Tag Archives: life

Music and poetry aren’t luxuries: they literally saved my life | Sam Walker

I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and depression since the age of 20. I tried again and again with many approaches to fight back against mental illness: therapy and exercise; cognitive behavioural therapy; medication; trying to be more open with the people closest to me. All of these things helped in different ways but they didn’t completely fix me.

Towards the end of my 20s I couldn’t cope. On numerous occasions I fantasised about taking my own life. I was in a lot of pain but it was a pain that nobody else could see, so it didn’t feel justifiable to me. It didn’t feel like it should have been there.

In my darkest time, I made a decision that I had one last thing to try – and that was to stop hiding. I couldn’t keep up this double life, portraying happiness to everybody. It started with a poem. I found that putting my thoughts and feelings into poetry somehow made them easier to say.

When I’d written poetry previously, I didn’t feel that I could share it as it was still too exposing for me, but this time, as a last attempt, I did something terrifying that later turned out to be absolutely necessary for me. I filmed myself performing the poem and posted it online.

The response I got turned out to be life-changing. It transformed how I saw everything that was happening to me because for the first time I was showing that I wasn’t afraid to talk about it. That was the biggest step I’d taken.

Poetry then turned into music when I realised that these words could be lyrics. That became my next weapon in the battle against depression. When I write a song like Smile All the Time, I’m able to be far more honest than I would be if I was in a general conversation. When I perform as Samantics, I release so much energy that it becomes very cathartic. I’ve experienced huge benefits from both writing and performing.

Since that first video went live, I’ve been contacted by so many people thanking me for saying what they feel yet couldn’t bring themselves to say. That gives me a purpose and makes me feel happy to be me, which is rare. I’ve been told that I’ve helped explain something that somebody didn’t fully understand before. Music has a way of reaching people without being intrusive – I feel that’s especially important when supporting young people through mental illness.

Medication and therapy can be helpful for some but for many young people who are struggling to express themselves and end up bottling their emotions, music and poetry offer hope, something to hold on to, plus a new focus with new methods of release. It’s something that they can keep coming back to as a positive anchor, something that doesn’t trigger worry around potential side effects or cost, and that can be a source of connection and community with other people.

That’s why I believe healthcare professionals, clinicians and commissioners need to listen to young people’s voices when shaping services and open up to the health and wellbeing benefits that the arts can bring. For me, music and poetry haven’t been some kind of nicety or luxury add-on, they literally saved my life. If our health services could embrace the opportunities presented by creative activities like writing, music-making and performing, they could save other people’s lives too.

Samantics contributed to the all-party parliamentary group on arts, health and wellbeing’s inquiry report, Creative Health, released tomorrow. It recommendsthat arts on prescription in the NHS into their commissioning plans and to redesign care pathways where appropriate. Also, that Healthwatch, the Patients Association and other representative organisations, along with arts and cultural providers, work with patients and service users to advocate the health and wellbeing benefits of arts engagement to health and social care professionals and the wider public.

Music and poetry aren’t luxuries: they literally saved my life | Sam Walker

I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and depression since the age of 20. I tried again and again with many approaches to fight back against mental illness: therapy and exercise; cognitive behavioural therapy; medication; trying to be more open with the people closest to me. All of these things helped in different ways but they didn’t completely fix me.

Towards the end of my 20s I couldn’t cope. On numerous occasions I fantasised about taking my own life. I was in a lot of pain but it was a pain that nobody else could see, so it didn’t feel justifiable to me. It didn’t feel like it should have been there.

In my darkest time, I made a decision that I had one last thing to try – and that was to stop hiding. I couldn’t keep up this double life, portraying happiness to everybody. It started with a poem. I found that putting my thoughts and feelings into poetry somehow made them easier to say.

When I’d written poetry previously, I didn’t feel that I could share it as it was still too exposing for me, but this time, as a last attempt, I did something terrifying that later turned out to be absolutely necessary for me. I filmed myself performing the poem and posted it online.

The response I got turned out to be life-changing. It transformed how I saw everything that was happening to me because for the first time I was showing that I wasn’t afraid to talk about it. That was the biggest step I’d taken.

