Love makes the world go round but sex adds the sparkles: A review of “Dementia, Sex and Wellbeing”

Uruakanwa Ekwegh is a Specialty Doctor in Medicine for older people, with an interest in acute frailty and medical education. Her Twitter handle is @Kanwa10

Before I started to read this book, I asked myself, “what do you think of when you hear ‘dementia and sex’?” Two phrases leapt to my mind: “inappropriate behaviour” and “safeguarding issues”. The author acknowledges this perspective when she states that in this group of people, the issue of sex is only raised in the context of problems or concerns. She pointedly asks, “Why would we choose to ignore sex when so many adults consider it to be one of their activities of daily living?” Sex as an ADL? What a novel idea!

While reading this book, I was drawn into her conversational style of writing. She cleverly navigates the line between “stuffy” and “fluffy”. Just as I would start getting bogged down with the academic stuff, she would bring in a practical or true life example to liven things up again. And she expertly uses her words to paint the pictures of the people in her examples; you are present and witness the conversations that she references. Continue reading

Book review: Visiting the Memory Café and other Dementia Care Activities

Matthew Berrisford is a Charge Nurse at The Meadows Community Hospital, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. In this blog post he reviews the recently published book: Visiting the Memory Cafe and Other Dementia Care ActivitiesHe tweets @berrisfjord

Caroline Baker follows her previous publication, Developing Excellent Care for People Living with Dementia in Care Homes, with another informative and practical guide to asset-based and person-centred care.

Visiting the Memory Cafe and Other Dementia Care Activities has been developed by Baker and her colleagues at Barchester Healthcare as a framework for planning and implementing programmes of activity that optimise the wellbeing of people living with dementia.

The framework encompasses seven domains of wellbeing – identity, connectedness, security, autonomy, meaning, growth and joy – and aligns these with evidence-based activities that can be tailored to individual ability, history, and preference. Continue reading

Book review: ‘Memory’s last Breath’ – a written exploration of life, love and personhood

Rachel Manners is a speciality doctor in hospital based complex continuing care in Edinburgh.  She is a particular interest in end of life care and in complex dementia care.  Her twitter handle is @RachelMannes1 (due to an unfortunate spelling incident that she cannot figure out how to fix!).

Journeying beyond questions of how and why disease happen; to considering what they truly mean in the lives of individuals is one of the great challenges of clinical practice. Dementia brings out this challenge particularly strongly given the questions it raises about not only what it means to think and remember, but what it means to be.  That is it to say, it forces the practitioner to consider what it truly means to be a person. For those of us who work with and for those who live with dementia (or experience it in our personal lives) these are important questions. My own practice in recent years has led me to wonder not only what I have to offer people with dementia, but also to begin to consider what they have to teach and offer me .

Thinking about these ideas, I came to the book  ‘Memory’s last breath:  field notes on my dementia’ to help me develop my understanding. This is the autoethnographic study of Gerda Saunders’ journey with and into dementia. 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

Reflections on ‘NOT Forgotten Lives: Felixstowe 2017’

Liz Charalambous is a nurse and PhD student. She tweets at @lizcharalambou and is a regular guest blogger for the BGS. Here she reviews ‘NOT Forgotten Lives: Felixstowe 2017’ edited by Julia Jones and Bertie Wheen

‘NOT Forgotten Lives’ is a written record, produced for the 2017 Felixstowe Book Festival, which celebrates the lives of older people living locally in residential accommodation. This slim volume is organised by an overview of what life story work is about, followed by photographs and accounts of the life stories of residents living in nursing and residential accommodation in Felixstowe. It concludes with a personal reflection from the co-editor, Bertie Wheen.

Why is this book important?

In a world where dementia is on the increase there are political, economic, ethical and often personal reasons why society must wake up to the reality of the disease. Currently an estimated 50 million people worldwide live with dementia, with a forecast of 131.5 million by 2050.  In the UK there are 850,000 people living with the disease, estimated to increase to 2 million by 2050. These figures alone suggest that dementia is a disease which can no longer be ignored. Continue reading

Book Review: Problem Solving in Older Cancer Patients

Dr Shane O’Hanlon is a consultant geriatrician with a special interest in surgical liaison and cancer care for older people. He tweets @drohanlon

book reviewAs geriatricians seem ever thinly spread, the possibility of us providing input to the population of older people with cancer seems challenging – especially when you consider that a majority of cancer diagnoses and deaths occur in the over 65s. However oncogeriatrics has taken root in the past 2 or 3 years and there are now a few centres nationally offering just this approach. For those geriatricians who are hoping to provide it (or oncologists who are trying to entice them) this book will be of great interest.

“Problem solving in older cancer patients” is published in association with the Association of Cancer Physicians (ACP), and also the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) (but this of course does not affect the objectivity of this review!). It represents a great team effort by a range of geriatricians and oncologists, including trainees. Continue reading

‘Beloved old age and what to do about it’ A review for Julia Jones

Liz Charalambous is a qualified nurse on a female, acute medical HCOP (Health Care for Older People) ward at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham University Hospital Trust. She tweets at @lizcharalambou and is a regular guest blogger for the BGS.

Margery Allingham

Julia JonesBeloved old age is a fitting tribute to Margery Allingham, author of detective fiction (including most notably that of Albert Campion, later converted to a TV series). Published on the 50th anniversary of Allingham’s death, and illustrated with black and white photographs from both eras, the book is a work of two parts. It contains the accounts of caring for older relatives, seamlessly interposed between each era to span over half a century. Allingham’s previously unpublished work, ‘The Relay’, describes her experiences of caring for three elderly relatives more than fifty years ago. The account is brought to life by Julia Jones as she picks up the baton and continues the story with her experiences of being a carer for her mother with dementia, to present the story of ‘Beloved old age and what to do about it’. Continue reading

Book Review: Essential geriatrics (Third Edition) by Henry Woodford

Shane O’Hanlon is a geriatrician in Reading, and Digital Media Editor & Honorary Deputy Secretary at the British Geriatrics Society. He tweets @drohanlon

As a trainee I often dreamed of a single book that would cover everything a geriatrician needed to know! In reality, I had to consult a wide variety of volumes depending on my question so my shelf was weighed down with Lecture Notes, Case Histories, Law & Ethics, Physiology, Cardiology, etc.9781910227657

The first edition of Essential Geriatrics was published during my training, but somehow didn’t register on my radar. That text has since been updated and revised, and now a third edition has just been published.
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Book review – “Geriatric Medicine: An Evidence Based Approach”

9780199689644_450Philip Braude is an ST6 in Geriatric Medicine, specialising in perioperative medicine.

Geriatric Medicine: An Evidence Based Approach, edited by Frank Lally and Christine Roffe, is written by an eminent list of international experts condensing key and often difficult issues in modern geriatrics to chapters of a few pages. It aims to be a “clinical reference for health care professionals” but is certainly not a comprehensive geriatric medicine text.

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Book Review: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Shane O’Hanlon is a Consultant Geriatrician (Surgical Liaison and Cancer Care), Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support. 

As a geriatrician who works with surgeons every day, I was intrigued to see what Atul Gawande’s latest book had to say – apparently it was all about what happens in later life. But was it just a misguided attempt by a surgeon to write a book on geriatric medicine?

Gawande has been a general surgeon and a professor at Harvard for over a decade. During that time he began writing for the New Yorker, and is now well known in patient safety circles for his successful books “Complications” and “The Checklist Manifesto”. He is seen as a sensible writer who doesn’t shy away from talking about his own mistakes. This humble approach also pervades “Being Mortal”, which considers how healthcare treats the old and dying, and asks “What really matters in the end?”

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