The recent publication of the latest ONS figures on average life expectancy have become familiar reading. How long you are likely to live is still heavily dependent on where in the country you live. A woman who is 65 living in Kensington and Chelsea can reasonably expect to live another 25 years, while a woman of the same age in Manchester can expect just under 19.
Without some recognition of the variability of ageing, we risk continuing the characterisation of health and wellbeing in later life as a rapid downward spiral. This underpins the many statements about the “burden” of an ageing society, or the pressure that older people place on essential services. Continue reading “Challenging assumptions of health and ageing”
In health care, the word ‘frailty’ carries a lot of baggage. In its most positive sense, it is a phrase used by older people’s specialists to describe a particular state of health, usually characterised by multiple or complex physical and mental health and social needs.
This can then be a gateway to proactive care and support joined-up around the individual.
At the less positive end, it is a shorthand for older people in later old age, with multiple long-term conditions that are almost too difficult to manage. In this case the so-called ‘frail elderly’ may be recognised for having high needs but thought of as almost beyond help and given little support.
It is well known that older people do not identify with the word ‘frailty’. This was a strong finding from research we carried out in 2013.
However, we wanted to understand in more detail how older people felt about being referred to as “frail” and whether or not this could impact on their engagement with services. Continue reading “How should we talk about ‘frailty’?”
This week’s blog from our General Election Series examines how everyone in later life should have opportunities to enjoy life and feel well.
The dominant story on older people’s health is often rooted in the view that not feeling unwell is all you can expect as you age. Whatever happened to wanting to feel well?
This may only be a minor linguistic distinction, but it is an important one. This popular perception is partly reflective of how health and care services operate, typically geared to responding to crisis.
Assumption that older age = poor health
But there is also a general fatalism in what health and wellbeing in later life means to people. The likelihood of remaining active and living well into late old age is often underestimated, while the assumption that longer average life expectancy is automatically linked to being in poor health is overestimated. Continue reading “General Election Series: Feeling well”
On the 23 October 2014, NHS England published its Five Year Forward View, a vision document for the future of the NHS.
The timing, and the timeline, is very deliberate: this is NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, setting his stall for next year’s general election.
Whichever party (or parties) form/s the next government will have to decide whether they take this vision on. And whether they are willing to pay for it.
This is a crucial point because Stevens has addressed the enduring taboo of money. Politicians are largely in a state of denial about the funding crisis facing the NHS, forecasted to be short by about £30 billion by 2020/21.
That’s just under a third of the annual budget of the NHS. Stevens is clear: if you want the NHS to continue providing a universal health care service, free at the point of delivery, you cannot escape the fact that more money will need to be found.
For a pre-election period, where more spending, even on the NHS, is avoided like the plague by political parties, this is the very definition of throwing down the gauntlet.
So what does the vision say? Continue reading “A vision for the NHS”
This week, we have a guest blog from Laura Stuart, Frailty Programme Manager at UCLPartners, a world-leading centre for research, healthcare and education.
Continue reading “Health and care: What matters most to older people?”
In the fourth in a series of blog posts on the experience of living with frailty, we discuss research findings on how people are supported to maintain independence and where at times this support is lacking.
Continue reading “Living with frailty – Support and assets”
In the third in a series of blogs on the experience of living with frailty, we discuss research findings on how people manage everyday tasks and their desire to retain independence and control.
Continue reading “Living with frailty – Independence and control”