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Ombudsman: Make it easier for Older People to Access Services

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Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has called for clear and targeted information to help older people access services.

She launched a report by Older and Bolder which highlighted the difficulties older people experience getting such information.

The report, Caught in the Web, urges public service providers to ensure that information is available through the post or the telephone as well as the internet. Ms O’Reilly said it was crucial that the most vulnerable people did not suffer because they were unclear about their entitlements or simply did not know how to find out.

Public bodies needed to communicate with those they served, she said.

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Lifestyle and ageing behind projected 72% rise in cancers

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IRELAND’S AGEING population, a significant increase in the numbers of people living in Ireland and lifestyle factors are behind a projected increase in cancers.

That is according to the World Cancer Research Fund UK, which says new cancer cases in Ireland could increase by 72 per cent by 2030. The predictions place Ireland at the top of an EU league table for projected cancer increases.

A separate report from insurers out today suggests cancer was responsible for almost half of all deaths in Ireland last year.

An Irish Life analysis of almost 2,000 payouts on life cover in 2011 shows 44 per cent were because of the disease. Two-thirds of all claims for serious illness during the same period were also for cancer, Irish Life said.

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Recession places pressure on pensioner budgets: New research

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Older people across the island of Ireland are increasingly balancing budgets and priorities between basic necessities, keeping their houses warm and paying bills finds new research published today (Thursday 19th January) by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI).

The research, carried out by Professor Paddy Hillyard, Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Demi Patsios, Bristol University, uses data from before and during the recession to show that pensioners are being affected, particularly in the ability to keep their houses warm and cuts to discretionary spending on items such as annual holidays. It finds that while single pensioners in Northern Ireland remain worst off, living standards for couples in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) have worsened due to the recession.

Professor Hillyard says, “This study finds that while pensioners are coping with the recession in comparison to other groups, rising costs are increasingly placing pressure on older people’s household budgets. A key area of concern is the number of older people unable to heat adequately their homes as fuel poverty disproportionately impacts on the health and living conditions of this group.”

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Inspection of Home Carers Urgent: Law Reform Commission Urges

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Professional carers and home helps looking after elderly people and other vulnerable individuals at home must be regulated and subject to inspections, the Government’s independent legal advisers have warned.

The Law Reform Commission is today publishing draft laws it says would bring such staff, whether HSE, voluntary or privately employed, under the watch of HIQA, the state agency that already monitors standards in private and public nursing homes and other residential institutions.

The 130-page commission report points out that the policy of successive governments in recent times has been to encourage more older people to remain living at home for longer, rather than entering full-time residential care.

Yet, despite the growing popularity of professional home help and home care packages to support independent living at home, and the increasing number of commercial companies offering these services, the commission notes: "There is an absence of a regulatory structure for the delivery of professional care in the home."

An RTÉ Prime Time investigation just over a year ago discovered shocking evidence of abuse, neglect, poor standards, sloppy practices and lack of training among home care workers who are trusted to assist some 65,000 older people every year.

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Regulation of professional home carers recommended

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THE HEALTH Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) should be given the power to set standards and regulate professional home care services, according to the Law Reform Commission.

In a report to be published today, the commission recommends that both public and private providers of home care services should be included in the regulatory regime.

It also recommends that the Social Services Inspectorate establish a registry of all professional home help carers.

These are among a list of 29 recommendations made by the commission.

Such regulation should not, however, include individuals such as relatives who provide informal assistance to elderly or vulnerable people living in their homes, it added.

The need for regulation was highlighted again last month when information released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act revealed the types of problems which can arise with home help services, going on complaints submitted to the Health Service Executive (HSE) by families.

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Calls for care services to be decentralised

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PUBLIC HEALTH and care services should devolve greater power to local providers to improve quality, according to the National Economic and Social Council.

The council says it has had concerns about quality, standards and accountability in human services for some time, and yesterday published the first in a series of reports on public services.

“Allied to NESC’s concerns is the existence of public anxiety about the failure of regulation and standards in both financial and human services, along with a demand for higher standards and better service provision.”

