A new milestone for improving dementia care in hospitals

Nicci Gerrard on holiday with her father, John, in Sweden last year.
Nicci Gerrard, the founder of John’s Campaign, with her father John, the inspiration behind it

Today, John’s Campaign is celebrating that all acute trusts in England have voluntarily signed up to the Campaign. In this blog, we celebrate what this means for people with dementia and their carers during a hospital stay. 

Admission to hospital can be an anxiety provoking experience for anyone. For someone with dementia it can be particularly frightening: surrounded by strange noises, smells, people, equipment and routines. It can be disorientating, disruptive and scary.

People with dementia often experience poorer outcomes and stay in hospital for longer, compared with the general population. For many, a stay in hospital results in the worsening of their dementia symptoms and they leave hospital less independent. 

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It’s time to talk about ageing

A guest blog from Professor Alan Walker, Professor of Social Policy & Social Gerontology at The University of Sheffield, on how the creation of a social policy for ageing could lead to a better later life for all.

If we are concerned about the quality of later life we must focus on the ageing process as a whole, the life course, and not only the last segment of it.  This is because the financial, social and mental resources that people possess in old age are often determined at much earlier stages of the life course.  This is obvious in the case of pensions, which depend massively on occupation, but is also true with regard to physical and mental health.  For example, childhood deprivation is associated with raised blood pressure in later life.

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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?

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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.

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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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The Christmas quiz you did not expect

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This blog post was contributed by Angela Kitching, Joint Head of External Affairs at Age UK. 

Christmas time, a time for families to reconnect, to eat together, to chat and to think about the challenges the New Year might bring. I don’t know about you, but in my family that means talking about about some of the conundrums faced by our family and friends. This year they included care arrangements and funding, loneliness, bereavement and ill health. I don’t want you to think we were miserable, we weren’t, there were great parties, lots of food and excited 5 year olds amazed by Father Christmas; but, at Christmas we did also check in with each other about the difficulties our family and friends face. We found the quizzes in the newspapers considerably easier to solve than these tricky family conundrums.

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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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