Scotland’s Obesity Issue and What About Mental Health?

This week saw the publication of the Scottish Health Survey for 2016. Possibly the most significant piece of news from this for older people was the following information reported on BBC Scotland’s Health Page Scotland’s health: What we learned

From the report, they have stated that amongst adults men were significantly more likely than women to be overweight including obese (68% compared with 61%). Worryingly it was adults aged 65-74 who were most likely to be obese (36% of all adults this age). The average BMI (Body Mass Index) for both Scottish men and women was 27.7, up from 27.0 in 2003.A BMI of 25 or less is said to be normal and 25 to 30 is overweight.

A BMI of 25 or less is said to be normal and 25 to 30 is overweight.

Obesity was lowest in the 16 to 24 age group (14%) but it doubled to 28% in the 25-35 range. The largest jump between age groups. It would appear that while the message to reduce obesity in Scottish children is getting through to the public the same cannot be said of the message about the need for our older people to avoid obesity and stay active to reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The Scottish Government are planning an ambitious new strategy to improve Scotland’s diet and help address obesity. Let’s hope they include older people in their plans.

For information about staying healthy in old age, this page on the Age Scotland site is useful

Perhaps a missing element from this survey is more detail on the mental health of older people. More will be reported about this but it’s perhaps worth remebering that up to 40% of people over the age of 65 experience mental health problems and about one-fifth of all suicides happen in older people. Last month Alistair Burns, the National Clinical Director for Older People’s Mental Health and Dementia took to social media to announce the launch of “A Practice Primer on Mental Health in Older People” a document which highlights for  primary care health workers in particular GP’s, symptoms often attributed to ‘old age’ but where a mental health diagnosis and follow-up may be more appropriate.

You can read what he said here and find the link to the document he is discussing (if you didn’t click the link above already) In the document he talks about this film that looks at Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. I am with him on this!

 

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International Day of the Older Person 2017

The International Day of Older Persons is observed on October 1 each year. So today is the day and I thought I should mark it.

This year’s theme is about enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large. It focuses on the pathways that support full and effective participation in old age, in accordance with old persons’ basic rights, needs and preferences.

The UN has stated that this year’s theme underscores the link between tapping the talents and contributions of older persons and achieving the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, which is currently undergoing its third review and appraisal process.

The message for this year from the United Nations is here 

The World Health Organisation also has a message on their Ageing and Life Course pages. Given that their focus this year is on Universal health coverage it’s a good day to watch this!

Housing our Older People Correctly Needs Addressing Now!

Back in July I posted about a report done by my colleagues here at UWS’s @AlzScotCPP ‏ on the need for improvements in housing required in Scotland to support people who have dementia now and into the future. See my post here  Well this month saw the publication of a larger report by the Local Government Association for England which has stated that with one in five of the overall population in England set to be over 65 in a decade, a “residential revolution” needs to occur to provide more homes that support our ageing population. They have suggested that we need to increase the number of specialist homes for older people by 400,000 units in less than 20 years to catch up with places like the USA and Australia where a more developed market exists for retirement housing. Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing spokesman pointed out that councils cannot tackle this issue alone. Support from government, which incentivises housebuilding and provides councils with the funding and resources they need, is crucial to every local authority’s efforts to support positive ageing. You can read more about this issue and download the full report at

https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/residential-revolution-needed-englands-ageing-population-says-lga

You can also watch a short video about the report here:

Help Needed! Do you Live in Lanarkshire?

 

 

NHSlanarkshire
NHS Lanarkshire

 

I am helping to stage an event on behalf of the British Society of Gerontology and NHS Lanarkshire next week where it hoped we can bring staff, students and older people together to discuss and identify some local priorities for research in the coming years. If we create a list of priorities then people within the Health Board and at the university can encourage our Master’s students, in particular, to take on projects that look at these priority areas. So a win-win situation for everyone! However, we don’t have enough older people attending and we would really like their help since their priorities are everyone’s priority!

So if you are living in the area covered by the Health Board and are over 60 please come and join us. You will be made most welcome. You only need to come along in the afternoon from about 12:00, if you want to join us for lunch until 3 pm. If you stay afterwards you can find out what a Tovertafel is? For full details of the event click this link. If you can make it let Caroline know at caroline.gibson@uws.ac.uk or call her at 016984441.

Worth noting also this week was the report by Audit Scotland into the use of Self Directed Support. Since 2014 councils have been responsible for implementing Self-directed Support (SDS), which offers people more choices around their support and how it is managed. This is now largely provided by the new local health and social care integration authorities drawn from bothcouncils and the NHS.

