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Gerontology Matters
September 2015

The New Zealand Association of Gerontology

In this issue:

A message from the President

On Monday 17th August 2015 NZAG held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Blind Foundation in Parnell, Auckland. The AGM was quite well attended considering it was a stand-alone event and I was delighted to see some long standing members in attendance, including Margaret Guthrie one of NZAG’s life members. I have included in this issue of Gerontology Matters my President’s report presented at the AGM for your information.

The 2015/2016 year sees some changes to the NZAG executive. Firstly it is with sadness that we farewell Dianne Rogers. Dianne served as Vice President for the last two years. I would like to thank Dianne for her contribution to NZAG during that time. I would also like to welcome the following new members of the executive; Dr Carol Wham, Jane Large and Linda Robertson. The NZAG constitution identifies that we should operate with a minimum of four regional hubs and I am delighted to report that as of the forthcoming financial year we will have now have two regional hubs representing members in the North Island and two in the South Island.

The new executive is:

President: Dr Stephen Neville
Vice President: Dr Debra Waters
Executive: Diana O’Neill, Dr Asmita Patel and Dr Carol Wham
Auckland/Northland Regional Hub: Dr Kathy Peri
Wellington Regional Hub: Dr Judith Davey
Canterbury/Upper South Island Regional Hub: Jane Large
Otago/Lower South Island Regional Hub: Dr Linda Robertson

A key focus for the rest of 2015 and into 2016 is to grow the membership, particularly into the new membership categories and to revitalise our marketing strategy.

See full President's report >

NZAG’s 2016 conference will be held in Wellington, Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th September at the James Cook Hotel. Planning is underway and will be led by Executive Members Dr Judith Davey and Diana O’Neill. The focus for the conference will be Making Active Ageing a Reality. Please put this date in your diaries now.

Dr Stephen Neville
New Zealand Association of Gerontology

The International Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology (IAGG)

IAGG: Like to receive the IAGG Newsletter?

As an NZAG member, you are invited to register for the International Association of Gerontology & Geriatrics (IAGG) newsletter and stay up to date with international news.

You can register here for the International Association of Gerontology & Geriatrics newsletter or by sending your email contacts to IAGG

The Australian Journal of Ageing content updates

The Australasian Journal of Ageing (AJA) is a comprehensive publication which provides a balance of academic papers, industry perspectives and practice reports. An invaluable source of current information and research, it covers a range of topics including social gerontology, home and community care services, geriatric medicine, health services research and the biology of ageing

NZAG invites members to sign up for free Australasian Journal of Ageing content updates.

In order to receive these updates you must first sign up on Wiley Online Library. After signing up visit the Journal’s homepage and click “Get New Content Alerts” on the left side-bar.

Instructions on how to sign up for Wiley Online Library >
Instructions on how to sign up for content alerts >

Information relevant to NZAG members

NZ: Evaluation of nutrition risk in older independent living adults within the Waitemata and North Shore community

Originally published by Massey University

Research on the prevalence of nutrition risk in community living adults in New Zealand is limited. With the rise in the proportion of older adults in New Zealand, the assessment of nutrition status of older adults will help to determine those at nutrition risk.

The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of nutrition risk amongst independent living older adults residing in the Waitemata district health board (DHB) region of New Zealand. The objectives of this study were to determine nutrition risk using the Mini Nutritional Assessment - Short Form (MNA-SF) Tool and to identify any demographic, social or health factors associated with nutrition risk among older community living adults. 

The study found a low prevalence of nutrition risk in a sample of healthy community-dwelling older adults. The results contribute to the body of evidence that nutrition screening is important to identify those at nutrition risk. Early identification of nutrition risk can help to prevent nutritional problems in older adults and help adults remain active and healthy within the community. 

Read full study here >

Focus on Falls: Toolkit for Clinicians 

Focus on falls is a quarterly publication for everyone interested in understanding and preventing falls in older people. Reducing harm from falls is the name and the broad aim of the programme.

