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Keeping a watchful eye on older people

Media Release
31 October 2006

Keeping a watchful eye on older people

Researchers at The University of Auckland will be identifying ways for health providers to stay in contact with their registered older clients, in an effort to identify and reduce disability risk.

The Maximising Health for Older People programme is a series of projects funded by the Health Research Council, designed to look at maintaining the independence of older people. The new surveillance project will look at how primary care practitioners can stay in contact with their patients outside of scheduled visits, so that potential problems can be identified and treated early.

The long term aim of the project is to help older people stay happier and healthier as both life expectancy and the size of the ageing population increase.

The Department of General Practice and Primary Healthcare will initiate the study through district health boards in Wellington and Auckland in early 2007. Primary care practitioners in these areas will be provided with a variety of means to remain in contact with registered patients, such as birthday cards, and the value of these surveillance methods will be analysed for effectiveness in reducing disability in older people.

“By 2051, nearly two-thirds of government health expenditure may be utilised for the care of people aged over 65,” says Dr Ngaire Kerse of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. “Studies have shown that staying in their own homes keeps older people happier and increases life expectancy, but community services are needed to ensure they remain in the best health possible. By learning as much as we can about what older people need and how best to provide it, through projects such as the Maximising Health programme, we guarantee the best possible healthcare service for our grandparents, parents and ourselves as we get older.”

ENDS

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