This page shows the latest items from the Guardian Dementia newsfeed.
She is becoming forgetful and confused, her house is in an untypical mess and when I arranged for her to see her GP, she lied about going
My mother is in her early 80s and starting to show signs of dementia. She lives a long way from me, and on her own, but we speak regularly on the phone and she is becoming increasingly forgetful and confused. The last time I visited her, her house was in an untypical mess, the kitchen dirty, piles of recycling and rubbish hoarded and no food to eat. When I try to talk to her about it, she brushes it off. I want her to go to the doctor to have a test, but she hasn’t been to see her GP for several years. I did make her an appointment but she lied about going and is starting to lie more and more about things to cover her tracks. Do readers have any advice?
• When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.
The human brain is made of food, so what we eat and drink affects our ability to keep a healthy, alert and active mind
We all intuitively appreciate that the foods we eat shape our thoughts, actions, emotions and behaviour. When you are feeling low, you reach for chocolate; when you are tired, you crave coffee. We all use food to soothe our moods and clear our heads without seeming to think much about it.
Yet the focus of most diets is on the way we look rather than the way we think. This is in part due to western society’s fascination with appearance, and medicine’s bias towards drugs and surgery. In fact, contemporary medicine often disregards the ways that our diet helps shape our cognitive health. Medical students are not trained in nutrition. And, for what it is worth, neither are scientists.
I am a twin. One thing that grated when my sister and I were growing up was the constant reference to us as “the twins” or “one of the twins”. You aren’t an individual. You’re something different, not even just sisters but a twin. Is it relevant to your report (Care home that lets people live in the past, 6 October) that Damian and Danny are twins? No. Brothers yes, but twins? No. Why use the word three times? Does “his twins” sound natural? No; “his sons” would have.
Heads Nook, Cumbria
• The adjuvanted vaccine that your report talks about (Hopes that modified flu vaccine will cut deaths of over-65s, 12 September) is not currently available, and NHS England say it won’t be until the end of November. Is this just a way of killing some of us off and saving the NHS a chunk of money?
As the world’s population grows older and more urban, cities around the world must decide how to adapt
“The first year was a bit like the first year of a marriage – but with 25 people rather than just one.” That is how Jude Tisdall describes joining a co-housing development purpose-built for women over 50. Tisdall, an arts consultant in her early 60s, moved into the New Ground complex in north London just over a year ago.
“I had been mulling over how I wanted to live,” she says. “I’m divorced – my daughters and grandchildren were grown up. I didn’t want to get older on my own. It can be harsh living in London as you age.”
A design session for New Ground, left, and the communal kitchen of the completed project. Photographs: ©PTE/Caroline Teo
People don’t want to end up like their parents – isolated and lonely
The new generation of over 55s don’t expect to be ignored or told that ‘it’s bath-time’
The Ørestad development in Copenhagen is classed as a retirement home but is also an example of stylish, practical housing. Photographs: Alamy/Torben Eskerod
In Nottingham, 300 businesses have signed up to the Take a Seat scheme, which identifies shops where older and disabled people are welcome. Photographs: Clare Routledge/ Nottingham City Council
Wheels for Wellbeing offers sessions on specially adapted bikes, encouraging users to keep mobile, independent and fit. Photograohs: Ben Gold/Wheels for Wellbeing
If the environment is hostile to people on low incomes, that impacts disproportionally on older residents
Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins excel in Florian Zeller’s beautifully elusive play, translated by Christopher Hampton
The one sure fact about a play by Florian Zeller is that nothing is ever certain. Whereas in his plays about adultery, The Truth and The Lie, this led to a labyrinthine tricksiness, his latest piece is more like The Father in that it puzzles the brain while touching the heart. As directed by Jonathan Kent, translated by Christopher Hampton and performed by Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins, it offers a deeply moving study of love, loss and the unbearable pain of absence.
