As my followers will know it was Dementia Awareness Week in Scotland last week so for those of you who got involved here are some things you might like:
- #DAW2017 went viral with a video of PC Marshall visiting a Musical Minds group in Kilmarnock during DAW. The video on the ALZScot Ayrshire page was shared across Scottish media including The Scotsman, The Scottish Sun, The Sunday Post and many more!
- Check out the Dementia Awareness Week gallery over on Facebook and tag yourself.
- To support the week AlzScot also shared a blog a day from Allied Health Professionals who wanted to share who they are and how they CAN help if you are living with dementia. If you can review the blogs by visiting Let’s Talk about Dementia
Last week also saw the publication of ‘My Anticipatory Care Plan’ (ACP). An anticipatory care plan toolkit designed by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
Antipatory Care Planning ahead can help many people with chronic health problems to plan what they would like their care to look like on a daily basis or help them to plan fro and manage situations which they may find threatening, like sudden hospital admission. ACP’s are not legally binding in any way (in the UK) and can be updated at any time to reflect changes in the person’s thinking. Remember this is designed to be their plan and it’s entirely up to the person to decide who to share this information with.
For more information about ACP’s and to access the toolkit please click here
You can also download their ACP App for both iPhone and Android when you visit the site. It really is a fabulous resource and although it may originate in Scotland, it could be used anywhere!
In January (I know that’s a while back and usually I am more up to date than this), the Royal College of Physicians in partnership with the National Audit of Inpatient Falls (NAIF) and others produced a new vision assessment tool which enables ward staff to quickly assess a patient’s eyesight in order to help prevent them falling or tripping while in hospital. Look out! Bedside vision check for falls prevention is an innovatively designed guide which aims to support busy clinical staff in assessing visual impairment in older people. It uses a mixture of questions and visual aids to help doctors, nurses and therapists check eyesight at the patient’s bedside. Results give an indication of the extent of any visual problems, known or unknown, that the patient may have. For more information click the link.
If we stick to the same topic the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) have created a resource page called Promoting good eye health for Dementia and Sight Loss Awareness Week 2017
There is a strong link between visual impairment and dementia as their 2016 PrOVIDe study showed. Most of the visual impairments they encountered though were easily correctable. So go and have a look at what they suggest.
Note the page was designed for England and Wales so if you are Scottish and want to become a Dementia Friend you need to click on this link
Have you ever seen this symbol?
Can’t say I have either, so I better explain. This is the symbol of BlueAssist. Created by a small centre for adults with learning difficulties in Ostend, Belgium. The scheme began as a series of written cards with a distinctive logo, and the words Dare to Connect. The symbol is there to help the public understand that the person asking for help may not be able to communicate easily, just as the wheelchair symbol is recognised for those with physical difficulties. The simple idea was that when the person presents a BlueAssist message which has been pre-prepared such as
“Please can you help me catch the number 5 bus”
Members of the public would understand from the symbol and the message on the card what is needed and could then provide assistance.
Not only can you get the cards you can now get a Blue Assist mobile phone app.
The whole point here is that ANYONE who has difficulty getting their message across, either because of physical problems, such as a stroke, hearing impairment, stammer or temporary problem such as a broken jaw. Or those who find it hard due to a long-term disability such as learning disability or any older person there are many people who want to remain independent but may find their memory and word finding ability makes asking for help difficult.
To find out more and maybe even to download the App, go to
Simple and effective, wouldn’t it be good to see it widely used. Thanks to @WendyPMitchell for bringing this to my attention in her blog.
Only a few weeks to go to the UK General Election. So a post from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation addressed to whoever wins called “After the election, the Government needs to get to grips with poverty” seems apt.
The team from the Alzheimers Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice who I work with, are holding a Drop-in Event at the Mezzanine Area of the Brough Building, UWS Paisley Campus, in Scotland at 1-3pm on the 31st May, 2017.
If you can’t come along on the day please join us on twitter @ASCPP #oneweething where we are celebrating all the lovely things and small changes that our Dementia Champions
and others do to improve the lives of people with dementia, their family, and friends. To find out more go to:
OK, that’s and event still to come but what about this week?
Yesterday Age Scotland launched a report and survey that outlines the positive impact that the growing men’s shed movement is having on later life. Men from sheds across Scotland have told their story in the report called The Shed Effect, which you can access using the link. The report demonstrates how men’s health and wellbeing has been lifted by getting involved in their local shed. The men’s shed movement or community sheds are not for profit organisations that originated in Australia, to advise and improve the overall health of all males. They normally operate on a local level in the community, promoting socila interaction and camaraderie with the aim of increasing quality of life. There are over 900 located across Australiaand growing numbers in the UK, Ireland, Finland Greece and New Zealand. with thousands of active members to find a local shed if you live in Scotland Click here.