Poetry then turned into music when I realised that these words could be lyrics. That became my next weapon in the battle against depression. When I write a song like Smile All the Time, I’m able to be far more honest than I would be if I was in a general conversation. When I perform as Samantics, I release so much energy that it becomes very cathartic. I’ve experienced huge benefits from both writing and performing.

Since that first video went live, I’ve been contacted by so many people thanking me for saying what they feel yet couldn’t bring themselves to say. That gives me a purpose and makes me feel happy to be me, which is rare. I’ve been told that I’ve helped explain something that somebody didn’t fully understand before. Music has a way of reaching people without being intrusive – I feel that’s especially important when supporting young people through mental illness.

Medication and therapy can be helpful for some but for many young people who are struggling to express themselves and end up bottling their emotions, music and poetry offer hope, something to hold on to, plus a new focus with new methods of release. It’s something that they can keep coming back to as a positive anchor, something that doesn’t trigger worry around potential side effects or cost, and that can be a source of connection and community with other people.

That’s why I believe healthcare professionals, clinicians and commissioners need to listen to young people’s voices when shaping services and open up to the health and wellbeing benefits that the arts can bring. For me, music and poetry haven’t been some kind of nicety or luxury add-on, they literally saved my life. If our health services could embrace the opportunities presented by creative activities like writing, music-making and performing, they could save other people’s lives too.

Samantics contributed to the all-party parliamentary group on arts, health and wellbeing’s inquiry report, Creative Health, released tomorrow. It recommendsthat arts on prescription in the NHS into their commissioning plans and to redesign care pathways where appropriate. Also, that Healthwatch, the Patients Association and other representative organisations, along with arts and cultural providers, work with patients and service users to advocate the health and wellbeing benefits of arts engagement to health and social care professionals and the wider public.

Rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010, research shows

A century-long rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010 when austerity brought about deep cuts in NHS and social care spending, according to research by a former government adviser on the links between poverty and ill-health.

Life expectancy at birth had been going up so fast that women were gaining an extra year of life every five years and men an additional 12 months every three-and-a-half years.

But those trends have almost halved since ministers made a “political decision” in 2010 to reduce the amount of money it put into the public sector, said Sir Michael Marmot. The upward trend in longer life that began in Britain just after the first world war has slowed so dramatically that women now only gain an extra year after a decade while for men the same gain now takes six years to arrive.

The rate of increase was “pretty close to having ground to a halt”, Marmot said.

“I am deeply concerned with the levelling off; I expected it to just keep getting better. Since 2009-2015 it’s pretty flat, whereas we are used to it getting better and better all the time,” added Marmot, who published a major review of health inequalities for Gordon Brown’s Labour government in early 2010.

In 1919 men lived for an average of 52.5 years and women for 56.1 years. That rose to 64.1 years and 68.7 years respectively by 1946. Life expectancy then rose in an almost unbroken gradual upward curve to 77.1 years for men and 81.4 years for women in 2005 and again to 78.7 and 82.6 in 2010, the year David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition took office.

Since then life expectancy has continued to creep upwards, but at a slower rate, according to Marmot’s latest analysis. In 2015 average life expectancy in Britain was 79.6 years for men and 83.1 years for women, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

Marmot, who is the director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, denied the rise had stalled because there was a natural limit to how much life expectancy can increase. “It is not inevitable that it should have levelled off,” he said.

There is no reason why the UK could not emulate Hong Kong, where life expectancy for men is 81.1 years for men and 87.3 for women – the highest in the world – Marmot added. Hong Kong has overtaken Japan in terms of how long citizens can expect to live.

Marmot, who has also advised the World Health Organisation, did not claim that the introduction of austerity had led directly to life expectancy stagnating. But he highlighted that “miserly” levels of spending on health and social care in recent years – at a time of rising health need linked to the ageing population – had affected the amount and quality of care older people receive.

The long-term trend for NHS budget increases is 3.8% a year, with rises of 1.1% a year since 2010. “If we don’t spend appropriately on social care, if we don’t spend appropriately on health care, the quality of life will get worse for older people and maybe the length of life, too,” he added.

