People who had been recently diagnosed, and those with mild osteoporosis or osteopenia, indicated that they had made little or no change to their social life or leisure activities. Others thought that osteoporosis didn’t have any direct effect on their social life. Clare said that she has an active social life with ‘lots of hobbies, lots of friends and lots of life’. Marylin spends many of her evenings at the gym. Jenny goes line dancing three times a week. The only things that Gloria wouldn’t do are physical activities that would put a strain on her skeleton, but apart from that she says that her life hasn’t been too affected by osteoporosis. For Iris, every day since her retirement is ‘like a Saturday, you can go out.’
Jenny is married and has one adult son. She was aware of osteoporosis before diagnosis because for many years, she has had a dairy-free diet due to ME and other allergies.
I dance. I do an awful lot of dancing. Three times a week we dance. So, yes, we dance and that is brilliant, the dancing we do, for osteoporosis.
What are you doing?
Well, we started out as line dancers, American line dancers. We do the couples now and that they say the pounding of the floor is excellent for it. We probably do it three times a week. My husband does it so we do couples dancing. But line dancing if you are on your own is excellent. And I think they do advocate that, they mention it in their book how good dancing is.
Age at interview:
Age at diagnosis:
Married; two daughters. Iris has recently retired and says that it is in denial about her osteoporosis because this was supposed to be her 'me time'.
Walking, line dancing. I still ride my bike. But of course my life has changed. As if, if I had been diagnosed when I was working it would have been a completely different life, then, because I was sort of sitting at a desk all day. And now, I don’t go to work. So, but so my life has changed completely anyway, and yes, we got out every day. We would normally be out today. Every day, we just get up and get out and then we come back in the afternoon and husband has a bit of a kip and I will do whatever I want to do, and that’s what we do.
My son is here with us. He is 30. So there is three of us, and …
Are you enjoying your retirement?
Absolutely. Absolutely. And feeling much better, you see. That makes, so there is more things I can do.
I’m lucky because I’m busy, so it’s not a big thing in my life. Because I’m onto the next thing, you know, where are we going go, what are we going to do. But for someone who may be hasn’t got, I mean I haven’t got money, but I make a big thing about getting as much money out of anything as I can. Do you know what I mean I have got the time to do that. So I cut vouchers out and I go off and have a cheap meal or whatever, and we do silly things like that, but some other people may not be, well they may not even have the mindset that they want to go out and do things and whatever. They may want a friend or… I don’t know. But just, but just to I don’t know.
Your social life, you said is quite busy?
Yes, and we always were. I mean we used to rock and roll, we used to jive and everything else. We have always been dancers and things, but I have always been busy, but even more now obviously because we have got day to day that we can, every day is like a Saturday isn’t it, you can go out.
Others had the attitude that pain or other physical problems shouldn’t limit their leisure activities and had instead adapted or changed things like hobbies so they kept themselves busy and physically and socially active. Susan, for example, can no longer play badminton but she walks and does the gardening instead. Pat goes with her husband to their local indoors bowls club at the weekend where they meet up with friends to play bingo. Elizabeth, who was diagnosed in 1978, said that osteoporosis has been in the ‘background’ but it hasn’t stopped her from leading an active social life and travelling. Several thought that old age rather than osteoporosis per se is more likely to affect their social life.
Elizabeth regularly travels abroad to see family and says that osteoporosis hasn't stopped her from having an active life and that she only thinks about her condition when she fractures a bone.
I’ve lived a very active life.
So osteoporosis was something that you had but you...?
But it was only in the background.
In the background?
Yes. Absolutely. I mean it never stopped me travelling or doing any of the things I wanted to do at all.
Well one of my daughters lives in Vancouver. And so I … every year since ’97, I have gone over to Vancouver for anything from four to six weeks in the summer. And done just what I’ve wanted to do. Taken part in all the things that are going on and so on. Very active, very active.
So that. And my other daughter lives in France, right down in the south, well the southwest. So I’ve been going over there two or three times a year. And think nothing of it.
So on the whole osteoporosis hasn’t affected you on a …
… kind of everyday …?
No, no it hasn’t. Not at all.
Susan lives on her own but her daughter lives in the next village. Susan's mother had osteoporosis. She would like more information on non-drug based treatments for osteoporosis
Tell me about your leisure and social activities. Have you had to stop doing things because of osteoporosis or not?
