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We’re living longer – and music helps!

In her latest News Space blog, Age Space’s Annabel James looks at news about dementia, elderly care and more…

We sort of know it, but we’re living longer

Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) prove it. More people in the UK are living into their 90s.

In 2018, the total number of people aged 90 and over increased by 0.7 per cent, from 579,776 in 2017 to 584,024. There were 13,170 people aged 100 years or more.

The number and proportion of people reaching 90 years and over has continued to grow because of more men living longer and medical advances and improvements in public health over the 20th century. These figures will have wide ranging implications for retirement planning, and for the pressures on the already strained social care system. Read more here

Sandwich carers need a break

More than half of ‘sandwich carers’ – people who look after both children and older relatives – find balancing their work and home lives difficult, according to research from wellbeing company BHSF.

BHSF estimates that 1.3 million people in the UK fall into the sandwich carer category, and London-based workers struggle the most. One in six nationally say that their responsibilities are always too much to cope with.

The report says employees in this position are in desperate need of support that extends beyond the workplace. It needs to be accessed as and when they need it – which is often outside of working hours.

If this sounds like you, remember that  has lots of information and signposts to resources that can help.

A special ED for OAPS…

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has built an emergency department for older people (OPED).

The OPED – the first in England –  is a dedicated unit with staff specialising in geriatrics and emergency medicine. It’s located 20 metres down the corridor from the main emergency department. By providing earlier access to these specialist skills it is hoped that older patients can receive faster and better care. That could also avoid the need for admission to hospital.

A more formal evaluation is underway to review the project, but the early impact of the OPED is encouraging.

…and music, music, music!

Meanwhile, playing music to dementia patients in Accident and Emergency has a calming effect on them. MP3 players played music to people with dementia as part of an eight week pilot carried out by NHS Fife.

Researchers found it reduced levels to agitation and led to patients becoming markedly less stressed. The results of the study have led to calls from specialists for the widespread use of music in A&E wards.

Hearing aids can reduce dementia risk

Hearing aids can reduce the risk of dementia, depression and serious falls in people over the age of 66, a landmark study has found.

Those wearing hearing aids within three years of a hearing loss diagnosis were 18 per cent less likely to go on to develop dementia, compared to those who failed to wear them.

Meanwhile, the risk of falls fell by 13 per cent and the risk of depression by 11 per cent in the study of 115,000 adults. Read more here

Has mum kept her driving licence?

Elderly female drivers are almost three times more likely to be involved in a road accident after a lifetime of being passengers to their husbands, according to a study by The AA.

Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust Director, said: ‘Being the default driver means men are more likely to gain greater driving experience throughout their life.

‘When they reach old age, this bank of experience is a great asset. It may be one of the reasons why men are so much more likely than women to keep their driving licence past the age of 70.”


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