Marmot cited the growing numbers of deaths among the over-75s and over-85s and continuing high death rates from heart disease as other key potential factors in the stalling rise in life expectancy.

“Life expectancy has been increasing year on year for a generation, to the extent that we had begun to take it for granted as inevitable. But this authoritative analysis suggests this long period of improvement may now be coming to an end, with big implications for us all,” said a spokesman for the charity Age UK.

Cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s have been rising so rapidly that they are now the leading cause of death for both sexes, among women 80 and over and men 85+.

The increase in dementia and needs of the ageing population will place the NHS and social care services “under considerable strain” in the near future, Marmot added.

Dr Matthew Norton, director of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This report shines a spotlight on a hard truth: that unless we can find ways to prevent and treat dementia, deaths from the condition will continue to rise as our population ages. The reality today is that with no treatments to stop or slow the underlying diseases, the condition is placing an ever-growing strain on our health services.”

The Department of Health played down Marmot’s findings. A spokesman pointed out that the NHS had just last week been judged to be the best, safest and most affordable healthcare system out of 11 rich countries analysed in a major review published by the Commonwealth Fund, a respected US thinktank.

“Life expectancy continues to increase, with cancer survival rates at a record high whilst smoking rates are at an all-time low. We continue to invest to ensure our ageing population is well cared-for, with £6bn extra going into the NHS [in England] over the last two years and an additional £2bn for the social care system,” he added.

Rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010, research shows

A century-long rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010 when austerity brought about deep cuts in NHS and social care spending, according to research by a former government adviser on the links between poverty and ill-health.

Life expectancy at birth had been going up so fast that women were gaining an extra year of life every five years and men an additional 12 months every three-and-a-half years.

But those trends have almost halved since ministers made a “political decision” in 2010 to reduce the amount of money it put into the public sector, said Sir Michael Marmot. The upward trend in longer life that began in Britain just after the first world war has slowed so dramatically that women now only gain an extra year after a decade while for men the same gain now takes six years to arrive.

The rate of increase was “pretty close to having ground to a halt”, Marmot said.

“I am deeply concerned with the levelling off; I expected it to just keep getting better. Since 2009-2015 it’s pretty flat, whereas we are used to it getting better and better all the time,” added Marmot, who published a major review of health inequalities for Gordon Brown’s Labour government in early 2010.

In 1919 men lived for an average of 52.5 years and women for 56.1 years. That rose to 64.1 years and 68.7 years respectively by 1946. Life expectancy then rose in an almost unbroken gradual upward curve to 77.1 years for men and 81.4 years for women in 2005 and again to 78.7 and 82.6 in 2010, the year David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition took office.

Since then life expectancy has continued to creep upwards, but at a slower rate, according to Marmot’s latest analysis. In 2015 average life expectancy in Britain was 79.6 years for men and 83.1 years for women, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

Marmot, who is the director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, denied the rise had stalled because there was a natural limit to how much life expectancy can increase. “It is not inevitable that it should have levelled off,” he said.

There is no reason why the UK could not emulate Hong Kong, where life expectancy for men is 81.1 years for men and 87.3 for women – the highest in the world – Marmot added. Hong Kong has overtaken Japan in terms of how long citizens can expect to live.

Marmot, who has also advised the World Health Organisation, did not claim that the introduction of austerity had led directly to life expectancy stagnating. But he highlighted that “miserly” levels of spending on health and social care in recent years – at a time of rising health need linked to the ageing population – had affected the amount and quality of care older people receive.

The long-term trend for NHS budget increases is 3.8% a year, with rises of 1.1% a year since 2010. “If we don’t spend appropriately on social care, if we don’t spend appropriately on health care, the quality of life will get worse for older people and maybe the length of life, too,” he added.

Marmot cited the growing numbers of deaths among the over-75s and over-85s and continuing high death rates from heart disease as other key potential factors in the stalling rise in life expectancy.

“Life expectancy has been increasing year on year for a generation, to the extent that we had begun to take it for granted as inevitable. But this authoritative analysis suggests this long period of improvement may now be coming to an end, with big implications for us all,” said a spokesman for the charity Age UK.

Cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s have been rising so rapidly that they are now the leading cause of death for both sexes, among women 80 and over and men 85+.

The increase in dementia and needs of the ageing population will place the NHS and social care services “under considerable strain” in the near future, Marmot added.

Dr Matthew Norton, director of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This report shines a spotlight on a hard truth: that unless we can find ways to prevent and treat dementia, deaths from the condition will continue to rise as our population ages. The reality today is that with no treatments to stop or slow the underlying diseases, the condition is placing an ever-growing strain on our health services.”

The Department of Health played down Marmot’s findings. A spokesman pointed out that the NHS had just last week been judged to be the best, safest and most affordable healthcare system out of 11 rich countries analysed in a major review published by the Commonwealth Fund, a respected US thinktank.

“Life expectancy continues to increase, with cancer survival rates at a record high whilst smoking rates are at an all-time low. We continue to invest to ensure our ageing population is well cared-for, with £6bn extra going into the NHS [in England] over the last two years and an additional £2bn for the social care system,” he added.

Rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010, research shows

A century-long rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010 when austerity brought about deep cuts in NHS and social care spending, according to research by a former government adviser on the links between poverty and ill-health.

Life expectancy at birth had been going up so fast that women were gaining an extra year of life every five years and men an additional 12 months every three-and-a-half years.

But those trends have almost halved since ministers made a “political decision” in 2010 to reduce the amount of money it put into the public sector, said Sir Michael Marmot. The upward trend in longer life that began in Britain just after the first world war has slowed so dramatically that women now only gain an extra year after a decade while for men the same gain now takes six years to arrive.

The rate of increase was “pretty close to having ground to a halt”, Marmot said.

“I am deeply concerned with the levelling off; I expected it to just keep getting better. Since 2009-2015 it’s pretty flat, whereas we are used to it getting better and better all the time,” added Marmot, who published a major review of health inequalities for Gordon Brown’s Labour government in early 2010.

In 1919 men lived for an average of 52.5 years and women for 56.1 years. That rose to 64.1 years and 68.7 years respectively by 1946. Life expectancy then rose in an almost unbroken gradual upward curve to 77.1 years for men and 81.4 years for women in 2005 and again to 78.7 and 82.6 in 2010, the year David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition took office.

Since then life expectancy has continued to creep upwards, but at a slower rate, according to Marmot’s latest analysis. In 2015 average life expectancy in Britain was 79.6 years for men and 83.1 years for women, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

Marmot, who is the director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, denied the rise had stalled because there was a natural limit to how much life expectancy can increase. “It is not inevitable that it should have levelled off,” he said.

There is no reason why the UK could not emulate Hong Kong, where life expectancy for men is 81.1 years for men and 87.3 for women – the highest in the world – Marmot added. Hong Kong has overtaken Japan in terms of how long citizens can expect to live.

Marmot, who has also advised the World Health Organisation, did not claim that the introduction of austerity had led directly to life expectancy stagnating. But he highlighted that “miserly” levels of spending on health and social care in recent years – at a time of rising health need linked to the ageing population – had affected the amount and quality of care older people receive.

The long-term trend for NHS budget increases is 3.8% a year, with rises of 1.1% a year since 2010. “If we don’t spend appropriately on social care, if we don’t spend appropriately on health care, the quality of life will get worse for older people and maybe the length of life, too,” he added.

Marmot cited the growing numbers of deaths among the over-75s and over-85s and continuing high death rates from heart disease as other key potential factors in the stalling rise in life expectancy.

“Life expectancy has been increasing year on year for a generation, to the extent that we had begun to take it for granted as inevitable. But this authoritative analysis suggests this long period of improvement may now be coming to an end, with big implications for us all,” said a spokesman for the charity Age UK.

Cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s have been rising so rapidly that they are now the leading cause of death for both sexes, among women 80 and over and men 85+.

The increase in dementia and needs of the ageing population will place the NHS and social care services “under considerable strain” in the near future, Marmot added.

