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Gerontology Matters
April 2015

The New Zealand Association of Gerontology

In this issue:

A message from the President

This month we are officially launching our presence on Facebook and Twitter.This work has been led by Dr Asmita Patel, a member of the NZAG Executive and supported by Adam Redmond. Adam is responsible for the day to day running of our social media technologies and is employed by BPSL who provide administrative services to NZAG. So thank you to both Asmita and Adam for undertaking this piece of work. The challenge for our organization is to make sure we regularly post information on both Facebook and Twitter that will positively impact on the health and well being of older people in New Zealand, as well as sharing the work we do with others on the global stage.
As identified in last month's Gerontology Matters we will use Facebook and Twitter to:
  • Promote and disseminate quality gerontological research and other media.
  • Stimulate public interest and promote action in all matters related to improving the quality of life and wellbeing of older people.
  • Develop relationships with other organisations with similar interests.
The membership is integral to the success of our foray into using social media. If you have a Facebook account you can ‘like’ our page ‘New Zealand Association of Gerontology’. If you have a Twitter account follow us, our Twitter name is ‘@NZGerontology’. Our aim is to reach 100 ‘likes’ on our Facebook page and 40 followers on Twitter within 3 months so your help is not only needed but will also be greatly appreciated.
You can also help us by contributing material to either Facebook or Twitter. Remember that for Twitter your ‘tweet’ needs to be less than 140 characters. If you do have any material that you want posted, please send via email to Adam ( If you have any questions about how to use or contribute to Facebook or Twitter, or you have any feedback for us about our engagement with social media please contact me directly at
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: Relationships with Health and Health Behaviours in Midlife

2015 - Health Improvement & Innovation Resource Centre (HIIRC)

There is growing pressure to understand and protect the health of the world's ageing population. Despite projected rapid population ageing in New Zealand, limited attention has been given to the attitudes towards ageing. Attitudes towards ageing are a complex, personalised perspective on the experience of ageing over the life span, which may be positively related to health and life expectancy. This doctoral study explores the relationships between attitudes to ageing and health and health behaviours at midlife, using a broad Awareness of Age-Related Change framework. 

Click here for full paper> 

NZ: Home care - An opportunity for physiotherapy?

2015 - HIIRC

Remaining physically active in later life is critical to maintaining independence in activities of daily living and is a major contributor to overall health status amongst older people. Traditionally a key focus of physiotherapy has been on maintaining functional capacity and mobility. However, the health and disability sector is a constantly evolving entity. Clinicians from a number of disciplines including physiotherapy, need to be flexible, responsive and innovative and maximize cost benefit for the service funder.
This article describes New Zealand and international evidence relating to the optimization of the potential role of physiotherapy in providing rehabilitation expertise into the provision of Home Care for older people. 

NZ: Get Ready for April Falls 2015

There is growing interest in the sector about April Falls 2015. While falls prevention for in-patient settings and aged care is an ongoing priority for the Health Quality & Safety Commission, the spotlight will shifts to focus on older people in primary care and community care settings. This is a great opportunity to look at how well our falls prevention initiatives are integrated across all care settings.
Reducing harm from falls will again be the focus of the Open for better care national patient safety campaign from April to September 2015, and we have some exciting developments in store for partnering with primary and secondary care. Falls is everyone’s business so there is plenty of scope to work across the sector in a joined up approach. Watch this space as more information comes on the campaign focus: ‘Stand up to falls’!

NZ: Get Ready for April Falls 2015

There is growing interest in the sector about April Falls 2015. While falls prevention for in-patient settings and aged care is an ongoing priority for the Health Quality & Safety Commission, the spotlight shifts to focus on older people in primary care and community care settings. This is a great opportunity to look at how well our falls prevention initiatives are integrated across all care settings.
Reducing harm from falls will again be the focus of the Open for better care national patient safety campaign from April to September 2015, and we have some exciting developments in store for partnering with primary and secondary care. Falls is everyone’s business so there is plenty of scope to work across the sector in a joined up approach. Watch this space as more information comes on the campaign focus: ‘Stand up to falls’!

NZ: Many may be living with undiagnosed dementia

Published - Taranaki Daily News - April 15

When Professor Graham Stokes started working with dementia patients it was widely believed that the disease destroyed the person and left their body as a shell. 

Now, about 30 years later, the London-based Bupa director of dementia care, is at the forefront of a person-centered approach.

After qualifying, his first job was working in a medical asylum facing closure.

"I was asked to go on this ward. It was known as a slow-stream rehabilitation ward, which basically meant you weren't going to be rehabilitated."

