The Commission for Improving Dignity in Care today published a draft report that highlights the importance of respecting the dignity of old people.

They are right. It is all too easy to make assumptions about older people, or to talk down to them.

This was brought home to me a long time ago by some young medical students in a hospital ward where I worked. One of the students tried to engage a patient – an old, rather deaf man – in conversation.

“Now then, dad, what did you used to do for a living?” he casually shouted in the old man’s ear.

“I, laddie, was a Professor of Medicine,” came the stern – and unexpected – reply.

It turned out the old man in front of them had been perhaps the foremost medical professor of his generation, and the author of a textbook almost every medical student owned in those days.

“Have you got my book?” he asked. “Well, bring it in and I’ll sign it for you.”

The next day, the six students each proudly possessed a signed copy of the professor’s book. And each book was inscribed with a note hoping the owner would remember for the rest of his professional life that the old were once young, productive members of  society. After that lesson, I’m sure they did.

It’s easy to fall into bad habits, but it is up to everyone to do our bit to preserve the dignity of older people.

And perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to extend this to younger people too!

(To see and comment on the Commission for Improving Dignity in Care’s draft report, click here.)


Professor Brian Kirby, author of How to Live to 110: Your comprehensive guide to a healthy life.



Heart attack deaths in England fell by 50 per cent between 2002 and 2010*.

In a study published in January, researchers analysed the records of over 800,000 men and women admitted to hospital with a heart attack. This showed a truly remarkable decline in the number of deaths.

It’s great news. Until a decade ago, numbers were increasing. So what is behind this dramatic change?

The researchers concluded that roughly half the decrease was due to improvements in treatment which kept people from dying, while the rest was due to fewer people having heart attacks in the first place.

It seems more people may now be aware of the underlying causes of heart disease and are changing their lifestyle. They are smoking less, eating more healthily, being more active, watching their weight and their blood pressure, and taking steps to avoid diabetes. (Click here for an overview of the causes of heart attacks.)

At the same time, highly effective medicines and new treatment options for heart attacks have been developed. These break up the blood clots and blockages in arteries that cause the heart attacks.

But there’s no room for complacency. Even with this improvement, heart attacks – and related heart disease not covered by this study – are still one of the main causes of death in the UK. Often heart disease hits in middle life when many men and women are at their peak of earning or responsibility.

And those who have a heart attack but do not die from it can end up with a less than full life. Prevention is still better than cure.

On the other hand, this study and similar trends in the United States show that present efforts are on the right track.

But one troubling finding in the study was that the smallest improvement was in people aged 30 to 54. Could increasing levels of obesity and the earlier onset of diabetes in this group be the reason?

The precursors to the process that blocks arteries are known to start in childhood. Although it is never too late for individuals to take steps to reduce their risk of having a heart attack, the best time to start is when young.


Professor Brian Kirby, author of How to Live to 110: Your comprehensive guide to a healthy life.

|Smolina K, Wright FL, Rayner M, Goldacre MJ

Determinants of the decline in mortality from acute myocardial infarction in England between 2002 and 2010: linked national database study.

BMJ 2012;344:d8059 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d8059



These days, when you have a book to sell you need a website. But when we were building our site, we realised it could be much more than a boring old marketing tool.

So what we’ve done is put together a site full of information we hope will be of value to everyone, whether or not you buy our book How to Live to 110. It outlines what to do now to keep yourself healthy, so you live longer and end up in great shape throughout your later years.

We’ve given an overview of all the main diseases covered in the book – heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, lung disease, infections, dementia and so on – and suggested some of the steps you can take to avoid these. We also give advice and suggestions on physical activity, burning calories, foods that help protect you from disease, avoiding hunger, losing weight permanently and giving up smoking.

People are living longer these days. Everyone really should be taking steps to make sure their old age is rewarding and healthy rather than years of illness and frailty. The website can’t go into depth on this, like our book does, but we hope it will still prove helpful. And, unlike some websites, all the suggestions we make are based on scientific studies

Of course, we’d love it if people buy our book. After all, we spent two hard years researching and putting it together, and we’re really proud of how it turned out! But if our website gets some people thinking about their future health – and perhaps contributes to a reduction in the diseases caused by modern living – then that’s great too.

(Our website is – or click on the tab at the top of the blog.)


Professor Brian Kirby, author of How to Live to 110: Your comprehensive guide to a healthy life.


© 2012 How to Live to 110 Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha