Category Archives: Conferences

Guest blog: Dementia is a women’s issue

This week we have a guest blog from Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, on women and dementia. 

Dementia is one of those illnesses that we don’t really like to talk about do we?  It’s associated with ageing and while we know that we have an ageing society all the images around us are rather in denial preferring to promote youthful beauty.  But it’s also a gender issue because women are more likely than men to be affected.

That is why I am pleased to be speaking at Age UK’s For Later Life conference on this issue in November.  In fact I was shocked to learn when researching the subject that dementia is now the biggest cause of death for women in the UK.  Women over 60 are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than breast cancer. So it would seem reasonable to expect that research in this area would be focussing more heavily on women.  But this is not so. Continue reading

Testing times for older drivers?


On 26 June, Age UK is supporting a free conference at the Mobility Roadshow looking at how we can improve road safety for older drivers. Joe Oldman, Age UK’s Consumer and Community Policy Advisor, explains the current issues in the older driver debate. 

For many of us, continuing to drive as we get older is essential – a car may determine our ability to remain active and independent. The thought of having to give up driving can be distressing, especially in places where alternative forms of transport are limited or non-existent.

Challenging the myths about older drivers

With an increase in older drivers, there is growing concern about the implications for road safety.  Media coverage about older drivers and safety can be unhelpful or even insulting – dealing in lazy stereotypes rather than considering the evidence. The vast majority of older drivers, with many years of experience, are often safer than younger drivers. Those drivers aged 75 and over make up 6% of all licence holders, but account for just 4.3% of all deaths and serious injuries on the road. By contrast, drivers aged 16-20 make up just 2.5% of all drivers but 13% of those killed and seriously injured.

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How do we make prevention real?

 Leslie, 95, and his granddaughter Wendy.

Two weeks ago, despite it being one of the first warm evenings of the year, a sizeable crowd gathered for the most recent in our series of Tavistock Square Debates tackling the big issues across health and care for older people.  And this debate posed one of the toughest questions yet: “How do we make prevention real?”

Whether we are talking about preventing ill health in the first place or helping people stay well and manage a condition, we all agree prevention is better than cure. Likewise there is little argument that we should aim to prevent a crisis wherever possible.

However, in practice the case for investment and shifting resources ‘upstream’ is not always easy to make. In the light of the renewed emphasis on preventive approaches set out in the NHS Forward View and the Care Act, we asked our expert panel their views on what it would really take to break the cycle of short term targets and siloed budgets; to move from words to action.

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Attitudes to ageing

With an ageing population and increasing numbers of us living in to late old age, attitudes to later life have never been more relevant. At the same time, our straitened economic position and pressures on public services to meet financial challenges whilst providing for these growing numbers of over 6os, means the debate often hinges on economic and political issues.


The ‘burden’ of our ageing population is frequently stressed, accompanied by an emphasis on inequalities between generations that incite division.

Yet, one of the strongest messages to come out of a session I chaired last week at Age UK’s For Later Life conference was that the media furore on the ‘burden of ageing’ is not reflected in public attitudes.

No satisfaction

Ben Page of Ipsos Mori revealed polling showing that 68% of people aren’t satisfied with the Government’s treatment of older people and that care for the elderly is consistently amongst the top three scoring issues of concern to people of all ages.

I believe this polling strikes at the heart of the debate about attitudes to later life, illustrating the gap between political and media rhetoric and the views of the individual. But why is there such a gap? How do we form our attitudes to later life? And are they showing signs of changing, heralding strains on intergenerational relations? Continue reading