Please add NZAG to your safe senders list

Gerontology Matters
July 2015

The New Zealand Association of Gerontology

In this issue:

A message from the President

Due to technological advances organisations, such as ours, need to have a presence on the global stage. Consequently, international relationships with other like-minded organisations are vital to our future viability. Over the last two years on behalf of NZAG, I have been developing a relationship with the Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG). There is much to be gained with working closely with AAG including the strengthening the Australian and New Zealand presence in relation to gerontology on the global stage. It also makes sense for both organisations to work together considering our geographical proximity.

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Dr Tony Coles who recently resigned as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AAG to take up a position as CEO at Audiology Australia. Tony made a significant contribution to AAG and during his tenure oversaw the establishment of the AAG National Office. Our work together focused on the development of the Trans-Tasman monthly webinar series generously sponsored by the Selwyn Foundation, reciprocal membership of the Presidents of both associations and member rates at our respective organisations conferences. I am sure you will join me to wish Tony all the very best in the next stage of his career.

As we say goodbye to Tony I would also like to introduce to the NZAG membership the incoming CEO of AAG, James Beckford Saunders. He holds postgraduate qualifications in marketing, management, as well as an MBA. James brings to AAG a strong and impressive background having held senior management roles in age related community not-for-profit organisations. Let us welcome James to his new post. I look forward to working with James and continuing NZAG’s excellent relationship AAG.
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: Cohort Profile: Te Puawaitanga o Nga Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu, Life and Living in Advanced Age: a Cohort Study in New Zealand (LiLACS NZ)

originally published by

The main driver in this study is the ageing of the population globally and in New Zealand. In New Zealand, little is known about Māori and non-Māori of advanced age, yet population projections predict a trebling of the number of Māori and a doubling of non-Māori octogenarians in the next 10 years.

The impact of common health conditions may differ for older people when compared with their younger counterparts. The importance of social support and practical assistance may vary according to the psychological and functional ability of those in advanced age. The incidence and predictors of falls and fractures in advanced age are unknown, as is the relationship between traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular outcomes. The relationship between dietary intake, nutritional status and functional decline in advanced age may point the way to food strategies for better health.

See full article here >

NZ: DHB announces changes to Buller older persons' health services
2015 - HIIRC

The West Coast District Health Board has announced plans to strengthen and enhance home-based services for older people and shift away from the provision of aged residential care facilities in Buller. 

 At a recent public meeting and in discussions with residents, their families and staff, Chief Executive David Meates says the direction of travel has been set after nine months of conversations with the Buller community.

 â€œWe wanted to understand the range of views about how best to care for and support Buller’s older population.  Throughout this engagement process, we’ve been clear about the opportunities and realities that we collectively face.  Older people have been telling us they want to remain in their own homes for as long as they possibly can.  We’re responding to that and supporting a greater number of people to remain well and supported in their own homes.  As a consequence, DHB-owned rest home occupancy is dropping,” he says.

If you would like to see the full article, click here >

NZ: Breakthrough brings hope to Parkinson's patients

Published 2015 - 3 News

A neuroscience Professor is "enthusiastically optimistic" a groundbreaking new surgical procedure will bring joy to sufferers of Parkinson's disease who haven't responded to conventional treatments.

But Otago University's John Reynolds says it could be years before it's available to the public, as the research is still in its infancy.

"In Parkinson's disease, what happens is there are cells in base of the brain that make this chemical dopamine," Dr Reynolds said on TV3's Paul Henry programme recently.

"Dopamine's a chemical that we think of in terms of reward and excitement and reinforcement, but also when we lose it, we lose our ability to move."
The breakthrough was presented at a conference in San Diego by lead researcher Dr Barry Snow. It involves injecting capsules of pig cells into the brain.

"What they tend to do is try and repair parts of the brain that have been affected by the loss of dopamine," explains Dr Reynolds.

The treatment is showing great promise. In the first stage of the trial, four patients whose Parkinson's wasn't improved by existing treatments all reported positive effects, such as regaining control of their digits and limbs, and in the case of one sufferer, regaining her "joie de vivre".

"This was a small study that was designed really to find out if it was a feasible treatment to do, and they've found that out… and they've also found, very happily, that they have had some clinical improvement as well," says Dr Reynolds. "That sort of sets up for the next phase, which is a proper phase two trial."

