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?”

Guest blog: The science of staying active into old age

This guest blog was contributed by Professor Ilaria Bellantuono, an expert on musculoskeletal ageing, from the University of Sheffield. 

Over 10 million people in the UK currently live with pain and disability due to musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis or fractures due to osteoporosis. The NHS annual budget for these diseases is over £5 billion per annum and musculoskeletal conditions are the leading cause of disability in the UK and globally.

The majority of these diseases develop with age and the resulting pain, stiffness and loss of mobility can impact every aspect of a person’s life. Simple tasks can become difficult because they require dexterity of hands and wrists, and the ability to reach up or bend down. It’s not surprising that people with musculoskeletal conditions are four times more likely to develop depression.

Continue reading “Guest blog: The science of staying active into old age”

Launch of Age UK report on Health and care of older people in England

Today, Age UK launches ‘The health and care of older people in England 2015’ report, that analyses the degree to which the needs of older people are being met by health and care services. Jill Mortimer, Policy Adviser at Age UK , looks at the findings of the report. 

What’s really happening in health and social care services? Over the years, in our Care in Crisis series we documented the devastating budget cuts that meant fewer and fewer people were getting public support for help with their day to day activities.

Trends in the NHS

But what about the NHS? Hasn’t it been protected through the last five years of cuts in public services? If so, what lay behind last year’s winter crisis? And why is Monitor, the health services financial regulator, now talking about the ‘worst financial crisis in a generation’?

These are the kinds of questions people are now asking and in our new report we try to answer them. We have updated our usual annual analysis of trends in social care and added analysis of trends in the NHS. We present the most authoritative and up to date facts and figures to understand older people’s health and care needs and the extent to which these are being met by our health and care systems. Continue reading “Launch of Age UK report on Health and care of older people in England”