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?

Continue reading “New UK survey reveals our beliefs about staying sharp in later life”

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.

Continue reading “Analysing a recent ONS report on loneliness”

Science and Serendipity

This blog was contributed by James Goodwin, Age UK’s Chief Scientist. 

Recently, I received the sad news of the death of a dear friend and colleague who through his example, leadership and support had helped to change the course of my career.  Dr Ken Collins, a notable researcher and physician of old age medicine was instrumental in evoking my interest in ageing, at a crucial time in my life.  Our meeting was as fortuitous as it was timely, a truly serendipitous moment.  Through it, he began my life-long dedication to ageing science but more so, he implanted the priceless notion that we must go beyond the simple necessity of high quality research – vital though that is – and seek to generate impact, to change society in its approach, in its thinking and in its behaviour, so that genuine benefits accrue to older people. Continue reading “Science and Serendipity”

Medication Management in Older People

John photographed at his home for the new 'Lets Talk Money' influencing campaign. Chadwell Heath, Dagenham.

This week we have a guest post from Dr Ian Maidment from Aston University about managing medication in later life.

Older people frequently take many different medicines prescribed both by hospital doctors and their GP. Whilst the medicines may effectively manage various chronic illnesses, many older people struggle with complex medication regimens containing many different medications.

Sylvia Bailey, an Age UK volunteer from Walsall, said: “In my experience supporting Age UK, medication management is a real issue for older people taking lots of medicines.” One carer commented to Sylvia: “My father now has to take additional medication to overcome the severe constipation caused by the latest pills he has been prescribed…it is a vicious circle that appears never to end…”  Continue reading “Medication Management in Older People”

Measuring wellbeing in later life

At the start of February, Age UK launched the Index of Wellbeing in Later Life. The Index highlights what determines wellbeing, the importance of considering an older person’s wellbeing in the round and subgroups of older people who experience high or low wellbeing. Continue reading “Measuring wellbeing in later life”

Understanding the importance of wellbeing in later life

This graph highlights the average wellbeing score for older people across each indicator.
The average wellbeing score for older people across each indicator

This blog post was contributed by Dr Marcus Green, Social and Economic Research Manager, at Age UK.  

There can be a difference between how we say we are when asked “how are you doing?” and how we really are – through our research, we have found this to be true. As a charity trying to help older people lead fulfilling later lives, Age UK needs an accurate assessment of how older people are doing in order to support them towards this, which goes beyond a subjective measure of life satisfaction and happiness. Continue reading “Understanding the importance of wellbeing in later life”

Guest blog: What Keeps You Sharp?

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

As we age, some of us will experience changes in our thinking skills. People often think of these changes in terms of decline, maybe noticing their memory getting a bit poorer or not being able to solve problems as quickly as when they were younger. While some people do experience these changes, others do not. In fact, some people retain their thinking skills well.

Researchers are therefore trying to better understand how our thinking skills change (or stay stable) as we age. In exploring the variation that exists from person to person, a really important question then arises: What factors affect the changes we might experience? Continue reading “Guest blog: What Keeps You Sharp?”