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Gerontology Matters
October 2015

The New Zealand Association of Gerontology

In this issue:

A message from the President

Over the years NZAG has developed relationships with many organisations and government departments such as the Office for Senior Citizens, located within the Ministry of Social Development. The Minister for Senior Citizens is the Honourable Maggie Barry (ONZM). The role of the Office for Senior Citizens is to support the Minister to promote an environment where older people can age positively. NZAG supports this work and I thought you might be interested in hearing about some of the work the Office for Senior Citizens has recently been involved in. I also encourage you to like them on Facebook and you could follow them on Twitter.

SuperSeniors website
On the 18th September the Prime Minister and Minister for Senior Citizens launched the SuperSeniors website, an online space where information related to older people can be easily accessed. For example, information about superannuation entitlements, finances, health and SuperGold entitlements and can be found at:

Elder Abuse
The Office for Senior Citizens used World Elder Abuse Day in June to highlight new research showing that around one in 10 older New Zealanders have suffered some form of abuse or neglect.  It is challenging New Zealanders to confront the reality of elder abuse to prevent the exploitation and mistreatment of older people.  More information at:

The Business of Ageing
The Business of Ageing report, based on the 2013 Census, draws together new information to help businesses and other organisations plan for the ageing population.  It predicts that by 2051 one in three people over 65 will still be working and will make up around 13% of the workforce.  The Office for Senior Citizens is encouraging work places to look at how they can develop flexible work opportunities for older staff.  More information at:

Dr Stephen Neville
New Zealand Association of Gerontology

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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:Dietary supplements: Do we need them?

Originally published by

Following on from our two previous bulletins we ask “What about vitamin and mineral supplements and herbal remedies?” The market for nutritional supplements in New Zealand is huge, estimated in 2012 to be worth $US188 million, with growth estimated around 6% annually.


The 2008/2009 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey showed that in the older age group, over half (52.6%) the women aged 65-74 took a dietary supplement occasionally, and 44.6% were regular supplement users. Of older women – 75+ years, 45.1% took a supplement occasionally.

The survey did not identify between users who were prescribed the supplement or who self-medicated. However, it did find that diets of the users and non-users were similar, indicating that supplement users were not likely to be in need of a supplement. 

In general, we should be maximising our intake of vitamins and minerals in whole foods, rather than supplements, as the evidence suggests that it‘s whole foods rather than isolated food components that are associated with good health. 

Don’t be conned into spending large amounts of money on supplements unless you really need them. The best judge of this is somebody who knows you – your GP, or a health professional who can analyse your diet and give you practical suggestions to enable you to meet your needs. 

Read more here >

NZ: 2015 Hope-Selwyn Knowledge Exchange for Research on Ageing

The HOPE Selwyn Foundation is a registered charitable trust established in 1996 to assist the funding of research and education essential to the health and welfare of older people in New Zealand.

The Foundation’s vision is to see a cadre of research scientists in a variety of disciplines such as the social sciences, business and economics, architecture and planning, and health, committed to performing essential research that will add to the information base the country needs.

It proposes to enable this vision by facilitating the training of research workers through the provision of research training scholarships. 

The Foundation believes that once people who wish to make a career in research are encouraged to take an interest in some ageing-related discipline, there is a strong possibility that they will continue in that area for the remainder of their careers.

Visit this page for abstracts from the 2015 Hope-Selwyn Knowledge Exchange for Research on Ageing.

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: The Caring Museum

NZAG member Hamish Robertson has recently edited a book on the subject of museums and their engagement with older people. Titled The Caring Museum, the book addresses a variety of issues connecting cultural heritage institutions and older people.

Topics covered range from dementia-specific programmes being developed and implemented by museums through to older people as co-producers of museum exhibitions and activities. Several age-related issues emerge in contemporary museums including a focus on the shifting nature of museum volunteering, the opportunity for inter-generational activities and the emergence of the museum as a location for a growing range of age-related activities. Of particular interest to NZAG members may be the growing connections between museums and ageing researchers and practitioners. This includes both gerontological research and clinical engagement with museums. Several projects involve aged-care facilities working in partnership with local museums. The Preface was written by Professor Peter Whitehouse a well-known medical practitioner, researcher and writer with a deep interest in museums. The authors present a variety of chapters and case studies about activities they are currently working on and from the practitioner's perspective.

