How can we support people with dementia to live well?

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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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Loneliness isn’t inevitable in later life

Marjorie Barker blogs about “overwhelming” loneliness she felt in later life, what she did to combat it and the importance of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness

When you’re alone, you feel that you can’t achieve anything. This is why the work of Age UK and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness is so important.

Image of Marjorie Barker
Marjorie Barker

Nobody anticipates loneliness, it just happens. For me it came a decade ago, when my husband Alan developed vascular dementia and I became his carer. Not only did the man I had shared so much with no longer recognise me, but I also lost contact with everything and everyone I had known before. I couldn’t go out, as Alan could not be left alone.

Meaningful conversation was no longer possible with my husband, and for seven years my main form of human interaction came at Alan’s appointments at the memory clinic.

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Charles Bonnet Syndrome: a little-known condition which affects many people with failing eyesight

A guest blog from Judith Potts on a little-know condition called Charles Bonnet Syndrome, and the charity Esme’s Umbrella she set up to promote awareness of it. 

Judith Potts
Judith Potts

My Mother was an independent lady, who lived happily on her own, enjoyed her social life and – despite her failing eyesight through late diagnosed glaucoma – completed the Telegraph crossword daily.

We noticed that her confidence was beginning to wane but what none of us knew – including her GP and optometrist – was that, as her eyesight diminished, there was a chance she might begin to see things which were not there.  Her ophthalmologist could have warned us, but he chose not to do so.

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Tackling cancer in later life

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Doreen Shotton

On Tuesday 6 December, Age UK launched a film and kickstarted a lively discussion at the Britain Against Cancer Conference. This is a unique event which brings together NHS professionals, patients, third sector organisations, policy experts, carers, and commercial organisations to ensure that cancer stays high on the agenda for the top decision-makers in the country.

This was Age UK’s first time at the conference.  Why were we there?

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Guest blog: Continuing to care?

This guest post was contributed by Morgan Vine, Chair of the Continuing Healthcare Alliance, and Policy and Campaigns Adviser at Parkinson’s UK. 

My Nan lived with Parkinson’s and developed dementia later in her life. Luckily, we found a wonderful residential home which gave her the high quality, compassionate care that she needed.  – also known as NHS continuing care or NHS CHC – was never mentioned to us, despite Nan having incredibly high needs. Looking back, I think it probably should have been. But part of me is grateful that, as a family, we didn’t have to struggle through this complex and confusing process.

Now, as a Policy and Campaigns adviser at Parkinson’s UK, I am all too familiar with NHS CHC and how it is letting people down across England.
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Depression: Asking the right questions

An older couple talking

This guest blog from Alison Cranage of the charity MQ: Transforming Mental Health describes a project that aims to uncover the most important issues for depression research. If you, or someone you know, have been affected by depression at any point in your life, MQ would like to hear from you. What issues do you think depression research should address? Your views will help shape future research into the condition.

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The Global Impact of Ageing: The Oldest Old

In an earlier blog we discussed how people aged over 85 are the fastest-growing segment of the UK population. However, this is not just happening here or in other industrialised nations; rather, it’s a global phenomenon.

Age UK is working with the Gerontological Society of America to invite articles from experts around the world on what is happening, why, and what it means for societies, health and social care services, and policy-makers. These submissions has been published in the recent Public Policy and Aging Report.

blogSome of these submissions looked at comparing life expectancy, disease, and disability trends in the 85+ group across countries. There are many variations, but one commonality across all of these countries is that the average person over 85 is a woman living alone in the community, which means governments and societies will have to think about how to meet growing needs for these people without family to look after them. Continue reading “The Global Impact of Ageing: The Oldest Old”