Long-term patients taking inappropriate drugs

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New research has found that around 70% of long-term care patients are taking one or more potentially inappropriate medicines.

It says this has serious implications for older people since adverse drug reactions can occur, leading to falls and fractures, and patients may require extended hospitalisation.

The main drug involved in inappropriate prescribing was the sedative benzodiazepine.

The research involved examining a sample of 630 patients in Northern Ireland and in the Cork area and was funded by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland.


Using grey power to help fuel our recovery

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OLD PEOPLE. Don’t you just hate them? Aren’t they awful?

Experts create 15-minute Alzheimer's test

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A 15-minute online test has been developed to reveal early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

The free quiz was developed by mental health experts and is aimed at 50 to 70-year-olds who are worried about memory decline.

The interactive test provides an immediate result and advice about lifestyle and diet changes.

Those at risk are given a letter for their GP.

Professor David Smith, of Oxford University, said: “Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease, not an inevitable part of the ageing process.


Huge under-reporting of elder abuse

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The HSE receives over 2,000 referrals to its elder abuse service each year, the annual meeting of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) has been told.

However, Oonagh McAteer, an elder abuse officer with the HSE, said it was felt that elder abuse was hugely under-reported and the yearly incidence of abuse could be five times this number.

She said there had been 2,110 referrals of cases of suspected elder abuse made to the HSE last year. In 70% of cases the elderly people involved have been over 75.

Ms McAteer told the meeting in Galway that 30% of cases were psychological abuse, followed by neglect and financial abuse at just under 20%, followed by physical abuse at 12%.


Shannon doc out of hours GP service to be extended to Limerick city

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THE Shannondoc 24-hour service is to be rolled out to Limerick city in September.

The move will result in an additional 90,000 people being able to avail of the service which already serves Clare, north Tipperary and Limerick county.

Shannondoc has been in place since 2002.

Yesterday, manager of the service, Larry Maher, said the roll-out of the scheme across Limerick city had been agreed in principle with the HSE. "There is a lot of work to do yet, but this is a very positive development," he said.

Shannondoc serves 275,000 people in the mid-west and the proposed move will increase the number to an estimated 365,000.


Elderly mental health services criticised

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Mental health services for older people in Ireland are under-resourced, a new report from the Mental Health Commission (MHC) has warned.

According to the commission's National Overview of Services 2010, the biggest challenge facing these services ‘is the fact that this population is projected to double in size by 2036 and adequate service planning and resource allocation is required'.

Mental health services for older people provide care and treatment for those aged 65 years and over who develop new onset functional mental illness, such as depression, and those with dementia who develop behavioural and psychological problems which require specialist intervention.

The report noted that those over the age of 65 currently make up 11% of the population, however this is due to increase to 25% by 2036.

"Mental health service users of 65 years and over will have increasing mental and physical health needs as they age. In addition, existing service users who ‘graduate' to the over 65 years of age category will typically have complex healthcare needs," it said.

Dementia is the most common


Unicare Pharmacy Ltd. Invests in Cork

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Four pharmacies in Cork city and county will be overhauled and expanded as part of a €15 million investment by DocMorris International. Europe’s largest pharmacy group is also seeking further opportunities across the nation with the intention of opening 70 new stores around Ireland over the next two years, increasing staff numbers beyond 850 people in the process.

“While the need for advice and quality remains key, the Irish consumer is now demanding better value for money, innovative new products and services,” DocMorris Ireland/Unicarepharmacy Managing Director Cormac Tobin said. “In response, we have focused our product and value offering to meet changing needs.” O’Leary’s Pharmacy on the Grand Parade and Unicare in Hollyhill are two of the group’s retail outlets in the city. It also owns Unicare in Charleville and O’Connors in Midleton.

Carers urged to declare hours

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CARERS have been urged to declare the full number of hours they spend looking after loved ones in the upcoming census.

As part of the Question 22 Carers Count Campaign launched yesterday, carers have been asked to ensure they include the full total of hours they spend caring for family members, with the aim of providing accurate data which could affect future policy in the area.

According to the last Census in 2006 there were 160,917 carers around the country, contributing three million hours of caring each week and saving €2.5 billion annually for the Irish economy.

However, subsequent data from the Central Statistics Office indicates that the 2006 figure was underestimated, with groups such as the Carers Association suggesting that the actual number of carers could be closer to 274,000.

