DEMENTIA: Important new guide

Promising approaches to living well with dementia is a new and very comprehensive guide from Age UK.

Download Guide (pdf file)

In his introduction to the guide, Keith Oliver, an Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, neatly sums up what it has to offer:

“By starting from the perspectives of people with dementia, this guide adds to the ever growing knowledge base of what ‘living well’ really means. And, further, it offers thoughts on how this can be achieved particularly through support and engagement in meaningful activities.

This report is full of examples of interesting approaches which are already in place in some parts of this country, but as it makes clear the next step will be to open dialogues with local authorities up and down the country to reduce the current postcode lottery.

The framework the guide offers for supporting people will hopefully prove useful to those seeking to improve things, and there is comprehensive sign-posting to effective interventions for those seeking inspiration.

To place great emphasis on the rights of people affected by dementia is central to this work and is consistent with my own work with the Dementia Engagement & Empowerment Project (DEEP) Think Tank.

Rights-based approaches will be vital in taking forward our discussions with providers in the community. The new Dementia Statements set out a clear set of expectations and reminding people of these can help to ensure that people with dementia are not disregarded or overlooked. I have a copy of the new statements framed and mounted for easy reference on my office wall. Maybe all interested parties should copy this example or carry them in their diary for inspiration!

No matter who you are there is certainly something in this report for everyone touched by dementia, be they a person with a diagnosis, someone living with a person who has dementia or a professional seeking to better understand and care for those of us who seek to live as well as possible for as long as possible.

Download Guide (pdf file)


MONEY: Free Wills Month

Free Wills Month brings together a group of well-respected charities to offer members of the public aged 55 and over the opportunity to have their simple Wills written or updated free of charge by using participating solicitors in selected locations around England, Scotland and Wales.

An up to date Will written by a solicitor ensures your wishes are respected. It also avoids difficult decisions and legal complications for your loved ones. Free Wills Month allows you to provide for family and friends and leave a gift to your chosen charities too.

A gift in your Will costs you nothing now but can make a difference for years to come.

Visit the Free Wills Month website to find out how to get involved and to download a free guide to making a will.

HEALTHY AGING: Eat and Drink!

Well, here’s some good news for those of us who like a drink or two and relish our food.

Older people who put on a few extra pounds and enjoy a regular alcoholic drink are more likely to live to a ripe old age, according to new research.

Professor Claudia Kawas, a geriatric neurologist from the University of California, revealed the research at a recent science conference in the USA.

The University ran a 30-year study into people who live beyond 90 and they found that individuals who had gained weight and consumed two glasses of beer or wine per day had an 18 per cent reduced risk of premature death compared to those who abstained.

Professor Kawas, said: “As you age your body tries to put weight on. This is different to saying obesity is a good thing but maybe as you get to 60 or 70 physiologically it’s a good thing to gain weight. The best mortality experience is to gain between five and 10 pounds per decade.

“Underweight people had a 50 per cent increase in mortality. It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old.”

The researchers surveyed 17,000 people aged 55 to 100 on their lifestyles and since 2003 have been tracking more than 1,000 to learn their secrets. They found that people who drank a modest consumption of alcohol – from one or two beers or glasses of wine a week to one daily drink – lived longer on average than people who were teetotal.

People who consumed 200 to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day – about two cups of coffee – also lived longer.

Regular exercise and spending time practising a hobby were also associated with living longer, which included anything from volunteer work to attending church groups.

Professor Kawas added: “The more people you speak to outside of your own household will lower your risk [of dying].

“People think using your brain is solving a puzzle, but when you are getting out and interacting with people, you are using your brain a lot, particularly with people you are not living with.

“The number of times people get out of the house and interact with people outside of their family, that’s cognitive exercise and I think it’s no different from physical exercise. If you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s easier to keep it and harder to get it back.”


REPORT: “Flying care visits”

A new report, produced by the disability charity Leonard Cheshire Disability has highlighted the problem of “flying care visits”.

Around 20,000 people in the UK are receiving ‘flying care visits’ lasting for only 15 minutes, with at least 18,875 people receiving these visits for support with intimate personal care, the charity’s research shows. This is despite guidance in the Care Act of 2014 stating these types of visits were ‘not appropriate’ for people requiring intimate care support.

Data was obtained by the disability charity Leonard Cheshire Disability under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which was put out to local authorities across the UK.

These figures, from 2016-2017, could be even higher due to a lack of response from some of the Local Authorities contacted as part of the study.

