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24th February 2016

Taking Care of the Elderly

Life expectancy is rising

With life expectancy rising in older age groups the pressure this puts on the NHS by unnecessary admissions and delayed discharges from hospital and residential care is something we’ve known for some time and that it needs to be managed, and quickly. So how can we achieve a healthy old age? Most of us could make changes today, like stopping smoking, being more active or eating better, that would allow us to look forward to healthier later years.

It’s not too late

A recent report shows regional differences in life expectancy. Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England said it was "not yet clear" what caused the regional differences. He said: “Overall the report presents a positive picture nationally and life expectancy is the highest it's been since we started measuring. People in England are living longer than ever and that makes achieving a good quality of life in later years even more important. Our current evidence shows that people are living longer but many are doing so in poor health. This report is an opportunity to remind people that, even during mid-life, it is not too late to improve your health.”

What can we do?

Some GP Practices recently inspected by the CQC have been found to be outstanding in their care of older people. All offered proactive, personalised care to meet the needs of the older people in its population included allowing patients to collect dispensed medicines somewhere local – other than the practice, integrated care clinics were provided for those aged over 75, and some used specific clinical templates for the general older person health check that prompted a falls assessment, dementia screen, carer details and offered carers wellbeing and health checks. By being proactive we can reduce being reactive caring for the elderly.

Other resources

There are numerous charities and local organisations supporting the elderly offering advice, enabling independence and helping to combat loneliness. Age UK is just one of those organisations that can help people get fit and healthy, offering advice on care and support, and providing financial advice and assistance. Local NHS Wellbeing Services are usually more than happy to come out to GP Practices spending a couple of hours in the waiting room offering advice and literature to interested patients, it’s worth contacting them because they may well identify patients needing much needed support.

Links

Age UK:

https://www.ageuk.org.uk

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Topics: GPs

Alison Lowerson

GP Specialist

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