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

Selfie with a centenarian!

Esther Clift is a Consultant Practitioner Trainee in Frailty, and Vice Chair of the BGS nurses and AHP Council. She is undertaking a Doctorate in Clinical Practice at Southampton University on the uptake of exercise by older people. She was inspired by an interview with Dr Frankland on the Today Programme, and went to ask him about his own use of exercise.

‘I just think he should have told me, I’m not stupid!’ – Dr AW Frankland reflects on his introduction to Strength and Balance exercises.

Dr AW Frankland was born the year the Titanic sank, and started medical school in Oxford when Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister. He was supervised by Sir Alexander Fleming at St Marys and is described as the ‘grandfather of allergy research’. His daily hour long supervisions with Fleming never included discussing patients – ‘he was a pure scientist, who wanted to talk about science.’ Continue reading

Esther Clift’s African Blog Series; Part 4 ‘Healthy ageing’

Esther Clift is a Consultant Practitioner Trainee in Frailty with Health Education Wessex. This is the final part of a four part BGS blog series about her time in Africa. She tweets @EstherClift

healthy-ageing“Healthy ageing” is defined by the World report on ageing and health as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age.

What does that look like in developing countries?

I have had the privilege of travelling through some of Kenya and Uganda and I asked how people view their prospects, as they grow older. Some like Nathani in rural Jinja, Uganda, a retired academic and researcher with a PhD from Strathclyde University felt that his future was tied up in his land, and his children. He had both, and at 74 was fit and well, and held in high esteem by his community. He described his children as his wealth. Continue reading

Mitochondria, mobility and ageing

Amanda Natanek is a Clinical Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London and a Consultant Physician at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust. She is raising awareness of the clinical relevance of mitochondrial function and the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle in conditions associated with ageing, by holding the first international symposium on this topic next month.

amandaMitochondria are fascinating organelles. Thought to have originated as aerobic bacteria that became engulfed by primitive eukaryotic cells, they are the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell. By generating ATP efficiently through a chain of oxygen-requiring reactions, they fuel the multitude of active processes that keep the cell ticking over. When a cell’s time is up, mitochondria are triggers of cell death. Continue reading

One in three babies born in 2012 will live to reach 100

One of the perennials I get asked to comment on as a geriatrician are Office of National Statistics population projections and what they mean for geriatricians, older people, older patients and the population as a whole.

The most recent ONS paper to draw attention can be found here.

The headline statistic from this – one in three babies born in 2012 will live to see their 100th birthday – was sufficiently compelling to attract the attention of the lay media.

The Telegraph focussed on the financial challenges of providing pensions for the expanding cohort of octo- and nonagenarians.

The Scotsman took a more equivocal stance, worrying about the impact on the health service, whilst also praising the achievements in public health and healthcare underpinning the ever increasing life expectancy.

I was asked to appear on BBC Radio Nottingham to comment on this today (available for 6 days). Before the interview they played a “vox pop” of people on the high street. A consensus was evident, that quantity of life was desirable but only if it came with some quality of life. The challenge for us as geriatricians, as we attempt (and at times struggle) to support a rapidly expanding number of patients with dementia (cf: the National Dementia Strategy) and in care homes (cf: Quest for Quality), is to keep this objective firmly centre-stage.