And of course happy International Nurses Day!
Again this week I am picking two very disparate stories. One has been widely reported within the UK and one has received much less attention.
So firstly this week two separate reports for the government released this week suggest that millions of people are probably going to have to work longer to qualify for their UK state pension. While that is not a surprise, if you have been following world trends, UK demographics have attended any of my modules or follow this blog the speed at which it might happen and who might be affected probably will be. In a worst case scenario, planned changes which are not due to take effect until 2044, it could be brought in as soon as 2028, affecting those now in their late 50s. (Mind you the worst case scenario means that you will be spending 32% of your adult life in retirement so clearly you will be expecting to live longer). The implications for the poorest, especially women as usual, are worrying. For a lot more information on UK Pensions, see this BBC news report, State pension age could be raised to 70
This month the Malnutrition Task Force also launched a Campaign aimed at older people with small appetites that focuses on keeping a healthy weight in later life.
As part of their campaign, the task force has also released two guides to tackling unhealthy weightloss. One is aimed at those in later life and the other at carers. They are packed with tips and advice on how to keep to a healthy weight in later life. For instance, did you know that if you have a small appetite, eating small meals or snacks six times a day may be more manageable than three big meals?
To find out more go to Malnutrition Task Force Small Appetite Campaign
Looks very random this week but both these stories are significant to older people for two very different reasons. So what are they?
Firstly, this month Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), who have advocated for many years for the adoption of a Global Plan of Action on Dementia by the World Health Organisation (WHO) have announced that one is currently being considered and may be adopted in May 2017. The draft plan, the Global Plan of Action on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025, is now being developed by WHO Member States. The plan recognises the impact of dementia, by committing to take practical steps to encourage progress in the seven areas of dementia awareness, risk reduction, diagnosis, care and treatment, support for care partners and research. It contains targets for each area that individual governments who are members of the WHO should meet by 2025. For more details about this important international development see:
WHO global plan on dementia
Secondly, this week also saw headlines claiming that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) like ibuprofen and Diclofenac may increase your risk of cardiac arrest by a 1/3rd. While this makes for good/bad headlines it is quite a worrying claim when you consider the number of older people who take it as part of prescribed pain relief and the numbers who buy it as an Over-the-Counter (OTC) medication. So that you can relieve the anxiety this might cause some of the people you may look after, (or perhaps yourself) it is always worth taking a look at Behind the Headlines one of my favourite places to send my students. In relation to this headline as always, the team at Behind the Headlines have produced a really useful critique of the research the headlines are based on. To read this got to Ibuprofen Claim and see what they say.
The lead author of the study, Professor Gunnar Gislason has been quoted saying that
“The findings are a stark reminder that NSAIDs are not harmless and should be used with caution and for a valid indication. They should probably be avoided in patients with cardiovascular disease or many cardiovascular risk factors.”
That will, if it becomes a recommendation to GP’s, have an impact on many older people.
However for some of my readers that will mean the end of one hangover cure and back to the Irn Bru.
Watch out next week for a programme on BBC Wales called Beti and David: Lost for Words
In this programme about Beti George who cares for her partner David Parry-Jones – an iconic broadcaster once dubbed ‘the voice of Welsh rugby’ talk about the challenges and frustrations facing thousands of carers across Wales questioning how we support dementia carers. The programme features some of the staff here at UWS, Margaret Brown, Dr Barbara Sharpe, Anna Waugh, Janice Stewart [a link worker from Lanarkshire], and Helen Regan [a local carer]. It’s on BBC Wales on Monday at 9 pm but will be available on iPlayer at the link given after this. The clips on the site at the moment will give you an idea of what the programme contains and of course we will archive it later.
If you live in the UK and have been watching the BBC News at all this week there has been a series of stories released as part of their series called NHS Health Check. While the attention is welcome most of the stories have been very negative highlighting the problems in the system without mentioning the great work done. There has been very little said about the fact that we have fewer doctors per capita than all of Europe (bar Poland and Romania), we spend less per GDP than most other European countries and we have fewer hospital beds per capita which might explain much of the “Crisis”. See ECHI 2015
So from the BBC Series here are a few positive stories 5 Examples of Innovation in the UK every one of which has a positive effect on the lives of older people.