New report argues that the UK’s unprecedented population ageing poses a set of daunting, yet not insurmountable, challenges for policymakers, institutions and healthcare providers to design better solutions fit for an ageing society | International Longevity Centre UK
The UK’s population is ageing more rapidly than ever before with the share of people aged 65+ projected to reach 1 in 4 within the next two decades. With today’s 65-year-olds expected to live, on average, 20 years beyond state pension age, the UK’s ageing population is placing considerable strain on government pension and social security systems. Moreover, as retirees come to outnumber new entrants to the workforce, labour shortages could lead to economic growth slowdowns. Finally, already over-stretched and underfunded health and social care systems will need to adapt to growing demand as they prepare to cater for an ever-growing share of the population.
This report argues that the UK’s unprecedented population ageing poses a set of daunting, yet not insurmountable, challenges for policymakers, institutions and health care providers to design better solutions fit for an ageing society. It calls for health policy reforms that focus on preventing, rather than curing disease to enable people to stay active and healthy for longer.
This report aims to understand the detrimental impact of poor housing on older people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing and contains 13 recommendations that look at the impact of poor quality, inaccessible housing on health, issues in supported housing and the private rented sector and the importance of home improvement agencies.
Review of the Decent Homes Standard to include accessibility criteria
Energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority
Integrate housing issues into health and care strategies and health and care issues into housing strategies
Legislate to ensure all new homes are built to lifetime standard
Planning and housing strategies
Restore funding for national and local housing advice services
Investment in Home Improvement Agencies and handyperson schemes
Increase funding of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)
Ensure Housing, Health and Wellbeing Grants work for older people
Adopt a national strategy on supported and specialist housing
Extend housing options available to older people
Improve conditions for private renters
Work to increase adaptations in homes and housing stock in the Private Rented Sector
University of Edinburgh | June 2019 | Yoga improves health in later life, study says
Edinburgh researchers synthesised existing evidence on the effects of yoga on physical function and health related quality of life (HRQoL) in older adults not characterised by any specific clinical condition.
The team of researchers have reviewed 22 randomised controlled trials that had investigated the effects of yoga on physical and mental wellbeing in older adults (those aged over 60). The yoga programmes in the studies varied in length and duration of sessions ranged from 30 to 90 minutes.
This review is the first to compare the impact of yoga with active and inactive controls in older adults not characterised by a specific clinical condition. The group that practised yoga were found to have improved balance, flexibility, leg strength, depression, sleep quality, vitality and perceived mental and physical health – than the controls.
The study’s findings provide robust evidence for promoting yoga in physical activity guidelines for older adults as a multimodal activity that improves aspects of fitness like strength, balance and flexibility, as well as mental wellbeing (Source: University of Edinburgh).
Yoga has been recommended as a muscle strengthening and balance activity in national and global physical activity guidelines. However, the evidence base establishing the effectiveness of yoga in improving physical function and health related quality of life (HRQoL) in an older adult population not recruited on the basis of any specific disease or condition, has not been systematically reviewed. The objective of this study was to synthesise existing evidence on the effects of yoga on physical function and HRQoL in older adults not characterised by any specific clinical condition.
The following databases were systematically searched in September 2017: MEDLINE, PsycInfo, CINAHL Plus, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, AMED and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. Study inclusion criteria: Older adult participants with mean age of 60 years and above, not recruited on the basis of any specific disease or condition; yoga intervention compared with inactive controls (example: wait-list control, education booklets) or active controls (example: walking, chair aerobics); physical function and HRQoL outcomes; and randomised/cluster randomised controlled trials published in English. A vote counting analysis and meta-analysis with standardised effect sizes (Hedges’ g) computed using random effects models were conducted.