Well yes it was the badminton which I could have carried on because you can do that as older people but that I found was quite difficult basically. Lifting up my arms sometimes I found that was not so good and my knees didn’t like it either so basically I just felt I’m growing out of it [laugh] or getting older. So that, that I had to stop. Bicycling I haven’t stopped. I like that. I still do it. Walking, I actually do more walking than before. No I don’t think so. No I’ve always been active and I try to be and I’m 63 and I’m probably more active than the average 63-year old, a great deal. So no it hasn’t stopped me particularly, just slowing down a little bit so. I think so.
But you do sort of gardening?
Oh yes I do it because I am divorced so I do all the gardening. I do digging in the garden, cut the grass, anything. Climb the trees, [laugh] I’m joking.
And you have your hobbies and friends and?
That’s right, yes, yeah, yeah. Well, well my big hobby is basically gardening and I play bridge you know, competitive bridge so it’s take it quite seriously.
And you have a circle of friends around?
Yes both here and other countries as well and I travel quite a lot because my son lives in [country]. My daughter lives around here and my friends in a lot of places. And I go to [country] of course, my relatives, where I have relatives. So yes I get about quite a bit.
Age at interview:
Age at diagnosis:
Works as a freelance interpreter. To include walking into her daily routine she uses public transport. On average she walks around seven miles or more per week.
Well I do make an effort the days that I’m not working I do walk, make an effort and go out and walk around. So I would say that normally I probably walk for at least seven hours a week. An hour a day at least and often longer. I walk to the main bus stop, I’ve measured it, it’s a mile. So I mean usually if I’m going for buses I probably walk two miles there and back to the buses and then I’ll walk quite a bit when I get somewhere. And if it’s an interesting area I’ll walk, walk quite a bit. And I go, around looking at London and churches and stuff like that. I’m interested in architecture and history [cough]. So I go around looking at things quite frequently.
And apart from your leisure activities, your social activities involve going out with friends?
Yes going out, going to the cinema, things of that kind and again to dinner and whatever. Yeah. I mean if possible but I do go and do things on my own if people aren’t available but I prefer to go out with other people and I prefer to eat with other people as frequently as possible because I live on my own.
So how often do you manage sort of like eating with other people?
Sometimes I might go a week or so without. But other times say about several times a week.
Ok so it just varies?
From one week to another?
Yes. I have no pattern and my friends are quite diverse in fact. Obviously it’s easier if I can find women who don’t have any ties at home who are available to go out. There’s quite, quite a wide age range between the sort of women who are available to go out.
Do you think that osteoporosis has an effect on your social life?
No I think age is restricting, I mean it would have, perhaps it would affect me if I thought there was still possibilities of getting boyfriends to feel that I couldn’t really go out on the market with something wrong with me. But I say I mean I have problems with my teeth and I feel that that’s more of a bore in a way [laugh]. Not having nice teeth these days yes.
Several elderly people lived in retired sheltered accommodation and said that social activities were organised for residents, such as coffee mornings, bridge clubs, book clubs and musical evenings. But the level of activities varied a lot. Whereas, Elizabeth said there were lots of activities arranged for residents in the retirement accommodation she lived in, Cressida was a ‘bit disappointed’ with her place of residence because people were not as sociable as she had hoped. Betty observed that activities decreased as people become older and were less inclined to take part. Residents also organised other activities such as a trip to the theatre, museum or a coach tour for the day.
Widow, retired secretary, lives on her own flat in sheltered accommodation. Betty uses herbal medicine extensively and has accumulated a great deal and knowledge about it.
Yes, it’s our, its all our own all our own individual flats. We each buy our own flat but you have use of communal areas. We’ve got a lounge downstairs with a little kitchen and we’ve got a recreation room upstairs.
Do you have some activities for residents?
Not very many now because people have got older and older and less able to do things. We used to have far more when we came here and apparently when they first started fifteen years ago there were a lot of activities here. We used to have whist drives and all sorts but those have all gone by the board because there aren’t enough people to take part or willing to take part. We have a bingo session once a fortnight which I’m not a bingo person but I go to because it’s something to do. And also it means that some of them like it and if you go you enable it to carry on whereas it wouldn’t if everybody stopped going.
