Beyond text and images: Tackling loneliness with technology

Dr Eiman Kanjo is a Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University. Eiman has written some of the earliest papers in the research area of mobile sensing and she currently carries out work in the areas of technologies and data science for health & Wellbeing, Smart cities, Environmental Monitoring and its impact of health, and wellbeing monitoring. She tweets @eimankanjo She will be speaking at the Loneliness in Older People and its Impact on Health event on 13 June at Wellcome Collection in London.

Loneliness is a sad and frustrating event in anyone’s life, however its impact is more damaging for older people. Many older adults have lost so much of their independence they are left with memories of the life they once knew. Things that were once so important to them are taken away, such as the ability to drive, go to church, read a book, or even connecting with their loved ones.

Among the ways to combat loneliness, technology is starting to play a major role in helping to bridge the gap of interactions that older adults need.

In general, older adults do not necessarily dislike one form of technology or another, however, they are sometimes distrustful about the need for technology or about their ability to utilise it. Continue reading

The Lonely brain

Dr Samuel Barnes Ph.D is a Lecturer at Imperial College London in the Division of Brain Sciences and was recently awarded a UK Dementia Research Institute Fellowship. The goal of his research is to understand the role of neural circuit plasticity in aging and neurodegeneration. His group uses a combination of in vivo voltage and calcium imaging, bioelectronics and electrophysiology to investigate the neural plasticity factors that make the aged brain susceptible to neurodegeneration and ultimately dementia. You can read more about his work here.  He will be speaking at the Loneliness in Older People and its Impact on Health event on 13 June at Wellcome Collection in London.

Daydreaming can be one of life’s great pleasures. Losing yourself in a thought or spending time quietly reflecting on the day’s events is an important part of modern life. But what if solitary thought was the only option? For many older people periods of loneliness are all too frequent. Such periods of social isolation can involve little to no contact with people for prolonged periods of time. What do these prolonged stretches of loneliness do to the brain?

To answer this question, we must consider how the brain processes the sensory and social world. The substrate of thought is the electrical activity that flows between neurons in the brain. These tiny nerve cells are connected to each other forming complex circuits that store and process sensory experience. Continue reading

A City United, Coronation Street, Take That…. and the 2018 BGS Trainees Weekend!

Dr Niamh Ni Nidh is a graduate of Manchester Medical School and ST7 Trainee in Geriatric Medicine in the North West.

A City United, the place where the atom was first split, home of Emily Pankhurst, Coronation Street, Alan Turing and computer science, The Hacienda, The Smiths, Oasis, Take That . . . .  and the 2018 BGS Trainees Weekend!

The BGS National Trainees Weekend is organised by trainees for trainees. Back in February this year, myself and 6 other local trainees got together to take on the mantel of organising the 2018 meeting. After some fallow years the now annual event was revived here in Manchester back in 2009 and we are proud to bring it back to its spiritual home once again! Continue reading

July 2017 issue of Age and Ageing journal is out now

The July 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.AA_46-03

Hot topics in this issue include:

  • Care home leadership
  • Physical restraint
  • Diet and muscle function
  • Prescribing for frail older
    adults
  • Treatment of overactive
    bladder

    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

    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

    Delivering high quality care for older people – are you sure you do?

    Dr Christine McAlpine is a geriatrician and stroke physician in Glasgow, Chair of the British Geriatrics Society Scotland Council and the geriatric medicine speciality adviser to the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland. She chaired the multiprofessional group which produced the Healthcare Improvement Scotland Standards for the care of older people in hospital, published in 2015. She tweets at @CHRISTINE030214

    bgs-principles-and-standards-page-001Health care for older people is core business for the NHS. Getting health care right for older people helps ensure we get it right for everyone.  Today the BGS publishes ‘Effective healthcare for older people; Principles and Standards‘, with a particular focus on those living with frailty.

    The Principles and Standards are for the health care of older people in any setting –  not only for geriatric medicine wards, but for all of the health care departments older people may encounter – Emergency Medicine, ophthalmology, gynaecology etc – across the spectrum of care.

    The concise 4-page paper includes core standards for care delivery and reminds us of the principles enshrined in human rights and equalities legislation. It outlines principles of health care for older people including effective, accessible and timely care; autonomy, choice and person centred care; and ensuring safety and dignity. Continue reading

    A Connection between Cognitive Decline and Metabolic Disease May Vary by Sex and Ethnicity

    Nancy West, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Population Health at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. West’s research, published in Age & Ageing, focuses on identifying risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia that will identify high-risk populations and lead to strategies for prevention.

    brainDecline in cognitive function in late adulthood has been associated with an interesting cluster of metabolic abnormalities, such as diabetes and obesity. This suggests the possibility that genetic factors that are related to metabolic disease may also be related to cognitive decline. The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) gene is known to play key roles in fat and glucose metabolism. In our study, we investigated a common mutation in the PPARG gene (Pro12Ala) to determine its relationship with cognitive decline. Continue reading

    November issue of Age and Ageing journal out now

    The November 2016 issue of Age and Ageing, the journal of the British Geriatrics Society is out now.

    aaA full table of contents is available here, with editorials, research papers, reviews, short reports, case reports book reviews and more.

    Hot topics this issue include:

    • Sarcopaenia
    • Palliative care
    • Osteocalcin and cognitive performance
    • Falls

    The Editor’s View can be read here. Continue reading

    Paramedics; Frailty detection and admission avoidance

    Dr Amy Heskett works as a Speciality Doctor within the West Kent Urgent Care Home Treatment Service. This team aims to prevent hospital admissions by working alongside GPs, nurses, carers and paramedics to provide a holistic management plan. She writes a blog about her experiences on her blog communitydoctoramy.wordpress.com and can be found on twitter @mrsapea

    paramedics-photoThe West Kent Home Treatment Service provides home-based medical treatments to avoid hospital admissions when appropriate. Referrals come from GPs, Community Nurses and Paramedics; but more importantly our team widens as soon as we start to work with patients, their family and carers.

    A day of referrals began with a call from a Paramedic who had attended V after she had fallen in her bedroom, but luckily sustained no injury. This was on a background of dementia and the need for daily support from her son to assist with meals, prompt medications and support trips made outside the home. V’s only other medical history was that of hypertension and one fall a year ago. V was normally able to get herself to the toilet and used a stick to mobilise slowly indoors; while carers attended once a day to provide personal care. Continue reading

    Book Review: Problem Solving in Older Cancer Patients

    Dr Shane O’Hanlon is a consultant geriatrician with a special interest in surgical liaison and cancer care for older people. He tweets @drohanlon

    book reviewAs geriatricians seem ever thinly spread, the possibility of us providing input to the population of older people with cancer seems challenging – especially when you consider that a majority of cancer diagnoses and deaths occur in the over 65s. However oncogeriatrics has taken root in the past 2 or 3 years and there are now a few centres nationally offering just this approach. For those geriatricians who are hoping to provide it (or oncologists who are trying to entice them) this book will be of great interest.

    “Problem solving in older cancer patients” is published in association with the Association of Cancer Physicians (ACP), and also the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) (but this of course does not affect the objectivity of this review!). It represents a great team effort by a range of geriatricians and oncologists, including trainees. Continue reading