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The Asia Women’s Welfare Association Centre for Caregivers was set up in 2006 and is supported by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) of Singapore as a key organisation to promote the welfare of caregivers. Since their establishment they have developed resources on caregivers’ needs to promote emotional and social well-being among this group of workers who may be at risk of social isolation.  AWWA Centre for Caregivers has just awarded their 2012 caregiver award. Learn more by checking out this video:

Today the Pan American Health Organization hosted a symposium on health ageing. With speakers from the Americas including Argentina, Mexico and the United States, the event  highlighted the importance of social connectedness and support across the lifespan. Speakers including Dr Luciano Di Cesare, Dr Linda Fried, and Dr Michael Hodin spoke on the importance of facing the social stigma associated with old age in order to be able to actively address health behaviors across the lifespan and promote a new vision of old age. Check out the video message from Dr. Mirta Roses Periago on the PAHO website.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius addresses delegates.

A recent report from Chile reveals that over the past year, reports of elder abuse have increased by 38%. This statistic was given by a non-governmental organization named Activa, who urge the National Service for the Elderly (SENAMA) to study the issue further. According to the director of SENAMA, Rose Kornfeld, the increase in reported cases may not actually reflect an increase in cases, but rather  an improvement in access to reporting services. Over the past 10 years, SENAMA has established regional service centres to provide adult day and legal services to the elderly throughout Chile. Prior to the establishment of SENAMA centres, the elderly would have to arrive at a police station in order to report abuse. SENAMA reports that they have recently hired an elder abuse specialist and that they plan to expand their activities in prevention and intervention as budget is available. The last Chilean census was taken in 2002 at which time 11.4% of Chileans were >60. The government expects that by 2025 the 60+ population will encompass over 20% of the population.

Photo courtesy of  Fernando Mandujano.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) sponsored a walk in Visakhapatnam to celebrate World Health Day on Saturday. This event reflects a shift in national thinking on health, from controlling infectious diseases to managing noncommunicable diseases that frequently occur in older populations.  The Health Ministry of India has announced plans to set up eight geriatric care centres across the country under its National Programme for Healthcare for the Elderly. It will also initiate geriatric units at 100 district hospitals in 21 states and units at community and primary health centres.

Over the past century, life expectancy in India has dramatically increased and India now shares the prospect of supporting a large number of older persons.  The World Health Organization has developed four policy recommendations for countries to promote wellness and limit strain on the medical system. These recommendations include promoting healthy behaviours at all ages to prevent or delay the development of chronic diseases. Specifically, WHO recommends eating better, quiting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and increasing physical activity.

Photo courtesy  Victor Frankowski

Today the World Health Organization commemorates its founding in 1948 by observing World Health Day. This year’s theme is healthy ageing, and organizers are promoting discussion of how countries and health systems can support health lifestyles across the lifespan. How will you commemorate today? What will you do to support health ageing?

Gogolympics offers an opportunity for grandmothers to get out of the house and have some fun. The activity also encourages physical activity and bonding among the older women.  This was the second annual Gogolympics and thousands in KwaZulu-Natal attended the event to watch the  women compete for a gold trophy.

The Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust sponsored the event. Their mission is to serve women whose families are affected by HIV/AIDs, typically women who have lost a child to the disease and now care for their grandchildren. The trust has 31 small “gogo support groups” with 1400 grannies as members. Chief executive of the Centre, Olivia Myeza, described the event as “a huge success,” and expressing gratitude to sponsors such as the Stephen Lewis Foundation, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation and the Light Providers Youth Club.

Sister Cwengekile Myeni, the nursing manager at the Trust, said the grandmothers participated in skills development and stress alleviation activities at the centre. The grannies have formed partnerships with other grannies and are able to speak about the plight of South African gogos.”

On World Health Day (7 April), the World Health Organization calling for urgent action to ensure that people reach old age in the best possible health. In the next few years, for the first time, there will be more people in the world aged over 60 than children aged less than five. By 2050, 80% of the world’s older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries.

The main health challenges for older people everywhere are non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.  “People in low- and middle-income countries currently face up to four times the risk of death and disability from non-communicable diseases than people in high-income countries,” says Dr Margaret Chan WHO Director-General. “Yet most of these conditions are largely preventable or inexpensive to treat.”

