How older people move in bed when they are ill

Kenneth Rockwood MD, FRCPC, FRCP is Professor of Medicine (Geriatric Medicine & Neurology) at Dalhousie University, and a staff physician at the Halifax Infirmary of the Nova Scotia Health Authority. He tweet @Krockdoc  

The dangers of going to bed”, elaborated by Richard Asher in 1947 illustrates for just how long the hospital bed has been recognized as a hazard for older adults.  It can also be source of rich clinical information.  Understanding this through quantification and plain language descriptors offers one means to “geriatrize” routine care. Like many of such workaday skills, assessing how someone moves in bed is not that tricky, but it requires both the cognitive task of paying attention and the affective one of wanting to do so. Continue reading

Hidden Carers – sharing the stories of older male carers

Louise Bate is an Engagement and Communications Officer with Healthwatch Dorset. Healthwatch is an independent watchdog, working to help people get the best out of their local health and social care services. Healthwatch enables local people to influence the delivery and design of local services, by sharing their views with health and care commissioners and providers: www.healthwatchdorset.co.uk 

More than 51,000 carers in England are men aged over 85; a number that has more than doubled in the last decade. It’s such a huge number of people that it’s hard to imagine. We wanted to make the numbers real – so we’ve been working with Bournemouth University and the Carers Support Service to listen to older male carers, gather their stories and give them a stronger voice.

Carers over the age of 85 are the only demographic of carers where men outnumber women (59%). Men are more likely to become carers in older age than at other times in their life and usually as a result of caring for their partners. Continue reading

New Horizons in multimorbidity

Dr John V. Hindle was appointed Senior Clinical Lecturer in Care of the Elderly, to the School of Medical Sciences, in 2009. He has also held an honorary appointment as Senior Lecturer in Bangor University’s School of Psychology, since 1998. Here he discusses his Age and Ageing paper New horizons in multimorbidity in older adults.

There is increasing political and clinical interests in the concepts of multimorbidity and frailty. For those of us working with older people in primary and secondary care we feel that intuitively we understand these concepts. After all, we have been working towards improvement in care people with multimorbidity and frailty for many decades, and in some ways this was the origin of the specialty of Geriatric Medicine. However, although I have been working as a geriatrician for over 30 years, armed with my intuition, it is only in recent times that I have begun to truly understand the complexities of these issues. In recent years the concept of multimorbidity and particularly frailty have been injected with scientific understanding and explanation. We have come to understand the great impact that these issues have on health and social care, and the pressures that they bring to bear. The complexity of multimorbidity in the context of frailty, dementia and polypharmacy particularly bears a substantial healthcare burden. If like me you struggle to understand the full picture of the relationship between frailty and multi-morbidity, it is worth reading the article on New Horizons on Multimorbidity in Older Adults [1]. This overview helps explain the link between the concepts of multi-mobility and frailty and their relevance to the healthcare of older people. Although many people live with multimorbidity in midlife, particularly contributed to by social deprivation, it is important to understand that complex multimorbidity increases with increasing age.  The majority of older people have two or more long term conditions with care home residents having significant levels of multimorbidity.    Continue reading

Antidementia medication may improve survival in Alzheimer’s disease

Dr Christoph Mueller is an Academic Clinical Lecturer at the Department of Old Age Psychiatry at King’s College London. He and his co-authors published a paper on the influence of antidementia medication on survival in Alzheimer’s disease in Age and Ageing. He tweets at @DrChrisMueller

At present Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, as Donepezil or Rivastigmine, are the only medications available for treatment of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. They can slow down the progression of the illness and alleviate distressing symptoms. However, their benefits are modest and they can have side effects, such as a slow heartbeat, indigestion, weight loss or an increased risk of falls. Moreover, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of death for men and women 80 years or older in England and Wales. We investigated whether being prescribed antidementia medication was associated with survival in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading

Autumn Speaker Series: Exercise during periods of decompensation. What is the current evidence?

