Global Age Watch


Back in September 2015 the WHO published its World Report on Ageing and Health and I thought that this week we could have a look at what it says and the work of Help Age International. The WHO report highlights a number of issues:

  • People are living longer: health budgets and health systems need to adapt to this changing reality
  • Poor health does not need to dominate older age
  • It is not necessarily true that the older people get, the more money needs to be spent on health care, but more expenditure on social care is necessary
  • Old models of family care are not sustainable: state-provided care is essential
  • Although 70 does not yet appear to be the new 60, it could be in future

The Report shows that Governments all over the world need to adapt their policies and programmes to ensure they meet the health and care needs of all their populations throughout their life. That’s OK coming from a rich economy like ours, but what if you are from a poorer nation?

There is a website called the Global Age Watch Index which pools together all the information from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the World Bank, World Health Organization, International Labour Organization, UNESCO and the Gallup World Poll. This provides a fantastic resource which allows you to look at older people and how they live across the world and as a result allows some really fascinating comparisons. It also gives you some insight into how the WHO issues are being addressed in different countries. The Index website is at

The organisation that is responsible for creating the Index is also fascinating and the resources that exist on theirs site are really varied and interesting. To learn more about Help Age International go to:

A Great Place to Grow Old?

This week “Agenda for Later Life” – Age UK’s annual audit of how public policy is meeting the needs of our ageing population was published.

UK Topography space

What the report shows is that older people’s employment, digital inclusion, household spending and many other factors have improved over the last year; fewer people are living in non-decent housing and future pensioners are now more likely to be paying into a pension (even if many are not yet paying in enough). Details of the report and some neat Infografics that accompany it, as well as a comment by Jane Vass, Head of Public Policy at Age UK can be found at Age UK’s Blog page at:

Those of you who have known me for a while will know that this is what I consider to be our biggest national scandal. This week also saw the publication of the Winter Deaths figures for last year. So what do you think up or down from before (remembering it was a mild winter)?  Sadly up again. For more details about this see:

Think I have got a new blog to follow.

Living Independently with a Long Term Condition

This week saw the publication of the details of a report currently being conducted by Ipsos Mori for the NHS in England’s Improving Quality’s Long Term Conditions Improvement Programme.

Called “Navigating Health and Care: Living Independently with Long Term Conditions”, this evaluation heard the views of 36 patients, family members and carers in order to gain an insight into their experiences of living with and managing their long term conditions and the care they receive. As the report writers state, the findings chime with anecdotal evidence about the challenges faced by people managing multiple conditions, and the evaluation corroborates this in a powerful, real-world way from the patients’ perspectives. Not only will the report make for interesting reading when it is finally published but there are 5 videos associated with its release which are available to view at the following website.

One of the videos is called “Personalise my Care”. I thought some of you might like that one particularly. If any of the video resources strike a chord with you, or seem particularly useful can you post a review here so others can see it. I am sure it would be appreciated by all who view this Blog.

Mental Welfare Commission Campaign

This week it was quite easy to pick something out that has relevance to older people’s care in Scotland. Particularly since it was only released today!

The Mental Welfare Commission has launched a new campaign to explain the power of attorney to hospital ward staff, care home staff and GP’s across Scotland. More and more people are using this legal route to give powers to someone they trust – usually a relative or close friend – to make decisions on their behalf when they are unable to do so themselves. Particularly those affected by dementia or a learning disability.

So to find out about the campaign go to

There you can access three new documents: A Power of Attorney guide for staff in hospitals and care homes. One for GP’s and a final one that deals with common concerns about these powers. These should prove very useful documents which you should share.

A bit of inspiration also. I was at this event last year and Holly, who was a final year student studying Philosophy and Theology at Edinburgh was better than a lot of the professionals. Enjoy!

Falls…. and End of Life at the Movies?

Its still “Fall” 😉 ; so  I should draw your attention to a new initiative being supported by the British Geriatric Society and 16 other European Organisation. Called “Stay Strong, Stay Steady” this campaign aims to increase life expectancy of older people in EU by 2 years by 2020 purely by improving falls management. The campaign is led by an organisation called the Prevention of Falls Network for Dissemination (ProFouND). See

Also there is new resource been released on End of Life Care which I thought you should all know about created by RCN. See

This resource has been designed for  a registered nurses, student nurses, health care assistant (HCA) or assistant practitioner working in any setting or specialism. The aim is to give an understanding of your role when it comes to meeting the needs of people with life limiting illnesses. Please use this with whoever you think may make use of it. Its an open resource and free to use.

Finally something to watch out for a film that looks at end of life care in a Scottish Hospice has gone on UK wide release. Its called “Seven Songs for a Long Life” and you can find out more about it and where is is being screened at

(May come with a serious “hankies required” warning, and that’s just the trailer).

Ageing Scotland and the Future?


Yesterday the National Records of Scotland released its new report looking at the projected population increase predicted for Scotland between now and 2039. They released the figures in a series of really quite understandable infographics which make this site interesting to explore. See:

The important set of figures when looking at older people’s issues is the prediction that the number of people aged 75 and over is projected to increase by 85% (i.e. 370,000 people over that time period) . The other infographic that is worth closer examination is the one that looks at causes of death, Scotland 2002-2014.

I was at a lecture this week given by the First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and its quite interesting to look at these projection and then consider what she has said about her plans for changing Health and Social care in the tenure of the next Scottish parliament. For more details about this, see the other Blog that I contribute to at:

Drinking Alcohol and Loneliness: What the papers have been saying.

This week, let’s concentrate on what has been reported in the papers recently. One that affects most of the readers of this Blog now, and one that my classes have discussed before where new evidence has been published recently.

This story has been reported in a number of places and given that the story is based on NICE recommendations perhaps we should all be paying attention. What the papers and news agencies have been saying is that middle-aged people should be warned there is “no safe level of alcohol consumption” and apparently they have been advised to curb their drinking to reduce their risk of developing dementia. See as an example. So should we be paying attention? I have mentioned before the NHS Choices site “Behind the Headlines” and there review group have considered this guidance and its interesting to look and see what they say about it compared to the news articles. The first thing to notice is that it was about more than just alcohol. To view their thoughts on the new guidance (and to carry out a quick health check of your own) see

Earlier this month there was an interesting piece of work done in the USA reported as  “Low levels of face-to-face social contact ‘can double the risk of depression in older people’,” in both the the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. See Again the “Behind the Headlines” team have done a very thorough job on explaining these findings from the USA. Again take a look and contrast the headlines with this interpretation.

I don’t think there is any doubt that social contact helps but what constitutes good social contact is clearly still up for debate. Do you have any thoughts on either of these issues? Feel free to add comments.

Last thing, how about a free book! And a big bonus, not only is it free its about something that can be hard to understand. So if you think you would like a copy of “Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics”; go to this book review.