In this blog, Adam Gordon, President Elect of the British Geriatrics Society describes the motivation behind a team of runners who will raise money for AgeUK at the 2022 London Marathon, and also shares some sad news about a loved and respected colleague. Please show your support for the team. Adam tweets @adamgordon1978.
In 2022, the annual meeting of the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society (EuGMS) comes to London on the same week as the London Marathon.
In Spring 2022, five European geriatricians, all connected through the European Academy of Medicine of Ageing (EAMA), decided to commemorate this occasion by running the marathon for AgeUK.
AgeUK is a local, national and international charity, providing support for people as they age. At a local level, through the work of the AgeUK network, they provide a range of practical services to older people, including home help, dementia support, foot care, exercise classes, and help with transport, shopping and household repairs. Nationally, they are an important voice against ageism and provide strong representation for older people, advocating for sensible policy around diverse issues ranging from access to healthcare, to pensions and housing. Internationally, as part of HelpAge International, AgeUK contribute to the work of the Disasters Emergency Committee, including a recent response to the situation in Ukraine.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of AgeUK is more important than ever. Older people have been more likely to develop COVID-19, more likely to become severely unwell or disabled as a consequence of COVID-19 and have been the group most affected by social isolation. Just when we need them most, the pandemic has also made it more difficult for charities like AgeUK to raise funds for their important work. This is an important time for those of us that care for older people and we need to do our part.
Our early fundraising plans had been led and co-ordinated by Dr Richard Dodds, from Newcastle. But, as we prepared in late May 2022, we received the most devastating news that Richard had died suddenly.
Richard was an inspirational colleague. A dedicated and gifted physician, he was particularly recognised for his exceptional research on the epidemiology of muscular ageing. He was awarded a British Geriatrics Society Rising Star Award for this work and was seen as an important future leader in the field. At the European Academy of Medicine of Ageing, Richard was a generous collaborator, and a calm and thoughtful mentor for colleagues. His passing has been met with substantial sadness from colleagues across the continent.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed healthcare professionals under substantial stress, and the moral injury associated with the difficult decisions which we have faced on a daily basis has taken its toll on all of us. The prevalence of mental health issues amongst healthcare professionals has increased substantially during the pandemic. The phrase, “It’s okay to be not okay,” has never been more relevant or important. The news of a colleague’s death can be very hard to bear. We would encourage friends and colleagues within the BGS who are experiencing distress to reach out to a friend, to see their GP, or to contact their trust occupational health service. Doctors in Distress also offer peer support groups. Details can be found on their website.
Richard was a passionate runner, and firmly believed in the value of the work undertaken by AgeUK. We were honoured when his partner, Dr Chris Smith-Duque, said that he wanted to take Richard’s place in the marathon and continue the fundraising work. In addition to Chris, the team also includes Dr Johannes Trabert from Frankfurt, Dr Carly Welch from Birmingham, and Dr Melanie Dani from London. I, as the oldest member of the team, will be bringing up the rear. Every penny that the group raises will go to AgeUK to support their invaluable work. This is what Richard would have wanted.
To learn more about the runners and contribute to the fundraising efforts go to: https://www.justgiving.com/team/europeangeriatricians
Please give generously. Our ambition is to raise £2000 per runner. We hope that people will spread their donations evenly amongst the team to enable us to reach our goal.