MPs urged to keep assisted dying high on the agenda Bill calls for doctors to be allowed to prescribe lethal dose to patients expected to live less than six months

Possible link between low vitamin D levels and dementia found OLDER PEOPLE with very low levels of vitamin D may have an increased risk of developing dementia, research suggests. Scientists at the University of Exeter followed 1,658 participants over the age of 65 who did not have dementia at the outset of the study. The six-year research found that those with low levels of vitamin D were 53% more likely to develop any form of dementia. Those with severe deficiencies were at a 125% greater risk. Lead researcher David Llewellyn said: ‘Clinical trials are now needed to establish whether eating foods such as oily fish or taking vitamin D supplements can delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.’ The study was published in the journal Neurology. NURSING OLDER PEOPLE

supported the bill, but prime minister David Cameron says he is not convinced. The RCN takes a neutral position on the issue and in 2011 published guidance for nurses approached by a patient or family member. It reinforces that assisting a suicide is illegal but also provides practical examples of how to deal with difficult conversations and deliver good quality end of life care. Dame Jill Macleod Clark, professor of nursing at the University of Southampton and board member of campaign group Dignity in Dying, supports the bill. She said: ‘I have been very affected by the people I have seen who have suffered or been in anguish in the last days or weeks of their lives. There is an extraordinary amount of public interest in

Find out more Read the RCN’s guidance online at:

Can exercise complement treatment of venous leg ulcers? SCIENTISTS ARE examining whether exercise can improve outcomes for patients with chronic venous leg ulcers. Markos Klonizakis from Sheffield Hallam University is leading the study, which will initially involve 80 patients in two groups. Both groups of participants will wear compression stockings, but one will also take part in a 12-week exercise programme. The programme will involve three sessions of supervised exercise a week, including walking, cycling, leg strengthening and flexibility work. Dr Klonizakis said: ‘Supervised exercise may complement compression therapy in the prevention and treatment of venous ulcers. Exercise is a low-cost, lowrisk and effective strategy for improving health. However, little is known about its practicality and usefulness in combination with compression in these patients.’

Alamy (Posed by models)

By Alistair Kleebauer @alistairbauer MPS ARE being urged by a leading nurse to keep the controversial issue of assisted dying ‘high on the political agenda’ in the run up to the general election. Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill was debated for ten hours in the House of Lords in July, but is unlikely to be allocated time to be debated in the Commons. It is illegal to assist the suicide of a patient in England and Wales, but the bill calls for doctors to be able to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients thought to have less than six months to live. The bill is yet to be scheduled for committee stage. High-profile names including care minister Norman Lamb and former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey have

this issue. MPs have a constitutional duty to debate this in the Commons and keep it high on the agenda.’ Under the terms of the bill, a patient would have to be ‘reasonably expected’ to die within six months and their declaration of intention to die would have to be signed off by two doctors. It would also be clear the patient had reached the decision without coercion. The decision to self-administer the dose and the final act of doing so must be taken by the patient, according to the bill, but healthcare professionals could assist in dose preparation or self-administration. Independent nurse adviser in palliative care and pain Celia Manson said she was firmly against helping a patient to end their life. ‘We know from all sorts of studies that prediction of death and who is going to live is very inaccurate,’ she said. ‘I have looked after people where it was suggested that they would die within a certain period of time, and they have not.’

September 2014 | Volume 26 | Number 7

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Possible link between low vitamin D levels and dementia found.

OLDER PEOPLE with very low levels of vitamin D may have an increased risk of developing dementia, research suggests...
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