I am the programme leader for the MSc in Gerontology and Later Life Studies at the University of the West of Scotland. You can find out more about the programme I run at http://www.uws.ac.uk/mscgerontologyandlaterlifestudies/ . 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 but we all have eyes and we all have views, so if there is anything that you think others should know about please add to the comments and I'll share here.
A strange piece of augury last week picking a ‘Care home for 4 year-olds’ as my topic. Today a report by the group United for all Ages warns that there is a widening gap between older and younger generations, largely fuelled by the UK housing crisis, which has forced young people to live in cheaper urban areas, while their parents and grandparents live in the suburbs or the countryside. They say that urgent action is needed to create 500 shared sites across the country by 2022 to try and end ‘age apartheid’ in Britain.
Britain is one of the most age-segregated countries in the world, particularly for the oldest and youngest generations and age segregation has been growing in recent decades
Their report called Mixing Matters was published today (5 January 2018). Worth downloading and reading (even the News Release) to get an idea just how divided a society we are becoming.
Shared sites, such as care-home nurseries (as featured on Channel 4); opening up sheltered housing schemes to students in return for volunteering and support; expanding the Homeshare scheme where older people let spare rooms to young people in return for practical support and companionship; Locating reception and year one classes for primary school children in care homes, as demonstrated by shared sites in the USA; and tackling the stigma around ageism and dementia by encouraging school pupils to visit care homes as part of the national curriculum bring young and old together and are practical methods for tackling some of the big social ills facing our country – from poor health and care and loneliness to ageism and division.
Firstly a Very Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this that celebrates. If you don’t, hope you are enjoying the winter solstice which is a much older festival and was celebrated more widely (Stonehenge for example is aligned to sunrise on the winter solstice).
So after a few weeks of mainly single topics this week I have decided to be a bit more eclectic!
Firtly, its good to see that Age UK have just launched a new resource which offers practical advice on providing the kind of services in which older lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people can feel safe to be themselves. Called theSafe to be me resource guide, it has been written for anyone working or volunteering in health, social care or the voluntary sector who supports older people who are LGBT. It will also prove useful for people involved in training because it encourages them integrate discussions and scenarios relating to the needs of people who are LGBT into what they provide.
Secondly another of these great papers which tells you more about the things you take for granted. This time its about the healing power of music! An easy thing to say and something we are all probably aware of BUT what is music actually doing?
Well this paper from a team based at the University of Helsinki in Finland has a go at answering that question for people with neurological conditions. It is a literature review that looks at music’s potential for aiding the rehabilitation of people with various neurological conditions. Evidence of an impact is greatest for stroke and dementia, but music-based interventions can also help cognition, motor function and emotional well-being in people with Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. More of their findings can be found HERE
Finally and totally unrelated to anything above, I found an open access literature review on appropriate ways to measure lying and standing blood pressure in hospital for frail older adults. So for all of you concerned about older people who fall frequently possibly because of postural hypertension here is a guide to the:
This week saw the start of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2017 which takes place from the 10th. to the 29th of October across the country There are lots of interesting events on of relevance to older people experiencing mental health issues. There is so much on, that you are probably better searching for something local yourself to go and see. Whatever you do I am sure it will be enlightening.
I also found “Chief cook and bottle washer” which is a film created by the Bournemouth University PIER partnership and 11 male carers over the age of 85. in the video, These older carers share their insights on being an older carer; how life has changed and their key messages for practitioners.
Before you watch the video it’s worth noting that carers over the age of 85 are the only demographic of carers where men outnumber women (59%). Men are more likely to become carers in older age than at other times in their life and usually as a result of caring for their partners. As such, older male carers are more likely to live with the person they are caring for. Many carers have physical and mental health issues themselves and evidence shows that caring for someone further increases the likelihood of isolation, loneliness and depression and physical health problems. In the future, the number of older carers will increase so this is a timely film about a little-researched group of careers. A theme amongst the carers’ experience was the loss of free time and many of the men spoke of feeling increasingly isolated. Time to act? Even if we don’t act now we need more projects and research like this.
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!
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
It’s the 1st of September, so as always this is the commencement of World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
World Alzheimer’s Month has been observed in September every year since its launch in September 2012. The decision to introduce a full month, to contain the existing World Alzheimer’s Day, which is on the 21st. of September every year was made to enable national and local Alzheimer associations worldwide to extend the reach of their awareness programmes over a longer period. The 21st of September was chosen because it marked the opening of Alzheimer’s Disease International’s (ADI’s) annual conference in Edinburgh on 21 September 1994 which was the organisations 10th anniversary.
For more information about this years theme and campaign click here.
It also means that the next World Alzheimers Report will be released. This year the aim is to highlight the importance of early detection and diagnosis of dementia. So look out for it’s publication around the time of World Alzheimer’s Day.
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 email@example.com 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