Dr Matthew Norton, director of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This report shines a spotlight on a hard truth: that unless we can find ways to prevent and treat dementia, deaths from the condition will continue to rise as our population ages. The reality today is that with no treatments to stop or slow the underlying diseases, the condition is placing an ever-growing strain on our health services.”

The Department of Health played down Marmot’s findings. A spokesman pointed out that the NHS had just last week been judged to be the best, safest and most affordable healthcare system out of 11 rich countries analysed in a major review published by the Commonwealth Fund, a respected US thinktank.

“Life expectancy continues to increase, with cancer survival rates at a record high whilst smoking rates are at an all-time low. We continue to invest to ensure our ageing population is well cared-for, with £6bn extra going into the NHS [in England] over the last two years and an additional £2bn for the social care system,” he added.

Rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010, research shows

A century-long rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010 when austerity brought about deep cuts in NHS and social care spending, according to research by a former government adviser on the links between poverty and ill-health.

Life expectancy at birth had been going up so fast that women were gaining an extra year of life every five years and men an additional 12 months every three-and-a-half years.

But those trends have almost halved since ministers made a “political decision” in 2010 to reduce the amount of money it put into the public sector, said Sir Michael Marmot. The upward trend in longer life that began in Britain just after the first world war has slowed so dramatically that women now only gain an extra year after a decade while for men the same gain now takes six years to arrive.

The rate of increase was “pretty close to having ground to a halt”, Marmot said.

“I am deeply concerned with the levelling off; I expected it to just keep getting better. Since 2009-2015 it’s pretty flat, whereas we are used to it getting better and better all the time,” added Marmot, who published a major review of health inequalities for Gordon Brown’s Labour government in early 2010.

In 1919 men lived for an average of 52.5 years and women for 56.1 years. That rose to 64.1 years and 68.7 years respectively by 1946. Life expectancy then rose in an almost unbroken gradual upward curve to 77.1 years for men and 81.4 years for women in 2005 and again to 78.7 and 82.6 in 2010, the year David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition took office.

Since then life expectancy has continued to creep upwards, but at a slower rate, according to Marmot’s latest analysis. In 2015 average life expectancy in Britain was 79.6 years for men and 83.1 years for women, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

Marmot, who is the director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, denied the rise had stalled because there was a natural limit to how much life expectancy can increase. “It is not inevitable that it should have levelled off,” he said.

There is no reason why the UK could not emulate Hong Kong, where life expectancy for men is 81.1 years for men and 87.3 for women – the highest in the world – Marmot added. Hong Kong has overtaken Japan in terms of how long citizens can expect to live.

Marmot, who has also advised the World Health Organisation, did not claim that the introduction of austerity had led directly to life expectancy stagnating. But he highlighted that “miserly” levels of spending on health and social care in recent years – at a time of rising health need linked to the ageing population – had affected the amount and quality of care older people receive.

The long-term trend for NHS budget increases is 3.8% a year, with rises of 1.1% a year since 2010. “If we don’t spend appropriately on social care, if we don’t spend appropriately on health care, the quality of life will get worse for older people and maybe the length of life, too,” he added.

Marmot cited the growing numbers of deaths among the over-75s and over-85s and continuing high death rates from heart disease as other key potential factors in the stalling rise in life expectancy.

“Life expectancy has been increasing year on year for a generation, to the extent that we had begun to take it for granted as inevitable. But this authoritative analysis suggests this long period of improvement may now be coming to an end, with big implications for us all,” said a spokesman for the charity Age UK.

Cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s have been rising so rapidly that they are now the leading cause of death for both sexes, among women 80 and over and men 85+.

The increase in dementia and needs of the ageing population will place the NHS and social care services “under considerable strain” in the near future, Marmot added.

Dr Matthew Norton, director of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This report shines a spotlight on a hard truth: that unless we can find ways to prevent and treat dementia, deaths from the condition will continue to rise as our population ages. The reality today is that with no treatments to stop or slow the underlying diseases, the condition is placing an ever-growing strain on our health services.”

The Department of Health played down Marmot’s findings. A spokesman pointed out that the NHS had just last week been judged to be the best, safest and most affordable healthcare system out of 11 rich countries analysed in a major review published by the Commonwealth Fund, a respected US thinktank.

