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

Back to the Future? Please, no more studies “in the elderly”!

Shane O’Hanlon is a geriatrician and digital media editor for the British Geriatrics Society. He tweets @drohanlon Zoe Wyrko is a geriatrician and workforce lead for the British Geriatrics Society. She tweets @geri_baby

Sometime back in the 80s, when we were both nippers, Marty McFly got the chance to travel 30 years into the future and see how the world would change. Around this time in the medical literature it became common to take an interesting concept and tag “in the elderly” onto the end of it. Back then, we had articles on burns, epilepsy, even blunt chest trauma “in the elderly”. It was generally accepted that once you hit 65, *everything* changed. Suddenly you would be most unlikely to have surgery, palliation became the default, and you were fairly much on your way out. Because, after all, while nobody would ever dream of grouping neonates up to 40 year olds (the age we have just reached) into one group, surely it is acceptable to assume everyone from 65-105 is identical? Continue reading

You thought walking would keep your spine strong, but…

Dr. Dafne Zuleima Morgado Ramirez is based at the Interaction Centre (UCLIC) at University College London and is a member of the Global Disability Innovation Hub. She tweets at @zuleimamorgado. She has recently published work in Age and Ageing journal.

Walking has been promoted as a way of reducing the risk and progression of osteoporosis. Yet clinical studies have shown that walking does not increase bone mineral density at the spine unless it is performed along with other physical activities, and that even then, improvement is minimal. Physical activity produces vibration that is transmitted from the feet up to the head through the body. Although there is clear evidence that bone formation and resorption are responsive to mechanical stimulation, such as vibration, currently there is limited understanding of the vibration that is transmitted through the lumbar and thoracic spine during walking. Continue reading

New National Osteoporosis Guideline launched today – an opportunity for those aged 70 years or older?

Dr Celia Gregson is a Consultant Geriatrician in Bath and Consultant Senior Lecturer in Bristol. She is also a member of the National Osteoporosis Guideline Development Group. She tweets @celiagregson

The National Osteoporosis Guideline Group (NOGG) is pleased to announce that the UK NOGG 2017 Update was released via their website today.  This new Guideline, accredited by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in March 2017, includes a number of updates relating to fracture risk assessment, management of osteoporosis and treatment recommendations, all highly relevant for older people.

It is currently recommended that fracture risk should be assessed using the freely available online FRAX tool in all postmenopausal women, and men age 50 years or more, who have risk factors for sustaining a fracture.  Continue reading

“Frailty is the most problematic expression of population ageing”

Dr Diarmuid O’Shea is a Consultant Geriatrician at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland.  The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the clinical syndrome of frailty, how it can be considered and effectively managed as a long-term condition.

One of the greatest challenges posed by an ageing population is the ability of healthcare professionals to understand, recognise and manage vulnerable older adults at increased risk of adverse healthcare outcomes. This frailty syndrome is age associated and is most marked in among those over 75 years of age. The older person showing signs of frailty is at increased risk of long term institutional care, hospitalisation, prolonged length of hospital stay and mortality, and will require specific interventions that span several health and social care services to enable them to live well for their remaining years. 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

Feedback required from BGS members in England on the STP process so far…

Professor Tahir Masud is President-Elect of the BGS and heads the Clinical Gerontology Research Unit at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. 

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) were announced as part of NHS England’s NHS planning guidance 2016/17 – 2020/21. These documents created a new funding environment for NHS providers that aims to achieve collaboration by bringing together commissioners and providers of health and care services to support delivery of the NHS Five Year Forward View. To receive funding providers have to demonstrate that they have worked with each other, commissioners, the public and local authorities to create plans that will address the three gaps identified in the Forward View: 1) health and wellbeing, 2) care and quality and 3) finance and efficiency.  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

Sarcopenia; a key driver of physical frailty

Miles Witham is a Clinical Reader in Ageing and Health, University of Dundee, and is Deputy Editor for Age and Ageing.

The BGS Autumn Meeting 2016 saw the launch of the newest BGS Special Interest Group – the Frailty and Sarcopenia Research SIG. The inaugural session, held in the main auditorium in Glasgow’s SECC was attended by several hundred delegates, and so far, over 100 members have signed up on-line to be part of the new SIG. So why do we need this SIG, and what do we hope it will achieve? Continue reading