Guardian Dementia

This page shows the latest items from the Guardian Dementia newsfeed.

Jimmy McGovern: ‘We can’t dodge the issue of care for the elderly any longer

Screenwriter hopes new BBC production, called Care, will spark debate on growing social problem

The screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has called for a national conversation on attitudes towards care of the elderly and infirm, saying politicians needed to stop “dodging” the issue and that more television dramas should tackle such social problems.

McGovern, the writer behind award-winning programmes such as Cracker, Hillsborough and last year’s drama Broken, has made Care, a 90-minute production for the BBC. It tells the story of a single mother who has to care for her elderly mother after she has a stroke and develops dementia, and how the local health authorities refuse to take responsibility.

Related: Complaints over social care in England nearly trebled since 2010

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1 December 2018, 1:00 pm

Family’s lonely fight over dementia hospital death

‘I feel abandoned,’ says daughter of ex-footballer Frank Lockey over denial of legal aid for his inquest in Norwich

The family of a former footballer who died in a struggling dementia hospital will have to represent themselves at his inquest this week after being denied legal aid.

Frank Lockey, 84, who was on Liverpool’s books in the 1950s, was found dead in his chair at Norwich’s Julian Hospital in August last year. The grandfather from Dereham, Norfolk, had been admitted six months earlier suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

I know I won’t win, but I’m doing it for Dad and to protect others in the future… It’s so unfair

Related: Just one hour a week of social interaction helps dementia patients

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25 November 2018, 7:59 am

Companies running 'inadequate' UK care homes make £113m profit

Critics call on firms to use wider income to address ‘terrible indignity and neglect’

Some of the country’s worst care homes are owned by companies that have made a total profit of £113m despite some of the vulnerable people they are supposed to look after being neglected, it can be revealed.

An investigation by the Guardian has found that companies owning homes that care for elderly people with dementia, disabled people and those with learning difficulties – and have been rated “inadequate”, the lowest possible rating by the Care Quality Commission – are turning over a healthy profit.

Elderly residents soiling themselves after being left because there were too few staff.

Staff using “inappropriate and disproportionate use of physical restraint” on residents with autism.

Patients being left waiting for long periods for under-pressure care workers to attend after ringing their call bells.

Carers failing to treat elderly residents with dignity and respect, with patients’ underwear being left exposed and faeces left smeared on a bedrail cushion.

Residents being placed at risk of abuse by other patients, with one being seriously harmed after an attack, and staff failing to safely manage medicines.

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23 November 2018, 7:44 pm

Low-protein, high-carb diet may help ward off dementia

Diet tested on mice proves more beneficial in some cases than restricting calories

A new study that found a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet led to improved brain health in mice has sparked hopes carbohydrates could help ward off dementia.

Researchers at Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre fed the mice complex carbohydrates derived from starch, and casein protein, which is found in cheese and milk.

Related: ‘We need their brains’: donating to the brain bank in search of a dementia cure

Related: Food for thought: the smart way to better brain health

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21 November 2018, 2:25 am

Social care: 'How do others manage without the extra we're able to afford?'

Rosemary Moore, 86, on how her husband Derek’s dementia has affected their finances

Name: Rosemary and Derek Moore
Age: 86 and 87
Income: £44,232 (joint income)
Occupation: Retired teachers (schools and higher education)

Derek and I have been together for 56 years. And they’ve been very good years.

Related: ‘Living with a refugee gives you a real understanding of what is important’

Related: ‘I earn £70,000, but don’t live a lavish lifestyle and give much of it away’

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17 November 2018, 7:00 am

Why prescribing playlists for people with dementia is on the money | Ann Robinson

As a GP, I know that conventional medicine can’t solve the growing problems of obesity, stress and loneliness. But funding is key

It is no secret that the government likes “social prescribing”. Last month’s loneliness strategy included proposals for GPs to refer patients to art groups, cookery classes and other activities. And speaking at last week’s King’s Fund conference on the subject, the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, announced the creation of an academy to build a research base, train practitioners and champion the benefits of social prescribing. He wants to see a nationwide network of social prescribing projects that encourage individuals to take part in a range of activities including the arts, exercise, and nutritional advice.

