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

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

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

Geriatric co-management: where is the evidence?

Bastiaan Van Grootven is a PhD researcher at the KU Leuven – University of Leuven in Belgium. His paper Effectiveness of in-hospital geriatric co-management: a systematic review and meta-analysis has recently been published in Age and Ageing. He tweets at @accentvv

Hospitals have long been recognized as a hazardous environment for frail patients. To date, care is still sub-optimal: cognitive and functional problems are not recognised or treated properly and patients are at high risk for delirium and functional decline. In our study, we reviewed 12 experimental studies to evaluate if geriatric co-management can improve outcomes for older in-patients. Co-management was defined as a shared responsibility and decision making between a medical doctor (e.g. surgeon) and geriatrician (or geriatric team) aiming to prevent and treat geriatric complications. Continue reading

Retirees leaving sociable workplaces may experience accelerated cognitive decline

A study published recently in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, provides new evidence that workers retiring from occupations which involve high levels of social stimulation may be at greater risk of accelerated cognitive decline in later life.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at University of Liège, in collaboration with the Universities of Bordeaux and South Florida, surveyed 1,048 individuals over the age of 65 from Bordeaux. Participants were evaluated at 2 year intervals for a period of 12 years. Psychologists’ evaluations included detailed assessments of subjects’ mental cognition, general health and information about their former occupation. Three independents raters were asked to evaluate the level of social and intellectual stimulation for each occupation. Continue reading

If frailty is viewed by some as a “commissioning Trojan Horse” this should be admitted

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. Here he responds to Steve Parry’s recent BGS blog, The Frailty Industry: Too Much Too Soon?  He tweets at @dr_shibley.

In response to Steve Parry’s recent BGS blog, The Frailty Industry: Too Much Too Soon?, I would simply in this article like to set out some of the strengths and weaknesses in the conceptualisation of frailty, with some pointers about “where now?

There is, actually, no international consensus definition of frailty (although there is one of a related term “cognitive frailty”).

In a world of fierce competition for commissioning, and equally intense political lobbying in health and social care, the danger is that a poorly formulated notion becomes merely a “Trojan Horse” for commissioning.

I must humbly depart from the views of some colleagues – for me, frailty is not just a word. I could likewise point to other single words which cause gross offence, which are unrepeatable in my blogpost here. Continue reading

Systematic reviews for studies of older people

Susan Shenkin is Associate Editor for Systematic Reviews at Age and Ageing journal. She has recently published Systematic reviews: guidance relevant for studies of older people. She tweets at @SusanShenkin

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are increasingly common. Our recent article in Age and Ageing journal aims to provide guidance for people conducting systematic reviews relevant to the healthcare of older people. It’s essential that systematic reviews are performed by a team which includes the required technical and clinical expertise: if you’re planning to do a review, ask for advice and support early. We hope that highlighting these issues will also help people reading systematic reviews to determine whether the results will influence their clinical practice. Here is a summary of ‘good practice points’. Continue reading

Attitudes and opportunities: Medical students’ and doctors’ attitudes towards older patients

Dr Rajvinder Samra is a Chartered Psychologist working as a Lecturer in Health and Social Care at The Open University. She enjoys researching the influence of attitudes and personality in medical settings and tweets at @RajvinderSamra Read her Age and Ageing Paper.

Social psychologists have been interested in attitudes for about 90 years now. Debate rages on about how much of what we do can be predicted from our attitudes. No doubt, over the past year, you will have read newspaper articles about how much someone’s attitude to a prominent issue covered in the media predicted their likelihood to vote for Brexit or Trump. This is an example of the attitude-behaviour link and the media trying to establish patterns so we can understand society better. The influence of attitudes on healthcare are frequently overlooked, but doctors’ or patients’ cognitive reasoning, preferences, values and emotions (i.e. all the things that come together to make up attitudes) can have a significant and meaningful impact on how services can, or should be, delivered. Continue reading

Walking now prevents dementia later, study finds

A new study published in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, suggests maintaining a higher level of physical activity during middle age may be a key strategy for the prevention of dementia in older age.

Past studies have suggested that physical activity such as walking can be a protective factor against dementia but this study suggests that maintaining a higher level of physical activity before older age is more important for the prevention of dementia than physical activity only in older age. Continue reading

Who’s our jolly good Fellow?

The Editorial Board of Age and Ageing is delighted to announce the launch of a Fellowship attached to the Age and Ageing Journal.

This opportunity is intended for trainees who plan a career in geriatric medicine who are interested in medical publishing. The 2-year appointment will run concurrently with the Fellow’s usual clinical post (or during period out of programme for research).

The Fellow will learn about manuscript preparation, peer review, manuscript editing, and journal production.

Roles will include involvement in general Journal business including handling submissions (under the supervision of the Editor or Associate Editor). Continue reading