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Dementia remains 'hidden disease'

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AROUND 4,000 people are being diagnosed with dementia every year but it remains a largely hidden and largely invisible disease, a new report warned yesterday.

The report found that the diagnosis of dementia was the exception rather than the rule for those who lived at home, as opposed to in care.

There are now an estimated 41,700 with dementia in Ireland, but this is likely to more than triple to 147,000 by 2041.

Nearly 9pc of those are suffering early onset dementia and 26,000 are being cared for in their own homes, although most would never have got a formal diagnosis.

The report, Creating Excellence in Dementia Care: A Research Review for Ireland's National Dementia Strategy, was drawn up by researchers in Trinity College, St James's Hospital and the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway.

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Recession places pressure on pensioner budgets: New research

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Older people across the island of Ireland are increasingly balancing budgets and priorities between basic necessities, keeping their houses warm and paying bills finds new research published today (Thursday 19th January) by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI).

The research, carried out by Professor Paddy Hillyard, Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Demi Patsios, Bristol University, uses data from before and during the recession to show that pensioners are being affected, particularly in the ability to keep their houses warm and cuts to discretionary spending on items such as annual holidays. It finds that while single pensioners in Northern Ireland remain worst off, living standards for couples in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) have worsened due to the recession.

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Elderly patients abused in nursing home scandal

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HARROWING abuse of elderly and vulnerable patients is continuing in some Irish nursing homes, an Irish Independent investigation has found.

A litany of serious problems persists in the private nursing home industry four years after the Leas Cross scandal was exposed, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

Investigations carried out by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in nursing homes around the country in the past year found:

Instances of physical and verbal abuse of nursing home residents.

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Concern over slow progress in regulating home helps

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TENS OF thousands of older people across the State depend on home help services to help them to stay in their own homes.

It is a service which facilitates the earlier discharge of older persons from acute hospitals back to their own homes and a life of near independence. It also puts off the requirement for them to enter costly nursing home care by having someone help them with basic tasks like washing, dressing and cooking. But it is an entirely unregulated sector, which could put older people at risk.

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Reilly plans fund for elderly care in the home

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THE DEPARTMENT of Health is asking the Health Service Executive to establish a special fund to pay for services and facilities that would allow more older people to remain in their own homes rather than being moved to long-term residential care.

The special delivery unit in the Department of Health, established by Minister for Health James Reilly earlier this year, has written to the HSE requesting that the new fund be set up in 2012 “to provide for a range of intermediate options so that more older persons can be empowered to remain at home or to return home after convalescence”.

The department said yesterday the size of the fund had yet to be determined.

However, it said that among the measures the fund would look at would be elderly admissions units, specialised elderly care streams in hospitals, rapid access to assisted discharge packages such as home aids, home care packages, fast access to step-down rehabilitation and rapid re-entry to acute hospital services if needed.

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Coming of age: a study in longevity

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HOW DO you enjoy a long and happy life? Live well, is the answer, and as if to exemplify this, Prof Rose Anne Kenny breezes into our meeting, scarf and hair flying, wearing a blindingly yellow high-viz jacket, with a cycle helmet and laptop under her arm. A clinician and neuroscientist, Kenny is passionate about the research she and her team at St James’s Hospital in Dublin are doing in the area of ageing. For the first time, Ireland is heading for a population in which older rather than younger people predominate.

This change has huge implications for policymakers but especially for insurers, which is one reason Irish Permanent has been a major funder of Tilda, the longitudinal study on ageing in Ireland.

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How retro-styling homes can help elderly people with dementia feel more comfortable

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Retro-decorating can help people with dementia to stay at home for longer by placing familiar items from their past in their home to reduce anxiety and to trigger memories. Jeremy Dunning reports

With about 750,000 dementia sufferers in the UK, costing the UK £20bn a year and numbers set to grow to 1.7 million over the next 40 years, commissioners and providers are looking for cost-effective models of providing dementia care.

Adult social care manager Joelle Bevington, from Surrey Council, has seen good results from retro-decorating since the council began implementing the model as a facet of personalisation. "We are seeing that people do feel less anxious and more able to do things and getting things for themselves from their kitchen because they know where things are," she says. "People are more self-sufficient."

