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council family support worker Janet Rushton arranged for a family with three children to go on holiday to Wales. She explains: “They lost a baby three years ago and were stuck in bereavement, and the children felt they were tiptoeing around. However, they really bonded on the trip and came back able to start putting it behind them. They are now accepting bereavement counselling.”

Family holidays can have a positive impact on a child’s development and they don’t have to be a drain on time or resources either. If you can’t spare a fortnight off work, a simple weekend break could make a big difference.

 

5 things most tradesmen won’t tell you

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When it comes to hiring a tradesman your choice could make a real impact on your home and finances. With the so-called cowboy builders out there and wannabe handy men already costing homeowners £1.9bn a year in insurance claims, it’s important that you stay on your toes.

While you wait for quotes and for them to actually return phone calls, keep in mind these five things that most tradesmen won’t tell you when organising work:

  1. You’re paying a significant amount more for materials than I do

A tradesman will never admit to this. Say for example you have called in an expert to lay down some swish underfloor heating in your kitchen, you might think they are picking up underfloor heating mats from the Underfloor Heating Store when in fact they have sourced them from somewhere much cheaper and less reputable.

Of course, this only applies to the shady types of the tradesman world, most will only charge you the amount they pay for the materials – they get them at trade prices anyway! But it’s still important to be aware, do your research and call them up on any costs that seem much higher than they should be.

Search for a contractor that’s been using the same name for three years or more. It’s easy to change a business name to start over – if you’ve been branded untrustworthy by your previous customers – but not the standard of work.

  1. I could take your money and never come back

Always try to avoid paying for any work upfront, a small deposit is enough to secure most tradesmen but when they start asking for half or even all of the money up front you should reconsider. If a tradesman needs all the money up front for the cost of supplies, because they can’t afford them, it could be an indicator that their business is in trouble.

  1. Work will always take longer than planned

The tradesman might not have a particular part that is needed unexpectedly so must order one in, or an emergency job might come up which they have to go to over yours. Either way always be prepared for work to overrun.

  1. I could cut corners and you wouldn’t notice

The reason you are calling out a tradesman is because you do not know how to do the job yourself and unless you are watching the plumber like a hawk you might not notice if he doesn’t replace a pipe he said he would in his quote. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all tradesmen, most of them are more than trustworthy, but you probably wouldn’t notice (or be told) if corners have been cut.

  1. I’m doing well, so if a better job comes along I could drop yours for that

Now, we know that only a select few tradespeople would ever do this but it’s something to be aware of. The skilled worker market is currently smaller than it needs to be; with more people opting for University over vocational courses tradesmen are enjoying more work and the option to pick and choose jobs. This is why some plumbers and bricklayers are enjoying £100k yearly wage packets because work is in abundance.

With so many horror stories out there it’s very easy to tar all tradesmen with the same brush but remember if you do your research, don’t settle on the cheapest quote and seek the advice of family and friends you should be in good hands.

 

 

 

 

 

Ensuring a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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All expectant parents hope for a happy and healthy baby, and one way of increasing the chances of this is to look after YOU, mum.

You want to make your body safe and provide a comfortable place for your unborn child to grow and develop over the 9 months of pregnancy while feeling good about yourself at the same time. So take a look at a few of these points and do your bit to ensure a happy and healthy pregnancy:

  1. Keep Active

Pregnancy is not an excuse to let yourself go and sit on the sofa stuffing your face with snacks for months on end. Exercise is good for your body and therefore your baby.

Consistent exercise is key for a large placenta, which transfers oxygen and nutrients to your baby. Plus it can keep both the mum and baby’s hearts healthy too.

Listen to your body and continue with moderate exercise throughout your pregnancy. You may like to take it a little easier in your third trimester though. No marathons ok!

  1. Detoxify

Giving up alcohol and smoking is one of the obvious ways of detoxifying your body when you are pregnant, but it is important to think of other harmful chemicals too.

Cut down on processed fast food where possible and stick to real organic ingredients in your meals. It is also advisable to avoid tinned foods too as they may include BPA, a chemical which can interrupt hormones and effect development.

Avoid personal care products that are perfumed, and be careful when using cleaning products. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Get Your Rest

It’s important to get your 8 hours of sleep so your body is fully rested, and this is especially true when you are pregnant. This rest time will give your body time to rejuvenate and recover from the increased strain. So if you feel like taking a nap go for it!

  1. Think About Vaginal Health

Vaginal health is extremely important when pregnant or trying to conceive. Educating yourself about vaginal health and ensuring you are problem free puts you one step closer in guaranteeing a healthy baby arrives.

Regular health checks are advised throughout your pregnancy, as well as your regular scans. Common conditions such as bacterial vaginosis can often go unnoticed or get confused with similar conditions like thrush. But diagnosing a case of BV early is essential as if left untreated can increase the risk of miscarriage and premature birth. A simple check-up could save lives!

  1. Consider Taking Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are extremely popular with expectant mothers as they replenish the nutrients that your unborn child draws from your body.

Omega 3 and healthy fish oils play a large part in fetal development and are essential for a healthy brain. Plus research has found that increased Omega 3 levels can help prevent postnatal depression in some cases. Whereas Vitamin D will reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, such as diabetes, and helps build strong bones and muscles.