Click the link for everything you need in falls prevention > 

NZ: Help to Get Around at Home

Originally published on NZCSS

Simple and clear advice for people who help other people to get around in their homes is in a new booklet. The Home and Community Health Association, Carers NZ, and ACC have worked together to produce this resource as part of the Carers' Strategy. It has tips and tricks to help family carers, support workers, volunteers or anyone who helps others to get about. 

Download an electronic copy from the ACC website or request a hard copy from Carers NZ or call 0800 777 797

Read more >

Help us design a conference to suit your professional needs

The NZAG 2016 conference organising committee welcomes your ideas on suitable key note speakers (international and local).

Please email Diana O’Neill at with your suggestions including the speaker’s name, location, affiliation, area of expertise and why you would recommend them.

Your 2016 conference organising committee.

NZ: Half of Over 50s have No Retirement Plan
Originally published by Radio New Zealand

A new study has found many over-50-year-olds are failing to adequately save for retirement. 

A joint survey of about 1,000 people, released by the Financial Markets Authority and the Commission for Financial Capability, (formerly the Retirement Commission) showed only half of those approaching retirement had a financial plan. The Commission's General Manager of investor capability, David Boyle, said many people were not aware of how much they needed on top of their superannuation.

"There are those who view it as too hard to do, or just don't have the time, or haven't made the effort," he said. 

Those who have made the effort to do a plan, generally are far better off in retirement.

Read full article here >

NZ:Too Many Older People Falling Over

Originally published by 3News

The number of people over 65 is growing and the Government is working on ways to stop them falling over.

Government Minsters say falls cause around 40 percent of ACC claims from people aged between 65 and 69, and around 60 percent of claims from those aged over 85.

ACC Minister Nikki Kaye says initiatives will be rolled out over the next 12 months aimed at keeping them on their feet.

Senior Citizens Minister Maggie Barry says the number of people over 65 is expected to double to 1.2 million by 2035.

"Even falls that don't result in injury can affect an older person's quality of life," she said. 

"Falls reduce people's confidence and cause them to restrict their day-to-day activities."

Read more here >

Thank you to the members who have already renewed their membership for the 2015/16 year.

To renew now, and receive the many benefits NZAG membership offers:

click here >

NZ: Ever Thought about Volunteering?

Originally published by Eldernet

Liam Butler interviews Scott Miller Chief Executive Volunteering NZ

Question One: How can businesses support volunteering in a way that is sustainable for their staff?

Scott Miller: Assisting staff to volunteer through employee volunteering programmes enables businesses to actively support the well-being of local communities (e.g. corporate social responsibility). Such programmes often operate best when the motivations of both the employer and employee are both well represented:
Employee motivation: The motivation to volunteer as an employee is often driven by a variety of individual motivations and perceived benefits. Employees may perceive volunteerism as an effective means to develop or enhance job-related skills including teamwork, leadership, communication and project management skills that thereby enhance employee well-being and satisfaction.
Employer motivation: VNZ believe it is important for managers to involve employees in the design and implementation of volunteering programmes that encourage employee participation and engagement. Without this co-design, activities determined purely on the basis of availability or business convenience risk not resonating or being as engaging for employees. Employers should also regularly communicate with, and provide feedback to employees about how their participation in the volunteer activity has affected beneficiaries and made tangible differences.

Question Two: For people who work with older people and want to develop their careers, how can volunteering help them boost their C.V.?

Scott Miller: People already working with older people generally demonstrate various transferrable skills, valued by employers. However, volunteering can provide additional benefits to boost a C.V. For example, by volunteering in a community setting and/or supporting a professional organisation, volunteers may extend their network of contacts; increase their interpersonal skills and knowledge; and develop and/or enhance technical skills. Such new skills gained may support their career aspirations further than performing their existing job alone.

Read more here >

NZ: Imperative that Kiwi Employers get Over their Fear of Hiring Older Workers
Originally published by One News

Phil O’Reilly from Business NZ says older workers are set to play an increasingly important role in the workforce.

Mr O'Reilly thinks small and medium businesses are "a bit scared of what might happen" if they hire an older worker. Mr O'Reilly says the attitude of many New Zealand businesses is: "I hire someone. I'm struggling to have that conversation about retirement when that comes along so maybe I might not bother. I might just hire someone young."

