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.
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.
As part of 2016’s Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival, and with support from Scottish Care, Documentary Filmmaker and Photographer Duncan Cowles worked at North Merchiston Care Home in Edinburgh to create a collection of short films directed by the care home residents. The result is a series of five short films. I think each one of the residents has really enjoyed the process. Some were slightly reluctant initially, but once we got started admitted that they were having a laugh, and were glad they’d agreed to take part.
Duncan Cowles said of the project
“I think each one of the residents has really enjoyed the process. Some were slightly reluctant initially, but once we got started admitted that they were having a laugh, and were glad they’d agreed to take part. The hope is that the films will take on a life of their own, as we share them with a wider audience. It’s really important that older people’s voices are heard by other generations, and often that doesn’t happen.”
On a totally different scale, a report by Help the Aged International called “Investing in an ageing world: shifting debates from costs to investments” has recently been added to their publications list. The report argues that we should stop bemoaning the so-called “costs” of ageing and shift from a debate defined by financing and expenditure to one that focuses on social investment and long-term planning. An approach that is both more positive and ultimately more sustainable approach. It’s a long report but you can download it here and take a look at the conclusions and recommendations on p.100-105 which discuss what we should be doing instead of just imposing austerity measures. As the report says, the younger workers of today and the near future will be the beneficiaries of the successes of our current planning but only if we act appropriately now!
This week we are going to have look at a new initiative being promoted by NHS England, which has come from Dr. Amit Arora, a consultant geriatrician at the University Hospital of North Midlands, who has served as Chairman of England Council of the British Geriatrics Society. He and his team have developed the campaign “Sit up, Get Dressed, Keep Moving” which is being adopted in many NHS hospitals and abroad. It’s worth clicking on the link at the bottom of Dr. Arora’s blog for NHS England are some great resources including information leaflets that you can use.
We should all really be supporting this campaign since older people, the core users of NHS stand to benefit most from this campaign. During hospitalization older people can spend up to 83% of their time sitting in bed and often a further 12% in a chair. Patients, therefore, become deconditioned with deconditioning starting within the first 24 hours.
There is a bit of controversy about the campaign already but the BGS allowed Dr. Arora to respond on their blog and that also makes a very interesting read, See Why is everyone talking about it?
For many years now scientists and drug companies have been looking for drugs that don’t just ameliorate the symptoms of the disease as our current drugs do but ones that can stop the death of neurons, in the presence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
There have been times when this has been claimed but there has never been any drug that has got through human trials successfully. This week though, this claim has been made for two drugs: trazodone hydrochloride (used to treat depression and anxiety) and dibenzoylmethane (a drug that could be useful for prostate and bowel cancer). Both drugs restored memory, reduced signs of neurodegeneration and were safe for mice in the doses being trialled.
Now the beauty of utilising these drugs is that they have already been tested on humans so if they are as effective, as animal testing seems to suggest, then the process of human testing can be hugely reduced, meaning that clinical trials for both drugs in treating neurodegenerative diseases could start straight away.
Could we be approaching an era where there is a treatment that has a real impact on neurodegenerative illness for the first time? Why not go and make up your own mind about this. On BBC Health there is an item which explains what it is believed the drugs do and some further thoughts on what might happen next. Click here to view
Both links take you to the paper which has caused this stir. Let’s hope the outcomes of any trial are positive because its now 20 years since the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor Donepezil (Aricept) was launched.
Earlier this month a new resource called “Staying Sharp” was launched by Age UK. Staying Sharp is a new online hub on brain ageing, which has been developed in collaboration with the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE) at the University of Edinburgh.
It has been developed because for many older people, losing their mental sharpness is one of their biggest fears. However, although it is generally accepted that some of our thinking skills, for example, our memory and speed of processing information will change, approximately three-quarters of the changes in our thinking skills across our lives are really down to lifestyle and environmental factors. Many of these factors may be things we can try and control or change which is why the hub has been created.
Staying Sharp is a superb resource for the many people out there who are concerned about losing their thinking skills as they grow older. So please recommend it!
Also found out this week that there is going to be a requirement for GPs to routinely identify frailty in patients as part of the new GP Contract being rolled out in NHS England in 2017-18. Which really begs the question how are they going to identify who is frail.? Well a wee bit of digging and I have come across the following paper:
When tested out this index identified 35 per cent of the population aged 65 and over who have ‘mild’ frailty. Using this tool the intention is to pick up this group using this frailty identification tool in its early stages in order to provide opportunities for the prevention of poor quality ageing. Now just what exactly will that involve?
Oh… hang on… what was that “Staying Sharp” resource about?
Worrying times for UK nursing particularly in England and Wales where the nursing bursary has been scrapped. Figures from UCAS show a worrying drop in applicant numbers at a time when there is a huge shortage of nurses UK wide. Less than a year and clearly it’s already time for a re-think. See Mature students decide against nursing .
I am not sure how many of you will have read about this but I think it is well worth reading about, particularly if you work in an area where no resuscitation team is accessible, care homes particularly.
In January the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC’s) Conduct and Competence Committee (January 2017) ; found against a nurse who did not attempt CPR on, or call the emergency services to, a nursing home resident she believed had already died.
This ruling had caused concern and considerable debate among nurses and other health care professionals who feared the risk of criticism or disciplinary action should they be faced with a similar situation.
Bearing this in mind it is worth reading both of these statements. One from the Resuscitation Council (UK) itself and the other from the RCN.
Finally, something else that may have passed you by this week. WHO announced that Depression is now the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. WHO will start a year-long campaign targeting depression called “Depression: let’s talk” which will commence on World Health Day which is today of course! (7th. of April 2017).
Its going to be a bit overshadowed by the launching of Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles sadly.
Had to share this first. At the end of last year my first year Masters class were lucky enough to be able to hear about the work being done with older prisoners across Scotland from Paul O’Neill, the (Healthcare) Service Manager at Shotts Prison. Paul spoke passionately about his work and the difficulties that are being encountered as our prison population ages. This week Alzheimer’s Scotland’s Let’s Talk About Dementia Blog features a really interesting item on improving Dementia awareness in prisons which features Shotts Prison. Shotts is aiming to become the first Dementia Aware Prison and the article looks at how successful this partnership working has been. To learn more click here
On Wednesday the 29th of March the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the latest of its Global Patient Safety Challenges. This one, unlike the previous two “Clean Care is Safe Care” challenge on hand hygiene in 2005 and the “Safe Surgery Saves Lives” challenge in 2008 extends beyond the hospital because the focus of the third challenge is “Medication Safety”
The aim this time is to half medication errors globally within 5 years. The Global Challenge aims to make improvements in each stage of the medication use process including prescribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring and use. WHO aims to provide guidance and develop strategies, plans and tools to ensure that the medication process has the safety of patients at its core, in all health care facilities. For further information, click here
The people of course who will benefit the most from this will be the people who take the most medications and as we know that is older people with co-morbidities.