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WorkingTo Maintain Ageing People's Independence


Group To Work To Maintain Ageing Population's Independence

Dietitians, health professionals, care givers and those concerned with the welfare of our ageing population will meet on Thursday to learn more about what is happening to the health of this country's older people and to discuss the issues.

Organised by the NZ Nutrition Foundation in partnership with the Auckland branches of the Gerontology and NZ Dietetic Associations, the meeting aims to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition in achieving and maintaining the quality of life of our ageing population.

"The partners have put together an afternoon of presentations that cover a wide area of interest and expertise. It is our hope that those who attend will help identify ways in which this partnership may be extended so that those involved in care, nutrition and physical activity can work more closely together to ensure that older people are well enough to maintain their independence," states Ms Kaye Dennison, member of the NZ Nutrition Foundation Board.

"Of primary concern to dietitians is the prevalence of poor nutrition in the older population. All health professionals and care givers need to be alert to the warning signs of poor nutrition, so that strategies can be implemented to avoid the adverse health effects of malnutrition," adds Sandra Van Lill of the NZ Dietetic Association, Auckland Branch.

Statistics show that by 2021, there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15 -taking our ageing population from 12% to nearly 25% of the population.

The Health of Older People in New Zealand: A statistical Reference (Ministry of Health 2002) outlines the effects to the health and disability service that will occur in the medium term as the as the baby boom generation reaches older age if action is not taken to ensure long term health and well-being.

"Being involved, staying active, thinking ahead all help in positive ageing. Our population needs a sound nutrition base if it is to meet this challenge and maintain an acceptable quality of life," Ms Dennison concludes.

The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation sees this as the first step in establishing its Older People's Working Group. This group, chaired by Ms Dennison will work in partnership with other national organizations to find ways in which it can strengthen and implement the Government's Positive Ageing Strategy.

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