Loneliness threatens life of elderly as Government mobilises to tackle problem

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Ester Ranzen, chair of Silver Line
A co-ordinated effort, bringing together care agencies and local authorities, to tackle loneliness amongst the elderly has been launched by the Government.
 For the first time local authorities will identify areas where older people suffer most acutely from loneliness to allow them to tackle the growing problem of social isolation and its harmful effects, announced Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
By mapping areas where loneliness is high, better care can be targeted at those who need it most – including older people.
Research clearly shows us that loneliness can affect health – it increases the risk of heart disease, puts people at greater risk of blood clots and dementia, and makes them more likely to exercise less and drink more. Socially isolated and lonely adults are also more likely to undergo early admission into residential or nursing care.
The new measure of social isolation, launched as part of the updated Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework for 2013/14, is part of a package of plans to address the challenges of caring for an ageing population Рincluding £20m announced today to help thousands of older people stay warm and healthy over the winter.
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said:
“Tackling loneliness, by giving people better care and improved services, is another step towards making the UK one of the best places to live in Europe for older people.
 
“I want the highest standards of treatment and care in our hospitals, in our care homes and in the community – and that means looking at whatever is needed to drive improvements.
 
“We need a measure of loneliness to shine a light on this problem and to know what we are dealing with.  Once we have this solid evidence, local communities will have new tools to come up with the right, targeted solutions to the problem.”
Further research shows that:
  •  more than half of those over the age of 75 live alone – with about one in ten suffers ‘intense’ loneliness;
  • half of older people – more than five million – say that the television is their main company;
  • 17 per cent of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week, and 11% are in contact less than once a month;
As a result of this new measure, local authorities will be able to compare data about how lonely or isolated the people in their area report to be. This information will help them identify how serious the problem is in their communities and what action is needed to tackle it.
Laura Ferguson, Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness said:
“Loneliness is a major health issue. An effective measure of isolation and loneliness is an important step to improving the lives of the hundreds of thousands of older people who are chronically lonely. This national measure can only help those making local health and care decisions to prioritise loneliness as a health issue, and one that they will tackle.”
Chair of The Silver Line, Esther Rantzen CBE said:”Loneliness creates a loss of confidence, an erosion of self-esteem, so that the front door becomes as solid as a brick wall and as impossible to break through. Some older people told me that they have nobody to speak to at all for weeks on end.  
“And yet there are many varied projects and organisations all over the UK, often staffed by volunteers, who could break through this life-threatening isolation, if older people knew whom to contact.   That is why we are in the process of creating a special helpline for older people, The Silver Line, which pilots from the end of November for three months and will launch nationally next year, and which will offer advice, information and friendship. We will have an important role in linking callers to the existing services in their local areas and we hope that our high profile will enable us to reach people who are at the moment totally isolated. Our slogan will be, “No question too big, no problem too small, no need to be alone.”  
Paul Najsarek, ADASS and Corporate Director for Adult Services at London’s Harrow Council said:
“The development of the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework for 2013/14 has been a genuinely collaborative process between the Department of Health and local government. We strongly support the emphasis on the greater alignment of the framework with the Public Health and NHS Outcomes Frameworks – shared outcomes will drive the more efficient use of resources, and more seamless, joined-up care pathways. 
“The framework’s focus on people’s experiences of care and support is welcome – in particular, a new measure of social isolation among users of care and carers will bring a renewed focus to efforts to support people to maintain the connections to their communities which are so vital to their wellbeing. This year’s framework marks a significant step forward, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department to build on the framework in future years”.
This announcement comes as Jeremy Hunt revealed that thousands of people across the country will benefit from a share of £20 million of Government money to help them stay safe and well during the cold winter months.
Council projects will receive a total of £20 million from the Warm Homes, Health People fund. This will help them run innovative schemes to help vulnerable people keep warm and safe and prevent people needing to go to hospital during the winter months.
The new measure forms part of the new Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework and updated Public Health Outcomes Framework for 2013/14. The Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework measures the quality of our care and support, and how well that care helps people to stay well and independent, and able to play an active role in their communities.   As the problems of  loneliness and social isolation can affect everyone, not just users of care services and carers, the Department of Health is working to develop a population based measure of loneliness.
The updated framework includes:
  •  Social isolation – a new measure of social isolation for users of care and support and carers, in response to the key White Paper commitment to address loneliness and social isolation (shared with PHOF)
  • Dementia care – a new measure to promote joined up working across adult social care and the NHS, to improve the quality of life and sustain the independence of people with dementia (shared with NHSOF)
  • Integrated care – a new measure on people’s experience of seamless, integrated care (shared with NHSOF)
  • Reablement – a new measure of the effectiveness of reablement care in supporting people to maintain their independence
 
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Activity holidays boost mental health, say experts

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London:
Depression Awareness Week
, which aims to increase the public’s awareness of a very common illness runs from April 20-26.

