Looking After Your Musculoskeletal Health

This week in Public Health England’s Health Matters Blog they have chosen to focus on older people’s Musculoskeletal (MSK) Health. A good time of year to focus on this as today the outside temperature across most of Scotland today fell to -2 degrees Celsius. So its a high risk of falls day (and a put on your big coat day as we’d say here)

The Public Health Blog focusses on the burden of the three groups of MSK conditions:

  • Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Conditions of musculoskeletal pain such as osteoarthritis and back pain
  • Osteoporosis and fragility fractures such as fracture after fall

As well as age, the prevalence of MSK conditions is being fuelled by rising levels of physical inactivity and obesity, and poor health habits such as smoking. MSK conditions are a substantial problem for individuals and the NHS. The blog looks at how local authorities, commissioners, healthcare professionals, and the private and voluntary sectors can all contribute towards promoting productive healthy ageing and preventing the onset of MSK conditions. It includes a set of infographics and slides to support local commissioning and service delivery, as well as best practice case studies, so why not have a look and make use of them.  See

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2017/12/06/health-matters-productive-healthy-ageing-and-musculoskeletal-health/

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Feeling Lonely and Cold? Unfortunately Your Not the Only One.

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Its the 1st of December and Age Scotland has launched its Christmas campaign, “No one should have no one”. A recent survey they have undertaken reveals that they think about 60,000 people aged over 65 will have no-one to spend Christmas Day with, a 50 percent increase over 2015 figures. Another 80,000 say they feel lonelier at Christmas time than at any other time of year, with those who have been widowed most at risk. They haven’t published the full survey results yet but you can see their report by clicking the link here  Age Scotland Report

They are hoping to highlight the extent of loneliness and isolation in Scotland and encourage people to take action to reduce loneliness in their communities. Interested to find out what you can do? Go to The Campaign to End Loneliness

December also signals now my annual rant about winter deaths because today is the day that we here in the UK start counting!

So why do I go on about this? Well let’s use the Scottish Government’s own figures

There were 20,930 deaths registered in Scotland in the four months of winter 2016/17
from (December to March), compared with 20,509 in winter 2015/16. Comparing the number of deaths in the four winter months with the average for the two adjacent four-month periods, the seasonal increase in mortality in winter 2016/17 was 2,720. This was 130 fewer than the corresponding value of 2,850 for the previous winter.
So what that means is that every year about 2,800 people in Scotland die from the cold.
Just in case for some reason you think that this is OK, its been happening for every winter from 1951/52 when they began counting, and things aren’t really getting better. The seasonal increase of 2,720 in winter 2016/17 was smaller than in most of the previous 65 winters but exceeded the level seen in 10 of the previous 20 winters, and in 5 of the previous 10 winters.
According to the World Economic Forum 2017, we here in the UK live in the 5th richest economy on the planet yet people still die from the cold at an excessive rate in the winter from essentially fuel poverty. This is just embarrassing and shameful and our figures are consistently worse than Scandinavian countries so we have no real excuse.
Want to find out more go to the End Fuel Poverty Coalition

 

Contact Sport and Dogs. Why are they in the Headlines?

I’ve still to watch it but it was interesting to see the topic of head injuries in sport being raised this week in the BBC documentary “Alan Shearer: Dementia Football and Me”. Concerns about head knocks in American Football and Rugby have been a subject of quite a lot of research and concerns in the last few years but Soccer/football has been remarkably quiet about exposure to head injury from heading the ball and other head knocks apparently choosing to ignore the topic despite concerns being raised for at least the last 15 years. I was going to direct you to the documentary page but the BBC has a better resource written by their health editor Hugh Pym that includes links to the documentary on a page labelled £1m for football brain injury research Well worth reading because it also contains a link to a study about American Football conducted in Boston that is perhaps more concerning.

Is it time for change, or is their just so much money in these sports that we are happy to risk the futures of our children?

So for every negative their needs to be a positive so here it is!

Swedish Scientist have just published a huge study that suggests that dogs may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk in their owners by providing social support and motivation for physical activity. The benefits are particularly noticeable for people living alone. I don’t really need to encourage a lot of my friends here, but when we talk about Pet Therapy that’s quite an artificial and temporary construct. Maybe we should just be saying “Go out and get yourself a dog!”

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!

 

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