Category Archives: Health

A practical guide to healthy ageing


Healthy ageing guide

The latest edition of a ‘Practical guide to healthy ageing’

Katie Walkin is a Business Manager in the long-term conditions team at NHS England. Katie recently joined Age UK on a short-term secondment, bringing her experience and insights from working with the NHS to Age UK’s health policy programme. In this blog, Katie writes about her experiences in producing two editions of a ‘Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing’.

Being able to stay healthy in later life is a crucial issue for all of us. We know that older people often do not feel supported to look after their own health, particularly people with multiple long term conditions, including frailty. This has a detrimental impact on their quality of life and health outcomes.

NHS England recognised there were lots of very good detailed individual guides to support older people look after their health, but there wasn’t always a single place for people to go.  Improving older people’s care is increasingly a priority for the NHS, so my team set out to produce such a guide, working with the National Clinical Director for Frailty and Age UK.

We set out to produce a readable and practical guide that helped people to stay physically and mentally well by providing hints and tips on how to keep fit and independent. It recognised, as we all should, that there is always something we can do to improve our health and wellbeing. For older people who may be starting to find things more difficult to do, it is particularly important to take active steps to slow down or reverse some of the health challenges we are all likely to face. Continue reading

Healthy ageing: a vision of the future?

On the International Day of Older Persons the World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a new ‘World Report on Ageing and Health’. Here Ken Bluestone, who leads Age International’s policy and influencing work, looks at the findings from the report. 

An astonishing transformation is taking place that has until now been absent from mainstream development thinking: global ageing. Its absence is even more surprising as the evidence makes clear that demographic changes are affecting developing countries the most.

Currently about one in ten of the population is aged 60 or over; but within a generation – 2050 – this ratio will soar to one in five.  Two-thirds of the 868 million older people alive today are in developing countries; and of the 2 billion people expected to be over the age of 60 by 2050, over three-quarters will live in low and middle-income countries. The rate of change is phenomenal.

What we do with this information will determine whether this new reality is something to welcome or be feared. This is why the World Health Organisation’s new ‘World Report on Ageing and Health’ released today on the International Day of Older Persons is so important. Its message is clear: celebrate our longer lives; invest in older people; but most importantly – be prepared. Continue reading

How music can help people living with dementia


Our first blog of the week looks at how music can be used as a way to help care for and support people living with dementia. It was contributed by Doctor Victoria Williamson, Director of Music and Wellbeing, at the University of Sheffield. 

Music is powerful, multi-functional, ageless and universal: one of the greatest human inventions.

You will, no doubt, know music that instantly transports you back in time to a treasured memory. Lyrics pop automatically to your mind. You remember music from decades ago but struggle with the names of people you met just days before.

Psychological studies support these anecdotal accounts of the power of music in long-term memory. Individuals who face extreme challenges to their memory, such as amnesia or dementia, rarely lose these musical connections.

I run the ‘Music and Wellbeing’ research unit at the University of Sheffield and for the last year my team has been looking at the impacts of live music sessions in dementia care*. Nine South Yorkshire care homes opened their doors to us and we recorded remarkable moments between the community of individuals living with dementia, their carers and loved ones, and the visiting musicians. Continue reading

Guest blog: Changing the way health and care is delivered

Older people chatting

This is the first in a series of blogs on Age UK’s Integrated Care Programme. Here Kelly from Age UK’s ‘Living Well’ integrated care service in Portsmouth talks about the difference it’s making to older people’s lives.

A new service is changing the way health and care is delivered in Portsmouth.

‘Living Well’ is an integrated care service which sees Age UK Portsmouth working with the NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, Portsmouth City Council, Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Together our aim is to support older people to lead a more fulfilling life.

The service is targeted at people over the age of 50 with multiple long-term health conditions who have found themselves going in and out of hospital.

We have a great team here working on the service, full of staff and volunteers who want to enable some of the most vulnerable people to become more independent and fulfil their goals in life. We have already had some amazing successes with the people we have worked alongside so far. Continue reading