That would mean some five million caring hours per week and state savings of closer to €4bn a year.

For the first time, the census allows those filling in Question 22 to indicate the number of hours they spend caring, and also allows data to be entered for carers aged under 15 years.


20% of over-50s have experienced depression

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ONE in five people aged 50 and older in Ireland have experienced depression but only 11% have been treated for the condition by a health professional, an expert on ageing revealed yesterday.

The findings are from Ireland’s most comprehensive study on ageing — the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing to be published in April.

More than 8,000 people, aged 50 and older have participated in the study led by Rose Anne Kenny, professor of clinical gerontology at Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Kenny spoke at the launch of the first Third Age annual conference in Dublin.

Third Age promotes the value of older people in communities.

Prof Kenny said that those who admitted suffering from depression had seen a health professional at least once in the last year.

The study also found that one in four people over the age of 50 suffer from urinary incontinence frequently, or quite frequently. While 60% of men had sought help from a health professional, 20% of women had never discussed the issue.


Ageing with Confidence Galway

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Congratulations to all those certified for "Ageing with Confidence" , by Age and Opportunity. Check out video link below.

Be Counted on Census Day - Question 22

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In 2010 the Central Statistics Office estimated that Ireland could now have as many as 274,000 Family Carers*, an increase nationwide of almost 71% on the number of Carers counted in the last Census in 2006. This would put the number of Family Carers in Cork city and county now at 33,580, as opposed to the 19,638 at the last official count. The Carers Count Campaign, a public information campaign designed to inform Cork Carers about Census 2011, launches in the City today (Friday, 4th March). The purpose of the campaign is to make all Carers aware that Question 22, which refers to “unpaid help” in next month’s Census, is about Family Carers and to ensure all Family Carers in Cork, both full and part-time, answer this question. Census 2011 will take place on Sunday April 10th. According to the Carers Count Campaign organisers, an alliance of 10 care related groups, Census 2011 provides a unique opportunity to quantify the number of and unpaid work provided by Cork’s Family Carers. A true picture will depend on all carers firstly recognising that they provide “unpaid help” as asked in Question 22, and then accurately counting and filling in their weekly hours of care on the Census form.


Age Action Workshops on Elder Abuse

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Age Action, with the support of the HSE, are organising a number of workshops across the country to raise awareness of elder abuse. The workshops are aimed at older people and organisations who work at a local level with older people.

If you would like to attend please contact Age Action on 01 – 4756989 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . We would also appreciate it if you would circulate this notice to any relevant organisations or individuals.

The workshops, which are funded by the HSE, will take place in:

Dublin: Wynn’s Hotel, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1,Monday, March 28 (9.45am to 12 noon); Athy: Carlton Abbey Hotel, Athy, Friday, April 1(1.45pm to 4pm); Galway: Croi na Gaillimhe Resource Centre, Mills Street, Galway, Monday, April 4 (9.15am to 11.30am); Cork: Imperial Hotel, South Mall, Cork, Friday, April 8 (1.45pm to 4pm).

If you are interested in attending any of the workshops, or are part of a group that might benefit from attending, please contact us to register.  Pre-registration is necessary as each workshop is limited to 40 people.

Bealtaine Festival 2011

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May belongs to the Bealtaine festival, celebrating creativity in older age! Thousands of older people now take part in the Bealtaine festival, with 2010 being its 15th year. From dance to cinema, painting to theatre, Bealtaine showcases the talents and creativity of both first-time and professional older artists.

It is a chance for people to make new and challenging work, a chance to communicate traditions between the generations. It is a chance for the novice to discover a talent until then unseen and a chance for a long-dormant skill to find a new outlet.

Each year, Age & Opportunity invites local authorities, arts centres, libraries, Active Retirement groups, care settings, community groups and clubs, associations from every part of the country to run Bealtaine events that celebrate creativity in older age.

In 2009, we had over 400 organisers. We devise a theme to get people thinking and we produce a festival programme, which lists events and showcases the diverse range of activities taking place. The theme for 2010 is ‘have dreams and speak them without fear’ taken from the poem ‘What Do Men Want’ by the US poet Anthony S Abbott.


