News and media
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda – 26 September 2012
Aged care staff should all be aware of what they can do to support a depressed or socially isolated older person who might be contemplating suicide, an expert said.
According to psychologist and deputy chair of the Suicide Prevention Australia board, Caroline Aebersold, older men in the 75 and above category are considered a high suicide risk group.
This is despite the fact that there is little awareness about suicide rates within and prevention programs targeting this senior cohort.
“What we seeing [in this age group] are some of the common themes for people facing suicide, like disconnectedness and social isolation,” Ms Aebersold said.
“…There could be a change in life circumstances due to retirement, a person could be in poor health because of the ageing process, or their poor health restricts their ability to do things they would previously do, which could also increase loneliness and social isolation.
“They might also be dealing with loss and grief from the death of people around them or a loss of lifestyle.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Causes of Death, Australia report states that the highest age-specific suicide death rate for males in 2010 was observed in the 40-44 age group (27.7 people per 100,000 in the population). However, it is closely followed by the 80-84 (25.9 per 100,000 population) and 75-79 year old age groups (25.7 per 100,000 population).
Females aged 65-69 had the lowest age-specific suicide rate (3.3 per 100,000) in 2010. more
Source: Agedcare Insite 24 September 2012
As the population gets older, there is a call to safeguard the ageing from financial abuse.
To create awareness, researchers from the University of Queensland have developed a program of research that they hope will enhance knowledge and understanding of substitute and assisted decision making in the general community and among service providers and practitioners.
Lead researchers, Associate Professor Cheryl Tilse and Professor Jill Wilson from UQ’s school of social work and human services, said the research program began with an interest in the misuse of enduring power of attorneys (EPAs).
“Many older people suffer financial abuse from family members who act as attorneys under an EPA,” they said.
The research focused on addressing this abuse by finding the most suitable systems to support older people with the management of their affairs, and give carers and attorneys support to act appropriately if managing assets for an older person.
The team, which consists of researchers from social work, social policy, law economics, neuropsychology, medicine and community development, worked with community and government organisations to explore asset management practices and the use of EPAs from the perspectives of older people, family members, practitioners and aged care providers.
Tilse believes that the research results uncovered some interesting findings. “Our research has shown that current frameworks for understanding and responding to financial elder abuse are limited, and that current forms and processes surrounding EPAs do not sufficiently alert attorneys to their obligations,” she said. more
Source: Aged Care Insite - 24 September 2012
A new campaign set to help cut soaring rates of dementia will be launched this week, as part of Dementia Awareness Week 2012.
Your Brain Matters, Alzheimer’s Australia’s new public brain health program, is an all-ages guide to keeping the brain healthy by looking at the mind, body and heart.
As part of the program, Australians can read up on links between physical health and what’s good for your brain, and join more than 200,000 others looking after their brain-heart health with Brainyapp.
“As the first government globally to introduce the public policy around dementia risk reduction through the Department of Health and Ageing, it means dementia is being recognised as a chronic disease and not just a normal part of ageing,” said Alzheimer’s Australia West Australian CEO Frank Schaper.
“There is evidence to suggest that, for example, if we reduce the physical inactivity rate in Australia by 5 per cent every five years, dementia prevalence would be cut by 11 per cent by 2051. That’s around 100,000 fewer Australians living with dementia as a consequence of addressing one risk factor,” he said.
International dementia expert Dr Serge Gauthier, believes that evidence-based programs like Your Brain Matters are crucial in trying to stem the incidence of dementia. He will launch the program in Western Australia on September 25 and will be doing a national tour to discuss a variety of issues including possible causes of dementia and the prospects of new treatment as well as slowing the progression of the disease and reducing prevalence.
The centerpiece for Alzheimer’s Australia’s community awareness calendar, Dementia Awareness Week, will run nationwide from September 21-28
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda – 20 September 2012
One in every four people living with dementia around the world shamefully denies having the disease because of the social stigma attached to the condition, according to a new international report released on World Alzheimer’s Day today.
The World Alzheimer’s Report, issued by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), claims that one in 10 carers hide the diagnosis of the person living with the disease from others for fear of being victimised.
Around three quarters of people with dementia also said they felt negatively judged because of the condition, and 40 per cent claimed they had been victimised due to the stigma that goes hand-in-hand with a diagnosis.