Read full article here >

NZ: Issue 97 of GP Research Review

Highlights include:.
  • Cognitive decline in dementia patients associated with low blood pressure
  • Can sauna bathing help you live longer?
  • Effects of low blood pressure in cognitively impaired elderly patients treated with antihypertensive drugs.
  • Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbance.
See full newsletter here >

NZ: 'Stay Independent' falls prevention toolkit for primary care

Originally published by Open - for Better Care

A falls prevention toolkit has been developed by the Health Quality and Safety Commission in partnership with bpacnz. The toolkit is adapted from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resource Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries (STEADI).

The toolkit is intended to help primary health care professionals screen, assess and support older patients to prevent falls and maintain their independence.

The Stay Independent toolkit includes a consumer brochure (patient self-assessment) and will be released in July as part of the 'Stand up to Falls' campaign.

NZ: Presentations from the Dr Atul Gawande Forum

Originally published by Health Quality & Safety Commission New Zealand

Presentations from the Health Quality & Safety Commission's forum with Dr Atul Gawande, held at Te Papa on Monday 18 May 2015 have been uploaded for viewing by the general public.

Click here for further details >

NZ: Elder isolation tackled online

Originally published by Hawkes Bay Today

A group of Napier social agencies have taken an online approach to prevent isolation and ensuring older residents can become involved in events and programmes.

Chosen due to its proportion of people aged 65 and over, Napier has become the project's debut origin in which the city council have set up an online "toolkit" on their website. The Council's Community Planning Manager, Natasha Carswell, said the city's approach was to support and create opportunities for people to connect as much as they wanted to.

Since Napier Connects was launched, a digital seniors programme, local walking groups and a garden makeover project were among the initiatives which had been set up. 

See full article >

NZ: Changes to the HIIRC website and microsites

Originally published by Health Quality & Safety Commission New Zealand
Since the inception of the electronic version of Gerontology Matters, much of the content has come from the Health Improvement and Innovation Resource Centre (HIIRC). The Ministry of Health has advised that the HIIRC website will be archived from 1 July 2015. This means the current site content - which includes a quality improvement section - will still be available, but the site will no longer be updated. 

The HIIRC Digest will continue to be distributed after the 1 July however, and with expanded content. Rather than linking to the HIIRC website though, the links will go directly to the content in question. 

Click here for full summary of changes >

NZ: Goal setting in rehabilitation: Does it work?

Originally published by Long-Term Conditions Bulletin
Auckland University of Technology is hosting a public lecture series on the 22nd of July 2015.

In the rehabilitation of people with conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis there is a need for services that really work, and which are based on scientific evidence. Goal setting is a key component in rehabilitation services for most people with a neurological condition, and might be considered to be best practice. 

In his inaugural professional address, Professor Richard Siegert will focus on the aims and purposes of using goal setting in rehabilitation, the theories that might explain how (and if) it works, and the evidence that it actually improves outcomes for people with a neurological condition.  He will also draw upon some evidence from goal setting in sport psychology and business settings including a look at the darker side of this practice. He will argue that goal setting is more complex and nuanced than we have acknowledged and that a more sophisticated approach is required.

See full details >

NZ: Well-Being in later years

A free research programme is taking place that will examine the usefulness of a group guided CBT self-help programme (used with success overseas) with an older adult population. The course will consist of eight weekly 1.5 hour classes in a small to medium sized group. The group will be guided and supported by a trained facilitator through a set of weekly accessible workbooks that help educate and teach older adults the necessary skills (based on CBT principles) to help their current difficulties.
For more information see here >

The New Science of Ageing: Book Review by NZAG member Beatrice Hale

It is hard to do justice to a book like this!  This is a rich, exciting treasure trove of absorbing research, edited by one of the most respected social gerontologists and full of innovative and fascinating work by no less than fifty-seven contributors, from a variety of disciplines, such as social gerontology, health research, organic chemistry, poverty and social justice, education, arts and biogerontology.  And the list continues!  

As editor Alan Walker says we ‘do not age in disciplinary boxes’ (p.11), so the emphasis is on multi-disciplinarity and inter-disciplinarity. 

The book’s chapters are based on a major research project, begun in April 2005, with four Research Councils behind the initial programme. This New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA), has the ‘aspiration to create an integrated multi-disciplinary approach to key gerontological topics’ and Walker outlines the process required to achieve such a programme.  In his Acknowledgements, he emphasises the commitment of the contributors and the contributions of latterly Five Research Councils as well a partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, with ten projects in Canada linked to the relevant projects in the United Kingdom.