In the report, the Government was criticised for its lack of progress on social care, with the charity stating the ‘flying visits’ were ‘indicative of a care system in crisis’. Leonard Cheshire’s chief executive Neil Heslop said: “As we approach the long-awaited government green paper on social care, the situation is tough in the sector.

“Inadequate flying visits are indicative of a care system in crisis and coupled with PIP shortcomings have rendered disabled people an increasingly embattled, beleaguered community, singled out for punitive measures.

“We will continue to campaign for the critical long-term funding that is needed to transform the provision of care and improve the quality of thousands of lives.”

Read more on this report on the website

HEALTH: Mental Wellbeing Advice

This article is taken from a new “Healthy Living” leaflet/guide from Age UK that highlights lifestyle/behaviour changes you may like to consider and the benefits they can bring.

Download the Guide (pdf)

Mental wellbeing advice

Feeling well is not just about being physically fit and healthy: it’s equally important to your overall health that you feel good mentally. Mental health is sometimes called ‘mental wellbeing’, ‘emotional health’ or ‘wellbeing’. It means how you think and feel, and how you cope with life’s ups and downs. Your mental health is just as important as good physical health and there are several things that you can do to help support your own mental wellbeing.

Social contact
Meeting friends, enjoying hobbies and getting involved in the local community is fulfilling and helps us to feel good about ourselves and life in general. Spending time with other people can prevent you from feeling lonely or anxious and gives you a chance to share experiences, thoughts and ideas.

Do the things that you enjoy
Think about the things you enjoy and make time for them. All of us are different. Perhaps you enjoy cooking or laughing at re-runs of your favourite TV programmes. Or why not treat yourself to your favourite magazine or a good book? Whatever it is, think about what makes you feel good and try to set aside some time for it every week.

Stay in touch
If you have family and friends nearby, try to meet up with them regularly or ask them to call round. Otherwise, regular phone calls can help you to stay close. The internet has
opened up more ways to stay in contact and meet new people, such as exchanging emails, using online forums and using Skype to make video phone calls.

Make plans and stay active
Most of us look forward to retirement and having time to ourselves. But when it comes it can be hard to adjust to the loss of structure to your day and the purpose that working life gave you. Retirement doesn’t have to mean an end to keeping active and discovering new things. Setting yourself goals, however small, can give you a sense of achievement and motivation. Planning
days out or arranging activities for the week or month ahead will give you something to look forward to and keep you feeling positive.

If you’re feeling down for a while
Although no one feels 100 per cent happy all of the time, if you are feeling out of sorts and have any of the symptoms below for two weeks or more you may be suffering from depression. Depression is just as significant as any physical illness and is not an inevitable part of getting older. If you have any of the symptoms above, speak to your GP and explain how you’re feeling. Together you can then agree on what may be best for you. They may suggest talking treatments, which involve talking to someone who is specially trained to help you manage your thoughts and feelings and the effect they have on you.

HEALTH: Good Foot Care

This article is taken from a new “Healthy Living” leaflet/guide from Age UK that highlights lifestyle/behaviour changes you may like to consider and the benefits they can bring.

Download the Guide (pdf)

Foot care advice from Age UK

It’s vital to look after your feet and basic daily foot care should include:

washing in warm soapy water (but don’t soak your feet too long – it destroys their natural oils, causing dry skin)

drying carefully, particularly between the toes

applying foot cream containing urea which hydrates the skin (don’t apply between the toes)

lightly applying foot powder.

Wear clean socks each day. Don’t wear the same shoes every day and always choose ones that support your feet but aren’t too tight. Wearing natural materials such as leather, wool and cotton will allow your feet to breathe. It’s important to pay attention to any changes to your feet. Contact your GP if they become painful, feel noticeably hot or cold or if there is a change in their colour.

If you have corns,bunions, an ingrown toenail or other common foot problems, report these to your practice nurse too. Cutting toenails regularly and straight across prevents ingrown toenails. You could file them daily instead if you find that easier. If you have health problems such as diabetes you may be able to get NHS help with cutting your toenails. Talk to your GP to find out more.

LEAFLET: It’s never too late!

It’s never too late to think about adopting a healthier lifestyle. That doesn’t mean you suddenly have to change your diet and start spending every day at the gym. Just a few small changes can make a big difference – helping you to feel better, have more energy and sleep more soundly.

Research shows that having a positive attitude to life in general, and to getting older, can help you enjoy better health. Choosing activities that give you an opportunity to meet people or play an active role in your local community can help too.

It’s also important to remember to look after your body, especially your feet, eyes and ears.

A new leaflet/guide from Age UK highlights changes you may like to consider and the benefits they can bring.

Download the Guide (pdf)