The campaign is also aimed at getting us to focus on our lifestyles to make sure we are not only healthy in body but also in mind.

Spending time outdoors to improve your mental health is known as ¬Ďecotherapy¬í and it¬ís something that mental health experts believe we should be focusing on more.

This needn’t be vigorous exercise, beneficial therapeutic activities also include a gentle walk or spending time in the garden. Studies have shown that being outdoors really does have positive effects on your mental health.

Leading mental health charity ¬ĎMind¬í undertook an experiment where a walk outdoors was compared to a walk indoors. 71% of participants on the ¬ĎGreen walk¬í said that they felt less tense and reported decreased levels of depression.

With the unpredictable British weather and work/home commitments it can be hard to find the time and energy to spend time outdoors so activity holidays are being increasingly popular.

Choosing a holiday where the focus is on exploring new scenery and getting back to nature is an ideal way to ensure you are keeping active. You probably won’t even realise how much exercise you’re doing! An escorted tour is an option you may not have considered before, but it is a great way to constantly explore new surroundings at a gentle pace.


Jetsave
, who specialise in Florida holidays and Escorted Tours, feature a tour that shows you the ¬ĎBest of the West¬í, taking you through some of the amazing locations in Western USA and Canada. The tour starts in Vancouver and journeys through stunning landmarks including Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains.

There’s plenty of opportunities for those who enjoy rambling to visit new locations each day with the chance to spot local wildlife on the way. The tour goes through 8 national parks and you can expect to see buffalo, deer, bobcats and black deer on the way.

If you want to stay a bit closer to home, a walking holiday to Italy’s Lake Garda (pictured above) is also a great way to stay active while taking in the stunning scenery around you.
Thomson Lakes
offer great package deals to countries all across Europe, from the tranquil lakes of Italy to the dramatic mountain & lake scenery of Switzerland all with breathtaking views that are guaranteed to help you unwind.

Research has also shown that walking outside and especially by water can be an effective way of helping to combat mild depression. So whether it’s a national park and nature that will help you unwind or the serenity of water that will create calm in your life make sure you take stock this Depression Awareness week and look after you.

Reduce your risk of dementia

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London: The Alzheimer’s Society today launched a national campaign to reduce people’s risk of dementia as the count down to Dementia Awareness Week begins.

Running from the 6 ¬Ė 12 July 2008, Dementia Awareness Week will challenge people to reduce their risk of developing dementia, a condition that affects one in three people who live past the age of 65. Already over 700 000 people in the UK have dementia and millions more families are affected. This number is set to increase dramatically to over a million people by 2025.

Alzheimer’s Society Ambassadors, Fiona Phillips, Russell Grant, Lynda Bellingham and Ruth Langsford are among the high profile supporters of the campaign.

Alzheimer¬ís Society is launching a revised edition of ¬ĎBe head strong¬í, a free advice booklet showing how people can reduce their risk of dementia. It contains nutritional information on what types of foods to eat, exercise activities and information to help dispel existing myths about dementia.

The booklet urges people to follow a healthy diet, get active and not smoke. People are also being encouraged to visit their GP and get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked.

A recent survey by Alzheimer’s Society found that dementia is the condition we fear most in old age yet many people do not realise there are things we can do to reduce our risk.

Background information
¬∑ Copies of the Alzheimer¬ís Awareness Week brochure ¬ĎBe Headstrong. Challenge your risk of Dementia¬í are available on request.

· www.challengedementia.org.ukwill be launched on 24 April 2008 containing information to reduce your risk and

· 1 in 3 older people will end their lives with a form of dementia

· 700,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, more than half have Alzheimer’s disease. In less than 20 years nearly a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to 1.7 million people by 2051. 1 in 6 people over 80 have dementia.

