Category: Press

AWNSC Director Adds to the Conversation About Positive Ageing

AWNSC Director Louise Parr-Brownlie speaking at an event
AWNSC Director Louise Parr-Brownlie speaking at an event

Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, the Director of Ageing Well National Science Challenge, was featured in a recent article about positive ageing in the Sunday Star-Times.

In this story, Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie highlights that ageing can look very different from one person to another. There is a disparity in ageing, and Ageing Well NSC seeks to rectify this to benefit all New Zealanders.

You can read the story here.

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Ageing Well Director highlights the needs for older NZers due to Covid-19

Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, Ageing Well NSC Director, was recently featured for a story for Otago Daily Times on the impact of COVID-19 on older New Zealanders.

In this story, Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie highlights the fact that older New Zealanders have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and are bearing the brunt of Covid-19.

You can read this story here.

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News with Dr Hamish Jamieson

Dr Hamish Jamieson, Ageing Well NSC Principal Investigator, was recently filmed for a story for One News on the impact of COVID 19 on loneliness and older adults.

In this story, Dr Jamieson suggests the New Zealand government consider the timeframe of the lockdown period, as both mental and physical health are likely to deteriorate in older adults if lockdown extends.

You can watch this story here.

Read more about Dr Hamish Jamieson’s work, as well as other Ageing Well research, here.

Filed under: Press, Research

Podcast with Dr Michal Boyd

Associate Professor Michal Boyd

“Goals of Care in End-Stage Dementia” Podcast with Dr Michal Boyd

Associate Professor Michal Boyd is the Principal Investigator on Ageing Well National Science Challenge research on “Neurodegeneration and Individual Interventions.” This study investigates end-of-life neurodegenerative care and the potential benefits of individualised care. Associate Professor Boyd spoke on the Goodfellow Podcast (produced by The Good Fellow Unit) about her work on Dementia and end-stage care.

In the podcast Associate Professor Boyd encourages people to think about a care continuum, with Residential Age Care as part of that continuum. Within this care continuum she discusses elder abuse, tools for identifying elder abuse, carer fatigue, as well as cultural considerations for Māori Dementia patients.

Associate Professor Boyd shares practical information and resources for patients, families and health care practitioners. You can listen to the podcast here. Read more about Associate Professor Boyd’s work, as well as other Ageing Well research, here.

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Research Featured in North&South

Dr Hamish Jamieson, an Ageing Well Principal Investigator, has had his research featured in April’s issue of North&South. 

The article (the cover story), which explores the issues of overmedication and overprescribing, drew attention to Dr Jamieson’s Drug Burden Index research.

Like the research study, the article noted a correlation between certain medications and falls risks.

Ageing Well is delighted that Dr Jamieson’s important research continues to generate interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

Find the magazine story details here.

Filed under: Press, Research

Novel stroke treatment has scientists excited

Prof John Reynolds with Paul Robertson Linch

In a world-first, Professor John Reynolds and his team at Otago University have gone against traditional thinking, targeting the healthy side of the brain, rather than the area around the stroke, with electrical stimulation.

“Putting an electrode in the healthy side of the brain when someone has a stroke on the other side is really not a conventional thing to do,” Reynolds said.

“We are potentially putting something that could be risky on the good side.”

Studies show a third of the 9,000 people who have a stroke each year will never regain full movement.

Reynolds theorised that the healthy side of the brain was overcompensating for the damaged side, and inhibiting its recovery.

But to test his theory, he needed the help of the only man in the world with a patent for the technology – pioneering Belgian neurosurgeon Dirk de Ridder.

He had also tried to treat the damaged part of the brain, without success.

“So when John came up with this new idea to treat the healthy part in order to influence the diseased part. I thought it was a brilliant idea,” he said.

Otago University’s Professor John Reynolds consults 61-year-old Paul Robertston-Linch, who volunteered to wear a device designed to help with stroke recovery.

Together, they developed a novel device, and with funding from the Ageing Well National Science Challenge, were able to put it to the test.

During surgery, de Ridder places an electrode over the brain’s motor cortex, which controls movement.

A wire is tunnelled under the skin to the chest, where a stimulator is implanted – similar to a pacemaker.

“From a surgical point of view, it’s very safe. We don’t even see the brain because it is covered by the dura mater,” he said.

Two men volunteered to trial the device, including 61-year-old Paul Robertston-Linch.

Four years ago he had a stroke at work, which initially robbed him of his speech, and all movement down his right side.

Despite rehabilitation, he still couldn’t use his right arm and hand.

“I guess it fascinated me,” he said.

“I thought ‘I’ve got nothing to lose.'”

He can’t feel the stimulator at all, which is only activated by another device when he has physio.

Reynolds said the initial results are exciting.

