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The month of Ramadan is about compassion and giving for Muslims around the world.  This makes it an especially important time to reach out to the elderly who are lonely, without companionship or family.

In Qatar, as part of the Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) initiative, volunteers are reaching out to the elderly at the Qatar Foundation for Elderly Care.  Last weekend, ROTA volunteers shared iftar (meal breaking the fast) and interacted with residents.

A UK based organization is donating food packs for iftar to vulnerable people in the community or those who cannot attend events on their own.

In Indonesia, the Jakarta Family Welfare Movement (PKK) in cooperation with the Red Cross is providing donations for the elderly in Jakarta and is offering a venue for socializing.

Even if you yourself do not observe Ramadan, perhaps your loved ones, elders or caregivers are fasting during this month.   It is important to note that the elderly do not have to fast.  According to the Emirates Home Nursing Senior Care Service, “The Quran exempts sick people from the duty of fasting – Muslims with chronic diseases may not perceive themselves as sick and are eager to fast.”  Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems are common ailments which increase health risks during fasting.   Find out if any of the elderly in your community will be fasting and offer guidance and support.

The holiday this year spans from around July 20 to August 19. (These dates vary from country to country depending on traditions, the lunar calendar, and by region.)

Celebrating or not, take this opportunity to connect with the elderly in your community.

1er plat de ramadan

Traditional Ramadan Feast [Photo Credit: amekinfo, Flickr]

A new technology aims to help older drivers stay on the road for longer, using pictures of mail boxes or restaurants as visual turning cues. The tool, which has been nicknamed “the Granny Nav” is being investigated as a part of the UK’s Research Council efforts to help facilitate safe driving among the elderly. According to a press release, Professor Phil Blythe stated that “For many older people, particularly those living alone or in rural areas, driving is essential for maintaining their independence.” The technology is a part of an effort to examine whether people could continue to drive safely when given technological supports to overcome decreased reaction time that is a normal part of ageing.  To figure out the best ways to help keep older people on the road, the Intelligent Transport team at Newcastle University converted an electric car into a mobile laboratory called DriveLAB.  Using tracking sensors, motion monitors, and bio-monitors, researchers are able to document response times and processes among older drivers. Preliminary findings suggest that use of advanced external cues can help older drivers prepare for and properly execute driving maneuvers. The research will be presented at an Aging, Mobility and Quality of Life conference in Michigan, USA in June.

Photo courtesy of jamelah

Five innovative solutions have been developed to help people living with dementia as part of the Design Council challenge. The teams behind these solutions include designers, entrepreneurs and service providers, as well as experts in nutrition, dog training and olfaction. The concepts are focused on and around the point of diagnosis, aiming to be preventative measures that improve quality of life in the early stages of dementia for the increasing numbers of people being diagnosed. The five solutions demonstrate the vast potential of innovative ideas in an under-served market and show how design can play a key role in confronting a major social challenge. The Dementia Dog is one of the five examples, described as “assistance dogs for the mind”.

Dementia Dog is a service providing assistance dogs to people with dementia, helping them lead more fulfilled independent and stress-free lives. A sense of routine can often disintegrate for people with dementia. Dogs can be trained to live to a consistent routine. Ultimately, each dog will be trained with the person with dementia and their carer so all three can operate as a team.

Learn more about the pilot project on dementia dogs underway in the United Kingdom by visiting the website.

Photo courtesy  Tropewell.

A new paper by Peter Beresford shares the results of a survey executed in November 2011, that was undertaken by Shaping Our Lives (a national network of service users). The project received financial support from Joseph Rowntree Foundation as a part of its commitment to ensure the voices of service users are heard in national debates on social care reform.

While the sample size was small (27 people) the respondents represent a diverse range of independent adult social care service users from different areas in England.

The consultation covered the six issues identified by the government last fall including quality of support, personalisation and choice, prevention and early intervention, service integration, care market challenges and funding of social care. Participants felt that the current system is patchy, faces strong pressures, and is unsuited to deliver quality support despite the commitment of workers. Additionally, they perceived a threat from reduced public spending and inadequate support infrastructure. Many were strongly opposed to privatisation, citing unfavourable treatment of disabled people by insurers as cause for concern. People also wanted to report the damaging effects of reductions in services and support. They felt the debates about welfare reform is having a corrosive effect, stereotyping disabled people as” scroungers’ or ‘a drain on society’. This was creating anxiety and despair, with people feeling scared and insecure.

JRF’s position on the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations differs from the views expressed through the survey. JRF strongly supports the Dilnot proposals as a road map to reform social care funding. JRF also supports the development and piloting of a new equity release product for ‘cash-poor, asset-rich’ older home-owners so they can improve their quality of life. Although JRF has a different view on how funding should be reformed, much of  their wider evidence chimes well with other views expressed. JRF shares the conviction that those who use care and support need to be involved in transforming social care.

