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Elderly health report highlights need to remain active
New research which predicts that a growing number of elderly people  will suffer from multiple health conditions over the next 20 years highlights the importance of keeping mentally and physically fit, eating well and sharing meaningful relationships, says the manager of Fernhill House.   

The report, issued by Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing, says the number of older people who have at least four different medical conditions is set to double by 2035.   

One in three of those diagnosed with four long-term conditions will have dementia, depression or some form of cognitive impairment, say researchers.   They predict a 179.4% increase in the number of people of pension age being diagnosed with cancer and a 118% rise in those who have diabetes.   

All diseases, apart from dementia and depression, will more than double in absolute numbers between 2015 and 2035 in over 85s, says Carol Jagger, professor of epidemiology of ageing at the institute, who led the study.   A large part of the increase in the number of people with four or more medical problems will come from an expected sharp rise in coming years in the number of people living until at least 85.   

“Our model shows that future young-old adults, aged 65 to 74 years, are more likely to have two or three diseases than in the past. This is due to their higher prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity, which are risk factors for multiple diseases,” she explained. 

“We need to shift our focus to helping people to stay as well and independent as possible for as long as possible.  

“As we get older, our health and care needs tend to overlap and become more complex. A more compassionate and intelligent approach to caring for older people must be a priority for us all.” 

Fernhill House manager Mike Dearn says the report adds to the growing weight of evidence that staying mentally, emotionally and physically active in old age is essential in retaining one’s health.   

He added that numerous studies show physical exercise and challenging the brain can slow the progression of dementia by as much as ten years.   

Fernhill House holds a weekly exercise class to keep the brain as well as the body active, alternative therapies such as massage and mental stimulation such as games, music and crafts.   

Studies say the definition of exercise is wide ranging and include activities such as gardening – something which takes place on a regular basis with residents working in the home's specially designed indoor potting shed and its two-acre garden.   
 
Mike explained: “One study showed that a stress hormone which keeps mental facilities sharp is produced by the brain during exercise.  Another demonstrated that even moderate exercise can boost memory and mental processing speed. Just walking at a moderate pace three times a week can reduce mental decline by up to 10 years in older adults.    

“Keeping your mind active can help slow the effects of dementia by reducing cell damage and supporting the growth of new cells. So, learning a language, doing puzzles, enjoying board games or playing an instrument can all help.”

Project Outstanding
The team here at Fernhill House are committed to providing an outstanding service to our residents which is constantly improving and developing. With this in mind we have today launched our “Project Outstanding” initiative with the aim of making our residents lives fun and meaningful every single day. Outstanding is the rating CQC gives to homes which go beyond what is expected of them and is the rating what we are all working towards. Please visit our page to find out how “Project Outstanding” is coming along.
Spring is in the air with Fernhill’s activities programme
With snowdrops bursting forth and birdsong filling the air, spring is definitely around the corner and activities at Fernhill House continue apace throughout February and March, with music, crafts, fun and unusual therapies on the agenda.    

Residents have a chance to create with clay when Sue brings her pottery accoutrements to Fernhill House on Wednesday February 28 and March 21 from 10.30 until 11.30am, while popular viola player Sarah plays familiar classics on Monday February 26, March 12 and March 26 between 3 and 4pm.    

Ted will be helping beginners grasp the rudiments of bridge at his Beginners Bridge Club on Thursday February 22 from 6.30 til 8pm.   

A number of regular weekly events will also be continuing. These include three hours of holistic therapy every Tuesday with Michelle who offers massage and sound therapy between 2 and 5pm.  Tuesday is also keep fit day, with experienced fitness instructor and former PE teacher Nicky offers two hours of exercise between 2 and 4pm.   

Thursdays between 2 and 3pm offer a chance to listen to Pat the pianist perform familiar singalong tunes in the Elgar room.   And every Sunday is “Keep Calm and Sing Along” day – with everyone invited to join in from 11am.   

There’s a chance for residents, family and friends to discuss ideas for forthcoming events at a meeting at Fernhill House on March 20 from 6 – 7pm. Just drop in. Refreshments will be provided.

How to spot the signs of depression in older people
We are all prone to feeling a little deflated at times, but when that feeling persists for a long period and begins to affect our quality of life, it’s time to take things more seriously. Older people can be more at risk of becoming depressed, with around one in four people over the age of 65 developing depression at some point in their lives. 

Despite this relatively high proportion of older adults suffering from this condition, a staggering 85 per cent never receive any help from the NHS. This can be for a number of reasons, from refusal to seek help to the condition going unnoticed by caregivers. Recognising the signs of depression and seeking help for the person can mean an earlier intervention, and shorter recovery period. Here’s what you need to know. 

What causes depression? 

People older than 65 are more at risk of becoming depressed than younger people, for a variety of reasons. They may feel down due to giving up work, struggling financially or losing a partner or friend. The majority of older people manage to cope remarkably well with these challenges, but for some; depression is a real risk. 

Some of the most commonly identified causes of depression in older adults include: 

· Long term illnesses and failing health: People who are living with a debilitating condition, cognitive decline, chronic pain or disability can often feel depressed about their situation. 

