East Kilbride News Column – 04.10.17

So, the Bank of Scotland’s annual Happiness Index shows that we’re 8% happier than last year! And, those aged 65 and over are the happiest of any age group. Certainly, here in East Kilbride I get some good happy times, and lots of laughs, with many groups comprised of those of us that couldn’t really be called young any more – young at heart though.


These surveys of course can’t always be taken seriously. This one for example was online and largely “self-selective” by those who chose to participate. So perhaps then just a bit of fun. What can be taken seriously though are statistics compiled by the National Registrar and published regularly.


Last week, the most up-to-date figures on births, deaths and other vital events were published by the National Records of Scotland – the National Life Tables.


During the second quarter of 2017 there were 966 births registered in Scotland, 6.9% fewer than in the same period of 2016, and the lowest ‘quarter two’ total since 2003.


For these bairns, just arrived with us with all of their lives ahead of them, life expectancy is steadily increasing. A baby girl born between 2014-16 in Scotland can expect to live for 81 years, and a baby boy can expect to live until he is 77.


Life expectancy in Scotland has steadily improved over the past 3 decades, increasing by 8 years for males, and almost 6 years for females. The gap between male and female life expectancy has decreased.


Last year, there were 910 centenarians living in Scotland, an increase of 57% from the estimate of 580 in 2006. Interestingly, the male centenarian population more than doubled from 50 in 2006, to 120 in 2016, whilst the female population increased by 49%, from 530 in 2006 to 790 in 2016.


Progress has certainly been made due to a number of factors, including of course advances in medical science and care.


Since the second quarter of 2016 the number of deaths from coronary heart disease has fallen by 5.3% to 1590 and deaths from cerebrovascular disease by 4.8% to 916. Cancer deaths have decreased by 0.8%, but deaths from respiratory system diseases rose by 2.8% to 1,642.


There has been much talk in the press and media about the increase in diagnoses of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia generally, and the figures show an increase in deaths by those causes. Could that be because we are living longer generally? Could that also be because we have a much better recognition of the conditions?


There is much to be done in both research for both understanding and prevention, and providing appropriate care. Those working in East Kilbride, in our Health Service and care services, recognise that. Some excellent work is being carried out at Hairmyres Hospital, in our nursing homes, by the Community Health Team and by charities such as the East Kilbride Dementia Carers Group.


All of these statistics are fascinating – they can give us a picture of our nation’s health, giving health professionals the data they need to monitor our well-being and plan the necessary strategies if improvements are required. Better statistics can lead to a better focus on what we are doing being well, and what needs improving.


Good physical and mental health is a blessing, and wellbeing so important. So many factors help towards that sense of wellbeing – our families, friends, social interaction, security. So many factors though can detract though – loneliness and isolation, poverty, loss of loved ones, Insecurity. Sometimes a helping hand is required by Government, public agencies, community groups, or even by a friendly individual.


Yes, it’s good that the Happiness Index shows that we’re generally happier than last year, especially those at 65-plus, but still a way to go!

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