Time for the BGS to help in Africa?

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 ageing in Africa.

The ageing population in Africa is exploding. In Nigeria alone, for example, there are now more than 6 million people aged over 65 years. Despite this, worryingly, services are particularly ill prepared to meet the needs of this group. Compounding this challenge is the fact that there’s a real lack of Geriatrics’ teaching in undergraduate medical curricula in SSA. Furthermore, we found that there’s very few ‘Geriatricians’ in SSA outside South Africa, with most countries having none at all. Continue reading

Walking now prevents dementia later, study finds

A new study published in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, suggests maintaining a higher level of physical activity during middle age may be a key strategy for the prevention of dementia in older age.

Past studies have suggested that physical activity such as walking can be a protective factor against dementia but this study suggests that maintaining a higher level of physical activity before older age is more important for the prevention of dementia than physical activity only in older age. Continue reading

Selfie with a centenarian!

Esther Clift is a Consultant Practitioner Trainee in Frailty, and Vice Chair of the BGS nurses and AHP Council. She is undertaking a Doctorate in Clinical Practice at Southampton University on the uptake of exercise by older people. She was inspired by an interview with Dr Frankland on the Today Programme, and went to ask him about his own use of exercise.

‘I just think he should have told me, I’m not stupid!’ – Dr AW Frankland reflects on his introduction to Strength and Balance exercises.

Dr AW Frankland was born the year the Titanic sank, and started medical school in Oxford when Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister. He was supervised by Sir Alexander Fleming at St Marys and is described as the ‘grandfather of allergy research’. His daily hour long supervisions with Fleming never included discussing patients – ‘he was a pure scientist, who wanted to talk about science.’ Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Why mouth care matters?

Jessica Mann, Dental Core Trainee and Mili Doshi, Special Care Consultant. Mili Doshi will be speaking at BGS Spring Meeting in Gateshead

Did you know there are more bacteria living in your mouth than there are people in the world?  The mouth is biggest hole in the body – it is highly visible, we eat though it, talk through it and smile with it, but when we need help caring for it, often that help is not there! Yet deteriorating oral health can have severe consequences for the rest of the body…

If you have a problem with your vision a doctor will check your eyes, but if you are not eating is it common practice for a doctor or nurse to check if there are problems with the mouth?  Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Getting it Wrong? Technologies and Telehealth for an Ageing Population

Dr Malcolm J. Fisk is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Computing and Responsible Research, De Montfort University, Leicester. He will be speaking at BGS Spring Meeting in Gateshead.

Most of the readers of this blog can look forward to a healthy and long(ish) life. The likely quality of that life is, of course, open to debate and depends on a number of factors. One of these factors is concerned with the accessibility and usability of many of the technologies through which we’ll be able to keep engaged (and, yes, that does include working into our older age). Another factor relates to our use of sometimes specialist technologies that can help us with our ailing bodies or minds.    Continue reading

Suffering in silence: A global epidemic

This blog is the collaborative work of BGS President-Elect Prof Tahir Masud and his team Aneesha Chauhan, final year medical student, University of Oxford and Sanja Thompson consultant physician, Geratology department, University of Oxford.

Everyone has experienced loneliness. Acutely, it is a transient, often mild experience that is relieved by meaningful social interaction. However, we are living in an epidemic of chronic loneliness. More than three quarters of GPs in the UK say they see between 1 and 5 lonely people a day. Furthermore, recent prevalence data revealed that 30% of the elderly are “sometimes lonely” with 9% suffering from severe loneliness. It is being increasingly recognised that loneliness is a pathological state, with its own epidemiology, risk factors, presentations, and increased mortality and morbidity. Continue reading

Can Irish set dancing benefit your health?

Joanne Shanahan is a Chartered Physiotherapist and Irish set dancing teacher. She completed her PhD in the University of Limerick. Joanne was the lead co-author of “Set dancing for people with Parkinson’s disease: an information resource for Irish set dancing teachers”. In this blog Joanne discusses her research.

irishSet dancing is an Irish cultural and social dance form. It involves dancing in a group of eight (sometimes four) people and is accompanied by the lively distinct beat of Irish dance music. Today set dancing is enjoyed by people worldwide with classes, workshops and ceilis organised all year round. Until recently the health benefits of set dancing were unknown. Recent Age and Aging publications by Shanahan et al. (2016), presented at the Irish Gerontology Society Annual Meeting 2016, have informed this question. 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

It’s not how old you are that matters, so much as how you are old…

Professor Martin Vernon qualified in 1988 in Manchester. Following training in the North West he moved to East London to train in Geriatric Medicine where he also acquired an MA in Medical Ethics and Law from King’s College. He has been the British Geriatrics Society Champion for End of Life Care for 5 years and was a standing member of the NICE Indicators Committee. In 2016 Martin was appointed National Clinical Director for Older People and Person Centred Integrated Care at NHS England.

mj-vernon-officialWhile celebrating successful ageing we must not be led into complacency. There is marked inequality between least and most socioeconomically deprived areas with men living on average up to 8 years less in the most deprived areas.

The NHS England Five Year Forward View notes that support for frail older patients is one of the three areas that the NHS faces particular challenges. It is therefore potentially game-changing that we are now making positive steps towards addressing this through routine frailty identification and promoting key interventions targeted at falls risk identification and medication review. 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