Older people are living longer than before, but are they living healthier?

Ruby Yu is a research assistant at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), specialising in gerontology and geriatrics. She is also a research fellow at the CUHK Jockey Club Institute of Ageing. Her recent paper Trajectories of frailty among Chinese older people in Hong Kong between 2001 and 2012: An Age-period-cohort Analysis was published today in Age and Ageing journal.

There is no doubt that people from countries all over of the world are living longer, but there is little evidence to suggest that older people today are living healthier than their predecessors did at the same age. This is a major cause of concern for many governments around the world because if the added years of people today are dominated by chronic diseases and functional disabilities, there will be negative implications (e.g., extended treatment for older people which increases the health and social care cost to society). Continue reading

Silent compression fractures: a missed opportunity

Agnes Jonsson is a graduate of University College Dublin in 2013 and is currently working as a Registrar in Orthogeriatrics in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. Her areas of interest are dementia care and quality improvement. She wrote this blog with input from Dr. Yasser Aljabi, Orthopaedic Registrar. Together they are working to create a pathway of care for vertebral fractures in St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Osteoporotic fragility fractures have an estimated annual cost of 2 billion pounds in the UK. This includes the cost of acute hospital stay, rehabilitation and social care. Only a very small proportion of the cost is invested in pharmacological management and secondary prevention of osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends treatment with antiresorptive agents for patients with confirmed osteoporosis on DXA and for patients with neck of femur or vertebral fractures. Vertebral compression fractures have recently started to attract increasing amounts of attention, similar to that shown for hip fractures years ago prior to the implementation of hip fracture pathways of care. Continue reading

A generation of Doctors unable to look after their patients?

Dr Anthony James is a Consultant Physician at Princess of Wales Hospital. 

There have been many changes in recent years. The patients are older with more frailty, multiple comorbidities and a mixture of social and medical issues. These patients are often described as ‘complex’, making them sound as if they are something special. The reality is that they are now the norm and everybody should be able to deal with the norm. These problems are recognised by Royal College of Physicians in Hospitals on the Edge? The time for action (2012);

‘All hospital inpatients deserve to receive safe, high-quality, sustainable care centered around their needs and delivered in an appropriate setting by respectful, compassionate, expert health professionals. Yet it is increasingly clear that our hospitals are struggling to cope with the challenge of an ageing population and increasing hospital admissions.’ Continue reading

Catching some zzz’s with Z-drugs? You might want to reconsider

Dr Ilan Matok heads the pharmacoepidemiology research unit in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s School of Pharmacy, and directs research evaluating the safety of medication. Their research was recently published in Age and Ageing.

Insomnia is a very common medical complaint, and increases with age. Patients with insomnia often report increased daytime fatigue, confusion, anxiety, and depression. While insomnia can have a significant negative impact on quality of life, a recent study highlights the need for careful consideration in the use of sleeping medication to manage this condition, especially among older adults.

It is widely recognized that the use of traditional “benzodiazepine” type sleeping medication (e.g. nitrazepam), increase the risk of fractures and falls in older adults. However, less is known about the safety of “non-benzodiazepine” sleeping medication, otherwise known as “Z-drugs” (e.g zopiclone). In fact, these drugs have been marketed as safer than benzodiazepine medication, and are often perceived as such by clinicians and patients alike. Continue reading

Book Review: Please tell me…

Liz Charalambous is a nurse and PhD student. She tweets @lizcharalambou and is a regular guest blogger for the BGS. Here she reviews ‘Please tell me…’ by Julia Jones and Claudia Myatt.

Without a doubt, one of the most important documents in older person care is the Alzheimer’s Society This is me support tool. It enables carers to access information with which to provide holistic care and is underpinned by a social model of care rather than a medical model, so important in today’s world of fast paced, pressurised, and increasingly politicised healthcare services. It places the person in the centre of care, ensuring their likes, dislikes, and preferences are recorded for the whole team to access.

