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Family or the State - who cares for older people?

Family or the State - who cares for older people?

Canadian Professor Norah Keating will undertake a New Zealand tour (10-28 November) speaking about issues generated by New Zealand's ageing population, focusing on the well-being of older people and the roles of families and government in providing care.

Professor Keating, of the University of Alberta, is visiting New Zealand as the TOWER Fellow at the New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing at Victoria University.

She has a special interest in the care of older people in rural areas and has studied issues such as the challenges they face in accessing health and other services.

Professor Keating will be talking about the physical and social conditions that make life better for frail older people, how rest homes can meet their needs better and why we should listen to the voices of people who live in residential care.

She is also concerned with those who care for older people, including people who are still working and those who are caring alone. She says that in Canada family caregivers have formed groups and networks to support one another and that New Zealand could learn from this.

Population ageing has significant implications for government and Professor Keating has worked extensively with Canadian federal, provincial and local government agencies.

“A number of key groups - caregivers, care receivers, employers and the public - incur costs as a consequence of informal care of older people. What role should government be playing, now and in the future? What do health authorities need to think about if they are trying to promote healthy ageing?”

Dr Judith Davey, Director of the New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing at Victoria University says that in the next 40 years New Zealand faces a 600 per cent increase in numbers of very old people.

"The New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing is leading research into the implications of this trend. We are examining how to ensure that frail older people receive high quality care and that the well-being of the caregivers is protected."

The Institute was established at Victoria University in 2002. It is multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral and multi-ethnic, focusing on social research in the area of population and individual ageing. As such it is unique in New Zealand.

Dr. Keating will be meeting with government agencies and voluntary organisations and travelling extensively through New Zealand. Public lectures are planned in the main centres and presentations to rural interest groups. Her itinerary is attached.

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