"I discovered all these people who were aged with dementia and they had just been warehoused. Nothing was going to be done." 

Stokes soon discovered differences between patients. Some would scream, some would pace and others were contented. 

"It seemed to me there is a person there. You just can't quite see them enough because of layers and layers of intellectual disability."

He joined a specialist dementia team and started writing about person-centred approach.

He was in New Plymouth recently to speak about living well with dementia in the community. The main message he wanted to get across was the scale of what's to come. 

Read full article here >

NZ: Minister Barry releases Positive Ageing Strategy at Age Concern Conference

The following was published by Age Concern NZ

The Honorable Maggie Barry, Minister for Senior Citizens, released the 2014 Report on the Positive Ageing Strategy at the Age Concern New Zealand annual conference, "Celebrating Age: Act locally, think globally."

The report examines how New Zealand has progressed towards the goals from the original Positive Ageing Strategy which was launched in 2001.

The Minister highlighted several aspects of the report, including how businesses will need to adapt to older workers and also the need to continually raise awareness of elder abuse and neglect. Age Concern New Zealand coordinates Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services around the country and welcomes every opportunity to raise awareness of these issues.

Age Concern New Zealand endorses the 2014 report on the Positive Ageing Strategy. Robyn Scott, Chief Executive said, "I welcome discussion on this miracle of the growing older population and the opportunities this presents for New Zealand."

The Minister also spoke about supporting the spiritual and physical wellbeing of older New Zealanders by ensuring they remain socially connected. Age Concern provides an Accredited Visiting Service and other social connection opportunities to help reduce loneliness and encourage older people to actively participate in their communities.

NZ: Longitudinal Study of Ageing - Summary Report 

Published 2015 - HIIRC

For those interested, Massey University has published a summary report based on the New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Ageing. (NZLSA)

Participants were 3311 people aged between 50 and 85 years, the authors provide a descriptive overview of the health status, health behaviors and health care utilization reported by this sample, and the changes across the two waves of data which include the full NZLSA sample (2010 and 2012).

NZ: History of NZ Association of Gerontology (NZAG)

A recent request for the year of NZAG's establishment led to this short piece on our history. It was written by Dr Margaret Guthrie, an NZAG life member and much treasured supporter. 

The NZ Association of Gerontology (NZAG) was formed in November 1981 following the disbanding of the NZ Society for the Study of Ageing. 

Gerontology in NZ was initially associated with the development of geriatric medicine by Dr James Newman, a physician who became Medical Superintendent of Cornwall Hospital in Cornwall Park, Auckland. That hospital was originally built as a temporary USA armed forces hospital during WW2. When the Americans departed it became what was assumed to be a long stay hospital, only Dr Newman espoused the principles of Geriatric Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation (ATR) as developed in the UK by Dr Marjorie Warren. Dr R Barker, also a physician began to work alongside Dr Newman in the early 1940s. These two founded the NZ Society for the Study of Ageing which tended to be supported largely by doctors sympathetic to the aims of AT and R. It is interesting to reflect that not all physicians believed there should be the need for a separate specialty. A debate around that raged in the UK medical press for the 1950s-mid 70s by which time the UK led the world in geriatric medicine especially in places such as Edinburg, Glasgow, Nottingham and Southampton. So NZ was quite early in following the lead set by Marjorie Warren.

NZ: Medication Use and Perceptions of GP Care in Advanced Age: Findings from LiLACS NZ

March 30 2015 - HIIRC

This report presents key findings about medication use, use of medication aids and perceptions of General Practitioner (GP) care by people in advanced age.

The findings are from a population-based sample of Maori (aged 80 to 90 years) and non-Maori (aged 85 years), living in the Bay of Plenty, who are taking part in a longitudinal study of advanced ageing, called Life and Living in Advanced Age: a Cohort Study in New Zealand - Te Puāwaitanga O Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu (LiLACS NZ).

NZ: School of Population Health, University of Auckland

Posted by UOA 2015

The report presents findings about hospitalizations, readmissions, visits to hospital-based doctors, and visits to after-hours medical clinics for Maori (aged 80 to 90 years) and non-Maori (aged 85 years). The findings are from a population-based sample of people in advanced age living in the Bay of Plenty, who are taking part in a longitudinal study of advanced ageing (LiLACS NZ). 

NZ: Income in advanced age: Findings from LILACS NZ

published - HIIRC - 17 April

This report presents key findings about the main sources of income, how people felt about their money situation and the entitlement cards they had in advanced age. The findings are from a population-based sample of Maori (aged 80 to 90 years) and non-Maori (aged 85 years), living in the Bay of Plenty, who are taking part in a longitudinal study of advanced ageing (LiLACS NZ).

