Sláinte: Alcohol Consumption and Older People

Well, it was food last week so this week let’s turn our attention to drink.

NHS Scotland this week released a new report, Hospital Admissions, Deaths & Overall Burden of Disease Attributable to Alcohol Consumption in Scotland that indicated that more than 3,700 deaths in Scotland could be directly linked to alcohol consumption. In addition, more than 41,000 people were admitted to hospital as a result of consuming alcohol. These findings overall show that alcohol has a wider impact on health than many people think, supporting the Scottish Government’s case that minimum alcohol pricing. This starts in Scotland in May 2018 and given this state of affairs has to be at least worth trying.

So why is this important to older people? Well, you have to look at alcohol consumption in the UK. In those that drink alcohol (about 83% of the total population) Drinkers aged 65+ years drank more frequently than any other group and were also more likely than any other age group to have drunk alcohol on 5 or more days in the previous week (24% of men and 12% of women) compared to 3% of men and 1% women aged 16 to 24 (Office of National Statistics, 2017). See Drinkaware if you want a more comprehensive view

There is an alarming lack of recognition of the extent of this problem in frontline healthcare staff who remain more likely to associate heavy drinking with the 16-24 age group, perhaps because they are more likely to binge drink, with all the problems that cause rather than older people steadily drinking more.

So it was really good this week to come across a new resource called Vintage Street Not the snappiest or most obvious name, unfortunately, that is purpose-built for people over 50 who are concerned that they are maybe drinking a little too much. It offers a range of online advice that older people, their families, employers may find useful. It also lets you know how to get in touch with the 5 Drinkwise Age Well centres.

Seems appropriate to put these here so you can check yourself out before you visit the site!

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Is an Effective Dementia Drug Treatment Getting Further Away?

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Sad to hear this week that Pfizer, the worlds largest research-based pharmaceutical company, so they say, are halting the development of any new drugs designed to tackle Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, with the loss of 300 jobs from their centres in Cambridge, UK; Andover, Mass., and Groton, Conn. Despite heavily funding research efforts into potential treatments in the past, Pfizer has faced high-profile disappointment in recent years from a number of different drug trials. This is a huge blow in the search for an effective drug to halt or slow both diseases just as some huge leaps are being made in other areas of diagnosis and treatment.

Any successful drug in this area would be seen by many in the pharmaceutical industry and others as having a multi-billion pound (dollar) sales potential and ongoing trials are a crucial beacon of hope for many people living with dementia and their families, so recovering from this may take a long while. Maybe we should not be leaving these decisions to private companies, perhaps its time to look at a different model for funding drug research that would make medicines more accessible to all. The World Economic Forum looked at this back in 2015 and this article, Can Megafunds Boost Drug Research?, certainly makes interesting reading now as we struggle to find new antibiotics, as well as new neurological enhancing drugs to tackle one of the World’s most costly disease processes. I’d be interested to hear what other people think.

Totally different topic and this is via the BGS Blog. This week they have published a collection of 8 articles from the last 10 years that demonstrate the way in which the application of qualitative research methods within the social science disciplines of sociology, anthropology and social psychology can enrich understanding of ageing and illness. Does sound like the greatest set of reading ever, but I am sure that if you look there will be something to love on the list!

See https://britishgeriatricssociety.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/qualitative-research-in-age-and-ageing/

Countering ‘Age Apartheid’ to Unite a Divided Society

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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.

What’s not to like about this!

My Life, My Care Home. An Insight into Life in a Scottish Care Home When You Have Dementia

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Went to an event hosted by the Holyrood Magazine this week which looked at the challenges and progress of the Third National Dementia Strategy here in Scotland the highlight of which was the announcement of the release of this report by the Care Inspectorate. The report follows a year-long focused analysis of 145 care homes for older people by the Care Inspectorate, Scotland’s social care scrutiny and improvement body.

Inspectors noted that although more than half of care homes were now delivering good quality care, more could be done to challenge expectations of what living with dementia means and the quality of care that can be provided.

The report examined the way Scotland’s national standards of care for dementia in Scotland were being met.

The Standards of Care for Dementia in Scotland, which are set by the Scottish Government, were developed to meet three principle aims: help people with dementia and their carers to understand and protect their rights, indicate to care, providers, what is expected of them and improve the quality of dementia care homes.

The inspection focus found that more than a third of people living with dementia (35%) had no access to independent advocacy to help them express their needs and expectations.

It also found that while 55% of care homes had provision for ongoing organised activities every day of the week, 10% of care homes did not provide any opportunities for people to keep active and engaged.

So lots of progress, but more still needs to be done. To download and view the full report click here

If you want to know more about what the care Inspectorate do and more about their campaigns they have there own YouTube Channel click here to view 

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

 

Help Needed! Do you Live in Lanarkshire?

 

 

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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

 

Recognising the Work of Scotland’s National Dementia Champions

Nicola Wood

Congratulations to Nicola Wood who works at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert Scotland who this year was Highly Commended in The Nursing Older People category of the RCNi  Nurse Awards 2017. Nicola’s work on reducing hospital interhospital movement for people with dementia featured in the July edition of Nursing Older People. You can see an item about the article at the Nursing Older People Journal site at the moment. As you might know, the School of Nursing here at the University of the West of Scotland are responsible for delivering the National Dementia Champions programme and Nicola is one of the 700 plus champions already out in the field. See National Dementia Champions

If you want to find out more about more what else the National Dementia Champions are involved in go to Twitter and look for #oneweething