“Life expectancy continues to increase, with cancer survival rates at a record high whilst smoking rates are at an all-time low. We continue to invest to ensure our ageing population is well cared-for, with £6bn extra going into the NHS [in England] over the last two years and an additional £2bn for the social care system,” he added.

Rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010, research shows

A century-long rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010 when austerity brought about deep cuts in NHS and social care spending, according to research by a former government adviser on the links between poverty and ill-health.

Life expectancy at birth had been going up so fast that women were gaining an extra year of life every five years and men an additional 12 months every three-and-a-half years.

But those trends have almost halved since ministers made a “political decision” in 2010 to reduce the amount of money it put into the public sector, said Sir Michael Marmot. The upward trend in longer life that began in Britain just after the first world war has slowed so dramatically that women now only gain an extra year after a decade while for men the same gain now takes six years to arrive.

The rate of increase was “pretty close to having ground to a halt”, Marmot said.

“I am deeply concerned with the levelling off; I expected it to just keep getting better. Since 2009-2015 it’s pretty flat, whereas we are used to it getting better and better all the time,” added Marmot, who published a major review of health inequalities for Gordon Brown’s Labour government in early 2010.

In 1919 men lived for an average of 52.5 years and women for 56.1 years. That rose to 64.1 years and 68.7 years respectively by 1946. Life expectancy then rose in an almost unbroken gradual upward curve to 77.1 years for men and 81.4 years for women in 2005 and again to 78.7 and 82.6 in 2010, the year David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition took office.

Since then life expectancy has continued to creep upwards, but at a slower rate, according to Marmot’s latest analysis. In 2015 average life expectancy in Britain was 79.6 years for men and 83.1 years for women, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

Marmot, who is the director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, denied the rise had stalled because there was a natural limit to how much life expectancy can increase. “It is not inevitable that it should have levelled off,” he said.

There is no reason why the UK could not emulate Hong Kong, where life expectancy for men is 81.1 years for men and 87.3 for women – the highest in the world – Marmot added. Hong Kong has overtaken Japan in terms of how long citizens can expect to live.

Marmot, who has also advised the World Health Organisation, did not claim that the introduction of austerity had led directly to life expectancy stagnating. But he highlighted that “miserly” levels of spending on health and social care in recent years – at a time of rising health need linked to the ageing population – had affected the amount and quality of care older people receive.

The long-term trend for NHS budget increases is 3.8% a year, with rises of 1.1% a year since 2010. “If we don’t spend appropriately on social care, if we don’t spend appropriately on health care, the quality of life will get worse for older people and maybe the length of life, too,” he added.

Marmot cited the growing numbers of deaths among the over-75s and over-85s and continuing high death rates from heart disease as other key potential factors in the stalling rise in life expectancy.

“Life expectancy has been increasing year on year for a generation, to the extent that we had begun to take it for granted as inevitable. But this authoritative analysis suggests this long period of improvement may now be coming to an end, with big implications for us all,” said a spokesman for the charity Age UK.

Cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s have been rising so rapidly that they are now the leading cause of death for both sexes, among women 80 and over and men 85+.

The increase in dementia and needs of the ageing population will place the NHS and social care services “under considerable strain” in the near future, Marmot added.

Dr Matthew Norton, director of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This report shines a spotlight on a hard truth: that unless we can find ways to prevent and treat dementia, deaths from the condition will continue to rise as our population ages. The reality today is that with no treatments to stop or slow the underlying diseases, the condition is placing an ever-growing strain on our health services.”

The Department of Health played down Marmot’s findings. A spokesman pointed out that the NHS had just last week been judged to be the best, safest and most affordable healthcare system out of 11 rich countries analysed in a major review published by the Commonwealth Fund, a respected US thinktank.

“Life expectancy continues to increase, with cancer survival rates at a record high whilst smoking rates are at an all-time low. We continue to invest to ensure our ageing population is well cared-for, with £6bn extra going into the NHS [in England] over the last two years and an additional £2bn for the social care system,” he added.