It’s worth quoting Walker’s outline on ‘the new science of ageing’ which  â€˜consists of an increase in the prevalence of multi-disciplinary research; a greater than previous emphasis on lifecourse influences; the common use of the person-environment perspective which places the older or ageing person in a social, economic and physical context; a closer engagement with research end users, including older people; and an increased emphasis on knowledge exchange.’ (p.11).  He also notes that there are gaps in the research and that the NDA research and this book represents the initial step, rather than ‘the last word’.   In other words, there’s more to do!

Full book review >

International: Diabetes self-management programmes in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis (International)

Originally published by Wiley Online Library

In this systematic review, the authors evaluated the effect of diabetes-specific self-management programme interventions in older adults.

Based on their analysis, the authors conclude that "diabetes self-management programmes for older adults demonstrate a small reduction in HbA1c, lipids and blood pressure. These findings may be of greater clinical relevance when offered in conjunction with other therapies".

See full abstract >

International: Are you as fit as you should be for your age?

Originally published by NZ Herald

Exercise won't just help you maintain a healthy weight, it could be the single most important step you can take for your mental and physical health, and the best way possible to keep the effects of ageing under control. 

Exercise can reduce your risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers up to 50 per cent, and lower your risk of early death by nearly a third. 

It can also cut your risk of osteoarthritis by up to 83 percent, boost mood and sleep quality and reduce your risk of depression and dementia. 

In a recent article by NZ Herald, authors explained tests that could help monitor your fitness levels. Whilst they suggested doing so even within your twenties, for the purpose of this newsletter we're only looking at those above their sixties. 

If you would like to see the full article, click here >

UK: Factors influencing deprescribing habits among geriatricians

Originally published by Oxford Journals

In this exploratory analysis an anonymised electronic survey was disseminated to all members of an international geriatric society/local advanced trainee network to explore deprescribing habits among physicians managing older, frailer, cognitively impaired patients.  

Among 134 respondents, "... geriatricians rated limited life expectancy and cognitive impairment very important in driving deprescribing practices. Geriatricians more often deprescribed multiple medications in the setting of advancing dependency and cognitive impairment, driven by dementia severity and pill burden concerns. Physician characteristics also influence deprescribing practices". The authors describe a need for further research.

Read full abstract >

UK: Blood test could give ten year warning of Alzheimer's 
Originally published by NZHerald

A simple blood test could be developed to predict Alzheimer's disease up to a decade before symptoms appear, scientists claim.

A breakthrough by British researchers has identified a single blood protein that acts as a warning for mild cognitive impairment - a disorder that is often the precursor to dementia. 

In the largest study of its kind, the researchers monitored more than 1,100 proteins in the blood of 106 pairs of twins. Tracking them over ten years, they found that those whose thinking skills diminished the most had lower levels of an individual protein.
The research is at an early stage, but scientists hope it might be developed into a test that flags up those at risk of developing dementia. There are currently no treatments proven to prevent Alzheimer's but doctors hope that identifying those most at risk could speed the search for new drugs that could delay or even prevent the devastating brain disease.

Flagging up those at risk would give patients and their families more time to prepare, they hope.

The protein - called MAPKAPK5 - was, on average, lower in individuals whose cognitive ability declined over a ten-year period. By studying identical twins - who share their genes - the scientists showed that the association between the protein and cognition was independent of age and genetics.

Alzheimer's patients are currently diagnosed only when they start to lose their memory - and thousands are thought to be living without a diagnosis. Brain scans have been shown to display visible signs of the disease before the onset of symptoms but they are expensive.

Study author Dr Steven Kiddle, of King's College London, said: "Although we are still searching for an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease, what we do know is that prevention of the disease is likely to be more effective than trying to reverse it.

"The next step will be to replicate our finding in an independent study, and to confirm whether or not it is specific for Alzheimer's disease, as this could lead to the development of a reliable blood test which would help clinicians identify suitable people for prevention trials."

Read full article here >

Netherlands: Want to know the secret to a long life? Eat nuts

Originally published by NZHerald

Just half a handful of nuts a day can cut your risk of dying from a string of major diseases, a study has revealed.

Researchers found that eating 15 grams of nuts or peanuts a day leads to a lower risk of dying from respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease and diabetes, as well as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

The team from Maastricht University, in the Netherlands, looked at almost 20 years of data from more than 120,000 people aged from 55 to 69 years in 1986.

They found mortality rates were 'substantially lower' among those who ate an average of half a handful of nuts a day.

However, eating more nuts than this did not lead to further reduction in mortality risk according to the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. And peanut butter had no protective effect at all.

Project leader Professor Piet van den Brandt said peanuts and tree nuts both contain compounds including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, various vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and other bioactive compounds that possibly contribute to the lower death rates.

