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Gerontology Matters
February 2014

The New Zealand Association of Gerontology

In this issue:

President's Welcome

NZAG’s focus for February has been on hosting Professor Simon Biggs’ visit to New Zealand, which was made possible through the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington. Regrettably Simon’s programme in Christchurch was disrupted by fog in Wellington. I was fortunate to spend time with Simon in Auckland and attended his presentation on age friendly workplaces, an Auckland regional hub event co-sponsored by the Blind Foundation.

I myself am a middle career worker, and retirement for me remains a ‘dream’ in the very distant future. At this stage I have only thought about employment and work from my own point of view rather than from a broader New Zealand economic perspective. After attending the seminar I now realise that New Zealand, and indeed many other countries in the world, need to encourage and support workers to remain in employment due to demographic changes and a decrease in the number of younger people available to work. This is supported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and other international bodies who all emphasise that older workers are integral to economies and age friendly strategies need to be adopted by employers.

Professor Biggs’ used BMW as an example of an age friendly workplace. BMW was faced with an ageing workforce and rather than replacing the existing workforce with younger workers, they reengineered the workplace with older workers in mind. As a result, productivity increased 7%, mistakes made on the assembly line declined to close to zero, and rates of sick and stress leave reduced from 7% to 2%. These staggering findings were not the result of expensive changes made to the organisation but rather occurred through small incremental initiatives.

I have asked friends and colleagues within my professional networks if there are any similar programmes in New Zealand. I was pleased to hear that an educational institution in New Zealand has implemented a phased retirement initiative. This is where people who are about to retire from paid employment can gradually reduce their full time employment over a period of three years. This is a “win-win” for both parties. The employer retains the services of a skilled employee for longer and the employee can develop non-work related interests and social connections. As always I am interested in your views so if you have any please email them directly to me at Enjoy the last days of summer!
Stephen Neville

The International Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology (IAGG)

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Information relevant to NZAG members

New Zealand Association of Gerontology Conference 12-14 September 2014

Welcome and haere mai to Dunedin, the Edinburgh of the South. 

The ‘Age of Ageing’ Conference of the New Zealand Association of Gerontology follows the NZAG tradition of offering stimulating and thought-provoking research and perspectives on growing older. Keynote speakers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand will offer insights into current ageing issues.  Concurrent sessions will focus on living well with multiple chronic conditions; social aspects of ageing; health promoting communities; cognitive and behavioural aspects of ageing; health promoting communities; and policy and well-being.  We will also examine age friendly environments; health promotion and literacy, improving the health care experience, and spirituality and ageing.

Dunedin's beautiful Otago peninsula is acclaimed internationally and is home to incredible wildlife including Yellow Eyed Penguins, New Zealand Sea Lions, Fur Seals and the magnificent Royal Albatross. Dunedin also has some of the best examples of heritage architecture in New Zealand. St David’s Theatre is central to the University and the city, and to the nearby Otago Museum, where the conference dinner will be held.  Not far away are the Botanic Gardens, the Toitu Settlers Museum, and Chinese Gardens. Plan to stay and visit nearby Fiordland, Southern Alps ski fields or Central Otago wine country. Come for an exciting conference and a beautiful environment.

We anticipate a stimulating, exciting conference, sharing ideas and support in our search for knowledge of the modern phenomenon of ageing, in this age of ageing populations.

Opinion Piece: What’s special about human rights for older people?

By Judith Davey

The United Nations has, over the years, passed conventions outlawing discrimination against and protecting the rights of a range of population groups – women, children, refugees, prisoners, people with disabilities. But nothing which specifically covers the rights of older people. Does this matter? Doesn't the Universal Declaration of Human Rights cover the case, enshrined in article 1 “all human being are born free and equal in dignity and rights”?

Taking up physical activity in later life and healthy ageing: the English longitudinal study of ageing

25 November 2013 - British Journal of Sports Medicine

The following is from the British Journal of Sports Medicine:

Physical activity is associated with improved overall health in those people who survive to older ages, otherwise conceptualised as healthy ageing. Previous studies have examined the effects of mid-life physical activity on healthy ageing, but not the effects of taking up activity later in life. We examined the association between physical activity and healthy ageing over 8 years of follow-up.

What makes older people happy

11 February 2014 - New York Times

The following is from The New York Times:

A report, scheduled for publication this year in The Journal of Consumer Research, finds that the kinds of experiences that make people happy tend to change over time.

When we’re young and believe we have a long future ahead, the authors found, we prefer extraordinary experiences outside the realm of our day-to-day routines. But when we’re older and believe that our time is limited, we put more value on ordinary experiences, the stuff of which our daily lives are made.

Gaps in support of elderly

29 January 2014 - Otago Daily Times

The following is by Mark Price and originally appeared in the Otago Daily Times:

A survey of 72 older people in the Upper Clutha has found loneliness and money worries are their biggest issues. 

The survey, involving two-hour interviews, was carried out by Sarah Ballard and Helen Millar through the Community Networks Wanaka organisation, with funding from the New Zealand Lotteries Community Sector Research Fund. 

Poor diet a problem for dementia sufferers - report

12 February 2014 - NZ Herald

The following is from the NZ Herald:

Under nutrition is a major problem among dementia sufferers, which can impede maintaining their health, a new report shows.

