Monday, 27 March 2017

Elderly and driving

After the news in the media during the last few days, I think it's time that elderly people had their eyes etc tested on a regular basis.

Failing that I do feel that the DVLA should insist on all  drivers from a certain age, being required to have a fitness to drive medical. This is turn could be linked into your insurance, so that you get a premium if you are fit, and the insurance is blocked if you are unfit.

It seems there are far too many people on the road who are unfit to drive, yet no one stops them until it's too late, or when it's obvious that they should have been stopped, by their own family  or the medical profession.

People with dementia etc, have to report their condition to the DVLA, "Driving and Vehicle Licencing Authority" after which they can lose their driving licence, or they are required to reapply for their licence every year, and this is supported by a letter from the persons doctors etc

While most if these people accept this advice and move on , many simply refuse, and carry in regardless of the consequences
I also think that it's time that doctors stood in and contacted the DVLA, rather than leaving it to their patients.

While the doctors surgeries may be overworked, they have the DVLA forms in their surgeries, and could get the practise manager to send,  it once it's been completed by a doctor. 

The other day it was in the press about an elderly man, who carried on driving even though his eyesight was bad.

If a doctor refuses to contact the DVLA themselves, they are leaving themselves wide open to accusations of allowing an unfit person to drive, however too many of them hide behind patient confidentiality, so something needs to be changed.

While in reality,  it's up to the patient themselves to contact the driving authority, many simply refuse to accept there is anything wrong.

I do feel that the doctors are possibly irresponsible for doing nothing.  

However these days I do feel that those people who are being treated for an illness like dementia,  are at a disadvantage, because their insurance costs go up once they are diagnosed, and therefore things need to be more balanced. 

To me the UK should adapt the European scheme, where your insurance stays with you for
Iife and any medical problems are flagged up straight away

This is because many drivers simply lie to officials to carry on driving, and that's too easy.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lovely morning

On Saturday we went to Durham Cathedral to see the Treasures of St Cuthberts exhibition.

We were interested because our own Church, St Mary and St Cuthberts,  in Chester le Street was the original cathedral before Cuthberts coffin was moved to Durham.

I confess that I was not feeling too good, but we thought the change of air and exercise would do me good, so we went.

Getting up the hill took a few attempts because I was totally shattered, but in the end we got there.

I did not take my camera with me because of the need to get a permit which costs £15, but in all honesty I did not think I would be on a good state to use it when we got there.

So  I decided against taking it.

There is a small bus which runs to the cathedral from the bus station on most days, but we had missed it, and as the next one was half an hours wait, I decided that we should just go before the cathedral got too busy.

I enjoy being there because there is so much to see, and I never get tired of looking around as it's so big and full of history.

Next time we go, I will arrange for a photographic permit, and may well have a day there, so I can pace myself.

While we were there we saw a Cathedral stone Mason giving a demonstration of his work, and there were market traders selling local produce in the cloisters.

I can recommend this exhibition to anyone visiting the area, as it's a beautiful cathedral,  and the exhibition was stunning

When we got home I was very tired and slept for nearly two hours.

But it was a nice morning apart from my breathing problems

Friday, 17 March 2017

Health service in crisis

Over the last few months we have heard lots of stories about the health service being I a crisis and it makes me wonder when it will all end.

It seems that this government is moving money around from one place to another and I don't  every remember this happening before.

We came home from our daughters last night,  we found a letter from the chest consultant explaining that things were worse than we expected

It also stated the changes in medication for the Bronchiectasis/ Emphysema/ and Asbestos related problems, but did not state whether I had to stop my other inhalers etc.

So we thought it best to go and ask at our doctors first, to ask the questions, and then get the prescription

However this morning  when my wife went to ask for a doctors appointment, where we could ask about the changes to the medication, and whether I carry on taking the other inhalers as usual she was told that there was no doctors appointments for 3 -4 weeks?

They also said that the letter, "if they had received it," could be in the practise somewhere, but perhaps it had not been put onto the system as such.

So how on earth can I change medication,  when I don't understand if I have to stop taking the old medication

I find this whole set up completely unacceptable this day and age.

We also wanted to ask a doctor to explain what the consultants letter meant, but it seems that this is a total waste of time.

This proves that it not just hospitals in crisis mode but also doctors surgeries

This also proves a point when it comes to overworked Accident and Emergency hospitals.

If people cannot get an appointment at there doctors,  they going to head for the hospital, and to me it's totally wrong.

However I do wonder how many doctors surgeries are run solely by part time GPs these days.

Most of our doctors seem to be part time, rather than full time so perhaps things are changing.

No wonder the NHS is in such a mess.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

New support group for Lung conditions

Support group for lung disease sufferers

A new support group is about to start for residents with lung conditions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  James Illingworth Email 15:33 Wednesday 01 March 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                      A community support group for Wiganers who suffer from chronic respiratory problems will relaunch this month at a new venue.

Organisers are hoping to attract new membership and volunteers for the initiative which will offer advice and support to compliment medical treatment.

The inaugural meeting of the South Lancs Respiratory Support Group will take place at the Douglas Bank on Woodhouse Lane from 1pm. Bob Parry, who has formed the group, has organised community support schemes for residents with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for many years.

He said: “We’re hoping to attract new members to accompany those who have been part of our previous groups.

The meetings give people a sense of community to get out and share time with others with similar conditions.”COPD is an umbrella term to describe many progressive lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma and forms of bronchiectasis.

Mr Parry’s groups - which are supported by the NHS - have also offered assistance to residents who suffer from sleep apnoea, a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep.It will meet at the same venue on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

The borough has traditionally had comparatively high rates of lung disease due to its coal mining and cotton industry heritage although the number of cases has seen a steady decline in recent years. On a national level, a recent audit report claimed those suffering from COPD are being “failed” by the healthcare system.

Patients are regularly being admitted and discharged from hospitals on a “continuous cycle”, the latest National COPD Audit Programme report states.

The report, from the Royal College of Physicians, found that 43 per cent of patients admitted were readmitted at least once in the three months following discharge - a “considerable” increase in readmission rate.

They wrote: “The impression provided by the data is of a system that is not only stressed, but is ultimately failing COPD patients.”But the audit stresses there have “undoubtedly been improvements in COPD care”, with the percentage of patients dying in hospital decreasing.

Mr Parry said he is particularly in need of a new member who can perform the role of group secretary. For more information contact 07591496900.

Read more at:

Monday, 13 March 2017

Graduate nurses and Dementia

Today I managed to confirm the dates for going back to giving "Living with Lewy Body Dementia"  presentations to Graduate Nurses at Northumbria University

I have not been able to do this for a year or so because of the problems with the diagnosis, and my recurring chest infections.

But as my diagnosis is all sorted out, and my medication for chest problems is being sorted out so  I am now able to start again.

It's been a difficult time, but over the last two new months I have been able to get some control over my life again which is good

I do now, have the new diagnosis of "Emphysema" and "Bronchiectasis" along with the Lewy Body Dementia, but I am sure that this will sort itself out very soon once I get started on the new medication and physiotherapy or Pulmonary rehabilitation as it's called.

I do feel that it's very important talking to nurses like this, because they are able to get information from someone with the illness,  and that's more up to date than many text books these days.

These people need to know about all forms of dementia,  because whether we like it or not, some people have very graphic nightmares etc, and we don't want to be accused of aggressive behaviour, if someone tries to wake us up from a nightmare, and then ends up being hit,

Teaching about dementia etc, should cover all types of the illness, because far to many people including professionals, think that because they have seen one person with the illness, that they know it all

There are far to many combinations of this illness, and one size does not fit everyone.

As one professor once said, there are well over 130 variations of this illness, and everyone is different.

We are all individuals, with different problems and symptoms.