Drinking a high quality probiotic on a regular basis will also help. These will make sure your baby receives good bacteria and will reduce the risk of illness once they are born.

These five points are a great start in ensuring a happy and healthy pregnancy, but if you have any questions it is important to ask a health professional.

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

If you would like to learn more about feminine health or any products that can improve it, take a look at the Balance Activ website. Balance Activ is an expert in natural feminine hygiene products that work in harmony with your body to be gently effective, so whether you are 18 or 80 they can help.

Elfie: My #ARWOMAN

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You may have seen the #ARWOMAN campaign floating around a couple of blogs recently.

It is a movement created by Atterley Road, whose goal it is to get women openly celebrating other woman. As a pretty headstrong feminism loving woman myself (*fistbump*) I am more than happy to take part in celebrating the women in my life who are inspiring leaders, role models and all-round wonderful human beings.

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I’m lucky in that I have lots of strong woman in my life. From my best friend Kirsty who is the wiliest businesswoman I know to my Mum friends Bryony and Amy who all juggle multiple things to be wonderful mothers. My mum, who has gone from open heart surgery to marathon training to my old friend Su who is the most intelligent hardworking solicitor I have ever met and hugely kind to our planet, too. Then there are the multitudes of blog cohorts who inspire me every day – my soul sister Charlotte, viral blogger extraordinaire Alison, beautiful businesswoman Fritha and creative genius Aly. I am so grateful to have these wonderful women surrounding me – life wouldn’t be the same without them.

But when Atterley Road asked me to pick one woman in particular I knew who I wanted to write about.

My very own little Elfie.

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Now, she may not be a woman (yet – though she has the attitude of one) but she is one of the most inspiring people I know.

Elfie did not have an easy time of it when she was born. She was a very poorly baby and was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition at two and a half months old. Looking back it is heartbreaking how close I came to losing her; she was so tiny and so unwell with a disease that took a long time to diagnose.

I call her my special snowflake because that’s what she is. Though it’s impossible to say exactly how many, she is one of around 180 people in the world with her condition – making her a very fascinating specimen to her Consultants and Professors when we visit Great Ormond St.

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She’s always been a fighter. She fought to get well when she was so close to death and in such obvious pain as a baby. She fought to put all the weight back on that she’d lost while she was so ill. She fought with me last week because I gave her crayons instead of colouring pens ;)

Elfie is such a clever little thing and so much of her brains are her own doing. She will happily sit on a Sunday afternoon with her pens and paper, painstakingly spelling out her favourite words (and doing a marvellous job of it too!). Reading is one of her favourite things to do and she’ll spend hours reading to me, her brother, her toy animals… anyone who will listen to her. Her reading and writing skills are more than on-par with those in her year in school, despite her being a young July baby who spent months being ill and then catching up. I’m so proud of her intellect and the work she puts into it – long may that remain.

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Elfie reminds me so much of me. On the outside she is headstrong, independent, feisty and knows her own mind yet she still needs the occasional hug of reassurance, a cuddle and a talk with her mum. She tells me I am her best friend and that when she grows up she wants to be my helper at work :) I always think it’s good to lead by example so I love that she takes an interest in the work I do. Maybe one day she can join the family business of the Internet?

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Poor E gets put through a lot. Blood tests and daily medications, wearing a special medical ID, being that little bit different from her friends. But she takes this in her stride, not once complaining or asking ‘why?’. She knows she is special, I tell her every day, and that I am so proud of the person she is becoming. She inspires me daily with her resilience, with her spirit and with her loving heart. I’d want to be more like her but then I remember that I made her :) And for that I will forever be thankful. Elfie, you’re my very best friend too.

Which strong woman in your life inspires you?

 

DIY At Home: My Top Tips

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I am a real homebird; I love my home, I spend a lot of time here and I like it to look as lovely as possible. But as I’m on a budget I try and get as much DIY and home improvements done myself, as the professionals can be a bit too expensive for my modest wallet. I think over the years I’ve become pretty good at turning my house into a home on a budget – this is how I’ve done it.

- Google is your friend
If you know what you want to do but aren’t sure how to do it, give it a Google. Chances are there’ll be a DIY blogger out there who will have written about it or posted a video. Et voila! No professional needed and you’ll feel pretty proud of your very own hard work. I particularly love the blog Little Green Notebook for tips and inspiration.

- Internet/budget shopping
If you visit the large home superstores you probably won’t be paying the best prices. Do your research by searching online – I find you can always get a great bargain at Wickes, their own-brand paint is particularly great!

- Find A DIY Friend
Do you have a friend who is good at DIY? I don’t trust myself with a drill so I’m always in need of help and my Dad is my very own DIY friend. He can literally do ANYTHING when it comes to home improvements and I must have saved thousands over the years by trusting his talent and skill ;)

- Pinterest
There’s no use in spending money on home improvements if you might not like them in years to come. Before I look at making changes I put together room themes and ideas, just to make sure I don’t change my mind a couple of months down the line. Pinterest hasn’t failed me yet!

Through sticking to a few thrifty tips like these I am well on the way to saving for a mortgage. If you’re looking at getting a loan for some home improvements do check out this handy calculator, before you know it you’ll be well on your way to a Pinterest-worthy abode.

 

Thankyou TSB for supporting MTT!