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Gerontology Matters
November 2014

The New Zealand Association of Gerontology

In this issue:

A message from the President

Dear Members

Call to Action

You told us a while back that you wanted NZAG to be more relevant and for our voice to be heard. We now come back to you, as NZAG members, and ask how you are willing to help in our policy and advocacy work. 

Our aim for NZAG to become a trusted advisor in all matters relating to future planning for New Zealand’s ageing population is central in our strategic priorities for 2014-16. We are offering every member the chance to get involved in working towards this aim. I am asking especially for input into Priority 3 of the Strategic Plan: to influence policy at all levels to enhance the well-being of older people. 

NZAG’s activities against this priority involve:  
  • Identifying and defining  particular problems or issues
  • Undertaking research and drawing on completed research
  • Applying analytical frameworks
  • Presenting a range of options and the implications of each approach.
An enhanced policy function of NZAG will:  
  • Ensure that research on ageing informs policy development and improves outcomes for older people
  • Drive our awareness raising and advocacy efforts 
  • Enhance the reputation/brand of NZAG with greater levels of visibility, respect and influence
  • Provide tangible benefits for the members of the NZAG.
As a matter of priority, we are seeking your response to the following questions:
  • Would you be interested in contributing to developing policy positions?
  • Could you draw attention to opportunities for NZAG to contribute to policy development through calls for submissions, working groups, public enquiries, research and innovation forums? 
  • Would you be willing to keep us in loop on developments in your field of work to enhance the well-being of older people? 
  • Would you be willing to work with other members on submissions and policy positions and/or to be a spokesperson for NZAG in your area of expertise? 

The executive and I would like to see NZAG contributing to enquiries, developing submissions, and taking up opportunities to provide input into planning and service development. But we need your advice and practical support along the way to support our work. I look forward to your response and ask that you to email me at by Friday 16th January 2015. The information will be collated and reported back to you in the February 2015 newsletter. 

Many thanks again for your support.
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: 2014 NZAG Conference Evaluation

October 2014 - Debra Waters

The following was written by Debra Waters for the New Zealand Association of Gerontology.

The NZAG Conference was held in Dunedin 12-14 September 2014. The organizing committee consisted of Debra Waters (Co-convener), Fiona Doolan-Noble, Linda Robertson, Susan Davidson, Beatrice Hale.

The programme spread over 3 days and included a mix of keynotes, symposiums and concurrent sessions and posters. A total of 139 delegates from across NZ attended including delegates from Australia, Malaysia and Japan. Optional events included a welcome function at the St David Lecture Complex, a Saturday morning breakfast with presentations on falls prevention in the Otago region, and the Southern Mix and Mingle at the Otago Museum.

NZ: New role strengthens care for older people

October 2014 - Health Improvement & Innovation Resource Centre (HIIRC)

The following is a Waikato District Health Board media release, published by the HIIRC. Image of Jenni Edge and Shirley Murdoch.

The use of an internationally recognised assessment tool in the Waikato by those caring for older people in the community has got a boost with the appointment of Jenni Edge and Shirley Murdoch as lead practitioners.

They will provide education and support for new and current users of the interRAI system at Waikato DHB, which means training staff in the use of the assessment tool and how to ensure captured data is consistent, validated and accurate.

NZ: Best foot forward to reduce falls

October 2014 - Auckland District Health Board (ADHB)

The following is a News Release from ADHB, published by

Coloured wristbands and a confusion screening tool are some of the latest techniques being used at Auckland City Hospital to help reduce the number of patients falling in wards.

The ‘Falls Concept Ward’ introduces a range of innovative and tested initiatives developed by Older People’s Health specialists with an aim to reduce falls with harm by 20 per cent.

It is the latest concept by a dedicated team of health, nursing, medical and quality and safety staff who are working together to reduce that figure.
Charge Nurse, Lorraine Aramoana-Thompson has high hopes that the project will help to improve the situation for one of our more vulnerable patient groups on the Marino Ward.

NZ: The Brief Risk Identification Geriatric Health Tool (BRIGHT) Trial *NEW

November 2014 - HIIRC

The following was published by the HIIRC.

Identifying older people to prevent disability

3,893 older people aged 75 years and over (or 65 years and over for Maori) were recruited from 148 general practitioners in three District Health Board areas of New Zealand – Canterbury, Capital and Coast and the Western Bay of Plenty. 