AUS: Why do hospitalized older adults take risks that may lead to falls? 

Falls in the elderly are a considerable health issue for older adults, hospitals and the community more broadly. One in three people over the age of 65 years fall each year, and approximately 20% of them require medical attention. Falls are a particular problem for older adults who have been admitted to hospital, where in-patient rates of falls between 3 to 20 falls per 1000 occupied bed days have been reported. Once people have left hospital however, the rates of falls have continued to be high, with up to 7.5 falls per 1000 days being reported. 

This article looks into why this is. With older inpatients in hospitals generally being found to have an accurate impression of the probability of falling while in hospital, how is it that they continue to take risks that lead to this anyway?

Read more here >

Aus: Introduction of the Pill Pruner to acute medical care: A simple guide to control polypharmacy

Originally posted by HIIRC in January 2015

To assess the effect of a simple medication guide (the Pill Pruner) on the number of regular medications taken by older patients following medical admission, the authors audited 500 consecutive older patients. Medication numbers were compared to earlier audits. They found that "use of the Pill Pruner reduced the number of regular medications prescribed to older patients without affecting safety". 

Read more here >

UK: Involving Service Users in the Development of the Support at Home: Interventions to Enhance Life in Dementia Carer Supporter Programme for Family Carers of People with Dementia

Involving service users in research can be an effective way of improving the practicalities and acceptability of interventions for target end users.

Peer support interventions are increasingly used, especially in the UK, to encourage people to self-manage chronic illness. This has led to policy strategy for the development of interventions to support carers of people with chronic illness, specifically family carers of people with dementia. The involvement of service users and carers in developing and researching such interventions is increasingly recognized as important to ensure their relevance and acceptability, but may raise particular challenges for those living with or caring in dementia.

Read more here >

Germany: Old Age Isn't So Old Anymore

50s Foward News & Views - 10th April 2015
Boomers have always done things a little differently - including how they age. Bolstered by medical advances extending physical mobility and activity and widened horizons brought on by the internet era and social media connectivity, this generation is proving that getting older has never looked so good.

A new German study confirms that older adults can expect to age better than ever. On average, the study says, today's 75-year-olds are cognitively much fitter than the 75-year-olds of 20 years ago. Those involved in the study also reported higher levels of well-being and greater life satisfaction. 

"The gains in cognitive functioning and well-being are considerable, and of great significance for life quality in old age," said Ulman Lindenberger, director of the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. 

The study was run by a team of researches, representing several major universities, and its findings were based on data gathered from 708 adults aged 60 and over. 

To compare individuals from different generations, researchers relied on data from two consecutive aging studies and identified "statistical twins" whose age, education and diagnosed medical illnesses were similar. 

The study will be published soon in the scientific journal Psychology and Aging.

USA: Older Job Seekers: You're Hired (For Less)

The AARP Public Policy Institute just released a survey of 2492 people ages 45-70 who'd been unemployed at some point during the past five years. Its chief finding: Many are now back at work, but about half of them (48 percent) are earning less than they did in their former jobs. 

"A lot of them are in their pre-retirement years, when their earnings are supposed to be the highest in their lives," Lori Trawinski, Director of Banking and Finance at the AARP Public Policy Institute and one of the report's authors, said at the American Society on Aging's Annual Conference last week. 

As well as finding that they had received pay cuts, it was also found that many who had been rehired are now in entirely new occupations, generally not by choice. 

"It was, by far, the most prevalent type of discrimination that they said affected them," Trawinski said, talking about how 12 percent of those who'd been unemployed had found age discrimination had a "great effect" on their ability to get hired. 

Although, despite the downsides, 49 percent of those that are now employed stated that their working conditions are better than in their previous job. 

Trawinski also offered four tips to unemployed job seekers.

1. Don't delay starting to look for work after you lose your job.
2. Be aggressive in your job search.
3. Volunteer while you're out of work.
4. Before taking classes or training for new skills to help you find work, find out whether there are actually local jobs needing those skills. 

UK: Make Social Care Free at End of Life to Help More People Die at Home, Say MPs

Originally published in the BMJ

All people in England who are at the end of their life should be entitled to free social care to allow more of them to die at home with the appropriate support, MPs have recommended.

Means testing for social care should be phased out for people who have been recognized as being in the last days, weeks or months of their life, said a report from the cross party House of Commons Health Committee into how end of life care has progressed since the independent review of the Liverpool care pathway, chaired by Julia Neuberger in 2013.

