Guest blog: The team, redefined

Ninie Wang, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pinetree Care group (China)
Ninie Wang, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pinetree Care Group (China), speaking at the Global Agenda Council on Ageing Symposium 2016

On 3 February Age UK hosted a symposium in London for the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Ageing, on the impact of ageing and cognitive impairment on the financial services industry. Ninie Wang Yan, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pinetree Care Group (China) and a panellist at the symposium, reflects on the day.

In the middle of a cozy tea break, I agreed with James Appleby from the Gerontological Society of America who will be hosting the 2017 World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in San Francisco that there had been a crucial missing piece of our discussions in all those past congresses. Continue reading “Guest blog: The team, redefined”

Brain ageing – understanding the implications for financial services

Dr Daniel Marson, Dr Debra Whitman and Steven Cooper at the Global Agenda Council on Ageing Symposium 2016
Dr Daniel Marson, Dr Debra Whitman and Steven Cooper at the Global Agenda Council on Ageing Symposium 2016

On 3 February Age UK hosted a symposium in London for the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Ageing, on the impact of ageing and cognitive impairment on the financial services industry. Jane Vass, Head of Public Policy at Age UK reflects on the event.

In Japan, over 4 million people are living with dementia – the equivalent to the population of Ireland, while in the UK people aged 60+ make up a quarter of Barclays Bank’s active customers. These statistics, highlighted by Professor Nakatani of Keio University and Steven Cooper of Barclays Bank, explain why the Global Agenda Council on Ageing has launched a series of events to address the links between brain health and managing our money. Continue reading “Brain ageing – understanding the implications for financial services”

Guest blog: Time is now for people powered dementia care

This guest post was contributed by Ewan King, director of business development and delivery, at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

“I am doing something worthwhile. I am earning my bread again”. This is what Brian, who has dementia, said about how his life has changed for the better as a result of directly shaping the care that he and others receive. He is not alone in benefiting from being involved in decisions about care.

In England, it is estimated that around 676,000 people have dementia. This number is expected to grow over the coming years. And this comes at a time when there are severe cuts in budgets, particularly in social care. So what can public services do when more traditional solutions – such as recruiting more staff or expanding services – are not open to them? Whilst at the same time we know that people with dementia – and their carers – need person-centred holistic care and support, including high quality social care. Continue reading “Guest blog: Time is now for people powered dementia care”

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 “Guest blog: Dementia is a women’s issue”

Guest blog: How music can help people living with dementia

632x305_singing_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: How music can help people living with dementia”

Guest blog: My mum, dementia and me

Tommy and his mum, Joan

Today’s blog is from Tommy Whitelaw, who cared for his mum Joan for five years until she sadly passed away in September 2012. Tommy will be speaking about his experiences at Age UK’s Annual Conference on 18th November 2015- you register to attend the conference here.

When my Mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia, I looked at her and thought to myself “it’ll be okay, we’ll get through this.” I soon learnt as her carer that dementia is an unpredictable illness. Her illness brought many challenges and forced us to adapt to ever-changing routines. Many days we would wake up to discover that everything we had grown accustomed to had suddenly changed again.

I wondered whether the struggles I faced were mine, and mine alone. I questioned how other carers who had been on the journey I was just embarking on, had managed to cope.

What struck me throughout was the lack of awareness about and understanding of dementia, and the unhelpful way we perceive the illness in wider society.  My door was always open but no one walked through it, people didn’t come to visit us anymore and I truly believe that was down to the stigma surrounding the illness.

This realisation led to my first venture into the world of awareness-raising, through my ‘Tommy On Tour’ campaign. The campaign involved collecting life stories from people across Scotland who were caring for a loved one with dementia. The hundreds of letters I received proved that the challenges I was facing were far from particular to me, and yet that everyone affected by dementia has a unique story to tell. By sharing our experiences we can help to tackle the misunderstandings surrounding dementia and offer hope to people in the same situation.

Dementia Carer Voices Project

Improving people’s understanding is something I continue to be passionate about. I’m now building on my work with ‘Tommy on Tour’, as Project Engagement lead of the Health and Social Care Alliance’s Dementia Carer Voices Project.

The project provides a platform upon which carers can express their views and experiences of caring for a loved one living with dementia. Through this, it aims to raise awareness among health and social care professionals and wider society, about the impacts dementia has on families and the importance of empowering carers as they carry out this difficult but vital role. I give regular talks as part of my project work, the key focus of which is to highlight the impact that inspirational health and social care professionals can make to the journeys of carers across Scotland.

People who appreciate and understand the unique challenges that dementia brings can be there to prop you up, and I absolutely believe as a carer if I was propped up a little bit with the right help and support, I could have given my Mum the best care and support in the world.

The experience of caring for my Mum undoubtedly brought great challenges, stress, isolation and sadness, but it was a role carried out through love and we enjoyed many touching moments of joy and satisfaction. Those special moments live long in my memory, and gave me a real boost of strength to get through the difficult times, as they continue to do so now.

To book your place at Age UK’s annual For Later Life conference head to www.ageuk.org.uk/forlaterlife.

For advice and support on caring for a loved one, visit our dedicated website pagesIf you have a caring story you want to share, email the Campaigns team at campaigns@ageuk.org.uk to get in touch. You can also find more about Tommy’s work on his blog.