Category Archives: health of elderly

Some constructive alternatives for funding care of the elderly

There are a lot of comfortably off pensioners. And lots of poor ones. And there are a lot better ways of finding money for elderly care than Theresa May’s manifesto commitment to whipping the houses off people who need care at home.

Under the Conservative’s plan, people needing either domiciliary (aka at-home) or residential care will have to pay for everything until the value of their assets, including their home, is down to £100,000. The Tories promise that no one will be forced to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care, with the cost instead deferred and taken from their estate after death.
Care of the Elderly Costs
The plan is superficially seductive. The older generation have benefitted from spectacular – and largely unearned – increases in the value of their property. Why should younger working people, through income tax, pay for the galloping costs of elderly care when they can’t even dream of affording to buy a home themselves? Doesn’t it make more sense to instead take the money out of the congealed wealth sitting in property? And, indeed, there can be no justification for the state protecting the inheritances of the well off by taxing hard-pressed working people.

But there are two major drawbacks. Firstly, there is the risk that the elderly will delay seeking support at home because they won’t want to enter into a domiciliary care plan involving a charge on their property. They won’t get early treatment and will fall on the NHS.

The second drawback is more serious. No one chooses Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s – they choose you. Health inevitably deteriorates in old age, but the conditions that will result in intensive care costs, whether domiciliary or residential, are largely random. A quarter of the over-85s are likely to develop dementia and a third will need constant care. But that leaves large numbers not in need of intensive care. Indeed, only one in eight over-85s are in care homes.

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We don’t for a moment think that someone in their 50s with breast cancer should have a lien put upon their home to pay for their care. We share the risk by paying through our taxes for the NHS and community care services. Why, then, should we think that a random third of the over-85s should have charges added to their homes but the other two-thirds not?

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the increasing cost of care for the elderly needs to be found somewhere, and it would be unfair for the young to shoulder all the burden.

One of the oddities of the tax system is that we stop paying 12% national insurance on our earnings once we reach state pension age. The idea is that NI is basically a savings system that pays for our pensions, so once we’re in receipt of a pension we stop paying in. But NI, when first set up, was a system of insurance against illness and unemployment. If NI is supposed to help fund the NHS and care services, there is no reason why pensioners – the better off at least – shouldn’t be paying it, albeit at a reduced rate.
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Surgeons furious at NHS ‘cost-cutting’ plans to ration hip and knee replacements

Surgeons have slammed NHS plans to ration hip and knee replacements.

Three areas in the West Midlands have proposed slashing the number of patients who qualify for hip replacements by 12% and introducing a 19% cut over who is eligible for knee replacements.

Board papers of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) suggested an “opportunity to reduce expenditure on hip and knee replacement surgery” by £2million a year.

This would include only treating “severe to the upper end of moderate” cases.

And people who are obese with a body mass index of 35 or over needing to lose 10% of their weight unless their problems were very severe.

Patients in pain would now need to have such severe levels of pain that they cannot sleep or carry out daily tasks.

Documents said a “patient’s pain and disability should be sufficiently severe that it interferes with the patient’s daily life and/or ability to sleep”, according to the Health Service Journal.
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Our comment: A pity this country is too poor to afford a proper health service.

NHS Crisis ? Cruise ships sound better equipped to cope with demand from the elderly at this time of year

One cruise line says: “In fact, the medical care on cruise ships today has really become quite sophisticated,” he says. “We can treat heart attacks with the latest clot-busting drugs. We can treat respiratory failure with intubation and ventilation. We can treat severe hemorrhage or bleeding with blood transfusions.”

Cruise line medical facilities

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD – MEDICAL CARE AT SEA

Other cruise lines spell out what is available – e.g. Cunard Line
“Each ship has a Medical Centre on board, supported by fully qualified doctors and nurses who can assist with general medical issues and emergency situations.”

Further advice is available from The Cruise Critic

It is clear that the cruise lines are anticipating a large increase in demand.

And think of the other savings which may be achievable by taking a cruise, as spelt out by our resident advisor Bertie Bazart

Our comment: These comments are made with a degree of ‘tongue in cheek’, but worth considering.

What happened to £72,000 cap on amount pensioners would have to pay before state takes over

Fifty thousand pensioners have been forced to sell their homes to pay for social care in the last year, despite a Government pledge that nobody would have to use their house to pay.

House of Commons library figures show that tens of thousands of older people have put their properties on the market to cover care costs, amid fears that the trend may continue because councils do not have enough money for social care.

It comes just days after ministers announced that local authorities will be allowed to hike council tax to try and plug the funding black hole which could increase bills by £90 next year.
Councils across England will be allowed to increase the social care precept element of the bill by an additional one per cent next year and the same in the year after, adding up to a six per cent hike by 2018/19.

The Conservative manifesto promised that older people would not be forced to sell their homes to pay for care and announced a £72,000 cap on how much pensioners would have to pay before the state takes over their bills.

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Pensioners can boost their brain power ‘by building up their muscle strength’

Researchers found increased muscle strength leads to improved brain function in adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

People with MCI are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

With 135 million people forecast to suffer from dementia by 2050, researchers say their findings have implications for the type and intensity of exercise that is recommended for the growing ageing population.

MCI defines people who have noticeably reduced cognitive abilities such as poorer memory, but are still able to live independently.

The new findings, published in the Journal of American Geriatrics, show, for the first time, a “positive causal link” between muscle adaptations to progressive resistance training and the functioning of the brain among people over 55 with MCI.