But if businesses hired older workers their costs would be lower in the long run, he says...

Read full article here >


International: Decades of Work to Restore Sight for Older People Recognised

Gabi Hollows has been awarded the inaugural Ryman Prize in recognition of her tireless work over more than two decades to help restore sight to more than 1 million people. 

The Ryman Prize is a US$150,000 international prize for the best work in the world that has enhanced quality of life for older people. 
Gabi was selected by the Ryman Prize’s international jury from nominees from all around the world. 
She is the Founding Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation, the charity she set up with her late husband Professor Fred Hollows. Together, Fred and Gabi gathered a team around them, working to tackle the problem of preventable blindness in the developing world and for Indigenous Australians.  The Fred Hollows Foundation now works in more than 20 countries, providing affordable, high-quality, sight-restoring surgery to some of the poorest people in the world. 
In the 23 years since the Hollows Foundation was established more than 1 million people have had their sight restored. The vast majority of the recipients are older people who could not have otherwise afforded to have cataract surgery. 
Professor Erwin Neher, a Ryman Prize juror and a former winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine, presented Gabi with her Ryman medal at a ceremony in Auckland today. 
“We had many high quality entries from around the world which made it difficult to choose a winner,’’ Professor Neher said. 
“We were impressed with the profound and measurable impact that the work of Gabi and The Foundation have had on so many older people and their communities around the world. She is a deserving winner of this prize.’’ 
Gabi Hollows said winning was an honour. 
“In many cultures they believe that when your hair goes grey your eyes go grey as well and there is nothing you can do about it. Fred strongly believed that everyone had the right to have their sight restored, no matter where they lived or how much money they had. The joy you have in giving back someone’s sight is the most amazing thing in the world.’’ 

Interview with Gabi Hollows >
More Information about the Ryman Prize >

Australia: Park proximity, quality and recreational physical activity among mid-older aged adults: Moderating effects of individual factors and area of residence

Originally published by hiirc

In this study, the authors investigated relationships between perceived park proximity, park quality and recreational physical activity among mid-older aged adults. They also examined the potential moderating effects of gender, education level, retirement status, functional limitations and area of residence on these relationships. 

Self-reported data on demographics, functional limitations, park proximity, park quality, recreational walking and other recreational moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) were collected among 2700 Australian adults (57–67 years) in 2012. Objective information on area of residence was collected.

Park proximity significantly interacted with retirement status; non-retired participants who reported living near a park were more likely to participate in recreational walking, whereas no relationship was observed in retired participants. Among those who walked for recreation, higher park quality was related to more weekly minutes of recreational walking. No significant relationships with other recreational MVPA and no moderating effects of gender, education level, functional limitations and area of residence were observed.

The authors conclude that parks may stimulate engagement in recreational walking among non-retirees and more walking among those who already walk. They make recommendations for further research.

Read full article here >

Australia: The Road to Reducing Dementia Onset and Prevalence: are Diet and Physical Activity Interventions Worth Investing in?
Originally Published by Australian Policy Online

In Australia, deaths as a result of dementia have now taken over cerebrovascular disease as the second leading cause of death. At present, over a quarter million Australians suffer from dementia and projected estimates indicate that the figure can reach a high of nearly one million by 2050. 

Diet and physical activity have been shown to promote brain health and offer some protection against cognitive decline. Moreover, they have also been recognized as risk factors for developing other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertensive diseases and certain cancers all of which are leading causes of death in Australia. 

Research shows that higher ratios of saturated fat to monounsaturated fats are predictive of negative mental function. 

Read full article here >

UK: When Dementia is Actually Depression

Originally published by

British doctor JamesLeFanu talks about when dementia is actually depression, and when symptoms that are thought to be physical are psychological.

Past the age of 40, forgetfulness is so common as to be unremarkable. When psychiatrists at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland in the US interviewed 200 healthy adults about the nature of their memory lapses, names came way out in front, followed in descending order of frequency by recalling phone numbers, where things had been placed, all the way down to losing the thread of a conversation.

