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

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

Wrinkly hands or ‘cocaine ‘fro’? You decide…

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 is currently a PhD student at The University of Nottingham. She tweets at @lizcharalambou and is a regular guest blogger for the BGS. Her blogs are her own opinion and do not represent the opinion of her employer or any other organisation.

grandmaI came across a USA you tube clip the other week which challenged my thinking on HCOP care. The footage was of a young man who has teamed up with his grandma to make, what I would describe as ‘stereotype-busting videos’ of his visits to see grandma in ‘the ‘hood’. I initially thought it was controversial and mildly exploitative (after all he talks to his grandma about her ‘cocaine ‘fro hairdo). I had to watch them a few times to decide that actually, this challenges my perceptions of how we engage with older people. Watching grandma rolling meatballs to ‘roll out’ rap music and shimmying her shoulders following a successful bottle flip challenge, I was hooked. The couple do Q & A sessions, mannequin challenges and twerking dance offs, cover naughty topics, and cause general mayhem and shenanigans at a pet store, among other (more saucy) clips, and seem to have a great deal of fun together in the process.

Continue reading

Global Summit on Aging and Health- personal reflections on a conference and a cultural exchange

Dr Eileen Burns has been a geriatrician in Leeds since 1992 and is President of the BGS. She is currently Clinical Lead for integration in Leeds and Chairman of the BGS Community Geriatrics Special Interest Group. She tweets @EileenBurns13

chinaI was fortunate enough to attend and speak at a Global Summit on Aging held in Shanghai recently. It was a fascinating event, with speakers from an enormous variety of backgrounds- from the US Embassy in Beijing, the World Health Organisation, and the United Nations Population Fund, as well as numerous Chinese Government office holders.

The summit was jointly organised by Columbia University, USA (under the auspices of the wonderful Professor Linda Fried) and Fudan University in China. Continue reading

A poor work life balance in midlife may affect health and quality of life decades later

business-manA study published today in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of The British Geriatrics Society, found that businessmen who worked more than 50 hours per week and slept less than 47 hours per week in midlife had poorer scores for physical functioning, vitality and general health in older age, compared to those with normal work and sleep patterns. It also found that businessmen with long work hours but normal sleep patterns still had poorer scores for physical functioning in older age. Even taking into account midlife smoking, and other unrelated health issues, the negative effect upon physical functioning remained significant.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at The University of Jyväskylä in Finland, studied a homogenous group of 1,527 white men born between 1919 and 1934 who were a part of The Helsinki Businessmen Study. Working hours, sleep duration and self-reported health issues were surveyed among the businessmen and executives in 1974 and then surveyed again 26 years later. Continue reading

Geriatric conditions, are they recognized as relevant problems by community dwelling older people?

Marjon van Rijn is a PhD candidate at the department of Geriatric Medicine in the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam and lecturer at the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences the Netherlands. In this blog she comments on her recent paper in Age and Ageing.

aaComprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) is increasingly implemented in community care settings and involves an assessment of physical, psychological, functional and social geriatric conditions, such as urinary incontinence, memory problems, fall risk and loneliness.

In this study, CGA is part of a complex intervention to prevent disability in community dwelling older people. Older people with an increased risk of functional decline, according to the Identification of Seniors at Risk questionnaire that was validated for primary care, were invited for a CGA at home. A community care registered nurse visited older persons to conduct the CGA, and if necessary, made an individual care plan with several follow up visits. Continue reading

Esther Clift’s African Blog Series; Part 4 ‘Healthy ageing’

Esther Clift is a Consultant Practitioner Trainee in Frailty with Health Education Wessex. This is the final part of a four part BGS blog series about her time in Africa. She tweets @EstherClift

healthy-ageing“Healthy ageing” is defined by the World report on ageing and health as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age.

What does that look like in developing countries?

I have had the privilege of travelling through some of Kenya and Uganda and I asked how people view their prospects, as they grow older. Some like Nathani in rural Jinja, Uganda, a retired academic and researcher with a PhD from Strathclyde University felt that his future was tied up in his land, and his children. He had both, and at 74 was fit and well, and held in high esteem by his community. He described his children as his wealth. Continue reading

A circulating marker of bone remodelling is associated with cognition in older age

Steven Bradburn is a PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests focus on age-related cognitive decline and physical functioning in later life. He recently published Association between Osteocalcin and Cognitive Performance in Healthy Older Adults in Age and Ageing journal.

aaCognitive decline and reductions in bone health regularly co-manifest during advancing age. Previous studies have shown relationships between bone mineral density and risks of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline, especially in older women. This raises the possibility that factors related to bone regulation and function may also influence cognitive wellbeing.

In our study, using the cross-sectional MyoAge cohort, we evaluated the relationship between bone mineral density and proteins related to bone metabolism in the blood with measures of cognitive functioning in physically and mentally healthy older adults. Continue reading

Mitochondria, mobility and ageing

Amanda Natanek is a Clinical Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London and a Consultant Physician at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust. She is raising awareness of the clinical relevance of mitochondrial function and the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle in conditions associated with ageing, by holding the first international symposium on this topic next month.

amandaMitochondria are fascinating organelles. Thought to have originated as aerobic bacteria that became engulfed by primitive eukaryotic cells, they are the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell. By generating ATP efficiently through a chain of oxygen-requiring reactions, they fuel the multitude of active processes that keep the cell ticking over. When a cell’s time is up, mitochondria are triggers of cell death. Continue reading