We have a quiz once a month. There again, for the last three months, there haven’t been sufficient to hold it. It only needs six and there haven’t been six coming. So it’s not worth the gentleman’s time in preparing the questions and answers for that, you know, so we make it we have to have six to carry on with that. But that hasn’t been for the last three weeks. We all turn up and then doesn’t happen three, three months rather.
Yesterday they had a coach went took some of them to Claxton-on-Sea. I think there were about thirteen went on that but I couldn’t because my back won’t let me sit on coaches.
And what else do you do? Do you read?
Not so much nowadays. Again, the, this last six months my brain power seems to have gone down an awful lot. I do some bits and pieces for here on the computer. I do the notices for here and things like that. I do theatre bookings. We’ve got a local theatre and one time quite a number of people used to go. This time there were only five of us going but I still manage to get to that with difficulty, with the help of the lady who goes with me. She’s very good. She usually carries my seat for me and again the dial a ride, we can book up a fortnight before for a theatre visit. So we book up on that and they collect you at the door and then they take to the theatre and then they bring you back again afterwards. The staff on that, the actual drivers, are absolutely phenomenal. They really put themselves out to help you and…
And when you go to the, to the theatre do you take your special…?
I take my special seat always, yes yes.
The theatre we go to has a walk down entrance to the front of the auditorium and we always have the front two or three rows of seats. Because there are a number of us who can’t manage steps very well and it’s so they’ve got no hand rails up the steps in this theatre. So it’s very much safer if we’re either in the front two rows which have no steps or the next row so you have a minimum of steps. So I always book for us in those rows because it’s as I say, I do the bookings [laughs] so I can organise it like that
Sometimes people were affected by loneliness. Old age, ill health and little mobility can all have an impact on social networks and social interaction. Some people, particularly the elderly explained that a reduced social world was the result of close friends dying or moving away or suffering from ill health. Whilst many people said that they maintained regular contact with their children and grandchildren, those who had lost their spouses lived alone. Sydney lives alone and enjoys meeting his ex-work colleagues at the pub once a week. Only Emma and Iris have grown up children living at home with them (see also Family, friends and support for people with osteoporosis).
Most of the people we interviewed said that their families had been very supportive; that they go on holidays or take short breaks together. But Diana said that much of her social life is with friends her own age rather than with her family because they tend to do different activities.
Cressida lives by herself but her daughter who lives nearby visits her regularly. She describes herself as 'fiercely independent'. She needs help with cleaning the house and with washing her hair.
No once a week [daughter] comes here.
And she bathes me from head to toe. Yes. And which is very nice, I like it a lot. And she rolls it up for me. And then whenever, we are due for a tidy up [laughs]. She and [name] fix a date because they have children at the same school and things and so.
And at the weekends what do you do?
At the weekends it’s not so good I must say. No I don’t really like the weekends. So it gets, well that’s Monday this week. Yesterday she came. She didn’t stay because she was in a bit of muddle. She hadn’t sort … yes, the children come to me on the Tuesday. Well she teaches a tap class to adults. So about four o’clock she had to go there and start teaching. So she the children get… yes after school rushed here in a hurry, she doesn’t come up. She just opens the front door for them and they come up here. And [daughter] picks then up. That was yesterday. Today is you. Tomorrow, oh yeah, [cleaner] a different day isn’t it? So this week is quite a different altogether. Tomorrow [daughter], will come to and I’m going, and take me to the nurse.
Oh and a dentist, I was going to ring [name] up wasn’t I? Oh, I’ve buggered that, oh well. And then and she’ll bring me home. The dentist too, I certainly hope. And the one that’s just rung me up, [name] downstairs, is having this mighty lunch party. And so I think she’s asked twelve people.
So you socialise with your neighbours in the building?
Well it has been rather disappointing actually this building.
Yes because one sort of thought before you came here, because I’m quite a sociable sort of person. And I’ve always been used to in, in [town] my front door was ever, my street front and was always open, from first light to dark. And so that was quite easy and people would drop in. In any case I lived there for whatever it was, amazing fifteen years, and so I knew a lot of people. And [husband] wasn’t dead. He died two months after I got up here. Yeah. But it… so. But it doesn’t socialise all that much here.
I might feel a bit gloomy on some particular day.
Ah, yes, I felt very gloomy on Sunday of this week because it was Mother’s Day. And I thought perhaps my daughter would ask me to Sunday lunch. Because Sunday, they quite rightly have Sunday’s completely sacrosanct family days.