USA: Tackling puzzles and keeping fit 'does not stave off Alzheimer's'
Originally published by NZHerald

Completing the crossword and taking regular exercise may ease the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease - but will not prevent it, Harvard Medical School scientists say.

A study of elderly people found that keeping body and mind active with puzzles and gardening has no impact on the suspected underlying cause of Alzheimer's - a build-up of protein deposits in the brain.

Scientists found that although those who engaged in stimulating mental activities had much higher IQs and better thinking skills, there was no relationship between frequent mental activity and the physical signs of Alzheimer's in the brain.

But study co-author Dr Keith A Johnson warned older people not to abandon exercise and puzzles, as although they would not stop the underlying disease, they would still help their brains function.

"Sustaining a lifetime of intellectual engagement may help preserve cognitive function into old age," he added.


USA: 11 tips for taking care of someone with dementia/Alzheimer's

Originally published by The Caregiver Space

What are some activities for dementia and Alzheimer's patients that have worked for you?

  1. "As Dad remained quite mobile, one of my favorite activities to do with him was to go for walks together. Another common pastime was reading out loud to him, something he did for my sisters and me as a former University English Professor." - Rick L.
  2. "Traveling the world on Google Earth." - Alicia W.
  3. "Making short videos on my computer and singing or just saying 'hi' to people." - Katie S.
  4. "Soft sing alongs worked beautifully for my mother. She engaged and tried to sing. I even brought the Episcopal church hymnal with me once and flipped through the pages to remind me of her favorite hymns." - Molly D.
  5. "Something he did as a young boy - marbles, checkers, or cards." - Kim R.
  6. "Sorting - nuts, bolts, coins." - Sandra O.
  7. "Assembling something." - Rhonda M.
  8. "Mom likes current events or crossword puzzles." - Julie H.
  9. "With the help of a home aide, my father-in-law and I worked for months to create a rug for his great granddaughter Ava. When we brought out the materials, he became fully aware of his surroundings and why he was making it." - Bobbi C.
  10. "When my father-in-law's memory was faltering, we'd take him for a drive in the country to see a wind farm. This unusual 'field trip' garnered Dad's attention. 'There are so many windmills!' he'd exclaim. "And they're all so big!" - Harriet H.
  11. "Teepa Snow." - Julia R

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.

Events: Workshops, Webinars and Conferences


World Congress on Active Aging (WCAA) 2016

28 June - 1 July 2016
Victoria's University's Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living
Melbourne, Australia

In light of significantly increasing governmental focus on keeping their ageing populations more healthy and active, this conference will prove to be the largest gathering of experts and stakeholders in the field of Active Ageing ever assembled.

Call for abstracts and registrations open 29 June 2015
Click here for more details >


Webinar on falls prevention Initiatives

Tuesday, 8-9am 18 August 2015

Francis Healey - head of National Health Services (NHS) patient safety - Julie Windsor (NHS patient safety lead for falls) and Alison Doyle (falls lead for Birmingham Hospital) will give a national and local overview on the challenges and successes of falls initiatives in the UK.

The webinar is for anyone working in falls prevention across secondary and aged care settings.

Register your interest by contacting Bridgette Connor

Falls prevention in the home - workshops with Professor Lindy Clemson

Professor Clemson is a University of Sydney specialist in public health research on ageing and an occupational therapist. 
  • Auckland – Monday 31 August
  • Rotorua – Tuesday 1 September
  • Wellington – Wednesday 2 September
  • Christchurch – Thursday 3 September
The workshops will take participants through three of Professor Clemson's programmes, including 'stepping on', 'Lifestyle embedded Functional Exercise programme' (LiFE) and 'home safety'. These workshops are aimed at physiotherapists, occupational therapists, home carers or any health professional with a focus on falls prevention.

Register your interest by contacting Bridgette Connor
For more details, click here >

AUT Public Lecture Series 2015 - Inaugural Professorial Address - Goal Setting in Rehabilitation: Does it work?

4.30 - 5.30 PM Wednesday 22 July 2015

WA Conference Centre
AUT, City Campus
Level 2, WA Building
55 Wellesley Street East
Auckland 1010

In his inaugural professorial address, Professor Richard Siegert will focus on the aims and purposes of using goal setting in rehabilitation, the theories that might explain how (and if) it works and the evidence that it actually improves outcomes for people with a neurological condition.

See full details >
Forward to Friend

Contact NZAG

Copyright © 2015 New Zealand Association of Gerontology, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp