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Mental Health

in Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health, Mobility, Stair Lifts, Stairlifts by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

Mental Health in Later Life

It will come as no surprise to learn that the great majority of Newbury Mobility’s customers are over the age of 60. This is, of course, the classic time when our mobility begins to become compromised and we start needing some help to get from A to B.

And while Newbury Mobility supplies equipment to assist people with their physical needs, what we don’t supply is anything to assist with mental or psychological need. But we do frequently witness the symptoms of it.

Mental Health is, thankfully, a topic which these days can be discussed openly and freely without fear of being ridiculed or scorned. To an extent, we have to thank for this a number of high profile celebrities who have had the courage to talk publicly about their own mental health issues, helping to raise awareness and improve understanding of this condition which, for those who suffer it, is no picnic.

For those of us of more mature years – which includes some of us at Newbury Mobility – this relatively enlightened attitude was not necessarily around when we were younger. Many will recall how any sort of Mental Health problems were regarded as something that was, literally, all in the mind. And that if we were only to pull ourselves together and show a bit of backbone, then all would be well.

Over the years, we have come to understand a great deal more about the causes of different kinds of Mental Health problems and how best to lessen their impact. While the topic is a very broad one, I wanted to concentrate on two particular elements that can particularly affect older people – anxiety and depression.

It is an irony that at an age when we should be looking forward to our retirement and winding down to a slower, more relaxed pace of life, our bodies and our minds have a tendency to thwart us. We want, to take a quick jog to the shops but that dodgy knee is saying no. We don’t want constantly to worry about how we’re going to pay the bills, but our pension never seems to stretch very far.


Bill Pic


Anxiety and depression are often inextricably linked, the first frequently leading to the second. And, when one is getting on a bit, there are many different ways they can be triggered including:

  • Losing a partner
  • The onset of a physical disability
  • Illness
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Lack of independence
  • Poverty
  • Loss of your job through retirement
  • Loss of your home
  • Loss of friends
  • Looking after a disabled spouse or partner




Now, the fact is that we all feel fed up from time to time. So how can we tell the difference between being down in the dumps and being properly depressed?

Well, there are a number of warning signs:

  • Persistent sadness that just won’t go away
  • Constant fatigue and lack of energy
  • Losing interest in hobbies or pastimes that you used to enjoy
  • A reluctance to socialise or leave home
  • Persistent insomnia
  • Feelings of worthlessness and/or self-loathing
  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Fixation on death; suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Constant feelings of anxiety
  • Neglecting your personal care


If any of these symptoms persist for a long time or begin to have an effect on the way you think and behave, then it’s time to seek help and advice.

There are lots of places to find more information – here and here for example – but your GP should also be a first port of call.

Don’t, whatever you do, feel reluctant or ashamed about talking about it.

GPs are very clued up about Mental Health these days and are able to offer many different ways of helping. Yes, there are drugs that can help, but there are also a number of different therapies available that can be of great benefit.

In addition, just talking about it to friends and family can be of enormous benefit. You may well be surprised by just how many people tell you how they too have suffered from some aspect of poor Mental Health.


Holding Hands Pic


So are there any measures we can take to prevent anxiety and depression taking hold in the first place?

There sure are.

  • Exercise – OK, you’re not as fit and active as you once were, but even small amounts of exercise can be a really effective way to prevent or tackle depression. There are also exercises you can do even if your mobility is quite badly impaired. There are some good ideas here.


  • Socialise – Sometimes when we’re feeling down, the last thing we want to do is get out and mix with other people. But if you can get over that “hump” it can sometimes be the thing that lifts your spirits immeasurably. Can’t get out? Then invite people to come to you. Even speaking to people over the phone or using something like Skype can be of benefit. You also might want to consider joining a depression support group. They’re not for everyone, but some people find that they can be of enormous benefit.


  • Get enough sleep. Sometimes one of the symptoms of depression can be insomnia. Which is really rough. But if you’re not getting enough sleep just because you’re not getting to bed early enough, it can make you feel constantly tired and fed up during the day. Might sound a bit obvious but if you try going to bed a bit earlier, you might find that it makes you feel so much better.


  • Eat well. Avoid sugar! And food and drinks that contain sugar! Eat food that provides you with good nutrition. You might want to take a vitamin supplement as well. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make.


  • Get a pet. Dog, cat, pig, python. Doesn’t matter really. Pets are a classic and proven way to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression.


Finally, remember this – depression is not a normal part of ageing and it’s not something that you should feel that you just have to put up with. There are many, many ways of fighting it and winning so that you can properly enjoy your life during those later years.