Which I think is perfectly all right. And God knows she’s very, very good to me anyway. So anyway, so I think the great thing about that is that she and I have always been good friends.
Limited physical mobility and living in small closed-knit communities benefited the social life of several of the elderly people we talked to. Having friends a few doors away and belonging to the same clubs and enjoying doing the same activities seemed to keep loneliness and depression at bay.
Diana is retired, a widow and has two daughters. She walks everyday and once a week, she and a friend go with their local walking club for a longer stroll.
That's me really. I can’t be bored and I can’t sit down. I would, I suppose if I was on my own all the time and that and no friends and no activity, you could get depression quite quickly. Because I did have, after my daughter I had depression, but, post-natal depression, but it wasn’t called that then. And the way they treated you then, [laugh] I wouldn’t like anybody to be treated like it today, you know. That was 53, -2, -2 years ago, you know. Well, she is 52 now. So it was totally different in those days. It wasn’t even recognised, post-natal depression.
And that’s why I said, “I’ll never get to that stage again” you know, this depression sort of thing. Which, this is why I keep going [laugh].
And you have your friend around here?
Yes, she lives about four doors down, yes, yes.
And she’s the friend that you do … go out with?
We do, yes, that’s right. We, like we went to [town]. Her son lives in the village, just out- -side. But she’s just got one, well, she did lose a son. He was 27, he, he had a tumour, brain tumour, you know. But that was a long time ago. And, but, yes, we belong to the [club’s name] Ladies that meet once a month and we do the raffle, [friend] and me do the raffle for that, you know, and afterwards we have a cup of tea and biscuit. You know, that, it’s all, that’s like a Wednesday. And sort of we, no sooner it’s Monday than it’s Monday again. Because weekends, often on a Saturday, well, I’ve got people coming this week, but normally on a Saturday we’ll go into [town] or somewhere like that and have a bite to eat. But then if we don’t have a bite to eat, just have a coffee, then we’ll go out Sunday lunchtime and have something to eat, you know. And that, because everybody’s doing their own thing at weekends, aren’t they? Like hol-, at Christmas I go, I’ve been going over to my daughter over in [village] you know, she’s, at Christmas time. But, and, and the last, what I did find, and it’s me personally I think this is, that I was going on holiday, we were going away the end of June last year and, to Scotland. And I had a sickness or, or funny turn, you know. Sort of, I don’t know, I was so tired and really tired and I don’t know what happened. But anyway I couldn’t go. And f-, another friend filled in, so that was no problem. And come New Year’s Eve and we were going to this hotel for New Year, and I got my case packed, bag packed, everything packed, and I was just absolutely worn out. And I don’t know why, the reason why, but then I had all this feeling sick and so on and so forth. So anyway I got the insurance back for that, because the doctor, although I had to pay for it, GP, they gave me a medical certificate for it, because they obviously knew I wasn’t, you know, faking or anything. But I was so upset because I couldn’t go. But I don’t know the reason why. Anyway I’ve booked for June, the end of June, and I’ve done the booking and that for my friend and me. We’re going with... So keep my fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong this time. But I think it’s just the way you, we are as individuals, aren’t we? We’re all different.
And you go with your friends on holiday in the summer?
Yes, yes, yes. When my husband first died, then I went with one daughter to, my sister-in-law, a friend of hers had got a villa. That was in Spain, and we went there for a few days. But with my family going away, I, they take me down to my sister in Cornwall like, but we just go for weekends. Because my daughter,
Leisure and community activities have been reduced by several people due to physical problems that have resulted from osteoporosis. Sarah explained that she doesn’t go to the cinema now because the seats are uncomfortable. Neville no longer goes out without a member of his family and when he does they tend to go to garden centres or other shops where he can find a seat, because he can’t stand for long.
Retired NHS ward clerk, married. Sarah had an early menopause at the age of forty-two and a hysterectomy. Nationality/ethnic background' white British
Has it affected your social life?
I have, well, I have to think twice about where I’m going now. We don’t tend to go out very often. I wouldn’t attempt the cinema, not unless they’ve really improved the, the seats. They probably have since I last went actually. If they’re like really guaranteed like armchairs then I’d go to one. But I, concerts, oh, and church is a problem as well because the, the seats can be so hard sometimes. I just can’t sit there for long. I have to get up and walk about. I hope they don’t take it personally. But there’s one church, we go to a couple, one is a Welsh church with wooden seats and no comfort whatsoever. And I cannot sit there, I really can’t, sort of not for an hour without … It’s a pity, isn’t it? I could take my own cushions I suppose. That’s the worst thing I think about the social life, is that really.
