Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Worried about dementia?

Given that over 80,000 people in Scotland are living with dementia and that one in three people over 65 will die with dementia, I wonder why we are so reluctant to talk about it? Isn't it a worry that we spend eight times less on dementia research than cancer research and yet 40% of dementia patients are in long stay care settings often at huge cost to the public purse.

It reminds me of how we used to see cancer patients and palliative care. No one really spoke about it apart from in hushed tones. Often the person with the illness didn't know what was wrong with them or if they did they thought the worse but weren't given the right information. How far we have come in dealing with cancer. 

I am delighted that there is now a national dementia strategy and that the Scottish government appear to be taking this condition seriously. Hopefully things will change.

What is dementia?
Dementia is the progressive loss of power of the brain. There are many different types but the most common is Alzheimer's disease.

What are the symptoms?
Every person with dementia is different and how their illness affects them can depend on which areas of the brain are most damaged.

One of the most common symptoms if memory loss. It is important to remember that everyone forgets things sometimes!!!!!
However a person with dementia may forget the names of family members, or forget to turn the oven off. They may repeat the same question over and over and not know they are doing it. People with dementia may lose their sense of time, or awareness of which day it is.

Solving problems with dementia can be difficult and this can come across as confusion.
dementia can also affect personality and behaviour as well.

All of these symptoms can be very worrying and frustrating for you and your family.

Help is out there.
It is important to seek help early on. The sooner a diagnosis can be made, the better able we are to start planning for the future and accessing services, treatment and help and support. Medical treatments are available which may help some people and research is progressing all the time.
I was lucky enough to attend a training session last week with speakers from Alzheimer Scotland, and was really impressed with the work this organisation are doing. They offer loads of practical help and guidance for dementia patients, their friends and family including; understanding dementia, getting help with benefits and accessing community care.

If you are worried about your memory or that of a family member or friend, Alzheimer Scotland has a free 24 hour helpline 0808 808 300

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Getting older doesn't need to be a pain.

My mum turned 70 in August and a fine celebration we had!  Three score years and ten is a real landmark and one that deserves to be celebrated, but it shouldn't necessarily be the line in the sand between trainers and slippers, or tracksuits and cardies!

To celebrate this milestone, my mum bought herself a new bike.
On paper this may seem a little foolish or a symbol of age defying lunacy, but if I tell you that my mum has ridden a bike almost every day for the last 30 years and normally cycles the couple of miles from home to the gym for a swim (at 6am) and back, it becomes clearer. Added to that, her previous bike was  probably 25 years old, so a new bike doesn't seem such a silly idea after all!

A week or so after the birthday celebrations, I got a phone call from mum saying "Sal, I've done something silly. I've broken my arm, falling off the bike". Oh no! What now? I thought. Months of pain, rehab loss of independance, and life may possibly take a different turn for mum and those around her.

Six weeks on and I am pleased to report that she is almost back to full fitness. In fact she spent last weekend wrangling all of her six grandsons at one time or another. We talked about her rapid recovery and concluded that a large part of it can be put down to lifelong fitness, a healthy lifestyle and hard work with her rehab exercises.

I thought it might be useful to give you some top tips from the experts on how to keep your bones and joints strong and healthy as you get older:
  • Eat a well balanced diet
    Include lots of calcium and Vitamin D to help the calcium be absorbed properly.
  • Take regular exercise
    Exercise is proven to help keep bones strong.
  • Stop smoking
    It's never too late to stop. There is loads of support available to help you quit.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
    Too much alcohol is harmful to bones and may increase your risk of a fall.
  • Don't ignore joint pain
    Try supplements such as glucosamine or seek advice about pain killers.

At Barnton Pharmacy this month, many of our bone and joint products are on special offer and we are always available for advice on your health and wellbeing.

All that remains now is for mum to get back on her bike and then there'll be no stopping her!!!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Time for a seasonal boost

 The leaves are falling, mornings are almost dark. It's the long week before the half term holidays and we are all feeling a bit under par.
Now is the time to boost your immune system and get yourself in tip top form for the winter ahead.

Here are a few tips from Barnton Pharmacy to

  1. Consider starting echinacea to give you and additional boost.
  2. there is lots of fantastic seasonal veggies around in all those autumn colours. They make great soups to put in the freezer for a warming winter lunch.
  3. Think about a vitamin supplement at this time of year. Our friendly team can advise you on which one would best suit you.
  4. As the days get shorter (much much shorter in Scotland) we need to boost our vitamin D reserves. try and get at least 15 minutes of daylight every day. Take a walk around the block at lunchtime. Not only will you feel a boost during the afternoon, but you will sleep better at night time.
  5. What about a flu jab? Free if you are eligible on the NHS, or come and see us in the pharmacy if you want to protect yourselves and your family privately.
Watch out for a future post about what to do if you do get a cold, but hopefully if you follow some of this advice now, you will be better able to fight off those bugs!