Sarah Wollaston, a former GP, questioned, "Why aren't people dying in the place that they said they would like to? Different surveys have found that 63% and 72% of people prefer to be at home, but 53% of deaths still occur in hospitals and only 21% at home."

Read more here >


Book Review: With thanks to Dr. Judith Davey who wrote it

Judith Davey - 31/3/15

Books on "Elder Law" are not rare overseas, most (you have guessed it) published in the USA, but also o ther countries. They range in price from $2 to $250 and some of them date back to the 1990s. So this is not a newly discovered topic. But, up to now, there has not been a book on older people and legal issues specifically related to New Zealand. 

This gap has been filled by "Elder Law in New Zealand", edited by Kate Diesfeld and Ian McIntosh and published by Thomson Reuters, Wellington, in late 2014. 

This is far from a dry legal tome. It will be useful and accessible to the general reader, despite the hefty $150 plus GST price tag (you do get over 600 pages for this). It includes chapters written by academics, activists, social scientists, health professionals and lawyers, including Age Concern’s National Advisor, Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services, Louise Collins.

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.

USA: Gender Difficulties in Physical Activity Patterns Among Older Adults who Fall

Published 2015 - Science Direct

This study by Sarah T.Stahl and Steven M.Albert, looked into the gender differences in the level and pattern of physical activity in groups of older adults who would frequently fall, those less frequent and 'non-fallers.' 

Interviews were conducted with adults aged 50 years and older (N = 1834) at senior centers across Pennsylvania from 2010 to 2011. Self-reported falls and validated measures of physical activity were collected at baseline and at 6 and 12 month follow-up assessments. 

It was found that men who fell frequently decreased in recreational/leisure activity and household/yard work compared to the intermittent fallers and non-fallers. All women - regardless of fall group - engaged in similar levels of recreational/leisure activity and household/yard work over time however, both men and women frequent fallers showed a greater decrease in walking activities compared to other 'fall-groups.' 

USA: The effects of Pilates exercise training on physical fitness and wellbeing in the elderly: A systematic review for future exercise prescription

Published 2015 - Science Direct

This qualitative review aims to analyze the effects of pilates exercise training (PET) programs on physical fitness, fall prevention as well as its effects on mood states, quality of life and independence in the activities of daily living in the elderly. 

The conclusion was that PET should be taken into account as a way to improve quality of life in the elderly, due to the imparted benefits of fall prevention, physical fitness, and mood states. In this context, physicians might include PET as a tool for exercise prescriptions for the elderly. 

Conferences and Events - New Zealand


Commission Forum a Rare Opportunity to Hear and Talk with Dr Atul Gawande

16 -18 May
The Health Quality & Safety Commission is urging people working in the aged and end of life care sectors to take full advantage of a rare opportunity to hear and talk with one of the world's leading advocates of innovative thinking about care for the elderly, terminal illness and death.

American Surgeon Dr Atul Gawande, who writes about health for the New Yorker Magazine and is the author of bestsellers such as The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, has sparked much international discussion about the subject of his latest book, Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine, and What Matters in the End. 

On Monday 18 May, Dr Gawande will be headlining a day-long forum that will focus on themes of aged and end of life care, as well as teamwork and communication in the health and disability sector, drawing on both Being Mortal and The Checklist Manifesto, along with Dr Gawande's other books.

To find out more information on the forum call (04) 913 1745 or email
For further information on Dr Gawande's Auckland Writers Festival appearances contact Penny Hartill

The forum is at the VIsa Platinum Gallery, Te Papa, Wellington, 9.30am-4.30pm, Monday 18 May. Booking is essential from here or by emailing

For Tickets to the Auckland Writers festival go to Ticketmaster.


Workshop: The Neuroscience of Ageing

Friday 12 June 2015

Where: Waipuna Hotel & Conference Centre,
Mt Wellington, Auckland

This workshop focuses on:
  • Neural Wellness - Factors and lifestyles that inform effective neural sprouting, synaptogenesis, cortical blood flow, neurogenesis and effective neural activation.
  • Neural deterioration - risk factors, indicators and management.
Content of this workshop includes:
  • The developing brain and the mature brain, genetic factors, risk factors, neural deterioration, stress, hippocampal wellness and risk, lifestyle factors such as sleep, nutrition, alcohol, medications, exercise, relationships and managing social systems.
  • Grief and loss in the context of the ageing brain will also be covered as well as neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's Disease and dementia.
  • Case studies will be presented.
See full flyer > 
Registration Form >

Conferences - Overseas 


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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