Photo courtesy garryknight.

Care homes across the UK are being invited to open up a dialogue with residents, relatives, community groups and the wider public on what people can expect from care homes and how government and society can support care homes.

The Big Care Home Conversation, led by My Home Life, offers a unique opportunity to be part of a bold and inspiring project. Launching at the House of Commons on 16 May, and lasting for a month, the Conversation will engage the public in a UK-wide debate about care homes for older people, about what works now and what will be needed  from them in the future. Care homes are invited to open up a dialogue with residents, relatives, community groups and the wider public via a “conversation tree”. Care homes may choose to use a real tree outside, bring twigs inside or design and make their own tree. To begin the conversation, care homes will be encouraged to open up a dialogue around the question:

What makes life good in care homes now, what could make them better – and how might we get there?

People will then be able to respond by hanging their answers as “leaves” on the tree. All the trees will thus become objects of ideas, wishes and comment on best practice in care homes. Alternatively, members of the public will be able choose to visit the My Home Life website where they can add their thoughts.

The Big Care Home Conversation needs your support. If you are a care home, or provider group and would like to engage in the Big Care Home Conversation, then register your interest at: Home Life will support you by providing downloadable resources including posters, banners and other materials to get your conversations up and running. You can also follow along on Twitter @MyHomeLife1

Photo courtesy of leo19981.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced Monday that the U.K. will double funding for dementia research by 2015. Dementia funding will go from “£26 million at the end of the last parliament to over £66 million at the end of this one,” he announced in a speech. He went on to say that the lack of response to the dementia challenge was scandalous and amounted to a national crisis.

The increase in funding will be funneled to NHS hospitals for diagnosis and treatment. Currently the U.K. has 670,000 people living with dementia but more than have of them have not been diagnosed. The total number of people living with dementia in the U.K. is expected to reach 1 million within a decade.

Raising rates of dementia cannot only be addressed as a biomedical issue, but also must be tackled as a social issue in terms of stigma, care giving, and structural supports to maintain personhood and dignity for those living with the disease.

Said Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust: “The dementia challenge will require progress in social care, so that patients can be helped to live at home for longer, and so that relatives who care for their loved ones receive the support they need. And it will require action to raise awareness of this devastating condition, so that it is understood and not stigmatised.”

Photo courtesy of  windelbo

MyFriends Online Week kicks off this Monday 19 March and runs through 25 March 2012. The purpose of the campaign is to help seniors learn to use the internet to access information, connect with family and friends and improve their ability to find care and supports. Check out this video from AgeUK on how you can be a part this year!

Alzheimer’s Disease International 27th International Conference was one of the most successful ever, as activists and world leaders came together to discuss the science and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Check out this video hosted by Daisy Acosta and Marc Wortmann highlighting the event.

Want more information on Alzheimer’s disease treatment? Consider joining our study tour this fall.

The UK’s National Care Forum has just announced its 9th Annual Conference, this year entitled Shifting Boundaries: Integrating social care, health and housing. The event will take place Tuesday 22 – Wednesday 23 May 2012, at the Hilton Reading Hotel. NCF members are invited to attend and participate in the debate on the challenges and realities of integrating social care with health and housing. Themes to be covered include:

Health and social care reforms

Collaboration and competition

Plurality of the market

New commissioning structures

Outcomes and evidence

Driving quality, improvement and innovation

Managing transition and change

Keynote speakers include David Behan CBE, Department of Health; Professor Steve Field CBE, NHS Future Forum;  and Dame Jo Williams, Chair, Care Quality Commission.  The NCF/VODG member rate will be only £420 (£350+VAT) which includes lunch, conference dinner and accommodation on 22 May plus breakfast and lunch on 23 May. A booking form will be sent to all NCF members this week.

Check out this video from Dame Jo Williams on the state of care.

The 27th International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International starts on tomorrow 7 March 2012  in London.

Conceived as ‘three conferences in one’, the event will feature parallel sessions focusing on scientific advances, social support interventions, and technological measures to address the disease.  This conference  involves professionals, scientists, researchers, policy makers, people living with dementia, informal and professional carers and all Alzheimer association staff and volunteers alike. Despite dreary statistics on the expected growth of dementia, this will be a conference that expands awareness and understanding of the disease and develops research networks to search for a cure.  The International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing wishes Alzheimer’s Disease International a successful conference. If you’re attending the event use  the hashtag #ADI2012  on Twitter to share your thoughts during the event!

Check out this video that provides highlights of the event!

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IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

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Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

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