The publisher is MuseumsEtc based in Edinburgh and Boston. This company has published numerous titles on museums, art galleries and related matters. The book is available now and if you are interested in knowing more, you can use the link >

If you prefer Twitter, try this link >

NZ: Public health malpractice - Professor urges NZ healthcare reform

Originally published by TVNZ

A Massey University Professor says the way we treat healthcare for the elderly in New Zealand borders on malpractice. 

Professor Paul McDonald of Massey University's College of Health says it was a misconception that an ageing population was the cause of increasing healthcare expenditure - up to a 4.3 per cent increase annually.

He said that the increase instead comes from the way the healthcare system is set up - primarily to treat acute illnesses.

We're currently trying to treat chronic disease through a medical care system which was designed to treat acute conditions" said Professor Paul McDonald.

"The big challenge is for us to really rethink some of the paradigms we use - right now we think that health is a series of medical challenges that sometimes have social implications - what we need to do is turn that paradigm on its head and realise that health is a series of social, economical and cultural challenges and opportunities that sometimes produce medical implications."

We know there are certain things that work yet we continue to ignore making the proper investments in them"

Read more here >

NZ: Exercise programme for older people wins for initiator
Originally published by Otago Daily Times

An exercise programme which helps prevent older people from falling has won a Dunedin woman a national award which commemorates International Day of Older People on the first of October.

Margaret Dando, of Age Concern Otago, has won Age Concern's Dignity Champion Award for Community for establishing the Steady As You Go (Saygo) programme. 

Saygo is a one-hour weekly, ongoing, strength and balance exercise programme with a central co-ordinator, for people over the age of 65, living independently in the community. 

Ms Dando developed a peer-led model of the class which enabled people to continue their strength and balance class after 10 weeks. 

Age Concern New Zealand Chief Executive Robyn Scott said it was Ms Dando's excellent working relationship with older people that enabled her to develop such a robust programme and make a major difference in their lives. 

''Today there are 42 peer-led Saygo classes in Dunedin city, and 18 in rural Otago and Southland townships." 

''With the support of 120 peer leaders, Margaret continues to manage and grow this huge programme, which now has 1400 participants. 
''Margaret really and truly is a deserving recipient.'' 

Read more here >

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 >

UK: For older people, beating loneliness isn't just about where and who they live with

Originally published by The Conversation

Social isolation and loneliness among older people are public health issues in the UK and have a terrible effect on well-being, physical health - causing depression and mental decline. The health risks associated with social isolation have been compared to the harmful effects of smoking and obesity. 

Some new forms of accommodation are trying to give older people more opportunity for social contact in order to combat the empty feelings of loneliness. A new report, launched by the think-tank the International Longevity Centre, surveyed residents in some retirement villages, where people buy apartments with flexible “extra” care on hand. The report argued that village living could promote older people’s quality of life, help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, and increase their sense of control over their own lives.

Read full article >

UK: How hopping can strengthen your bones
Originally published by NZherald

Two minutes of hopping a day can strengthen hip bones in older people and reduce the risk of fracture after a fall, scientists have suggested.

A study led by Loughborough University showed bone density in the hopping leg improved after one year.

Bones thin naturally with age, and localised thinning in the hip is associated with an increased risk of hip fracture.

Researchers said their findings have major implications for the prevention and management of osteoporosis.

Increases of up to 7 per cent were identified in the bone mass of some parts of the outer shell (cortex) and in the density of the layer of spongy bone underneath this. They said that, importantly, there were improvements in the thinnest areas of the bone most at risk of fracture after a fall.

In the Hip Hop study 34 men aged between 65 and 80 perform a programme of hopping exercises on a randomly assigned exercise leg only. They were told to avoid any other changes to their physical activity or dietary habits during the year-long trial.

CT scans were then analysed to detect any changes in their bone density and showed clear visual differences between the exercise and control legs.

Dr Sarah Allison, who conducted the research at Loughborough University's National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), said: "Hip fractures are a major public health concern among older adults, incurring both high economic and social costs. Those affected suffer pain, loss of mobility and independence, and increased risk of death.

"We know exercise can improve bone strength and so we wanted to test a form of exercise that is both easy and quick for people to achieve in their homes."

Dr Winston Rennie, a consultant radiologist who supervised the CT scans, said: "The bone maps show clear changes in bone, with localised adaptions at regions that may be important to reducing hip fracture."