The figures are based on a survey, conducted by ADI, which collated the responses of 2,500 people from 54 different countries.
“Respondents not only answered the quantitative questions, but also added hundreds of narratives to elaborate on and explain their responses,” the report states.
“The people with dementia who responded were younger than average.
“More than half of the respondents have some connection to an Alzheimer’s organisation or service provider…The people with dementia were very likely to have received a diagnosis and were aware of available services.”
The report concludes that the people with dementia and carers who participated in the survey should, technically, be less affected by stigma than those who the survey did not reach.
The survey results therefore could under-represent the true scale of the worldwide dementia stigma-related issue. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda – 20 September 2012
Australia has sprung to the top of the international dementia prevention charts, having just launched the world’s first ever public-funded brain health program designed to cut increasing rates of dementia.
Australia’s peak advocacy group for people with dementia and their families, Alzheimer’s Australia, officially began to roll out its new Your Brain Matters program earlier this week, hailing it as the first of its kind to be funded through a federal government public health, not ageing, income stream.
Funded by the federal government for three years, the awareness program includes a website that is currently active and a series of future awareness raising campaigns, and road shows of sorts throughout the country.
Your Brain Matters will also integrate the famous Alzheimer’s Australia Brainy App for Android mobiles and iPhones under its campaign and awareness raising umbrella.
Based on scientific evidence, Your Brain Matters aims to tackle the country’s dementia epidemic by encouraging Australians to adopt positive health and lifestyle factors associated with brain function and the risk of developing dementia.
Alzheimer’s Australia CEO, Glenn Rees, said the organisation’s new brain health program will consequently enable people of all ages to improve the health of their mind, body, brain and heart health.
“The development and roll-out of Your Brain Matters has been made possible by funding by the federal government in the 2012 Budget,” Mr Rees said.
“The Australian Government is the first government globally to introduce public policy around dementia risk reduction through the Department of Health and Ageing, which means it is being recognised as a chronic disease and not just a normal part of ageing, and for that we congratulate them.
Currently, there are almost 280,000 people with dementia in Australia, which is set to soar to almost 1 million by 2050. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda – 20 September 2012
The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) has come very close to meeting a target set in 2007 for the number of Australians requiring aged care, according to the latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare(AIHW).
In 2007 the Department decided to gradually increase the number of residential care beds and home care packages over the following five years, to provide aged care for 113 of every 1000 Australians aged over 70, by 30 June 2011.
It was decided that on average, 88 in every 1000 Australian people over 70 years would require a residential bed, and 25 would require one of three types of community aged care packages.
According to two reports containing the latest AIHW statistics for the 2010-11 financial year, the government came close to meeting its target.
As at 30 June 2011, there were 112.5 residential aged care beds and home care packages for every 1000 citizens older than 70, which breaks down into 85.7 residential beds, and 26.8 community care packages.
CEO of industry association Aged and Community Services Australia, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, said that in many parts of the country, providers had not taken up all the residential places on offer in at least the last three annual Aged Care Approvals Rounds (ACAR).
“It does appear strange that in fact, there’s been under-subscription [for residential beds] in a number of jurisdictions in the last three years – everyone agrees on that – yet we’ve still been able to get a set of statistics that meet the target,” Professor Kelly said.
The 2011 Productivity Commission (PC) aged care inquiry recommended the entire restrictive system of bed licenses and community care packages be abolished, and replaced with one more like a free market, based on universal entitlement. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda – 20 September 2012
The Retirement Village Association (RVA) and the Property Council of Australia (PCA)have announced this week that they are in discussions aimed at forming a new peak body to represent retirement villages in Australia.
A joint media statement on Monday said the two organisations had been working together for six months and the boards of both organisations had now agreed on five core principles.
Each board has now commenced a formal process of consultation with its respective members to agree details of the proposed new venture which they believe will lead to “a new and powerful voice for retirement villages in Australia.”
RVA’s CEO, Andrew Giles, said in the statement that the two organisations have been working together to identify “opportunities to better represent an industry that has a vital and growing role in the nation’s future.”
“Discussions have been extremely positive and we expect to be in a position to make further announcements next month,” he said
Chief operating officer of the Property Council of Australia, Ken Morrison, said the PCA had identified the retirement village sector as a strategic interest for the organisation.