And if I go to, sometimes I do, I go to meetings about the local area, this and that, and I say, “I’ve got to have the armchair.” They probably think ‘what’s wrong with her!’ “I’ve got to have it. My back.” Probably, “Make allowances. She’s older.”
When you go to community events?
Yes. I really do have to have the comfy chair, otherwise I just wouldn’t be able to sit there and, and be there for the full meeting. Because they don’t tend to just last an hour like the church one does, but two hours.
So have you cut down on your sort of commitments?Or do you try and go to meetings?
I try to. I’ve cut down a few. Because we seem to be, at one point it was nearly a meeting almost every night. Which was getting a bit silly. So I just said, “I really can’t, I can’t. Not, not any more.” So I’ve cut down. Yes, lots of community things. Busy bees really.
Younger people also said that there had been some affect on their social life. Pain medication, tiredness, not drinking alcohol, avoiding going out at night were factors mentioned by Robert as contributing to a more limited and more family-orientated social life. He said that now he prefers to do leisure activities as a family and he enjoys spending more time pottering around at home. Similarly, Jane is not able to socialise as she had done before her spinal fractures. She no longer enjoyed sitting in the pub or going camping because it increased her pain and discomfort. Noreen worried at first that she was spoiling her friend’s night out when she felt in pain and wanted to go back home.
But David, who is in his early twenties, said that his social life has improved dramatically in the last five years. Both, university and work had increased the number of friends and acquaintances he has and he enjoyed varied social and leisure activities, including going to football matches. Having his own car and more accessible public places for wheelchair users have also helped his social life. Emma also agreed that being able to drive improves her social life as well as being financially stable.
Widow, works full-time as an office administrator. Lives with her two adult children and has an active social life. She has noticed some improvement since started on Strontium ranelate.
I am on my own for so many years now. I am a widow, since many years, when I was only 32, 33? And since then I have always worked on my own with, around my kids. My kids, when they, they are grown up now. So I have got, like, a religious group. I belong to a temple. And I usually go, for them, I can go everyday in the evening to do some religious singing and gathering like that. But I go every weekend on Saturday and Sunday and we go quite a lot of outings as well, they take out. That is the best part of it. Because we are vegetarian as well and I am vegetarian so when we, when I go out with them I don't have any problem of eating or anything. So everything is catered and I go out with them. And weekends go past very quickly because I go and, and I, one good about me is that I am younger than many of the people in the group so, and I have a car so I take them to different places where we go for singing so we go like that. So I feel better as well.
So you have a, a good …?
My social life is very, very busy. I can say no sometimes, that no I am not coming this weekend because I am tired or maybe I have to do something else.
So you keep very busy at the weekends?
Yes. I can tell them no, every, even in the evening they have got quite a, different places they go. So even if I retired, when I retire, I will have a social life as such. But I need other activities as well, apart from that.
Financially I am so lucky at the moment that I’ve got my son who, who help me to pay the bills and everything so that has made me my mind fixed that yes I’m going cut down my working hours now and look after myself and do some other activities. Now because my daughter is with me that helps a lot as well. Otherwise it would be very difficult financially.
But financially otherwise it would be very difficult. Because you have to rely, you can’t go with the public transport. You have to rely on so many other things. And if you don't have a car then it’s very difficult to… To me, I think I would not have survived I, if I have, have not driven. Then my social life will be nil, I won’t be able to go out on my own. At the moment I can go out on my own because I go. I have a car, I am driving.
Several people who had osteoporosis took regular holidays abroad. Some elderly people still took regular holidays abroad and travelled alone. Air travel was found to be easy as they were usually provided with a wheelchair and transported around the airport. In winter, Sydney goes abroad for two months to the same holiday resort so he knows other retired British people holidaying there too. Victoria Iris has accumulated a lot of experience about the best ways of travelling by air and sea and what do to in terms of transport, luggage and managing medication and medical care while overseas.
Retired deputy head of a large secondary school; widow, regularly attends exercise classes and a tea dance session every week. Victoria Iris has been an active volunteer of the National Osteoporosis Society for many years.