The Physio Company, Tax relief on physiotherapy

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Physio reminds clients about tax relief The Physio Company, one of Ireland’s largest private chartered physiotherapy providers, is contacting all its patients to remind them to claim any tax relief they are due on medical bills, including physiotherapy. Anne McGoldrick, medical director of The Physio Company, said millions of euro lay unclaimed in tax relief on medical expenses, including physiotherapy receipts. She said that many people were unaware that they could claim tax relief on expenses incurred through visits to a chartered physiotherapist. From Sunday Business Post

Fun family dog walk in Athlone to help carers

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Following the success of Ireland’s first National Dog Walk, which raised €40,000 for The Carers Association last year, Petmania is asking dog owners to join them on Easter Monday, April 25, for this, the second annual event. The National Dog Walk will see walks starting from 13 of Petmania’s stores nationwide to raise vital funds for family carers. This year marks the first charity dog walk in Athlone with Petmania having opened its new store last year at Fernhill Garden Centre, Ballymahon Road.

“Petmania opened in Athlone just before Christmas last year, so we missed the first of the National Dog Walks. However, I know from our colleagues around the country that the event was a real success and the dogs of the country really enjoyed the day out. We are really looking forward to bringing the event to Athlone this year, and know already that it will be great fun!” said Sarah Noonan, store manager, Petmania, Athlone.

Funds raised through the National Dog Walk go towards supporting the care provided by Ireland’s 275,000 family carers.


It's the rise of Ireland's super grandparents

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All of the joy and none of the pain. That's what they say about grand-children. And indeed, for many grandparents, becoming one -- after you get over the shock, that is -- can be one of the most rewarding relationships in life and is celebrated on Sunday, Grandparents Day.

There are lots of grandparents in Ireland. "Lots" is about as scientific as it gets because there are no figures available on how many there are.

The CSO doesn't include the definition on census forms and cash-strapped organisations such as Age Action or Friends of the Elderly who would like the category included on National Household surveys would have to pay for the privilege.

Dr Francesca Lundström is author of Grandparenthood in Modern Ireland, which she wrote in conjunction with Age Action. A grandmother herself, Lundström says it is the most fantastic status. "It's that thing about continuation, it's visceral -- the most amazing feeling," she says.


Kenny told to keep his promise to the elderly

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ELDERLY CARE: OLDER PEOPLE’S charity Alone has called on Labour and Fine Gael to include specific provisions for the welfare of vulnerable older people in negotiations on the programme for government.

Vulnerable older people, such as those who were homeless or lonely, were isolated throughout the economic boom, and are disproportionately affected by the downturn, Alone said.

It is seeking consistency in the provision of home help and care support to allow people to age with dignity in their own homes, the retention of a minister for older persons and publication and implementation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy.

The charity has called on Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to keep his promise to make Ireland “the best place on earth where people could age with dignity”.


Those undiagnosed with Alzheimers set to reach 600,000 by 2021 in the UK

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The number of people with undiagnosed dementia is set to double to almost 600,000 in 2021, with Dorset currently facing the lowest rate of diagnosis in the UK, according to a new report.

Figures from the Alzheimer's Society show just over 300,000 people are undiagnosed at the moment.

Overall, the number of people with dementia is increasing as people live longer lives. More than a million people are expected to have the condition by 2021.

If nothing is done to improve diagnosis rates, which currently stand at 40%, some 595,725 will be undiagnosed, according to the charity, which has published a map on variations in diagnosis.

Dorset has the lowest rates of diagnosis in the UK. with only a quarter (26%) of those with the condition knowing they have it, rising to 69% in Belfast.

The map is based on prevalence rates for dementia from experts at King's College London, which have been updated by the charity, alongside information held by GPs.


NCBI on Home Care talks to Julie Roberts from Comfort Keepers

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Some older people with sight loss may find that they need help with certain household tasks, like preparing meals, cooking or cleaning. Help at home is available both publicly and privately and here, we go through what is available and how to apply for it.

According to Julie Roberts of Comfort Keepers, a private home care agency, standards and monitoring are areas of concern for all those involved in home help. “We are pushing for regulation of the sector at the moment. Standards should include some kind of monitoring, such as a tele-monitoring system where the home help would phone in when they arrive and when they are leaving the person’s home. It may also include spot checks, internal monitoring by the agency and also external monitoring.”

Julie also outlined things that people can look for when choosing a home care provider. “The first important thing would be to make sure that the carer has been vetted by the agency or the HSE and that they have Garda clearance, which everyone working in this area should have. You should also look at what experience they have and what training they have undertaken. For example, manual handling is compulsory. Another consideration would be what monitoring the agency undertakes, whether they do spot checks and what the feedback or complaints procedure is,” explains Julie.

