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Do we normalise frailty and disability in older people?

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3 December, 2012

Professor David Oliver, clinical director for older people at the Department of Health, has warned that older people are being moved unnecessarily into nursing homes where they do not have adequate healthcare. He said not enough effort was being made to tackle “perfectly reversible, treatable problems”.

Speaking to the House of Lords select committee on public service and demographic change, he said when older people entered homes, access to certain treatments was worse than “you might get in prison”.

“Certainly, when older people are in health services, primary care or secondary care, they need a proper diagnosis, they need proper assessment, and currently we are failing to address reasons why they are becoming immobile, or becoming dependent, and writing them off,” he said.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Yes But

    I suppose that to an extent, assuming that the elderly should be 'protected from themselves' - for example, restricting activities because someone might fall - could be seen as 'normalising frailty' ?

    Providing less comprehensive medical treatment on age grounds, is also a problem area.

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  • My mother in her 80s suffered from a worsening problem with her balance over several years, which led to falls, loss of confidence, and eventual hospitalisation with pelvic fractures. She and we had consistently been told that nothing could be done about her balance problem, which was just 'old age'.
    While in hospital the consultant listened to her - for the first time she was actually being listened to - and told her he could sort her problem with a fifteen-minute procedure designed to clear the deposit of crystals in her ear which were causing her loss of balance. Ths was done and has revolutionised her life.We are left feeling angry that she has had to wait years. and been fobbed off, before this could happen.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 4-Dec-2012 3:20 pm

    You are right to be angry !

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  • tinkerbell

    we may all be living longer but the quality of those extended years is not necessarily improving and more and more treatments will be required for the ageing population which will increase spending if we are to treat the elderly and provide a 'quality' care not just lip service.

    With all the cutbacks do we seriously expect things to improve?

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  • Exercise is good for anyone, even those with disability or restricted mobility. Improving muscle tone can be achieve from sitting position. T'ai chi has been shown to improve balance in people with balance problems. Let's get everyone moving more! How? FREE exercise groups across all ages groups. My mother joined such a group but could only stay in it for a limited period. She has osteo-arthritis in both knees and found that her balance was helped by being in the group.

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