Dementia awareness is not just for one week – it’s for life

Dr Shibley Rahman is currently an academic physician in dementia and frailty. His contribution on the diagnosis of behavioural frontal frontotemporal dementia, published while he was a M.B./Ph.D. student at Cambridge in 1999, is considered widely to be an important contribution to the field even cited in the Oxford Textbook of Medicine. He has published widely on dementia, and his first book ‘Living well with dementia’ won best book for health and social care for the BMJ Awards in 2015. His third book ‘Enhancing health and wellbeing in dementia: a person-centred integrated care approach’ was published earlier this year on aspects of the integrated care pathway, and likewise has been critically acclaimed. He, furthermore, has a passionate interest in rights-based approaches which he accrued as part of his postgraduate legal training. He tweets at @dr_shibley.

This week – in England –  it’s ‘Dementia Awareness Week’ – 14-20 May 2017. But so what?

The problem is – ‘dementia awareness’ means different things to different people. In a nutshell, I hope that the workforce can embrace the notion that people living with dementia are incredibly rewarding to support and look after, and use this week as part of a celebration of this.

If you’re working in health and social care, it can be surprisingly easy to overestimate the knowledge about dementia amongst some members of the general public. Continue reading

Cognitive impairment, mortality and discharge from an acute hospital

Carole Fogg is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth/Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, (UK). She is a PhD Fellow under the Wessex Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Healthcare and Research, exploring hospital care and outcomes for patients with cognitive impairment and dementia. Her paper “The relationship between cognitive impairment, mortality and discharge characteristics in a large cohort of older adults with unscheduled admissions to an acute hospital: a retrospective observational study has recently been published in Age and Ageing. She tweets at @Carole_Fogg 

When older people with dementia are admitted to hospital, they are more likely to die or to stay in hospital longer than people without dementia. Many older people have cognitive impairment (CI) (problems with memory and thinking) which is a main feature of dementia, but have not yet been given a diagnosis, or may have CI due to other medical conditions. We investigated how common cognitive impairment is in older patients in hospital, and what the risks are for these patients of staying longer or dying in hospital. Continue reading

Take time to talk! The importance of an informant history

Adam Dyer is a Final Year Medical Student in Trinity College Dublin. Dr. Sean Kennelly (MB PhD FRCPI) is a Consultant Physician in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine in Tallaght Hospital (Dublin, Ireland) and a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). The following work was presented as a platform presentation at the 64th Irish Gerontological Society Meeting in Killarney, Ireland (October, 2016).

Imagine you’re seeing a consult or you’re on a post-take ward round. How often do we examine a patient and identify cognitive deficits, see that the CT brain scan report and the MMSE score are readily on hand, but then ask staff about the patient’s premorbid cognition and function and are met with blank expressions?

An important factor which complicates the presentation of older people to acute hospitals is the presence of impaired cognitive status (either in the form of dementia, delirium or both). Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Assessing memory and thinking in stroke – it’s confusing

Dr Terry Quinn (Joint Stroke Association / CSO Senior Clinical Lecturer) has a clinical and research interest in post stroke cognitive decline. Supported by a Stroke Association Priority Program Grant he is pursuing a portfolio of work themed around how to assess cognition and mood in the Acute Stroke Unit. Terry will be sharing some of the findings from this and other work at the BGS Spring Meeting in Newcastle as part of a themed session on dementia. Terry tweets about all things cognitive @DrTerryQuinn and in his role as Coordinating editor of the Cochrane Dementia Group @cochraneDCIG

Specialist societies, clinical guidelines and audit standards all encourage us to assess cognition when patients present with stroke. Intuitively this seems like a sensible idea. We know that patients fear problems with memory and thinking more than they fear physical disability and we know that cognitive problems are extremely common in the post stroke period. What is less clear is how we should assess cognition in stroke. Continue reading

Unchain me: how our approach to safety leads to harm

Professor Joseph Ibrahim is Head, Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at Monash University’s Department of Forensic Medicine and the Clinical Director of Geriatric, Rehabilitation and Palliative Care Medicine, at a large regional health service in Australia. Joseph has a keen interest in promoting better care for older people and edits the Communiqués printed educational material designed for health professionals to learn from cases investigated by the Coroners Court. Learn more about Joseph on his personal website.