I have to plan it very carefully. Until last year I did an ordinary flight but as my, if I could have a seat on the aisle because I needed to get up every now and again to stretch my legs. And I managed that. But last year I thought that I would be extravagant and I paid to upgrade my flight. And it was worth every penny because it wasn’t just that. You see if you’re sitting on the end, aisle people are coming past you to go to the toilets and if you’re small they tend to lean over you and, and so it was worth every penny and I’ve done the same for my next two. I’ve only taken to cruising about the last nine years. Nothing I’ve done all my life. And it’s something that’s ideal for an osteoporotic. If you go to get the sun in the Caribbean and if you plan it.
Now I, on my last cruise which was Mediterranean, I’m now injecting myself daily with Forteo, that’s for 18 months and I have to take quite a. It’s quite bulky I think when you try to prune down everything that you’re going to take. And I have to take a separate bag for that. But it’s all it’s all well thought out. The moment I mentioned that to the travel agent I was told immediately oh no problems. And I was even told that for my next cruise a sharps box will be provided to put the needles in. Well, well I’ve had to take one this time so that all of that is helpful.
And I have a gentleman, taxi, who takes me to the airport. If it’s or Birmingham or Manchester it’s better but he has taken me to Heathrow. But I think I prefer to go to Birmingham or Manchester for obvious reasons. And he is very, very good. He will not leave me until they’ve supplied me with a wheelchair. And you see all of this is on my own and sometimes I have to say to him, ‘Now please go. I’m fine.’ He’s reluctant to leave me you see. But once they give me the wheelchair and put me in it I sit and wait until they look after my luggage and then somebody will take me up to Duty Free. Then it all, it all works very well indeed and I have no hesitation in saying if you’re an osteoporotic don’t be afraid to travel.
And what happens when you reach your destination with your luggage and everything?
Yes well when I book I book with them assistance both ends. And when I... I’ve learnt from experience when I get near the destination if we’re flying and we’re getting fairly near I’ll say to the, one of the stewards, ‘now look I am booked with a wheelchair to meet me but I know you’re always busy’ and I’ve found if I’m polite about it they’re, fall over themselves to help me. And, ‘Oh thank you we’ll ring ahead’ and it’s always worked that there’s been one there. Only once and that was very early on when I. I’ve learnt a lot since then to warn in advance you see. And that’s the same when I’m going on the train to London. The conductor when he comes to check the tickets I mention it to him then. And say, now I am booked and he’ll. Now they don’t say anything. They just say, ‘Leave it to me I’ll see they’re there’. They’re all really learning how to deal with people like me much more efficiently.
So you think their attitude has changed?
Oh yes, oh yes. They’re. I couldn’t fault anything. They are wonderful to me. In fact really if somebody was taking a film and listening to all that goes on they’d be surprised. And when I get there, not this year but last year I was met in the Caribbean by a taxi, taxi on my own to take me from the airport to the
Getting to and from holiday destinations had put some people off travelling abroad because their main problem is lifting and carrying their luggage. No-one was aware of a company who organised a pick-up service from home to the airport. Several people, like Diana and Dennis, had found that organised holidays by coach were better for them because all the arrangements, including the carrying of luggage, were organised. Joan is thinking of going on a cruise in the future. Christine feels disappointed that she can no longer go on holiday but compensates by enjoying the music scene where she lives.
Diana is retired, a widow and has two daughters. She walks everyday and once a week, she and a friend go with their local walking club for a longer stroll.
I didn’t say about going on holiday with friends, but I mean, and my, going down to Cornwall.
You can add that.
But I do go down, my family take me down to see my sister in Cornwall. Usually we go on a Friday and come back on a Sunday, or on a Thursday and come back on a Sunday. It all depends. Which is rather nice. And my sister comes up to see me occasionally. So that’s another nice thing. And my friend, my friends, we do go on holiday together. We usually go on a coach trip, you know, where as far as luggage is concerned, we just take it to where the coach is picking us up and we don’t see our luggage again, which is really a good thing, until it’s outside our door at the hotel we’re staying at. Which is, well, this is what makes a holiday, knowing that you haven’t got any lifting or struggling to do with the cases.
So you go on coach trips abroad?
