I am the programme leader for the MSc in Gerontology and MSc in Gerontology (with Dementia Care) @uwshealth. You can find out more about the programmes at: https://www.uws.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/postgraduate-course-search/gerontology/ and https://www.uws.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/postgraduate-course-search/gerontology-with-dementia-care/ This blog is designed to highlight older people's issues and issues around older people's care. I will make a new post every Friday.
Late again with this post. Not sure now why I promised a new post every Friday when now I rarely manage to post it on time. 😦
Enough moaning about my own tardiness, this is more important!
Earlier this month the International Longevity Centre (ILC) released a report by their own researchers and other researchers based at University College London (UCL), and Cardiff University. The work was funded by the Wellcome Trust. The report called “Raising the equality flag: Health inequalities among older LGBT people in the UK” which you can download from HERE pulls together the results from a project conducted across two phases: a scoping review of existing evidence and a new analysis drawing on
several existing UK datasets.
Their research, like previous research concluded that a lifetime of prejudice and stigma is leading to worse physical and mental health, poorer access to health and social care, as well as greater levels of social isolation and loneliness among older LGBT people Moreover, older non-heterosexual men are more likely to be living with a long-term limiting illness and have lower overall life satisfaction.
These health inequalities have been ongoing issues for many years and while there may some improvement in attitude there seems to be very little improvement on outcomes.
So what needs to be done? Well to reinforce the points that this report makes we need
(a) ensure mainstream health and care services are inclusive, i.e. they provide environments where older LGBT people feel safe and comfortable (Are they not supposed to be able to do this already?)
(b) Develop a national standard or quality assurance framework around equality and diversity training for the needs of older LGBT people.
Two stories caught my eye this week and they are both part of the same issue, which is really about making towns and cities in the future fit for older people to live in.
Urbanisation alongside Ageing are the biggest demographic shifts of my life time and governments have been very slow to react to both. However Manchester, yes the UK one :), was the first UK city to join the World Health Organization’s (WHO) newly established Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities in 2010. Last year Greater Manchester set a similar precedent when it became the UK’s first city-region to join the network. Working with the University of Manchester Age Friendly Manchester a partnership involving organisations, groups and individuals across the city have been testing some of the theories about how age-friendliness might be achieved helping to define key priorities for ongoing and future work. The result is a detailed workplan a summary of which you can find HERE
For more about the collaboration with the University of Manchester CLICK HERE
The second story is a report by the Centre for Better Ageing decrying the state of the UK housing stock and the need to build homes more suitable to the needs of Britain’s older people. This is a topic that I return to more frequently now in my blog probably because inadequate housing and heating kills. Work done in Manchester, commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and funded by the Centre for Ageing Better, has revealed that those on low- and middle- incomes can find themselves trapped in homes which are no longer appropriate for them as they age. For more on this topic see Building better homes is good for everyone – not just older people
The key messages from both these stories is that that we must improve accessibility within our cities for everyone. We also need a radical rethink on the design and accessibility of new homes and the condition and accessibility of existing housing needs a lot more attention (and spending) than its getting currently.
Making environments more age-friendly will benefit us all!
I’ve missed a week again 😦 Had to spend some time dealing with a death in my family so my weekly postings seemed a lot less important than usual. However, back to Blogging and at a very good time if you have an interest in the arts.
May 1st saw the launch in Scotland of the Luminate Festival a month long festival of events celebrating what growing older means to each of us.
Luminate has a wide diversity of events held in a wide variety of venues from care homes to music halls from Ullapool to Kirkudbright. Highlights include “In the Ink Dark” a dance and poem inspired by conversations with people in Glasgow and Dundee and “Come and Sing” a massed Singing event in Aberdeen where the nationwide “Dementia Inclusive Choirs Network” will be launched. Dementia choirs are quite prominent in the news this week after the BBC Programme “Our Dementia Choir” documentary was shown on BBC One last night (Thursday 2nd of May). Available now on the BBC iPlayer HERE (Hankies required).
Not only does Luminate run over the month the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival also starts today.. This includes over 300 events across Scotland including film screenings, theatre productions, exhibitions talks and even walks. The events run from May 3rd through to May 26th. For more details about the events CLICK HERE
So my message for this month get out and take part in something from both events taking place near you. Be inspired or have your thoughts provoked by some of the fabulous showcase events and exhibitions hosted during this month.
