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.
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!
I’ve still to watch it but it was interesting to see the topic of head injuries in sport being raised this week in the BBC documentary “Alan Shearer: Dementia Football and Me”. Concerns about head knocks in American Football and Rugby have been a subject of quite a lot of research and concerns in the last few years but Soccer/football has been remarkably quiet about exposure to head injury from heading the ball and other head knocks apparently choosing to ignore the topic despite concerns being raised for at least the last 15 years. I was going to direct you to the documentary page but the BBC has a better resource written by their health editor Hugh Pym that includes links to the documentary on a page labelled £1m for football brain injury research Well worth reading because it also contains a link to a study about American Football conducted in Boston that is perhaps more concerning.
Is it time for change, or is their just so much money in these sports that we are happy to risk the futures of our children?
So for every negative their needs to be a positive so here it is!
Swedish Scientist have just published a huge study that suggests that dogs may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk in their owners by providing social support and motivation for physical activity. The benefits are particularly noticeable for people living alone. I don’t really need to encourage a lot of my friends here, but when we talk about Pet Therapy that’s quite an artificial and temporary construct. Maybe we should just be saying “Go out and get yourself a dog!”
This week saw the start of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2017 which takes place from the 10th. to the 29th of October across the country There are lots of interesting events on of relevance to older people experiencing mental health issues. There is so much on, that you are probably better searching for something local yourself to go and see. Whatever you do I am sure it will be enlightening.
I also found “Chief cook and bottle washer” which is a film created by the Bournemouth University PIER partnership and 11 male carers over the age of 85. in the video, These older carers share their insights on being an older carer; how life has changed and their key messages for practitioners.
Before you watch the video it’s worth noting that carers over the age of 85 are the only demographic of carers where men outnumber women (59%). Men are more likely to become carers in older age than at other times in their life and usually as a result of caring for their partners. As such, older male carers are more likely to live with the person they are caring for. Many carers have physical and mental health issues themselves and evidence shows that caring for someone further increases the likelihood of isolation, loneliness and depression and physical health problems. In the future, the number of older carers will increase so this is a timely film about a little-researched group of careers. A theme amongst the carers’ experience was the loss of free time and many of the men spoke of feeling increasingly isolated. Time to act? Even if we don’t act now we need more projects and research like this.
From the report, they have stated that amongst adults men were significantly more likely than women to be overweight including obese (68% compared with 61%). Worryingly it was adults aged 65-74 who were most likely to be obese (36% of all adults this age). The average BMI (Body Mass Index) for both Scottish men and women was 27.7, up from 27.0 in 2003.A BMI of 25 or less is said to be normal and 25 to 30 is overweight.
A BMI of 25 or less is said to be normal and 25 to 30 is overweight.
Obesity was lowest in the 16 to 24 age group (14%) but it doubled to 28% in the 25-35 range. The largest jump between age groups. It would appear that while the message to reduce obesity in Scottish children is getting through to the public the same cannot be said of the message about the need for our older people to avoid obesity and stay active to reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The Scottish Government are planning an ambitious new strategy to improve Scotland’s diet and help address obesity. Let’s hope they include older people in their plans.
For information about staying healthy in old age, this page on the Age Scotland site is useful
Perhaps a missing element from this survey is more detail on the mental health of older people. More will be reported about this but it’s perhaps worth remebering that up to 40% of people over the age of 65 experience mental health problems and about one-fifth of all suicides happen in older people. Last month Alistair Burns, the National Clinical Director for Older People’s Mental Health and Dementia took to social media to announce the launch of “A Practice Primer on Mental Health in Older People” a document which highlights for primary care health workers in particular GP’s, symptoms often attributed to ‘old age’ but where a mental health diagnosis and follow-up may be more appropriate.
You can read what he said here and find the link to the document he is discussing (if you didn’t click the link above already) In the document he talks about this film that looks at Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. I am with him on this!
It’s the 1st of September, so as always this is the commencement of World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
World Alzheimer’s Month has been observed in September every year since its launch in September 2012. The decision to introduce a full month, to contain the existing World Alzheimer’s Day, which is on the 21st. of September every year was made to enable national and local Alzheimer associations worldwide to extend the reach of their awareness programmes over a longer period. The 21st of September was chosen because it marked the opening of Alzheimer’s Disease International’s (ADI’s) annual conference in Edinburgh on 21 September 1994 which was the organisations 10th anniversary.
For more information about this years theme and campaign click here.
It also means that the next World Alzheimers Report will be released. This year the aim is to highlight the importance of early detection and diagnosis of dementia. So look out for it’s publication around the time of World Alzheimer’s Day.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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.