Happy 70th Birthday BGS!

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

bgs_70thlogo_pinkThe year is the BGS’s 70th birthday, so I’d like to mark it by wishing all our members a Very Very Happy Birthday.

Our specialty grew from the work of an indomitable woman (the eponymous Marjory Warren (of MW House fame) who identified the potential for improvement in older people living in hospital wards of a workhouse like nature. She found conditions amenable to treatment or rehabilitation, and demonstrated that a large number of the inpatients (who were expected to live and die in that hospital ward) could be discharged from hospital after suitable attention. Continue reading

The UK versus the Netherlands: Where would you want your grandmother to be looked after?

Barry Evans and Rachel Cowan are Specialty Trainees in Geriatric Medicine currently working as Clinical Fellows in Quality Improvement for Integrated Medicine in the East Midlands. They recently had the opportunity to undertake an exchange with Anouk Kabboord – Elderly Care Physician trainee in the Netherlands.

dutchAt a time when the European narrative is being rewritten, a common challenge facing all European nations is population ageing. Seeing and learning from different European countries’ responses to an ageing population is an invaluable opportunity to learn, discuss and share innovation between countries. As part of Health Education East Midlands’ Quality Improvement Fellowship, we were recently able to set up an exchange between the UK and the Netherlands for geriatricians in training to see and learn from each other’s working environments. Continue reading

Accurate delirium screening when there is no carer available – impossible, right?

Suzanne Timmons is a geriatrician working in Mercy University hospital, Cork and a senior lecturer in University College Cork. She has a big clinical and research interest in delirium and dementia care in hospitals.

delirium-flatDelirium  is common in older people admitted to hospital, and is a serious condition that needs to be identified quickly on admission. But many busy hospital staff still don’t routinely screen older people for delirium, even when they have known dementia (dementia puts people at very high risk of delirium: see the Cork Dementia Study).

In this study, we tested out five simple cognitive tests to see if they could be used to screen for delirium. The tests were: the Six-item Cognitive Impairment Test (6-CIT; measuring attention, orientation to time, and short-term memory); the Clock-Drawing test; Spatial Span Forwards (pointing to a sequence of squares in a certain order); reciting the months of the year backwards (MOTYB); and copying a shape containing two intersecting pentagons. Continue reading

Can Irish set dancing benefit your health?

Joanne Shanahan is a Chartered Physiotherapist and Irish set dancing teacher. She completed her PhD in the University of Limerick. Joanne was the lead co-author of “Set dancing for people with Parkinson’s disease: an information resource for Irish set dancing teachers”. In this blog Joanne discusses her research.

irishSet dancing is an Irish cultural and social dance form. It involves dancing in a group of eight (sometimes four) people and is accompanied by the lively distinct beat of Irish dance music. Today set dancing is enjoyed by people worldwide with classes, workshops and ceilis organised all year round. Until recently the health benefits of set dancing were unknown. Recent Age and Aging publications by Shanahan et al. (2016), presented at the Irish Gerontology Society Annual Meeting 2016, have informed this question. Continue reading

‘Five a day’ keep dementia away, say researchers

fruit-and-vegHaving at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit daily might help prevent dementia in older adults according to a study published today in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, followed the cognitive status of 17,700 dementia-free older adults for 6 years. The objective was to investigate whether those consuming at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits daily, in line with the World Health Organisation recommendation, were at a lower risk of developing dementia. Continue reading

Older HIV-Infected Adults are Geriatricians’ Business

Fátima Brañas is a consultant geriatrician and the clinical lead for orthogeriatrics at the Infanta Leonor University Hospital in Madrid (Spain). She holds a PhD, specializing in HIV infection in older adults, and is working hard in this field—from both a clinical and a research point of view—to provide all the benefits of a geriatric assessment for older HIV-infected adults. She recently co-authored ‘Frailty and physical function in older HIV-infected adults @FatimaBranas

hivThe HIV-infected population is aging due to the success of combination antiretroviral therapy, which prolongs survival, and also because of the growing number of newly diagnosed cases in older adults. Nowadays, over half of people infected with HIV are older than fifty years, which is the age cutoff accepted by the scientific community to consider someone an HIV-infected older adult. Fifty is only their chronological age, but biologically they are older, as accelerated aging in this population has been demonstrated. So, it seems that in the coming years, HIV care is going to be focused on a growing group of older adults and their specific problems. This means more than only survival, infection control, or avoiding the adverse events caused by antiretroviral drugs; it also includes consideration of comorbidities, polypharmacy, functional decline, and geriatric syndromes. Continue reading

MAPLE-V: Taking a collateral history for cognition

Rebecca Winter is an Elderly Medicine registrar; she is currently taking a year out of programme as a Clinical Education Fellow at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS). Twitter: @rebeccawinter27

Muna Al-Jawad is an Elderly medicine consultant at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton. She works on a mixed acute medical and mental health ward.

mapleIt’s a familiar scenario, you are on your Elderly Medicine placement and you are asked: “Can you get collateral history about Mrs Smith´s cognition?” You don´t want to miss anything, but what exactly do they want to know?

Dementia is an increasingly common and important condition. In the UK, at least one quarter of acute hospital beds are occupied by patient with dementia, with admissions spread across a broad range of specialties. (1) Despite this, the UK National Dementia Strategy (2) has highlighted deficiencies in behaviour and skills of healthcare professionals caring for people with dementia. Continue reading

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

Desperately Seeking Ethics: Reflections on attending a research ethics committee meeting

Liz Charalambous is a nurse and PhD student. She tweets at @lizcharalambou and is a regular guest blogger for the BGS.

me-fbI am in the second year of a PhD researching volunteers in dementia and acute hospitals. The project came about as part of my clinical work as a staff nurse in older person acute care. It was while working on a prevention of delirium research study, I realised that volunteers could play an important role.

The first year of my PhD has been spent mainly completing modules and designing the project from scratch. I have lost track of how many drafts of countless documents have been sent to my long suffering supervisors as they guide me towards refining my ideas, sifting through my thousands of words to put together a robust study which will stand up to scrutiny. 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