The risk of developing non-communicable diseases can be significantly reduced by adopting healthy behaviors, such as being physically active, eating a healthy diet, avoiding the harmful use of alcohol and not smoking or using tobacco products. The earlier people adopt these behaviors, the better their chance of enjoying a healthy old age. “Healthy lifestyles from the very beginning of life is key to a healthy and active old age,” says Dr John Beard, Director of the Department of Ageing and the Life-course at WHO.

WHO has outlined four key actions that governments and societies can take now to strengthen healthy and active ageing.

  • Promote good health and healthy behaviors at all ages to prevent or delay the development of chronic diseases.
  • Minimize the consequences of chronic disease through early detection and quality care (primary, long-term and palliative care).
  • Create physical and social environments that foster the health and participation of older people.
  • “Reinvent ageing” – changing social attitudes to build a society in which older people are respected and valued.

Poor health is not the only concern people have as they grow older. Stigmatizing attitudes and common stereotypes often prevent older people from participating fully in society. Older people make important contributions as family members, volunteers and as active participants in the workforce and are a significant social and economic resource. “When a 100-year-old man finishes a marathon, as happened last year, we have to rethink conventional definitions of what it means to be ‘old’,” says Dr Chan. “Past stereotypes developed in past centuries no longer hold.”

Photo courtesy  Adam Jones, Ph.D.

Reminder!  Only 11 days left to submit your abstract to “Aging in a Changing World,” October 18 – 20, 2012, in Vancouver, BC!  Abstracts are due April 2, 2012.

The CAG Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting is the primary multi-disciplinary conference in Canada for those interested in individual and population aging.  It features world renowned keynote speakers from the health and social sciences, cutting-edge symposia, opportunities to present papers and posters, and an exciting social program.

Individuals are encouraged to submit abstracts that address the conference theme, although ALL submissions will be given equal consideration.  Abstracts are due April 2, 2012.

Please visit the website to view:

– Call for Abstracts

– Student Poster Competition

– Travel Assistance Grants

– Preliminary program

The 2012 ASEM is hosted by Simon Fraser University Department of Gerontology and Gerontology Research Centre.

Photo courtesy s.yume

Having access to an adequate and safe water source remains a challenge for billions of people around the world. Biological ageing causes the body to weaken, and having access to clean water becomes more important. The elderly are vulnerable to water issues in the following ways:

  1. Water is key to health. Elderly people are more likely to become dehydrated because of their decreased ability to maintain balance fluid.  Older people’s sense of thirst naturally decreases with age, and medications can also affect a person’s sense of thirst. Elderly people are vulnerable to water borne illnesses that cause diarrheal diseases.
  2. Water doesn’t always come from a tap. Elderly persons may not have the strength to walk to communal wells to fetch water for consumption. Due to long walk and heavy strain they may reduce the amount of water they bring to their residence for consumption.
  3. Water is key to food security. Elderly persons often have diminished strength for farming which can in and of itself create greater food insecurity.  People who have better access to water tend to have lower levels of undernourishment. The lack of water can be a major cause of famine and undernourishment, in particular in areas where people depend on local agriculture for food and income.

Interested in doing something in honour of World Water Day? Consider donating to HelpAge International; they have many excellent programmes that work to ensure water access for the elderly.

Photo courtesy mctrent

The International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing is pleased to announce its inaugural Global Ageing Research Forum. The event will be held 26 September 2012 in conjunction with the European Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing Conference in Malta. Designed as a facilitated dialogue between researchers and providers, the event will explore the challenges and opportunities of culture change in care homes. Featuring presenters such as Dr. Julienne Meyer, City College of London, Dr. Robyn Stone, Center for Applied Research at LeadingAge, and Dr. Barbara Bowers, of the University of Wisconsin, the applied research forum will provide an opportunity for providers to discuss their research needs and provide insights on translating research into practice. Registration is now open, and those who sign up by 1 June 2012 will receive a discount.

Photo courtesy Agatha & Andrew Mleczko

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at iahsa@leadingage.org.

Authors

Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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