Each year I do around 6 one hour presentations,  as a visiting lecturer and that's good for me as well as for them.

It keeps me active and keeping my brain ticking over, which has to be good all round.

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

A condition that often predates Alzheimer's disease (AD), can be remotely detected through a self-administered virtual reality brain training game

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that often predates Alzheimer's disease (AD), can be remotely detected through a self-administered virtual reality brain training game.
Thessaloniki, Greece, February 23, 2017 - Greek researchers demonstrated the potential of a self-administered virtual supermarket cognitive training game for remotely detecting mild cognitive impairment (MCI), without the need for an examiner, among a sample of older adults. MCI patients suffer from cognitive problems and often encounter difficulties in performing complex activities such as financial planning. They are at a high risk for progressing to dementia however early detection of MCI and suitable interventions can stabilize the patients' condition and prevent further decline.
It has been shown that virtual reality game-based applications and especially virtual supermarkets can detect MCI. Past studies have utilized user performance in such applications along with data from standardized neuropsychological tests in order to detect MCI. The team that conducted this study was the first scientific team to achieve reliable MCI detection using a virtual reality game-based application on its own. In that previous study , administration of the virtual super market (VSM) exercise was conducted by an examiner. The present study eliminated the need for an examiner by calculating the average performance of older adults using a special version of the VSM application, the VSM Remote Assessment Routine (VSM-RAR), at home on their own, for a period of one month. It is the first instance where a self-administered virtual reality application was used to detect MCI with a high degree of reliability.
The research team included scientists from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas/Information Technologies Institute (CERTH/ITI), the Greek Association of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders (GAADRD) and the Network Aging Research (NAR) of the University of Heidelberg.
In an article published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the researchers have indicated that the virtual supermarket remote assessment routine (VSM-RAR) application displayed a correct classification rate (CCR) of 91.8% improving VSM's CCR as assessed in the previous VSM study while achieving a level of diagnostic accuracy similar to the most accurate standardized neuropsychological tests, which are considered the gold standard for MCI detection.
Self-administered computerized cognitive training exercises/games are gaining popularity among older adults as an easy and enjoyable means of maintaining cognitive health. Such applications are especially popular among older adults who consider themselves healthy and are not inclined to visit specialized memory clinics for cognitive assessment. If self-administered games and exercises could also detect cognitive disorders, initial cognitive screening could be conducted remotely. The wide implementation of this method of remote screening would facilitate the detection of cognitive impairment at the MCI stage thus allowing for more efficient therapeutic interventions.
This preliminary study indicates that automated, remote MCI screening is feasible. This method could be utilized to screen the majority of the older adult population, as it dramatically lowers examination-related costs. The social and economic benefits, especially caregiver and healthcare service burden, of the early detection of cognitive disorders could be enormous. At the same time, as older adults are becoming increasingly computer savvy, it is important to create software that meets their needs and allows them to remain healthy and active. Out team continues its research on the VSM with the aim of improving its usability, shortening its administration time and supplementing the science behind VSM with additional data.

About the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease (JAD)
The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment and psychology of Alzheimer's disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease and clinical trial outcomes. The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease has an Impact Factor of 3.612 according to Thomson Reuters' 2013 Journal Citation Reports. It is ranked #22 on the Index Copernicus Top 100 Journal List. The Journal is published by IOS Press.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Lung Problems

This week I got the news that my lungs are in a worse condition than I expected.

I had been told last year that I had Bronchiectasis, which was caused by
 childhood illnesses, like Whooping cough, and mumps, and I thought that was bad enough.

While I remember my mother talking about me being ill as a child with these illnesses, I never really understood what impact it could have in later life

These illnesses did the initial damage, and now it seems that I  now have Emphysema, which was caused by the health damage in those early years, smoking and then industrial pollutants, asbestos, and wood dust etc.

When I look on the internet these days, nearly all of the products we used, or were involved with, are now classed as hazardous, or in many cases cancerous, like many of the timbers in use at those times.

