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Gerontology Matters
January 2015

The New Zealand Association of Gerontology

In this issue:

A message from the President

Firstly, Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that you had a restful and enjoyable festive season. During the break I spent time reflecting on NZAG’s key achievements in 2014. With the exception of our secretariat the organisation relies on the good will of people who lead busy lives but yet are still willing to contribute to NZAG. It is these people I am eternally grateful to. For me our key successes include our 2014 conference held in Dunedin, the development and operationalisation of our strategic plan, the webinar series and a range of regional hub events held throughout the year. In 2015 we will build on these successes.

Over the next couple of months NZAG will be engaging with social media by launching our own Facebook and Twitter accounts. Dr Asmita Patel who is a member of the executive and Nicole Smith from BPSL have been working on this initiative. Both accounts are in the process of being established and will go live as soon as a Social Media Policy has been developed. The Australasian Association of Gerontology has generously given permission for NZAG to use their Social Media Policy to base ours on. There is no doubt that using social media is a powerful communication tool and I think NZAG will benefit significantly from engaging with this medium including providing us with an international presence in relation to ageing.

In another effort to more fully engage our membership, we invited members to respond to the following questions in the November issue:
  • Would you be interested in contributing to developing policy positions?
  • Would you be willing to 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 gerontology? If so, how would you want to do this?
  • 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? 
Unfortunately we have received only minimal responses. I am therefore extending the deadline to the end of February. Your input into the future of NZAG is appreciated and I ask that you to email me at The information will be collated and reported back to you in the March 2015 newsletter. 
Dr Stephen Neville
New Zealand Association of Gerontology

The International Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology (IAGG)

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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 >
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Information relevant to NZAG members

NZ: New Zealand Nutrition Foundation (NZNF) Nutrition for Healthy Ageing Bulletin

November 2014 - NZNF

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

NZ: Older people’s perceptions of prescription medicine costs and related costs - A pilot study in New Zealand

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

The following was originally published by the Journal of Primary Health Care.

In this pilot study, the authors surveyed 107 people aged 65 years and over, who were visiting pharmacies in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin, to identify their perceptions of costs relating to prescription medicines and related pharmacy and general practice services.

Participants "... received a median of five prescription medicines (range 1–15), at a median cost of NZ$8.00 (range 0–55.30). Median part-charges for medicines only partly funded by the government were NZ$6.25 (range 0.60–100.00), and GP consultations ranged from NZ$0–60.00. Of the participants, 89 (83.2%) thought medicine costs and 63 (58.9%) thought GP consultation costs were reasonable. Participants with median monthly medicine costs of NZ$8.33–87.00 more commonly perceived medicines as expensive or very expensive".

The authors discuss the implications of these findings.

NZ: Temporal trends in polypharmacy and hyperpolypharmacy in older New Zealanders over a 9-year period - 2005-2013

December 2014 - HIIRC

The following was published by the University of Otago.

The authors investigated the prevalence and trends of polypharmacy and hyperpolypharmacy in older people in New Zealand from 2005 to 2013, using population-level dispensing data.

"Polypharmacy and hyperpolypharmacy in individuals were defined as the use of 5-9 medicines and ≥10 medicines, respectively, dispensed concurrently for a period of ≥90 days ... Polypharmacy and hyperpolypharmacy were found to be higher in 2013 compared to 2005 ... The risk of polypharmacy and hyperpolypharmacy was higher in females, in those aged 80-84 years, in the Māori population (for polypharmacy) and the Middle Eastern, Latin American, or African population (for hyperpolypharmacy), in people living in the Southern-district health board, and in individuals with increasing deprivation".

NZ: Brain health growing issue as NZers age

December 2014 - Otago Daily Times
The following was originally published by the Otago Daily Times. Image by Daniele Oberti.

As New Zealand's population continues to age, a rising tide of problems linked to neurodegenerative disease and stroke threatens to overwhelm our future healthcare system.

But in research laboratories, including at the University of Otago, a quiet revolution has already begun, which could eventually help meet a growing brain health challenge that already costs this country more than a billion dollars a year in direct healthcare costs alone.

NZ: Medication use in community-dwelling older people - Pharmacoepidemiology of psychotropic utilisation

December 2014 - HIIRC

The following was published by the HIIRC.

This study used data from the BRIGHT trial (141 potentially disabled participants) and the DeLLITE trial (193 potentially depressed participants) to investigate the prevalence and the pattern of psychotropic use amongst community-dwelling older people in New Zealand, and any association between depressive symptomatology and psychotropic medication use.

Based on their analysis, the authors conclude that "the prevalence of psychotropic medication use is high in community-dwelling older people with disability and very high in community-dwelling older people with depressive symptoms, but varies by gender and level of depression". They also note that, "in both studies, there is possible underdiagnosed, undertreated and inappropriately treated depression".

NZ: A short report on the oral health of elderly people is available

October 2014 - The University of Auckland

The following was published by the Maori Health Review.

Oral Health in Advanced Age: Findings from LiLACS NZ presents key findings about the oral health of Māori (aged 80 to 90 years) and non-Māori (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, called Life and Living in Advanced Age: a cohort study in New Zealand - Te Puāwaitanga o Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu (LiLACS NZ). The report was funded by the Ministry of Health and produced by the LiLACS NZ research programme which is led by Professor Ngaire Kerse.

Additional short reports will be released in the coming months including: Alcohol use, Falls, Primary care, Medication use and Income. These reports will be useful to those working in the health sector to improve the health of the elderly population.

NZ: Elderly likely to keep falls a secret

December 2014 - Physiotherapy NZ

The following was published by Physiotherapy NZ. 

Many older adults are not reporting falls to a health professional, a new survey suggests.