The men couldn’t grip anything when they started, and at the end could lift at least 7kg.

More importantly, they had regained fine motor skills which can hamper stroke patients.

“The stimulator doesn’t make them better – it’s the rehabilitation. What we are trying to do is allow parts of the brain to wake up during that session and form new connections.”

Studies show a third of the 9,000 people who have a stroke each year will never regain full movement.

Reynolds theorised that the healthy side of the brain was overcompensating for the damaged side, and inhibiting its recovery.

But to test his theory, he needed the help of the only man in the world with a patent for the technology – pioneering Belgian neurosurgeon Dirk de Ridder.

He had also tried to treat the damaged part of the brain, without success.

“So when John came up with this new idea to treat the healthy part in order to influence the diseased part. I thought it was a brilliant idea,” he said.

Together, they developed a novel device, and with funding from the Ageing Well National Science Challenge, were able to put it to the test.

During surgery, de Ridder places an electrode over the brain’s motor cortex, which controls movement.

A wire is tunnelled under the skin to the chest, where a stimulator is implanted – similar to a pacemaker.

“From a surgical point of view, it’s very safe. We don’t even see the brain because it is covered by the dura mater,” he said.

Two men volunteered to trial the device, including 61-year-old Paul Robertston-Linch.

Four years ago he had a stroke at work, which initially robbed him of his speech, and all movement down his right side.

Despite rehabilitation, he still couldn’t use his right arm and hand.

“I guess it fascinated me,” he said.

“I thought ‘I’ve got nothing to lose.'”

He can’t feel the stimulator at all, which is only activated by another device when he has physio.

Reynolds said the initial results are exciting.

The men couldn’t grip anything when they started, and at the end could lift at least 7kg.

More importantly, they had regained fine motor skills which can hamper stroke patients.

“The stimulator doesn’t make them better – it’s the rehabilitation. What we are trying to do is allow parts of the brain to wake up during that session and form new connections.”

– Aotearoa Science Agency

Filed under: Press, Research

Need for holistic approach to patient care emphasised

Ageing Well National Science Challenge Director, Professor David Baxter, addressed the National Physiotherapy New Zealand Conference 2018 and emphasised the need for holistic treatment of individual patients.

In a later interview with the Otago Daily Times, Professor Baxter also highlighted the need for better co-ordinated overall support from central and local government so that people in an ageing population could “age well”.

Read the complete article published in the ODT on 16th September 2018.

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Overmedication causing falls, injuring and killing elderly

New research shows elderly people taking high-risk sleeping and pain medications are twice as likely to fall and break bones, with up to a third dying within a year of being injured.

The world-leading study from the University of Otago, based of out Christchurch, funded by Ageing Well National Science Challenge measured the impact of taking multiple medications on fractures in the elderly.

Read the full story here.

Filed under: Press, Research

Overmedication causing falls, injuring and killing elderly

Elderly people taking high-risk sleeping and pain medications are twice as likely to fall and break bones, with up to a third dying within a year of being injured, new research shows. The world-leading study from the University of Otago, based of out Christchurch, measured the impact of taking multiple medications on fractures in the elderly.

Filed under: Press, Research

We need to talk about loneliness, New Zealand

“Modern life is making us lonely and it is something New Zealand needs to talk about”, says Ageing Well researcher Professor Merryn Gott.

University of Auckland professor of health sciences Merryn Gott has studied loneliness in the elderly as part of her research project funded by Ageing Well National Science Challenge.

Read the full story, which was recently featured in Stuff.

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Family members caring for elderly Pasifika at end of life not getting help – study

Most Pacific Islanders in New Zealand spend the end of their lives being cared for by family members who aren’t getting all the help they’re entitled to, our “Tapinga ‘a Maama’: Pacific Life and Death in Advanced Age” study has revealed. This AWNSC research project is carried out by Dr Ofa Dewes in the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland.

This project was streamed online at 1 NEWS (23th July, 2018): Family members caring for elderly Pasifika at end of life not getting help – study. 

For more information related to this project follow the link.

Filed under: Press, Research

Insight: Facing down loneliness for NZ’s ageing population

Ageing Well researcher Dr Sally Keeling was featured on a recent Radio New Zealand program, Insight: Facing down loneliness for NZ’s ageing population (15 July 2018).

Dr Keeling discusses that one in four New Zealanders will be over the age of 65 in twenty years time, with many living in their homes. The health risk of loneliness and social isolation of older people has been likened to smoking cigarettes 15 a day.

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Government Minister says elderly housing needs cannot be overlooked

A paper written by Dr Kay Saville-Smith and Dr Bev James, as part of a consultation process about the ageing population, highlighted how New Zealand’s future older population will mostly live in rentals, as home ownership rates have continued to fall over the last 15 years.

