Ten Things We Need to Know About Dementia

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This week the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Intervention and Care published its findings which included 10 key messages that are the things we need to know!

Quite a lot of the media reports of this important paper have highlighted only the lifestyle changes that need to be made to reduce your risk of developing dementia but very few highlight the bottom line… which is even if you make the positive  lifestyle changes suggested that would reduce your potentially modifiable risk factors by  about 35% of your overall risk. The other 65% of dementia risk is thought to be potentially non-modifiable.

The paper though, says a lot more than this and “Being ambitious about prevention” the one the media focussed on is only No 2 on the list, so there are 9 more messages that got a lot less attention! To see the Lancet Paper click here Be warned it’s not short!

So what else caught my attention? Well this did the Commonwealth Fund, which surprisingly is a private American foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency in US Healthcare recently reported on a comparison they had made between 10 high-income countries health care systems performance: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Worryingly the USA came last in nearly everything. Surprisingly the top country was the UK! Who says our Health Care system is failing? I think it’s actually being failed by a Government that wants to adopt an American Healthcare Model.

The time has come to ask why when they, the USA, should be learning from us!

As the Commonwealth Fund report states, based on a broad range of indicators, the U.S. health system is an outlier, spending far more but falling short of the performance achieved by other high-income countries. The results suggest the U.S. health care system should look at other countries’ approaches if it wants to achieve an affordable high-performing health care system that serves all Americans.

To read more about this report and to access the full version click here

Dare to Connect

Have you ever seen this symbol?

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Can’t say I have either, so I better explain. This is the symbol of BlueAssist. Created by a small centre for adults with learning difficulties in Ostend, Belgium. The scheme began as a series of written cards with a distinctive logo, and the words Dare to Connect. The symbol is there to help the public understand that the person asking for help may not be able to communicate easily, just as the wheelchair symbol is recognised for those with physical difficulties. The simple idea was that when the person presents a BlueAssist message which has been pre-prepared such as

“Please can you help me catch the number 5 bus”

Members of the public would understand from the symbol and the message on the card what is needed and could then provide assistance.

Not only can you get the cards you can now get a Blue Assist mobile phone app.

The whole point here is that ANYONE who has difficulty getting their message across, either because of physical problems, such as a stroke, hearing impairment, stammer or temporary problem such as a broken jaw. Or those who find it hard due to a long-term disability such as learning disability or any older person there are many people who want to remain independent but may find their memory and word finding ability makes asking for help difficult.

To find out more and maybe even to download the App,  go to

http://www.blueassistuk.org.uk/

Simple and effective, wouldn’t it be good to see it widely used. Thanks to   @WendyPMitchell for bringing this to my attention in her blog.

Only a  few weeks to go to the UK General Election. So a post from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation addressed to whoever wins called  “After the election, the Government needs to get to grips with poverty” seems apt.

The Third Global Health Challenge

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

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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.

Brilliant news for everyone looking at this blog!

Great News! Life Expectancy Keeps on Rising.

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This week Imperial College London and the World Health Organization released a report analysed lifespans in 35 industrialised countries which predicted that all the countries would see people living longer by 2030 and the gap between men and women would also start to close. Between 2015 and 2030, life expectancy in the UK is expected to go from 79 to 82 for men and from 83 to 85 for women, but South Korea has been highlighted as the country where women will be the first in the world to have an average life expectancy above 90.By contrast, the US performs poorly and is on course to have the lowest life expectancy of rich countries by 2030.The study predicts an average age of 80 for men and 83 for women – roughly the same state Mexico and Croatia will have achieved. As the authors state the USA is very unequal to an extent that whole national performance is affected, notably it is the only country without universal health insurance. The study was published in the Lancet Future Life Expectancy . There is an interview with the author on the BBC news website at BBC Health

Also this week the British Geriatric Society  Blog looks at a recent paper co-authored by Fátima Brañas a consultant geriatrician from Madrid whose team has been looking at Frailty and physical function in older HIV-infected adults. Nowadays, over half of people infected with HIV are older than fifty years. Like other marginalised groups biologically they are older, as accelerated ageing in this population has been demonstrated. The team suggest that the management of HIV-infected patients has to change as a consequence of their rising frailty. If you want to know more you can read the blog and access the paper at BGS Blog