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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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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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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Tackling malnutrition in our communities

Carers and Residents at Millbrook care home shot for Age UK Training

This week is Nutrition and Hydration Week, an excellent campaign which celebrates food and drink as a way of maintaining health and wellbeing. As part of the Week, the Malnutrition Task Force have written a guest blog looking at malnutrition among older people in the community and highlighting wonderful examples of initiatives that can help tackle this.  

Food is a marvellous thing. Breathing in the scent of our favourite meal and savouring the taste as we eat and enjoy it are two of life’s great pleasures.

Food gives us the energy to keep active, stay mentally alert, and remain physically well, which means fewer visits to the doctors.

Keeping well-nourished and hydrated is so important to each and everyone one of us at every stage of our lives, particularly as we get older.

However, sadly, not everyone is so favoured. Latest estimates show up to 1.3 million of our older friends, relatives and neighbours are malnourished or at risk.

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Age UK’s Personalised Integrated Care Programme is helping older people regain their independence

Meet 77 year old Robert.

Living in Thornton Heath, he was never apart from his wife of 45 years who he was caring for as she had cancer.

However, that was all about to change.

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How can we support people with dementia to live well?

PATLWWD cover

Around 850,000 people are estimated to have dementia in the UK, and that figure is expected to rise to 1 million by 2025.

Rising prevalence has led to a number of new initiatives focussing on the condition. In 2015, the Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia 2020 set out more than 50 commitments with the hope of making England a world leader in dementia care, research and awareness by 2020.

Efforts like this are starting to reap rewards, and there have been recent improvements in the rates of diagnosis and new funds being developed to research the condition.

However, despite these positive steps, we know people with dementia and their carers still find it hard to get good quality care and support or to lead as active a life in the community as they could.

With this in mind, Age UK started looking at what ‘living well’ meant to people with dementia and their carers, and from there we branched out to find an array of services and approaches that could help them achieve this. Our findings are published in a new report, ‘Promising Approaches to Living Well with Dementia.’

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What should we think about ‘the Four Seasons story’?

Like lots of people with an interest in social care I have been following the travails of Four Seasons over the last few days. For anyone not up to speed, Four Seasons is a major care home provider in this country, with some 17,000 predominantly older residents and 25,000 staff. Four Seasons is now reportedly in financial difficulty and the regulator of the social care sector, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has called for its biggest creditor to confirm that it will stand behind the company and not allow it to collapse. [Although it has since won a reprieve  until April 2018, the uncertainty over its longer-term future continues]. 

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