To read the whole story, please click on https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/105506836/government-minister-says-elderly-housing-needs-cannot-be-overlooked

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This is Elaine’s Story (SUPER Trial)

Elaine joined the Staying UPright and Eating well Research (SUPER) study because she thought it would provide her with learning opportunities as well as a chance to meet people. She was randomized into the social programme.

However, events transpired against her – Elaine was hit by a car near her home when she was crossing the road – resulting in a ten week stay in hospital recovering from multiple fractures and a head injury. Following discharge, she underwent a considerable period of recuperation and rehabilitation at home.

Fortuitously, Elaine’s recovery support team and family were discussing with her further options to help when “My daughter reminded me about the SUPER study, I had completely forgotten about it”.

Elaine was able to rejoin the social group in hopes of getting her, as she said, “back to normal”. When asked her thoughts about the social programme, Elaine said “it was fun, I loved meeting the people and it was interesting hearing what they’d done with their lives”.

Overall, as Elaine said of her experience of the study and the social programme in particular, “it’s provided me with a good way to be back in the world”.

Read the full story about Elaine and her SUPER Study experience here.

For more information about the research, please visit our SUPER Study page or visit the study’s Facebook page.

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This is John’s Story (SUPER Trial)

John was randomised into the food and nutrition course in the Staying UPright and Eating well Research (SUPER) study. Prior to taking part in the programme, John’s experience of cooking was limited.

John said he found Senior Chef “enjoyable and I think whatever you’re doing, if you’re not enjoying it you don’t want to go next week. Right from the beginning it was produced and developed in a way that made you want to learn.

So what changes have occurred? John said he’s now preparing meals and usually cooking two or three times a week. Shopping at his local butcher he’s now noticed there’s a variety of chicken cuts… “so I ask them well if I bought that type of cut, what vegetables would I put with it? It’s opened up a whole new world for me”.

He also said Senior Chef has given him better insight into what his wife has done over many years: the planning and shopping let alone the preparation that goes into daily meals. And of course, the nutritional aspect is also important and now armed with the information, meals can be planned to take all of this into consideration.

“I guess I can say that all the information, all that I’ve learned at Senior Chef is in my head now and it’s not going to go away”.

Read the full story about John’s SUPER Study experience here.

For more information about the research, please visit our SUPER Study page or visit the study’s Facebook page.

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Exercise, nutrition & socialising; Where do the biggest health benefits lie for Kiwi seniors?

Staying UPright and Eating well Research (SUPER) is an Ageing Well National Science Challenge funded project, which aims to test the impact and cost-effectiveness of physical activity and/or nutrition, and social group attendance, to reduce frailty and falls of older people. This project is one of the biggest studies into ageing happening across New Zealand and is led by Dr Ruth Teh at Auckland University. Recently this project has been fetching media attention and has been streamed online at multiple sites, as follows:

1 NEWS (18th June, 2018): Exercise, nutrition & socialising; Where do the biggest health benefits lie for Kiwi seniors?

NZ Herald (19th June, 2018): Older kiwis take part in nationwide study to learn how to improve their quality of life.

Stuff (19th June, 2018): Study to improve quality of life. 

SUPER Trial is expected to finish by June 2019. Please follow this link to read more information about this project and the challenge itself.

 

 

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Age CARE: Planning for an Ageing Population

Ageing Well’s Deputy Director, Associate Professor Debra Waters, was featured in April’s edition of the University of Otago Magazine (Issue 44).

Read the full story, which discusses Waters’ role as Director of CARE (Collaboration of Ageing Research Excellence) here.

Filed under: Press

Well Balanced: Improving strength and balance at any age

img_6793_edited

The Ageing Well National Science Challenge has teamed up with students in the University of Otago’s Centre for Science Communication and co-developed an interactive exhibit at the Otago Museum called “Well Balanced”.

University of Otago Associate Professor Debra Waters from the Ageing Well Management Directorate worked with Science Communication Professor Nancy Longnecker and 16 Science Communication postgraduate students on the project.

Balance and strength change across our lifetime, but improvements can be made at almost any time – so the exhibition is about encouraging people to keep moving and to age well.

Designed to be a fun, interactive and educational experience for all ages, the exhibition consists of a series of activities based around strength and balance.

Participants can learn about and undertake activities with a Wii Fit, hula hoops, devices to test hand and trunk strength, challenges for nimble fingers and dexterity, and testing balance on a wobble board – all with the aim of testing and learning how to improve strength and balance.

The opening of the exhibition at the Otago Museum on 11 November 2016 was very successful, with everyone from children to older adults trying the different exhibits, having fun and learning more about their own strength and balance.

The exhibition will be on display till the 29th of January 2017.

For more information about this exhibit, pleased visit our Well Balanced page

Filed under: Press, Research