· Alzheimer’s Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and those who care for them. Alzheimer’s Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

· As a charity, Alzheimer’s Society depends on the generosity of the public to help it care, research and campaign for people with dementia. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visitingwww.alzheimers.org.uk

· Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Helpline number is 0845 300 0336 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk

Smart technology to help dementia sufferers goes on trial

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London: As part of a project looking into helping dementia sufferers remain in their own homes for as long as possible, a flat within a Sheltered Housing Scheme in the UK town of Bristol has been converted into a prototype ¬ĎSmart Home¬í by APH Limited using KNX technology.

APH is a member of the KNX UK Association and was asked to tailor an intelligent design to suit the requirements of the occupant of the flat. KNX smart technology is employed to monitor the occupant’s activity and sounds a warning when it thinks there may be a problem. Special sensors have been fitted into the flat that can tell, for example, if the front door is being opened at night. In this particular flat, wireless light switches, motion detectors, speakers and a voice messaging system have been installed. Coercive messages pre-recorded by the occupant’s family are then played when appropriate.

The smart technology in the flat provides a front door sensor to detect if the door is opened at an inappropriate time. A pre-recorded message is activated and will advise the occupant not to leave the flat and to go back inside. If the door does not close, a message will be issued to the on-call warden via an interface to his monitoring system.

Motion detectors are positioned throughout the flat to monitor movement. If the lights are left switched on and no movement is detected after a given time, the lights will automatically be turned off. For example, if the occupant goes to the bathroom and then forgets to turn the lights off when they return to bed, after a set period of time with no movement detected the lights will be turned off automatically.

A smoke/heat Detector is activated if the cooker or hob is left on and food is found to be burning. In such an event a pre-recorded message will advise the occupant to return to the kitchen and switch it off. If no response is received, a message will be issued to the on-call warden via an interface to his monitoring system and the cooker’s electrical supply terminated. Only the warden can re-instate the supply when they are sure the occupant is safe.

The housing scheme and wardens involved say that this was an exciting development for them, and reports show that everything is running smoothly. They are confident that the assistive smart technology installed in the flat will improve the quality of life for the residents.

Full details of KNX technology and the vast range of KNX products available, which fully comply with EN 50090 the European Standard for Home and Building Electronic Systems are available from KNX UK, PO Box 4082, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG42 9EQ,
Email: admin@konnexuk.co.uk Website: www.knxuk.org

Brits overtake Russians in binge drinking league

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London: Alcohol consumption in Britain continues to grow with the Brits now drinking more than Russians, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation. In addition teenage drinkers in the UK are the drunks of Europe.

WHO figures show that the average Brit drinks 9.29 litres of alcohol each year, compared with 8.87 in Russia.

Luxembourg is in No1 place, followed by the Czech Republic, Estonia and Germany, with the UK 17 and Russia 18 in the league table of drinkers.

The data reveal that in 2003, the latest year for which figures are available, England came top of a European table for drunkenness among 11- and 13-year olds, with twice the levels in Russia.

The increase in drinking is linked the decrease in people setting down to traditional adult responsibilities, such as marriage, say the authors pf a report due to be published in May from the International Center for Alcohol Policies, a Washington-based group.

The study, Swimming with Crocodiles: The Culture of Extreme Drinking, also cites World Health Organisation figures showing that almost twice as many English 15-year-olds as Russians claim to have been drunk more than twice.

In the UK, for example, the number of adults still living with their parents has risen by a fifth among men and almost a third among women in 15 years. About 60% of men and 40% of women aged 20-24 live with their parents.

Anti-depressants don’t work, says new research

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London: People suffering from depression are getting few benefits from drugs to treat their symptoms, researchers at a UK university have concluded.

Researchers at the University of Hull analysed studies of thousands of patients on some of the most widely-prescribed drugs such as Prozac, Seroxat and Efexor – to discover that they may as well take “placebos”.

They said the drugs were only effective in improving the mental health in extreme cases.

The study, which has been published in the journal PLoS Medicine, suggests hundreds of thousands of Britons are needlessly taking powerful – and potentially dangerous drugs.

Their report has also been handed to the US’s Food & Drug Administration.

A number of serious side-effects have been associated with these drugs including suicide and suicidal thoughts, side-effects which are known as SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) anti-depressants. Other side effects have included self harm to anxiety, insomnia, nausea, headaches and vomiting.