Of the 1,000 adults surveyed by the GrownUps website, more than half said they would be unlikely to report a fall if it resulted in a minor injury. If the fall didn't result in an injury then the number jumped to more than 80%.

Physiotherapy New Zealand President Ian d'Young says that falls, despite being the most common cause of injury in NZ, are often preventable.

NZ: Are nurses more likely to report providing care plans for chronic disease patients than doctors? Findings from a New Zealand study

January 2015 - HIIRC

The following was published by Chronic Illness. 

The authors used a survey (modified version of the Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care) to compare the perceptions of general practitioners (GPs) and primary care nurses (PCNs) in the Southern region of New Zealand regarding their provision of chronic illness care. "Surveys were received from 77% of practices in the Southern region. Responding PCNs were more likely than their GP counterparts to document they provided aspects of chronic illness care ‘most of the time’ or ‘always’ in 18 activities from the six M-PACIC domains. Their level of providing patients with formal care plans was surprisingly low". The authors discuss the implications of these findings and suggest that "this discrepancy between the process of care planning and the outcome, a care plan, is not unique to this region of New Zealand and warrants further research".

Australia: Barriers and Enablers to Physical Activity Among Older Australians Who Want to Increase Their Physical Activity Levels

November 2014 - Journal of Physical Activity and Health

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

UK: Clean habits, helpful drugs key to old age

January 2015 - The New Zealand Herald

The following was published by The NZ Herald. Image by ThinkStock.

Why stop at 100? A recent study concluded Britons could live to 120 if they exercised more, ate healthily and took beneficial drugs such as statins.

An influential panel of health experts and scientists reported that lifestyle changes such as walking regularly, cutting down on sugar, salt and fat, and taking advantage of drugs that already exist could extend life.

Members of the Longevity Science Panel predicted that if all the population followed the advice of health experts, the average life span could rise from 80 to 84.

UK: Public health responses to an ageing society - Opportunities and challenges

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

The following was published by the ILC-UK. 

This think-piece explores the extent to which England’s public health structures are able to respond to our ageing population after the radical reforms introduced by the Health and Social Care Act.

UK: Actions for end of life care - 2014-16

2014 - NHS England

The following was published by NHS England.

More and more people are living with long term conditions – partly due to those acquired in adult life, partly because more babies and children with life-limiting conditions can now live into adulthood and mostly because we are all living longer. But ultimately we all die. This means that care as we approach the end of our life has to matter to everyone – in health care, social care and in the wider community.

Thanks to the success of the first national End of Life Care Strategy (2008), there is much to build on. This document – Actions for End of Life Care: 2014-16 – sets out NHS England’s commitments for adults and children. It is one component of a wider ambition to develop a vision for end of life care beyond 2015. This can only be achieved in partnership with all those in health and social care. The 2008 Strategy managed to reverse the upward trend of people dying in hospital. We now need to ensure that living and dying well is the focus of end of life care, wherever it occurs. This is the challenge: together we can and must achieve it.

UK: A place to call home

November 2014 - Older People's Commissioner for Wales

The following was published by the Older People's Commissioner for Wales. Image by Diana Parkhouse.

When older people move into a care home, all they are doing in effect is moving from one home to another. The word ‘home’ should mean something special, a place that we hope will be filled with friendship, love and laughter.

Regardless of where we live when we are older, or how frail we are, we will all want to feel respected and valued and be able to do the things that matter to us. We all want, regardless of our age or frailty, or where we call home, to have the very best quality of life. This is why I chose to focus my Review on the quality of life and care of older people in the place they should be able to call home. 

Canada: Preventing falls - From evidence to improvement in Canadian health care

2014 - Accreditation Canada

The following was published by Accreditation Canada.

Falls among seniors (individuals 65 years and older) have become a significant health concern in Canada. Falls are experienced by more than one third of seniors and can have a devastating physical and psychological impact resulting in disability, chronic pain, loss of independence, reduced quality of life, and even death. Falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors and also contribute to a significant burden on the health care system. Direct health care costs for falls in Canada are estimated at $2 billion annually. 

The negative impact of falls highlights a need to understand the burden of falls on Canadians and the health system. How are Canadian health care organizations progressing with falls prevention programs? Which populations are at greatest risk of falls? What tools are available to support organizations? In this report Accreditation Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) take a closer look at these questions and share information about falls and falls prevention in acute care, long-term care, and home care settings.

USA: Effects of Yoga on Psychological Health in Older Adults

November 2014 - Journal of Physical Activity and Health

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

International: International survey of older adults (including New Zealand) investigates access, coordination, and patient-centered care

December 2014 - Health Affairs

The following is from Health Affairs.

The Commonwealth Fund surveyed adults age 65 or older in 11 countries to understand how well health systems are caring for older adults, where the gaps in performance are, and how policy reforms can make a difference.

The authors report on health and health care use; health care costs and access; timeliness of care; care coordination and safety; doctor-patient relationship; health promotion; end-of-life planning; and management of chronic conditions and caregiving.

International: Management of end of life care in people with dementia - A review

December 2014 - HIIRC

The following was published by Cambridge University Press. 

In this review of the literature, the authors investigate the management of end of life care in people with dementia.

Literature reviews were included if they covered palliative or end of life care for people with dementia / Parkinson's disease / Lewy body dementia / cognitive impairment / Alzheimer's disease or any other cognitive impairment, in any setting (hospital, care home, community) and covering people of all ages.

The authors identified five key themes: "(1) carers’ (family caregivers’) experiences; (2) person-centred care; (3) practice (including advance care planning, pain and comfort, nutrition, medical complications and minimizing the distress of behavioural symptoms); (4) system factors, including ethical dilemmas, decision making, information, and training; and (5) research priorities". 

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

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 


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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