Related: Combat loneliness with ‘social prescribing’, says Theresa May

Related: Lonely people need local connections – don’t make a song and dance of it | Geraldine Bedell

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14 November 2018, 8:00 am

'We need their brains': donating to the brain bank in search of a dementia cure

Scientists studying the tissue bequeathed to the Sydney Brain Bank hope it will lead them to an eventual cure for neurodegenerative diseases

It’s a rainy Wednesday morning and Dr Andrew Affleck is driving more carefully than usual on his way to the Neuroscience Research Australia building in Randwick.

It’s not just the slick, crowded roads putting the edge on his caution; in the boot of his car, cocooned in several layers of protective container and nestled in ice, is the brain of a human being who was alive only a few hours earlier.

Dr Andrew Affleck, a research associate at the Sydney Brain Bank

Adele Lusson, research assistant, preparing paraffin embedded tissue sections for staining

Andrew Affleck, removing tissue sections from the automated slide stainer.

Related: Are we really on the brink of a cure for Alzheimer’s? | Dean Burnett

(L-R) Removing tissue sections from the automated slide stainer; hanging lab coats

Adèle Lusson, research assistant, preparing paraffin embedded tissue sections for staining

Clockwise from top: Lucille Bloch; Keith Bloch; a black-and-white photo of Lucille and Keith Bloch

Related: Parkinson’s disease could originate in appendix, study finds

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13 November 2018, 5:00 pm

'She is looking for memories': love after dementia – photo essay

Gladys Saroli’s frontotemporal dementia is a cruel disease but her husband, Jose, spends every day by her side

Gladys Saroli’s hand is warm and soft to the touch. She gives mine a gentle squeeze.

“Hola,” she greets me softly, but soon turns back to the daytime television that fills the common room. Her husband, Jose, is all smiles and handshakes beneath his black cap advertising Peru, the country of their birth, and observes: “Gladys, she look good and well.”

Clockwise from top: The door to Gladys’s room, and inside the room, which is adorned with labelled photographs and cues to assist with her dementia.

There is no cure for frontotemporal dementia and no treatment to alleviate symptoms

Gladys Saroli in her room.

Family birthdays she come back to our house in Epping. She is looking, looking. She is happy.

Clockwise from top: Jose comforts Gladys in the living room, Jose assists Gladys with her dinner.

No way. This is not what’s meant to be

Jose wipes Gladys’s brow as she drifts off to sleep.

Clockwise from top: Jose Saroli, and Jose assists Gladys in the bathroom.

There are so many factors in ensuring a person with dementia has good quality of life

As her dementia has worsened, Gladys is almost non-verbal and has limited mobility. Right: Jose kisses Gladys goodnight.

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30 October 2018, 5:00 pm

OFM Awards 2018: Best Instagram Feed – Soulful Baker

Julie Jones documents kitchen life with her mum, who has dementia, and the healing she finds in baking cakes. And OFM readers loved her Instagram feed.

At 30, after office-based jobs, Julie Jones realised what she loved was feeding people and that it wasn’t too late to retrain. But on graduating from catering college in Carlisle, she found out she was pregnant and her mum, Joyce Armstrong, began to show early signs of dementia. Her desire to work in restaurants, such as the Fat Duck and Hind’s Head in Bray, where she did work experience, became a side-line to family.

I’d do all these fancy intricate pastries – I was grief-stricken and it really helped

Panna Cotta tart, you are too good to us. ♥️ This week, we want to see how you’re using berries. Tag your fruity concoctions with #f52berry and we’ll share your grams all week long. // : @julie_jonesuk

What an absolutely amazing day! Making pies with Jamie Oliver was definitely one of those pinch me am I dreaming moments! I had the best time, meeting and working alongside Jamie and his wonderful team, it really was something else. Jamie’s ‘Cook with Jamie’ cookbook is a book that I referred to so often when I wanted to improve as a cook. So many recipes from that book alone have filled and fuelled my family over the years. Never ever would I have guessed that 12 years after buying that book I would actually, in real life…..cook with Jamie! Truly, truly amazing. I’m back home feeling completely inspired, eager to create and write some more and share with you my new ideas. Thank you Jamie, thank you Ginny, thank you to each and every team member that I met and worked alongside yesterday. What a beautiful bunch you all are…all so warm, friendly and gracious. Everyone made me feel so welcome and at ease. I thoroughly enjoyed my day. Every single second of it. And Gennaro, you are awesome, Justine was absolutely chuffed! Lots of love, Julie xx