Dancing Couple Pic


When I said earlier that we don’t supply anything to assist with good mental health, perhaps I was wrong. After all, stairlifts and other mobility equipment help you to remain independent, allow you to stay living in your own home, help you to socialise and can give you back your dignity.

So, if not being able to go upstairs is getting you down, give us a call. We’re always glad to hear from you and there are many ways in which we might be able to help to brighten your day.

We look forward to hearing from you here at Newbury Mobility.

All the very best

Andy and the team





History of Stair Lifts

in Mobility, Stair Lifts, Stairlifts by Andrew Mackintosh Comments are off

Stair Lifts – A History

Hauling Henry

These days, we’ve become used to, reliable, safe, well-constructed, state-of-the-art stair lifts that come with sophisticated electronics and hand-held remote controls. We take for granted that a stair lift can usually be installed even when the stair case is an awkward or unusual shape. We don’t blink an eye when stair lifts are installed outside buildings.

Needless to say, it wasn’t always this way.

It’s impossible to say precisely who invented the stair lift or exactly when the first one was made but there is some evidence, by way of a list of his possessions, to suggest that King Henry VIII had something akin to a “Throne Lift” installed in the Whitehall Palace in London which was, at the time, the main residence of English monarchs. (Until it was all but destroyed by fire in 1698.)


Palace of Whitehall

Whitehall Palace


Henry in his earlier life had been a keen sportsman with a passion for hunting and jousting but with that came inevitable injury and he suffered two quite serious leg injuries. He sustained the second one in his forties in a jousting accident that very nearly killed him.

The injury never healed properly, becoming ulcerated and painful, and prevented him from pursuing his former sporting passions. Henry had always been an enthusiastic consumer of food and wine and now, without physical activity to hold it in check, his weight ballooned until he eventually weighed between 28 and 30 stone.




Pity then the poor servants who had to haul him upstairs upon his “Throne Lift” using nothing more than a block and tackle arrangement – and their own muscles.

The Inclin-ator

Fast forward some 400 hundred years to the 1920s and we meet a Cadillac car dealer from Pennsylvania by the name of C. C. Crispen who enjoyed dabbling in engineering as a hobby.


C C Crispen


A friend of his had become immobilised due to Polio and was largely confined to the upstairs of his home. So Crispen came up with the idea of a seat on rollers connected to a rail that ran the length of the stair case and which was operated by a cable mechanism and powered by electricity.

He called this The Inclin-ator and it worked so well that he developed the idea until it eventually gave birth to the Inclinator Company of America, which still exists to this day. (But which, ironically, no longer makes stair lifts, concentrating instead on vertical lifts.)




However, not only did it give birth to the company, it also gave birth to the word “Inclinator” which, while notably absent from all reputable dictionaries, has nonetheless been adopted by Americans, in particular, to describe anything that goes up and down: elevators, lifts, stair lifts etc.

(A bit like the way they’ve adopted the word burglarize to mean burgle. Why use two syllables when you can add a pointless extra one for free? What next? I’ve just been muggered?)

Fun with Funiculars

Inclinator is also used by our American cousins to describe what we Brits would call a funicular railway. Funiculars, though, always have two cars attached to each other by a cable that runs through a pulley at the top of the steep slope upon which the railway is laid. The two cars, one ascending and one descending, counter balance each other thus minimizing the amount of energy required to lift the car going up. Bournemouth still has three funicular railways running which are not to be missed if you’re ever visiting. Brilliant concept but probably not want you want in your home!


Courtesy of Bournemouth Tourism

Courtesy of Bournemouth Tourism


But anyway – hats off to old C. C. Crispen. All of us at Newbury Mobility have seen many, many different kinds of stair lifts in our time and we’ve come across some pretty ancient ones as well. All of them, though, are essentially refinements or adaptations of Mr Crispen’s first prototype. So he pretty much nailed the concept first time.

Veteran Vehicles

And while we’ve been taking this historical tour, we’ve also been remembering some of the ancient mobility scooters we occasionally encounter when we visit to make a free site survey or to install a stairlift.

Some of you will remember the old “Invalid Carriage” which thankfully we don’t see on the roads anymore due to it being, some might say, a bit of a deathtrap.


Invalid Carriage


What we do occasionally see though, are old Batricars, some of which appear still to be going strong.




Those that aren’t often achieve a second life by being converted into Toylanders.



Courtesy of The Toylanders Owners club


None of us at Newbury Mobility need a Toylander. Indeed, we’re all rather too big. But we all really, really want one.

One day perhaps.

Meanwhile, we look forward to hearing from anyone in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire or Hampshire who has a stair lift, ancient or new, and who requires a repair or service. Or anyone who wants to have a chat about having a used or new stairlift installed in their home.

We’re no more than an hour away, after all.

All the very best

Andy and the team.