A total of 27 records from 22 RCTs were included (17 RCTs assessed physical function and 20 assessed HRQoL). The meta-analysis revealed significant effects (5% level of significance) favouring the yoga group for the following physical function outcomes compared with inactive controls: balance (effect size (ES) = 0.7), lower body flexibility (ES = 0.5), lower limb strength (ES = 0.45); compared with active controls: lower limb strength (ES = 0.49), lower body flexibility (ES = 0.28). For HRQoL, significant effects favouring yoga were found compared to inactive controls for: depression (ES = 0.64), perceived mental health (ES = 0.6), perceived physical health (ES = 0.61), sleep quality (ES = 0.65), and vitality (ES = 0.31); compared to active controls: depression (ES = 0.54).
This review is the first to compare the effects of yoga with active and inactive controls in older adults not characterised by a specific clinical condition. Results indicate that yoga interventions improve multiple physical function and HRQoL outcomes in this population compared to both control conditions. This study provides robust evidence for promoting yoga in physical activity guidelines for older adults as a multimodal activity that improves aspects of fitness like strength, balance and flexibility, as well as mental wellbeing.
Older Men at the Margins: how men experience and combat loneliness and social isolation in later life | Age UK
Older men at the margins was a two-year study to understand how men aged 65 and over from different social backgrounds and circumstances experienced loneliness and social isolation. It also explored the formal and informal ways they sought to stay connected with others and feel less lonely. This guidance sets out the learning from the research and highlights factors to be considered to meet the diverse needs of older men through group programmes and interventions.
Human Rights Watch | January 2019| Support for older people in England
A new report from Human Rights Watch- Unmet Needs: Improper Social Care Assessments for Older People in England- finds that older people in the UK are not being given the help they need to live independently.
Interviews of 104 people between the ages of 58 and 94 and 20 family caregivers alongside interviews with stakeholders including representatives of charities, NHS staff and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) staff and policy experts to name but a few were used to compile the report. Some of the interviewees said that assessors appeared not to understand their disabilities and support needs. In other cases, before beginning an assessment, assessors announced that services would be cut regardless of an individual’s actual need. In some cases services were denied or cut significantly, affecting older people’s health and wellbeing.
Bethany Brown, researcher on older people’s rights at Human Rights Watch, said: “Older people do not always get fair assessments of the support they need to live dignified, independent lives. Older people’s health and wellbeing can be harmed if they do not get the services they are entitled to.
“Many older people in England desperately need these services and have no alternatives, so serious cuts to social services funding and an improper assessment can cause tangible risks to their health and wellbeing (Source: OnMedica).
“Oversight is a crucial part of a properly functioning system, and the UK government should make sure that local authorities consistently conduct fair and accurate assessments and deliver appropriate services.” (via OnMedica)
The Health Foundation |December 2018 |Older people living alone are 50% more likely to visit A&E than those who live with others
The Health Foundation research focuses on older adults, aged 65 and over, a group recognised as being at increased risk of social isolation, a factor known to increase risk of poor health. Previous research has indicated that poor social relationships can increase the likelihood of stroke by over a third (32%).
New research from The Health Foundation finds that older people who live alone are 50 per cent more likely to attend A&E, more likely to visit their GP, they also found almost half (49.8%) of patients aged 65 or older living alone have three or more long-term conditions, compared to 42.2% of older people living with others. People aged 65+ who live alone have a higher incidence of mental illness, with a quarter having a mental health condition, this compares to 20 % of their peers who live with others.
While the study finds a link between living alone and increased use of health care services it is unclear exactly why this is. It could be that older people living alone are more unwell due to loneliness, known to negatively impact health. Another possible explanation is that people living alone may require more assistance from the NHS when they fall ill due to a lack of immediate support at home (Source: The Health Foundation).
This review presents a selection of recent research on assistive technology for older people funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and other government funders. The review focusses on research around the use of technology in the home, remote monitoring systems and designing better environments for older people | NIHR
More people are living longer with complex conditions and needs. Technology can help people to stay living well and safely at home as they get older. But technology is changing rapidly and it can be challenging to get the right technology for the right person with the right support. There has been considerable investment recently in developing and evaluating assistive technologies for older people. But this is a relatively new field and there are important gaps in what we know.