Stephen Lim is a Clinical Research Fellow and a Specialist Registrar in Geriatric Medicine in Academic Geriatric Medicine at the University of Southampton. His research interest is in physical activity and deconditioning in hospital. He will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Autumn Meeting in London. He tweets at @StephenERLim

Hospital-associated deconditioning is high on the agenda across hospitals in the UK and many hospital trusts have jumped on the ‘endPJparalysis’ bandwagon to encourage patients to get up and get moving, – and rightly so! It is encouraging to see that healthcare professionals and non-clinical staff members are increasingly aware that prolonged bedrest and immobility is bad medicine.

During an acute illness, older people are at risk of worsening sarcopenia and consequently a decline in physical function. The hospital environment, altered mental state, physiological stresses and poor nutrition (as a sequelae of the acute illness), are some of the important risk factors contributing to a loss of function. Continue reading

September 2017 issue of Age and Ageing journal is out now

The September 2017 issue of Age and Ageing, the journal of the British Geriatrics Society is out now.  A full table of contents is available here, with editorials, research papers, reviews, short reports, case reports book reviews and more.  

Hot topics in this issue include:

  • The future of Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment
  • Causes of unsafe primary care
  • Improving medication adherence after hospital discharge
  • Oral health in hospitals and care homes
  • Research methods: how to do a systematic review

    The Editor’s View article gives an overview of the issue with a summary of highlights. This article is free to read and can be viewed here. Continue reading

    Promoting Activity, Independence and Stability in Early Dementia (PrAISED)

    Professor Rowan H Harwood is a geriatrician at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, and the University of Nottingham, with particular interests in delirium, dementia and end of life care, who maintains an active portfolio of research. He tweets @RowanHarwood 

    Can exercise-based therapy prevent or delay disability and dependency in those in the early stages of dementia?

    We have heard the drum beat of gloomy messages. We cannot continue to cope with ever greater demands for health and social care. Prevention is better than cure, but the NHS is ‘on the hook’ for failing to take prevention seriously.

    There is a semblance of a response. Sustainability and Transformation Plans emphasise prevention. We know that some groups, such as people with frailty or dementia, are at risk of crises and functional decline, and on the cusp of dependency and need for services. It makes sense to identify people at risk earlier, and intervene. Continue reading

    Age and Ageing papers featured in the OUP Public Health collection

    The latest journal Impact Factor results were announced in July and we were delighted to see Age and Ageing continue to grow in impact with a higher score of 4.282.

    Our thanks go out to our valued authors who contribute such strong work, and to our army of peer reviews who are essential to the high standard of published material. We are also grateful to all of our readers who share, cite and make use of this work and disseminate research for the improvement of the health and care of older people.

    To celebrate improving Impact Factor scores across several of its journals, Oxford University Press has released a collection of the highest cited papers on the theme of Public Health. Continue reading

    Dying with dementia – we need to measure more than the place of death

    Katherine Sleeman is an NIHR Clinician Scientist and Honorary Consultant in Palliative Medicine at the Cicely Saunders Institute, King’s College London. In this blog she discusses her paper Predictors of emergency department attendance by people with dementia in their last year of life: Retrospective cohort study using linked clinical and administrative data. She tweets @kesleeman

    Over the past decade there has been a strong policy focus in the UK and elsewhere on dying out of hospital as a marker of good quality of end of life care. We have previously shown that, for people with dementia, hospital deaths have fallen over this time period, possibly as a result of these policies.

    However, it is increasingly recognised that the place of death is an imperfect proxy for the quality of end of life care, providing little more than a snap shot of where a person was in their last moments. Continue reading

    Smoking linked to frailty in older adults

    A recent paper published in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, finds that current smoking in older people increases the risk of developing frailty, though former smokers did not appear to be at higher risk.

    Smoking increases the risk of developing a number of diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease, all of which can potentially have negative effects on people’s physical, psychological and social health.

    Frailty is considered a precursor to, but a distinct state from, disability. Frailty is a condition associated with decreased physiological reserve and increased vulnerability to adverse health outcomes. The outcomes include falls, fractures, disability, hospitalisation and institutionalisation. Continue reading