In 2012, the Office for National Statistics estimated that there are nearly 1.5 million people aged 85 and over in the UK. We are only at the beginning of an estimated escalation of numbers of people in this age group, projected to reach 5 million by 2050. What was formerly a small number of exceptional individuals is rapidly becoming a whole new generation for families in this country: the ‘Fourth Generation’.
Over recent years, through research, our contact with leading experts, and our engagement with older people, it has become apparent to Age UK that we all need to know more about these ‘oldest old’. Often what we hear are stereotypes held over from days gone by – that these oldest people are all frail and in care homes, their useful life over. We are concerned that all of us who make decisions concerning their welfare need help to get up to date with their nature and needs.
So we asked experts to write summaries of what is known in their area of research about the ‘oldest old’. We’ve collected these lay-person summaries into a short book, ‘Understanding the Oldest Old.’ Continue reading
Posted in General, Research
Tagged Age UK, Age UK blog, Ageing, ageing population, ageing society, best practise, demographic change, fourth generation, Health & wellbeing, isolation, Later life, loneliness, older people, oldest old, over 85, over 85's, policy, practice, public attitudes, public policy, research, Understanding the Oldest Old, younger old
At the start of the winter, it might seem strange to write about swallows and summers, especially when 21,700 older people died of cold related illness last year. That wasn’t 2,170 people. It was ten times that number and over the last 10 years, an average of over 26,000 have died each winter. You might be tempted to think that these deaths would have happened anyway and that they are ‘just brought forward’ by the cold of winter. But all the evidence tells us that this is not the case.
Every single death is unnecessary, avoidable, preventable. For any other preventable cause of death this would be a national scandal. There would be outcry, protest, even outrage. And even more so when we know that this has been going on for over 150 years, since 1841 when the then registrar general, William Farr (who also happened to be Florence Nightingale’s statistician) first recorded an excess of winter deaths over the summer. A conservative estimate tells us that this amounts to an all-time, truly shocking total of over some 3 million deaths.
For the last 30 years there has been a debate about cause but the evidence shows that the over-riding reason for these deaths is the personal exposure of the individual to cold temperatures. This cause was first revealed by Curwen’s ‘regression model’ in 1997 when he showed that there were three factors most associated with excess winter deaths. These factors were secular trend (roughly equating to improvements in standard of living); influenza (only in epidemic years) and temperature. Of these three, the most strongly associated was temperature. Continue reading
Posted in Campaigning, Health, Income, Spread the Warmth campaign
Tagged Age UK, Age UK blog, Ageing, American Journal of Epidemiology, Curwen’s ‘regression model’, excess winter deaths, fuel poverty, Health, Income, Incomes, money matters, older people, research, spread the warmth, Spread the Warmth campaign, winter, winter deaths
7 April is World Health Day and this year the theme is active ageing. Age UK and the World Health Organisation are marking the occasion by launching a ‘knowledge transfer toolkit’ to help low and middle-income countries address chronic illnesses.
In many parts of the globe today, there are millions of older people who are suffering from chronic long-term illness. This, you might think, is not surprising – it is widely known and appreciated that as we get older, the risk of illness increases. However, for many older people in the poorer parts of the world, there is a cruel paradox.
They are the survivors of the AIDS epidemic which places them as the carers of their grandchildren, but they themselves may have an undiagnosed disease or an untreated condition. The problem will continue to worsen as the population of low to middle-income countries (LMIC) ages.
These so-called LMICs have health systems which have been set up to deal with and prevent communicable disease – malaria, water-borne diseases, TB and HIV/AIDS. This emphasis is increasingly successful. As the risks are reduced and the survival rate improves, more will progress into later life where they may develop chronic long-term illnesses. Continue reading
Posted in General
Tagged #AddHealth2Life, Age UK, Ageing, Ageing and health, Ageing and health: Good health adds life to years, ageing society, Health and Wellbeing, knowledge transfer, knowledge transfer toolkit, NCDs, Non Communicable Diseases, older people, World Health Organisation
Some years ago, after a very congenial dinner, a colleague of mine berated scientists for the many authors’ names which appear on their publications. ‘Surely’, he said, ‘like those of us in the arts, brilliant minds should be able to publish independently – with just a single author’. His remarks made me pause and think. I thought of the history of science and how many great minds have paved the road of progress with their milestone discoveries: Newton with gravity; Lavoisier with oxygen; Darwin with evolution and Einstein with relativity. Their names are endless and their achievements epic. All of them individuals with the stroke of genius on their side.
Then yesterday, I pondered again, as I read the new paper in Nature by Professor Ian Deary – and no less than 19 of his fellow investigators. Nineteen scientists to write a single article? And not just 19 scientists: 5 institutions across two continents. It was certainly a milestone paper. (For those of you who are not academics, ‘Nature’ is the world’s leading scientific journal. Publish in Nature and you are made. No-one can argue with the level of your work).
Ian Deary heads up the ‘Disconnected Mind’, a project investigating why we ‘lose our marbles’ as we get older – more properly called cognitive ageing – a condition which every one of us will face. It is also a complex one of which very little is known and in which there is little funding. But since its inception in 2008, the project has prospered and grown to the point where Ian and his team in Edinburgh were able to publish their findings in Nature, together with their Australian colleagues. A stunning achievement. Continue reading
Posted in General
Tagged Age UK, Ageing, ageing society, Disconnected Mind, Edinburgh University, Ian Deary, Lothian birth cohort, nature, older people, research, The Disconnected Mind