The council has been using the technique in people's homes, day centres and care homes for adults with dementia. The intention is to allow people to stay at home for longer and out of hospital by providing low-level support, such as old-style fixtures and fittings or pictures of favourite movie stars, that people with dementia will remember from their childhood. This is because long-term memories, unlike short-term memories, are normally retained and can be stimulated. This will be mixed with surroundings that are airy and light.

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Cloud technology big benefit to Comfort Keepers

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Home care company Comfort Keepers teamed up with SilverLine, the cloud solutions division of DataSolutions, to facilitate growth and enable remote working for all its employees.

Comfort Keepers have 11 offices around Ireland and provide home care to those unfortunate enough to be unable to manage certain daily tasks.

Comfort Keepers unique approach to monitoring the arrival time of carers using telemonitoring technology ensures that care is always provided when and for the length of time it is required.

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Healthy brain and low risk of Alzheimer's for diners who stay hooked on fish

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PEOPLE who eat baked or grilled fish on a weekly basis may be improving their brain health and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a study.

Cyrus Raji, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre and School of Medicine, said: "This is the first study to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure and Alzheimer's risk.

"The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled (grilled) fish at least one time per week had better preservation of grey matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease."

The findings of the decade-long study, which are to be presented at the annual Radiological Society of North America meeting, centred on 260 healthy individuals.

The findings showed weekly baked or grilled fish consumption was positively associated with grey matter volumes -- which is crucial to brain health.

Decreases in gray matter volume indicate that brain cells are shrinking.

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A Home for Those Who Hate Nursing Homes

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In case you missed it, The Times reported earlier this week on an experimental type of “resident-centered” nursing home that’s operating in more than 100 places nationwide.

Just 10 residents live in each so-called Green House, which looks nothing like a traditional nursing home. The front door opens onto a large living and dining area; on one side is a hearth surrounded by upholstered chairs, and on the other is a long communal dining table where meals are served. An open kitchen faces the table, so caregivers can chat with elderly residents while preparing meals.

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Physical activity and mental health in ageing

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Physical activity and mental health in ageing

This research brief examines the links between maintaining recommended levels of physical activity and positive effects on mental health and brain functioning as well as the public policy strategies in place to promote physical activity in the older population. It is based on three CARDI-funded projects: · Physical activity and core depressive symptoms in the older Irish adult population, led by Karen Morgan at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. · Using aerobic exercise to promote brain plasticity, conducted by Richard Carson at Queen’s University, Belfast. · Leading dance for older people, led by Sylvia O’Sullivan at the University of Limerick

An Active Life For Seniors Impacts Mental And Physical Health

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Regular physical activity is associated with a lower risk of suffering depression in old age. This is shown by one of the largest studies on elderly Europeans to have been carried out, by researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, among others. Research also shows that self-determined motivation and perceived competence are important factors in persuading elderly people to exercise more.

"We do not yet know for sure what the causal relationship between physical activity and depression is like. What is clear is that elderly people who are physically active are less depressed, but higher levels of depression can also lead to less exercise, and this suggests there is a mutual influence," says Magnus Lindwall, docent (associate professor) in exercise and health psychology at the University of Gothenburg.

In a recently published study Lindwall, together with research colleagues, has studied 17,500 elderly people with an average age of 64 from 11 European countries who are taking part in the large EU-funded population study Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement (SHARE). The subjects in the study were followed up over a period of two and a half years, among other things with regard to physical activity and depression.

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Good country air the key to Maurice's 100 years

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GOOD country air, a laid back disposition and the odd tipple of whiskey seems to be the winning recipe that sees Currow native Maurice Fleming still going strong at the age of 100.

As he celebrated his milestone birthday on Friday last with close family, friends and staff at Our Lady of Lourdes in Kilcummin, there was no denying the admiration felt for him by all who were there.

Among them was his niece Maureen Somers from New Street, Killarney, who said her uncle was never one to make a fuss.

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Centenarians healthier than younger pensioners

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alt A study funded by Age UK has found that are ‘lucky’ individuals who avoid developing common diseases such as cancer.

