Becoming an Age Friendly Place to Live

Two stories caught my eye this week and they are both part of the same issue, which is really about making towns and cities in the future fit for older people to live in.

Urbanisation alongside Ageing are the biggest demographic shifts of my life time and governments have been very slow to react to both. However Manchester, yes the UK one :), was the first UK city to join the World Health Organization’s (WHO) newly established Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities in 2010. Last year Greater Manchester set a similar precedent when it became the UK’s first city-region to join the network. Working with the University of Manchester Age Friendly Manchester a partnership involving organisations, groups and individuals across the city have been testing some of the theories about how age-friendliness might be achieved helping to define key priorities for ongoing and future work. The result is a detailed workplan a summary of which you can find HERE 

For more about the collaboration with the University of Manchester CLICK HERE 

The second story is a report by the Centre for Better Ageing decrying the state of the UK housing stock and the need to build homes more suitable to the needs of Britain’s older people. This is a topic that I return to more frequently now in my blog probably because inadequate housing and heating kills. Work done in Manchester, commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and funded by the Centre for Ageing Better, has revealed that those on low- and middle- incomes can find themselves trapped in homes which are no longer appropriate for them as they age. For more on this topic see Building better homes is good for everyone – not just older people

The key messages from both these stories is that that we must improve accessibility within our cities for everyone. We also need a radical rethink on the design and accessibility of new homes and  the condition and accessibility of existing housing needs a lot more attention (and spending) than its getting currently.

Making environments more age-friendly will benefit us all! 

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Looking Forward to 2020 and Looking Back

In 2015, the world united around the World Health Organisation (WHO) Agenda for Sustainable Development, pledging that no one will be left behind and that every human being will have the opportunity to fulfil their potential in dignity and equality. The following year they released their Global strategy and action plan
on ageing and health committing the member states to ensure the goals are applied as a response to population ageing and urging them to make efforts to further support Healthy Ageing.  Now as a response the WHO has set out 10 Priorities that are needed to achieve the objectives of their strategy and action plan and now we are about to embark on a decade of concerted action on the Decade for Healthy Ageing from 2020-2030. 

The 10 priorities make for interesting reading so a link to the WHO publication 10 Priorities: Towards a Decade of Health Ageing is HERE 

The link between the Sustainable goals for healthy ageing and the sustainable development goals is best explained HERE

More about the WHO’s work in Ageing and the Lifecourse can be found by watching the video and on this webpage which includes what they say about Age-Friendly Environments.

In a bit of a contrast to looking forward, there is a new exhibition at the RCN Library and Heritage Centre in London exploring the place of nursing within the care of older people in the UK, which has changed dramatically in the past two centuries. Created with the help of the RCN Older People’s Forum, Aspects of Age charts the shift from the days of Victorian workhouses to at-home care and future technologies. It also looks at how specialist nurses can help destigmatise old age.  Information related to the exhibition is available at the Aspects of Age exhibition page HERE 

You can also visit the exhibition at RCN headquarters in London from 11 April to 20 September, then at RCN Scotland in Edinburgh from October.

Why are UK Citizens Overwhelmingly Negative About Getting Old?

‘The Perennials’, a study carried out in partnership between IPSOS MORI and the Centre for Ageing Better, reveals that just three in ten (30%) of UK adults say they are looking forward to later life. Half (50%) say they worry about getting old.

The Report called “The Perennials: The Future of Ageing” looks our ageing societies and the challenges and opportunities this presents. The Ipsos Mori study was global in that it was conducted and illustrates attitudes to ageing across 30 different countries.

Their research shows that, globally, there is a great deal of negativity towards later life, with financial and health concerns prevalent. However, much of this negativity is propagated by a media that does not do enough to portray later life as a time of potential. It is, therefore, perhaps, little surprise that when describing those in old age, people commonly reach for terms like ‘frail’, ‘lonely’.

However, as Ben Page, the Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI states this fails to do justice to the full diversity of experiences in later life.

The over-50s now command nearly half of all spending power in many countries.
People in their later years are increasingly packing their life to the full. For many, their reality doesn’t necessarily align with the labels the media are giving them. They are not slowing down but taking on new challenges, roles and responsibilities. Those with money to spend are smart about spending it.

They’re not digital natives but they are more connected than we give them credit for. They’re not withdrawing from life, but demanding more from it and from their societies.

Yes, old age is a time of great hardship and there are very real issues such as poverty,
isolation and ill-health that needs urgent attention. However, there is also another side of later life – one that we don’t hear about often enough because it doesn’t fit with ageist and lazy media stereotypes.

For a breath of fresh air visit the Report website at https://thinks.ipsos-mori.com/the-perennials-the-future-of-ageing/

To download and read the full report CLICK HERE

More Insights into Global Ageing

On Universal Health Coverage Day, which fell on the 12th. of December 2018, HelpAge International and the AARP Foundation launched Global AgeWatch Insights 2018, a new report that analyses older people’s right to health in the context of current demographic, epidemiological and health systems transitions.