No, no. We have, you could do, no, we haven’t, no. Because if you go on a coach trip abroad, you’ve, you’ve really got to, I think you’ve more or less got to get yourself, I used to belong, when we went to Portugal and Tenerife, to Saga. But even at the airport, you’ve still got to lift a case on to, having it weighed. I mean that, some people think, “Well, that’s nothing.” But it is. It’s a lot when you can’t lift, you know. But Saga, then they meet you at the end of the journey and put your cases in the coach and then you don’t see them again until the hotel. But it’s this airport business that is the problem. Because you’ve got to get a taxi to the airport, and then you’ve got to go and get a trolley and get the case on to the trolley. Which years ago was absolutely nothing, you know. But I’m afraid now it’s just too much. I mean I could really hurt myself by doing that and ruin a holiday. Well, I’m not prepared to do that, you know. But I think you know your liabilities. You know what you can do and can’t do. I think it’s nature’s way of telling you what you can and can’t do, you know. I do feel that.
So would you welcome tour operatours would offer these facilities on this side if you decide to travel abroad to help you with the luggage and basically put it, make sure that your luggage is on the plane?
Yes, there is, no, Saga doesn’t do that. Actually you can, in fact you can, you can ask for assistance. But if you ask for assistance they get you in a wheelchair and, because actually we did, years ago this did happen. My, the friend that’s the invalid that, she doesn’t get out at all now, she, we asked for assistance for her. So they called her name out when we got to the, where, just before the plane, you could see the plane, before you go onto the tarmac, and they called her name out. And she was, they put her on one of these little things that run around, you know, these little trolley things, motorised things. And she said, “Well, I’m not going without my friends.” So we were able to get on as well. But to get on the plane, they put her on first and we just walked up the steps obviously. But that is the assistance that you can ask. But quite honestly I really don’t want to be sat and put into a chair and wheeled around.
Several people still do active holidays like caravanning in the UK but Margery and her husband travel to the continent every year.
Margery is married and has two adult children. She is a retired college lecturer. She served as chairman of a local group in Scotland for nine years and a trustee of NOS for five years.
I love gardening. I am interested in art, and in paintings. I read a lot. And we travel a lot. We have a caravan and we go abroad every year with that and we have exciting holidays with that. We have had that fitted with what’s called a motor mover, which means that we have none of the heavy hauling of caravan to do at our age and it was a very good investment. So we can caravan without any fear of it damaging either of our backs.
Tell me more about that, because that is something that would interest other people.
Yes, a motor mover is an electronic gadget which can be fitted near to the wheels of a caravan and it can be clamped on when you have to move the caravan without the car being attached to it and it is operated by a remote control, rather in the same way as you would operate a video. And you can move the caravan forwards, backwards, sideways, you can turn it round, and it takes all the heavy weight out of pitching a caravan when you arrive on the site, or hitching it up when you leave home. And it has enabled many caravaners to continue into old age when the sheer effort of pushing a caravan would have become a real burden for them. It’s a good investment.
Holidays and trips away from home may not be straightforward for some people particularly for those using wheelchairs or needing oxygen on a regular basis, like Joan and Beryl. Joan and her husband enjoyed the support from their two daughters who organised short breaks for both of them. Joan usually goes to stay with one daughter and an oxygen supply is organised in advance with a local company.
Married with two daughters, before retirement Joan worked as a local government employee. Her husband is her main carer. Joan's advice to others' ask questions about your condition and medications. Nationality/ethnic background' British
Husband' I have just come back from Norway.
Husband' Norway for five days. [daughter] arranged all that and came with me you see. Joan went up to the other daughter’s. It gives Joan a break and it gives me a break as well. As I say without the two girls we just couldn’t manage.
Oh yes. No.
That and the telephone is the biggie. The telephone means Joan has somebody to talk to. If we want any services, it is always on the other end.
They can chase somebody. And that helps a hell of a lot.
That’s good. And when you go to your daughter’s house…?
Joan' Well they bring a bed downstairs for me. Because you see there is no stair lift there. So they bring the bed downstairs. Both of them do the same thing. Bring a single bed downstairs. Put it in a room downstairs and there I stay.
Husband' The oxygen people are good when we are going, they send all the kit there. It is waiting for us when we get there. Use it and we telephone them to say when we are coming back, and when we are they come and collect it all and bring it back again. They are an absolutely marvellous service I think.
Joan' Yes, very good.
Which service is this?