The parallels with The Father are striking. Once again we have a cantankerous oldster with dementia who is called André and has two daughters, Anne and Elise. The difference is that this André is a once-famous writer seemingly unable to accept that his wife of 50 years, Madeleine, is dead. Or is she? When we meet Madeleine, she seems to be recently widowed and declares that André “made me promise to outlive him”. At other times, we see the couple together coping with the daily realities of life, arguing with and about their daughters and confronting a disruptive female visitor who claims to have had a prolonged friendship with the bewildered André.
At Wyndham’s theatre, London, until 1 December.
Vintage setting in Yorkshire building aims to calm residents amid era they remember best
Viewed from the busy main road, Five Rise nursing home in Bingley does not look that special – just another modern development backing on to the railway line to Leeds. Go down the driveway, however, and it is clear there is something rather unusual about the place. An old red phone box gives the first clue, its rotary telephone demanding one shilling for a local call.
To the left – behind an enormous fountain topped with Neptune, a clutch of peeing cherubs and some angry lions – is what looks like the set of Last of the Summer Wine. There’s the Seven Dials barbers, the window full of vintage clippers, dressing oil and Capstan cigarette packets. Next door is Bingley grocers, with punnets of plastic fruit and veg and a real working till. Then there is Bingley post office, where residents can get pretend parcels weighed and franked. Parked outside is a beautiful grey Austin from the 1950s, and old butcher’s bike with a wicker basket.
A Royal College of Care Workers would be a good first step in recognising their importance to society
Future history students will enjoy speculating about the Brexit deal (or no deal) and what might have happened if this historic agreement had concluded differently. However, these studies are unlikely to consider the impact of the time and energy lost to discussions and discord on Brexit over the past two years.
If they did, they would see the societal and economic impact of our failure to achieve progress in key policy areas, in particular social care reform – one of the most pressing issues of our time. The government promised a social care green paper some months ago. Despite a mention of it yesterday by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, there is no set date for it to be published. It has slipped off the domestic agenda as Brexit and political party in-fighting dominate. Even during party conference season, social care has been little more than an afterthought.
Eighty, eh, so how does it feel?” It’s a question to which I have had to reply too often since “that” birthday. I have now lived two years longer than my father, eight years longer than my mother, a full decade longer than the good book anticipated and if the demographic pundits are to be believed, as a resident of the soft south I have another 4.7 years to go.
Third of men and one in two women aged 45 are likely to go on to be diagnosed with one of the conditions, study says
One in two women will develop dementia or Parkinson’s disease, or have a stroke, in their lifetime, new research suggests.
About a third of men aged 45 and half of women of the same age are likely to go on to be diagnosed with one of the conditions, according to a study of more than 12,000 people.
A new study has inspired headlines claiming a cure for Alzheimer’s disease could be available within six years – but are we genuinely on the verge of an effective treatment?
Given the physical, emotional and financial cost that Alzheimer’s and similar dementias inflict – something that’s only going to get worse as the population ages – this would obviously be a massive boon. But as always, the picture is a lot more complex.
Park theatre, London
Karen Archer gives a fine performance as a woman experiencing cognitive difficulties in Sharr White’s play
How do you dramatise dementia? Not easily. But Sharr White, in a play first staged off-Broadway in 2011, handles the subject tactfully by seeing events from the perspective of a woman experiencing cognitive difficulties. The result is compassionate and informative even if there is an inescapable clash between the subjective and objective points of view.
White’s protagonist, Juliana, is a high-powered medical figure who breaks down while giving a lecture at a neurological conference. We sense her disorientation, fear and fixation, even while she is on the podium, with the image of a young girl in a yellow bikini. In subsequent scenes we see Juliana’s resistance to treatment, anger with her attentive husband and conviction that her estranged daughter is trying to make contact with her.
Researchers say that when they swept away the senescent brain cells in mice, the outwards symptoms of their dementia vanished
Purging “zombie cells” from the brain could stave off the effects of dementia, a groundbreaking study has found.
The research in mice is the first to show that so-called senescent cells, which enter a state of suspended animation as the body ages, contribute to neurodegeneration. Flushing out these cells was shown to prevent damage, potentially opening a new line of attack against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Risk in over-50s increases by 40% where highest nitrogen oxide levels exist, study shows
Air pollution may increase the chance of developing dementia, a study has suggested, in fresh evidence that the health of people of all ages is at risk from breathing dirty air.
