In our Tafta blog, we write about anything and everything to do with active ageing, and promoting a life worth living, regardless of age
If you’re anticipating spending time with your grandchildren these holidays, you might be wondering how on earth to keep them happily entertained, especially if you have a limited budget or you battle with mobility.
Trips to the movies, Funworld or uShaka can put unwelcome pressure on your finances, especially if there are ice creams, hamburgers and popcorn to buy on top of the tickets.
Picnic in the park
Luckily there are cheaper options that prove just as appealing to active youngsters. If transport is available and you’re fit and active, why not take the kids for a picnic to the beach or a nearby park? Packing juice, fruit, sandwiches or cheese and biscuits is all part of the fun and younger children, especially, prefer the freedom of a picnic to sitting down to eat at a café.
The Durban Botanic Gardens offers plenty of open space for play – plus the attraction of the Butterfly Habitat Garden and the lake area with its abundant bird life. Mitchell Park is another winner – with its large playground. Entrance into the park is free, and tickets into the zoo section are affordable at only R10 for children under 12 and R6 for pensioners!
If you are housebound, there are still plenty of fun activities you can enjoy with your grandchildren. Why not gather together some paper, paints or crayons and paint a picture together? With all the technology and high end toys available these days, many kids still enjoy plain old messy fun.
If you’re a bit of a hoarder, you may have bits of ribbon, buttons, old Christmas cards and so on – as well as everyday household items like tin foil and cotton wool – that can be glued onto your picture to create interesting textures.
Every child kneads play dough
Play dough can provide hours of fun – and is suitable for a range of ages. Get the kids to help you make your own, non toxic dough.
• 2 cups flour
• ½ cup of salt
• 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
• ¾ cup of hot water
• 1 tablespoon cooking oil (or baby oil)
• Food colouring
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and form a well in the centre. Add the oil, water and food colouring* and knead into a soft dough. If the dough seems too runny, allow the mixture to rest for a few moments to give the salt a chance to absorb extra moisture. If the dough is still sticky, add a little more flour. If you want different coloured balls of dough, divide the mixture into before adding the colouring.
Now for the fun! Use cookie cutters, natural materials like stones or leaves that can be pressed into the dough to make patterns, or simply model the dough into animals and people. Play dough can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month and used again and again.
Get creative with FunLooms
Create your own colourful jewellery with the Fun Loom Kit! This kit includes a hook, 600 colourful nontoxic silicone bands, 30 closure clips, a step-by-step guide and an expandable loom board that lets you design and make trendy accessories such as bracelets, rings, hair bands, belts, necklaces and more.
Homemark currently has a promotion on their FunLooms. For R99.95 (including shipping) you can buy a pack that will keep the grandkids busy for hours! The best part about this, is that a portion of each pack sold goes to Tafta to benefit Durban’s elders.
Put the pieces together
Older children may enjoy building a challenging jigsaw puzzle with you. Many thrift shops sell second hand puzzles at next to nothing. Or you may be able to swop puzzles with friends to provide new challenges.
Icing on the top
Kids love to help with baking, especially if there are bowls to lick afterwards or you’re using Smarties or Astros for decoration (just keep little ones away from hot ovens)! Why not rustle up a batch of Christmas cookies together and decorate them with coloured icing? These make wonderful gifts as well – so you can have fun and give pleasure at the same time.
For the sugar cookies you will need:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
Cream butter and sugar until soft and fluffly (at least 3 mins)
Beat in vanilla essence and egg
In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add a little at a time to the butter mixture until you have a stiff dough. Do not refrigerate. Roll out onto a floured surface and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool and decorate with royal icing.
To make the icing, you will need:
3 cups icing sugar
2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Blend together the sugar, cream of tartar and egg whites. Add vanilla essence and beat for one or two minutes. Add water if necessary to obtain a spreading consistency. Divide icing and add different food colouring as required. Pipe or spread icing over cookies and add additional decorations (eg silver balls) if required.
Have more fun ideas for holiday fun on a budget? Please share with us!
[November 19, 2019]
With nearly 10 million adult South Africans sitting at home unemployed, the introduction of a National Minimum Wage bill at the beginning of the year seems ill timed to say the least!
No one can argue with the need for workers – especially domestic and farm workers – to be protected from exploitation. But the country can’t afford to shed more jobs. And with the number of business liquidations having increased by 53% between April 2018 and April 2019, shouldn’t small businesses and NPOs at least be exempt from the National Minimum Wage (NMW)?
Exemptions for Non Profits?