Seroxat alone has been linked to at least 50 suicides – both adult and child – in the UK since 1990.

The research comes as prescriptionsfor anti- depressants are at record levels, with 31million written in 2006 at a cost to the NHS of almost £300million. Around half of these were for Prozac, Seroxat, Efexor and other SSRIs.

Researcher Professor Irving Kirsch said: ‘Given these data, there seems little evidence to support the prescription of anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed to provide benefit.’

Professor Kirsch, a psychologist, reached his conclusion after combining the results of 35 clinical trials involving more than 5,000 patients with depression.

Two-thirds of those taking part in the studies were prescribed the SSRIs, while the remainder took placebo tablets.

Comparison of the two groups showed that in the majority of cases the mental health of those taking anti- depressants improved little more than those on dummy pills.

Only those who were extremely depressed – a very small proportion of those studied – fared substantially better when on medication.

The results suggest that those taking the tablets mainly benefit from the ‘placebo effect’ – in which symptoms are eased not by medication but by relief in diagnosis and the simple expectation a treatment will work.

Find out how to manage your stress with expert help

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London: From full inboxes and bleeping blackberries to lengthy commutes and automated messages, modern technology in the 21st Century doesn’t always make life easier. We’re working longer hours, sleeping less than ever and with global markets creating competition beyond our borders, pressure at work has never been so stark.

With so much on our plate, it’s hardly surprising that stress levels are rising. The number of working days lost due to stress in 2006-07 is estimated to be 13.7 million according to the latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive. That’s a significant rise on last year so what are we getting so wrong?

Wednesday 7th November is National Stress Awareness Day and in a working world that never sleeps, it’s important to ensure we don’t neglect ourselves.

A recent study conducted by Philip Stein TESLAR, in association with the International Stress Management Association and Goldsmiths the jeweller, examined 25 stressed out entrepreneurs eager to reduce the stress in their lives. The participants took part in a Heart Rate Variability (HRV) test with Dr. Nyjon Eccles, BSc PhD MBBS MRCP, at his Harley Street practice. Each participant was given a Philip Stein TESLAR watch – a watch that contains a special de-stressing technology. After 5 weeks of wearing the watch, the participants received a second HRV test to discover the effects.

Benefits of wearing the watch include a more restful night time sleep, a reduction in stress and jet lag, improved concentration, increased levels of energy and an overall improvement of wellbeing.

Joining us online to discuss the findings is participant, Andy Henderson, a Derivatives Trainer, RFU Referee and Actor, Dermot Dennehy, UK MD of Philip Stein TESLAR and Jane Thomas, Chair of the International Stress Management Association, who will also be offering some top tips on how to manage our stress levels.

Dermot Dennehy, Andy Henderson and Jane Thomas join us online at web chat on Wednesday 7th November at 9am (GMT) to help us unwind with some top stress-busting tips.

Other useful links: www.philipsteinteslar.com

International Stress Management Association www.nationalstressawarenessday.co.uk

Nagging health questions answered on new UK government site

London: Got a nagging question about your health? Are you planning a new fitness regime or are you interested in finding out more about a particular condition and relevant treatment options? If you are looking for reliable, personalised information about your health and lifestyle you can now find it at the new website, NHS Choices www.nhs.uk

Health advice is now the second most searched for subject online so it is no surprise that there is a lot of information of variable quality out there.
NHS Choices is a one-stop shop for all your health information that you can trust and that puts you in charge of decisions about your own health, lifestyle and even treatment options.

See how fit and healthy you are with a quick and easy personal health check and watch short movies from the experts and real people about their experiences of common conditions and treatments. Read honest accounts of how celebrities such as Steve Redgrave, Tricia Goddard, Rosemary Conley and Nik Powell, Richard Branson’s co-founder of Virgin Records have overcome their own health problems. You can even become an expert with access to information only previously available to the medical profession.

Get motivated and take inspiration for a healthy life from Live Well, a series of online magazines featuring up to date articles, short movies and celebrity contributions to appeal to different groups such as women, teenagers, men and families.

Get great ideas for healthy eating with recipes from Emma Bunton, Nadine Coyle, Dannii Minogue and Myleene Klass and watch celebrity chefs cook up simple, healthy meals for the whole family and romantic nights in.