Figures from the study which was undertaken by International Longevity Centre UK show that people who reach their 100th year are quite often in better health than pensioners that are younger.

The research also shows that many centenarians are more likely to have experienced healthier lifestyles as children.

David Sinclair, assistant director, policy and communications said “With significant growth in the numbers of centenarians ahead, it is vital now that our efforts are focused on understanding how we support and deliver improvements in quality of life for the oldest old.”

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Taking the conflict out of the care

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‘TO BE honest, life is too short to be having a conflict.”

As a mediator, Frances Stephenson is familiar with that most difficult of potential conflicts: how to agree, within the family, on what should be done to meet the needs of an aged parent who is no longer independent or whose independence is severely curtailed by ill health or frailty.

She and four colleagues have set up Later Life Mediation, a private mediation service, to work in this difficult area. They have mediated between parents and (adult) children, children and children, and family members and nursing home staff.

The potential sources of conflict are legion: how should the parent’s needs be met and who should meet them? How can the separate families of a previously divorced or widowed parent co-operate? How can adult children living abroad be brought into the picture? How can issues with nursing homes be resolved?

And what of the parent’s own need to have his or her autonomy respected? “It’s very hard for an adult living independently whose children think they know better,” says fellow mediator Joe McDermott. “That can cause a lot of conflict.”

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Ageing Globally - Ageing Locally - President Mary McAleese speaking at CARDI

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President Mary McAleese speaking at CARDI conference

http://www.cardi.ie/conference2011/presentations

Home care services to be inspected

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Home care services are to be subject to inspection under a programme announced by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Reports will be produced on about 250 companies before the health watchdog publishes its verdict on the state of home care nationally. The move by the CQC comes on the eve of the release of an Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into the home care system in England which is expected to be highly critical.

Inspections are set to begin next April. CQC inspectors will carry out the reviews alongside professional experts and those who have personal experience of using home care services.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: "Home care is one of the most difficult areas of care to monitor.

"Often the people who use home care services find themselves in vulnerable circumstances and the operation of home care is not as transparent as care in hospitals and other sectors because the interactions happen behind closed doors in people's homes. That is why we want to focus on this sector of social care in this way."

An advisory group is to be set up to assist the inspection process, with members from organisations including the EHRC, Age UK and the United Kingdom Homecare Association.

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Minister plans 'sugar tax' on sweet drinks to help fight obesity

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THE CABINET will be asked to approve a “sugar tax” on sweetened drinks that could raise up to €50 million a year, Minister for Health James Reilly has announced.

The Minister told the Seanad of his plans yesterday pointing out the contribution that sweetened drinks were making to rising levels of obesity in Ireland.

Research has shown that more than 60 per cent of Irish adults and a quarter of five to 12-year-olds are overweight, contributing to a dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes as well as conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Many health experts have called for a “sugar tax” as a key part of the strategy to tackle obesity but the drinks industry has opposed it and claimed it would cost jobs.

Methods of taxing the rising tide of obesity are being debated around Europe following the initiative of Hungary which began penalising high calorie food and drinks on September 1st, with Denmark introducing a “fat tax” last month.

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One of my arteries was 90% blocked

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MY HEALTH EXPERIENCE :Fair City actor JIM BARTLEY 's dizzy spells turned out to be minor strokes

WHEN I started getting dizzy spells, I put it down to high blood pressure. My doctors have told me since that those dizzy spells I was having were mini- strokes or “events” as they call them. I have to laugh when I hear them talking about “events”. To me, an event sounds like something you would be taking part in during the Olympic Games.

Back in 1992, I had started to experience shortness of breath after walking a distance. I was brought in for an angiogram, which found a blockage in one of my coronary arteries. I had an angioplasty which involved pushing an empty balloon through the artery and then inflating it to open up the blood vessel and let the blood flow through. Once the blockage was cleared, the balloon was taken out.

I had no problem after that and was doing my job fine until, just a few months ago, I began to have dizzy spells. I thought it was just my blood pressure. In June, I was finishing a week’s work on Fair City when I had another dizzy spell. Earlier that week, I had been having hot and cold shivers.

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