Joseph and the team recently completed a landmark Australian study published in Age and Ageing, examining deaths due to physical restraint of people living in nursing homes. The study found that five deaths were recorded in nursing home residents due to physical restraint over the 13-year period. The median age of the residents who died was 83 years; all residents had impaired mobility and had restraints applied for falls prevention; four had diagnosed dementia. The mechanism of harm and cause of death were ascertained by a forensic pathologist following autopsy and in all cases, were formulated as ‘neck compression and entrapment by the restraints’. Continue reading

‘Five a day’ keep dementia away, say researchers

fruit-and-vegHaving at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit daily might help prevent dementia in older adults according to a study published today in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, followed the cognitive status of 17,700 dementia-free older adults for 6 years. The objective was to investigate whether those consuming at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits daily, in line with the World Health Organisation recommendation, were at a lower risk of developing dementia. Continue reading

MAPLE-V: Taking a collateral history for cognition

Rebecca Winter is an Elderly Medicine registrar; she is currently taking a year out of programme as a Clinical Education Fellow at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS). Twitter: @rebeccawinter27

Muna Al-Jawad is an Elderly medicine consultant at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton. She works on a mixed acute medical and mental health ward.

mapleIt’s a familiar scenario, you are on your Elderly Medicine placement and you are asked: “Can you get collateral history about Mrs Smith´s cognition?” You don´t want to miss anything, but what exactly do they want to know?

Dementia is an increasingly common and important condition. In the UK, at least one quarter of acute hospital beds are occupied by patient with dementia, with admissions spread across a broad range of specialties. (1) Despite this, the UK National Dementia Strategy (2) has highlighted deficiencies in behaviour and skills of healthcare professionals caring for people with dementia. Continue reading

Desperately Seeking Ethics: Reflections on attending a research ethics committee meeting

Liz Charalambous is a nurse and PhD student. She tweets at @lizcharalambou and is a regular guest blogger for the BGS.

me-fbI am in the second year of a PhD researching volunteers in dementia and acute hospitals. The project came about as part of my clinical work as a staff nurse in older person acute care. It was while working on a prevention of delirium research study, I realised that volunteers could play an important role.

The first year of my PhD has been spent mainly completing modules and designing the project from scratch. I have lost track of how many drafts of countless documents have been sent to my long suffering supervisors as they guide me towards refining my ideas, sifting through my thousands of words to put together a robust study which will stand up to scrutiny. Continue reading

Frequent sauna bathing protects men against dementia

Jari Laukkanen is a professor at the University of Eastern Finland. He and his co-authors have recently published a research paper in Age and Ageing journal on the link between sauna bathing and memory diseases. You can follow him on twitter @LaukkanenJari

saunaFrequent sauna bathing can reduce the risk of dementia, according to a 20-year follow-up study.  Men taking a sauna 4–7 times a week were 66% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those taking a sauna once a week. The association between sauna bathing and dementia risk has not been previously investigated.

The effects of sauna bathing on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia were studied in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), involving more than 2,000 middle-aged men living in the eastern part of Finland. Continue reading

Cause of death? Dementia…

Professor Emma Reynish is a consultant physician in Geriatric Medicine at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and Professor of Dementia Research, at the University of Stirling where she leads the dementia and social gerontology research group.

dementiaIn England and Wales more people now die of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease than anything else. A similar picture is most likely to exist for the other devolved nations of the UK. For healthcare professionals who are involved in the management of people with dementia, this news offers the opportunity for reflection and action. What does this mean for us and our approach to the older population? Continue reading