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The Challenges Of Ageing Can No Longer Be Ignored

Media Release
7 April 2004

The Challenges Of Ageing Can No Longer Be Ignored

A leading UK expert on ageing, Professor Julia Twigg, will be a major keynote speaker at the national conference of the New Zealand Association of Gerontology to be held at the Christchurch Convention Centre, April 14-16. Over 300 people will attend.

Professor Twigg holds the Chair in Social Policy at the University of Kent and is an authority on how ageing affects families and caregivers. She has an international reputation for her research, teaching and writing on the contentious issue of the most appropriate care for older people. In this regard she has a particular interest in the value of care at home, asking how do families and the state share this responsibility?

These concerns reflect the debate as to the best place to care for older people,and whether too many are in rest homes, issues that most families face in this country. Professor Twigg’s keynote address ‘The Body in Social Care’ will discuss the vital role of relatives and caregivers, and the demands placed on those involved in the personal care of older people at home. What social supports should be available and who funds this work?

Professor Julia Twigg is one of a number of leading international and New Zealand speakers who will discuss the increasing challenge of ageing at this national conference. The conference theme ‘Expanding Horizons; the Art and Science of Ageing’ reflects a growing understanding of the complexities of ageing, and the breadth and variety of its impact on New Zealand society, says N.Z. Association of Gerontology President, Dr Sally Keeling.

A range of demographic, community and health challenges associated with the ‘greying of N.Z.’ will be addressed by the keynote speakers and papers to be presented over the three days. The conference will also demonstrate that simplistic approaches to ageing will no longer suffice as the older population steadily increases.

“We’re still not taking the growth in ageing seriously enough in this country,” says Dr Keeling. “We need to find new ways to work in this area of need. This conference will explore solutions to complex new issues regarding our ageing population.”

The conference will be opened by the Minister for Senior Citizens, the Hon Ruth Dyson on Wednesday April 14 at 9.30am. Other keynote speakers are:

Professor Tom Kirkwood, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

‘Rising to the Challenge of Age’
The latest scientific understanding of how and why we age, and how this new knowledge can be translated into effective clinical and social practice.

Professor John Campbell, Faculty of Medicine, University of Otago.
‘Ageing:Preserving Health and Providing Services’
The failure of the health system to introduce adequate preventive health care for the elderly when it works. What can be done?

Professor Paul Mitchell, University of Sydney

‘Visual Impairment in Later Life: Causes and Impacts’
Australian studies of visual impairment showing prevalence rising with age, to 40% of those aged over 90 years. Impacts on quality of life and associated health risks.

Professor Jeya Henry, School of Biological and Molecular Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, UK.

‘Metabolic Changes During Ageing: The Role of Diet’
Metabolic changes during ageing and how diet, including meat, plays a significant role in enhancing the wellbeing of older people.

Professor Ian Pool, University of Waikato

‘Human Capacity or Fiscal Capacity in Support for the Aged? A Demographic Perspective’
The debate about the burden of the elderly in NZ is too simplistic and pessimistic. Developing the human capacity to cope with the ‘greying’ of New Zealand.

Louise Dooley, Office for Senior Citizens.

‘Against Apocalyptic Demography: The NZ Approach to Mainstreaming Positive Ageing’
The NZ Positive Ageing Strategy; how it will work to reduce the consequences of an ageing population.

Abstracts of most presentations are available on request. The full programme is at detailing other newsworthy issues being discussed over the three days.

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