Find inspiration for a fitness regime that works for your age and lifestyle. Get active and take the Chelsea FC challenge, try walking your way to fitness and a great pair of legs or read how Olympic sprinter, Linford Christie has managed to stay fit and lean post retirement and post forty.

Learn our how to stay happy and healthy at work and see what the experts have to say about a mid life crisis. Is your urge for a newer model – car or woman ¬Ė due to brain or hormone changes or just bad behaviour.

Should you need to go to hospital NHS Choices gives you the information to make an informed decision about where and when you want to be treated. View ratings on hospital waiting times, cleanliness and readmission figures and for the first time what previous patients have to say about their treatment and experiences via immediate online feedback.

It is even possible for you to make your choice of hospital based upon personal preferences such as travelling times, MRSA incidences and availability of single sex wards.

Background:
1. The NHS Choices website draws on the combined experience and expertise of NHS.uk, NHS Direct, the National Electronic Library for Health, and the Healthcare Commission.

2. NHS Choices can be found at www.nhs.uk The site will continue to evolve and significant extensions are scheduled for later in 2007 and 2008.

3. The site will allow patients to access NHS approved information using a number of features under distinct headings:

Live Well
¬ē Information that will help the well to stay fit and assist those who are unwell to manage their condition

¬ē ¬ĎMagazine¬í content will reflect the interests and needs of different groups such as teenagers, families and those over 70

Health A-Z
¬ē Access to a vast library of approved medical literature, previously only available to clinicians to enable a deeper understanding of conditions & treatment options
¬ē Easy to understand multi-media guides on the most common procedures e.g. hip replacement
¬ē Detailed guides to living with 20 long-term conditions such as diabetes to help patients manage their condition. Expert opinions from professionals and patients will provide advice and support

Choose Services
¬ē Authoritative, comparative data on the standards and availability of services
¬ē Searchable comprehensive directories e.g. on hospitals, GPs and care homes
¬ē A quality scorecard that will help patients and GPs together to identify the most appropriate clinicians and locations for their treatment

Your Thoughts
¬ē Patients will be able to directly comment and feedback on their hospital experience
¬ē All comments will be pre-moderated and references to named individuals will be removed
¬ē Hospitals will have the opportunity to respond to comments about their services.

Folate shown to slow dementia, says new US report

New York: A folate study has revealed that the vitamin can slow the cognitive decline of ageing.

The research, presented at the recent US Alzheimer’s Association¬ís first conference on prevention of dementia, demonstrated that otherwise healthy people could slow the decline in their brain function by taking double the recommended daily dose of folate.

Scientists found that men and women 50-75 years old who took 800mcg of folate a day over three years scored significantly better in cognitive tests than peers taking a placebo. On memory tests, the supplement users had scores comparable to people 5.5 years younger, said the researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

“It’s the first study to convincingly show that [folate] can slow cognitive decline,” said lead author Jane Durga. The study involved healthy older people, not those with Alzheimer’s symptoms, so it doesn’t show if folate might ward off that disease. “That’s the key question,” Durga said.

Previous research has suggested that folate along with other B vitamins can reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid thought to play a role in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The current study involved 818 middle-age adults who had elevated levels of homocysteine at baseline. They were randomized to receive either folate or a placebo for three years. Blood folate levels for those in the supplement group increased five-fold and plasma total homocysteine concentrations decreased by around 25 per cent by the end of the study.

“I think I would take [folate], assuming my doctor said it was OK,” said Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist Marilyn Albert, who chairs the Alzheimer’s Association’s science advisory council.

“We know Alzheimer’s disease, the pathology, begins many, many years before the symptoms. We ought to be thinking about the health of our brain the same way we think about the health of our heart,” she added.

Folate is found in such foods as oranges and strawberries, dark green leafy vegetables and beans. In the United States, it also is added to cereal and flour products.

Durga said it’s not clear how folate might work to protect the brain. Some studies suggest folate lowers inflammation; others suggest it may play a role in expression of dementia-related genes.

There is research now suggesting ways to protect the brain against age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association has begun offering classes to teach people the techniques. Topping the list:

* Exercise your brain. Using it in unusual ways increases blood flow and helps the brain wire new connections. That’s important to build up what’s called cognitive reserve, an ability to adapt to or withstand the damage of Alzheimer’s a little longer.
* In youth, that means good education. Later in life, do puzzles, learn to play chess, take classes.
* Stay socially stimulated. Declining social interaction with age predicts declining cognitive function.
* Exercise your body. Bad memory is linked to heart disease and diabetes because clogged arteries slow blood flow in the brain.
* Experts recommend going for the triple-whammy of something mentally, physically and socially stimulating all at once: Coach your child’s ball team. Take a dance class. Strategize a round of golf.
* Diet’s also important. While Alzheimer’s researchers have long recommended a heart-healthy diet as good for the brain, the folate study is the first to test the advice directly.