People over 50 in areas with the highest levels of nitrogen oxide in the air showed a 40% greater risk of developing dementia than those with the least NOx pollution, according to the research, based on data from London.
As evidence about the harmful effects of pollution mounts, mayors need to take action to reduce emissions and improve health
The slogan “Think global, act local”, popular among environmentalists since the 1970s, is apt when applied to the politics of air. While pollution by greenhouse gases, chiefly CO2, requires international action, some emissions can be tackled much closer to home. Evidence about the health impact of the gases and particles produced by road traffic, industry and open fires has developed rapidly since the 1990s. In cities, many of which have experienced rapid growth in traffic, air quality has become a pressing issue.
Across the EU, legal limits are regularly breached, and the UK, France and Germany are among six countries facing large fines. Until Michael Gove publishes his environment bill there remains uncertainty over the teeth the watchdog will have when it comes to enforcing the rules after Brexit. But it is not clear whether the genie of public anxiety about toxic air can be pushed back into the bottle. This week saw reports about new research into the amount of particulate matter breathed by children at London schools, and pollutants found in mothers’ placentas. Last month it was revealed that Chinese researchers have linked high levels of air pollution to reduced intelligence.
The care industry faces a workforce gap that could get even worse after Brexit. Looking beyond ‘the usual suspects’ is vital
- Guardian Jobs: see the latest vacancies in social care
Kieran Wilding never imagined he’d have a career in care, despite helping out at the residential home where his mum worked when he was younger. He would often lend a hand at mealtimes and would sit and chat or read with residents. But after training as a chef and working in the kitchens of that same care home for a few years, he decided to apply for a job as a care worker.
“I’ve been caring for three and a half years now and I wouldn’t change them for the world,” says Wilding. “It’s not just personal care; we’re friends and family, a shoulder to cry on. It’s not a job, it’s what we love to do.”
You’re directly making an impact on someone’s life – and it’s enormously rewarding
Spanish women live the longest, with UK longevity ranked 17th out of 28 EU nations, according to Public Health England’s annual health profile
Women in the UK are living shorter lives on average than most of their counterparts in Europe, according to an analysis by Public Health England.
Spanish women have the highest life expectancy in Europe at birth, at 86.3 years in 2016. The average for the UK is 83, taking 17th place out of 28 EU nations. Men in the UK do better, in 10th place and with above-average life expectancy of 79.4, but men in Italy, the leading nation, can expect to live to 81.
It is interesting how the act of caring for others and actively trying to help is seen so negatively (Why there’s nothing sexy about a goody two shoes, 28 August).
The phrase do-gooder is an insult and encourages people to feel a sense of shame if they care and want to make a difference. It perpetuates an idea that we should focus on ourselves, at the cost of others. And presumes that we have not benefited from the care and active interest from people outside of our immediate friends and family. Without others’ acts of kindness I believe many of us would not be the people we are today, doing the things we enjoy and getting the opportunities we have had for a fulfilling life.
One in 14 people over the age of 65 in the UK will develop dementia and while there is no cure, scientific evidence shows there are several ways you can guard against it
Among the biggest risk factors for dementia are diabetes and mid-life obesity, which can double your chances of dementia at a later age. Links have also been found between elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and the risk of dementia, although these are not conclusive. Monitoring your weight and cardiovascular health in middle age could greatly reduce your likelihood of dementia.
Scientists call for more investment in promoting healthy lifestyle after discovering strong link between diseases
Having a stroke can double the risk of developing dementia, say scientists, who are calling for more effort to be invested in promoting the healthy lifestyles that reduce the chances of stroke.
A team from Exeter University has analysed data on stroke and dementia risk from 48 separate studies involving a total of 3.2 million people around the world.
Games such as cribbage, pontoon and shove ha’penny could take us back to the school yard and rattle our marbles
“You can’t really force people, can you?”
Elizabeth was replying to Charlie’s proposal for a programme of geriatric press-ganging to counter the falling attendance at the community centre that we’d heard was jeopardising funding and therefore the future of the centre itself.