This week I found something I needed months possibly years ago. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t exist. So I am pleased that finally, I have found A really useful guide to “Helping Older People Use the Internet” which has been published this week by the Good Things Foundation. This foundation is a UK-based registered charity that is working towards a world where everyone benefits from digital and yes they mean older people as well!!!
They have supported over 2m people in gaining digital skills since their foundation in 2010, so I think they know what they are talking about. The guide was produced in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, one of my go-to organisations when I am looking for some inspiration for Blogging.
So if you are looking for the guide you can just click here The Foundation also hosts a website of free online courses, called “Learn My Way” which helps people improve their digital skills. I might have to head back there myself and if not, I know some students who might want to take a quick trip before their next module. 🙂 To visit “Learn My Way” click here.
In 2015, the world united around the World Health Organisation (WHO) Agenda for Sustainable Development, pledging that no one will be left behind and that every human being will have the opportunity to fulfil their potential in dignity and equality. The following year they released their Global strategy and action plan
on ageing and health committing the member states to ensure the goals are applied as a response to population ageing and urging them to make efforts to further support Healthy Ageing. Now as a response the WHO has set out 10 Priorities that are needed to achieve the objectives of their strategy and action plan and now we are about to embark on a decade of concerted action on the Decade for Healthy Ageing from 2020-2030.
The 10 priorities make for interesting reading so a link to the WHO publication 10 Priorities: Towards a Decade of Health Ageing is HERE
The link between the Sustainable goals for healthy ageing and the sustainable development goals is best explained HERE
More about the WHO’s work in Ageing and the Lifecourse can be found by watching the video and on this webpage which includes what they say about Age-Friendly Environments.
In a bit of a contrast to looking forward, there is a new exhibition at the RCN Library and Heritage Centre in London exploring the place of nursing within the care of older people in the UK, which has changed dramatically in the past two centuries. Created with the help of the RCN Older People’s Forum, Aspects of Age charts the shift from the days of Victorian workhouses to at-home care and future technologies. It also looks at how specialist nurses can help destigmatise old age. Information related to the exhibition is available at the Aspects of Age exhibition page HERE
You can also visit the exhibition at RCN headquarters in London from 11 April to 20 September, then at RCN Scotland in Edinburgh from October.
In another “under the BBC’s/National media radar production”, the Scottish Government this week released its new framework aimed at challenging the inequalities older people face as they age in Scotland. The framework which is the result of an engagement process with older people (aged 50+) across Scotland which involved many of the organisations that support them, the report identifies some of the issues that are key to ensuring people are healthy, happy and secure in their older age.
Amongst its proposals are a number of actions related to the health and social care integration agenda including proposing actions such as:
Engaging with the Older People’s Strategic Action Forum on integration.
Revising statutory guidance on local community engagement and participation by the end of 2019.
Ensuring carers and other representatives on Scotland’s Integration Joint Boards are supported by local partnerships to meaningfully engage with all future Board decision-making processes.
They have prepared a nice visual executive summary of what the report covers HERE
A bit of a departure this week from social care and staffing crises. Not that they have gone away. Thought I’d get back to looking at something that has appeared in the research again that’s worth some thought.
There has been a lot written and a lot of money spent on a commonly held belief that if you don’t stay intellectually engaged then you are likely to experience a cognitive decline, the so-called “use it or lose it” phenomenon. This idea has become widely accepted by healthcare professionals and the public, but is it really true?
A large Scottish study published in the BMJ in December casts a lot of doubt on this belief suggesting something different goes on. The study looked at people all born in 1936 and subjected them to a series of tests from age 64 up to 5 times over the next 14 years and compared the results. They also had access to all the participant’s childhood intelligence tests so they had an idea of a baseline as well some ability to “track/see” a decline. So what did they find?
Well, self-reported intellectual engagement did not seem to have influence on the trajectory of any decline of memory and processing speed that they experienced in later life. (So using it, perhaps surprisingly, didn’t stop you from losing it).
What they did find though was that engagement in intellectually stimulating activities throughout life meant that any decline experienced started at a higher point so although you still experienced a decline you were able to cope better for longer.
So my message for the week is to get out all those board games, problem-solving games crosswords, jigsaw puzzles etc. and start doing them now and keep on doing them, because you have no idea just what the benefit to you will be later on.
So, “Do it now or lose it later” is probably more accurate. Very much the same message I’d say to you about physical exercise!