Indeed, a favourite teaching strategy when introducing new students to dementia care is to provide them with two copies of ‘this is me’ and ask them to take them home for their partners or significant others to complete in the manner of ‘Mr and Mrs’ style 1970s TV programme. I have heard many stories of students returning the next day reporting back to the group that their other half had failed hopelessly in filling in the form, prompting them to realise the precariousness of ensuring person centred care in such instances. Continue reading

Book review: The Geriatrician in Court

Dr Shane O’Hanlon is a consultant geriatrician and Honorary Secretary of the BGS. He holds a law degree and has a special interest in medicolegal matters. He tweets @drohanlon

Most doctors spend their career hoping never to see the inside of a courtroom! While geriatricians are probably among the most rarely sued specialists, we can still have quite frequent involvement with the law – the Coroner’s Court is a good example. There is also an increasing amount of medicolegal work related to dementia, deprivation of liberty safeguards and mental capacity. In this environment there has been a gap in the market for a book that focuses specifically on our needs, but retired geriatrician Dr Geoffrey Phillips is at hand with help.

The Geriatrician in Court” is a handbook of “how to do it” based upon his thirty years of experience in preparing medico-legal reports and attending court to give expert evidence. The book covers all the main topics over the course of 226 pages. It begins with an outline of the legal system, criminal versus civil law, negligence and burden of proof. Important areas such as mental capacity, testamentary capacity, abuse, medical error and resuscitation all feature. Continue reading

‘We don’t need no education…’ Teaching about delirium in medical schools

Dr Claire Copeland is a Consultant Physician in Care of the Elderly and Stroke Medicine at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. Her paper Development of an international undergraduate curriculum for delirium using a modified Delphi process has recently been published in Age and Ageing. She tweets at @Sparklystar55

Back in 2015 a workshop at the European Delirium Association (EDA) conference was held to bring together a group of delirium experts. Its purpose? To develop a consensus agreement on a delirium curriculum for medical undergraduates.

Most of you reading this I’m sure will be familiar with delirium. It’s technically been around for centuries. However there are many working in healthcare who still do not know about it. Or if they do, they refer to it by every other name except delirium. Continue reading

Catch a falling star

Dr Kawa Amin is a consultant Geriatrician, Consultant Lead for the Falls Service and Geriatrics Departmental Lead for Safety & Quality at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT). He also represents the BGS on the advisory group for the National Audit of Inpatient Falls (NAIF). Deborah Watkins is a Physiotherapist and the Falls Lead at BHRUT.

Falls are a major cause of disability and mortality for older people in the UK and the problem is likely to increase with an ageing population.  The associated mortality and morbidity from a fall is high with individual consequences ranging from distress, pain, physical injury and loss of confidence to complete loss of independence which impacts on relatives and caregivers.  Usually nurses are the first discipline to attend to a patient following a fall.   Continue reading

‘Geriatrics for Juniors’ is 5! Where, when and what next for AEME?

Dr Nick Saxton is an ST5 in Geriatric Medicine living and working in the North East of England. He attended the first ‘Geriatrics for Juniors’ conference as a core medical trainee in 2013. He began specialty training in 2015 and joined the Association for Elderly Medicine Education as treasurer in 2016. He tweets @saxton1986

Who are the AEME and what is G4J?

The Association for Elderly Medicine Education (AEME) is an organisation set up by trainee geriatricians in 2012, to provide educational tools and experiences in elderly medicine. The aim was also to attract more trainees into the specialty. You can follow us on Twitter and on Instagram @elderlymeded. AEME’s flagship event is our annual conference, ‘Geriatrics for Juniors’ (G4J), which is now in its fifth year. It’s a one-day conference aimed at foundation doctors, core medical and GP trainees and also specialist nurse practitioners who work with older patients. This year it is being held on 4th November 2017 at the Hilton Hotel Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne. Continue reading

Oncogeriatrics, gaining momentum!

Dr Kirsty Colquhoun has been a consultant geriatrician, working in Glasgow, since August 2015. She works across a variety of hospitals, including Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Gartnaval General hospital and The Beatson. In addition she works with Macmillan, developing oncogeriatric services. In this blog she discusses the BGS Oncogeriatrics Conference on 7 December 2017 at the Wellcome Collection in London. She tweets @colki1983

Oncogeriatrics…it is a relatively new speciality but those of us involved in it can see it is an exciting one, gaining momentum. The BGS Oncogeriatric SIG was inaugurated in 2015, and our annual meeting this year is on the 7 Dec 2017.

Particularly since the Cancer Services Coming of Age Report there has been increasing recognition that the way in which we manage our older patients with cancer, could, and should be improved and tailored to their specific needs. The benefits of CGA extend to cancer care, with outcomes and tolerance of treatment improving with its use. Continue reading