Early intervention can reduce elder abuse by family carers according to new research


aaResearch published this week in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of The British Geriatrics Society, reveals that over one-third (36.8%) of family carers engage in behaviours that may act as early warning signs. They may predict more seriously harmful future psychological or physical abuse of an older person in their care. Early identification and intervention with family carers involved in these types of “precursor” behaviours would help prevent more serious elder abuse in future and improve quality of care.

The study, which was funded by the Health Service Executive as part of the work of the National Centre for the Protection of Older People (NCPOP) at University College Dublin, found in a national survey that over a third of family carers (35.9%) reported engaging in potentially harmful behaviour with verbal abuse being commonly reported. Continue reading

Help develop research relevant to older people

Helen Roberts is Associate Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Southampton and the national lead for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Comprehensive Research Network Ageing Speciality Research Group.

logoThe National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is now 10 years old! During the last decade it has contributed significantly to the health and wealth of the nation and is now the most comprehensive research system in the world. The Ageing Speciality Research Group is part of the Comprehensive Research Network funded by NIHR and has a remit to increase participation in research into ageing within the NHS. This means encouraging more clinical staff and older people to take part in more studies. Continue reading

‘Help yourself’; Supporting older people towards independence

Rudi GJ Westendorp, is Professor of Medicine at Old Age at the Department of Public Health and Centre for Healthy Ageing, University of Copenhagen. In this blog he discusses his recent Age and Ageing paper New horizons: Reablement – supporting older people towards independence.


The majority of older people wish to remain independent and live in their own homes for as long as possible. Instead maintaining a cruising altitude however, the process of ageing forces many to descend towards dependency and long-term care.

It’s never too late to learn new ways for coping by yourself and to make preparations for independent living in older age. But it is a shame that too often these good intentions are superseded by doubts and avoidance. Continue reading

Higher early life intellectual ability is associated with better physical functioning in older age

Taina Poranen-Clark is a PhD student at University of Jyväskylä. Her special research interest is in the interrelation of cognitive and physical functioning during the life-course. She recently published Intellectual Ability in Young Adulthood as an Antecedent of Physical Functioning in Older Age in Age and Ageing journal.

aaPhysical and cognitive functioning are important factors for maintaining functional independence and quality of life in older age. Previous studies have shown that cognitive impairment coexists with poor physical functioning and predicts changes in functional status. Cognitive ageing has implications for motor performance in older age as cognitive functions play an important role in skilled motor performance. Deterioration in the structure or function of the central nervous system has negative effects on the execution of physical tasks in old age. Executive functions are high-level cognitive functions that control and guide goal-directed motor performances. A higher level of intellectual ability in early adulthood as an antecedent of cognitive reserve is linked to better later life physical functioning. Continue reading

Adding meaningful to activities

Wendy Perry has been working with older adults for over 25 years, and has been specifically involved in the development, staff training and management of memory support services in both the US and the UK over the last 15 years. In the past she has worked for RSAS AgeCare as a Dementia Training Specialist and for the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester as a Dementia Practice Development Coach.  After moving to Scotland in 2013, she began work for Balhousie Care Group as the Dementia Services Development Lead. Of particular interest to her are the improvement of services for people with advanced dementia, understanding and responding to stress and distress in people living with dementia, and empowering care staff to make positive changes in their work culture. @dementiacentre

All of us at times do meaningless activities. We flip through channels on the TV or play silly games on our mobile phones.  Sometimes these activities serve as “breaks” from more intensive activity or time fillers when waiting for a person or an appointment. But rarely do we finish doing an activity like that and feel as though we have accomplished something, nor do we usually feel like we have contributed to the world in a positive way.  Not that we should be constantly out to change the world with our actions, but let’s face it, Candy Crush rarely made anyone feel better about themselves. Continue reading

Thyroxine treatment is a serious business

Timo Strandberg is a Professor of Geriatrics who works at the Universities of Helsinki and Oulu.