Like many other NPOs, Tafta operates with limited resources. Some of our services – for example care work – are subsidised by the Department of Social Development (DSD), with the organisation being expected to fund the balance through fundraising activities. But, with the South African economy having shrunk by more than 3% in the first quarter of 2019, raising funds from local businesses and individuals has become a major challenge!
This, together with the waning DSD subsidy, is placing severe pressure on our resources to meet ever growing needs in the elder care sector – and Tafta, along with other NPOs in the care sector, may not be in a position to pay care workers the prescribed minimum wage.
In Wentworth, 12 marginalised women have been trained to provide home based care for elderly members of their community. The carers serve between 80-86 elders monthly, in return for a small stipend.
We know this payment is inadequate and we’d love to be in a position to pay our carers their real worth. But we can’t afford to. And at least these women – who previously had no income whatsoever – now have the opportunity to earn something. If we are forced to close this programme – which has been in operation for 20 years, the result will be more unemployed people and a lack of elder care in this underprivileged community.
Arguments for the minimum wage include the fact that many unskilled and semi skilled workers are sole breadwinners. Their pay may need to support a family of five, seven or even more – including children and elderly parents. But is it fair to place the burden for that on the employer’s shoulders?
Employers also under pressure
Many small business owners and employers of domestic workers are struggling themselves. Affordability is the reason many are limiting their own families to one or two children. Even then, stay-at-home moms are a rarity. Whether or not they want to, most mothers are forced to leave their babies in child care and work full time to make ends meet.
It has also been suggested that, because transport can be a problem, working hours for domestics should be 9am – 3pm. But how does this sit with someone holding down a high powered, stressful job, who seldom leaves the office before 7pm? Is that OK because they have a company car and can drive home at any time?
And what about the latest phenomenon – the side hustle?
People in full time employment are working a second job to supplement their income – selling items online, repairing computers, teaching yoga, music or English to foreigners, writing blogs, baking or cooking, or driving Ubers.
Entrepreneurial in nature, these activities offer no guarantees of minimum earnings. Yet, it’s often said that we need more entreprenuers in South Africa … creating a culture where people can turn their ideas, skills, passion and sheer hard work into an income stream. What are your views?
[October 7, 2019]
If you’re looking for a career path that almost guarantees employment, consider training as a carer.
Especially in the field of elder care, trained carers are always in demand. Currently there are almost 700 million people in the world over the age of 60; this is expected to grow to over 2 billion by 2050, with Africa having one of the faster growing ageing populations.
With the critical shortage of affordable residential facilities for older people, the trend is to encourage elders to remain in their own homes for as long as possible – supported by trained carers as necessary. Carers visit for an agreed number of hours daily to help with bathing, dressing, preparing meals, washing and changing bedlinen, issuing medication, shopping, running errands and providing companionship.
Being well aware of the demand for this service, Tafta has been running Care Practitioners Courses since 2014. The Course is currently pending Accreditation. Our team of well trained and experienced facilitators includes social workers and an occupational therapist with specialist knowledge in caring for old and frail people and those living with a disability, and nursing sisters experienced in chronic disease, mental health, emergency first aid and palliative care.
After completing the 12 week course, graduates are qualified to work at health care institutions, private and government old age homes, or at clients’ private homes. Wherever possible, Tafta assists graduates to find suitable employment through agencies like AllMed, Flo-Line and within our own residences and home based care services.
Courses are held regularly throughout the year at Tafta’s John Conradie House, South Beach, Durban. Applicants must have a School Certificate (min Grade 10) and a good grasp of English. The cost of the course is R3 500 payable in advance. If you are interested in joining the next course (early 2020), please contact us.
[September 25, 2019]
Insomnia … asthma and hayfever … excruciating back pain – just some of the symptoms many of us put up with every day because we assume we’re stressed, getting old or that pollen season is here.
And yet the cause could be something as simple as sleeping on a bed that’s past it’s ‘best before’ date.
Once we’ve invested in a bed, most of us don’t give it another thought. Years and years go by and even the best quality mattress begins to deteriorate. Ideally, a mattress needs to be replaced every eight to ten years, depending on your weight. Obviously heavier people cause a mattress to sag more quickly. And that leads to all sorts of health problems.
Back ache is one of the most common symptoms. As your mattress starts to sag, it loses its ability to support your body correctly. If your spine is poorly aligned during the 6 – 8 hours you’re asleep every night, your body is going to feel stiff and sore when you wake up. You may also suffer from disturbed sleep as you toss and turn, trying to find a more comfortable position.