The British study found that 20 to 45 per cent of people in the community with dementia experienced weight loss over a one year period that could affect their general health.

It also showed that up to half of people with dementia in care homes had an inadequate food intake.

Older and healthier... we're living it up

14 February 2014 - NZ Herald

The following is by Martin Johnston and originally appeared in the NZ Herald:

For every day we survive on this earth, we in New Zealand can expect our lives on average to extend by six hours.

That's just over 90 days for every year. Two and a half years for every decade.

While strictly only a statistical construct that applies to the whole population and not individuals, it illustrates a remarkable trend.

"Life expectancy in New Zealand, and many other countries, has just kept on increasing at a steady, some would say phenomenal, rate for decades - actually a century or two," said public health specialist Professor Tony Blakely, of Otago University at Wellington.

Dementia play planned

12 February 2014 - Otago Daily Times
The following is from the Otago Daily Times:

Prominent Dunedin identities are among characters in a dementia documentary play to be performed this year. 

The project, whose working title is Still Life, is being scripted with verbatim material from interviews conducted jointly by Dunedin theatre practitioner Cindy Diver, and Dunedin GP Dr Susie Lawless. 

Participants were offered full anonymity. However, a few chose to disclose their identity. 

Obesity a crisis of the elderly - report 

17 December 2013 -

The following is from
Childhood obesity may be the popular health issue of the day, but the real crisis is among the elderly, a new report shows. 

Those aged 65 to 74 suffer the highest rates of obesity in New Zealand, with almost two in five adults in that age group obese. 

The Ministry of Health's annual health survey also shows people between 55 and 64 were just a whisker behind, with 37 per cent of people obese - compared to an adult average of 31 per cent. In most age groups, obesity levels were on the rise from rates in previous years. 

A pilot study on the views of elderly regional Australians of personally controlled electronic health records

07 February 2014 - Health Improvement and Innovation Resource Centre (HIIRC)

The following is from the HIIRC:

This study investigated the views of a sample of elderly people in a non-metropolitan region in Australia on personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR).

"If not accessed at home a computer at a general practitioner's practice was seen as beneficial in accessing the PCEHR. Respondents felt that access to their health record would help them make decisions about their own health and improve their communication with healthcare providers. The majority of respondents were in favour of the PCEHR although some expressed concerns about the security of their PCEHR".

Providing integrated care for older people with complex needs: Lessons from seven international case studies

04 February 2014 - HIIRC

The following is from the HIIRC:

This report synthesises evidence from seven case study programmes, each from a different country, that are successfully delivering integrated health and social care for older people with complex needs.

The aim is to identify lessons for policy-makers and service providers to help them improve how care is designed and co-ordinated. The seven countries that provide the case studies are Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand (Te Whiringa Ora, Eastern Bay of Plenty), Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

MidCentral District Health Board to introduce Walking in Another's Shoes dementia training

24 February 2014 - HIIRC

The following is from the HIIRC:

A training programme designed to help caregivers understand what it’s like to live with dementia and how to better understand those with the condition will be offered to MidCentral District Health Board’s caregivers and registered nurses working in the aged care sector.

Following a successful demonstration of the Walking in Another’s Shoes programme by Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (HBDHB), regional health leaders have given MidCentral, Whanganui, Wairarapa, and Capital and Coast DHBs the go-ahead to rollout the training.

Developed by a psychogeriatrician, and occupational therapist at Canterbury DHB, Walking in Another's Shoes has been available throughout the South Island for some time.

From the US: Weight gain in older women

19 February 2014 - New York Times

The following is from The New York Times:

Michelle Obama has done an excellent job mobilizing the nation to combat childhood obesity and encouraging kids to eat better and move more. But now her efforts may be needed on another front.

Obesity can take a heavy toll on older women, too: Their risk of developing chronic diseases, losing the ability to walk or dying earlier increases with excess weight. We get the particulars from a large national study, recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, that tracked more than 36,000 post-menopausal women at 40 research centers and universities around the country.

Member-only access to research, news, and information about the organisation.

The NZAG is proud to announce the launch of a new member-only portal on our website. 

What does this mean for you?
  • If you are an NZAG member, you will have access to content not available to the general public
  • You can submit your own contributions to our News section, such as research you have recently undertaken that you would like to share with fellow members of the Association
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We have created an information sheet on how to access the login area.

This new functionality is only available to current financial members of NZAG. If your membership has lapsed or you would like to join, please do so via the website. Access will granted to you immediately following the online credit card payment of your subscription.

Read the information sheet.

Conferences - New Zealand

Dementia: the future is now

November 2014 - Rotorua, NZ
We have come a long way in the 30 years since the first Alzheimers group was formed in New Zealand and the dementia community started to focus on helping people affected by dementia.
We are now at a watershed moment with exciting developments in research, diagnosis, prevention, support services and treatment options, both here and internationally.
The biennial Alzheimers New Zealand conference "Dementia: the future is now" showcases these exciting developments and is a must attend for members of Alzheimers NZ, people affected by dementia, health professionals, community, home based and residential providers, primary health care professionals, educators, researchers and policy makers.

Conferences - Overseas

Global Disability, Ageing & Healthcare Conferences Online Guide 

See a more comprehensive listing of conferences at our web site 
For more information click here.
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