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Elderly patients afraid to complain in ‘care’ homes

Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are “suffering in silence” because they are too afraid to complain about their treatment in care homes and hospitals, a government watchdog says.
According to a report published today, a third of over 65s who experienced below standard care did not speak up because they were concerned their future treatment would be compromised.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said it had received far fewer complaints than it would expect from older people, given their frequent use of the NHS and social care services.
“Older people are some of the most frequent and vulnerable users of health and social care services but are the silent majority when it comes to complaining.”
Julie Mellor
Of the ten million people aged over 65 in Britain, the watchdog found 76 per cent used the NHS this year.
But of the 14 per cent who were unhappy with their care, only half of that number complained.

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‘Full MoTs’ for A&E OAPs: New approach of ‘frailty units’ cuts stays in hospital

Now the pioneering units, known as “frailty units”, in which patients receive physiotherapy, medications assessment, consultant visits and social care, are being considered by hospitals elsewhere.

The news comes as figures last week show a record number of vulnerable elderly patients stuck in hospital beds as discharging delays hit an all-time high.

Pensioners are given a full health check on admission, rather than a focus on a specific cause.

For example, doctors will look at the potential causes of a fall, such as a poor mix of medication, rather than just the damage caused by the fall.

A battery of other checks is also carried out in a bid to prevent future problems.

The package of care leaves them better able to live independently in safety.

Yesterday Dr David Oliver, president of the British Geriatrics Society, said: “This method could help transform the NHS. Elderly people get stuck in hospitals which is often bad for their health and not good for hospitals. Most new acute admissions are elderly patients.

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Mobile firms cut off unused phones of the elderly

VODAFONE, one of Britain’s biggest mobile phone operators, has admitted disconnecting up to 3m pay-as-you-go customers each year and recycling their numbers.

Under current rules, mobile phone firms are allowed to reuse numbers if phones have been inactive for six months. Vodafone, which has 19.5m mobile customers, does not automatically inform people when it does so.

Critics have warned that the practice can have dire consequences, particularly for elderly or infirm users who keep mobiles to use only in an emergency.

In one case, Sheila Secker, a 78-year-old grandmother, died after being unable to call for help after collapsing at her home in York. Secker had just moved home and a landline phone had not been installed.

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We share the concern expressed on this issue, and know that mobile phones are an important way of people being able to contact elderly relatives and vice versa. Which makes us wonder whether a new type of contract could be offered – one which for a small monthly payment (which might work out no more expensive than putting ‘pay as you go’ funds in which are maybe unused. An important point on this would be that it would not be closed unless requested by the user.

Thousands of pensioners forced into hospital by scathing budget cuts in NHS home care

Scathing cuts to home care and the NHS has forced thousands of pensioners into hospital.

Fewer district nurses and ­community matrons combined with a slash in social care mean the vulnerable have increasingly turned to A&E.

Wednesday’s findings by the charity Age UK come as health chiefs announced a plan to integrate hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes.

Since the Coalition came to power the number of district nurses had fallen 27.5%, from 7,851 to 5,690, and community matrons by 17.1%, 1,552 to 1,287.

Age UK also found spending on social care was down £2.64billion from £8.1billion in 2005-6 to £5.46billion in 2014-5.
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Tyneside pensioners who suffer serious heart problems hailed as an inspiration

Meet the football team who are putting Premier League players to shame.

Tyneside Pensioners an inspiration

Tyneside Pensioners walking football group

The team, who all suffer from serious heart problems, have been hailed as an inspiration after they started their own football club to help in their recovery.

The patients, who have all become friends after meeting at a support group at the Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital, came up with the idea to form a walking football group to overcome their often debilitating heart conditions.

The team mates were inspired to form the football group after seeing a Barclays advert on the television which featured a group of over 50s men playing walking football.

But their own group is open to men and women over the age of 16 who suffer from heart failure. The team mates have so far played twice in taster sessions and are looking to continue with the game at least once a month.

And its members today told of how being part of the team has helped them to overcome their heart problems to feel more active and confident in themselves.

Among them, June Amis, 58, from Fawdon, who was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in her 20s, said she had been surprised that football could help her with her health.

She said: “I’m very surprised that it’s football that is the solution, especially since I can’t play. But it’s not that you play a full game of football – we do a little bit and we can go and sit down too.”
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Elderly advised to use a hot water bottle to counteract low winter temperatures

MILLIONS of older people struggling to pay their energy bills should heat just one room in the day to get through the winter, new advice says today.
The official guidance tells the elderly to warm the living room and then their bedroom at night – and use a hot water bottle.

Other tips include wearing slippers with lots of thin layers of clothes to keep out the cold with regular hot meals and drinks through the day.

The new advice suggests the elderly heat their homes to at least 64.4F (18C) to protect their health.

The quality of this advice to pensioners is on about the same level as our light hearted advice on saving energy costs:

But angry campaigners for the rights of older people say many are forced to choose whether to “heat or eat” as bills soar.

Last year’s cold weather saw 31,100 excess deaths – or around 260 a day, mainly among over-75s. Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “It is shocking that each winter an older person dies every seven minutes from cold weather.

“Turning up the heating is not an option for many older people struggling with high energy bills.”

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Our comment: we have probably all come across cases where pensioners live in a too cold environment when they could afford to use more heating. A challenge for our powers of persuasion.