Hearing loss could pose greater risk of potential dementia in later life – study

People who experience hearing loss could be at greater risk of memory and thinking problems later in life than those without auditory issues, research suggests.

The study focused on people who were at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, revealing that those who were diagnosed with hearing loss had a higher risk of “mild cognitive impairment” four years later.

“It’s really not mild,” said Clive Ballard, professor of age-related disease at the University of Exeter. “They are in the lowest 5% of cognitive performance and about 50% of those individuals will go on to develop dementia.”

Presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, researchers from the US looked at the memory and thinking skills of 783 cognitively healthy participants in late middle age, more than two-thirds of whom had at least one parent who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The team carried out a range of cognitive tests on the participants over a four-year period, aimed at probing memory and mental processing, revealing that those who had hearing loss at the start of the study were more than twice as likely to be found to have mild cognitive impairment four years later than those with no auditory problems, once a variety of other risk factors were taken into account.

Taylor Fields, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin who led the research, said that the findings suggest hearing loss could be an early warning sign that an individual might be at greater risk of future cognitive impairment – but added more research was necessary to unpick the link.

“There is something here and it should be looked into,” she said.

It is not the first study to suggest a link between hearing loss and cognitive troubles – previous research has found that the more severe hearing loss is, the greater the risk of dementia.

But it is not yet clear whether hearing loss is the result of changes linked to dementia, or whether hearing loss itself could contribute to cognitive decline. As a result, it is unclear whether treating hearing loss could mitigate against increased risk.

“Potentially it is something you can do something about, which I think makes it really important to understand better,” said Ballard.

In a separate study, researchers from Wisconsin found a link between thinking and memory difficulties, and changes to the fluency of speech. In 219 late-middle aged participants were assessed at the beginning and end of a two year period. The team found that those with early signs of mild cognitive impairment at the start of the study showed a steeper decline in fluency over the two years than those without.

A further series of studies presented at the conference focused on the link between diet and prowess at memory and thinking tasks. While all differed in the range of participants and the type of diet applied, overall the results suggest that eating healthily was linked to a lower risk of cognitive difficulties, and even a lower risk of dementia.

In one study, carried out by researchers in the US with almost 6,000 participants, scientists found that after taking into account a host of factors including smoking, physical activity, health and socioeconomic status, those who stuck best to a Mediterranean or similar diet over the course of a year were about 35% less likely to have low scores on cognitive tests than those who did not stick to the regime.

While the study does not show that eating badly triggers cognitive problems, and further work is needed to monitor the impact of the diet over time, Claire McEvoy – co-author of the research from the University of California San Francisco – noted that benefits of healthy eating seem to exist on a sliding scale.

“Even moderate adherence to these high quality dietary patterns showed a protective association with cognitive function,” she said.

Hearing loss could pose greater risk of potential dementia in later life – study

People who experience hearing loss could be at greater risk of memory and thinking problems later in life than those without auditory issues, research suggests.

The study focused on people who were at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, revealing that those who were diagnosed with hearing loss had a higher risk of “mild cognitive impairment” four years later.

“It’s really not mild,” said Clive Ballard, professor of age-related disease at the University of Exeter. “They are in the lowest 5% of cognitive performance and about 50% of those individuals will go on to develop dementia.”

Presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, researchers from the US looked at the memory and thinking skills of 783 cognitively healthy participants in late middle age, more than two-thirds of whom had at least one parent who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The team carried out a range of cognitive tests on the participants over a four-year period, aimed at probing memory and mental processing, revealing that those who had hearing loss at the start of the study were more than twice as likely to be found to have mild cognitive impairment four years later than those with no auditory problems, once a variety of other risk factors were taken into account.

Taylor Fields, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin who led the research, said that the findings suggest hearing loss could be an early warning sign that an individual might be at greater risk of future cognitive impairment – but added more research was necessary to unpick the link.

“There is something here and it should be looked into,” she said.

It is not the first study to suggest a link between hearing loss and cognitive troubles – previous research has found that the more severe hearing loss is, the greater the risk of dementia.

But it is not yet clear whether hearing loss is the result of changes linked to dementia, or whether hearing loss itself could contribute to cognitive decline. As a result, it is unclear whether treating hearing loss could mitigate against increased risk.