But in general the subjects seemed less concerned with memory than the physical signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and grey hair.

It's a different matter when the memory seems to deteriorate suddenly.

"I would sit in front of a book, turning the pages but not really taking in what I was reading," recalls a retired university lecturer. He persuaded his family doctor to send him to a memory clinic, where tests revealed that his memory was actually average for his age - the reason for his loss of concentration being that he was depressed.

The influence of the psyche on memory is even more pronounced in those with the form of severe depression known as pseudo-dementia, which can be easily mistaken for a "true" dementia. The main distinguishing feature is that the "truly" demented will try to conceal their difficulties, while the "pseudo" demented are indifferent.

Read more here >

UK: Opportunity Knocks - Designing Solutions for an Ageing Society
By David Sinclair and Helen Creighton

This short report by ILC-UK, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge's Engineering Design Centre and the institute of Engineering and Technology, seeks to explore how design and technology could better respond to the challenges of an ageing society. 

An ageing population brings a number of challenges - it means significantly higher health and social care costs and it means many more people will need help carrying out the activities of daily life. 

The technological revolution experienced over the past 20 years has happened alongside recognition of the opportunities and challenges of our ageing society. As a result, technology has been increasing seen as a silver bullet - something which will improve the lives of older people whilst also reducing health and care costs.

See full article >

UK: Changes in Vision in Older People: Causes and Impact
Originally public by Thomas Pocklington Trust

This publication summarizes findings from research commissioned by Thomas Pocklington Trust that uses the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) to look at the links between development of visual impairment and older people's lives social and economic position, and the impact of both deteriorating and improving sight on key aspects of their lives. 

Some interesting findings included the conclusion that the risk of developing both moderate and severe vision loss was significantly greater among people from poorer backgrounds and those who perceived their position in society to be low. likewise, improvements in vision were linked with improvements in quality of life and social engagement, although differences were small. 

To read full article click here >

UK: Finding a Path for the Cure for Dementia
Originally published by

Drug Development for Dementia is at a Crossroads
Dementia research and development is at a crossroads. The past decade has seen very little in the way of progress in drug development, and the disease has suffered from a lack of funding in innovation, research and development. Part of the problem is the high failure rate of candidate drugs, predominantly in the early stages of development, which is symptomatic of the gaps in the biology. However, in order to confront this problem we need to understand the wider culture of breakdown in the development of dementia drugs. Gaps in knowledge around the disease biology and how conducive that is to the regulatory science, scant openness with data-sharing, and the need for better understanding of regulatory challenges all lead to slow and inefficient translation of research into successful clinical results that can pave the way. 

The global burden of dementia, both now and in the future, is too great to ignore.

Read full article here >

UK: Best Practice in Social Care and Support for Adults with Concurrent Sight Loss and Dementia within Different Housing Settings
Originally published by

This project aimed to further knowledge on how best to provide care and support to people living with sight loss and dementia. Given the relatively limited knowledge base, this study has considerably enhanced the evidence base. 

Research and practice often focus on dementia or sight loss, and relatively little is known about how best to provide care and support to people with both conditions. Meeting the social care and support needs of people living with concurrent sight loss and dementia presents complex challenges. This project explored how social care and support for people living with concurrent sight loss and dementia in housing settings could be improved, and aimed to address this knowledge gap. 

Read full article >

UK: Older People Living with Cancer
Originally published by macmillan cancer support

In recent years there have been welcome developments in the evidence base on outcomes for older people affected by cancer in the UK. This includes how they vary compared with younger age groups, as well as to those of older people in their countries. It is clear that poor outcomes in older people are a major explanation for the survival gap with other countries and that the disparity in outcomes extends beyond survival to encompass quality of life and patient experience.

Little is known however about the attitudes of older people themselves towards cancer, including their knowledge, beliefs and behaviours, and how these might impact upon outcomes.  

This paper attempts to stop pre-conceptions of older people by the healthcare system and instead lay foundation for improving what's in place for them in regards to cancer treatment.