Chronic fatigue and poor mental health
Suffering from a bad night’s sleep once in a while won’t kill you. But if this becomes a regular occurrence, you not only deprive your body of the time it needs to repair and restore itself, you’ll suffer from drowsiness and impaired mental ability, leading to poor judgment and even mood swings. Your mattress could be making you mentally ill as well as physically uncomfortable!
Older mattresses also have a larger collection of dust mites – as many as 10 million, feeding off your dead skin cells and body oils that collect over time. Although these microscopic bugs are invisible to the naked eye and don’t bite, if you suffer from allergies or asthma, you may notice your sneezing, runny nose, tight chest and watery, itchy eyes getting worse and worse. Waking up congested or stuffy is a common symptom of a dust mite invasion. Although vacuuming your mattress and washing bedlinen once a week in very hot water helps keep dust mites in check, the long term solution is a brand new mattress.
Mould and mildew
We humans don’t only shed skin cells – on hot nights, sweat soaks through the sheets and collects in the mattress. Over the time, this can cause mould and mildew to grown in the mattress and the result can be more allergic reactions – from a tight chest to skin rashes.
A good night of rest is one of the best things you can do for your health. You owe it to yourself to invest in a new mattress regularly.
[September 13, 2019]
Occasionally experiencing difficulty remembering things is normal, especially as we age. However, serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work may be a sign of Alzheimer’s Disease, a type of dementia. Because the disease is baffling and affects people at random, there is a lot of confusion about Alzheimer’s, what causes it, what treatment is available and the long term prognosis. We separate the facts from the myths:
Only old people get Alzheimer’s
While most people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 years or older, around 5 % are in their 40s or 50s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s may be more aggressive and patients may deteriorate more rapidly than those diagnosed later in life. Younger people with the disease are also more likely to be mis-diagnosed, with their symptoms being attributed to stress, menopause, or depression.
Alzheimer’s symptoms are just a normal part of ageing
Some memory loss is natural as we age, but memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s is more serious. In the early stages, patients may forget important dates or events, or ask the same question over and over. As the disease progresses, they become more disoriented and confused. They may not be capable of caring for themselves, or finding their way back home if they go out. They may also become aggressive or even violent as a result of the confusion, fear, and frustration that Alzheimer’s causes. In the later stages, people with Alzheimer’s may lose the ability to eat and talk.
If someone can remember incidents from their childhood in detail, they don’t have Alzheimer’s.
Patients in the early stages of the disease may have clear recollections of people and events from their childhood, but be unable to remember something that happened 20 minutes ago. That’s because the disease typically begins in the part of the brain where new experiences or memories are stored. Sadly, even those lasting, long-term memories will also fade over time.
Alzheimer’s Disease is preventable.
Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented in those with the specific genetic mutation linked to the disease. However, regular exercise, a healthy diet and not smoking can support brain health. Several studies have also shown that maintaining social contacts and staying mentally active may strengthen connections between the nerve cells and the brain and help lower the risk of cognitive decline.
With the correct treatment, Alzheimer’s can be cured, or at least prevented from getting worse.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that cannot be cured. Some drugs (cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine) may help treat the cognitive symptoms (memory loss, confusion, and problems with thinking and reasoning). Supplements such as vitamins E, B, and C, gingko biloba, folate, and selenium have been tested but results have been inconclusive.
Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by exposure to aluminium pots and pans, antacids, antiperspirants, aspartame (an artificial sweetener) or flu shots.
Numerous studies have been conducted to find out if these products have any effect on cognitive function, and so far there is no evidence to support any of these theories. A 2001 report in the Canadian Medical Journal suggested that older adults who received vaccinations for flu and other diseases actually had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. They also avoided the very real risks of flu which can be dangerous for the elderly.
Head injuries cause Alzheimer’s.
Some research has shown that moderate to severe traumatic brain injury can increase the risk of an individual developing Alzheimer’s disease, even years after the initial injury. However, not everyone who experiences severe head trauma will develop Alzheimer’s, and more research is needed to understand the possible link.
If your parent developed Alzheimer’s, you will too.
Unfortunately, research has shown that those with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with the disease have a higher risk of developing it themselves. If your parent had early-onset Alzheimer’s and you have the specific genetic mutation for the early-onset type, you will definitely develop the disease. A deterministic gene is one that directly causes a disease, while risk genes are those that increase the likelihood of developing a disease, but it is not guaranteed.
[September 11, 2019]