Half the people in the world with Parkinson’s Disease have probably not been diagnosed – yet…

Richard Walker is a Consultant Geriatrician at North Tyneside General Hospital, and Honorary Professor of Ageing and International Health at Newcastle University. He has a research interest in non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and is Associate International Director for SSA for the Royal College of Physicians, London. He is the Clinical Lead for the Northumbria / Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre health link and Chair of the Movement Disorders Society African Task Force. In this blog article he discusses the growing challenge of Parkinson’s Disease in SSA.

I’ve recently got back from the 21st International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Movement Disorders in Vancouver where I chaired the African Task Force meeting. At the congress it was exciting to hear about all the new developments in the field, but it was perhaps unsurprising that there was very little research about the treatment of PD in lower and middle income countries (LMICs). Continue reading

Dementia friendly communities; compassionate and collaborative

Dr Fiona Marshall is a neuroscientist working on treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. Dr Marshall also volunteers as an Alzheimer’s Research UK Trustee and is Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Heptares Therapeutics.

dementiaIn recent years there have been major initiatives to change the way that society is able to respond to the growing number of people with dementia – we are aiming for “dementia friendly societies” where people with dementia and those who care for them are not alienated, or even merely tolerated, but enabled to sustain their local connections and lead meaningful lives. Living with dementia is often full of many challenges and can leave families isolated, lonely and exhausted; as a society we need to minimise these ongoing issues and promote valued connections within local communities. Continue reading

Geriatric Medicine in the “little red dot”

Dr Liang Tee Lee is President of the Society for Geriatric Medicine, Singapore and a Consultant of Continuing & Community Care in Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Clinical Director at Ren Ci Hospital.shutterstock_183186191

Singapore is a city state country in South-east Asia, often marked by a little red dot south of Malaysia on the world map. It spans 716 square kilometres and has around 5.4 million people. Singapore is one of the fastest ageing countries in the world, with the population of 65 years and older projected to increase from 10.5% now to 18% in year 2030. Continue reading

Avoiding Serial Projectitis – Making Health and Care Systems fit for an Ageing Population

David Oliver is a Consultant Geriatrician in Berkshire and a visiting Professor in Medicine of Older People at City University, London. He is President Elect of the British Geriatrics Society. He writes on the King’s Fund blog about their paper, launched today.Making Health and Care Systems fit for an Ageing Population

By 2030, one in 5 people in England will be over 65 and at that age, men will on average live till 88 and women till 91. This population ageing shouldn’t constantly be catastrophised with language like “burden” “timebomb” or “tsunami”. In fact, it represents a victory for improved societal conditions and for modern healthcare – preventative and curative. Indeed, well into older age, most people report high levels of happiness, health and wellbeing and even over 80, only half say they live with life limiting long-term conditions.

However, despite the “upside” of population ageing, we need to be realistic about its inevitable implications for health and care services. Continue reading

Ageing in Mexico: Geriatrics in the New World

José Alberto Ávila Funes is Head of the Department of Geriatrics at the National Institute of Medical Science and Nutrition Salvador Zubiran, Mexico City. He Tweets at @geriatriainnszportada

A demographic transition featuring an ever increasing life expectancy is occurring across the globe. In contrast to Old World countries where longevity has predominated for centuries, in Mexico it is a relatively new and ongoing phenomenon only evident since the end of the 20th century. By 2050, one third of the Mexican population will be represented by people ≥ 60 years old, with  life expectancies reaching 80 and 85 years for men and women respectively. But what do these statistics mean? Is there more to ageing than just having more old folks walking around? Continue reading

Making Health and Care Fit for an Ageing Population.

Kings Fund and BGS Conference: BGS President Elect, David Oliver, describes how this conference ties in to the work of the BGS and the Department of Health’s new proposals to improve care for vulnerable older people.
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On 22 October, the Kings Fund is hosting a one day event on making health and care services fit for an ageing population. This event is supported by the BGS and several of our members are speaking. I am fortunate to have a foot in both camps as BGS president-elect but also as a Kings Fund Visiting Fellow. We have timed the event to coincide with the planned autumn announcement by Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP – Secretary of State for Health – of the Vulnerable Older Peoples Plan. Mr Hunt is due to speak at our event and announce some further details. Continue reading

Japanese lessons on dementia care

Dr Mayumi Hayashi is a Leverhulme early career fellow in the Institute of Gerontology at King’s College London. She discusses the Japanese approach towards dementia care and suggests lessons for the UK.shutterstock_124335502

Last year, the British coalition government emphasised the need to improve dementia care, with David Cameron launching his “challenge on dementia“, which identified three major goals: better health and care, fostering “dementia-friendly” communities, and improved research. Initial successes included a substantial increase in primary care trust funding for dementia care, but subsequent cuts in government spending resulted in reduced funding for the condition. Discussions in Whitehall about finding new, yet cost-effective, initiatives have been informed by Japan’s experience. There, politicians and policy makers have focused on educating the public (even the term “dementia” was outlawed) by recruiting and mobilising volunteer dementia “supporters”, and implementing a new national compulsory long-term care insurance system, offering enhanced services for people with dementia. Continue reading

Old and still driving

A conference report from the BGS Spring Meeting in Belfast, by Liz Gill.

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One of the most negative images of older people concerns older drivers. Yet by any yardstick they are the safest group on the roads, as Prof Des O’Neill, consultant physician in geriatric and stroke medicine at Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin, pointed out. There were issues though with increasing age and it was worth geriatricians getting involved with assessing someone’s fitness to drive. Continue reading

The social and economic contribution of our elders

A conference report from the BGS Spring Meeting in Belfast, by Liz Gill.

Another look at the future came from Claire Keating, commissioner for older people in Northern Ireland. “Shed loads of people are having increased longevity and that is a challenge but no-one becomes 80 overnight so it’s a case of planning. And current projections are not set in stone. For instance, we need to treat older people who have bowel cancer now but we also need to get their grandchildren to eat more vegetables so that there aren’t unacceptable levels when they get to that age.

“We get obsessed with money and the pessimistic outlook gets more attention. Yet the latest research shows that when you add up all economic and social contributions and all the taxes and voluntary work, older people make a net contribution to society of £40bn. Continue reading

Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection in older patients

Daniel Davis is a Research Training Fellow at the Institute of Public Health at Cambridge University and SpR in Geriatric Medicine at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals.

It has recently become clear that HIV is increasingly affecting the older population. Notifications of new infections to the UK Health Protection Agency are rising in the over 50s, and this subgroup presents different characteristics compared to those typically associated with the HIV epidemic.

Of course, better treatments mean that life expectancy is now much greater in those with chronic infection, and so prevalence of HIV is increasing among those in their fifties and sixties. But this is not the area of concern. Continue reading