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

The frailty journey so far: where are we heading?

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. In 2016 Martin was appointed National Clinical Director for Older People and Person Centred Integrated Care at NHS England. Here he discusses the 3rd National Frailty Conference which will be held on 28 September 2017 in Leeds. He tweets @runnermandoc 

The 19th Century term ‘watershed’ refers to a ridge of high ground separating bodies of water flowing in different directions. With this in mind I believe the 3rd National Frailty Conference in Leeds this year truly does mark a watershed moment. It will provide a valuable and timely opportunity both to reflect and add clarity to the new direction of travel we are taking with routine frailty identification and intervention for older people on a national scale. Make no mistake: bringing frailty into the mainstream is game changing.

Over the last year I have been continually impressed by the enthusiasm, ingenuity and commitment around the country focused on improving care and outcomes for our expanding and ageing population.  As a health and care system collectively we have much to celebrate from the hard work already done. Continue reading

Why I’m Fine with “Frailty”

Professor David Oliver is a Past President of the BGS, clinical vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians, and a consultant in geriatrics and acute general medicine at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. Here he responds to Steve Parry’s recent BGS blog, The Frailty Industry: Too Much Too Soon? He tweets @mancunianmedic

Dr Steve Parry’s recent blog here, “The Frailty Industry. Too much too soon” certainly generated a great deal of hits and online responses. He is a well-respected geriatrician, has done sterling work for our speciality and we are friends in a speciality where solidarity and mutual respect are wonderfully the norm.

The more I reflect, the more I realise that none involved in the debate are a million miles apart in any case. We have all devoted our professional lives to the skilled multidisciplinary care of older people, especially those with the most complex needs; to the speciality of geriatric medicine; to the leadership of local services; to the education of the next generation of geriatricians and to developing the evidence base for practice.  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

Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds

Dr Zoe Wyrko is a Consultant physician at University Hospital Birmingham and is the Director of Workforce for the BGS. In this blog she discusses the recent Channel 4 programme in which she appeared, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. She tweets @geri_baby

I’ve always had a soft spot for care homes. As a child I would occasionally go into work with my Mum and meet some of the old ladies she talked about. When I was older I started work in the same nursing home as a kitchen girl on Saturdays, and then later progressed to health care assistant. I remain proud of my training record from that time, showing I am competent to deliver personal care, clean dentures and cut nails.

This is why I was excited when an approach came from CPL productions, who were looking for geriatricians to be involved with a television programme they wanted to make about introducing children to a care home environment. Continue reading

The Frailty Industry: Too Much Too Soon?

Steve Parry works in acute medicine and older people’s medicine. He has a special interest in investigation and treatment of falls and blackouts in adult patients of all ages. He is BGS Vice President – Academic and Research.

Fashions come and go, in clothing, news and even movie genres. Medicine, including geriatric medicine, is no exception. When I was a trainee, falls and syncope was the next big thing, pursued with huge enthusiasm by a few who became the many. But when does a well-meaning medical fashion become a potentially destructive fad? Frailty, quite rightly, has developed from something geriatricians and allied professionals always did to become a buzz word even neurosurgeons bandy about. No bad thing for all professionals who see older people to have awareness of the recognition and management of this vulnerable and resource intensive patient group. Continue reading

Frailty among older persons living with HIV: a new burden for their clinical care

Alfonso Zamudio-Rodriguez holds a master’s degree in Public Health and is interested in frailty of older persons living with HIV. He develops his work in the department of Dr. Ávila-Funes @geriatriainnsz at the National Institute of Medical Science and Nutrition Salvador Zubiran, Mexico City.

Population ageing remains a continuous challenge for health care providers due to the escalating number of patients with chronic conditions. This represents a considerable economic burden for health systems across the globe. Ever since its debut in the 80’s, prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has captured the attention of the scientific community. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) radically modified the paradigm of living with HIV by prolonging survival and improving the prognosis of a previously terminal disease. Today, thanks to HAART, HIV is a chronic condition with a life expectancy similar to that of the general population and a significantly improved quality of life. However, the changes in survival for HIV infected individuals have unearthed the appearance at an earlier age of health problems that used to be observed exclusively in older adults. Continue reading

Framing the narrative of frailty differently will help to promote wellbeing

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 a passionate interest in rights-based approaches which he accrued as part of his postgraduate legal training. He tweets at @dr_shibley.

It’s great that frailty as a ‘brand’ is getting so much publicity, but is it all the right kind of publicity? For example, “Our treatment of the frail elderly is a national scandal”, Sunday Express, 8 March 2011. (cited in Manthorpe and Iliffe, 2015)

But some of the copy has been to generate a “moral panic”, defined as a feeling of fear spread among a large number of people that some evil threatens the well-being of society. Continue reading

A call for collaboration…

Cassandra Leese is a Nurse, Clinical Supervisor and a wannabe dog owner.  She occasionally remembers to tweet @contrarylass

In today’s economic climate, when health and social care are really feeling the crunch, I often find myself feeling morose about the future. Day after day we see the terrible pressures our overstretched services are under, read about the heartbreaking death of another promising doctor burnt out from battling it out in secondary care; or hear about another valuable service making drastic cuts. And selfishly, I’m rather cross that all this seems to have come at a time when I’m incredibly excited to have finally found my place in the nursing landscape, that of gerontology and geriatrics. Coming along to my first BGS West Midlands meeting this spring was a welcome reprieve from the madness spewed daily by the tabloids and renewed my faith that the good guys are still out there! 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