“Potentially it is something you can do something about, which I think makes it really important to understand better,” said Ballard.

In a separate study, researchers from Wisconsin found a link between thinking and memory difficulties, and changes to the fluency of speech. In 219 late-middle aged participants were assessed at the beginning and end of a two year period. The team found that those with early signs of mild cognitive impairment at the start of the study showed a steeper decline in fluency over the two years than those without.

A further series of studies presented at the conference focused on the link between diet and prowess at memory and thinking tasks. While all differed in the range of participants and the type of diet applied, overall the results suggest that eating healthily was linked to a lower risk of cognitive difficulties, and even a lower risk of dementia.

In one study, carried out by researchers in the US with almost 6,000 participants, scientists found that after taking into account a host of factors including smoking, physical activity, health and socioeconomic status, those who stuck best to a Mediterranean or similar diet over the course of a year were about 35% less likely to have low scores on cognitive tests than those who did not stick to the regime.

While the study does not show that eating badly triggers cognitive problems, and further work is needed to monitor the impact of the diet over time, Claire McEvoy – co-author of the research from the University of California San Francisco – noted that benefits of healthy eating seem to exist on a sliding scale.

“Even moderate adherence to these high quality dietary patterns showed a protective association with cognitive function,” she said.

Hearing loss could pose greater risk of potential dementia in later life – study

People who experience hearing loss could be at greater risk of memory and thinking problems later in life than those without auditory issues, research suggests.

The study focused on people who were at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, revealing that those who were diagnosed with hearing loss had a higher risk of “mild cognitive impairment” four years later.

“It’s really not mild,” said Clive Ballard, professor of age-related disease at the University of Exeter. “They are in the lowest 5% of cognitive performance and about 50% of those individuals will go on to develop dementia.”

Presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, researchers from the US looked at the memory and thinking skills of 783 cognitively healthy participants in late middle age, more than two-thirds of whom had at least one parent who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The team carried out a range of cognitive tests on the participants over a four-year period, aimed at probing memory and mental processing, revealing that those who had hearing loss at the start of the study were more than twice as likely to be found to have mild cognitive impairment four years later than those with no auditory problems, once a variety of other risk factors were taken into account.

Taylor Fields, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin who led the research, said that the findings suggest hearing loss could be an early warning sign that an individual might be at greater risk of future cognitive impairment – but added more research was necessary to unpick the link.

“There is something here and it should be looked into,” she said.

It is not the first study to suggest a link between hearing loss and cognitive troubles – previous research has found that the more severe hearing loss is, the greater the risk of dementia.

But it is not yet clear whether hearing loss is the result of changes linked to dementia, or whether hearing loss itself could contribute to cognitive decline. As a result, it is unclear whether treating hearing loss could mitigate against increased risk.

“Potentially it is something you can do something about, which I think makes it really important to understand better,” said Ballard.

In a separate study, researchers from Wisconsin found a link between thinking and memory difficulties, and changes to the fluency of speech. In 219 late-middle aged participants were assessed at the beginning and end of a two year period. The team found that those with early signs of mild cognitive impairment at the start of the study showed a steeper decline in fluency over the two years than those without.

A further series of studies presented at the conference focused on the link between diet and prowess at memory and thinking tasks. While all differed in the range of participants and the type of diet applied, overall the results suggest that eating healthily was linked to a lower risk of cognitive difficulties, and even a lower risk of dementia.

In one study, carried out by researchers in the US with almost 6,000 participants, scientists found that after taking into account a host of factors including smoking, physical activity, health and socioeconomic status, those who stuck best to a Mediterranean or similar diet over the course of a year were about 35% less likely to have low scores on cognitive tests than those who did not stick to the regime.

While the study does not show that eating badly triggers cognitive problems, and further work is needed to monitor the impact of the diet over time, Claire McEvoy – co-author of the research from the University of California San Francisco – noted that benefits of healthy eating seem to exist on a sliding scale.

“Even moderate adherence to these high quality dietary patterns showed a protective association with cognitive function,” she said.