As the global population ages, health systems need to adapt to ensure older women and men can realise their right to health. How much they need to be changed can be illustrated with just a few statistics.

In 2018, the global population aged 60 and over surpassed one billion, and it continues to rise in almost all countries around the world. This move toward an ageing population is accompanied not unsurprisingly by a shift towards a rise in the number of people dying from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Of the 41 million annual deaths caused by non-communicable diseases globally, 32 million occur in low and middle-income countries, which is changing the demands being placed on these healthcare systems.

The key findings of this new report worth noting

  • Some healthcare systems are reliant on data which should inform the planning and delivery of health services systematically excludes older people.
  • Older people are prevented from accessing health services by cost, lack of transport, discrimination, and inadequate training of health workers.
  • Although women are living longer, they live more years in poor health, and with disability, depression and dementia.

As with all their Global Age Watch reports this one is accompanied by some great infographics including the one I have chosen to highlight below.

health-systems-infographic_1075x833

The Ongoing Tragedy of the UK’s Excess Winter Deaths!

cemetery-1967132_1280

In common with other countries, more people in the UK die in the winter than in the summer. Health Protection Scotland and other agencies point out that the deaths can often be attributed in part to cold weather directly (for instance deaths following falls, fractures, and road traffic accidents), in part to cold weather worsening chronic medical
conditions (for example, heart and respiratory complaints), and in part to respiratory infections including influenza.

Last winter though was carnage though particularly if you were a woman or aged 85 and over (See Excess Winter Deaths England and Wales)

If you combine the England, Wales and Scottish figures the number of excess UK winter deaths last winter was 54,879.

Sadly, our national disgrace continues and if anything things might slowly be getting worse after many years of improvement when the overall trend had been downwards since 2013-14 there has been a rising trend.

To give this more of a context in Scotland the  +4,797 deaths considered to be excess was the largest number since winter 1999/2000. The +50,100 deaths in England and Wales was the highest recorded since winter 1975 to 1976.

Research released by the E3G group in February 2018 indicates not just why this happens but why this should be a source of national embarrassment. Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden all have fewer winter deaths per capita population than we do and there is little doubt that they are colder. To learn more and access the E3G group report CLICK HERE

I agree with the authors of the report that this preventable tragedy must end. It’s time for the UK Government’s (England Wales and Scotland) to get a move on and do something significant to provide the capital investment necessary to make many more UK’s homes warmer and safe for human habitation.

 

 

 

 

 

“Alexa… What does Gran/Grandad want for Christmas this year?”

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What about Tablet?

This week saw the release of a New NIHR Themed Review called “Help at Home”.

Help at Home brings together recent National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and other government funded research which has a focus on the use of technology in the home and designing better environments for older people.

This review features the work of 40 published studies. It also sets about giving care providers questions to ask about how technology can support older people living with complex conditions and what designs could help create an ageing friendly environment.

I am a big fan of making use of technology when it can help people to stay living well and safely at home as they get older. However my caveat is always that it has to be the right technology, tailored to the individual. BUT that alone is not enough, the person its for has to be willing to use it (and capable of learning how to use it), or you quickly find its a waste of money, time and effort.

There has been considerable investment recently in developing and evaluating assistive technologies for older people. However this is a relatively new field and there are still important gaps in what we know.

What is in the review has been selected with help from an expert steering group who focused on research around the use of technology in the home, remote monitoring systems and designing better environments for older people. You can read more at:

Help at Home Review

I am hoping this is arriving in your inbox just in time for Christmas. Christmas isn’t just for children

“Alexa… What does Gran want for Christmas this year?”

Maybe her own smart speaker or tablet!

#CarersRightsDay: We Need to Support an Increase in Carers Allowance Across the UK

Carers Rights day

Today is  

There are 759,000 adults carers in Scotland – 17% of the adult population and an estimated 29,000 young carers in Scotland – 4% of the under 16 population and without them the health and social care system would collapse.  So I am asking you to support Carers UK’s  campaign to increase Carer’s Allowance by at least £8.50, to match the changes being made in Scotland. Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers and you can still get it even if you are working, so long as your earnings are no more than a weekly amount known as ‘the earnings limit’. The government has announced that the earnings limit will be going up to £123 per week from April 2019. While this should be good news for carers in low paid work, many of those on the National Living Wage (NLW) will not benefit. for more details see the post here at the CONTACT website

If you are looking after someone you might want to look at and download this handy guide for anyone caring for family or friends – it outlines your rights as a carer and gives an overview of the practical and financial support available:

Finally, on the same theme, a report from the Social Care Elf on a recently published paper called:

Sense of coherence and mental health of caregivers: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Which is about trying to identify early warning signs of psychological distress in carers.

See also