The report published this week states that says while many people have benefited from SDS, integration authorities still have a lot to do to enable more people to take it up. Local Councils spend £3.4 billion a year on social care supporting more than 200,000 vulnerable adults and 18,000 children and their families. Assistance ranges from everyday tasks such as dressing and preparing meals to helping individuals live more fulfilling lives at home, at work and in their communities. The report highlights areas of good practice such as giving front line staff powers to spend small amounts that can make a big difference.

On the ground, however, not everyone is getting to choose and control their social care the way they want to and staff need more support to try new approaches. The majority of staff are positive about the principles of SDS but everyone involved faces challenges in offering flexible services, particularly recruiting and retaining social care workers. To access the full report click the link to

Audit Scotland Report

 

We Like NIHR Signals!

First of all my heart goes out to everyone caught up in last nights tragedy in Barcelona, a city which I visited for the first time very recently. There are no words to express the shock and horror that will be felt by anyone who lost a loved one. My deepest felt sympathy to everyone affected.

The last few weeks I have concentrated too much perhaps on both dementia and Scotland so today I’ll thank Margo Stewart the Nursing Subject Librarian here at UWS for sharing this with me.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Dissemination Centre has a page called “Discover the Latest Research” where they release a series of reports called NIHR Signals. NIHR Signals are timely summaries of the most important research that aim to cut through the noise and provide decision makers and others with research evidence they can use. You can find out more about them here and by watching the video!

 

 

Recently the Dissemination Centre launched a new series called ‘My Signals’ where patients, service users and health and social care staff can comment and add their perspectives to Signals summaries of research. It’s not obvious how you do this but if you open the Signal you want to read you will find within it a menu that consists of:

Signal   Published Abstract   Definitions   Comments

Click on the comments link and you can both see what been said and add your own comments.

They are particularly interested in the views of patients and have created a guide to encourage them to contribute My Signals – Patients

The next editions of ‘My Signals’ will feature a Director of Public Health (in September) and three GPs (in October). Further editions will feature the views of surgeons, of nurses and of physiotherapists, so a site worth keeping an eye on.

Note also it’s a brilliant resource presenting easy to understand information, like NHS Choice’s Behind the Headlines which I have posted about before.

 

Finding Happiness and ‘At the Fringe’

Happiness

Something a bit different this week. Last month an interesting article appeared that was about happiness. Now, the pursuit of happiness is often viewed as a human right along with life and liberty (so says America’s Declaration of Independence); so much so that there is even an International Happiness Index, a UN International Day of Happiness on the 20th. of March and a World Happiness Report, which suggests that to be happy you need to live in Norway, Denmark, Iceland or Switzerland.

OK, so what’s this got to do with older people, I hear you ask, who invariably are amongst the happiest people alive!

That was a surprise I bet. See the work of Laura Carstesen if you don’t believe me!

Well this reserach report looks at how best you can spend your wealth if you want to improve your well-being. So can spending money effectively make you feel better? Well, possibly, but you have to be careful what you sepnd that money on and the results are quite surprising.

No spoilers… if you want to find out what the research says and how you could spend money more wisely then click the link to

 

August is only a few days away now and in Scotland that signals the start of the World’s Biggest Art’s Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe. If you are planning to spend some time in Edinburgh between the 4th. to the 28th. of August when the Fringe is on, you should check out Alzheimers Scotland’s guide to exploring Dementia at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Go and learn something new or get more insight by visiting their page at:

Fabulous Fringe Festival

 

Ten Things We Need to Know About Dementia

alzheimers-2069835_1280

This week the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Intervention and Care published its findings which included 10 key messages that are the things we need to know!

Quite a lot of the media reports of this important paper have highlighted only the lifestyle changes that need to be made to reduce your risk of developing dementia but very few highlight the bottom line… which is even if you make the positive  lifestyle changes suggested that would reduce your potentially modifiable risk factors by  about 35% of your overall risk. The other 65% of dementia risk is thought to be potentially non-modifiable.

The paper though, says a lot more than this and “Being ambitious about prevention” the one the media focussed on is only No 2 on the list, so there are 9 more messages that got a lot less attention! To see the Lancet Paper click here Be warned it’s not short!

So what else caught my attention? Well this did the Commonwealth Fund, which surprisingly is a private American foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency in US Healthcare recently reported on a comparison they had made between 10 high-income countries health care systems performance: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Worryingly the USA came last in nearly everything. Surprisingly the top country was the UK! Who says our Health Care system is failing? I think it’s actually being failed by a Government that wants to adopt an American Healthcare Model.

The time has come to ask why when they, the USA, should be learning from us!

As the Commonwealth Fund report states, based on a broad range of indicators, the U.S. health system is an outlier, spending far more but falling short of the performance achieved by other high-income countries. The results suggest the U.S. health care system should look at other countries’ approaches if it wants to achieve an affordable high-performing health care system that serves all Americans.

To read more about this report and to access the full version click here