Disability, quality of life, residential care placement and hospitalisations of all patients will be followed over three years.

What are the factors associated with nutrition risk? 

Nutrition risk of BRIGHT participants was assessed using the Australian Nutrition Screening Initiative (ANSI). Validated questionnaires were used to establish quality of life (WHOQOLBREF), physical function (the Nottingham Extended Activities of Daily Living) and depressive symptoms (15 item Geriatric Depression Scale). Demographic, standard of living and health data were established.

The cluster-randomized BRIGHT Trial: Proactive case finding for community-dwelling older adults

The authors conducted a cluster-randomised trial of the Brief Risk Identification Geriatric Health Tool (BRIGHT) to assess whether case finding reduces disability among older primary care patients. Sixty primary care practices in New Zealand were assigned to an intervention or control group. "Intervention practices sent a BRIGHT screening tool to older adults every birthday; those with a score of 3 or higher were referred to regional geriatric services for assessment and, if needed, service provision. Control practices provided usual care". Based on the results of the trial, the authors conclude that the "... case-finding strategy was effective in increasing identification of older adults with disability, but there was little evidence of improved outcomes. Further research could trial stronger primary care integration strategies".

NZ: Falling through the cracks - New Zealand prostate cancer survivors’ experiences and views regarding PSA testing

August 2014 - New Zealand Medical Journal (NZMJ)

The following was published by the NZMJ.

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common male cancer in many countries. The 5-year survival rates for PCa are rising, with this thought to reflect improvements in early detection via prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing and improved outcomes from treatment options. However, there are also risks associated with PSA testing, such as misdiagnosis and harmful side-effects from various treatments that may outweigh any potential benefits, especially for older men.

The aim of this study was to identify and examine PCa survivors' experiences and views regarding PSA testing. 

NZ: Different folks, different strokes: Becoming and being a stroke family

October 2014 - Kai Tiaki Nursing Research

The following was written by Kai Tiaki Nursing Research.

In this qualitative study, the authors explored family experiences of stroke during the six months after the stroke occurred. Four participants from two Auckland families were interviewed at three time intervals. "An over-arching theme of 'different folks: different strokes' was identified, with three sub-themes: losing a life once lived, navigating an unfamiliar path and creating a sense of normal. The journey to becoming and being a stroke family was complicated and brought different losses and challenges to the two families. Communication and interactions with the health-care team greatly influenced each family's journey into post-stroke life."

Australia: Getting together for goodness sake

2014 - Social Science & Medicine

This article is reserved for members-only.
Read it online or become a member to read it.

Australia: Blueprint for an ageing Australia

September 2014 - Per Capita

The following was written by Per Capita.
Blueprint for an Ageing Australia is a document built around the idea that living longer is a good thing, that the rising average age of our population is a vindication of advances in science and  health policy, and that the best way to approach it is to look for ways that older Australians can participate more effectively in our society and our economy to the best of their abilities.

The Blueprint is, ultimately, based on the reality that ageing isn’t something that happens to other, older people, it happens to all of us and it is in all our interests to make it a more positive experience for everyone.

Australia: Brain training boosts memory for over 60s - but there's a catch

November 2014 - NZ Herald

The following was written by The New Zealand Herald. Image by Thinkstock.
Computer-based "brain training" is useful for older adults, but only if it's conducted in a group setting, research suggests.

Brain training - computerised cognitive training - can boost memory and thinking skills in people aged over 60 years, according to the University of Sydney. But many programs promoted by the $1 billion industry are ineffective.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers analysed more than 50 studies involving 5000 participants, comparing the results of those who undertook brain training in a group environment and at home.

Australia: Supporting people with dementia and their families and carers - Victorian dementia action plan 2014 - 2018

October 2014 - Victorian Department of Health

This article is reserved for members-only.
Read it online or become a member to read it.

UK: Isolation - The emerging crisis for older men

2014 - International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK).

The following was published by the ILC-UK. 

This Executive Summary reports on new research from Independent Age and the ILC-UK, which explores the experiences of older men who are socially isolated or lonely. The research has used newly released data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), as well as interviews, focus groups and existing evidence.