Read full article here >

USA: Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action

People forget things—a name, where they put their keys, a phone number—and yet what is dismissed as a minor inconvenience at 25 years of age can evolve into a momentary anxiety at 35, and a major source of personal worry at age 55 or 60. Forgetfulness at older ages is often equated with a decline in cognition—a public health issue that goes beyond memory lapses and one that can have significant impacts on independent living and healthy aging. The term “cognition” covers many mental abilities and processes, including decision making, memory, attention, and problem solving. Collectively, these different domains of cognition are critical for successfully engaging in the various activities involved in daily functioning such as paying household bills, following a recipe to cook a meal, and driving to a doctor’s appointment. As human life expectancy increases, maintaining one’s cognitive abilities is key to assuring the quality of those added years.

Cognitive aging is a public health concern from many perspectives. Individuals are deeply concerned about declines in memory and decision-making abilities as they age and may also be worried about whether these declines are early signs of a neurodegenerative disease, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. 

Read full article >

Norway: Technology, While Not a Fountain of Youth, Can Make Aging Safer

Jean Dickow, 78, never wanted the latest whiz-bang technology. But her gadget-friendly daughter, who lives in Norway, was worried that Ms. Dickow would fall in her apartment and no one would know. 

So Ms. Dickow was persuaded to put on an Apple Watch look-alike called the Lively safety watch, which has an alert button to push if she falls. Wearing a medical alert pendant that screamed old age was not an option, she said. 

Jean Dickow, 78, who lives alone, wears a Lively safety watch, which has an alert button to push if she falls. The watch also has a step counter and can remind her when it is time to take medication. 

Read full article > 

Member-Only Resources 

Did you know: As a member of the New Zealand Association of Gerontology you have access to the member-only section of our website, giving you access to exclusive member-only news articles and blog posts. This section now newly includes webinar summaries and resources from the Australian Association of Gerontology.

You must be logged in to view member-only content on the Gerontology website.

If you are having problems logging in, or have forgotten your username or password please email so we can sort it out for you.

Global Disability, Ageing & Healthcare Conferences Online Guide 

See a comprehensive list of conferences on the Global Disability and Health Care Services website.

Register Now!

Registration is now open for the Australian and New Zealand Society of Geriatric Medicine (ANZSGM) 2015 New Zealand retreat to be held in Christchurch 5-7 November. 

Click here to register >

Events: Workshops, Webinars and Conferences

NZ Dementia Summit 2015

5-6 November
Te Papa, Wellington

Dementia - Dilemmas and Debates
The NZ Dementia Summit is being held at Te Papa in Wellington, 5-6 November 2015. The Summit is jointly hosted by the NZ Dementia Cooperative, Alzheimers NZ and Carers NZ. The purpose of the Summit is to stimulate discussion and debate among multiple stakeholders across the dementia sector on the future approach to dementia care, with the aim of producing recommendations for future policy and practice that the sector and consumers support. 
The Summit will host two major workshops involving all the attendees. As well as these workshops, there will be speakers on identity, ethics and economics, which are core issues to consider in the care of people with dementia and their families/whanau. 

  • Diagnosis & Beyond - The Primary Care/Specialist Continuum
  • Strategic Direction - The community/Residential Care Continuum
To register interest contact

ANZSGM 2015 New Zealand Retreat

5-7 November

The Australian and New Zealand Society of Geriatric Medicine (ANZSGM) 2015 New Zealand retreat will be held in Christchurch on 5-7 November.
The ANZSGM is pleased to announce that Professor Gideo Caplan is their visiting speaker this year. The retreat is themed as 'Geriatrics in the real work' and will have a range of topics matching this theme.

Abstract submission is now also open, and abstract guidelines can be found on the retreat website.

Click here to register >

NZAG Conference 2016: Making Active Ageing a Reality

13-17 September 2016
James Cook Hotel, Wellington

Planning is underway and will be led by Executive Members Dr Judith Davey and Diana O’Neill. The focus for the conference will be Making Active Ageing a Reality. Please put this date in your diaries now.

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(09) 419 0042
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