I also did Wood Carving and Wood Turning as a hobby before I became ill in 2001, and I guess that as most of these timbers were hardwoods, and in some cases exotic timbers from foreign lands, it was asking for trouble anyway.

Having said that quite a lot of timbers used over the last 50 years have been from foreign lands, and some are deadly when they get into the lungs, according to the Health and Safety Executive these days

Many British timbers could cause breathing problems, but I never associated them with my problems over the years, because I used a face mask on most occasions.

But looking back the dust is also carried around on the other parts of the face which were  not covered by the mask.

It was well known that many of these face masks, were inadequate for the job which they were meant for

Its only later in life, that you realise that some of these products  can cause pneumonia and other chest problems etc, and it brings it all down to earth

I confess that I don't really understand, what these two illnesses "Bronchiectasis and Emphysema" mean, because they both do different things to the Lungs, according to my daughter who is a biologist

When I was given this last diagnosis,   the Consultants waiting room was very busy, so he really did not have time to discuss anything this time round.

 The last time I saw him, he spent a long time explaining Bronchiectasis to us

However this time he said that because I have Broncheitasis already, I don't have "COPD", which is confusing because Emphysema,  comes under the umbrella of COPD.

However if I picked it up correctly, you can have both illnesses without having COPD.

Looking around there is a lot of information about COPD and Broncheitasis, but little about Emphysema, which is very odd

As I am being referred for Respiratory physiotherapy sometime soon, we may get the answers we need, and then I see the Consultant again in June

Its very strange, but last year I felt a lot worse than I did on the day of the Consultation, but whether it was because I am trying to convince myself that nothing is wrong, I am not sure.

I know that I had paced myself on that walk from home to the hospital, which is around half a mile, so I may well be getting better at pacing myself these days, I simply don't know.

It could also be to do with the fact that we had to wait for one and a half hours to see the consultant, so I had time to relax

I am now waiting to hear from the family doctor about the changes in my medication. However as this is being done by the Consultant, it may be  few weeks before we hear anything, and then its trial and error to make sure that the medication starts to help me.

I know in my own mind that the damage is done, and cannot be corrected, or stopped, but I guess its all down to me getting on with life as it is now, and accepting what has been done

I have a lovely family to think about,  and that includes  5 lovely grandchildren,  so my mind will be occupied for a while to come.

From this point I will need to do something I have struggled to do for years, and that is to pace myself properly every day.

But I know that if I overdo things these days, I simply sit down and go to sleep for an hour or so.

It staggers me these days, when I see people working without protection equipment on.

I do wonder if they bury their heads in the sand, but it's no excuse, because health and safety is more prominent than it has been for years.

Recently I have struggled with pollution when I have been out, and I guess that this is going to get worse, especially if we travel around, but its no good sitting down and thinking about it, life goes on and its a case of making a go of it.

We never really appreciate our lungs etc, during our  early days, and looking back over my working days, there was not the health protection that we see these days, you simply got on with your job as best as you could

Industrial places are much healthier  than they were in the 1960-70s etc, but in all honesty some health protection equipment in those days was so uncomfortable, that you either wore it or took a chance with out it.

I worked on many building sites, where asbestos was being sprayed onto the ceilings above us, but you just got on with life. All we had in those days was a cloth face mask, and that's no protected from asbestos

There were no warning signs anywhere and no protection for those of us working below.

I know that some employers did their best to protect employees, but in many cases it simply was no where good enough.

 My memory is worse than ever before, and perhaps in some way this has helped.

However I have decided to throw myself into doing work promoting projects like the Lewy Body Society etc, to keep my mind occupied.

This may also help me to do some good while I am still able to do so.

I thought life was bad with the Lewy body dementia,  memory problems, and the fear of what may happen in the future, but now its taken a different turn.

Elderly and driving

After the news in the media during the last few days, I think it's time that elderly people had their eyes etc tested on a regular basis...