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Event shines light on issues of older people

Event shines light on issues of older people

20 March 2014

A symposium to discuss issues affecting older people was held by MidCentral DHB last night as a way to further educate the wider community.

The symposium was held at the Palmerston North Convention Centre, and attracted more than 250 clinicians and support workers from across the district. There was a variety of presentations with the stigma surrounding dementia, and elder abuse being key themes of the night.

MidCentral Health Geriatrician Dr Syed Zaman gave a presentation on dementia prevalence and disease types, providing an interesting and informative lesson. Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist for the Older Adult Mental Health team Murray Edgar also took the stage, and gave some shocking examples about the impact that elder abuse has; not just on the individuals but on the clinical teams working to minimise the impact of abuse.

The speakers emphasised that physical, emotional, and even sexual abuse experienced by older adults is traumatic to all people who experience such events. It is important to stamp out these issues and this can only be done with the help of the community who must report and be vigilant to any potential abuse. Organisations such as Aged Concern are well placed to provide discreet and appropriate support.

The other topic emphasised is that as the numbers of older people in the community increases, there will be growth in the numbers of those who experience cognitive impairment which may or may not lead to dementia. It is important for people to seek support and know where to get help to allow the family and friends of those with cognitive impairment to be better prepared.
MDHB Senior Portfolio Manager for Health of Older People, Jo Smith was delighted at how many attended the forum.

“It is important that we recognise that these topics are of significance to our community in the light of considerable demographic growth, which is starting to impact right across New Zealand. The number of people attending this symposium shows that this is starting to be widely acknowledged."

The MidCentral District Health Board has made the issues leading to dementia a key priority for information and support over the next few years. Much is being done to better educate general practice teams, social services and families on this very important condition.

Anyone with concerns about elder abuse in the Manawatu should contact Age Concern on (06) 355 2832 and those who have concerns about dementia and support services should ring Alzheimer’s Society (Manawatu) on (06) 357 9539.

Ends

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