The recommended daily dose of folate in the USA is 400 micrograms; doctors advise women of childbearing age to take a supplement to ensure they get that much.

The research findings add to mounting evidence that a diet higher in folate is important for a variety of diseases. Scientists have long thought that folate might play a role in dementia, and previous studies have shown people with low folate levels are more at risk for both heart disease and diminished cognitive function.

For more information: www.hsfolate.com

UK’s Alzheimer’s Society commissions new study into link between diet and dementia

London: The UK’s Alzheimer¬ís Society has today commissioned a new research study into the link between diet and dementia. The review hopes to answer crucial questions about what aspects of diet can help to people lower their risk of developing the devastating disease.

Experts increasingly believe eating healthily is key to reducing risks and are hoping this new research study will galvanise research into this important area.

Sarah Day, Hearts and Brains project manager, Alzheimer’s Society says,

¬ĎFrom fruit juice to red wine there are lots of different studies that have linked dementia to diet. For the first time in the UK, this study will bring together all of this information to give us a clearer picture of what the evidence says and where more research is needed. What we find will also help us let people know exactly what they can be doing to manage their risk.

¬ĎPeople think that not much can be done, but a growing weight of evidence suggests this isn¬ít true. Physical exercise, keeping a low blood pressure and cholesterol, not smoking and eating healthily and can all affect your chances of developing dementia.

¬ĎFor example, studies have shown that, a healthy Mediterranean diet could reduce your risk by a third whereas obesity can double your risk. This study will combine this evidence to give us a holistic approach to the facts.¬í

The first half of the findings of the review will be ready for Alzheimer¬ís Awareness Week 2007 (1 ¬Ė 7 July 2007). This year¬ís Awareness Week will focus on what people can do to reduce their risk of developing dementia, like make simple changes to their lifestyle.

A new booklet ¬ĎBe Headstrong¬í which tells people how they can reduce their risks is available from Alzheimer¬ís Society local branches during Alzheimer¬ís Awareness Week or from www.challengedementia.org.uk

¬∑ Alzheimer¬ís Awareness Week is the 1 ¬Ė 7 July 2007

¬∑ Copies of the Alzheimer¬ís Awareness Week brochure ¬ĎBe Headstrong. Challenge your risk of Dementia¬í are available on request.

¬∑ For information about Alzheimer¬ís Awareness Week¬ģ 2007 and activities happening across the country visit www.challengedementia.org.uk

· 1 in 3 older people will end their lives with a form of dementia.

· 700,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, more than half have Alzheimer’s disease. In less than 20 years nearly a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to 1.7 million people by 2051. 1 in 5 people over 80 have dementia.

· The Alzheimer’s Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and those who care for them. The Alzheimer’s Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

· As a charity, the Alzheimer’s Society depends on the generosity of the public to help it care, research and campaign for people with dementia. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting www.alzheimers.org.uk

· The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Helpline number is 0845 300 0336 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk

Fatties may damage British economy, experts warn

London: As the British take the title of the fatest in Europe, experts warn that the obesity epidemic could damage the economy.

But this could all be changed if talented professionals die early or retire because of sickness.

Professor Martin McKee said that the British Treasury has identified the cost of obesity to the NHS as a major problem but research shows how much healthy people contribute to the health of the economy.

He said: “They remain in the workforce longer and are more productive while they are at work. This is vital as the overall age of the population rises and people are encouraged to retire later.

‘”t is a waste of money investing in training people if they die at 35 or retire in their 50s because of ill health.”

The team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, examined the link between health and wealth in rich countries, and found healthier people have higher earnings.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, said the current economic wealth of rich countries ‘owes much to previous health gains’.

About 30 per cent of financial growth in the United Kingdom between 1790 and 1980 can be attributed to better health and dietary intake.

Professor McKee said: ‘The overwhelming conclusion is that good health has benefits beyond the individual.

