A Warm Glow in Solihull

Maxine Burrows and Yvonne Obaidy are Collaborative Leads for Early Help 0 – 19 at Solihull Metropolitan Council.  They develop high quality sustainable services for children, young people and families.  In this blog they talk about a new intergenerational pilot that they are working on and how they are enjoying the challenges and diversity that this work is providing.  Dr Zoe Wyrko (Consultant Geriatrician. Associate Medical Director – Quality Development, University Hospitals Birmingham) is providing them with support and help as needed, including evaluation tools for the older adults. You can follow them at @EngageSolihull

We are carrying out a pilot of intergenerational working in Olton, a district of Solihull in the West Midlands, with two local partners – St Bernard’s Residential Care Home for older adults and Tender Years Day Nursery. The care home has lovely cosy rooms – which are not huge, and the nursery has transport for five children so we chose to do a small pilot involving just five older adults to start with. Our intergenerational activity takes place every Wednesday at 10.30am for one hour.

We had several preliminary individual meetings with the nursery and the care home and then all parties came together for a final planning meeting two weeks before the pilot started. The meetings were useful for clarifying roles and responsibilities and planning some of the activities.  Most importantly the final meeting enabled the care home staff and nursery staff to meet and share their reasons for taking part in the pilot. Continue reading

Can a National Frailty Education Programme be a driver of culture change in healthcare?

Dr Diarmuid O’Shea is a Consultant Geriatrician at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, and Deirdre Lang is the Director of Nursing, National Clinical Programme for Older People, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Health Services Executive

We all know that population ageing is occurring rapidly. Between 2015 and 2030 the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by an extraordinary 56%. By 2050, the global population of older people is projected to more than double its size (United Nations, 2015). In Ireland, the population 65 years and over is projected to increase by between 58 and 63 per cent from 2015 to 2030. The older old population (i.e. those aged 80 years of age and over) is set to rise even more dramatically, by between 85 per cent and 94 per cent in this time period (ESRI 2017). Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: The meaning of life expectancy

John Gladman is Professor of the Medicine of Older People, Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing and Honorary Consultant in Health Care of Older People at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. He will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Spring Meeting in Nottingham.

Is getting old about decline or about personal growth?

At the BGS Spring Meeting in Nottingham, the organisers have, perhaps unwisely, asked me to give a lecture. I presume I was asked in view of the large and active research group in academic geriatrics in Nottingham, Derby and Leicester for which I have become the titular head (I think that’s what they call me). I intend to abuse this honour by ruminating on a few things that puzzle me as I approach my dotage and probably won’t mention our research at all. Continue reading

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

A study published recently in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third of these people will be diagnosed with dementia, depression or a cognitive impairment.

The study, conducted by researchers at Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing, found that over the next 20 years there will be a massive expansion in the number of people suffering from multiple diseases, known as multi-morbidity. As a result two-thirds of the life expectancy gains, predicted as 3.6 years for men, 2.9 years for women, will be spent with four or more diseases. Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Asthma in the older patient

Dominick Shaw is an Associate Professor and honorary clinician at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University NHS Hospital Trust. He leads the commissioned severe asthma service and performs clinical studies in asthma. He will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Spring Meeting in Nottingham.

Asthma still presents a major challenge to society. Although classically regarded as a disease of children and young adults, accumulating evidence suggests that late onset asthma carries a poorer prognosis. Moreover although the death rate from asthma has fallen over the last 10-15 years in people under 75, in those aged over 75 it has doubled. Consequently the overall mortality rate has not changed.

Asthma still causes significant social and financial problems for patients, with recurrent exacerbations needing oral steroids, hospital admissions, time off work and impact on families and carers. There is light at the end of the asthma tunnel however and asthma has advanced a long way from, in the words of a geriatrician colleague*, “one puff of the blue, two of the brown”. Continue reading

Taking control of our homes as we get older

Dr Rachael Docking is Ageing Better’s Senior Evidence Manager. Rachael’s remit is to work on their evidence work stream and manage one of their programmes of work, as well as providing cross-cutting evidence support to other work-streams. Rachael leads on their homes and neighbourhoods programme and has also been managing a commissioned review on inequalities in later life.

Jill is 68 years old. She’s still working and cares for her husband. With reduced mobility due to osteoarthritis, Jill has been in a lot of pain, living in a house that wasn’t suited to her changing needs and didn’t know where to turn to for help. She began to develop coping strategies like shuffling upstairs on her bottom, and couldn’t bathe or shower properly.

After a needs assessment from a local occupational therapist, Jill had a number of adaptations installed at home, including a wet room and extra stair rail. As a result she can now shower herself and though still in pain, the adaptations have helped her remain in her own home. Continue reading

HIV and Older People

World AIDS Day is dedicated to fighting stigma and discrimination, and raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We mark this day by, in turn, raising awareness of older people with HIV.

Incidence and prevalence of HIV in older people is increasing. In the UK one in five adults with HIV is aged over 50. This is a consequence both of the expansion in uptake of HIV testing and diagnosis and major improvements in treatments which are helping people with HIV to live longer.

The fact that older people with HIV are living longer where there is access to treatment is a cause for celebration but it also brings challenges for geriatric medicine. Older people with HIV commonly experience co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and dementia. Medical management of HIV in older people requires considerations of complex drug interactions and co-morbidities.

Early diagnosis of HIV is key to improving prognosis. Treatment with highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) significantly prolongs life expectancy, however it is associated with an increased risk of side effects in older patients. Continue reading

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

Ruby Yu is a research assistant professor 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

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

Advanced Professionals supporting our frail patients, but how?

Beverley Marriott is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner working in the Birmingham community healthcare foundation trust. She is also a King’s College Older Person Fellow. She tweets @bevbighair

Nationally there is increasing recognition of the needs of frail older people in health systems, and  the UK’s rapidly ageing population will only increase in the years to come.

Dr Ram Byravan (Consultant and Clinical Director Heart of England Elderly Care) states that the prevalence of multimorbidity is on the rise, with 44% of people over 75 now living with more than one long-term condition –  geriatricians and GPs are uniquely suited to lead the response to the challenges of caring for this group. Continue reading