· Bereavements: The death of a friend or family member, in particular a spouse, or a beloved pet can be a trigger for depression. 

· Isolation and loneliness: Suddenly living alone or having a dwindling circle of friends can make depression a higher risk. Similarly, losing driving privileges or no longer being able to participate in favourite activities because of physical challenges can reduce the person’s sense of purpose and negatively affect their outlook on life. 

· Anxiety: Older adults can become anxious for a variety of reasons. Financial worries can mount up, they may be fearful of dying or about their health, or they might find living alone uncomfortable. These fears can quickly develop into depression if not addressed. 

If you or someone you know has experienced some of these issues, being aware of depression symptoms and acting accordingly can help tackle the problem more efficiently. Some medicines can also make older people feel depressed, including beta blockers, blood pressure medication, cholesterol control drugs and steroids. If you or someone you know feels depressed after starting a new medicine, talk to a doctor to see if there is an alternative. 

Signs of depression in older adults 

Clinical depression is more than just feeling a bit down. It’s a persistent, debilitating condition that is hard to shake, and will start to affect many aspects of your life if left untreated. Common symptoms include: 

· Loss of interest in hobbies, social activities and conversations 
· Feelings of hopelessness, despair and of being a ‘burden’ 
· Slowed movement or speech 
· Weight loss, loss of appetite or, in some cases, overeating 
· Increased use of alcohol or drugs 
· Lack of energy, low motivation 
· Neglect of self-care, such as not washing, forgetting medications and not eating
· Problems with sleep 
· Thoughts of death and suicide 

In younger people, depression can often manifest itself as a sad feeling. However, with older people, this ‘sad’ feeling often doesn’t occur, and instead they will complain of physical pains, a lack of energy and low motivation. Physical complaints such as headaches, arthritis pains and random bodily aches are often the predominant symptom of depression, so keep an eye out for this. 

Depression is a clinical illness, which can be treated with medication and therapy. Older people may be reluctant to seek help, due to the perceived stigma associated with mental health problems which is typical of their generation. However, it’s important to point out that times have moved on, and that our understanding of mental health has improved, so they really don’t need to suffer in silence. 

As active members of the local community, we welcome a variety of visitors to the home to share their enthusiasm, knowledge and experiences with our residents. 

We even have our own mini-bus, enabling residents to take trips to places they’ve long enjoyed visiting or discover new interests locally. Our team know exactly how to provide a fun and engaging fitness and wellbeing programme too. And, of course, family and friends are welcome to join in when visiting.

Growing older is more fun than you think: 5 reasons not to dread old age
Receding hairlines, tooth loss and ever-increasing wrinkles; getting older has plenty to be fearful of, but is this all there is? It’s a common misconception that growing older brings nothing but poor health, loneliness and misery, but the reality for many can be really quite different. In fact, a recent study in the US found that over 65s are actually less stressed and generally happier with their lives than people in their 20s. 

Here at Fernhill House, we firmly believe there is a great deal to look forward to as we age. Here are just a few things you should consider, which might just change your mind about growing old. 

1. You could be healthier, happier and less stressed 

As a general rule, 50 and 60-somethings tend to eat better and exercise more than young people, and generally have lower alcohol consumption too. This could lead to increased fitness, a better body and boosted serotonin levels, keeping us happier and less likely to become depressed as we age. 

2. Finances could be looking rosy 

Most of us will have realised the majority of our earning potential by the time we approach retirement, so with any luck, we’ll be getting a bigger salary than we did in our 20s and 30s. We’ll also be able to look forward to being ‘empty nesters’, and all the extra disposable income that comes with that. We might have paid off our mortgage, or been able to downsize into a smaller home, and therefore have more money to spend on new experiences. 

3. Retirement will be awesome 

No more work! Imagine what you could do with all that spare time. Two thirds of retiree’s say that retirement was better than they imagined, and that they’ve kept busy and entertained despite giving up work. To fully embrace and enjoy your retirement, however, it’s important to ensure you have a good pension pot. Work with a financial advisor to plan your golden years, so that you can really enjoy all that spare time to yourself. 

4. Sleep will no longer be deprived 

 According to the Sleep Council, almost half of working age people are getting too few hours sleep. Working patterns mean people need to be in bed relatively early to cope with early starts and, particularly for night owls, this can be hard. Once you retire, you can stay up as late as you like, and lie in for as long as you wish. At last! A sleep regimen that you are fully in control of. 

5. You could choose an amazing care home 

Care homes can be a fulfilling experience; indeed, here at Fernhill House, our residents liken the experience to a high-quality hotel, with quality care and, of course, new friends. Our residents enjoy a whole host of exciting activities, such as monthly celebrity speakers (including stars of the Archers, Radio 4 comedians, novelists and more), and experiences involving animals, music, history and more. They can enjoy their hobbies, welcome visitors and generally make the most of their golden years in a happy, safe environment. 

Ask any one of the older people living at Fernhill House, and they’ll be sure to tell you that life begins at retirement. It’s all part of living, and just another new adventure that, with the right attitude, you can relish and enjoy just as much as you did being young.

 

May