We’ve had some lovely weather this week, as a heatwave swept across the country! Down here in London it’s been especially warm, with temperatures reaching as high as 29°C – far higher than the typical average for this time of year, 22°C. According to the Evening Standard, some roads have become so hot that they have started to melt and stick to tyres! Meanwhile BBC news suggests that the warm weather is set to continue for at least another two weeks, if you can believe such a thing! Although, we still have a way to beat the record of the 1976 heatwave, which […]
Later life should be a time of enjoyment and growth, but with cuts in local authority spending on older people and continuing pressures on the NHS, the picture often painted is a bleak one. In recent years resilience and self-care have become buzzwords around older peoples services, but are they just code for “cuts”, or is there something more to this movement? If we know what ageing well might look like, what can we put in place in the way of resilience and self-care that can make that a reality?
Our CEO Paul Goulden investigates resilience and self-care – what we can do for older people in our community, and what barriers need to be overcome.
“Technology needs to be at the forefront of this new era of social care. Technology companies such as Babylon and Google DeepMind are already starting to make significant progress towards empowering patients to improve the care they receive. Babylon, for example, offers healthcare via a mixture of artificial intelligence and video and text conversations with doctors and specialists. However, up until now, social care has failed to take advantage of digital innovation and advances in health technology.”
Technology has transformed the way we shop, travel and live our everyday lives. Healthcare company Cera argues that technology needs to transform the social care system too.
This week on the blog, we’re looking into falls prevention. But first of all, here are some scary statistics: One third of people over the age of 65 fall every year Falls are leading cause of injury in older adults Over 400,000 older people attend Accident and Emergency Departments annually as a result of falls So why do we need to look at falls prevention? Clearly with the emphasis in the health service of reducing unplanned admissions, falls represent a huge area for improvement, and one that would have a massive impact on a stretched NHS. But the consequences of […]
“Age UK’s recent Wellbeing Index went so far as to say that social and civic participation and creative and cultural participation are hugely important, together making up almost 1/8th of total wellbeing in later life. Furthermore, research by the Arts Council England in 2016 found that 76% of older people said arts and culture was important in making them feel happy, while over half of those surveyed said that arts and culture helped them to meet other people as well as encouraging them to get out and about. Meanwhile, the Mental Health Foundation discovered increased confidence and self-esteem amongst participants that were engaged in forms of participatory art.”
Research suggests that arts and culture are vital to older people’s mental health and wellbeing. We investigate the research and discuss some of the barriers to participation for older people.
“The London local elections are rapidly approaching, with polling day set for Thursday May 3rd. Four years on from the last London borough elections, all London borough councillor seats are set to be decided, alongside Mayoral contests in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets.
As London continues to grow in size, the number of older Londoners is increasing too – a 2016 estimate revealed that over a million Londoners were aged 65+ and 140,000 of that total were over the age of 85. A socially and economically diverse demographic, older Londoners contribute massively to every borough of the capital, as paid workers, volunteers, carers, family members, community activists, and in a whole host of other ways. As the number of older Londoners continues to increase, so too will these vital contributions to city life.
However, there are also a large number of older Londoners who are experiencing poverty and inequality, just like London’s other demographics. Whilst poverty amongst older people had been falling, there has sadly been a recent increase in the number of people who have dipped below the poverty line in later life. London’s housing crisis continues to affect people of all ages, with a serious lack of affordable housing in many areas. Loneliness too is an intergenerational concern, yet isolation is a particular concern for the older generation. The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness has discovered that ‘more than 1 in 3 people aged 75 and over say that feelings of loneliness are out of their control.'”
Age UKs across London are proud to present “Make London’s Boroughs Age Friendly!” a manifesto for the upcoming London borough Council elections.
“Sometimes we are led to believe that projects such as a ten minute theatre performance by amateur actors with dementia is successful, but this may not be the case as an unusual and sophisticated art project doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of the participants. There is a hidden danger in progressive projects which are sometimes designed to attract participants and promote the work of the company or facilitator organising them, and not to serve the needs of the participants. It’s a blessing that so many artists and organisations are using art in healthcare settings but most of the time there are no assessments of the individuals’ needs or an evaluation of these projects. We keep proving success by showing pictures with older people laughing while they are holding a puppet or a brush. If the camera lens is focused on a happy older lady doing yoga, then out of frame is likely to be an older man with advanced dementia, who is asleep on an armchair. Does this make this activity successful?”
Activities in care homes can have a huge impact upon the lives of older people, but we must make sure the workshops cater to the needs of the participants, not the performers! Eirini Dermitzaki explores how we can make sure care home activities best serve older Londoners.
For people of any age, research has found that music can inspire particular emotions or senses, conjure vivid memories, and create an atmosphere of collaboration, euphoria and closeness.
In some cases, individuals suffering from age-related illness have recognised loved ones after listening to favourite songs. Research by the charity Music For My Mind has advocated for inclusion of music in the standard therapy for dementia. Many of an individual’s most robust memories will be their earliest, including the music of their teenage years and all its associated emotions.
Live music in particular is able to create this effect even more vividly – by bringing the performance and collaboration directly to the viewer, and creating an event where groups of people can enjoy similar sensations, together.
The Royal Albert Hall’s Songbook Programme brings live music to older Londoners. Find out how to get involved!
“It’s estimated that 1.2 million people are chronically lonely in the UK. The support structures for loneliness aren’t always strong, and it’s believed that around one in ten people visit their GP surgery because they are lonely. According to a report by the Campaign to End Loneliness, around two fifths of older people said that television was their main source of company. The pain associated with loneliness, has been compared to physical pain and the health effects of loneliness are astounding. It’s been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is estimated to be twice as deadly as obesity. In addition, the risk of developing high blood pressure, dementia, depression and anxiety increase for those dealing with loneliness.”
With over 44,000 older Londoners described as “chronically lonely”, Ryan Mizzen looks at the consequences of a lack of physical contact on the health and wellbeing of older people.
“The benefits of looking at an older person’s health and social care needs are clear. If an older person continually goes to the doctor with conditions that just don’t seem to improve, the doctor may not know that this person is having to make daily choices on heating their home or buying food. Similarly a social worker may find a client confused or unsteady on their feet, not knowing that the GP has changed their medication.”
Following the Cabinet Reshuffle, our CEO Paul Goulden analyses the new position of Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and discusses the ways in which this could impact upon the lives of older Londoners.