“We obviously see retirement as a growth sector and lots of our PCA members are already operating in this space,” said Mr Morrison
Mr Morrison said the two organisations had been in discussions since late last year about how they might be able to cooperate and he believed they offered “a high degree of complementarity” with their respective areas of knowledge and capacities. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 18 September 2012
Victoria’s largest in-home nursing service is trialling a new system to identify people who show signs of developing cognitive decline earlier, and put in place clinical interventions before a diagnosis of dementia has been made by a doctor.
The RDNS Institute’s principal research fellow, Dr Susan Koch, said that district nurses who visit the frail and elderly in their own homes could hold the key to identifying people predisposed to dementia.
“RDNS is doubly fortunate having a cutting edge, dedicated research institute on the one hand and teams of nurses at the coalface on the other,” said Dr Koch, who is also an Adjunct Associate Professor with La Trobe University and chair of the Minister’s Dementia Advisory Group.
A key part of the RDNS trial is Fleur Duane, a clinical nurse consultant with expertise in dementia care who provides specialist care for clients with cognitive impairment, from the RDNS site in the Melbourne suburb of Altona.
“This entails identifying symptoms and taking a strategic and clinical approach through the next steps, which includes helping the clients, their carers and their families through the journey – ideally before the first main destination – being formal diagnosis in the doctor’s surgery or in a hospital,” Dr Koch said.
“All this removes the suddenness and the shock of the oh-dear-what-now scenario seen daily in doctors’ surgeries around the country where the patient has not had the advantage of timely explanation and preparation for change.
“Hopefully the trial will move to being accepted practice, thus helping everyone from the client and their carers and families to the GP and the nurses – and society itself,”
Ms Duane said her position, which is funded by the Ian Potter Foundation, involved “bringing evidence-based knowledge into practice” and acting as a bridge between the RDNS Institute, the district nurses and external organisations like Alzheimer’s Australia and the Victorian Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 19 September 2012
Over the past few months, Victorian high school students have been making friends with people many years their senior while producing short films about their fascinating lives.
The students are making the short documentaries as part of the Victorian Seniors Festival, guided by the question, ‘How do older people inspire you?’, with the top three winning prize packs, trophies and cash prizes for their schools.
Each three-to-five-minute film will be shown on Sunday, 7 October, at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne, at a free event called Be Inspired! Intergenerational conversations through film.
One entrant, a Footscray City College Year 7 student, produced a film with two friends about the wartime experience of his neighbour, Ann Holmes, who emigrated from Northern Ireland in 1950.
“I thought they were very nice lads,” Ms Holmes said. “However, I couldn’t do what they were doing with the little cameras and all the technical stuff!”
The three students, Shaemus, Mario and Keanu, said they had learnt a lot about how different life was in the Second World War, when Ms Holmes was just 17 years old.
Kate Hough, the acting chief executive of Leading Age Services Australia – Victoria (LASA Vic), said the films and the event were both fantastic opportunities to showcase and discuss intergenerational friendships and understanding.
“Our older Victorians have wonderful experiences to share with younger people,” Ms Hough said. “This competition has enabled stories like Ann’s to be captured and to inspire younger generations.” more
Source: Aged Care Insite – 17 September 2012
An international review involving University of Sydney researchers has shed light on falls in older people, revealing some interventions can effectively prevent falls in people over 65 and living in their own homes.
The review, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, included 159 trials involving more than 79,000 participants from Australia, the UK and New Zealand and was co-authored by Professor Lindy Clemson in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Associate Professor Cathie Sherrington from the George Institute for Global Health.
“Falls have debilitating and isolating social consequences for older people, not to mention the increasing economic cost they present in our ageing population,” said Clemson. “Our review found a number of interventions can prevent older people from falling, with solutions as simple as wearing an anti-slip shoe device in icy conditions and as complex as surgical and drug treatments. We found multiple-component exercises for groups or individuals significantly reduced the risk of falls.”
Three trials in the review found that interventions could save more money than they cost. Falls affect approximately 30 per cent of people over 65 living in the community. Around one in five falls requires medical attention, and one in 10 results in a fracture. “Falls can start a downward spiral of immobility, reduced confidence, and incapacity leading to institutionalisation, so it’s really important we tackle the issue to prevent as many falls as possible,” said Clemson, who developed a program for falls prevention published in the British Medical Journal last month. more