Why we should all be encouraged to talk about death and dying

This week (14th-18th May) is Dying Matters Week, a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of talking about dying, death and bereavement.

We all seem to find it difficult to have conversations with people we love about death and dying. It brings up uncomfortable emotions so we tend to shy away from it.

Talking about death often feels like a taboo subject in our society.

Yet all of us will experience the death of a loved one at some point in our lives and talking more openly can often make it seem less scary.

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Heatwaves – a hot topic

After such a wet winter, a bit of sun may sound like no bad thing, but people often underestimate the effect of high temperatures on older people: the 2003 heatwave led to an alarming 22 per cent increase in mortality among people 75+ in England and Wales. So I was very pleased to be invited to a roundtable held by the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, as part of their Inquiry into Heatwaves: Adapting to Climate Change.

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Windrush scandal: urgent questions for the new Home Secretary

This blog was written by Emily McCarron, Equality and Human Rights Policy Manager at Age UK.

It’s said a week is a long time in politics, and this week has proved this adage in spades. On Monday, the new Home Secretary promised to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in pursuit for the truth about the Windrush scandal. As an organisation, we want to make sure that all older people can enjoy their later life, so we have some questions that we hope the Government will answer after the revelations of the last few weeks.

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New UK survey reveals our beliefs about staying sharp in later life

Filling out WKYS survey
Filling out the ‘What Keeps You Sharp?’ survey

This guest post was contributed by Dr Alan J. Gow, Associate Professor in Psychology at the School of Social Sciences, Heriot-Watt University

What keeps you sharp?

That’s an important question for many of us, especially as we get older. It was also the name of a nationwide survey exploring what people expect to happen to their thinking skills as they get older, and the first results from this have just been released.

Over 3000 people across the UK responded to the survey, aged from 40 to 98 years old, and we’ve published these findings in a new report, ‘What Keeps You Sharp?’. Aimed at the public, older peoples’ groups, charities and health professionals, our intention is to help everyone think about their brain health in the same way we’ve become more knowledgeable over recent generations about managing our heart health or lowering our risk of certain cancers.

What did the results say?

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A renewed NHS will help tackle the health needs of today

A guest blog from Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England Medical Director, on the innovative ways the NHS is adapting to an ageing society and more people living with multiple and long-term conditions.      

The creation of the National Health Service seven decades ago was indisputably one of the greatest social advances of the last century.

For the first time in our history, it replaced public fears about the affordability of healthcare with a service based on equity.

The Prime Minister Theresa May was absolutely right to commit last week to increased long-term funding.

The NHS’s biggest task this century must be to adapt to profound shifts in the patterns of ill-health.

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Analysing a recent ONS report on loneliness

This blog was contributed by Dr. Elizabeth Webb, Senior Research Manager at Age UK, and looks at a recent report from the Office for National Statistics on loneliness. 

Key statistics:

  • People in poor health are 1.9 times more likely to report feeling lonely than those in good health
  • People who are widow(er)s are 3.6 times more likely to be lonely than those who are married.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published a report on the characteristics linked with feeling lonely, which found that while people of all ages can be lonely, there are some groups particularly at risk – and there is a strong association with poor health and being widowed.

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How dance classes can be of real benefit to older people

We were pleased to read the news at the weekend reporting that the NHS is recommending dance classes for older people to help them to stay fit and healthy and reduce their risk of having a fall.

We certainly need to do something to prevent falls and fractures among the over-65s as they account for over 4 million hospital bed days each year in England alone and are a serious threat to older people’s self-confidence and independence: about 1 in 10 older people who have fallen are afraid to leave their homes in case they fall again.

Only 10% of the older population do as much physical exercise as is recommended by doctors and research with older people has also found that dance classes are much more popular and engaging than traditional falls prevention programmes. For many older people, an approach which is about being active and social can be much more appealing than simply trying to prevent something.

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