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24 October 2018, 7:00 am

When the play’s the thing to help us talk about Alzheimer’s

A show touring libraries in the south-east aims to help make people affected by dementia feel they are less alone

An actor sits in an armchair on a makeshift stage. People wander in, some elderly, many middle-aged and a few who look to be in their 20s. The actor, partly covered in a blanket, rocks slightly, staring at and wringing her hands. “Puh … puh …. puh,” she says. It’s Connie. This is no ordinary theatre. This is Newbury library at 7pm on a Wednesday. Some, oblivious to the waiting play, talk and exchange books. Most stay to watch the performance.

Emily, Connie’s daughter, appears when there’s a full audience of around 35 people. “Hi mum, it’s me,” she says. Kissing Connie on the head, she talks about her first TV cooking show and looks through a large book. “There’s a recipe of your rock cakes in here,” Emily says. “Here we are, Connie’s rock cakes … gosh 1987.” It’s Connie’s memory book. She has dementia.

Related: Nursing home lets people with dementia live down memory lane

Related: Seven ways to help avoid dementia

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23 October 2018, 1:00 pm

Sundowning review – devastating dementia drama lingers and burns

Tristan Bates theatre, London
Hazel Maycock is superb in a moving family tale crammed with feeling and insight

Dementia is a heartbreaker. It’s also a nightmare to stage: repetitive, meandering and often deeply boring. But dementia will touch so many of us, and it’s important to create plays that explore this condition with unflinching compassion. Sundowning does just that. It’s wildly uneven but it is also heartfelt and honest, and Hazel Maycock is devastating as dementia-sufferer Betty.

Nessah Muthy’s own grandmother had dementia, and you can feel that first-hand experience and deeply felt pain in her writing. Ironically, it’s the dementia that makes the most sense in Helena Bell’s shaky production. There’s a laboured subplot about an estranged granddaughter, Alyssa, just released from prison, and her put-upon aunt Teresa, but these scenes feel brittle and unconvincing. It’s the encounters between Alyssa (a sparky Aasiya Shah) and grandma Betty that linger and burn; they’re relatively free of plot but crammed with feeling and insight.

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23 October 2018, 9:54 am

My elderly mother has signs of dementia but won't see her doctor

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.

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19 October 2018, 10:48 am

Food for thought: the smart way to better brain health

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.

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13 October 2018, 8:00 am

Why I like Taylor Swift 100% more | Brief letters

Twins | Flu vaccine | Taylor Swift and Trump | Shopping | Plumbing Brexit

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.
Claire Rawsthorn
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?
Richard Coates

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10 October 2018, 4:49 pm

What would an age-friendly city look like?

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

Related: The slow lane: Dutch app allows elderly to ‘hack’ traffic lights

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

Related: Sí, seniors: the Chilean city with grand plans to be the best place to grow old

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

Related: Forget-me-nots in Purley: how the town became ‘dementia friendly’

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10 October 2018, 6:30 am

The Height of the Storm review – Pryce and Atkins are magnetic

Wyndham’s, London
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.

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9 October 2018, 8:00 pm

Nursing home lets people with dementia live down memory lane

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.

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5 October 2018, 2:25 pm

The social care system is collapsing. So why the government inaction? | Adam Pike

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.

Related: £1bn needed to stave off crisis, say social care bosses

Related: Paying for care at home: how to negotiate the minefield

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3 October 2018, 11:37 am

At 80, I’m on the last lap of life’s circuit and I don’t want to get off | Stewart Dakers

Working with older people, I know what’s in store for me as I enter another decade. I just hope I’ll know when I need to let go

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.

Related: ‘A new way to stretch yourself’: the older people realising their acting dreams

Related: Should we press-gang older people into having fun? | Stewart Dakers

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3 October 2018, 6:00 am

Half of women 'will develop dementia or Parkinson's or have a stroke'

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.

Related: Removing faulty brain cells staves off dementia in mice

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1 October 2018, 10:30 pm