Thyroxine_Structural_FormulaeAmid important clinical issues such as the dangers of dental amalgam fillings, the evils of chronic candida yeast syndrome, the big benefits of low-carb diets and the like, thyroxine has been on the headlines during recent years. We’ve heard especially about the lack of thyroxine, and even some distinguished colleagues seem to have thought that if you’re a bit depressed, tired, cognitively impaired, gaining weight etc. thyroxine is the drug for you. Accordingly, treatments with this hormone have clearly increased, for example in the UK 3-fold between 1998 and 2010, and treatment for marginally elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels have become more common. And lo and behold: patients often get better – at least temporarily (ever heard of the placebo effect?). Continue reading

Systematic biases in death certification: a job for the Medical Examiner?

Katherine Sleeman is an NIHR Clinician Scientist and Honorary Consultant in Palliative Medicine at the Cicely Saunders Institute, King’s College London. In this blog she discusses her recent Age and Ageing paper on death certification in dementia. @kesleeman

portraitIt is frequently said that there are just two universal certainties: death and taxes. While HMRC is responsible for ensuring that taxes are paid, information about who dies, where, and how, is gathered through death certification.

Dementia is a public health priority of increasing importance. In 2014, it was reported that dementia had overtaken cancer and cardiovascular disease as the most common cause of death for women in England. We have previously shown that the proportion of death certificates in England where dementia was mentioned as a cause of death doubled between 2001 and 2010.

But what is unclear is why dementia deaths appear to be increasing. Is it due to an increasing prevalence of dementia in our ageing society? Due to increased detection of dementia, perhaps? Or does this increase simply represent an improvement in death certification practices over time? Continue reading

What happens to patients with abnormal cognition picked up by in-hospital dementia screening – Results from GP questionnaires

Sarah Pendlebury is Associate Professor in the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre and the Stroke Prevention Research Unit, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford and Consultant Physician and Clinical Lead for Dementia and Delirium at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Research and audit interests include cognitive impairment associated with cerebrovascular disease and the interactions between vascular disease, neurodegeneration, co-morbidity and delirium and in the use of short pragmatic cognitive tests in patients with stroke and acute illness. Here she reports on an audit of the actions undertaken by GPs in response to letters informing them of in-hospital identification of cognitive impairment in their patient, which will be presented at the upcoming BGS Spring Meeting in Liverpool.

dependent-826332_960_720Dementia and delirium are prevalent in older patients with unplanned admission to hospital and are associated with death and increased dependency, but many confused patients do not have a dementia diagnosis prior to admission. Routine dementia screening for older people (>75 years) hospitalised as an emergency is mandatory in England with onward referral for specialist assessment in those identified as at-risk (dementia CQUIN). Continue reading

May issue of Age and Ageing out now

The May 2016 issue of Age and Ageing, the journal of the British Geriatrics Society is out now.

A full table of contents is available here, with editorials, research papers, reviews, short reports, case reports book reviews and more.

Hot topics this issue include:

  • Electronic frailty index
  • Exercise to reduce fear of falling
  • Involving care home residents in research
  • Patient knowledge of prescribed medicines
  • C-reactive protein, frailty and multimorbidity

The Editor’s View can be read here. Continue reading

A life-course perspective necessary to improve the health of older adults

Dorota Chapko is a PhD candidate in Public Health at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and a graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a double-major in Brain & Cognitive Sciences and in Anthropology. In this blog she discusses her recent Age & Ageing paper on the triad of impairment; she tweets at @dorotachapko

aaAlthough frailty is a central concept in clinical assessment of older people, there is no consensus definition. The concept is certainly multifactorial but physical components dominate. However, it is known that age-associated physical decline is likely to be accompanied by cognitive and emotional deficits. The ‘triad of impairment’ (triad) recognises the co-occurrence of cognitive, emotional and physical deficits in late-life and might be a useful alternative to ‘frailty’.

Identification of pathways to prolong healthy living and decrease the degree of frailty in old age will have benefits for individuals and society. Continue reading