‘The true purpose of economic activity is to maximise social welfare and not simply to produce more goods and services.

‘Since better health is an important component of social welfare, its value ought to be included in measures of economic progress.

‘This has been done successfully in the United States. Similar moves in Europe could provide a new perspective on the investments made through their welfare states.’

Divorce increases heart attack risk in women

Houston: Women who divorce are 50 per cent more likely to develop heart disease in later life than those who remain married, according to a new report from the University of Texas.

And its not good for those who remarry as they are still likely to suffer from illness.

In the same study men, which looked at 1,000 men and women over a two-year period, were found to be unaffected physically by divorce.

The researchers concluded that the emotional stress triggered a chain reaction of symptoms, including physical and mental problems which raised the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe the emotional stress of a marriage break-up, along with the

The results demonstrated that women with a marital loss have a higher risk of disease in late-midlife compared to continuously married women, whereas marital loss is not associated with men’s risk.

Women tend to value themselves more in terms of family relationships, whereas men value themselves primarily in terms of their occupation.’

The findings, published in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, showed that 11.6 per cent of divorced women and 10.7 per cent of remarried women had heart disease, compared to 8.7 per cent of those who were continuously married.

At the age of 51, 10.9 per cent of divorcees and 9.8 per cent of remarried women had heart disease, compared to 7.3 per cent of women who remained with their partner.

By the age of 60, 33 per cent of divorced women and 31 per cent of remarried women had cardiovascular problems, compared to just 22 per cent of those who were married and had not suffered a break-up.

Divorce rates have quadrupled since 1970 with around one in four marriages now breaking down.

About half of marriages of twentysomethings end in divorce with the highest rate being among 25 to 39-year-olds, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Elderly poor of Europe more at risk of illness

London: Elderly poor in Europe at greater risk of ill-health, according to a new report that highlights the inequalities in health care.

Called, “The State of Ageing and Health in Europe” which was compiled by the International Longevity Centre in the UK and the Merck Company Foundation, found that although most Europeans are living longer, ethnic minorities and the poor are at greater risk of ill-health.

The report, found that elderly Europeans who are poor have a 30% to 65% higher risk of almost all chronic diseases, including stroke, cardiovascular disease and cancer, the report said.

It also found older women have a greater risk of depression and disability than their male counterparts.

Demographic trends have brought a major shift toward chronic illness in the region, particularly stroke, heart disease, cancer, cataracts, risk of falls and incontinence.

In those over 65, cancer and cardiovascular diseases account for around three-quarters of all deaths in Europe.

However, the report noted that disease and disability do not have to be synonymous with growing old.

It urged European societies to address the issues of ageing in a positive and constructive manner.

Sally Greengross, executive director of the International Longevity Centre-UK, said: “The ageing of the population in Europe is to be celebrated. But if we want this trend to continue, policy makers must factor the needs of an ageing society into the planning, organisation and delivery of services. Equity of access to services is critical.

“From a policy perspective age needs to be considered as part of the health inequalities debate. The impact of socio-economic factors, gender and age must be viewed together as they affect individuals’ chances of achieving the best possible health outcomes into advanced age.”

The report made a number of recommendations to governments including further investment in community services and working closely with voluntary and private sectors.

It argues for better information to be given to the elderly and their families so they are able to negotiate the complexities of health care systems.

The charities also want to see a move away from the “catastrophic and short-sighted view” that older people are a drain on health care resources.

Americans risking early death through smoking or obesity

Washington: Over 80 million American adults are putting themselves at serious risk of long-term illness and early death through smoking, obesity, or both, finds a study published on bmj.com.

Smoking and obesity are two of the leading causes of death and illness in the United States, but the overlap between the two conditions has never been measured.

Using data from the 2002 national health interview survey, researchers estimated the proportion of adults in the US who smoke and are obese. The results were stratified for various factors, such as income and education levels.

They found that 23.5% of adults were obese and 22.7% smoked (a total of 81 million).

About 4.7% (9 million) smoked and were obese. This proportion was particularly high in African Americans (7%) and in people with lower income and education levels.

Although this overlap is relatively low, the presence of these two conditions together may carry an increased risk to health, say the authors.

Treatments for people who smoke and who are obese need to be investigated, they add. Clinical trials should monitor the effects of programmes aimed at simultaneously stopping smoking and weight control. These results could be used to develop policies for prevention and treatment.