There is also tax relief available for anyone who pays for home care - up to 41%, depending on the level of tax paid. If the person who is availing of the care is not eligible to apply for tax relief, a relative can arrange to apply for it instead.


€79.6 Million Released to Improve and Extend the Homes of Older People and People with a Disability in 2011

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€79.46 million for grants to improve or extend the private homes of older people and people with a disability in 2011. This does not include expenditure by local authorities on improving and extending their own social housing stock.

Announcing the allocations, the Minister said, “I am delighted, against the backdrop of the tight constraints on the public finances, to be able to announce this high level of funding for the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability. These schemes are vitally important in assisting older people and people with a disability to continue living in their own homes and communities with the comfort and dignity that they deserve”.

The Minister continued, “I am very committed to facilitating the continued occupancy of their own homes by older people and people with a disability. A great many people require only very modest supports to continue living independently, close to their families and friends, provided their accommodation is secure and appropriate to their needs.


Stroke Drug May Cause Liver Damage, warns EMA

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A possible link has been made between Dronedarone, which is currently used to prevent atrial fibrillation, and two cases of liver failure requiring transplant

DOCTORS HAVE been asked to closely monitor patients taking a drug used to control atrial fibrillation, a rhythm disturbance in the heart, following reports of liver damage possibly associated with the medication.

Dronedarone, which is marketed under the trade name Multaq, was licensed in 2009 and is used to prevent recurrence of atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation happens when the atria (the upper chambers of the heart) contract irregularly and rapidly. Multaq is used to prevent the fibrillation coming back or to lower the heart rate.

Atrial fibrillation is one of the main causes of stroke; it is estimated that every fifth stroke is due to the arrhythmia. The resulting stroke, which occurs after a clot travels from the fibrillating heart to the brain, is often severe. About 10,000 people develop a stroke in the Republic every year.

Dronedarone works mainly by blocking channels through which charged particles of potassium move in and out of the muscle cells, causing the excessive electrical activity that leads to atrial fibrillation and rapid heart rate.


Call for Home Care Regulation Pledge by Parties

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Call for Home Care Regulation Pledge by Parties

The Home Care Association (HCA) today (22 February 2011) again called on the main political parties to commit to statutory regulation of the Home Care sector by the end of this year.

HCA president Ed Murphy said, " We are calling on party leaders to show their commitment to older and vulnerable people by agreeing to bring forth legislation regulating the sector by the end of this year. The recent Prime Time Investigates programme illustrated that it is now imperative that statutory regulation of the home care sector is introduced.

Murphy continued, "there is currently no requirement whatsoever for home carers to be Garda vetted, trained or monitored or for any for of care planning or risk assessment to be undertaken. This sector can be easily regulated with the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) empowered to inspect home care providers in a similar way to how nursing homes are inspected."

Thousands of elderly patients suffer accidents in hospital

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More than 5,000 elderly people fell out of hospital or nursing home beds in the course of a year, according to confidential reports.

Older people accounted for around 29,260 reported accidents and near misses during 2009 although many other cases are likely to have happened but not been accounted for.

The reports, which relate to facilities funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE), are made on a confidential basis by staff to a central database compiled by the State Claims Agency which handles compensation cases.


Carers show politicians the ‘yellow card’

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At today’s national launch of its Pre-Election Manifesto, The Carers Association unveiled Ireland’s first Virtual Carers Campaign. With serious threat posed to the sustainability of family care in the home, the new campaign enables family carers - the invisible workforce who often provide round-the-clock care - get their voices heard from home. “Family carers, working full time in the home with little or no support from the state, do not have the time or resources to come out for protests or canvass politicians. We have created Ireland’s first Carers Virtual Campaign which allows carers to simply upload an image of themselves holding their messages for the attention of election candidates” says Enda Egan, CEO of The Carers Association.

Comfort Keepers Care Continues Despite Severe Weather Conditions

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Comfort Keepers is successfully providing care all around the country despite heavey snowfalls and icy conditions.

For some of our clients we are the only visit that they will have that day to ensure that they are safe and well. Carers are cooking hot meals, picking up medication that has run low, restocking cupboards, ensuring that homes are warm and secure. Many carers are walking to their clients homes so we ask you to bear with us if they are a little late.

It was lovely to get an email from a client complimenting all the hard work during this weather, see below.


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