USA: Cocoa could fight forgetfulness in elderly

October 2014 - The New Zealand Herald

The following was published by The New Zealand Herald.

Cocoa can help to slow and even reverse age-related memory loss, according to a study pointing to the previously unknown mental benefits of the chocolate ingredient.

Scientists believe that flavanols, the antioxidants inside cocoa beans, can give people in their sixties the memory of a "typical 30- or 40-year-old".

The study, by the Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, is thought to be the first evidence that age-related memory decline - a common problem that can cause older people to forget small things like the names of acquaintances or where they have placed their keys - can be countered through dietary changes.

USA: Daily glass of wine aids memory in older folk - research *NEW

October 2014 - The New Zealand Herald

The following was published by The New Zealand Herald, image by Thinkstock.

Drinking a glass of wine most days of the week can sharpen memory in the over-60s, research has found.

Moderate alcohol consumption - up to two alcohol beverages a day - amongst the over 60s was found to preserve the region of the brain responsible for memory and cognition. Younger people considered to be light or moderate drinkers do not benefit in the same way, the study found.

International: New perspectives and approaches to understanding dementia and stigma - A compendium of essays

2014 - International Longevity Centre

The following is from the International Longevity Centre.

According to research cited in this compendium of essays, people over the age of 55 fear being diagnosed with dementia more than any other condition and at least 1 in 4 people hide their diagnosis, citing stigma as the reason.

The issue of stigma is widely acknowledged as a serious challenge for people with dementia and their carers at the individual, family and societal level, and as noted above serves as a barrier to access care, support and treatment. However, limited attention has been focussed on the origins of stigma and stigmatisation. 

This new compendium of essays examines the social stigma which surrounds dementia, highlighting that stigma is impending early diagnosis, care and research into the disease.

International: "Ageing well" must be a global priority

November 2014 - World Health Organization (WHO)

This article is reserved for members-only.
Read it online or become a member to read it.

International: Community health worker interventions to improve access to health care services for older adults from ethnic minorities - A systematic review

October 2014 - BMC Health Services

The following is from BMC Health Services Research.

The health status of older adults belonging to ethnic minorities in Western countries is an important public issue because their health is often less favourable than that of older adults from the majority population. In addition, the number of older adults belonging to ethnic minorities is increasing rapidly in Western countries. The introduction of community health workers (CHWs) has proven to be successful in addressing health disparities among ethnic minorities; however, an overview of CHW’s benefits for older adults is absent in the literature. 

The authors reviewed the literature to explore whether CHWs are also effective in improving the health and the delivery of health care services to ethnic minority older adults in Western countries. Seven studies were included. 

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.

Conferences - New Zealand

Auckland Hub Meeting - with special guest

Tuesday 9th December 2014 - Auckland, NZ

You are invited to a Pre-Christmas Celebration.

Tulips and LiLACS:  Gerontology and the UK-Netherlands Experience.

Presentation by Guest Speaker: Professor Ngaire Kerse,
Professor and Head of School of Population Health, University of Auckland.
When: 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Tuesday 9th December, 2014

Where: The Blind Foundation
4 Maunsell Road, Parnell
Get directions >

RSVPs not required.

7th Annual Elder Law for the Health Sector Conference

23-24 February 2015 - Crowne Plaza, Auckland, NZ
Attend the Elder Law conference and hear from top-tier lawyers, clinicians and social workers as they provide perspectives on:
  • The complex legal and ethical challenges affecting clinical decision-making and patient outcomes within aged care
  • Capacity assessments, repercussions and important considerations
  • Issues with EPAs and how to go around them
  • The rights of patients and of those dealing with them
  • End-of-life care
  • Compulsory treatment and the use of restraints and seclusion
  • And more...

NZAG Member Discount:
We are pleased to announce that members of the NZ Association of Gerontology are eligible to receive a 10% discount off the conference price. To claim this discount enter the promotional code when booking online. Promotional Code: MUBHCV.

Registration Details:
  • Add a 2nd delegate to the conference for half price
  • Separately bookable post-conference workshop on Capacity assessments of older patients also available.

Conferences - Overseas 

Rewinding the Aging Clock
29-30 November 2014 - Hong Kong, China
The 2015 Ageing Summit
10-12 February 2015 - London, UK

Global Disability, Ageing & Healthcare Conferences Online Guide 

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