Researchers said it was important to build up any exercise gradually, and hop with caution as falling could cause a fracture of weak bones.

Read more here >

UK: What developments in built environment will support the adaptation and 'future proofing' of homes and local neighborhoods so that people can age well and maintain independence? 

Originally published by the government office for science

This review looked at whether housing and neighborhoods meet the needs of an ageing population, and what developments are needed to enable people to live well in their communities over the next 25 years. 

It found that a large majority (93%) of older people live in mainstream housing, three-quarters of these are owner-occupiers, and 57% of people aged 65 or over own their homes outright.The rest live in rented accommodation and much smaller numbers live in specialist accommodation designed for older people (5.6%).  It also found that 'right-sized' properties were not available for the older population, with most homes being purposely built for a three-bedroom family. 

The review also goes on to recognize the satisfaction people found in specialist housing and the great advantages to the aging population that neighborhoods which were supportive to older people had; including both physical and mental health as well as access to essential services.

Read full review here >

UK: Dementia Friendly Communities

Originally published by Local Government Association

Dementia is a condition that is increasingly common; it can have a profound impact on an individual and their family and friends. Traditionally, the focus for dementia care has been NHS treatments and care services delivered by local councils. Recently there has been a shift to a focus on how we can enable people who have been diagnosed with dementia to live as full a life as possible and encourage communities to work together to help people to stay healthier for longer. Councils have a key role in developing inclusive dementia friendly communities. 

Many councils are already working in partnership with their local communities to
develop innovative ways to enable people with dementia to take part in everyday
activities and retain their independence for as long as they are able. Examples include developing dementia friendly streets, where as a result of simple adaptations and awareness raising among staff working in shops, shopping becomes easier for people with dementia.

Read full article here >

UK: Stress of work means women don't live much longer than men
Originally published by nzherald

The difference in life expectancy between the sexes is narrowing as modern women spend their lives juggling work and family, official figures showed recently.

While women are still likely to live around four years longer on average, the adoption by many of stressful working lifestyles indistinguishable from those of men appears to have taken a toll.

The report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said its findings "show the potential for future rises in life expectancy" for men.

"Females do not appear to be doing as well relative to other countries as their male counterparts," it added.

The ONS found that life expectancy for a newborn girl in leading developed countries has always been higher than that of boys. But for women "increases over the years since 1980 have mostly been smaller than those seen for males"
The narrowing of the gap follows growing evidence that the advance of a high proportion of women into higher education and demanding jobs, alongside the stress of combining a job with raising children, has had an effect on life expectancy.

Read more here >

UK: Dementia today and tomorrow - a new deal for people with dementia and their carers
Originally published by health service journal

A report produced by the Deloitte UK Centre for Health Solutions and Alzheimer's Society that presents the outcome of a series of events and initiatives aimed at collecting the views of people with an interest in continuing to drive improvements in services for people with dementia and those caring for them. As a result the report reflects the views of the individual participants and does not necessarily mean endorsement by the organisations to which they belong. 

Over 300,000 people with dementia live in a care home and, at any one time, a quarter of hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia. While there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease or the many other forms of dementia, it is possible to improve lives and save costs by: increasing the number of people who receive a timely diagnosis; and providing more equitable access to quality care and support that allows people with dementia and their families to plan for their future. Timely diagnosis and support could also save public money in the long term by reducing the need for unplanned admissions to care homes and unnecessary admissions to hospital. 

There is also persuasive evidence emerging that demonstrates how modifying behaviors can reduce the risk of dementia. This includes reducing tobacco use and better control and detection for hypertension and diabetes, and other cardiovascular risk factors. Indeed "What is good for your heart is good for your head".

Read full report here >

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.

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 increasingly seen as a silver bullet - something which will improve the lives of older people whilst also reducing health and care costs.

See 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.

Events: Workshops, Webinars and Conferences


FallsStop Seminars on reducing harm from falls in hospital

20-23 October
Various locations nationwide

FallsStop is a seminar about reducing falls in the hospital setting, designed for hospital falls champions, nursing management, and physiotherapy, gerontology and aged care representatives. 

Essential HelpCare is kindly sponsoring this seminar to allow free entry.

Click here to register >


Polypharmacy panel debate webinar

30 October
Rydges Wellington or via Web

Click here to register >


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 >
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