Joan' It’s the … well they call themselves Air Products but they are very good. They supply all the oxygen and the machines and I mean I have got a converter out in the hall and that takes the oxygen and pumps it through to me, so …
Husband' And they say if you want us ring and we’ll be there within the hour.
Joan' They promise to be there every day.
And they keep their promise and they are very conscious I think of the job they do.
Others no longer travel abroad on their own for fear of being taken ill or because they felt it was more comfortable staying in their own homes. Susannah doesn’t want to travel on her own because she feels fragile so she is thinking of going to a Pilates retreat in the UK instead. Linda and Michelle were no longer keen on skiing holidays because they did not want to take unnecessary risks.
Widow, two children, lives on her own in a small rural community. She enjoys the support of neighbours and friends. Noreen recommends Kyphoplasty, it has reduced her level of pain.
I don’t go on holiday because I couldn’t face it. That is another thing, I could not face packing. To pack would be absolute agony. Well my son said if I wanted to go to [daughter] in [city], he said, you know, he’d come and help me pack and everything and take me down, and you know, but what I couldn’t put up with is somebody else’s, somebody else’s bathroom. Mine is just, you know, I have got everything ready. I don’t have to bend, you know where everything is, where if I go to somebody else’s house, I have got my vanity case and it’s usually on the floor and bending, and I think, well I can’t be doing that. So I am quite happy to be at home.
I am a happy person. So it doesn’t worry me that I don’t go on holiday. It’s nice to go out. My friend will take me out on my birthday. Nice to go out for a day. We went to a concert. And I can get comfortable in the Assembly Rooms. The chairs are quite nice. If I can get a nice chair, you see I have been comfortable today, because I’ve not been doing anything have I.
Because it would be too much for me. And I couldn’t travel on trains and things any more. Definitely not. Because I couldn’t carry my language. I know you can get porters, you can get people to do it for you. But its all just, I just don’t want it, I don’t want to go down that route. I just want to be at home, where I know my chairs, I know everything and you know, if I was really poorly people would come in and see me and help me. So really I am quite happy the way I am. I like my own company. I love the television. I love my music. And there we go [laughs].
And you have your friends?
I have got, oh lots of friends. Where would you be without friends?
What do you do with them?
Well I mean sometimes they just come and have a coffee or as I say we go to the Assembly Rooms. We have season tickets which start again in September and goes through till May. Once a month. Wonderful orchestras from all over the world really. And we meet. I get picked up by friends, and three of us. There are five of us go, and then we sometimes meet other people at the Standing Order, we call it, it used to be the Westminster Bank [laughs]. And that’s near the Assembly Rooms. So we go there and have something to eat and then as long as I’m sitting, you know, I’m fine really. Sometimes I am not very good. But I haven’t had to come out so far. So…
That worries me a little bit when, if you are with somebody and you are not very well and it’s going to spoil their evening as well. But I have got over that a bit now, because they have said, “Look, don’t worry about it, because that’ll make you worse.” Quite right. “And if you are poorly. If your back is going mad. We’ll take you out. Don’t worry about it.” So I don’t any more. And, and, then when I can get into [city] on the Thursday morning, because I can still drive. Comfortable in a car. I mean I haven’t had to do this either for a while, so I’m obviously better than I was.
Osteoporosis is a notifiable condition when applying for travel insurance. Moreover, Robert thinks that it is important to tell companies about the severity of the osteoporosis in order to get the right cover. Pat said that she booked her insurance on the internet with Age Concern because it was the cheapest she could find.
Dennis is married and has two adult children. He has had depression for over twenty year. He said he is very lucky because he has the support of his family, GP and consultants.
Well I'll have to have insurance where they will cover my ailments. And I got details through, from one who'll do it and I mean [sister-in-law] has a special one as well, so I shall get two quotes and see, but I will tell them everything and all the drugs I'm on and have to pay the premium. So, but I'm not gonna to do that until I have to pay for the holiday [laughs]. Which is the end of this month.
Are they particularly expensive, these insurances?
If you just take out normal insurance no. It's about £40 each, but with my ailments but I don't know what it's going to be.
So you haven’t done it before?
No never. No. When I've been abroad before I've just bit my tongue and got on with it, but I don’t think I can do that now [laughs]. So as I say I'm going to get a couple of quotes and see what it comes out. And whatever it is I'm going to have to pay. Because there's no way I want it affecting me in case anything happens.
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